Calvinism and Arminianism

When Calvinism (monergism) is contrasted with Arminianism (synergism), what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

Most Christians think Calvinism/monergism is a shtick: they’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

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33 thoughts on “Calvinism and Arminianism

  1. Well.

    The Arminian view is of a universal atonement. The Calvinistic view is that of limited atonement, “particular redemption.” But actually both views limit the atonement, for neither believe all people will be saved.
    In the Arminian view, the atonement is limited by man’s “free will”-the choice to reject the offer of atonement limits its efectiveness to save. in this case, man controls the final outcome of the Messiah’s death. In the Calvinistic view, the atonement is limited by the “design of God.” The messiah’s death had a particular divine purpose, that being to redeem the elect from their sin. In this case God controls the final outcome of the Messiah’s death.
    I will have more later i am very tired and need my beauty sleep…..

    • There are two meanings to “universal atonement.”

      1. Everyone shall ultimately be saved irrespective of what they willed in this life.

      2. Everyone who, in this life, wills to be saved, shall be saved. This is the Arminian view you mean.

      Here is John Owen’s conundrum.

      “The Father imposed his wrath due unto sinners and the Son underwent punishment for either all the sins of all men, all the sins of some men, or some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said that if that last be true, some of the sins of all men, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved.

      That if the second be true, all of the sins of some men, the Christ in their stead suffered for all of the sins of all of the elect in the world and this is the truth, not normal unbiased but just truth.

      But if the first be the case, all the sins of all men, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, because of unbelief. I ask, is this unbelief a sin or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or he did not. If he did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died? If he did not he did not die for all their sins.”

      Here is what I consider a very good description of the scope of atonement by S Lewis Johnson (who by the way also has an excellent series on the future of “ethnic” Israel)

      • Dan, what a joy to read it put so well. There is one thing though where we differ. You are much kinder than moi, because, for me, the next step is to grab a freewiller and (want so much to) give him a little kick in his Arminian pants (as I blogged previously). What love!

  2. If we begin with the proposition that a person is unable to effect forgiveness of sins through their own efforts, and that God is just and w9ill not punish the same sin twice, then from a purely logical standpoint the Calvinistic approach makes the most sense.

    1) If Messiah died for “all of the sins of all people,” then all are saved from the wrath of God since all of the debt for all of their sins has been paid (=Universalism).

    2) If messiah died for “some of the sins of all people,” then no one is saved, for we begin with the premise that a person is unable to effect forgiveness of sins through their own efforts.

    3) If messiah died for “all the sins of some of the people,” then those for whom He died are indeed saved (Particularism).

    The Arminian would object because what is left out is any mention of one’s free choice either to accept or reject the offer of salvation through Yeshua’s atoning work. But what this objection shows is that in the Arminian view, the death of Yeshua does not actually pay for sin, it only makes “deposit” on that payment.

    so, is the payment for sins made by the death of Yeshua presented in the Scriptures as being potential or actual? do the Scriptures speak of the death of the Messiah as making salvation POSSIBLE or INEVITABLE?

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  6. The biggest mistake the Calvinist make is in the beginning. They are so closed minded that always use the excuse that God is sovereign. That is true, but they leave out one important piece. God ceded to Adam (man) the free will to make his own choice to keep his faith in God or to remove his faith in God’s promises and place his faith on his own self. When Satan told Adam that he could become his own God, Adam then removed his faith in God’s promise that he would die in that same day. He decided to be like God, or become his own god.

    God in his sovereignty ceded to Adam the ability to make his own free will choices. This did not remove any of God’s sovereignty, because it was the sovereign God who ceded this choice to Adam (man). Had Adam kept his faith in God’s promises, then he would have remained in Eden with God forever in a perfect nature by his faith in God and his promises. However, Adam immediately died the spiritual death and his spirit was disconnected from God (who is spirit). Adam died the spiritual death immediately (he was no longer one with God).

    In order for man to attain the free gift of salvation, he must once again use his own faith to place his life back into the will of God and receive a new Holy Ghost from God which will then a spiritual circumcision and indwelling of the Holy Ghost. The spiritual circumcision separated the flesh from the spirit, so the Holy Ghost can indwell the man in a perfect spirit separated from the tainted flesh. This sinful flesh must die, but the circumcised spirit of God and man will then inherit the promised heaven for those who use their faith to accept this free gift totally from God.

      • No! Adam and Eve were two real people. God made only one man, and he was made perfect and without sin (unrighteousness). He and Eve were in Eden with God, but also had access to the perfectly made earth. Adam would have remained in Eden with God had he not taken his faith in God’s promises and placed this faith on his own self to be his own god. By one man (Adam), sin (unrighteousness) came into God’s perfectly made creation. Death and chaos would follow mankind in the slow process of deterioration of man and earth (the second rule of science – Entropy). Eve is the mother of all living.

