Free Essay

Calvinism and Arminianism

In: English and Literature

Submitted By abermea1
Words 1229
Pages 5
Calvinism and Arminianism
Abel Bermea, Jr.
Liberty University
ENG /101
August 29, 2006

The purpose of this paper is to compare two theological positions, namely Calvinism and Arminianism. These are two positions on either side of the debate concerning free will and predestination. There are those who believe that we have the free will to love/obey God or hate/deny him, and there are those who believe that God, in his sovereignty, has predetermined who will be saved and who will not be saved and neither group is willing to budge. Both sides claim to have the support of Scripture, and both have specific verses they will undoubtedly point to as an "I told you so." The problem is that both sides appear, on some levels at least, to be right. The question that can be answered from a comparison of these two views is this: Which one of these positions offers the more sensible, biblical account?
Let’s look at a simple syllogism that sums up the argument of the Arminian (free will advocate). Premise 1: God desires that all men be saved. Premise 2: All men are not saved. Conclusion: Man, by exercising his will, has interfered with God's desire. Calvinists agree with the first premise, and even the second premise. But they come to a very different conclusion. Here is what the Calvinist argues: Premise 1: God desires that all men be saved.
Premise 2: All men are not saved. Conclusion: It is not God's chief desire that all men be saved; he has another desire which is stronger, and that is to only save some. This simply does not work logically. Whereas the Arminian’s conclusion is consistent with their starting premise, the Calvinist’s conclusion is contradictory to their starting premise. Their argument starts with "God desires that all men be saved" and ends with "God does not desire that all men be saved." The Calvinist argues that both statements are true, even though they are contradictory. This is the same thing as saying "James is married," and then saying "James is not married." Both statements cannot be true simultaneously. This is pretty basic logic.
According to the Arminian argument, which is logically coherent, man cannot save himself, but he can recognize of his own will his need of salvation. He can make a conscious choice to accept the gift of Christ's sacrificial atonement. If God wants all men to be saved, and they are not all saved, then there are men who have, by choice, denied God. Calvinists often argue that this makes God seem weak or fallible. If saving all of mankind was God’s chief desire, then he would, in their opinion, inevitably save them, for the Calvinist holds that nothing (and most certainly not the will of man) can interfere with God’s sovereign will/desire. So, in spite of all the clear and oft-repeated verses affirming God’s desire to save all, the Calvinist still has reasons why this cannot be God’s chief desire. Here are two of them: 1) All men are not saved, and 2) God absolutely must exercise his wrath by damning a large percentage of humanity in order to fully glorify himself.
This leads them to the conclusion that God must have a higher will, one which supersedes his will/desire to save all, leading him to only saving some. But this is a very limiting view of God, and it creates rather severe problems when we consider the fact that the nature of God is love, not wrath. Calvinists, by assuming this position, are arguing that God’s sovereignty, rather than making him all-powerful, ends up restraining him by preventing him from being capable of offering true freedom to his creation. The Calvinist reasons that if man had genuine free will, then man would be able to defy God, and if man could defy God, then God’s sovereignty would be compromised. In other words, God was limited in what he could create, and he is limited in the way he can handle his creation. But the Arminian responds: What if God, in his sovereignty, intentionally made it possible for men and women to be free, even though it would mean his desires could be interfered with? What if God, with whom anything is possible, has more options available to him than obligations? What if God, whose nature is love, knew that the only love worth experiencing (or even capable of existing) is that which is the product of a mutual choosing? In the words of C.S. Lewis, "God knew what would happen if humanity used their freedom the wrong way; apparently He thought it worth the risk."
Given all the available evidence, both found in our personal experiences and in the Scriptures, it is quite natural to accept the Arminian position which affirms libertarian freedom, which is logically necessary if we are to adequately and coherently explain issues like moral responsibility, God’s loving nature, and the problem of evil. It should be quite obvious, based on the Scriptures and on our personal experience, that we are free to love/obey God or hate/deny Him, and it is only because of this ability to choose that it is possible for us to love God back the way he wants to be loved. This is why we exist; this is why we were created. This line of thinking, one which assumes mankind has genuine God-given freedom of the will, leaves us with a more biblical and consistent God, one who does not contradict Himself by simultaneously willing that all men be saved, and yet that only some men be saved. Instead, man is to blame for his own damnation. God offered salvation to all, as the Bible assures us repeatedly and clearly, and man has, in vast numbers, declined the offer. God remains blameless, and man remains fallen and sinful, but free.
Consider another valid argument used in defense of the freedom of man: Premise 1: If we are morally responsible for our actions, we must be free. Premise 2: We are morally responsible for our actions. Conclusion: Therefore, we must be free.
There are only two possibilities here: 1) We are either morally responsible and free, or 2) we are neither morally responsible nor free. The Bible teaches that we are morally responsible. Therefore, because we cannot have moral responsibility without freedom, the Bible indicates that we must be free. It is quite clear that God expects a certain kind of behavior from us, just like we expect a certain kind of behavior from each other. But God cannot hold us responsible for decisions we are incapable of making, or actions we are incapable of acting out. If we have no free will to love/obey God or to hate/disobey God, then God has no basis on which to judge us -- and yet we are told that we will be judged! How are we to be judged if we are not morally accountable? How are we to be morally accountable if we are not free? We can't be. It's that simple. God cannot judge us unless we are free to do something worth judging. Therefore, it is my conclusion that the Arminian position, which asserts that mankind has free will, is more logically coherent than the Calvinist doctrine which states that everything is determined.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Calvinism vs Arminianism

