Definition of Arminianism

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Several times I've noticed someone who is not a Calvinist insisting that they are not an Arminian, complaining that Calvinists call anyone who isn't a Calvinist an Arminian. I don't think most Calvinists really do this. For instance, most Calvinists will say that someone who denies Limited Atonement but insists on all four other points of Calvinism is not really a Calvinist. But they won't tend to call such a person an Arminian. As I understand the standard Calvinist use of the label 'Arminian', Arminians deny predestination except in the weakened sense that God knows what people will choose and thus elects people on that basis, and they deny irresistible grace. Is everyone who does one of those things an Arminian? Is everyone who does both of them an Arminian? These are necessary conditions for being an Arminian, but is either sufficient by itself? Are they jointly sufficient, or does Arminianism require departing from Calvinism even more? I'm not sure what most Calvinists say about that, and I'm much less sure what others besides Calvinists would say. One thing I'm sure of is that denying perseverance of the saints entails Arminianism to most Calvinists. If you think a genuine believer who has experienced the full grace of God can lose salvation, then you are an Arminian to most Calvinists. That view is sufficient for being an Arminian, as most Calvinists use the term.

So here's my question. What exactly does it take to be an Arminian? Is it really unfair to throw the word around in the ways I've just mentioned? I'm asking in full honesty. I don't know how people making this complaint think of Arminianism and why they don't consider themselves Arminians. I also don't know if the standard usage in theology today (as opposed to what Arminius himself said) fits with this complaint. Thus I'm a bit curious to see what others think about this.

35 Comments

I think non-Calvinists say that a form of Calvinism (which is more rabid in its defense) labels anything that isn’t that form of Calvinism “Arminianism��? or “Pelagianism��? or “Semi-Pelagianism��?. I’ve even seen these voracious types use Arminian and Pelagian interchangeably. Once I found a site where some of these specific types labeled Calvin a Semi-Pelagian…

I can tell you that I’ve been called all three. Here’s the overall scheme of what I believe and what has generated the labels.

I believe men are knowingly depraved. I believe grace can be rejected. I believe Jesus Christ died for all but effective by those who believe yet I do not believe in Universal Salvation save in the sense that all has been purchased for The Messiah to do what he wishes with it in due time. I don’t believe that individuals are chosen to believe but I do believe individuals are chosen for roles. I believe God predestined the Church universal in Christ and it has a temporal and eternal role. I believe that a person can not lose their Salvation but I believe a person can lose their life and rewards.

There you go and hope that helps.

I know you don't consider yourself an Arminian, Rey, so what does it take beyond what you believe to be a genuine Arminian?

Perhaps I should add that this has come up with respect to Ben Witherington. I don't remember if it was him or someone talking about him who complained that you're not an Arminian just because you're not a Calvinist (which seems right to me), but the claim was that Witherington is neither. The assertion was that he was a Wesleyan. So what's the difference? Wesleyan views are generally considered Arminian within Reformed circles, and I'm not sure the difference. Is it just a denial of perseverance of the saints? If Witherington agrees with you that loss of salvation is impossible, then perhaps this distinction makes sense. For some reason I remember him denying that, though, and taking the full view of I. Howard Marshall, who thinks genuine salvation can be lost. How is that not Arminianism, or am I wrong in what Witherington thinks?

I think that the "Articles of Remonstrants" would be a good starting point.

;-)

What I'm trying to get at is which sorts of people today classify themselves as Arminians and how that compares to which people Calvinist call Arminians. The historical origins of the term don't help us much with that.

On further reason the Five Articles of the Remonstrants don't help us very much is the serious ambiguity in most of what they say (and from what I've heard the ambiguity is deliberate). A five-point Calvinist, namely me, can endorse every single statement made there, if they're construed in a certain way. The Arminians of the time didn't mean all of them that way, but I can agree with every single sentence of all five points, as long as the ambiguities all go in a certain direction rather than the way they meant them.

I would say that a genuine Arminian would believe that it is possible for a person to fall from grace in the sense of losing salvation by means of losing faith. Logically, I guess you can also add a belief in Resistible Grace.

I come from a family of Arminians (my immediate family plus my husband's) include Baptist (not Calvinist), United Missionary, Free Methodist, "Christian".

