What the Arminianist and Calvinist believe

“What the Arminianist and Calvinist believe”

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CENTURION EDUCATION FOUNDATION

A Theological Article

by

Dr. Andrew T. Knight

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Are Armenians’ and Calvinists Biblical?

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Andrew Thomas Knight

DMIN Luther Rice University, 2014

MABA Clarks Summit University, 2018

MRE West Coast Baptist College, 2010

MBS Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004

BB Pensacola Christian College, 1994

April 7, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………… 1

Calvinist Beliefs……………………………………………………… 1

Predestination………………………………………………… 1

Election……………………………………………………….. 6

Infralapsarian Election……………………………………….. 9

Limited Atonement…………………………………………… 13

Unlimited Atonement………………………………………… 15

Arminian Beliefs……………………………………………………… 17

Historical Background……………………………………….. 17

Beliefs Defined……………………………………………….. 17

Conflicted Beliefs…………………………………………….. 20

Beliefs Debated………………………………………………. 21

Biblicist Beliefs………………………………………………………. 22

Predestination………………………………………………… 22

Perseverance.…………………………………………………. 23

Election……………………………………………………….. 24

Limited Atonement…………………………………………… 25

Conclusion……………………………………………………………. 26

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………… 27

INTRODUCTION

Calvinist beliefs will be the first of the beliefs to be researched and evaluated.

This study discuss the definition, meaning, the author, and applications of this belief.

This writer will investigate dictionaries, Bible handbooks, systematic theology books,

commentaries, and topical books that have dealt with this subject matter, and books that

review the history of Calvinism. Secondly, the beliefs of Arminianism, its history, its

author, its followers and its applications will be reviewed. Once the beliefs of Calvinism

and Arminianism have been research and reviewed they will then be compared with each

other for their similarities and differences, and then they will each be contrasted to a

biblical approach to soteriology. This then will lead the reader to the Biblicist approach to

soteriology. This writer will research theologians that have a viewpoint of Calvinism as

well as theologians that have stood against this doctrine. In the conclusion this writer will

give final arguments for the strength and weaknesses of Calvinism, Arminianism and the

Biblicist approach to Soteriology.

Calvinist Beliefs

Predestination

The Calvinist’ belief focuses around the concept of predestination. This is in

relation to the sovereignty of God and man’s ability, or the inability of man’s will to

accept God’s offer of salvation. The belief system then takes into account the sovereignty

of God, including whom He predestined, the nature of man, and the doctrine of

soteriology. Romans 8:30 “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and

whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”1[1]

A definition for the word, predestinate is defined by W.E. Vine, “This verb is to

be distinguished from proginosko, to foreknow; the latter has special reference to the

person’s foreknown by God; proorizo has special reference to that to which the subjects

of His foreknowledge are predestinated.”[2]

The predestination is based upon what God foreknew, according to the Calvinist

viewpoint of soteriology. Clarke gave the same definition to v. 30 as he wrote,

“The Gentiles, whom He determined to call into His church with the Jewish people, He

called—He invited by the preaching of the Gospel, to believe on His Son Jesus Christ.”[3]

Clarke puts in context this word, predestination, with regard to what else is

happening in this passage in Romans. Predestination has the idea that God purposed to

invite Jews and Gentiles both to the cross of Jesus Christ by the preaching of the Gospel.

Clarke indicated that all that would through true faith and hearty repentance would be

pardoned from their sins. Wayne Grudem also discussed Romans 8:28-30 when he

stated, “We know that ineverything God works for good with those who love him, who

are called according to his purpose.”[4]

Between Clarke and Grudem, both respected theologians, they hold two very

different points of view on this matter of who can be saved, and who is chosen to be

saved, or can all be saved that respond favorably? Clarke seems to believe that all that

call upon the name of Christ in faith can be saved, while Grudem seems to believe that

while some are chosen to be saved from before the foundations of the world many have

been chosen, by God, to be eternally separated from Him. This decision apparently,

Grudem believes, took place even before the price for the sins of the world was even paid

for by His Son Jesus on the cross.

Albert Barnes assessed this passage, Romans 8:30, bluntly when referring to the

apostles preaching this new gospel and he stated, “For how would it be a source of

consolation to say to them that whom God foreknew he predestinated, and whom he

predestinated he called, and whom he called he justified, and whom he justified might fall

away, and be lost for ever?”[5] Barnes approaches the passage as a grammarian to explain

the contextual meaning of this passage. He suggested that these clauses, that each had a

benefit attached to them, were contingent upon the first and the previous clause. As a

result, he explained, that predestination was directly connected, continuously to

glorification. Barnes’ position did not so much deal with who would or would not be

saved but rather eternal security. Romans 8:35a “Who shall separate us from the love of

Christ?” Barnes’ point, he stated, was that no one can separate you from Christ.

