Calvinism vs Arminianism: Resolving the Great Debate [2024]

Table of Contents

In this article, we take a meticulous yet engaging journey through the landscape of two theological giants – Calvinism vs Arminianism. If you’re keen on theology or history, or you’re just curious, this guide is tailored for you.

Introduction to Calvinism vs Arminianism

Calvinism vs Arminianism

Let’s kick things off by understanding why this age-old debate is still relevant.

So, why has Calvinism vs Arminianism stood the test of time? Why do these theological stances continue to captivate scholars, theologians, and laypeople alike? This debate tackles fundamental questions about free will, divine grace, and salvation. It’s not just a debate for debate’s sake; it’s a quest to understand the very fabric of our beliefs.

In this section, we will delve into the inception of both Calvinism and Arminianism, explore their core tenets, and understand the importance of their discourse in contemporary society.

Understanding these theological perspectives is akin to understanding the building blocks of various Christian traditions. It’s an essential exploration for anyone committed to deeper theological insights.

So, shall we?

The Importance of the Debate

Imagine two intellectual giants locked in a centuries-long chess match. That’s Calvinism vs Arminianism for you. The debate is critical because it addresses fundamental questions about human free will, divine grace, and the nature of salvation.

Think about it – how do we reconcile the notion of an all-powerful God with the free will He has bestowed upon us? How does God’s grace operate in the world? And when it comes to salvation, is it predetermined, or do we have a say in it?

These questions are not just theological curiosities; they’re the very foundation upon which many believers build their understanding of faith. The answers – or the search for answers – can shape how one leads their life, how communities form, and how churches operate.

This debate, like an age-old tapestry, is woven with rich histories, profound beliefs, and an enduring quest for understanding. It is a dialogue that has, for centuries, engaged thinkers and believers in a profound examination of the human condition in relation to the divine.

So, let’s put on our thinking caps and delve deeper into the enthralling theological chess match that is Calvinism vs Arminianism.

What is Calvinism?

Let’s turn back the clock and explore where Calvinism comes from.

Calvinism! It’s not just a word; it’s an entire theological framework that has shaped the course of Christian history since the 16th century. Named after the French reformer John Calvin, Calvinism is often associated with the Reformation period when the Protestant movement was gaining momentum.

But wait a minute, what does Calvinism actually stand for?

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History of Calvinism

Calvinism vs Arminianism

John Calvin, born in 1509 in France, was a central figure in the Protestant Reformation. His writings, particularly the Institutes of the Christian Religion, laid the groundwork for what we now know as Calvinism.

Calvin’s thoughts were deeply rooted in the authority of Scripture and the sovereignty of God. He argued that the Bible was the ultimate source of truth and that God’s will was supreme over human affairs.

Core Tenets of Calvinism

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Calvinism is often summed up with the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity: This idea suggests that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every aspect of a human’s being – be it mind, will, or emotions – is corrupted by sin. In this state, humans are incapable of following or even choosing to follow God’s will on their own.

Unconditional Election: Unconditional election is the belief that from eternity past, God has chosen certain individuals for salvation. This election is not based on any foreseen merit or action on the part of the person, but solely based on God’s mercy and sovereign will. This is the cornerstone of the Reformed doctrine of predestination.

Limited Atonement: Also known as “particular atonement,” this tenet posits that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was not a blanket redemption for all, but rather an atonement specifically for those whom God has elected. This implies that Christ’s sacrifice has a particular purpose and is ultimately efficacious for those elected.

Irresistible Grace: This principle maintains that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom He has determined to save. In essence, those whom God has elected will invariably come to a saving faith, as they cannot ultimately resist God’s divine will for their salvation.

Perseverance of the Saints: The final point of TULIP asserts that those who are elect in Christ will certainly persevere in faith. In other words, those who are truly saved will never fall away from or abandon their faith due to the preserving grace of God.

Each of these tenets is deeply interwoven and collectively forms the bedrock of Calvinistic theology, emphasizing the sovereignty of God in matters of salvation and grace. These principles have been both cherished and debated among theologians and continue to inspire rich theological reflection.

So, there you have it! A glimpse into the origins and core beliefs of Calvinism. It’s a rich and historically significant theological perspective that continues to shape Christian thought and practice today.

What is Arminianism?

Time to get acquainted with Calvinism’s counterpart.