        After Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden, the remainder of mankind produced their own kind. God never makes anything that is imperfect, thus sinful man reproduced sinful man. God only created the method and miraculous process of reproduction. The miracle of the birth of a child and the makeup of the body is beyond our understanding. God made only one man (Adam), the rest of mankind outside Eden is reproduced by sinful man. No person can ever rightly say, “God made me this way”. The 13 chromosomes from the father and mother give each child certain characteristics from the parents, but each child has the free will to get a new heart from God or to reject this free gift from God.

        We do use Adam as a representative of mankind outside of Eden, but according to Genesis, he was a real person.

    • Absolutely yes. We all have the God given right to accept God or to reject God as our Lord and savior. Does God select some for special purposes? Yes he does, but he never selects someone to be saved and forces himself upon them. There is time with man, but there is no time with God. Draw a circle and place God in the middle and the circumference of the circle is man’s time. God is present at every point in man’s time, but since there is no time with God, everything that happens in man’s time is present with now, or with no time in God’s venue.

      Since God, through foreknowledge, knows man’s every future action, he also knows each man’s heart and each man’s decisions. If a man accepts God as his Lord and Savior sometimes in the future, God knows this already and may have a special purpose for that individual before he is even born. However, this does not mean that God chooses for this man to be saved, God already knows this man’s heart and that he will accept and love God, so God often chooses someone for a special purpose before he is even born due to God’s foreknowledge.

      The twelve apostles chosen by Jesus were not chosen to be saved. He stated to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. He chose them for a task, but he knew their heart, and they had the opportunity to refuse or accept his leadership. One who was chosen as an apostle did not accept the leadership of Jesus, because he was only after the money. He was chosen for a task, but refused to follow the Word of God (Jesus). Jesus even called him friend when Judas came to betray him. Had Judas repented and followed the Word of God (Jesus), he would not have betrayed Jesus. Judas was not predestined to betray Jesus, it just turned out he was the one who betrayed him. He was given the chance the same as the other 11 to be true to God, but Judas made the decision to reject the Word of God.

      Some will say that the Pharaoh was predestined to eternal damnation, but the Bible does not state this. The Pharaoh was already wicked and had in his heart to do his own will. God raised him up (allowed him) to reach the position of Pharaoh to show God had power over all of Pharaoh’s gods. The Pharaoh had already made it clear that he did not know God and did not care to know him. Because of this God placed the plagues on him and his people to speed up the process of his hardened heart in order to show God’s superiority over the god’s of Egypt and to speed up the process of The Pharaoh’s decision to free the Israelites. Once the Bible said God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, once it says Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and once it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart. All three of these are true if you realize the Pharaoh refused the spirit (water) that would keep his heart from hardening and would allow him to bring forth fruit.

      It is similar to this example: If the sun constantly shines on hard soil without water it becomes more hardened and completely barren. The same happens to man when he does not accept the spirit (water) into his heart, it becomes more hardened with warnings of God shining on him. Thus with Pharaoh and others, each man has both the sun and rain on them, but it is up to them to make their own decision. “God is not willing that any should perish”. “God is not a respecter of persons”.

        • Absolutely, yes! It cannot be any other way. If you say someone is saved, then you must ask the question, “Saved from what”? If the answer is saved from damnation into eternal life, then the question is answered. How can a saved person be unsaved? If you are saved, then it has to be final or you are not saved in the first place.

          God, through the Holy Ghost of Jesus, quickens a person into his kingdom when the person accepts (in totality) the gift of eternal life through his faith of placing his life in God’s Word. God never does anything that is not total righteous. If God saves someone, then it is done and cannot be undone. God has made it clear that anyone that believes his word regarding this issue and places his life in the hand’s of God, God’s promise is that he is able to keep that person for eternity. Since God does the saving, who can undo it. My soul is not in my hands, it is in the hand’s of God.

          I do not have the authority to undo anything God has done, so not even I can undo salvation performed by God. I can lose my faith, but I cannot lose the salvation that God has applied to me. God can turn me over to Satan (the world) if I rebel continuously and shame the Holy Ghost living in me. Satan and the world will destroy my body, but to the saving of the soul. There is neither death, nor life, nor anything that can keep me from the love of God after he has made me one of his children. Just as I am my mother and father’s son in the flesh, I can rebel against them, leave them and never speak to them again, or do any thing I want, but I am still their son, and it cannot be changed.

