Differences in Calvinism and Arminianism

, posted by Kevin Jackson

It is easier to respect the position of someone whom you disagree with if you can understand their motivation. Therefore, it is helpful to identify the foundational differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.

God’s Primary Attribute: Calvinists understand God primarily in terms of power and authority. God is sovereign in a deterministic sense. Nothing happens without God’s decree. Any doctrine that limits God’s power is viewed with suspicion by the Calvinist, even if it’s a self imposed limitation of God’s choosing. Arminians understand God primarily as relational. Arminians believe that God is willing to set aside his rights in order to be reconciled with humanity. God did this because of his great love for humanity. Power vs Relationship is the primary difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.

The purpose of the fall: Calvinists believe that God created mankind in such a way that the fall was certain and necessary. God purposed the fall to display his attributes of justice and mercy, which in turn display his glory and greatness. Arminians don’t believe that the fall was necessary. God purpose was relational. He created man with the ability to freely respond to him in love. In order to facilitate genuine relationship, Adam and Eve and their posterity needed to have the capability to do things that God did not ultimately prefer.

The Source of God’s Foreknowledge: Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, However, the source of God’s foreknowledge is different in the two systems. In Calvinism, everything that happens is certain and necessary. God knows everything because he has decreed for everything to come to pass. In Arminianism, man’s doing is the cause of God’s knowing. God sees our future choices and knows what we will do. This is a logical order, because God has always had this knowledge. Arminians make a distinction between certainty and necessity. Knowing something will take place is different than causing it to take place.

Grace: Both Calvinists and Arminians believe that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Both believe that man must be drawn by God in order for him to want to be saved. We disagree on the nature and extent of grace. Calvinists believe that drawing grace is effectual and particular. Those whom God chooses to be saved will certainly be saved. God elects to save certain individuals and passes over others. Arminians believe that drawing grace is universal and resistible. God desires for all to be saved and draws all to himself. Drawing grace can be resisted by the individual, to his own detriment.

Original post can be found here