Arminianism, often seen as the counterweight to Calvinism, carries its own historical significance and theological substance. Like the two sides of a coin, these theological perspectives complement and challenge each other.

If you love this post on Calvinism vs. Arminianism, you will also love this shocking solution to the free-will dilemma.

History of Arminianism

Calvinism vs Arminianism

Arminianism emerged in the early 17th century as a response to Calvinism. It’s named after Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian. Arminius was initially a staunch supporter of Calvinism but, over time, developed reservations regarding certain aspects of Calvinistic doctrine, particularly predestination.

Arminius and his followers, known as the Remonstrants, presented a different take on salvation and human free will. The Five Articles of Remonstrance were formally published in 1610, and they serve as the foundation of Arminian theology. This theology gained traction and has had a significant impact on various Protestant denominations.

Core Beliefs of Arminianism

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty. What does Arminianism stand for? At its core, Arminianism posits:

Human Free Will: Unlike the Calvinist view of total depravity, Arminians believe that while humans are fallen, they are not entirely deprived of free will. In the Arminian view, God’s grace is seen as a facilitator that restores the ability to choose faith. This means that individuals have the genuine capacity to accept or reject God’s grace through their own free will.

Conditional Election: This concept proposes that God’s election of individuals to salvation is based on His foreknowledge of their free will choices. Essentially, God’s predestination is conditional upon an individual’s response to His grace. In this view, God is both omniscient and sovereign, but human decisions play a role in God’s election.

General Atonement: According to Arminianism, Christ’s atonement is universally applicable. This means that Jesus died for all individuals, offering salvation to every human being without exception. This is in contrast to the Calvinist belief of Limited Atonement, which posits that Christ died only for the elect.

Resistible Grace: Arminians hold that the grace of God can be resisted and ultimately rejected. While God extends His grace to all people, and desires that all come to repentance, individuals can use their free will to resist and reject this grace. This view maintains that God does not override human freedom.

Uncertainty of Perseverance: Arminians believe that an individual’s continuous faith is necessary for final salvation. This is the belief that it’s possible for a person to fall from grace if they choose to turn away from God after coming to faith. Salvation is seen as a dynamic relationship that requires ongoing commitment and can be broken through apostasy.

In a nutshell, Arminianism emphasizes human free will and responsibility in the salvation process while acknowledging God’s sovereignty and grace. This theological perspective forms the foundation for various Christian traditions and continues to be relevant in contemporary theological discussions.

If you are enjoying this article, you will also love to read more on Calvinism Vs Molinism.

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TULIP Calvinism vs. Arminianism: A Comparative Analysis

Now that we’ve got our heads wrapped around the core tenets of Calvinism and Arminianism, let’s stack them side by side and weigh them against each other. What are the contrasts and similarities, and why do they matter?

Total Depravity vs. Human Free Will

Calvinism: Total Depravity in Calvinism holds that humans are inherently sinful to the core and are incapable of choosing God or doing good on their own.

Arminianism: Human Free Will, on the other hand, posits that humans, though sinful, are capable of choosing to accept or reject God’s grace.

This is a significant divergence. While both agree on the fallen nature of humanity, Calvinism sees humans as totally incapable, whereas Arminianism ascribes some ability to choose.

Unconditional Election vs. Conditional Election

Calvinism: Unconditional Election is the belief that God has elected individuals for salvation based solely on His will, not on any merit or choice of the individual.

Arminianism: Conditional Election posits that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge of who will freely choose Him.

Here, Calvinism emphasizes God’s sovereign choice, while Arminianism stresses human choice and God’s foreknowledge.

Limited Atonement vs. General Atonement

Calvinism: Limited Atonement means that Christ’s sacrifice was exclusively for the elect and only efficient for their salvation.

Arminianism: General Atonement, conversely, posits that Christ died for all people, and His atonement is available to all.

In this, we see Calvinism’s focus on the particularity of Christ’s sacrifice for the elect and Arminianism’s emphasis on the universality of the atonement.

Irresistible Grace vs. Resistible Grace

Calvinism: Irresistible Grace asserts that God’s call to salvation cannot be resisted by those He has elected.

Arminianism: Resistible Grace holds that an individual can choose to reject God’s grace.

This contrast highlights Calvinism’s view of an overriding divine will in the process of salvation and Arminianism’s view of human agency in accepting or rejecting grace.