...Introduction Christianity has been a subject of much debate and controversy for many years. There have been many theologians who have studied Christianity and created doctrine of their own interpretation of Scripture. The doctrines that have caused much debate and have been argued for centuries would be Calvinism and Arminianism. There has been opposing views by churches and other theologians that has caused much controversy over these two doctrines. Calvinism is based on the theological beliefs and teachings by John Calvin and Arminianism is based on the views of Jacobus Arminius. Arminius was once a strict Calvinist who studied under John Calvin and later studies led him to doubt and reject many of the Calvinistic doctrines. To label oneself as either a Calvinist or Arminianist would need to fully understand each of their doctrines. PART ONE Calvinism ”The theological system of John Calvin and his followers marked by strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of humankind, and the doctrine of predestination.” -Merriam-Webster Dictionary John Calvin was a great reformation theologian who lived from 1509-1564. “The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within......

Words: 2421 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Calvinism vs Arminianism

...Calvinism and Arminianism The purpose of this paper is to compare two theological positions, namely Calvinism and Arminianism. These are two positions on either side of the extreme concerning free will and predestination. There are those who believe that we have the free will to love and obey God or deny God, and there are those who believe that God, in his sovereignty, has predetermined who will be saved or who will not be saved and neither group is willing to budge. Both sides claim to have the support of Scripture, and both have specific verses that are twisted and manipulated to show support and reasoning. The problem is that both sides appear, on some levels at least, to be right. The question that can be answered from a comparison of these two views is this: What are the basic differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, as well as, their relation to theology, biblical evidence and worldviews? This research paper covers the five key points or articles of Calvinism and Arminianism, as well as, the history, view of God and biblical evidence or support for each position. History The history of Calvinism and Arminianism dates back to the 16th century, where a man named John Calvin was born in 1509. John Calvin was a son of a lawyer and born in Noyon, France where he developed a love for theology and literature. In 1523 he went to the University of Paris where he studied theology, yet in 1528 he went to Orleans and a year later Bourges to study law. With......

Words: 2202 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

The Providence Debate:

...THE PROVIDENCE DEBATE: 10/08/2013 201340 FALL 2013 THEO 350-B05 INSTRUCTOR: DR. RICHARD LUMADUE STUDENT: CAROL J MOZEE THE PROVIDENCE DEBATE: 10/08/2013 201340 FALL 2013 THEO 350-B05 INSTRUCTOR: DR. RICHARD LUMADUE STUDENT: CAROL J MOZEE The Providence Debate: Personally why should there be a debate about God, and his where about and how and what he can and can’t do? Who is in control? God is! I know to some people this may not be an appropriate way to start this research paper, but it is what it is and I feel sad that this is how the world thinks and appreciate our God, our Father and Friend. It’s all in defining everything, and not just seeing God’s work and taking, God’s word and believing in God for whom he is. Defining God’s Providence, all things happens according to God’s Sovereign Will, “ God is in control. Romans 8:28 “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”. When one defines God’s providence it is referring to the way God governs the world. Does God really sit on His throne and dictate or rule the world? It is not surprising that there is some disagreement in the evangelical world concerning the control of God, His dealing with salvation especially as affected by Jesus and the freewill of mankind. Some theologians think that the three are in contradictory of each other. Are they really in conflict with each other’s or can all three exist......

