Are You a Calvinist, Arminian, or in-between?
In the previous chapter we looked at some of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. We saw that both of these positions have some extreme doctrines in which most Christians are uncomfortable. This chapter will cover this problem even further.
Although there are some Christians who adhere fully to Calvinism or Arminianism, most don’t. Most Christians have a hard time accepting all of the doctrines associated with either of these two views. If you were to ask them if they were a Calvinist or an Arminians, they would say that they are neither, but are somewhere in-between. Unfortunately, I don’t think most Christians realize what they are implying when they say this.
If you were to ask me, "What are you, a Communist or a Nazi?" I would, of course, tell you I am neither. I would also tell you I am not somewhere in-between. There are many other political positions besides the ones found between communism and Nazism.
Likewise, I am not a Calvinist, Arminian, or anywhere in-between. My theological stance is quite different. There are other theological positions apart from what lays between Calvinism and Arminianism. I think if most Christians were to carefully examine the beliefs of both of these positions, they would conclude they are not somewhere in-between. (Please do not misquote me. I am not comparing communism and Nazism with these two theological beliefs. I only mentioned them to illustrate a point.)
If you refer to my Doctrinal Statement, you will find it is consistent with most evangelical Christians. I firmly believe Jesus’ death on the cross paid the full penalty for our sins. Salvation does not come from doing good works, but from personally accepting what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
Like many "Calvinists," I believe in eternal security and the sovereignty of God. However, I believe that God (out of His sovereignty) created us with a complete free will. This free will gives us the true ability to accept or reject God. This choice is not a preprogrammed choice, but rather it is a choice made from a truly free heart.
Many people call themselves Calvinists simply because they know they are not Arminians. They figure if they are not Arminians they must be Calvinists. Many Calvinists reinforce this belief in some of their writings. Following are some of their comments:
Once it has been established there are only two positions, people are shown that only one position is correct. The Arminian position is shown to be completely unscriptural. At this point people would rather call themselves Calvinists than the erroneous Arminians. Listed below are some comments by Selective Salvationists contrasting the two views:
If you look at the doctrinal statements of strong Reformed churches and colleges, you will find most of them list certain documents in their doctrinal statements. The four most common documents are: Canons of Dort (1618), Belgic Confession (1561), Westminster Confession (1646-48), and Heidelberg Catechism (1563). Most of these were written about 400 years ago and were written to clarify their doctrinal stance.
The doctrine of selective salvation became popular about 400 years ago during the Reformation. Since this new doctrine was confusing to many people back then, many "errors" and "heresies" started to arise. The documents referenced above were written to address these heresies. Links to these documents can be found at the end of this chapter if you are interested in reading them.
Of all of these documents, the Cannons of Dort deals with selective salvation the most. I strongly recommend you read the first few pages of the Cannons of Dort; this will give you a very solid understanding of the teachings of Calvinism. (Throughout this section I will reference various parts of the Canons of Dort. For your convenience, I have listed the referenced items separately in the following chapter.)
For ease of viewing, I have each of these documents listed on my website. Click on the name below to view the documents:
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