Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Truth

John Calvin

John Calvin

1509-1564

 

James Arminius

James (Jacobus) Arminius

1560-1609

 

"Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies:
for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers:
for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients,
because I keep thy precepts."
Psalm 119:98-100

"Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right;
and I hate every false way."
Psalm 119:128

 

 

Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Truth

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Truth depends entirely and only on the written revelation of the Bible (Ps 119:98-100,128; Isaiah 8:20; Galatians 1:6-9; II Tim 3:16-17).
      1. What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination with God, so reject men (Luke 6:26; 16:15; I Cor 1:19-20; 3:19-20).
      2. It is often difficult to go against the wisdom of the ancients and their presumed brilliance (Job 32:1-14; I Tim 6:3-5,20-21).
    2. Calvinism and Arminianism represent two great camps of "Christendom" that we are outside of in our desire to stick to scripture alone.
      1. Historically and doctrinally, we are outside that great religious movement known as the Protestant Reformation, for it is still Roman.
      2. Currently, we are outside the great body of modern "Christianity," for it is fulfilling the prophecy of Paul (II Timothy 3:1 – 4:5).
    3. Calvinism broadly used is a comprehensive theological system, but we shall limit ourselves to consider salvation unto eternal life.
      1. Since John Calvin, Martin Luther, and other reformers did not return all the way to apostolic Christianity, we shall find Romanism.
      2. They did not expunge the sacramentalism, the ritualism, the form, the ministerial elite, the worldly education, the state church, etc.
      3. Calvin and most Calvinists are in error on the subjects (infants), mode (sprinkling), and purpose (covenant guarantee) of baptism.
      4. They are in error on the purpose (convey literal or spiritual Jesus) and interpretation (not a metaphor) of the Lord's Supper.
      5. They are in error on the relationship of the first two Persons in the Trinity, as they teach Jesus Christ is a begotten God.
      6. They are in error on the identity of the church and the form of local church government, tracing themselves back to Rome.
      7. They are in error on the relationship of the church to civil authority and government, as they love to create state churches.
      8. It is often called the Reformed faith, but Jesus Christ and His apostles reformed His church (Luke 16:16; John 4:21-24; Heb 9:10).
      9. Rome cannot be reformed, for it is the great whore, the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit (Rev 17:1-6; 18:2).
      10. Yet, we are thankful for ancient and modern Calvinists that assisted in our conversion from Arminianism to the truth of the gospel.
    4. Since we deny freewill and teach God is sovereign in salvation by election and predestination, we are often accused of being Calvinists.
      1. For those not very knowledgeable or intending only the scheme of salvation, we may at certain times allow that we are Calvinists.
      2. However, we are hyper-Calvinists regarding salvation, for we teach regeneration before faith, a different purpose for faith and the gospel, and the definite possibility of God's elect backsliding into sin and having their faith overthrown (but not losing eternal life).

  1. Arminianism
    1. Arminianism essentially is a complete system of conditional salvation based upon man using inherent ability to perform conditions for it.
      1. It is not improperly called theistic humanism – it glorifies man as the determiner of his destiny and yet tries to glorify God as well.
      2. God is limited by man's concept of fairness: man is a very capable creature still, and he must be in total control of his destiny.
      3. It begins with human rationalization about God that is comforting to the flesh rather than with God's own revelation of Himself.
      4. In general, this is a very palatable theology, in that it makes man precious, God uncontrollably in love, and salvation for the taking.
      5. Arminianism will degenerate to modernism or other heresies, for God is lenient, and the need to save the lost justifies any means.
    2. Arminianism began with Satan's lie in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, which contradicted God's revelation and damned the race.
      1. In defiance and denial of God's revelation, Satan convinced Eve that she would not surely die if she ate of the fruit (Genesis 3:1-4).
      2. Satan convinced her that she could sacramentally become just like God by her own personal act in taking the fruit (Genesis 3:5-6).
      3. Consider that Armininians today still try to peddle the lie that man is not dead by his sin in Eden, just like their father the devil.
      4. Adam and Eve, just like Arminians today, sewed fig leaves together in their own vain attempt to cover their terrible sin (Gen 3:7).
    3. It showed itself in the New Testament with proud Jews and skeptical Greeks (Luk 4:25-29; John 6:64-66; 8:33-34; Rom 3:5,8; 9:14,19).
    4. Pelagius, a Welsh monk, began the systematic spread of Pelagianism, an early version of Arminianism, around the early 400's.
      1. He denied original sin, a depraved nature, representation by either Adam or Christ, and the need for special grace to be saved.
      2. He held the innocence of human children, man's freedom of will, and the possibility of achieving perfection in this life.
    5. The Roman Catholics declared very Arminian principles at the Council of Trent in 1546 i.e. maintaining freewill and sacramentalism.
      1. Read the anathemas pronounced in the Sixth Session of Trent against God's grace in salvation and the freewill of man. Click here.
      2. Augustus Toplady, the author of the hymn "Rock of Ages," exposed the close connection of Arminianism to Rome. Click here.
    6. James Arminius (1560-1609) began the systematic spread of Arminianism in the early 1600s, as he rebelled against state Calvinism.
      1. As a university professor in Leiden, Arminius questioned Calvin's theology in several points, publishing and preaching against it.
      2. In 1610, his followers issued a remonstrance to the government of Holland against the Calvinistic doctrine of the state church.
      3. Man is not so corrupted by sin that he is unable to cooperate with God in performing conditions for his salvation to eternal life.
      4. Man's election to salvation is conditional upon God forseeing his faith and perseverance and confirming him thereby to eternal life.
      5. Jesus Christ's death potentially provided for the salvation of all men upon conditions, but it did not surely secure salvation for any.
      6. Man is able to resist the work of the Holy Spirit in applying the effects of Christ's death to men, as salvation is only an offer.
      7. The conditions for final salvation include continuing in faith and good works until death, for sin will cause you to lose salvation.
    7. Since Arminius, John Wesley, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, Jack Hyles, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and many more past and present like them have taught decisional regeneration as the deciding issue that renders the love of God and death of Christ effective.