Words: 4203 - Pages: 17

Premium Essay

Theology 104

...Study Guide: Module 2 I. Christianity is a Life-Changing Book Instructions to Student: Write your answers in this column. The cell will expand as you type. A. Core Christianity (textbook): Chapter 2 1. What does dual authorship mean? It means both God & Man were writing the Bible at the same time. 2. What was the Old Testament written on? Vellum or Parchments that were sewn together and rolled into a scroll. 3. What are the three divisions of the Old Testament? Law of Moses, Prophets, and Psalms 4. What did the Psalms scroll contain? The Major Prophets 5. What is a codex? The first title for the books ( New Testament) 6. Where does the name “Bible” come from? Ta Biblia – Latin for “the book”, later translated to Bible in English 7. Where does the term “Scripture” come from? Scriptus which is the act of producing writing. 8. What are three ways the Bible can influence its reader? It’s convicting, convincing, converting power to all who honestly accept its message and believe in Jesus Christ. B. Theology for Today (online excerpts) Arguments that the Bible is the Word of God 1. What three arguments form the basis for arguments from revelation? (1) that the Bible is consistent with itself, (2) that the Bible corresponds with reality, and (3) that the Bible’s claims can be scientifically demonstrated. We shall examine the Bible’s claim that it is the Word of God. 2. What empirical evidence sets Christianity apart from......

Words: 2130 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

Calvinism

...The Doctrine of Calvinism Name Course Professor Date Introduction Many people do not have a slight idea of what we mean by Calvinism. It is not a surprise because they know nothing about the doctrine. My effort is to try and help people understand the doctrine of Calvinism. I will try to explain what it is and the historical information behind it. It has a pretty wide doctrine that I will have the chance of defining it all through the paper. I think that it will be easy to highlight the scriptural basis linked to Calvinism. I will be glad to point out show the linkage present between Calvinism and scriptures in the Bible. There are different belief systems within Christianity of which Calvinism is one of them. Calvinism was taught by John Calvin, and it strictly pays attention to a very high view of scripture and tends to derive its theological formulations majorly on the word of God. In the course, I will be pointing out the theological development of Calvinism. How has the theology developed from the past? How did it come to be? Has it be accepted by the Christians or not? However, at the end of my work, I will be glad to show reasons that Calvinism has been criticized. Therefore, I will be able to indicate the criticism of the doctrine and the reason why some people oppose this doctrine. Different people have divergent views about Calvinism hence; the objections are present and will be highlighted. What people wonder is......

Words: 6086 - Pages: 25

Free Essay

Does Man Have Free Will

...whether the moral imperative is dependent on the divine grace for its actualization, or whether divine grace is dependent on the fulfillment of the moral imperative.”[1] This debate has been the cause of much disagreement throughout the history of the church. Brought to the forefront of debate by Augustine, arguing for the sovereignty of God, and Pelagius, arguing for the free will of man, the discussion over the relationship between God’s control and man’s ability has continued to this day. Later, during the reformation, Calvinists and Arminians continued the debate over the role man plays in the salvation process. This disagreement has caused Roger E. Olson to write, “We need to shoulder the responsibility of choosing between Calvinism and Arminianism. That does not mean choosing between Christianity and something else. It means choosing between two respectable interpretations of Scripture that have both existed within evangelical Christianity for centuries.”[2] While it seems apparent to some that the positions held by Calvinists and Arminians are impossible to harmonize, the contradiction between the sovereignty of God and free will of man can be overcome by clarifying the differences in nature of God and man with regard to time and point of view.[3] This paper...