          There are several verses in the New Testament that some use to indicate a person can lose his salvation, but those verses are misinterpreted by these people.

            • It was the promise kept by God who said that anyone who accepts his offer of the free gift of God (Grace) through our own faith, God would birth us into his kingdom by the Holy Ghost of Jesus. God set up this plan of man’s faith to accept his promises or to reject them when he ceded this sovereign right to Adam. As long as Adam kept his faith in God’s promises, he remained perfect in Eden. When he removed his faith from God’s promises, ate of the forbidden tree, and wanted to be his own god to know the difference between good and evil, he then fell into unrighteousness. In order for man to once again be reunited spiritually with God, he must use his faith to focus his life back on God’s promises. Since God is the most secure being, then God will birth the person into his kingdom and make him his child for eternity.

              Since Grace has to be 100% by righteousness, God had to sacrifice his only begotten son to atone for the Adamic sin. Now the ball is in our side of the court. We cannot be condemned anymore by Adam’s sin, we can only be condemned by our rejection of the free offer of eternal life by God. This free offer can only be attained through our faith in God’s promises.

              All men born of Adam outside Eden have the knowledge of good and evil and must choose which of these lives he desires. If he chooses good, then he is choosing the righteousness provided by God and will live forever with God. If he chooses the god of evil, he will follow Satan into an eternal hell. As the first chapter of John states, “The word of God became flesh and this light of God lights every man who comes into this world. If a man walks toward the light and accepts it, he is born again by the Holy Ghost of Christ. If he walks away from this light, “How great is this darkness?”. Eventually, a lost person may walk so far from the light that he can never find his way back to this light and is lost forever.

              Romans 1:19–21 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

              This passage also states that God has revealed himself to all of mankind, and it is up to each person to accept or reject God. Man is left without any excuse if he does not accept this free gift of salvation from God. It is not God’s desire for anyone to perish, nor is it his fault if anyone goes to hell.

  7. Yes, according to God’s promise. He has promised that those who accept by faith the free gift of salvation, each person will become a child of God through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and the quickening of the soul in unison with God. Just as man (Adam) lost his spiritual unity with God (died the spiritual death), the reverse of this action will bring a man back to God via his faith and God’s saving grace.

    The other side of this coin is that nobody deserves to go to heaven on his own merits. The only way to heaven is through the door of Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, truth, and the light”, no one comes to the Father except through me. However, man was given the knowledge of good and evil and ceded the sovereignty by God to choose good or evil. If he chooses good (God knows a man’s heart), then the Holy Ghost of Christ will indwell that person by uniting God’s spirit with man’s spirit, thus reversing the action taken by Adam. Just as Adam’s spirit (breathed into him by God) gave him union with God, so will the same action be taken when the Holy Ghost breathes God’s spirit into the person who humbles himself and places his faith totally on God through Jesus.

    There is a physical circumcision exercised by the Jews that forebodes the spiritual circumcision effected by the Holy Ghost of Christ. At the time of the spiritual birth into the kingdom of heaven, the individual has repented of his inability to provide for his own salvation on his own merits. He then ask God to extend to him the free gift of eternal life in Christ. The Holy Ghost then spiritually circumcises the individual separating his spirit from his flesh. The individual then receives a new heart from God via the breath of the Holy Ghost indwelling the individual. From then on, the individual is united in spirit with God for eternity. However, since the flesh is still sinful and separated from the pure spirit within the Christian, the flesh must eventually die and be placed in the ground and go back to the dust. The Christian will eventually receive a new body from God that is fit for eternity in a celestial surrounding called heaven. It will probably be some kind of atomical body that defies time and space and will be united with man’s righteous spirit that has been previously united with God through the new birth. “Ye must be born again”.

    • If you deserved to be saved, was it something in God or something in you (your power, ability, goodness) which made God save you?

      Let us stick with the meaning of words for a mo: what is the difference in meaning between someone “deserving” something and “meriting” something?

      • You deserve something if you qualify for the conditions of the offer. God has offered salvation to those who will accept it unconditionally by their faith in his promises. If you meet those qualifications to receive the offer, then you deserve to receive it. Merit is something you earn. No man can earn his way into heaven by keeping the law. God gave the law and told man to obey it, but man has not been able to obey the law, so none can earn enough merits to overcome the difficulties of the law. Man has no merit to be able to provide his own salvation, but God has offered it for free according to his conditions. Any man who accepts these conditions deserves to receive the frees gift of eternal life. A man can accept the free gift, but he cannot earn (merit) eternal life by his own efforts.