Perseverance of the Saints vs. Uncertainty of Perseverance

Calvinism: Perseverance of the Saints means that those elected by God will inevitably persevere in faith.

Arminianism: Uncertainty of Perseverance posits that it’s possible for true believers to fall away from faith.

This difference points to Calvinism’s assurance of the endurance of the elect, contrasted with Arminianism’s position that perseverance is not guaranteed.

In conclusion, while both Calvinism and Arminianism seek to articulate the biblical doctrine of salvation, they differ significantly in their emphases on divine sovereignty and human free will. These distinctions have been the catalyst for theological debates and have shaped various Christian traditions.

What is Libertarian Free Will?

So, let’s pop open the hood and tinker around with this concept of Libertarian Free Will. How does it factor into the grand equation of Calvinism and Arminianism?

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Defining Libertarian Free Will

Libertarian Free Will is a philosophical and theological concept asserting that individuals possess the genuine ability to make choices that are not determined or predestined by external circumstances, divine foreknowledge, or causal determinism. Essentially, it’s the belief that humans are active agents who have control over their actions and decisions.

Libertarian Free Will in Arminianism

Alright, let’s reel in Arminianism into the picture. Remember when we discussed Human Free Will as a core tenet of Arminianism? Well, that’s where Libertarian Free Will comes into play. Arminianism is heavily aligned with Libertarian Free Will. It holds that even though humans have a sinful nature, they can still make free choices – and this includes the decision to accept or reject God’s grace. According to Arminianism, God’s grace enables humans to make a genuine, free choice regarding their salvation.

Libertarian Free Will and Calvinism

Now, switching gears to Calvinism, here’s where things get a little thorny. Calvinism is not so keen on Libertarian Free Will. Remember Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace from Calvinism’s TULIP? Calvinism holds that due to total depravity, humans can’t make a genuine free choice regarding salvation. Moreover, with Irresistible Grace, the elect can’t say “no” to God’s call. These notions are fundamentally at odds with the concept of Libertarian Free Will.

The Intersection and Conflict

So, we’ve got Calvinism and Arminianism locked in a theological dance around the notion of Libertarian Free Will. Libertarian Free Will is embraced by Arminianism as it paints a picture of a human being who, though sinful, has the capacity to choose God. Calvinism, however, waltzes in a different direction, stressing God’s sovereignty and a kind of grace that you can’t say no to if you’re part of the elect.

In essence, Libertarian Free Will is one of the pillars that distinguishes Arminianism from Calvinism. It’s a key component in the broader conversation and debate on human agency, divine sovereignty, and the mechanics of salvation. The differing perspectives on Libertarian Free Will in Calvinism and Arminianism have profoundly shaped theological discussions and understandings of soteriology.

If you looking to go even deeper, this debate is closely related to the logical problem of evil.

Calvinism vs. Arminianism – The Dilemma

Now, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty. The divide between Calvinism and Arminianism isn’t just some theological kerfuffle; it’s a profound debate that’s been brewing for centuries. But what exactly has these two sides locking horns?

Points of Contention between Calvinism Vs Arminianism

1. The Nature of Free Will

Calvinism maintains that humans, due to their totally depraved nature, do not have the freedom to choose God or salvation. Only the grace of God can enable such a choice.

Arminianism, conversely, asserts that humans have libertarian free will. While humans are sinful, they can still make genuine choices, including the decision to accept or reject God’s grace.

2. The Scope of Atonement

How wide is the net of Christ’s saving grace? Well, Calvinism asserts that it’s rather selective. Limited Atonement is the belief that Christ’s death was only for the elect.

Arminianism, on the other hand, believes in General Atonement, which posits that Christ died for all and that His saving grace is available to all.

3. The Mechanics of Election

Calvinism advocates Unconditional Election, the idea that God has elected certain individuals for salvation based solely on His will.

In contrast, Arminianism believes in Conditional Election, which is the idea that God elects individuals based on His foreknowledge of who will freely choose to accept His grace.

4. The Perseverance in Faith

Can true believers lose their salvation? Calvinism says no. It teaches the Perseverance of the Saints, meaning that the elect will inevitably continue in faith.

Arminianism has a different take. It holds the possibility of falling from grace if one turns away from God after coming to faith.

5. The Role of God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

In Calvinism, God’s sovereignty is emphasized to the extent that God controls all events, including the election of individuals for salvation.