George Bryson in his book, “The Dark Side of Calvinism,” used strong words,

“According to Calvinism, it is futile to try to convert the lost who are not predestined to

be saved…Calvinists want other Christians to believe in their convoluted theology, which

if fully understood, destroys the gospel to every creature.”[6]

Bryson continued his strong rebuke of Calvinism in his introduction he reported,

“According to Calvin, it is all happening according to the perfect plan and purpose of

God…Can we trace moral evil back to God in the same way we can good things? Even

the first sin and its terrible consequences were orchestrated by God.”[7]

What Bryson has done was to put Calvinism in terms of its character. When

Calvinism, Bryson argued, is blaming God for the original sins he seems to be describing

Calvinism as faithless and humanistic in its character. Bryson does seem to add some

balance to his approach to Calvinism. He stated, “While I am clearly opposed to

Calvinism as a theological system, I do not consider Calvinist to be the enemy. In fact,

I view Calvinists as the victims of Calvinism.”[8] Bryson’s view is significant as he

demonstrated human compassion, not theological, partisan arguments to defend or

advance his position only. As a Christian apologists he demonstrated that one can differ

without destroying another with differing theological perspectives.

This idea of God’s sovereignty and predestination are widely contested, and

deeply imbedded within different sects of Christendom. Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell

address this belief system, mostly within Reformed or Wesleyan churches. They

referenced the Westminster Confession, “Here is what the Westminster divines insisted

on. God’s sovereign decrees do not in any way hinge on his foreknowledge of what his

creatures will do or of their choices. God’s knowledge of the future is not logically prior

to his sovereign decrees, nor are his decrees based on foreknowledge. Rather, the other

way around. God knew the future because of his sovereign decrees.”[9]

Wells and Dongell analyzed this teaching on predestination that their readers

might better understand the sovereignty of God clearer. What they had explained is that

God’s foreknowledge was based upon His divine character and statues rather than on the

character and actions of mankind. Thus what these authors have pointed out that the

whole doctrine of redemption rests upon God’s character not man’s.

Lawrence Berkhof reported that one of the early church fathers, Saint Augustine,

was one persuaded and then rejected the doctrine of predestination. Berkof’ research

demonstrated this. “At first, Augustine himself was inclined to this view, but deeper

reflection on the sovereign character of the good pleasure of God led him to see that

predestination was in no way dependent on God’s foreknowledge of human actions,

but was rather the basis of the divine knowledge.”[10]

Augustine’s reaction to Calvinism would seem to be a reflection of one that knew

the character of God and found that Calvinism did not mirror that same character that

Scripture depicts. Lewis Chafer discussed this conflict of the nature of God that

Calvinism portraits and the nature of God that is seen through a father-son relationship.

Chafer wrote,

“Having secured for the believer a perfect union with Christ, a perfect standing, and a perfect acceptance in Christ, and on the ground of such infinite equality that God remains just when He justifies the ungodly, there remains only the problem of communion, fellowship, and a walk which is well-pleasing to God. As a son may be in fellowship or out of fellowship with his earthly father without affecting the immutable fact of sonship, the child of God may be in fellowship and communion or out of fellowship and communion with his heavenly Father without disturbing the immutable fact of a sonship relation to God.”[11]

What Augustine as well as Chafer were saying is that the philosophy of Calvinism

and the doctrine of soteriology and the character of Christ should be in line with each

other if Calvinism were to be consistent with the Bible. Since Calvinism does not align

with the Bible doctrine of soteriology and that he holds to low view of the character of

Christ Augustine and Chafer ultimately rejected the philosophy of Calvinism.

Election

Charles Ryrie gave his understanding of election and broke it down into three

areas. First, Ryrie discussed the idea of God’s foresight as it relates to soteriology. He

explained, “God looked down the corridor of time and in His foreknowledge saw who

would accept Christ and then elected them to salvation. This makes foreknowledge

foresight without any pre-temporal elective action on God’s part.”[12]What Ryrie has done

was to lay out different perspectives of this controversial Philosophy. This first aspect it

would seem lends itself to the belief of Calvinist.

The next view that Ryrie gives of election is what he called, “Corporate election.”

This view focused on the assembly of believers rather than the individual believer. The

corporate idea would coincide with Ephesians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the

will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:” Ryrie

explained, “An evangelical form of this same concept views election as the choosing of

the group, the church, in Christ, but not of individuals until after they became members

of the group by faith.”[13] The controversy of election revolves around a number of

Scriptures, one being Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the

foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

As mentioned, it is likely that Ryrie laid out several different positions and then the

serious Bible student would dig deeper until the truth was found. As Dr. Mapes stated,

“There is only one correct interpretation of Scripture” (class syllabus, Pg. 2). The answer

to this study may be more grammatical then theological. The antecedent of “us” in

Ephesians 1:4 would seem to be the believers in the church of Ephesus.

Ryrie discussed the view of election referring to as individual and pre-temporal.

He explained, “Thus election is unconditional, pre-temporal, unmerited, and the basis of

salvation. Those who hold this view also acknowledge that election is in Christ, but they

mean that He is the ground and cause and guarantee of the election of individuals.”[14]

William Shedd elaborated on the doctrine of soteriology, and dealt with the use of

the word elect in the Old Testament and giving his explanation. Shedd stated, “The

covenant of grace and that of redemption are two modes or phases of the one evangelical

covenant of mercy. The distinction is only a secondary or sub-distinction.”[15] Shedd was

dealing with the Isaiah 42:1 passage, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in

whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to

the Gentiles.” Shedd explained first what the covenant was and then to whom was the

covenant too. He stated, “The covenant is not made with them as alone and apart from

Christ…And in like manner, when Christ, as in Isaiah 42:1-6, is spoken of as the party

with whom the Father covenants, the elect are to be viewed as in Him.”[16] Shedd nowhere

in this passage stated that the Gentiles could not be saved though primarily this passage

dealt with the believing Jews. Shedd reference was that the elect were to those that, in the

Old Testament setting, were believers. Shedds discussion about covenants was significant

as it demonstrated the bilateral relationship between God and His people.