  1. Calvinism
    1. Calvinism essentially is a complete system of salvation based unconditionally upon God, Who will cause man to fulfill his conditions.
      1. It is not improperly called theistic fatalism – it subordinates means to predestination and logically undermines human responsibility.
      2. It brings from Romanism several of the features of sacramental salvation and eventually reduces exertion through secondary means.
    2. Calvinism also began in Eden, when Adam and Eve each blamed God indirectly for their sin in eating the fruit (Genesis 3:8-13).
    3. Augustine of the Catholic Church was the counterpart of Pelagius and opposed him with his predestinarian system called Augustianism.
    4. John Calvin (1509-1564) further systematized the theology that would come to bear his name, though T.U.L.I.P originated in Holland.
    5. The Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) was held by the government of Holland to legally settle the issue of Calvinism versus Arminianism.
      1. It totally rejected the five main points of the Arminians from their remonstrance of 1610 and answered with five points of its own.
      2. The acrostic TULIP – Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints.
      3. Man is totally depraved, unable to cooperate with God, a captive of the devil, and his will is entirely under the bondage of sin.
      4. God unconditionally elected some of mankind to salvation in spite of their rebellion according to His own purpose and grace.
      5. Jesus Christ's death by intent and application is limited to the elect only, and every single one of them will be certainly saved.
      6. The work of the Holy Spirit in applying Jesus Christ's death to the elect in regeneration and conversion is irresistible by the elect.
      7. God effectually and sovereignly causes the elect to persevere in faith and good works so that they cannot be lost but will be saved.
    6. After Calvin came John Owen, John Gill, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, Arthur Pink, and many more past and present like them.
    7. Most people today associate Calvinism with Presbyterianism, which gives it lip service with their Westminster Confession of Faith.

  1. The Truth
    1. The truth distinguishes between unconditional and conditional aspects of God's salvation, dividing between God's work and our duty.
    2. Arminianism in its five points is totally rejected as unscriptural and blasphemous against the intentions and accomplishments of Christ.
      1. Man is neither free nor able to cooperate with God for salvation (John 3:3; 8:43,47; 10:26; Rom 8:7-8 I Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3).
      2. God's foreknowledge in election did not find any conditions met; it was of persons, not actions (Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Rom 8:29).
      3. Jesus Christ's death accomplished salvation for His elect; it did not merely make it possible (Matt 1:21 Rom 5:10; Hebrews 9:15).
      4. The Holy Spirit's work in applying salvation through regeneration is effectual and sure (John 3:8; Eph 1:19; Titus 3:5; I Pet 1:2).
      5. The elect cannot be lost nor separated from the purpose of God in salvation (John 6:38-39; Rom 8:28-39; II Timothy 2:16-19).
    3. Calvinism may be accepted in its first three points as scriptural and according to the truth of the gospel as preached by brother Paul.
      1. Man's nature is totally corrupt since Eden, rendering him without desire or ability to know or please God in any way for salvation.
      2. God's election of some men to eternal life is based purely on the good pleasure of His will in spite of their foreseen evil rebellion.
      3. Jesus Christ died only for the elect, and He will not lose a single one of those that the Father gave Him to fully and finally redeem.
    4. However, Calvinism errs with its point of Irresistible Grace, for they apply it to the gospel and conversion, which is farther than truth.
      1. They apply irresistible grace, or what they name the "effectual call," to the preaching of the gospel in the case of all the elect.
      2. They believe that all the elect will hear and believe the gospel sometime during their lives and cannot be saved without these things.
      3. This is sacramental salvation, for unless the "priest" carries the grace of God's gospel to the elect, they cannot be saved without it.
      4. They must therefore invent all sorts of alternative theories to cover the salvation of infants, idiots, heathen, the deaf and blind, etc.
      5. Of course, they rarely define what they mean by "saving faith," or they would make it to loose, or limit the elect to just a very few.
      6. The typical Calvinist, even John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards, seldom differentiate clearly between regeneration and conversion.
      7. God's grace is definitely irresistible when it comes to regeneration, but conversion by the gospel depends on preacher and hearer.
      8. The first of the acts is God's work in salvation, and the second is the information and news concerning it for the comfort of the elect.
      9. Ministers must make war with their hearers, for conversion is and always has been a struggle against the resistance of the saints.
    5. However, Calvinism errs with its point of Final Perseverance, for they end up with a fatalist doctrine of men incapable of backsliding.
      1. Persevering is man's action. If God guarantees man's perseverance, then he will continue in faith and good works without fail.
      2. This fatalistic doctrine, if logically followed, would render the New Testament epistles and the work of the ministry unnecessary.
      3. If by final perseverance the Calvinist means God will not lose any of His elect, then why not call it preservation like the Bible?
      4. God will preserve His saints so that not one will be lost and all make it safely to heaven, but He has not guaranteed their faithfulness.
  2.  

Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Truth

  Total
Depravity
Unconditional
Election
Limited
Atonement
Irresistible
Grace
Perseverance
of the Saints
Arminianism Though morally hurt by sin in Eden, man has a free will to choose to obey or disobey God. Sin has not destroyed his ability or desire to cooperate with God. The Spirit can woo him to action without violating his will. He must obey by his choice before God will regenerate him. God chose those He saw by foreknowledge would believe for eternal life. He could not choose on any other basis. He elected based on man's choice, whose ability is in his remaining free will. God wants all men to be saved, and He would never reject any one from eternal life. Jesus Christ died for all the sins of all men. His death did not save any for certain, but only made salvation possible for all who will believe or obey. He paid the full sin debt for all men, but they must accept the transaction in order to have the benefits and go to heaven at death. The Holy Spirit convicts all men by causing them to know they are sinners and need a Savior. But only some obey Him and get regenerated. Sinners may and do resist this offer of grace. Unless they cooperate, God will not quicken them against their resisting free will. Honest Arminians require men to continue in faith and good works to be saved, for sin will take away eternal life. Some say that once saved there is no chance of losing it, because the decision made to accept Jesus gets your name in the Book of Life, no matter how you live.
Calvinism Man's nature is corrupt due to his sin in Eden. He lost his ability and desire to choose good or please God. He will not and cannot please God. The things of God are foolish to him. He must be given a new nature by God to see or choose Jesus Christ. God chose some men to eternal life by His own will and purpose and for His own glory. When He viewed mankind, God saw only sin and no faith or good works. It is God's choice and not the sinner's that is the only and final basis for eternal life. Jesus Christ died for all the Father gave Him to save. He died a substitute for them only, and God accepted and applied His death to them. He secured all spiritual blessings for the elect forever, and they shall never perish, and not even one shall be lost. The Holy Spirit works powerfully with gospel preaching to bring the elect to conversion. Faith and repentance are God's gifts, and they cannot resist the Spirit's work. All of the elect will believe and obey the gospel by God's power. All who were chosen by God, bought by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit shall be eternally saved. They are kept in faith and holiness by the power of God and thus all persevere to the end. They cannot finally apostatize or backslide and die in sin.
God's Truth Same as Calvinism. Same as Calvinism. Same as Calvinism. God regenerates the elect from death in sins by His almighty power. Man is totally passive in his new birth and cannot resist. The born again child may resist or fall from gospel conversion, but salvation to heaven is sure. The gospel is for assurance, peace, and other practical benefits, not regeneration. God preserves His elect, but He does not make them persevere in faith and obedience. Faith may be weak and even lost at times by the elect, yet God is faithful. His faith is the basis of their preservation. Abraham, Lot, Samson, and Paul are finally saved alike by God's grace and faithfulness, not theirs.
God's Proof Genesis 2:17; 5:3; Eph 2:1-3; 4:17-19; Ps 51:5; 58:3; John 3:3; 5:40; 8:47; Rom 3:10-12; 5:12; 8:7-8; Is 26:10; 44:20; Jer 13:23; Luke 16:31; I Cor 1:18; 2:14; II Cor 4:3-4. Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Rom 8:28-33; 9:11,22; Eph 1:3-12; Acts 13:48; II Thess 2:13; II Tim 1:9; Matt 22:14; John 10:26-29; 17:2; Rom 11:7; I Pet 1:2; 2:8; Jude 1:4; Rev 13:8; 17:8. Ge 49:10; Mat 1:21; Luk 1:68; Jn 6:38-39; 10:11,15,27-29; 11:49-52; Rom 5:10,15-19; 8:29-34; 9:24; Eph 5:25; Heb 2:11-13; 7:25; 9:15; 10:10-14; I Pet 1:2; Rev 5:9; 13:8. Eph 1:19; 2:1-5; Col 2:13; John 1:13; 3:8; 5:21,25-29; Luke 22:32; Acts 7:51; 16:14; Rom 1:8-15; 11:28; II Tim 1:9-10; Titus 3:5; Jas 5:19-20; I Pet 1:2; II Sam 12:23. Ps 89:29-37; I Thess 5:23-24; Gal 1:6; 3:1; 4:19; 5:4; Heb 6:17-20; 11:32; Rom 8:28-39; John 10:27-29; 15:1-5; II Pet 2:7-8; II Tim 2:13,16-19; 4:18; I Cor 10:1-5; 11:32.