They will go to the mat over predestination, they are divided over perserverence, and most of them don't have a clue about limited (or not) atonement.

Rey: So I take it that you're saying belief in potential loss of salvation for someone who is genuinely saved now is necessary for being an Arminian. That really does conflict with how many Calvinists use the term. They think that that's sufficient for being an Arminian, but they take Arminians to constitute a larger group. It seems Ellen agrees with them as well, since she says Arminians are divided over that issue.

Am I correct in reading you as saying that denying perseverance is enough to be an Arminian but that you can't do that without also denying irresistible grace? So anyone denying P would be an Arminian, and that will require also denying I. Someone who does that but still holds on to T, U, and L would be an Arminian on your account then. But holding on to P makes you not an Arminian no matter what else you say?

[As an aside, I don't think it's clear that denying P logically entails denying I. You can see my TULIP: Do the five points stand or fall together? for a fuller discussion of this. One coherent but unusual view is that it's impossible to resist the grace that brings someone to salvation but possible to resist keeping it. You could then lose your salvation even if you couldn't resist gaining it to begin with. I don't know if that counts as denying I or not, but one could argue that it counts as TULI.]

Ellen: As I just pointed out, you differ from Rey on this. I'm assuming you would count him as an Arminian, but he doesn't consider himself one because he takes denying perseverance of the saints to be a necessary feature of Arminianism, and he doesn't deny that. This is very interesting, because it doesn't seem to be just Calvinists who think this.

[As another side note, I would argue that unless they're universalists, they believe in limited atonement. They just might not realize it. The atonement is limited unless everyone is saved. Some Calvinists don't seem to realize this either, and so you have a pseudo-debate. I have fuller discussions of this also, here and here.]

My problem with the Calvinists is that they want us to declare for Calvin or for Arminius. In 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 it says, "Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"


Calvinists seem to build a doctrine on top of Scripture, and they insist you declare yourself with regard to their doctrine, with all their own technical language. I can't be a part of that.

Nigel, the word 'Calvinist' and the word 'Arminian' have nothing to do with associating with a person. I've read very little of Calvin. I don't go around quoting him instead of the Bible or as if his words are on the same level as the Bible. I don't think everything he said was correct. I happen to think the general perspective he found in scripture is correct, and the general perspective Arminius found there is not. Calling oneself a Calvinist does no more than serve as a shorthand for listing off a bunch of views that would simply take too long. If it had a different sort of word to it without someone's name, it would serve the same purpose. It seems to me to be a little ridiculous to expect people to list off their specific views every time they want to communicate the particular theological statements they see in the scriptures, when there's in fact a very simple shorthand way of saying that you hold to them.

Even apart from that issue, I think it's an extremely bad idea to use words that suggest you're not taking part in divisiveness (that in this case isn't there to begin with, at least on this blog) by forming your own party line -- the party line of saying you're with Christ and thus not with those other people who form parties with Apollos, Paul, or Cephas (or Calvin or Arminius, in this case). Paul referred to such a divisive party spirit as belonging to the Christ party, and you quoted that yourself. This party that seeks to pretend it's not a party is as divisive as any other. In Corinth the Christ party was likely trying to distance themselves from the other parties by forming a new one that doesn't label themselves by someone's name. Doing that seems to me, as it did to Paul, as fighting division by dividing yet further. I hope this isn't what you are doing, but your last line (along with your severely uncharitable reading of how people are using these terms) suggests to me that it is.

Jeremy and Ellen: Well, both sides use all the same materials to make their cake (the cake not being the gospel but their understanding of the gospel). Classic Arminianism still held to T, their denial of L by making it Potential is still a subset of L (Jeremy, I don’t know if your bottom two articles address that since I haven’t read—or reread—them). Their skew on U by making it for [all who he foreknew would believe] is the same ingredient as the Calvinist reading of [all who God has chosen] but with a bit more human flavor. I’ve thought that both camps agree on a whole but when the weight on human freedom allows a person to [be able to choose to not persevere] it was contradictory enough (to Calvism anyway) to be a different type of cake.

As per my thought on it denying P rendering a logical denial of I: I see what you’re saying in your other post about being able to hold on to TULI but I ‘m having a hard time reconciling [ability to fall away] with [with grace that can’t be resisted]. I think I just have to let it marinate a bit to try to taste its fat.

