CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM
A Comparison of Opposing Belief Systems
by Greg Loren Durand
Copyright © 2003-2010
A Summary of Calvinism (T.U.L.I.P.)
Total Depravity: Due to the corruption of human nature as a result of Adamís fall (Romans 5:12), every child is born inherently wicked (Genesis 6:5), hostile to his Creator (Romans 8:7), and content to remain in his sin (John 3:19). Though a free moral agent, manís will is nevertheless limited in that he can only choose to do those things which are in accord with his nature (Ephesians 2:1-3). Consequently, apart from divine intervention, he cannot see God (John 3:3), he cannot hear Godís Word (John 8:43, 47), he cannot receive Godís truth (1 Corinthians 2:14), and he cannot seek after God for salvation (Romans 3:11).
Unconditional Election: Since man in his spiritual condition is hopelessly lost, his eternal destiny rests solely in the hands of his Creator (Romans 9:20-21). Furthermore, since all men have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed, all stand guilty and justly condemned before Him (Romans 3:23). It is therefore the prerogative of God to show mercy to those whom He has chosen to save, while justly requiring all others to answer and suffer for their wickedness (Exodus 33:19). Thus, those finally consigned to eternal punishment will receive what they deserve, while those in heaven will receive what they neither deserve nor sought (Romans 6:23).
Limited Atonement: While the redemption of sinners was predetermined by God before the creation, it was on Calvary where sovereign grace was finally manifest to the world (Colossians 2:15). Christís death on the cross was not a purposeless act of a hopeful Savior, but was specifically designed to atone for the sins of those whom God had elected to salvation (Luke 19:10). Being omnipotent in its power to save, Christís blood was nevertheless intended to be the purchase price of His Bride, the Church (Acts 20:28), and thus fully accomplished the purpose for which it was shed (John 19:30).
Irresistible Grace: Since man in his fallen state is not able to seek after God, he is also not able to resist the calling of God unto salvation (John 6:37). Godís eternal election of His people coupled with Christís death in behalf of the same has rendered their salvation certain (Ephesians 1:4-5). It is impossible for the elect to decline Godís grace simply because all inherent desire to reject God has been removed and replaced by a new heart which seeks after Him (Ezekiel 36:26).
Perseverance of the Saints: With a proper understanding of Godís immutability (Malachi 3:6) and His eternal grace towards those whom He has elected (1 Peter 5:10), the true believer may rest assured that Godís favor will never be revoked (Romans 8:38-39). Though the Christian will never achieve sinless perfection while still in his mortal state (Romans 7:21-24), he can be confident that the Holy Spirit will continue to work within to sanctify him (Philippians 2:12-13), and to conform him to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), until he is finally glorified in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 13:12). Salvation in its three stages - justification, sanctification, and glorification ó is therefore the sovereign work of God (Hebrews 12:2) and not the result of the religious efforts of man (John 1:12-13).
A Summary of Arminianism (D.A.I.S.Y.)
Dead but Somehow Alive: Arminians either implicitly or explicitly reject the biblical doctrine of the imputation of Adamís fallen nature and categorically deny ďTotal Depravity.Ē In other words, each individual is not born inherently sinful, but becomes an enemy of God sometime after a mythical ďage of accountabilityĒ when he consciously rebels against divine authority. Though it is believed that the person ďdies spirituallyĒ at this moment, he is nevertheless supposedly able to later respond to the call of the Gospel and to choose to believe in Christ of his own free will. Thus, faith is not seen as a divine gift, but as a human virtue.
Abolition of True Grace: Since man is not completely dead spiritually, and is somehow able to come to God of his own volition, Arminians will invariably reinterpret the Bibleís clear teachings on predestination to mean Godís election of believers based upon His foreknowledge of their future choice. They also insist that God will never force anyone to come to Him against their will, but gently woos the sinner and then reward his act of believing in Christ with eternal life.
Impotent Savior: Since they do not believe that the salvation of the individual believer was predetermined by Godís eternal decree, Arminians necessarily reject the idea that Christís redemptive work was in behalf of His elect only. It was instead undergone with the entire human race in mind, making salvation a mere possibility for all men without exception. Such is a clear denial of the doctrine of an accomplished redemption and reduces the Son of God to a soteriological failure who, in dying on the cross, invited all, but saved none. It also denigrates His Blood to a means to an end, rather than the end itself.
Sovereignty of the Sinner: Arminians have no true concept of the sovereignty of God due to their insistence that His plans and desires may be thwarted and altered by the whims of mankind. Stressing in their evangelistic efforts that God does not wish any man to perish, they nevertheless believe that all may resist the drawing of the Holy Spirit and thus prevent the bestowal of Godís gift of eternal life. Since the desires of fallen man may thus predominate over the decrees of their Creator, God becomes the servant of man rather than vice versa, and is merely a passive observer of worldly events, rather than the active Director thereof.
Yielding Eternal Uncertainty: Arminians who are consistent with their system also reject the biblical concept that genuine salvation is eternally secure and cannot be lost. If salvation is ultimately dependent upon the individual choice of the believer, then it must logically follow that it can also be terminated by a similar act of the will. A God who is not sovereign in bestowing eternal life cannot be sovereign in preserving it and must again submit Himself to the whims of human freedom. And so, in direct contrast to the biblical view, Arminian soteriology is completely man-centered from beginning to end and for this reason must be rejected as a theological abberration.