In Arminianism, there’s a balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. God’s sovereign will works in harmony with human free will.

Why Does Calvinism Vs Arminianism Matter?

Here’s the crux of the matter: These points of contention are not just theological abstractions; they touch on the very nature of God, human beings, and the salvation process. They speak to questions that have been contemplated for centuries: How free are we? What is the nature of divine grace? How does God’s sovereignty operate?

Understanding the nuances between Calvinism and Arminianism provides insight into different Christian traditions and how they interpret Scripture and theology. This debate is essential in shaping Christian thought, practice, and identity. It’s not merely about picking a side; it’s about engaging with deep theological questions that challenge and enrich faith.

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History of Calvinism vs. Arminianism

History buffs, this one’s for you. This theological debate didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. It’s got roots. So, let’s hop onto our historical time machine and check out how the Calvinism vs Arminianism debate shaped up.

The Reformation and the Rise of Calvinism

Our journey begins in the 16th century with the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin, a French theologian and pastor, was one of the central figures in the Reformation. His teachings, especially those in his magnum opus, Institutes of the Christian Religion, laid the groundwork for what would become known as Calvinism. He emphasized the sovereignty of God, predestination, and salvation by grace alone.

Jacobus Arminius and the Birth of Arminianism

Fast forward a few decades, and enter Jacobus Arminius. He was a Dutch theologian who started off as a supporter of Calvinist beliefs. However, as he delved into the Scriptures, he found himself questioning some of the tenets of Calvinism, particularly the notions of predestination and free will. This led him to develop an alternative theological framework, which was posthumously dubbed as Arminianism by his followers.

The Synod of Dort

Now, this is where things heat up. After Arminius’ death, his followers summarized his teachings into five points and presented them in a document called the Remonstrance. This document didn’t exactly receive a warm reception from the Calvinist camp. As tensions escalated, a church council called the Synod of Dort was convened from 1618 to 1619 to address the growing divide. The Synod rejected the Remonstrance and affirmed Calvinist doctrines, particularly through the formulation of the TULIP acronym.

The Debate in the New World

The theological ripples didn’t stop in Europe. They crossed the Atlantic and influenced Christian thought in the Americas. Both Calvinist and Arminian beliefs found fertile ground in the New World, especially in the United States. The Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries were influenced by Calvinist thought, while Methodism and other evangelical movements were often aligned with Arminianism.

Modern Times

Even today, the debate continues. Different denominations and theological schools lean towards either Calvinism or Arminianism. The theological underpinnings of these traditions continue to shape sermons, biblical interpretations, and Christian education.

A Debate That Transcends Time

Calvinism and Arminianism have been, and will likely continue to be, significant theological frameworks within Christianity. The debate between them is more than just historical happenstance; it represents deep-seated theological explorations that have persisted across centuries. Through understanding this history, one gains a richer perspective on the multifaceted tapestry of Christian thought and tradition.

Key Moments and Figures In Calvinism Vs Arminianism

From the Synod of Dort in the 17th century to the present-day discussions, the debate has evolved with various scholars and theologians contributing to the discourse. Let’s shine the spotlight on some key moments and figures in the Calvinism vs Arminianism debate.

1. John Calvin (1509-1564)

We can’t talk about Calvinism without mentioning the man himself, John Calvin. His Institutes of the Christian Religion is a cornerstone of Reformed theology. He emphasized God’s sovereignty, predestination, and salvation by grace through faith.

2. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609)

The father of Arminianism, Jacobus Arminius, initially was a Calvinist. His in-depth studies led him to diverge from Calvin’s teachings, especially concerning predestination and free will.

3. The Remonstrants

After Arminius’ death, his followers, known as the Remonstrants, played a significant role in formulating and promoting Arminian theology. They summarized his teachings into five points which challenged Calvinist doctrines.

4. Synod of Dort (1618-1619)

This church council was a pivotal moment in the debate. It was here that the Calvinist response to the Remonstrants was formalized, resulting in the five points of Calvinism, represented by the TULIP acronym.

5. John Wesley (1703-1791)

Fast forward to the 18th century, and enter John Wesley, an English cleric and theologian who is credited with founding the Methodist movement. Wesley was a staunch Arminian and helped popularize Arminian beliefs, particularly in the United States.

6. Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” was a prominent Baptist preacher and a staunch Calvinist. He defended the doctrines of grace and was critical of what he perceived as the lax moral standards of Arminianism.