  8. First, we must understand God and his reason for creating man. God had angels, but we can consider them somewhat like a robot in one facet. They are extensions of God to carry out his commandments and instructions. They do not and have never had a free will to do as they pleased. When Adam was created, he was ceded sovereignty by God to make his own decisions; the angels were not created as such, they had no authority to break God’s rules nor usurp his authority. They were created to carry out commands from God.

    God told Adam that it was not good for him to be alone. To me, this indicates that God knew how it was to be alone with no one else with the authority to think on his own and be able to have a relationship with God. God then took the woman out of man and gave her back to him so he would have someone to enjoy a relationship. God has ceded sovereignty to Adam to make his own decisions to keep his faith in God’s promises, or to go his own way and be his own god. God can only have a people who loves him and returns God’s love when he has the sovereign right to make this choice. Thus man has inherited the ability to know good and evil from Adam’s choice to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thus, by one man (Adam) sin came into God’s perfect creation and caused chaos.

    What was Satan doing in Eden (Paradise) if he was already expelled from God’s residence? Satan did not have the authority to usurp God’s authority or rebel against God. Satan knew that Adam had that choice and ability. Satan also knew that if he could get Satan to use his sovereign right to rebel against God’s Word and promises, then Satan could use this event to try and rebel against God and try to overtake the 3rd heaven (Eden/Paradise). Satan was cast out of Eden the same day that Adam was cast out of Eden.

    At this time, God’s foreknowledge of all events caused him to set up another plan to redeem man from the sin of Adam and wipe the slate clean for all men born of Adam. Until Christ made the atonement for the Adamic sin, mankind was condemned to be permanently separated from God for eternity. When Christ fulfilled the plan of salvation and became the Lamb of God to take away the sin (singular/Adamic Sin) of the world, all of mankind was released from the penalty of the Adamic sin. However, as in Tennis, the ball was now in mankind’s side of the court. It was then the responsibility of each man born into the world to either seek the good or succumb to the evil. Man was no longer condemned by the Adamic sin of eternal separation from God; he now had to use his choice by faith to either accept God’s love and love him back or to reject God’s love and be his own god.

    God made the plan of salvation and ceded the sovereign ability of man to make his own decision to accept God’s only plan of salvation or reject it and follow Satan into hell.

    Since this is God’s plan and he has given man the sovereign right to accept it and place himself in the hands of the almighty God, yes, by God’s promises the man deserves this salvation offered to him by God. Does man have the ability to make his own rules and his own understanding in order to become righteous enough to have a union with God? Absolutely not, he has no merit that can bring himself up to the standards of righteousness that comes only from God. His only chance is to receive by his faith the free gift of God that is available to all men in order that God can breath into him the breath of life that was breathed into Adam to bring him into a spiritual union with a spiritual God.

  9. Would you say that your decision to allow God (who ceaselessly pleads with “carnal” man) to save you is a good quality in you that deserves to be rewarded . And that the decision not to allow God to save you would be a bad quality in you that deserves to be punished?

  10. No, it is not a quality. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are all on an equal level with the ability to discern good from evil due to Adam’s act of eating of the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. It was Adam’s fault that we are separated from God, but Jesus has atoned for that Adamic sin. We are now freed from the penalty of the Adamic sin, but we are still separated from God. God has made a way for us to be reunited with him. He has offered us the free gift of eternal life, but we must accept or reject this gift. Yes, it is twofold; we cannot merit the free gift, but since God has provided this free gift for everyone for the taking, I deserve the same opportunity as all of mankind to accept this free gift along with all the others who accept it. A person who rejects this only avenue to escape an eternal hell deserves to go to hell because he rejects this free gift because he wants to earn his own salvation of which it is impossible. The difference between the two actions is nothing more than the exercising by mankind of his freedom to choose to accept or reject God’s lordship over him. Man has the faith to accept the Lordship of Christ and his promises, or to use his faith to believe he can go his own way and find his own solution.

    • It seems the dictionary got it wrong then.
      meritˈmɛrɪt/noun1.the quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially so as to deserve praise or reward.”composers of outstanding merit”synonyms:excellence, goodness,standard, quality, level, grade,high quality, calibre, worth,good, credit, eminence,worthiness, value, virtue,distinction, account,deservingness,meritoriousness”composers of outstanding merit”verb1.deserve or be worthy of (reward, punishment, or attention).”the results have been encouraging enough to merit further investigation”synonyms:deserve, earn, be deserving of,warrant, rate, justify, be worthy of, be worth, be entitled to, have a right to,have a claim to/on, be qualified for”the accusation did not merit a 

  11. What’s the difference between “earn” salvation and “deserve” salvation? Did you do anything to deserve your salvation?

    Have you ever prayed that God would soften, open (and the like) a sinner’s heart?

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