So perhaps what would make me an Arminian to others would be my belief in [the ability of any unhardened to believe]?

Oh, and here's that site. I guess they didn't call Calvin semi-Pelagian. They called him unregenerate:

http://www.outsidethecamp.org/heterodoxyhall.htm

heh.

Nice! If Calvin did indeed say those things, then I have a nice site to direct hyper-Calvinists to when they claim that limited atonement doesn't and never did tolerate any potential sense in which the atonement covers all. I've long had the sense that Calvinism has always agreed with me on this, but since I don't spend much time reading Calvin I haven't found any particular passages until now. This takes it a bit further, of course. He's willing to talk of an individual's redemption as revocable even though at other times he clearly denies that, which means he's willing to adopt potential talk and definite talk at different times, as scripture itself does.

The only self-labeled Arminians I have ever met affirm that salvation can be lost. Growing up in Southern Baptist churches (by denomination and geography) I interact with plenty of people every day that would be derisively labeled Arminian (or Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian) by Calvinists in their midst. The main sticking point for them is free will. So it seems that the word is used differently depending on what the person is trying to accomplish. Self-labeled Arminians are trying to affirm something. That usually entails some familiarity with the theological system and agreement with the same. Calvinists of the sort that label Rey are just trying to use a handy marker to differentiate Rey from what they believe. Since Arminian is tantamount to a curse word with Calvinists, it's more fun to use the strong word and sound righteous than it is to point out all the distictions between themselves and Rey

Couple of thoughts:

1 I went to a Wesleyan college as an undergrad (Houghton) and it seemed that most of the Wesleyans there self identified as Arminians. By that, they seemed to mean mostly that they didn't like Calvinism generally and double predestination specifically. FWIW

2 As a self identified Calvinist I have NEVER figured out why some, including some posting above me, have identified the possibility of the loss of salvation (whatever that means) to be the mark of being a non-calvinist, or, conversely, that calvinism means "once saved, always saved." I heard that chant much more as a baptist cild than I have seen it coming from any reformed calvinist writers.

I assume that has something to do with the legacy of revivalism and Finney's theology, but I'm just guessing. I won't go into why I think that whole argument is just wrongly formed altogether.

Paul, I'm curious which double predestination you mean? There's a standard meaning Calvinists assign to that, and there's a common straw man of Calvinism that sometimes goes by that name, and the latter position is viewed as absolute heresy by Calvinists.

As far as I can tell, "once saved, always saved" is absolutely entailed by the fifth point of Calvinism. Do you have a reason for thinking otherwise? There is this wacky position in some Baptist circles (e.g. Zane Hodges) that someone who has mere intellectual belief (like the demons James mentions) but no real work of grace in their life will always be saved. This kind of antinomianism is of course opposed to Calvinism, but that's not what "once saved, always saved" means in virtually all of the occurrences I've ever encountered it. It means P of TULIP. Those genuinely saved will always remain saved. Those who are not will turn out not to persevere in faith.

OK, so you drew me out on this. I'll start by saying that I'm not particularly concerned for myself whether I fit in well with traditional statements about Perserverance. I try to understand the scriptures on this point as best I can and work from there. The big problem with the "once saved" is that it makes apostasy problematic to a great degree and I see nothing in the NT which indicates that apostasy is especially problematic. There is no hand wringing by the NT authors about "losing salvation".

My view of it is that the problem lies in the currently standard way of picturing "salvation" as a (current) possession. Salvation (theologically speaking) is the act of God delivering someone from judgement. In the ultimate sense this will happen at the final judgement, of course. The NT speaks of faith and assurance and he seal of the Spirit as things which give us hope that we will be counted among those who are found righteous and will be saved. But, equally, those who fall away from faith seem to be characterized as ending up on the other side if they do not repent.

I think the reaction to revivalism (regualar calls for some sort of re-entrace to God's favor) started the idea that if only one could enter faith proplerly the first time, God will make sure that all works out so that one will be saved. Perhaps that's clear enough? I can say more if it isn't.