7. The 20th Century and Beyond

The debate continued into the 20th century and beyond, with scholars such as R.C. Sproul, a Reformed theologian, defending Calvinism, and Roger Olson, an evangelical theologian, advocating for Arminianism.

8. The Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement

In the early 21st century, a movement known as the Young, Restless, and Reformed, saw a resurgence in Calvinistic beliefs among younger evangelicals, with figures like John Piper and Mark Driscoll at the forefront.

9. Society of Evangelical Arminians

Established in the 21st century, the Society of Evangelical Arminians aims to represent and advance Arminian theology in response to the growing Reformed movement.

The debate between Calvinism and Arminianism has been marked by fervent theological wrangling, shaped by prominent figures and watershed moments. This historical and ongoing dialogue represents an earnest struggle to understand the intricacies of faith, grace, and human freedom within the Christian tradition.

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Influential Figures in Calvinism Vs Arminianism

From John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius to contemporary theologians, there’s an illustrious list of proponents on both sides.

Calvinism:

1. John Calvin:

The originator of Calvinism, John Calvin’s writings, particularly Institutes of the Christian Religion, remain foundational to Reformed theology.

2. Jonathan Edwards:

An American preacher, philosopher, and theologian, Edwards is known for his fire-and-brimstone sermons. He played a critical role in shaping Calvinist theology during the First Great Awakening.

3. Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

Often referred to as the “Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon was a Baptist minister in London in the 19th century. He defended Calvinism and is known for his passionate and powerful sermons.

4. R.C. Sproul:

A well-respected theologian of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, R.C. Sproul was known for his ability to explain complex theological concepts in an accessible manner. He was a staunch proponent of Reformed theology.

5. John Piper:

A contemporary theologian and pastor, Piper is one of the key figures in the Reformed theology resurgence among evangelicals, particularly through his Desiring God ministry and writings.

Arminianism:

1. Jacobus Arminius:

The namesake of Arminianism, Jacobus Arminius, was a Dutch theologian who challenged the Calvinist view on predestination and free will, laying the foundations for Arminian theology.

2. John Wesley:

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley was a fervent proponent of Arminian beliefs. His emphasis on personal holiness and social justice has influenced generations of Christians.

3. Hugo Grotius:

A Dutch jurist and theologian, Grotius was an early Arminian who defended the teachings of Jacobus Arminius and argued for religious tolerance.

4. Billy Graham:

While not a theologian per se, the evangelist Billy Graham leaned towards Arminianism. His inclusive message of God’s love for all humanity reflects the Arminian emphasis on universal atonement.

5. Roger E. Olson:

A contemporary theologian, Olson has been an articulate advocate for Arminian theology through his writings and teachings.

Calvinism and Arminianism have been championed by a host of intellectuals and theologians. Each side is marked by deep conviction and has contributed richly to the theological landscape within Christianity. These proponents, both past and present, have shaped the respective traditions and continue to inform the perspectives of countless believers worldwide.

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Best Books on Calvinism Vs Arminianism

Grab your reading glasses and settle in, as we explore some of the most influential books that dissect the Calvinism and Arminianism debate.

For Calvinism:

1. “Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin

This is the magnum opus of John Calvin and a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the foundations of Calvinism.

2. “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” by David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn

This book provides a modern and thorough look at the TULIP acronym and is often considered a standard reference on the Five Points of Calvinism.

3. “Chosen by God” by R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul brilliantly explains the concept of predestination and how it is linked to one’s understanding of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s free will.

4. “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist” by John Piper

John Piper makes a passionate case for the pursuit of joy in God as being the ultimate goal of the Christian life, reflecting a Calvinistic perspective on God’s supremacy.

For Arminianism:

1. “Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities” by Roger E. Olson

This is an essential read for understanding Arminianism, as Olson addresses misunderstandings and lays out the true beliefs of Arminian theology.

2. “The Works of Arminius, Vol. 1-3” by Jacobus Arminius

For a primary source, this three-volume set contains the major writings of Jacobus Arminius, including his declaration of sentiments and his commentary on various scriptural passages.

3. “Why I Am Not a Calvinist” by Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell

This book presents a case for Arminianism by critiquing Calvinistic beliefs and asserting the importance of human free will in the context of God’s grace.