Delitzsch gave further definition and explanation of this special relationship

between God and Israel, of which Isaiah referred to as the “elect.” Delitzch described

Israel this way, “Israel’s true nature as a servant of God, which had its roots in the

election and calling of Jehovah, and manifested itself in conduct and action in harmony

with this calling, is all concentrated in Him, the One, as its ripest fruit. The gracious

purposes of God towards the whole human race, which were manifested even in the

election of Israel, are brought by Him to their full completion.”[17] Delitzsch detailed this

relationship between God and His people, Isreal, in a way that demonstrates a divine

relationship that shows purpose of God and His covenant relationship to Israel.

Ralph Smith took note of this covenant relationship between Jehovah – God and ‘

Israel His people. Smith looked at this passage historically. Isaiah 45:4 “For Jacob my

servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have

surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” Smith explained the passage this way,

“Nicholson noted that F. Giesebrecht first challenged Wellhausen’s view that Israel’s

early relationship to Yahweh was a natural relationship—like that of son and father. This

made Israel similar to other god’s…From the beginning, it was the belief in divine

election that shaped the peculiar direction. It brought with it an aggressive exclusivism

and ‘a belief in the incomparability of Yahweh.,””[18] This covenant relationship was not

like those of the pagan god’s. The exclusivity of this relationship demonstrated the

holiness of God, and the divine intervention that Jehovah – God worked in the Israelites.

Infralapsarian Election

Chad Brand began his explanation of infralapsarian election with his running

definition. He stated that, “Infralapsarian election to salvation may be defined as God’s

gracious choice, made in eternity past, of those whom he would save by faith through the

atoning death of his Son, a choice which considered all of humanity as fallen, sinful, and

guilty in Adam, fully deserving of eternal condemnation while fully undeserving of the

bestowal of any favor or kindness, according to which God elected out of the whole of

this fallen and guilty humanity some particular sinners to be granted eternal life in Christ,

by grace, and through faith.”[19]

What Brand has said is that before God the Father sent God the Son to die on the

cross for the sins of the world He decided who would be saved and who would not be

saved. Since, as Brand stated, “some particular sinners” so be saved the inference could

only be that God decided not to grant salvation to most of humanity. The deeper and

darker inference is that God must have made most of humanity in order to then be

separated from that humanity for all eternity.

Paul Copan’s viewpoint of God and His relationship to man was much different

than the Calvinist viewpoint. Copan expressed himself this way, “Our being made in

God’s image is simply God’s ‘spreading the wealth.’ God’s rich goodness overflows to

his creation, which lives, moves, and has its being in him. Though God created freely and

without constraint, God is bursting with joy and love to share His goodness with His

creatures. He allows us, His image-bearers, to share in His characteristics.”[20] Copan

described for his readers a heart that God has for His Creation, including mankind, that is

unmistakably the divine love that can only be from God Himself. On the contrary to

Calvinism, the love that Copan describes that God demonstrates is for everyone in His

Creation. The idea that Copan was communicating, as it might apply to Calvinism, there

was no parsing out of who would be saved down through the corridors of time and who

would God decide before time even began who would not get saved.

Millard Erickson has given a technical definition for the term infralapsarianism.

Erickson stated, “The terminology relates to whether logically the decree to save comes

before or after the decree permitted the fall. The positions also differ on whether the

atonement was for all or only for those chosen to be saved:”[21] Erickson listed the steps in

the Calvinist’ order of God’s decrees as, “the decree to create human beings; to permit

the fall; to save some and condemn others, and to provide salvation only for the elect.”[22]

Erickson, while defining this belief system would seem to be several

inconsistencies that are cause to consider what the mind of God is in the totality of

Creation and humanity. Since God is One of order, He has the preeminence, and all

things exist and consist because and in Him. Colossians 1:16 –18 give some context

to the mind of God as it relates to Creation and mankind. “For by him were all things

created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be

thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for

him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the

body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he

might have the preeminence.” This matter of God’s preeminence is that He is in control

of all His Creation and all of mankind. Every person was created for God’s enjoyment,

and He created each one for fellowship with Him. Matthew Henry stated, “He has the

pre-eminence in the hearts of His people above the world and the flesh;”[23] What Henry

was describing was the God of Creation that was and continues to be involved in His

Creation. Matthew further stated, “It pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in

Him; and we may have free resort to Him for all that grace for which we have occasion.

He not only intercedes for it, but is the trustee in whose hands it is lodged to dispense to

us: Of His fullness we receive, and grace for grace, grace in us answering to that grace

which is in Him, and He fills all in all,”[24] Matthew was saying that God is the keeper,

giver of His grace, and is the Intercessor for the people that He created.