Words: 3179 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

John Welsey

...John Wesley was a powerful personality whose passion and devotion to his cause and beliefs led him to explore and change people's view on Christianity and on the interpretation of the Scriptures. During his lifetime Wesley's determination and occasional dictatorial nature allowed him to influence people and help them change their opinion on religion. John Wesley's achievements spanned the majority of his lifetime. From his journeys to preach from England to Georgia, U.S.A. To other parts of Europe. Him writing a few hundred sermons. His longevity enabling him to see the beginning of Methodism's development. In which both of them were highly involved with do to their position in the church “were leaders of the evangelical revival in the Church of England in the eighteenth century.”1 The two of them with their position helped establish a new denomination, the Methodist Church, which was to grow and flourish in Britain and across the world. John Wesley was described as “that extraordinary man whose life and acts have taken their place in the religious history, not only of England, but of Christendom.”2 Through his work and powerful persona he became one of the most famous and recognizable people in England. “His universality of influence and range of achievement in matter of faith and conduct outstripped the leading politicians, philosophers and divines of his age.”3 John Wesley was “born in 1703”4 and was a well educated......

Words: 4666 - Pages: 19

Free Essay

“Reformed Theology and the Southern Baptist Convention: Historical Precedent or Revisionist Heterodoxy

...7 Sandy Creek Tradition………………………………………………………………………..10 Southern Baptist Convention………………………………………………………………..12 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………...15 Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………...17 Introduction While Arminians have through the years attempted to lay claims of exclusivity that theirs is the primary soteriological doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention, history demonstrates otherwise and these assertions have a revisionist inflection that is in opposition to the autonomous nature of Southern Baptist congregations. It is not this papers intent to engage in the pros or cons of any given doctrine as it pertains to soteriology, but instead illustrate that what is seen by some as a modern incursion of Calvinism upon the Southern Baptist scene is in fact not without precedent and has a long standing tradition among many of this denominations most ardent practitioners. The Southern Baptist Convention is no stranger to controversy having in its 169 year history been at the center of disputes that have unfortunately at times led to division among its members and guided its course for generations. From the more recent inerrancy debates of the twentieth century to the schism of nineteenth century Landmarkism, Southern Baptists have shown themselves passionate about...

Words: 4266 - Pages: 18

Premium Essay

The Complete Green Letters

...LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BOOK REVIEW THE COMPLETE GREEN LETTERS BY JAMES A BYNUM SUBMITTED TO DR. RUSSEL BARKSDALE Introduction Miles J. Stanford, born in 1914 in Wheaton, Illinois, is the author of The Complete Green Letters. This publication combines five of his previous writings, The Green Letters: Principals of Spiritual Growth, Foundations of Spiritual Growth, The Ground of Growth, The Realization of Spiritual Growth, and A Guide to Spiritual Growth, into one compilation of a complete thought. Stanford wishes to convey through this publication, that in order to have spiritual growth, the believer must understand identity and status in Christ along with applications of basic spiritual principals. Stanford uses the writings of Paul as the backbone of his work as he is a strong proponent of Pauline principals. Summary Part One In The Complete Green Letters, Mile Stanford divides the book into five parts. These individual parts encompass several sub-topics for each part. The parts are actually titles of books that Stanford has written previously. Part one which is based on The Green Letters: Principals of Spiritual Growth discusses what is needed for spiritual growth. There are eighteen topics that assist in explaining this process. Faith, which is what is needed to establish any relationship with the Father is backed by the scriptures. Stanford states “Faith standing on the facts of the Word of God substantiates and gives evidence of things not seen”. Time......

Words: 2045 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Theo 104 Study Guide

...Study Guide Module/Week 1: Introduction to Theology Textbook Readings: Towns: Introduction & Ch. 1 Introduction 1. How did the term “Christian” originate? 2. Who was this book written for? 3. Why do some have mistaken ideas about Christianity? Chapter 1 1. What year was Jesus born? 2. When was Christianity made Rome’s national religion? 3. What is the Incarnation? 4. Does the Bible states that Jesus was the creator of the world? 5. Did Jesus claim to have supernatural origins? 6. Who baptized Jesus? 7. Did Jesus allow people to worship him? Etzel & Gutierrez: Introduction & Chs. 1–5 1. Why does the author say that everyone is a theologian? 2. What areas of our lives are influenced by the way we see God? 3. How did Jesus show that he is worthy of our faith? 4. Do Christians need to ignore intellect and reason in order to have faith in Jesus? 5. What does Jesus teach about truth? Online Excerpts: “Understanding the Faith” 1. What is more important than the sincerity of your belief? 2. What are the six types of faith that describe the believer's relationship to God? “Prolegomena to Theology”—Pg. 18–24 1. What are the four tools for accurately arranging a systematic theology? 2. What four questions must we ask about faith? 3. What 5 factors can limit our theology? “The Names of Christ” – Pg. 160–173 1. What chapter of the New......