4. “John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology” edited by Albert C. Outler and Richard P. Heitzenrater

Wesley, a key figure in Arminianism, delivered powerful sermons that emphasized the availability of salvation to all. This anthology captures some of his most influential sermons.

For a Balanced Perspective:

1. “The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal to Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free” by James R. White

This book defends the Reformed tradition and responds to criticisms, providing a Calvinistic perspective on the sovereignty of God.

2. “Against Calvinism” by Roger E. Olson and “For Calvinism” by Michael S. Horton

This set of two books, written from opposing perspectives, offers a balanced look into the core beliefs of both theological systems.

Understanding the nuances of Calvinism and Arminianism requires diligent study. These books are fantastic resources for delving into the theological depths of these two enduring perspectives. Whether you’re seeking to understand one side or looking for a balanced overview, there’s plenty to explore and ponder.

If you like this post, you would also like to read more closely into Christian views on the philosophy of time and how God relates to it.

Well, that brings us to the end of this post on Calvinism vs Arminianism.

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Calvinism Vs Arminianism FAQs:

Q1: What is the fundamental difference between Calvinism and Arminianism?

Calvinism and Arminianism mainly differ in their views on human free will in relation to divine sovereignty, and the scope of atonement. Calvinism emphasizes God’s sovereignty, believing that God predestines certain individuals for salvation. Arminianism, on the other hand, emphasizes human free will, believing that individuals have the choice to accept or reject God’s grace.

Q2: Do Calvinists believe in evangelism?


Yes, Calvinists do believe in evangelism. Despite believing in predestination, they hold that evangelism is a means through which God brings His elect to salvation, and it is also a command from Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations.

Q3: Can someone who believes in Arminianism also believe in eternal security?


Arminianism generally holds that it’s possible for a believer to fall from grace through apostasy. However, some individuals who identify with Arminianism may also believe in some form of eternal security, emphasizing God’s sustaining grace.

Q4: How did the Reformation impact the development of Calvinism and Arminianism?


The Reformation was a movement that aimed to reform the Roman Catholic Church and led to the development of Protestant churches. John Calvin was one of the leaders of the Reformation and his teachings formed the basis of Calvinism. Arminianism developed later, as a reaction to the perceived extremes of Calvinism.

Q5: Are there any denominations that identify specifically with Calvinism or Arminianism?


Yes. Presbyterian and Reformed churches are generally Calvinistic. The Methodist and Wesleyan traditions, as well as some Baptist churches, are generally identified with Arminianism.

Q6: Can someone be a mix of Calvinist and Arminian?


It is possible for someone to hold views that are a mix of Calvinist and Arminian beliefs. This is often referred to as Calminianism. However, some would argue that such a stance may lead to theological inconsistencies.

Q7: How does the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism impact everyday Christian life?


The debate can impact one’s view on evangelism, the assurance of salvation, and the understanding of God’s nature. It can shape the way Christians view their responsibility in living out their faith and how they relate to God and others.

Q8: Is Calvinism or Arminianism more faithful to the teachings of the Bible?


This is a highly debated question. Calvinists would argue that their beliefs are more faithful to the Scriptures, especially the teachings on God’s sovereignty. Arminians would argue that their views better reflect the biblical teachings on human free will and God’s universal love.

Q9: What was the Synod of Dort and how is it significant in the Calvinism vs Arminianism debate?


The Synod of Dort was a church council held in Dordrecht, Netherlands, from 1618 to 1619. It was convened to address the controversies surrounding Arminianism. The result of the Synod was the rejection of Arminianism and the affirmation of what would become the Five Points of Calvinism.

Q10: Can the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism be reconciled, or are they mutually exclusive theological views?


Some believe that there can be a middle ground or synthesis between Calvinism and Arminianism, while others believe they are mutually exclusive. The debate continues to this day.

Question For Comments: Which theological view, Calvinism vs Arminianism, do you believe best represents the message of grace in the Bible, and why? Share your thoughts below!

25 comments

  1. needed opinion to clarify unresolved fundamental theological issues at hand particular for neo-reformed positioning

    1. I reject Calvin’s theology because no god/God who is proclaimed as LOVE would in God’s own right heart and soul and mind condemn one of my sons to eternal Blessing and the other one son to eternal Damnation.