Back to your first question, the answer is I don't really know how you have seen this debate, but I heard lots of folks arguing that God would not fore-ordain people to go to hell. That's more or less how they pictured the distinction betwen themselves and calvinists. At least that's my rough recollection. It was about 20 years ago now.

That's double predestination as Calvinists would accept it, not the heretical view sometimes called by the same name.

On perseverance, it's not clear to me if you're disagreeing with the standard conception of P in TULIP. I think you're simply clarifying what P doesn't entail in order to avoid the misinterpretation that you're saying what Hodges says.

I do think there's a tension in the biblical discussion of this topic, and I've tried to say something about that in this old post. So I wouldn't try to argue that there's no problem on biblical grounds, because the biblical statements do need at least some careful work to put together coherently. But I don't want to repeat what my previous post dealt with.

I'm a British Methodist and call myself an Arminian. And I offer my view here simply as someone who wears the label "Arminian" proudly.

British Methodism has a "sound bite" of "The Four Alls" to describle Methodism in a nutshell:

1) All need to be saved (original sin)
2) All can be saved (universal offer of grace)
3) All can know they are saved (assurance)
4) All can be saved to the uttermost (perfect love).

To me, the "essence" of Arminianism is number two: the God offers grace to all, that God's desire is for all to be saved.

I'm a thoroughgoing Calvinist, and I think all four of those are true and essential. So according to you I'm an Arminian even though I'm a Calvinist. Arminianism has got to involve a lot more than this. I'm willing to say that there are people who are neither Calvinists nor Arminians. I'm not willing to say that there are people who are both Calvinists and Arminians, and I'm surely not going to say that about myself!

Hi Jeremy. I think I'd like to have a conversation here, not feel like I have to be backed into a corner by my first post. I don't think I said I was offering a post that would give us an entire understanding of Arminianism and Calvinism. I think I said that universal grace was the "essence" of Arminianism as I saw it, as someone who calls myself an Arminian.

Now, I will also say that I don't claim an extensive knowledge of Calvinism. I'm not here to trash Calvinists, only to say how I see Arminianism.

I believe that it is possible to fall away from salvation. I absolutely do not believe in double predestination and, personally, I might even incline toward "open theology" which could even rule out God's foreknowledge of human choice (although I'd not claim that this was a classic Arminian view).

Forgive me my ignorance of Calvinist theology, but if Calvinism has God's sovereignty as a central theme, do you think that perhaps the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism might be a philosophical construct as to how far we take the logical consequences of God's sovereignty?

Are you trying to say that you think that there is less difference between the two than history has made out?

I'll throw in here also, since you like commentaries so much, that the most enjoyable commentary I've ever read was David DeSilva's book on Hebrews called _Perserverance in Gratitude_. DeSilva questions the tendency of many theologians to always want to interpret the "difficult" parts of Hebrews through some sort of grid made through a combination of ideas from Romans and the gospel of John. Why do it this way rather than the other way around.

Anyhow, I only mention that to throw in a plug for that book. It's very well written and has the odd feature (for a commentary by an academic) of having lots of application as well as analysis.

Pam, all I'm saying is that Arminianism has to say more than that to distinguish itself from Calvinism, because Calvinists can accept all of those points. Calvin himself would have had no problem with those points.

You have now clearly distinguished your view from Calvinism. Calvinists don't believe someone who has genuinely experienced the grace of God for salvation can fall away from that. God extends the offer to all, but only those with a specific work of salvation experience salvation, and none of those get snatched from his hands. God's grace causes people to persevere, as far as Calvinism is concerned. So that's one difference between you and Calvinists.

Double predestination is another. Predestination logically requires double predestination. Either God has elected some to salvation (and thus logically others not to salvation), or God has not elected any to salvation. Arminians believe the latter. Calvinists believe the former. That I'm clear on. What I'm not clear on is whether that's sufficient for Arminianism. Rey says no. Others here have said yes. Most Calvinists in the heat of argument tend to assume yes. I'm willing to allow a middle ground, but I'm starting to think now that even those calling themselves Arminians don't agree on what constitutes Arminianism.