Brand made his argument for infralapsarian election this way, “First, many

passages of Scripture that speak of God’s election indicate that it is an election to

salvation. It stands to reason, if this is the case, that God must have in view persons

needing to be saved who are consequently chosen by Him for that gracious saving work.

But of course, if God’s elect is of persons needing to be saved, then it follows that those

persons elected are viewed as sinners…Put differently, in eternity past and before the

creation of the world, God must have had in mind that the fall into sin had already

occoured when He contemplated the totality of humanity out of which He elected some

to be saved. Divine election to salvation, then, is infralapsarian.”[25] Brand exposed his real

philosophy that he has relied upon human reason as he stated, “It stands to reason.” Then

Brand supposes to know the thoughts of God, “God must have had in mind.” Brand then

referenced Acts 13:48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified

the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Though

Brand may not have referenced Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine

elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth

judgment to the Gentiles,” Though this writer has referenced this passage previously,

the Calvinists teach in the later verse that the Gentiles are not God’s elect while the

former verse teach that these Gentiles were God’s elect.

Fred Brown dealt with this issue of election in the Bible. He discussed election

this way, “Nothing in the Word of God requires a belief in the Unconditional Election

of saved and lost. The philosophy of John Calvin requires belief in both. If for no other

reason than his personally crafted definition of the sovereignty of God, there are no

alternatives. For those of us who are Biblicists, as opposed to being Calvinists, other

possibilities do exist. First, it should be restated that no man speaks infallibly on that

which has not been detailed in the Bible.”[26]

Brown made a simple but profound argument as to the validity of Calvinism.

Brown’s question that goes unanswered by the proponents of Calvinism, Why the Bible

does not have the same requirements for salvation as does the philosophy of Calvinism?

Brown stated, “The great thinkers among men pale into insignificance as we meditate

upon this declaration of the Eternal Sovereign of the universe.”[27] And then he referenced

Matthew 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of

heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast

revealed them unto babes.” Brown is arguing for a simple gospel that even a young child

could understand. With all the intellectual complexities of Calvinism one would find

great difficulty explaining Calvin’s theory to children. The love of Jesus children will

respond to without question.

Limited Atonement

Another point of Calvin’s philosophy was limited atonement. Samuel Telloyan

first parsed out the difference between the Calvinist and the Arminians, which was that

the Arminians did not believe in the unlimited atonement. Telloyan wrote with the intent

to answer the question, For whom did Christ die? “Arminians hold that Christ’s death

was for all men alike, and that it secured for everyone a measure of common grace

whereby all are able to believe if they will.[28] Telloyan than identified those that hold to

a limited atonement position this way, “Those who consider that Christ died only for the

elect can for convenience be referred to as limited redemptionists.”[29] Telloyen also

discussed a more moderate position to the Calvinist or limited redemptionists. Telloyen

stated, “Those who feel that this position is not true to Scripture, the unlimited

redemptionists, say that Christ Jesus died for all, but only those who trust Him receive

eternal life.”[30]

After Telloyen clarified terms that would be discussing regarding limited

atonement he first made a number of arguments for the limited atonement position,

followed by numerous Scriptures in favor of the unlimited atonement position. Telloyen

began with his list of arguments for limited atonement. “The first argument for the

limited redemption rests on the tenet of election.”[31] Telloyen then referenced the second

argument, “A second argument for limited atonement, quite similar to the first, is from

the covenant of redemption. In this covenant a relation supposedly was established

between the Father and the Son and those for whom Christ would lay down His life.

Since the covenant of redemption did not include all, it follows that Christ did not die for

all…A third argument for the limited atonement is the argument from the special love of

God. It is stated that God had a peculiar love to His people, to His church, to the elect,

and that this love prompted Him to send Christ.”[32]

The fourth argument, from the Old Testament, Telloyen argued that the Aaronic

priest was a type of Christ, and he only interceded for his own tribe and not for any other.

It stood to reason than that Christ died only for His elect. Telloyan concludes the list of

humanistic arguments for limited atonement with a Calvinistic viewpoint of Isaiah 53:12

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with

the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the

transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Consider the difference of Matthew Henrys’ understanding. “In the foregoing verses the

prophet had testified very particularly of the sufferings of Christ, yet mixing some hints

of the happy issue of them; here he again mentions his sufferings, but largely foretels the

glory that should follow.”[33] The One that Isaiah was referring to in this passage was

Christ and the sufferings that were foretold. Nowhere does this passage exclude anyone

from the benefit of Christ’ propitiation of sins. Matthew Henry, in the commentary on

this passage, never make any reference to those chosen to eternal life or dammed to hell.

Unlimited Atonement

Ron Rhodes discussed clear Scriptural references and biblical thinking as he

explained the viewpoint of unlimited atonement. The strength of his argument is the

Scriptural references put forth, such as, John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming

unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Rhodes than explained, “Though Calvin is often cited in favor of limited atonement, here

is a clear statement in which unlimited atonement is in view.”[34] The credibility aspect

regarding Rhodes is his command of the biblical languages, thus giving confidence that

his use of Scripture is based on sound exegesis.