    1. Hello John, Thanks for your question. I have put the verse below for reference. One argument I have experienced Calvinist’s use to debate the verse you provided is the concept of Irresistible Grace. They would agree that anyone who believes it saved, but they only believe because they are a member of the elect (they were preordained to believe by God’s foreknowledge). Because God new them in advanced, and God’s Grace is irresistible, they therefore choose to believe. Choose is the important word there. If you were to suggest that this doesn’t seem like choice, they will often say that it is in fact choice. It was once explined to me that “If I was offered $1,000,000, you will always say yes even though you choice is free”. You can learn more about Calvinism in our full post on the subject.

      John 3:15-17 “15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

  2. How would a calvinist explain 1 John 2:2? “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” 

    1. Great Question Graeme,
      Firstly, I welcome any Calvinists reading this to provide their responses as well. I believe Calvinist’s would agree that Christ’s salvation is for the sins of the whole world, so long as you understood the “whole world” to mean all of the elect who are in Christ, chosen through God’s foreknowable “before” creation. So it’s for all of those in the whole world who were also irresistibly called by God’s grace.

      1. If that is true of Calvinist then they would be redefining the meaning of “whole world” used in other parts of scripture.
        In Genesis 41 the whole world came to Joseph to buy grain… was that just the “elect” that game to buy grain?
        In Zephaniah 3:8 is the Lord pouring out is wrath on the “elect”, are they consumed by fire from God’s jealous anger?
        The “whole world” is according to script, the entirety of the earth.

        1. Layne, thanks for sharing you oponion! Without delving into deeper study, my instinct is to say that the interpretation of that term should be done both in the context of the scripture as a whole, but also as the term pertains to the specific context as well. I look foreward to hearing what everyone else has to say!

      2. Now, that seems to me to be wanting the Scripture to say what you want it to say by adding your Calvinist spin to it. If we read this scripture as it is written it says the following: EVERYONE that BELIEVES, may have ETERNAL LIFE in HIM.(1) Then, it says WHOEVER BELIEVES WILL NOT PERISH.(2) And finally it says in verse 17 to SAVE THE WORLD. (3). Now, what don’t we understand about this context? This is what happens when we read some idea to make it fit our dogma. We are to try to make sense out of what the scripture says least we make nonsense. What does it say, what does it mean, and what does it mean to me.?These are the easy rules of a good Hermenutic.

  3. I appreciate the thought from both, but I feel that, while a systematic theological approach to the debate is a solid beginning, no attempt has been introduced regarding how covenant fits in to the narrative. Covenant (not covenant theology) underpins every promise of God. And without it having some voice in the debate, I feel both sides will always live with this tension. Covenant (I.e. blood covenant), I think, would bring significant polish into the debate.

  4. I’m concerned about my dear SIL. She prayed for me for a decade to get into God’s Word, then prayed I’d change my desire to divorce my husband, her husband’s brother. We all married in 1975, so we have a wonderful history. She’s been my spiritual mentor for decades. Now she needs help. I’ve combed through our Bible studies and found how she says her faith leans towards Armenian. I’ve never been one to get into any of theological debate. I want my faith to be like a child, as I grow up into spiritual education….Her husband was diagnosed 6/2/2020 with an aggressive stage 4 cancer. He’s survived to today, miracle after miracle by healthcare community – where he worked for nearly 50 years. The past few months, he’s taken a radical turn for the worst. She’s an RN while he was a CRNA. She has gone down a dark road, claiming she is full of anxiety and depression, that she failed her husband!
    I stumbled on this article to try to understand more about Arminianism. She has admitted to many of that she “knows all the right verses” (Job 42 it takes living it to really KNOW and Understand as well as many verses in Hebrews but 6:1 was where she evoked Armeniasm), but she just can’t help herself get over this major grief and anxiety….suggestions?

    1. Debbie, thanks for your comment and your authenticity. I’m happy to offer my personal recommendation. In times of grief, especially with that of a spouse of many decades, there is a natural cycle that will play out. Feeling anxious and depressed (from what you have described) is a completely normal part of this grieving process. In all likelihood, this will continue as she begins accept the reality that God has allowed her to be presented with. This is a difficult process and generally has 5 steps, I recommend you look up articles on the 5 stages of grief. I would further underlie, that no amount of referencing bible verses is going to stop her from feeling what’s natural in such situations. It’s okay that she is having this experience, and she needs to have it before she can move through it. The typical grieving process of a loved on is between two and three years, and this can be longer more difficult when a spouse of decades is lost.

