Q&A: What are the basic differences between Calvinism and Arminianism?

112651128

The fundamental difference between Calvinists and Arminians is this: Calvinists believe that human beings repent and believe because God causes them to do so by choosing them to be saved. Arminians believe that the ultimate reason people believe is our free will. Perhaps the clearest way to explain the difference is to contrast the five points of Calvinism and Arminianism, commonly known by the acronym TULIP.

Calvinists believe in total depravity. That doesn’t mean people are as evil as they can possibly be, but as sinners they have no ability to choose to be saved (Rom. 8:7-8). Arminians believe people are evil but still have the ability to choose to be saved. Calvinists believe in unconditional election. God from eternity past chooses from his own good pleasure whom will be saved (Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 9:10-23). Arminians believe God looks ahead and sees who will believe in him and then chooses those whom he foresees will have faith.

Calvinists believe in limited atonement, or what is better described as particular redemption. That means Christ’s death is particularly for the elect and that he has purchased their faith (Rev. 5:9). Arminians believe in unlimited atonement, which means that Christ died for all people, and those who trust in Christ will be saved. Some people are four point Calvinists and reject limited atonement.

Calvinists believe in irresistible grace. This doesn’t mean that no one ever resists God’s grace, but that God overcomes the resistance and hardness of those whom he has chosen (John 6:37, 44, 65; Rom. 8:28-30). Arminians believe that God’s grace is not effectual and can be resisted.

Calvinists believe in perseverance of the saints (John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-39; 1 John 2:19). All those whom God has chosen will never fall away from the faith. Arminians teach that believers can lose their salvation.

A brief primer on the problem of evil

problem-of-evil

The problem of evil is certainly one of the greatest apologetic issues that Christians face today. In a postmodern world, people’s questions, objections, and problems with the Christian worldview are usually connected to the reality of evil in the world and their attempts to harmonize this reality with the seemingly contradictory notion of an all-powerful, all-good God. […]

Continue

Seven common fallacies of biblical interpretation

hqdefault

1. Preunderstanding fallacy: Believing you can interpret with complete objectivity, not recognizing that you have preunderstandings that influence your interpretation. This is also known as “presupposition fallacy.” There is no such thing as a “white-coat” interpreter. In other words, there is no one who comes to the text as a scientist who objectively interprets the data. We are […]

Continue

Why believe that Jesus is the only way?

4.1.1

Many Christians today don’t have a firm grasp on what the Bible says about Jesus. Was He just a wise man? A prophet? Douglas Groothuis presents biblical evidence for Christ’s lordship. Spiritually Incorrect “I love Jesus,” exclaimed a woman in the audience, “but He never wanted anyone to worship Him!” As I looked at the […]

Continue

Crude joking in Ephesians 5:4

nasb-key-word-study-bible-1

In previous word studies, I’ve devoted a good deal of space to the important principle that one must study all the occurrences of a word in their various contexts as part of determining word meaning in a particular verse. That works well when a word is used more than once. But what about a situation […]

Continue

The canon as infallible sacred tradition

Christianity_Anno2_2

“How do you know that the Holy Scripture is all you need? What tells you that? Might you need a God-led authority (like the Roman Catholic Church) to tell you that?” This was a question I recently came across from the depths of cyberspace. It’s a question sharply aimed against sola scriptura, but it’s a false […]

Continue