Calm thoughts on Arminianism and Calvinism

, posted by drwayman

this post was written by SEA member, Roy Ingle

“Why are you an Arminian?” Seems like a straight forward question. A friend posted this to me recently and I wanted to provide a clear, calm answer as to why I am an Arminian. By the way, my friend is not a Calvinist. He is probably an Arminian but he wants to be one of those who call themselves “just a Christian” or worst, “Calminian.” In reality, he is an Arminian but he wants to avoid debates so he avoids the tag. I did this for years before just admitting that I am an Arminian though I don’t always agree with Arminius on every issue.

My calm reply to the question of why I am an Arminian would be because I believe that God is love (1 John 4:8). The love of God for humans is what drives me to reject Calvinism the most. Yes I see Arminianism in Scripture but I see the love of God manifested most in His Son. I see the Lord Jesus giving His life for all people (John 3:16) and all who come to Him can be saved (John 1:12-13; 4:13-14; 5:24; 6:40; 7:38; 8:51; 20:31). Jesus is the Savior of the world (John 1:29; 4:42; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). God has demonstrated His own love toward people by sending His Son to die for our sins (Romans 5:8) and all who are in Christ Jesus are forgiven and redeemed (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus shed His blood so that all can be saved through faith in Him but only those who appropriate His sacrifice are saved (Romans 3:21-26).

This overwhelming theme in Scripture, that God is love, is what drives me to preach the gospel. The love of God is what motivates me to prayer. The love of God is what drives me to study theology. I want to know this God. I want to love this God in return. I want to point others to the cross so that they too can repent of their sins and be baptized into Christ for their eternal salvation.

When I calmly consider Calvinism, I don’t see this theme. I see the issue for Calvinism being the sovereignty of God. I affirm the sovereignty of God but I believe that God created a world in which people are made in His image and given freedom to either choose to worship and love God or reject Him. Adam and Eve rejected God why their own free will. Calvinism pictures God as loving His elect only. I know that some Calvinist theologians have wrestled with how God loves the world and they seem to try to teach that God does love the world in some sense but He doesn’t really love the world. He more or less tolerates the world. As part of God’s absolute sovereignty, He has created all people as either elect or non-elect. The non-elect have no choice in their election. They were created for the wrath of God (Romans 9:21-24; a fact that R.C. Sproul affirms though he admits he does not like it). So before time began, God looked down through eternity and He chose to create, to send His Son for the elect, He chose the elect, and in time, Christ Jesus died for the elect and only for the elect. How do you know if you are elect? None really knows. Some reason that if you believe in Christ, you are elect but if you turn from following Christ, you were never elected to begin with. Some, such as Jonathan Edwards, reason that some are given a temporary assurance of their salvation though they are not elect. Either way, if you fail to persevere (which I agree with), you are not elect.

Arminianism, on the other hand, presents a God who loves and He gives genuine freedom to people. He created Adam and Eve with the freedom to be tempted and to fall into sin because He creates people who willing choose to love Him. He does not force people to love Him (or as R.C. Sproul teaches from John 6:44, that God drags them to salvation). He gives us the gospel, teaches us through His Word how to come to Him for salvation, and then He tells His Church to preach this gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47). I am elected because I am in Christ. Christ, and not my election, are the basis for my eternal salvation (Colossians 3:1-4). Christ is the chosen one (Ephesians 1:3-4) and in Him, we are His chosen (1 Timothy 4:10; Revelation 17:14).

In conclusion, the reality is that I am an Arminian not because I reject the sovereignty of God nor is it the issue of the freedom of the will. It is the love of God. God’s love was so manifested in His Son (Luke 19:10) and Paul the Apostle tells us in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is the image of the invisible God and that Jesus came to make peace by His own blood (Colossians 1:20). I am thankful for this truth, that Jesus saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and I am a sinner in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). Jesus came to save me.

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