      What she needs more than theology in this season of her life is your presence. The most valuable gift you can give her is your willingness to sit with her thorough these difficult moments so she doesn’t feel alone in them. More valuable than words and philosophy are hugs. I would also recommend taking some time and praying with her. Listen to her and be willing and able to empathize with her experience and emotions. You can pray some of the Psalms where David is facing destruction and ultimately is victorious in Christ. Ps 23 is my favorite. I hope this is helpful for you, though i know it doesn’t make the situation any easier. I pray God blesses you and you ability to support SIL in such a difficult time.

    2. This entire “argument” is so bizarre to me. It seems necessary only to people that want to try and determine for themselves who is saved and who is not – which is not anyone’s place to do. Concentrate on what we are called to do and let God do what God does. I find it laughable that anyone thinks they have it all figured out. Preach the Gospel to all and let God sort it out.

  5. One clear example from scripture settles this debate. How does Arminianism explain the concenversion of the Apostle Paul??? When did this great foundational apostle fall to the ground, on his own initiative, while on the road to Damascus, admitting his need for salvation, and then come to Christ by his own strength—as our Arminian friends would attest is the way salvation, i.e. how God saves people. Paul did nothing of the kind to win God’s favor, “not a snowballs chance in hades”—he would have never repented just by himself. As stated in Acts 9:15 he was a chosen vessel predestined, FIRST FOR SALVATION and then followed by ministry. Again, Paul (or Saul) did nothing to come to Christ on his own, God SELECTED him… as scripture declared him to be FIRST an example for all who believe. Read Acts 13:48, “The gentiles heard the word of God and rejoiced, and AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED (APPOINTED) TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED.” God must first chose each individual! Then comes the believing part. And God does not choose everybody. Salvation is of the Lord, not of man. Calvin got things right (for a better explanation, please read the book, The Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink).

  6. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained (predetermined) before the foundation of the world … who through Him believe in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory so that your faith and hope are in God.” My thought is that God “knew” and “predetermined” before foundation of world or before anyone was created that Christ would die for them. So God “foreknew” who would and who would not come to salvation then placed His election on those who would come to salvation. God is sovereign and Holy and Love and Mercy and Grace and can choose to create some for salvation and some not for salvation but His attributes favor “for whosoever will” giving each of us the opportunity to be drawn by the Holy Spirit but “choosing” or “election” of those He foreknew before the foundation of the world would come to Him. I heard one pastor share that “free will” and “election” are like two parallel tracks with amazing doctrine that will one day meet in eternity in the mind and heart of God: “For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. And now abide faith, hope, love … but the greatest of these is love.” “And the Spirit and the Bride say Come! Whosoever desires let him take of the water of life freely.”

  7. I really struggle as to why both can’t be completely correct if we look at it from Gods view point who is outside of his created time line. Does he or doesn’t he know the begging from the end? The alpha and Omega?

    So yes I believe 100% in free will although the potter who can do anything he wants with the clay means he knows how it ends, what we ultimately choose with our free-will.

    Esau I hated and Jacob I loved shows a God who operates on a different moral plane to us , he’s the creator , not us.

    1. Hello Luke, I love what you are saying and I hold a very similiar view. I’m working on a logical/philosophical argument to lay out the possition and regoriously defend it. I have been writing this specific argument for over five years to show why the Free will vs Soveriegnty debate is a flase dilemma. I will be adding a little more to the argument but I published what I have so far in an article titled: On The Nature And Perception Of Beings.

  8. I agree that both are correct. This is why. Clearly, God has the elect that He foreknew and predestined. But, remember Matt 21:43, the parable of the tenants. The kingdom was taken from them and now the Church of the gentiles will bear fruit for Jesus. Until the time of the gentiles is through. Then, all of the elect I’ll be saved.

  9. I clearly believe that our enemy, the devil has used both theologies to cause great disunity in the Body of Christ. My greatest prayer is that we would set aside these differences. Let us take the Gospel and do as Jesus commanded. God have mercy on all our souls. MAY JESUS BE GLORIFIED

  10. I am grateful to have read this. It has helped me see an answer for truth. Jesus blood has made peace with every seen and unseen power and principality. Ephesians and Thessalonians says so. God sees everything and everyone now through the blood. I have seen then it’s not just for the elect. This is an error teaching. I am grateful to know this now. Thankful for this post.

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