Calvinism v. Arminianism: Civil War

Is there Middle-Ground Between Calvinism and Arminianism? No. There is no middle-ground. I picture two rocks protruding from the ocean. To try to stand in the middle between them, means you fall in the ocean. Theological disagreements aren’t like other disagreements, you can’t just compromise half-way. You end-up in amorphous nothing-land. Bill Cosby (when we all liked him) said “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” So when did it become wrong to be right? To compromise when you’re right makes no sense. Well Arminians think they’re right, and we all know Calvinists know they’re right, so instead of trying to compromise the two positions, think about building a bridge between the two rocks in the ocean. So, I won’t be telling you which position I think is right (and honestly I would start rambling about the time space continuum and just complicate the matter even more for you), I’d rather make broader statements that everyone can agree on. I hate fighting over nuances of word-choices, but let me know if you would word things differently to better capture the truth of Scripture. (Because no matter what we say here, what the Bible says is what actually matters.)

(If you need a refresher on this topic, John Piper gives a fair overview of each position. He has started adding points to Calvinism, so we all know where he stands, but I do think he presents the other side honestly. But feel free to just skip the video and move on to my rantings.)

Point 1) Mankind is Doomed

Whether we are drowning or already dead at the bottom of the ocean, everyone must believe that we are totally screwed without Jesus rescuing us. We definitely don’t just need some assistance. Our depravity is such that we are totally helpless on our own.

Point 2) God Does All the Saving

If we are going to be saved, it would be Jesus that does all of it. Jesus doesn’t do 99% of the saving. He does 100%. If we had to participate in the saving process even 1 iota then we would screw it up. Thus, Jesus had to do all of it.

Point 3) Jesus’ Atonement was Sufficient for All but Only Efficient for Some

In order for God to save us from our sins, our sins needed to be paid for. If there is no penalty, then how can He be declared a just Judge? So, Jesus atoned for our sins on the cross. One of 2 things occurred: Either Jesus only atoned for the sins of the people who were going to be saved, or Jesus atoned for everyone’s sins but it only “worked” for those who trusted Him to be their Savior. (Honestly, everyone limits the atonement of Christ in some way.) I think everyone can agree with the above statement though. Jesus would not have to do “more” to save more people. It’s not like he would have needed to stay on the cross for a few more minutes to save a few more people. Thus what He did was sufficient enough to save everyone, but only efficient in saving actual believers.

Point 4) Faith Is the Lack of Doing Anything

We are saved by Grace through Faith. So what is faith? My best illustration is to imagine we are hanging on the side of a cliff. If we fall we die, and when we look up, we can’t even see the top. We have tried to keep moving upward, but there’s nothing to grab on to. Then we hear Superman’s voice coming from behind us. “If you let go, I will catch you.” We try to look back but can’t see him. We are either going to let go or not. It takes faith. Faith isn’t doing something. It’s the lack of doing something actually. It’s letting go. One side would say, you were too scared and Superman had to pry your hands off the cliff, the other side would say you need to willingly let go. Either way, Superman Jesus has to catch you once you are not holding-on any more.

Point 5) The Gospel Saves

Even Arminians I know believe that once you are saved you are always saved. If you didn’t earn salvation, you can’t lose your salvation. But obviously there are people out there that think you can reject your faith and thus fall from grace. Although my tendency would be to argue with such a person, I think my efforts might be better used elsewhere. If someone was acting as if they were a Christian in their past, but presently do not seem like a Believer at all, there seems to be 3 hypothetical possibilities. 1) They were never saved to begin with. 2) They lost their salvation. 3) They are “back-sliding.” The solution to all these possibilities is THE GOSPEL! The Gospel saves and the Gospel sustains. Why argue with people (who are wrong) when someone needs the Gospel ASAP?

Well, I would love to say I eased tensions, but I doubt I found the magic formula.  Maybe I turned everyone against me, finally uniting the two sides together for the first time in 400 years?  That’s one thing the internet seems good for – uniting people through hate.  ;)

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