Rhodes than referenced John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his

only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have

everlasting life.” He then stated, “Christ applied the story spiritually when He says that

‘whosoever’ believes on the uplifted Son of Man shall experience spiritual

deliverance.”[35] Rhodes again references a powerful account from John 4:42 to

demonstrate the biblical persuasion of God’s unlimited atonement. “And said unto the

woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves,

and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”[36] Rhodes made a good

argument that is that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and that would include everyone.

He then wrote, “It is quite certain that when the Samaritans called Jesus ‘the Saviour of

the world,’ they were not thinking of the world of the elect. To read such a meaning into

this text would be sheer eisegesis.”[37] Rhodes continued his argument for unlimited

atonement as he referenced I Timothy 4:10, “For therefore we both labour and suffer

reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially

of those that believe.” He explained, “Christ has made a provision of salvation for all

men, though it only becomes effective for those who exercise faith in Christ.”[38]

Again Telloyan appropriately referenced I John 2:1, 2 “My little children, these

things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the

Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours

only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” He then stated, “The elect people of God

are encouraged not to sin, but if they would sin Jesus Christ is an advocate at God’s right

hand to plead His blood in their behalf. The apostle continues by stating that the blood of

Christ was not only shed for the elect but for the sins of the whole world. This strongly

asserts not unlimited salvation, but unlimited atonement.”[39]

Paul Martin Henebury had given a strong pro unlimited atonement position when

he referenced I Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,

that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” And then he

referenced II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count

slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all

should come to repentance.” Henebury approached the Scriptures, in particularly, those

that dealt with the unlimited atonement doctrine was plenary, verbal, grammatical,

and historical in its hermeneutics. He demonstrated this when he stated, “The Bible

plainly says that Christ died for ‘sinners,’ ‘the lost,’ ‘the ungodly,’ the world,’ etc.

Unless only the elect qualify as belonging to this group, these verses ought to be taken

to mean that Christ died for all lost sinners. After all, Adam plunged the whole of his

posterity into sin and judgment.”[40]

Arminian Beliefs

Historical background

J. D. Douglas took time to explain in general terms some history of Arminianism.

He had given church history approach to defining Arminianism as it was manufactured

system of beliefs. Because this belief system was not found in the Bible Douglas

explained the history from which the Arminian philosophy was established and taught.

“A theological system named after Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian (1560 – 1609) who was educated at Leyden, Basle, and Geneva. After studying under Beza he went to Amsterdam to serve as minister of a Reformed congregation (1588). Holland had become the center of Calvinism during the sixteenth century, but during his fifteen years as pastor Arminius came to question some of the teachings of Calvinism. Disputes arose, and he left the pastorate and became professor of theology at the University of Leyden. Here he gave a series of lectures on the doctrine of predestination.”[41]

Beliefs defined

Douglas after giving a brief historical overview then gave a brief outline of the

beliefs that separated Arminianism from Calvinism. Again, the reason for the need of an

explanation, as opposed to the systematic theologies the define Christian orthodoxy,

is that the Arminian system of beliefs is not laid out in Scripture. Rather this belief

system would be defined as a man made philosophy.

Douglas than outlined the belief system of Arminianism this way. “After the death of Arminius, his followers issued the Remonstrance of 1610 which outlines the system known as Arminianism. The major points of departure from strict Calvinism are that (1) the decree of salvation applies to all who believe on Christ and who persevere in obedience and faith; (2) Christ died for all men; (3) the Holy Spirit must help men to do things that are truly good (such as having faith in Christ for salvation); (4) God’ saving grace is not irresistible; (5) it is possible for those who are Christians to fall from grace.”[42]

Robert Picirilli discussed the matter of foreknowledge. It would appear that he

came at it from an Arminian perspective as he compared it to the Calvinistic view of

foreknowledge, “The certainty of a future event means, simply, the fact that it will

occur…If God is omniscient, it follows that all things occur are certainly foreknown by

God. Everything that happens is certain and known as such by God from all eternity.”[43]

Picirilli than described the Calvinistic view of foreknowledge. “Calvinists affirm

that all events, including future ones, are certain and foreknown because God has

foreordained all events: In that case, there is no problem with absolute foreknowledge, or

with divine control; the question is whether there is any real freedom and moral

responsibility for humans.”[44] Picirilli began his humanistic reasoning trying desperately

to get into the mind of God, almost in a Nixonian hearing kind of way, (“What did the

president know and when did he know it?”).[45] Picirilli having than contrasted the

Calvinist approach with Arminius, and though they seem to be in agreement on the

foreknowledge aspect the focus of the Calvinist seemed to be on the response by

mankind, and if humans had free will to choose correctly?

Lewis Sperry Chafer discussed eternal security as understood by Arminius. And

than he quickly communicated the biblical approach to eternal security. Chafer stated,

“Eternal security, by which term it is meant that those chosen of God and saved by grace

are, of necessity, preserved unto the realization of the design of God. Since sovereign

election purposes this and sovereign grace accomplishes it, the Scriptures could not—

being infinitely true—do other than to declare the Christian’s security without reservation

or complication. This the Scriptures assuredly declare.”[46] Chafer was decisive and

forceful in his choice of words as he communicated this biblical position. In contrast, he

gave no space to the Arminian position.