Words: 4384 - Pages: 18

Free Essay

Not an Essay

...AS Philosophy & Ethics Course Handbook 2013 to 2014 [pic] OCR AS Level Religious Studies (H172) http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/type/gce/hss/rs/index.aspx OCR AS Level Religious Studies (H172) You are studying Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics and will be awarded an OCR AS Level in Religious Studies. The modules and their weightings are: |AS: |Unit Code |Unit Title |% of AS |(% of A Level) | | |G571 |AS Philosophy of Religion |50% |(25%) | | |G572 |AS Religious Ethics |50% |(25%) | If you decide to study for the full A Level you will have to study the following modules at A2: |A2: |Unit Code |Unit Title |(% of A Level) | | |G581 |A2 Philosophy of Religion |(25%) | | |G582 |A2 Religious Ethics |(25%) | Grading | ...

Words: 13036 - Pages: 53

Free Essay

The Outline of English Literature

...Министерство образования и науки Республики Казахстан Кокшетауский государственный университет им. Ш. Уалиханова An Outline of British Literature (from tradition to post modernism) Кокшетау 2011 УДК 802.0 – 5:20 ББК 81:432.1-923 № 39 Рекомендовано к печати кафедрой английского языка и МП КГУ им. Ш. Уалиханова, Ученым Советом филологического факультета КГУ им. Ш. Уалиханова, УМС КГУ им. Ш. Уалиханова. Рецензенты: Баяндина С.Ж. доктор филологических наук, профессор, декан филологического факультета КГУ им. Ш. Уалиханова Батаева Ф.А. кандидат филологических наук, доцент кафедры «Переводческое дело» Кокшетауского университета им. А. Мырзахметова Кожанова К.Т. преподаватель английского языка кафедры гуманитарного цикла ИПК и ПРО Акмолинской области An Outline of British Literature from tradition to post modernism (on specialties 050119 – “Foreign Language: Two Foreign Languages”, 050205 – “Foreign Philology” and 050207 – “Translation”): Учебное пособие / Сост. Немченко Н.Ф. – Кокшетау: Типография КГУ им. Ш. Уалиханова, 2010 – 170 с. ISBN 9965-19-350-9 Пособие представляет собой краткие очерки, характеризующие английскую литературу Великобритании, ее основные направления и тенденции. Все известные направления в литературе иллюстрированы примерами жизни и творчества авторов, вошедших в мировую литературу......

Words: 82733 - Pages: 331

Free Essay

The Public Needs to Know

...******Created by ebook converter - www.ebook-converter.com****** ******ebook converter DEMO - www.ebook-converter.com******* ******Created by ebook converter - www.ebook-converter.com****** KOINONIA HOUSE Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83816-0347 ******ebook converter DEMO - www.ebook-converter.com******* ******Created by ebook converter - www.ebook-converter.com****** COSMIC CODES Copyright © 1999 by Koinonia House Revised 2004 P.O. Box D Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816-0347 Web Site: http://www.khouse.org Second Printing 2004 Third Printing 2011 ISBN 978-1-57821-072-5 Design and production by Koechel Peterson & Associates, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scripture quotations in this book are taken from the King James Version of the Bible. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may reproduced in any form without the written permission of the Publisher. Printed in the United States of America. ******ebook converter DEMO - www.ebook-converter.com******* ******Created by ebook converter - www.ebook-converter.com****** “Cosmic Codes was the authoritative resource that we relied on in the research of our PAX-TV/Discovery Channel television special Secrets of the Bible Code Revealed. It’s absolutely packed with fascinating factual information on all of the Bible-related codes.” DAVID W. BALSIGER PRODUCER, SECRETS OF THE BIBLE CODE REVEALED “Chuck Missler writes from a technological and Biblical background in this cutting-edge analysis of the hidden codes...

Words: 141008 - Pages: 565