Calvinism and Arminianism…Enemies or Brothers? I love theology… everything about it. The spiritual pursuit of biblical balance by studying and evaluating various verses relating to sound doctrine ignites a passion for truth every time I engage in it. However, as much as I love doctrine, I love Jesus even more! Now, before someone blows a gasket with my last statement, let me say… Jesus can not be reduced to or separated from the disclosure and proclamation of propositional revealed truth.
Truth exists, it is universal, it is absolute, it is knowable, and it is descriptive through language. However, for Christians, truth is also embodied in the person and character of Jesus. When our proclamation and defense of truth abandons the character of Christ, we have failed to biblically proclaim the message. This fact is undeniable. (1Jn. 4:8) And yet, it happens frequently when immature Calvinists and Arminians discuss biblical doctrine. One line zingers and arrogant proclamations against each other seems to be much of the norm, even between those who should be an example because of the responsibility they have in leadership.
Some Calvinists wield the ‘pelagian’ or ‘semi-pelagian’ tag against Arminians with a high minded sneer and smirk. Likewise, Arminians use the ‘fatalism’ tag with equal disdain. When this happens, neither side understands the other one. The use of these tags are revealing truths of the immature character of the one using them. And yes, this includes some of the ‘big leaders’ from each camp.
Sunrise vs. Sunset
Calvinism and Arminianism are the two opposites of the circle we call orthodox evangelical Christian doctrine. Both embrace sufficient explanations of the major points of theology. They are not enemies…except in the contention of those who love division. I like to think of it this way: Calvinists focus on the Sunrise of the life of a Christian… the things which happened before any of us knew it. Arminians focus on the Sunset of the life of a Christian… the things which are certain as our life ends. I know this is over simplification, but let us attempt to walk in the light of the noon of day; that is, equal distance from the sunrise as from the sunset. Balance is always beautiful!
Family Discussions vs. Outreach
The joys and rigorous discussions of these two major views of doctrine are really just family discussions. They are not necessary or profitable for outreach and evangelism, as the mystery of God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility are both present when we share the Gospel. I’ve seen unbelievers bait evangelists with unnecessary questions which were aimed at creating heated arguments. Keep family discussions within the family. Let outreach focus on man’s need, God’s provision through Jesus, the gospel call of repentance and faith, and the faithfulness of God to save all who respond by grace through faith.
Avoid the traps, recognize the bait, keep the deep discussions within the family and clearly preach the gospel to the lost. As we seek to reach the lost and plant churches, our focus should be to get in alignment with the invitation of the Holy Spirit to the sinner!
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, Come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17, KJV, emphasis mine)
OK. Your turn…agree or disagree?