Chafer continued next by stating the Armenians’ non security position and

contrasted it with the biblical, eternal security position. He argued,

“It may be restated that, as for human experience which the Arminian believes is at times a proof that one once saved can be lost again, it cannot be proved that such a case ever existed. On the contrary, revelation so defines the saving and keeping power of God that it can be said with all assurance, that not one of those who have been truly regenerated has ever been lost nor could such a one be lost. As for human reason, which the Arminian employs against the doctrine of security, it need only be pointed out that no human is able to trace the divine undertaking which provides both salvation and safekeeping on the ground of the sacrificial and imputed merit of the Son of God, and with no other requirement resting on the sinner than that he believes on Christ as his Savior.[47]

Chafer again made the contrast between Calvinist and Arminian belief on eternal

security. He put forth the facts of the Arminian and made the strong, biblical case and

arguments for the eternal security position. He finished by stating the totality of the

requirements for salvation and eternal security by placing simple faith in Jesus Christ.

Conflicted beliefs

Armenians are many times, Roger Olson stated, are compared to Calvinists. Olson

argued that these two philosophes were not compatible with one another. Olson than

listed numerous points of difference between Armenians and Calvinists. He explained,

“While they accept a form of limited atonement, they reject the idea that God sent Christ

to die only for a portion of humanity. The atonement’s limited nature is grounded not in

God’s intention but in human response. Only those who accept the grace of the cross are

saved by God; those who reject it and seek salvation elsewhere fail to be included in it by

their own choice, much to God’s dismay. While Arminians embrace the necessity of

supernatural grace for salvation, they deny that God irresistibly bends human wills so

that they are effectually saved apart from their own spontaneous response.”[48]

By pointing out inconsistencies with the two philosophies Olson has, rightly so,

brought doubt to these belief systems. Olson, later in his book corrected a falsehood

regarding Arminianism. There have been a number of myths, he explained, about

Arminianiam such as the myth that this belief is humanistic, and also that it is not a

theology of grace. Olson clarifies this misconception when he stated, “Arminius went out

of his way to elevate grace as the sole efficient cause of salvation and even of the first

exercise of a good will toward God, including the desire to receive the good news and

respond positively to it.[49] Olson seems to have clarified, at least on this point, that

Arminius believed the grace that is seen in Ephesians 2:8, 9 “For by grace are ye saved

through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man

should boast.” At least Olson found the basis of faith and salvation written within the

belief system of Armenians view of Christianity.

Beliefs debated

Alan Sell documented both the Arminius contentions as well as Calvin’s

contentions as it related to the depravity of man and the free will of man. Sell put forth

Arminius’ position this way, “Arminius, as we have seen, was equally concerned to

emphasise that God was not the author of sin.”[50] That being the Calvinists’ position that

was not acceptable to Arminius. As it relates to total depravity Sell stated, “Further, the

Remonstrant points did not mention, and certainly did not deny, the doctrine of total

depravity. There was, however, a gradual drift from this doctrine on the part of many

Arminians, especially when they came to deny the imputation of Adam’s first sin to his

descendants, and when they elaborated their view of man’s freedom in such a way as to

threaten the notion of man’s total inability. Here we approach the crux of the Calvinist-

Arminian dispute.”[51]

Seller that stated the Calvinist’ position on man’s depravity and man’s will. Seller

explained, “Calvin wishes to argue that man’s will is bound, but that he is still

responsible. His freedom consists in his being able to act freely in a manner consistent

with his will; but fallen man’s will is depraved, and from this depravity he can be rescued

only by the grace of God in Christ.”[52]

Biblicists beliefs

Predestination

The final arbiter for any theological question or debate is the Bible. This writer

sometimes refers to the Bible and the debates that ensue as the great finalizer. Robert

Peterson and Michael Williams have given their final answers on the belief system of

Arminianism. Their first conclusion was on the doctrine of predestination.

They wrote, “First, although the Arminians hold to corporate rather than individual

election, the Bible teaches both…Arminian, then, make a false distinction between

individual and corporate election.”[53] They then referenced John 6:37 – 40 to make their

point. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will

in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will

of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he

hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this

is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him,

may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Laurence Vance used the ridicules to demonstrate the absurdity of an umbilical

view of election and predestination. Vance stated it this way,

“Consider the implications of this teaching: (1) The ‘elect’ were ‘in Christ’ before the foundation of the world. (2) The ‘elect’ fell out of Christ and became lost ‘in Adam.’ (3) The ‘elect’ got back ‘in Christ’ at the cross. (4) The ‘elect’ fell out of Christ again so they could be born ‘in sin.’(5) The ‘elect’ got back ‘in Christ’ when God applied Irresistible Grace to them and they got saved. But if the ‘elect’ fell out of Christ even once, what is to prevent them from falling again?”[54]

Two of the verses Vance used to make his biblical case that anyone can be saved

were Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by

sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:,” and I Corinthians 15:22

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Peterson, Williams and Vance all made a simple yet profound case for an

unlimited atonement position. Furthermore, the simplicity of their arguments all pointed

to the authoritativeness of Scripture as the final authority that salvation was provided for

everyone at the cross.