Paul, I've heard good things about DeSilva's commentary. I'm curious about its general perspective. Would you consider him to have a high attitude toward scripture, e.g. inerrancy? What sort of theological views does he defend? I happen to think many Calvinists get Hebrews 6 and 12 very wrong, but I think they also get forced into doing that because they think Calvinism implies some things that it doesn't logically imply (things I find at odds with scripture). I wonder if that's all DeSilva is saying or if he's getting at something else, e.g. the idea that Hebrews actually conflicts with Romans and John (which is why I ask about his perspective on the nature of scripture).

"Either God has elected some to salvation (and thus logically others not to salvation), or God has not elected any to salvation. Arminians believe the latter. Calvinists believe the former. That I'm clear on. What I'm not clear on is whether that's sufficient for Arminianism."

I doubt you'll agree but as an Arminian, I believe that God "elects" everyone to salvation. I also believe that God, in his sovereignty, has decided to give us the gift of free will to reject his election. To use an illustration once given to me by another person: God puts the engagement ring on everyone's finger without us asking or doing anything, but he also gives us the possibility of removing the engagement ring.

For me, the philosophical problem with what you're saying is that God can and does do everything except give human beings free will.

I don't expect you to agree with me but I'm simply trying to explain. (I am of the opinion that it's possible to understand another's viewpoint without having to agree with it and that's what I'm trying to achieve here.)

The kind of election you're talking about isn't what I'm calling election. You don't believe in that. I would say that God makes an offer to everyone, and people respond to that offer with their own choice, either to accept it or to reject it. I don't think that's inconsistent with God's choice of particular people serving as an ultimate explanation of why some do rather than others.

That's where Calvinists and non-Calvinists disagree, not on whether there is free will or whether there is something that is called election. The debate is over the nature of election (whether general and not successful for everyone or particular and successful for everyone elected) and whether that's compatible with freedom.

I didn't intend this post to lead to debates about the merits of any view, just to get a handle on which views people consider to be Arminian views.

"The kind of election you're talking about isn't what I'm calling election."

Yes, I think you are right, which is why I put the term in scare-quotes. It appears to me that you do understand what we believe and that you simply disagree. Which is fine. I was just trying to get a handle on what sort of question you were asking; you do seem to understand what we believe although you said you didn't. So I'm a bit confused as to why you were asking the question. If you are asking *why* we believe as we do, then I think we *will* likely stray into debate territory.

I understand what the different views are, and there are several. I also have a good sense of the arguments and motivations for various positions.

What I'm not sure of is which of those several views count as Arminian, and which of them are views that are neither Calvinist nor Arminian but something in between.

On DeSliva,

So far as I can tell he maintains a pretty high view of scripture, but he really doesn't get into that as far as I could tell. His point about Romans and John was just a rhetorical point about the fact the Hebrews is equally canonical and deserves equal consideration to other books. He doesn't develop it to any extent at all.

Like pretty much all of the "context group" writers I have read, DeSilva takes a rather uncritical view of the text. Context folks have virtually no interest in textual criticism, since the idea is to take the text as a given, seeing what ancient culture revelas about how to interpret it, and seeing how the text fits in with other things known about ancient culture.

The particular virtue which appealed to me about this book was his explanation of how the term "faith" was socially situated as part of the institution of patronage. If DeSliva's view of this is correct, then much of the later debate about "faith vs works" looks pretty silly. But that can be for another day.

While I'm at it, another couple of commentaries I liked a lot are Warren Carter's _Matthew and Empire_, on the imperial themes in Matthew, and Jerome Neyrey's _Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew_, much of which focusses on how Matthew follows the rhetorical rules for writing in praise of a person while doing so in a very different manner than usual.

"What I'm not sure of is which of those several views count as Arminian, and which of them are views that are neither Calvinist nor Arminian but something in between."

OK. *grin* As a "pratical theologian"[1], to some extent, I think that Arminianism is as Arminians do. Although that statement still poses an interesting question about methodology.

For me, these ideas tend to change as time goes on and I would not subscribe to the idea that there is an 'offical' version of Arminianism. I'd not subscribe to the idea that there is an 'official' version of Calvinism either, although you might disagree. As I understand it, Arminius' original idea that gave birth to the name 'Arminian' (that Christ died even for the non-elect) was actually accepted by the Reformed Church at the Council of Dort.

