Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Calvinism and Arminianism (Part II)

Well, since I have written a lot more than I initially planned, and I like shorter posts anyway, I decided to milk this topic for a full trilogy. How else am I going to build my average back to 2 posts a month???  ;)  Each portrait still links you to the respective Wikipedia articles.

"If God is Love, and He created us, why doesn't everyone go to Heaven?" How Calvinists and Arminians answer this question sheds some insightful light into the fundamental differences between the two theologies.

Arminianism holds that God loves everybody, but that not everyone accepts the Gift of Salvation. God knocks at people's doors, but He will not force Himself upon them. They have free will to reject Him, and the cost (if repentance is never made) is an eternity in Hell. If we dig deeper, we extract a second layer of doctrines, which teach that Jesus died for all humanity and that salvation, though not dependent on works, can be lost through unrepented sin.

Some insist that pure Arminianism promotes a works-based salvation, but that is a misinterpretation of its teachings; Jesus (see the Gospels and Revelation) and Paul (see Romans 11) were very clear that sin, if not repented of, results in loss of salvation. Arminianism is also criticized for teaching uncertainty in one's own salvation, but I see it simply as motivation to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). Romans 8:16 assures us that "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Therefore, by the Holy Spirit's witness, you can know that you know that you're saved!

Calvinism all but denies the existence of free will, focusing instead on election (a concept well-founded in scripture; again, see Romans and the Gospels).  God loves only the elect, which are those whom He wills to save. Although Jesus' blood on Calvary was certainly enough for all humanity, it covers only the elect. Else, why would the "unsaved" be sent to Hell, if their sins were already paid for? Repentance, then, is not an act of free will, but rather an irresistible response to the moving of the Holy Spirit in one's heart. Instead of a turning point in one's life, that marks the "decision for Christ", it is a fruit of the Spirit in one who is already saved.

In Romans 9, Paul declares that some are created for salvation and others for damnation. He also addresses the question of fairness, stating simply that God is sovereign, and therefore is the one to decide what's fair.  That may sound like a cop-out to some, but I believe it's true. Think of when you were a child, and your parents (probably) made you go to bed while it was still light out, wouldn't buy you the candy you wanted, spanked you when you were bad, made you eat broccoli, sent you to school, and forbade you from getting that skull tatoo. At the time, you probably thought it wasn't fair or that they were being mean, but you hopefully realize now that it was for your own good.  Likewise, I believe when we go to be with Him, all will make sense... either that or being in His presence will be so awesome, I won't even care!  :)

To be continued...


Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

'Thanks for following, Russ and Warren!'

Cheers, Greg.

Blogging is one way in which we can grow as Christians.

I appreciate your efforts.

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

Oh and Tamela's blog has gone bye bye...again.