Perseverance

Erickson came to an appropriate conclusion regarding the preservation of the

saints. He gave consideration to both Armenian and the Calvinist view before arriving

at the biblical view. He concluded, “The practical implication of our understanding of

the doctrine of perseverance is that believers can rest secure in the assurance that their

salvation is permanent; nothing can separate them from the love of God. Thus, they

can rejoice in the prospect of eternal life. There need be no anxiety that something

or someone will keep them from attaining the final blessedness that they have been

promised and have come to expect.”[55] Here he alluded to, in this quote, in 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.”

Peterson and Williams make a compelling case for the biblical view of the

perseverance of the saints. Their conclusion was expressed this way, “First, we sampled

the abundant biblical testimony to God’s preservation of the saints. Preservation relates to

the perseverance as cause to effect. Because God preserves His saints, they will persevere

and not fall from grace. God’s power and faithfulness preclude true believers from

committing final apostasy.”[56] Peterson and Williams then argued from Scripture that

believers do not work for their salvation but rather work out their salvation when they

referenced, Philippians 2:12, 13 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not

as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation

with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his

good pleasure.”

Their final argument with regard to the warning against apostasy in Hebrews was

not in reference to the believers but rather to the unbelievers. They explained, “Further

evidence of the impossibility of believers committing apostasy is provided by the

presence of preservation texts in Hebrews. In the very book where the sternest warnings

against apostasy appear are some of the sweetest affirmations of believer’s security in

Christ.”[57] They had referenced Hebrews 6:4 – 6 “For it is impossible for those who were

once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the

Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to

come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify

to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Election

Vance gave a comprehensive biblical reasoning and biblical references from

throughout the Scriptures that backed up his position. He explained, “This fallacy is the

whole idea that mankind is divided into two groups: the ‘elect’ and the ‘reprobate.’”[58] He

than referenced Psalms 33:13-15 “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the

sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the

earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” Vance also

referenced I John 5:1 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and

every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”

Limited Atonement

With regard to the limited atonement position of the Calvinist Vance dismantles it

and unconditional election is one sentence when he stated, “Limited Atonement is simply

adding insult to the injury of Unconditional Election. For if certain men are not of those

elected to salvation, then what does it matter whether Christ died for them or not?”[59]

Most important he referenced I Timothy 4:10 “For therefore we both labour and suffer

reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially

of those that believe.” He also used as a proof text, II Corinthians 5:19 “To wit, that God

was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto

them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” Vance argued that ‘all

men’ and ‘the world’ constitute that every person has opportunity by virtue of God’s

provision to be saved. Vance exposed the fallacy of human philosophy. The clear

contradiction within the false teaching of Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement

was thought through by Vance in a way that would make any Spirit led believer to

strongly reconsider the unbiblical philosophy of Calvinism and Arinianism.

Conclusion

This research began with a discussion as to the meaning and application of

predestination. The battle line was drawn between the foreknowledge of God and the

purpose of God. With the aid of Clarke’s research the outcome, without diminishing

God’s foreknowledge, was that His purpose for both Jews and Gentiles was to call both

to salvation, through grace, by faith in Jesus Christ. Dongell and Wells put straight the

concepts of foreknowledge, and clarified that God’s foreknowledge was the basis for

God’s sovereign decrees. The Calvinists, they stated, had this order reversed.

This research on the matter of election uncovered the term Ryrie used, “corporate

election,” to clarify his position on election. It would seem that proper understanding of

the grammatical structure would solve this controversy, namely fining the proper

antecedent. His explanation of election was that those that were elect were elect once

they got into the church buy way of salvation.

The explanation found for infralapsarian election showed that God would have

had to predetermine not to make salvation possible for most of humanity for this

philosophy to be consistent with God’s thought process. The most consistent thought is

that as God’s image-bearers He created us all to accept Him and fellowship with Him.

The matter of Limited Atonement was found to be inconsistent with Scripture and

the major theme of the Bible, the redemption of sinful man back to a holy, righteous God.

This research leads to a belief and conviction in an Unlimited Atonement.

A review of the Arminian beliefs was found to be a works – salvation. The

emphasis being what man can do rather than what Christ did. The conclusion of this

research are the biblical promises of salvation, freely offered to all, eternally secure.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bible Dictionaries

Douglas, J. D. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.

Vine, W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. Grand Rappids: Baker Book House, 1971.

Books

Brand, Chad Owen. Perspectives on Election: Five Views. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2006.

Bryson, George. The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinists Cast System. Santa Ana: Calvary Chapel Publishing, 2004.

Brown, Fred. Inside The Tulip Controversy: Calvinism Rebuked and Revisited. Southern Pines: Calvary Press, 1986.

Copan, Paul. Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011.

Dongell, Joseph R. and Jerry L. Wells. Why I Am Not A Calvinist. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2004.

Olson, Roger E. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Downers Grove: Inner Varsity Press, 2006.

Peterson, Robert A. and Michael D. Williams, Why I Am Not An Arminian. Downers Grove: Iner Varsity Press, 2004.

Sell, Alan P.F. The Great Debate: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Salvation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982.