To me, what is happening here is that, when one examines the finer points of both schools of thought, one sees that coming to the other tradition with accusations of gross heresy and blatant rebellion is incorrect. (I'm not suggesting that either of us is doing this, but I do think that many people do.) A lot of times, I think we take the theology of our dialogue partners and declare falsely that the nuances are vast chasms. These nuances also often to centre around the areas of God which we can know least. My two cents/pence, anyway.

[1] I mean I'm getting my MA in practical/pastoral theology.

Paul: That gives me a better sense of what DeSilva is up to. I hesitate with some social background types. Several problems can arise. Craig Keener lists lots of facts that he himself concludes aren't relevant, and that's distracting if they're not needed to interpret the text. I see Ben Witherington as eager to let social backgrounds avoid the plain meaning of the text on politically sensitive issues. I've read several scholars who say his reconstructions of social backgrounds are foundational for his interpretations yet fairly speculative in terms of support. Neyrey has opposite problems. See my review of Neyrey's II Peter and Jude commentary for him. That's not to say there's nothing good in these, but I'm cautious about the general approach.

Pam: Even Calvin clearly accepted the idea that Christ in some sense died for the non-elect, though he wouldn't hesitate to add that in a different and important sense Christ died only to save those who would be saved. He never intended the benefit to apply to those who would reject the offer, but the offer was made to all and thus in the sense of the general offer he died to all.

Calvin even goes as far as calling people redeemed because they fall under that general offer, even if they ultimately reject it. I found a hypercalvinist website last week that listed a whole bunch of quotes by him to that effect, and they concluded that Calvin didn't believe the doctrines of grace that Calvinists are so fond of saying Arminians don't believe.

What an interesting thread! It's been reassuring, educational, and confusing to me, all at the same time!

When I first stumbled into the whole Calvinism/Arminianism debate (not terribly long ago), I was dumbfounded. I got even more boggled as I tried to figure out just what each "side" believed, so I could figure out what I was! I realized it was way too big a tangle to unravel anytime soon, although I got a pretty clear picture of what many who call themselves one or the other believe.

Jeremy, you said, "I would say that God makes an offer to everyone, and people respond to that offer with their own choice, either to accept it or to reject it." I said this over at Intellectuelle and got completely argued down by some Calvinist bloggers. I do think that Nigel's assessment would apply to these and other Calvinist bloggers that I've read.

I'd resolved, though, not to decide what exactly Calvinism was until I'd read the Institutes, which probably won't happen in the near future :-).

I know I'm not answering your question at all, and I apologize. I just wanted to thank you for this post and this thread. I was thinking that I was more Arminian than Calvinist, and perhaps am, but because of all the confusion I'm not sure! Anyway, I love what Pam said in her last comment.

Many Calvinists don't realize that they're disagreeing with Calvin by denying other Calvinists the ability to use potentiality language. Scripture uses it all the time without denying God's sovereignty over human salvation (and over who is saved). Calvin insists that someone who takes the position he's defending is departing from scripture by denying any talk of everyone having the potential of being saved, of God loving everyone, of the atonement potentially covering everyone, of everyone being redeemed (in terms of the atonement potentially covering anyone). It's because of that that I insist on calling anyone who denies such potentiality talk a hypercalvinist.

It's possible that Nigel's comments apply to some who call themselves Calvinists (and he intended it to apply to Arminians as well), but my point was that he was speaking much too broadly and misusing a biblical text that speaks of not forming divisive groups. Since Arminians and Calvinists can use those terms to describe their theological positions without forming divisive groups, his argument fails.

