Calvinism and Arminianism 2

One of the greatest differences between the evangelical Calvinists and those they deride as “Hyper-calvinists,” is the evangelical Calvinists believe Arminians and Pelagians are otherwise sound “Christians,” and refer to them as their brothers and sisters. The Hyper-calvinists believe that as long as one is unconverted from his natural freewill state by the operation of the Spirit of God, and converted to the free grace of God by the Gospel of the grace of God, there is insufficient evidence to consider such as a “Christian,” or a “brother or sister.” This is not to say that they consign then to hell–that is not their desire, for by their own experience they understand that before that gracious divine call out of darkness, they, too, were “vessels of wrath even as others.” Arminians and Pelagians are as much in need for the gospel as any “heathen” or pagan. Calvinists would do well to “evangelize” their Arminian or Pelagian “brothers and sisters.”

The position of the main Calvinists in history was to look upon Arminianism as opposed to biblical Christianity. Luther blasted away at Erasmus for wanting to make peace with men of all beliefs. The Gospel that burst out upon Germany and other countries was the Gospel of grace alone and the only kind of grace that the Reformers knew of was a sovereign grace. This was the Gospel that God brought to light and that He used to bring a mighty revival and reformation in many areas. It is also the Gospel that God has used many times since then to bring life to His Church and to bring sinners to Himself. It is also that Gospel that the Remonstrants (followers of Arminius) did not like and set out five points against it.

It must be seen that Calvinism or Calvin is not the issue, but instead the character of God, the work of Christ and His Spirit, and the nature of grace and the Gospel are the issues. The term “Calvinism” is simply a helpful term, though it must be admitted that it can be and is misused, and is used to distinguish certain teachings of history. The same is true of the term “Arminian” or “Arminianism.” It is simply a term that is helpful to describe what people believe rather than setting out many doctrines and going down a list. It is possible to stand firm against Arminianism and not hate Arminians, and one can hope that one can also not like Calvinism (rightly or wrongly) and yet not hate Calvinists.

What we must do is to search the Scriptures and to seek the face of God for what is true rather than easily accepting thing because they make sense to us. It is not necessarily hateful or unkind to disagree with others and it is not hateful to think that some who profess to be Christians are not Christians in fact. Scripture teaches us over and over that many will be deceived and we are told not to be deceived. If the Bible teaches doctrine A, then for a person to teach a doctrine that really and truly contradicts doctrine A cannot be true. If the Bible teaches the Gospel of grace alone, then if a system of theology (and the people who hold to that system) really and truly contradicts that Gospel of grace alone that system of theology denies and opposes the true Gospel. That system denies and opposes the true Gospel even if those who hold to the system claim to be Christians and even if they claim to hold to the true Gospel.

One of the many things that should wake us up is that modern Calvinists are so friendly to Arminianism and Pelagianism and yet are virulently opposed to hyper-Calvinism. Could it be that modern Calvinism is closer to historic Arminianism and modern Arminianism is really not a lot different than historic Pelagianism? Could it also be that what many modern Calvinists refer to as hyper-Calvinism is really just historic Calvinism? The point, once again, is not what theological title a person falls under, but the issue is what that person really believes. Theological positions have changed and continue to change, so it is important to know what a person really and truly believes and what a theological position sets forth in its own particular time.

The reason that we should examine modern Calvinism and modern Arminianism is that both need to be examined in accordance with Scripture. It is not enough to believe that a person must be born again in order to see the kingdom, a person must in truth be born again in order to see the kingdom. It is so easy for people to make a profession of a creed and be satisfied with that rather than be satisfied with Christ Himself. A modern person who believes what modern Arminians believe is most likely in line with historic Pelagianism and as such is an unconverted person. They reason that they are unconverted is not because they are Arminians and not because they are other than Calvinists, but because they don’t have Christ. People must have Christ, not a theological position.

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