Vance, Laurence M. The Other Side of Calvinism. Pensacola: Vance Publications, 1991.

Old Testament Surveys

Smith, Ralph L. Old Testament Theology: It’s History, Method, And Message. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993.

Systematic Theologies

Berkof, Lawence. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1939.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1983.

Grudem,Wayne. Systematic Theology. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

Ryrie, Charlie C. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide To Understanding Biblical Truth. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986.

Shedd,William G. T. Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980.

Commentaries

Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes, Acts – Romans. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1884.

Clarke, Adams. Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. VI., Romans – Revelation. New York: Abingdon Press, 1832.

Delitzsch.F. and C.F.Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. VII, Isaiah. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986.

Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible, Vol.VI, Acts – Revelation. Mclean: Macdonald Publishing Company, 1836.

Journal Articles

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. “The Eternal Security of the Believer,” Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1949): 261.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. “The Saving Work of the Triune God.” Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1950): 264.

Henebury, Paul Martin. “Christ’s Atonement Its Purpose and Extent.” Part 1, Conservative Theological Journal (March 2005):105.

Picirilli, Robert E. “Foreknowlege, Freedom, And the Future.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (June 2000):262.

Rhodes, Ron. “The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Verses Unlimited Atonement.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal (Fall 1996):6.

Telloyan, Samuel. “Did Christ Die For All?” Central Bible Quarterly (Winter 1967):16.

Internet Sources

McKinney, Michael. “What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?” Leadership Now. http://www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog/2011/11/what_did_he_know_an d_when_did.html; accessed March 12, 2012.

  1. All Scripture references will be taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
  2. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971), 203.
  3. Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. VI., Romans – Revelation (New York: Abingdon Press, 1832), 102.
  4. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 671.
  5. Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, Acts – Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1884), 192.
  6. George Bryson, The Dark Side of Calvinism: The Calvinists Cast System (Santa Ana: Calvary Chapel Publishing, 2004), 9.
  7. Ibid., Bryson, 15.
  8. Ibid., 16.
  9. Joseph R. Dongell and Jerry L. Wells, Why I Am Not A Calvinist (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 122.
  10. Lawrence Berkof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1939), 9.
  11. Lewis Sperry Chafer, “The Saving Work of the Triune God,” Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1950): 264.
  12. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide To Understanding Biblical Truth (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986), 310.
  13. Ibid., 310.
  14. Ibid., Ryrie, 311.
  15. William G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), 360.
  16. Ibid., 361.
  17. F. Delitzsch and C.F.Keil, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. VII, Isaiah (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986), 175.
  18. Ralph L. Smith, Old Testament Theology: It’s History, Method, And Message (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 132.
  19. Chad Owens Brand, Perspectives on Election: Five Views (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2006), 47- 48.
  20. Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011), 29.
  21. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1983), 931.
  22. Ibid., 931.
  23. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible, Vol.VI, Acts – Revelation (Mclean: Macdonald Publishing Company, 1836), 753.
  24. Ibid., 753.
  25. Ibid., Brand, 50-51.
  26. Fred Brown, Inside The Tulip Controversy: Calvinism Rebuked and Revisited (Southern Pines: Calvary Press, 1986), 74.
  27. Ibid., 74.
  28. Samuel Telloyan, “Did Christ Die For All?” Central Bible Quarterly (Winter 1967):16.
  29. Ibid., 16.
  30. Ibid., 16.
  31. Ibid., Telloyen, 17.
  32. Ibid., 17.
  33. Ibid., Henry, 306.
  34. Ron Rhodes, “The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Verses Unlimited Atonement.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal (Fall 1996):6.
  35. Ibid., 6.
  36. Ibid., 6.
  37. Ibid., Rhodes, 6.
  38. Ibid., 7.
  39. Ibid., Telloyan, 20.
  40. Paul Martin Henebury, “Christ’s Atonement Its Purpose and Extent, Pat 1,” Conservative Theological Journal (March 2005):105.
  41. J.D.Douglas, The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,1978), 70.
  42. Ibid., Douglas, 70.
  43. Robert E. Picirilli, “Foreknowlege, Freedom, And the Future,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (June 2000):262.
  44. Ibid., 265.
  45. Michael McKinney, “What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?” (Leadership Now, November 2011) available from http://www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog/2011/11/what_did_he_know_and_when_did.html, accessed Mar. 12, 2012.
  46. Lewis Sperry Chafer, “The Eternal Security of the Believer,” Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1949): 261.
  47. Ibid., 290.
  48. Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (Downers Grove: Inner Varsity Press, 2006), 63.
  49. Ibid., 161.
  50. Alan P.F. Sell, The Great Debate: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Salvation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 16.
  51. Ibid., 16.
  52. Ibid., 17.
  53. Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams, Why I Am Not An Arminian (Downers Grove: Iner Varsity Press, 2004), 64.
  54. Laurence M. Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism (Pensacola: Vance Publications, 1991), 362.
  55. Ibid., Erickson, 1007.
  56. Ibid., Peterson and Williams, Why I Am Not An Arminian, 89.
  57. Ibid., 91.
  58. Ibid., Vance, The Other Side Of Calvinism, 333.
  59. Ibid., 470.

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