I have just very recently found my way to Jeremy's blog and have found this blog discussion interesting. I did read most comments so I am hopefully not repeating what has already been said. I was intriqued enough by the Calvinist teachings several months ago to begin studying the bible to understand how the 5 points were supported biblically. During that study, I became aware of the teachings of Jacob Arminius (He is the one the Arminian tradition is named for). The 5 points of Calvinism were actually defined by the Remonstrants (sp?), those holding to the teachings of Arminius. As defined then, the 5 points were the points of disagreement, but it seems that it can be understood in how God wields His Sovereignty and what role man plays. Both teach man is depraved, but differ to what degree. The Arminian belief is that man can, and is responsible to, respond from the common grace God provides. Calvin taught that man can not respond from common grace because he is dead spiritually and it takes an intervening act of God to open one's heart to His truth.
The Arminian tradtion is that election is conditional, based on God's foreknowledge of who would believe. The Calvin tradition is that God chose simply according to His will. Arminian tradition is that Christ died for all men and his death became effective for one when he/she believed. Calvin taught Christ' death was effective for only those who had been chosen. Arminian tradtion teaches the Holy Spirit can be resisted and can not regenerate a person until that person believes by faith. Calvin taught all are responsible to answer the general call upon hearing the gospel, but only those who are called in a special way can respond and are drawn to Christ after rebirth. Not all Arminians believe one can lose their salvation-some do. Calvin taught the elect will persevere, by God's grace.
This is a brief description of what I learned when studying and I hope it encourages and edifies.

This discussion (Arminian and Calvinsim) never ceases to amaze me. I think that it will be a discussion that continues to cause conflict because of some simple truths. We are inherently anthropocentric, and hopelessly fallen. That is a combination that will, unless realized, adversely affect the way we look into the Holy Scriptures. Of course I would like to believe that I was the one who brought about my salvation, instead of merely responding to the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, the election of the Father, and the Redeeming work of the Son. I would like to believe that God would leave none behind, that if possible, all would be saved. I would also like to believe in some goodness of our bodies, that somehow there is a portion of man that is good, that is still spiritually alive.

But when I look to the scriptures, I find that none of these is for me to decide.

God, in his Sovereignty, can be fully responsible for my spiritual rebirth, in his Holiness he would be right in choosing some to redeem and yet to others pass over, and in his grace leave us with the corruption that was handed down by our first mother and father, so that we could be redeemed by one man, the new Adam.

These are issues that I will continue to struggle with. And I think that anyone who really studies both sides of this issue should never become static in what the think about it. I believe that this issue should cause you to be in a state of contant reform. To be always rethinking those things that had become foundational. As you can see I lean heavily to one side. But I did not get to this point without struggle, and without uncomfortable moments where I was unsure about the nature of God, and the nature of man.

Just my two depraved and fallen cents, if not for the undeserved Grace of God!
Sola deo Gloria

Okay, so I just read Olson's book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities and I'm left even more...I don't know, confused(?).

The belief in unassured salvation is just an in-camp Arminian debate. The belief in God not being the author of sin seems to be an overarching theme in the book and thus support for God's sovereignty not causing men to sin. A support of Libertarian freedom when it comes specifically to salvation not for merely supporting human freedom but for (once again) maintaining the glory of God. Corporate predestination and individual foreknowledge.

And I found myself agreeing with a whole lot of the book, like really super agreeing (so much so that it made me wonder if I'm putting a post in the Arminian camp).

Where it seemed to be distinctively Arminian is the emphasis on libertarian free will (not that we always have libertarian free will but only in matters of salvation do we have libertarian freed will) which I guess its easier to say than it is to logically hold together especially since scripture seems to be compatibalistic (and thus left me with the confusion about my non-calvinism since loads of people keeps saying that someone is either one or the other yet adheres to the system that we have less problems with but there's some major holes in Arminianism that I just don't like: like logically being open to Open Theism to smooth out those Freedom wrinkles.)

Fascinating stuff, this thread. Almost four years dormant, it must be time to wake it up!

Were I to put a label on myself it would be something like "Reformed Christian" or possibly "Follower of Christ". Given either of the two names kicked around in this thread, I would be required to defend a position, a theology if you will, that I do not believe to be serious matters of consequence in God's grand scheme of things. Do we love Christ? Do we love each other? Do we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God? These, to me are matters of consequence. Calvinist, Arminian, pre-trib rapturist, millennienist, great bridge player, these are matters of interest and to get a little flippant, matters of entertainment. Yes, I loved reading through the thread and apologize for this divergence from the original subject line.

To get back on track a bit, R.C. Sproul's "Chosen by God" simplified the whole issue for me. Attempting to wade through Calvin's "Institutes..." was a little thick for me, as was Luther's "Heidelberg Disputation, 1518". Gerhard Forde was kind enough to simplify this in his "On Being A Theologian of the Cross". I would recommend either of these books to anyone, like myself, who has problems wading through the heavy stuff.

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