Calvinism vs Arminianism

Calvinism is a system of theology popularized by the French Reformer Jean Calvin. It is also popularly known as "Reformed Theology". In Calvinism, the ultimate eternal destination of all people was predetermined by God before the world was made, on the basis of God's own sovereign choice ALONE. Calvinism is a deterministic system in which it is believed that everything that happens was foreordained and engineered by God - even our repentance, our faith responses, our choices

Calvinism is a theological system in which man is understood to be helpless and to make all important decisions about salvation only according to the Sovereign Choice of God. Arminianism is understood by Calvinists to be any Christian theological system which denies the five main points of Calvinism. .

Arminianism is a less well understood term which is used to refer to those who reject Calvinism in whole or in part. The name comes from the Dutch theologian James Arminius who insisted that God's choice of people was influenced by factors that God FORESAW in people but did not FORCE.

It is debatable if John Calvin was ever a truly regenerate man, though for some he was the greatest of theologians. He eventually came to rule Geneva as the head of a kind of theocracy. He could tolerate no dissent. He executed some of his theological opponents (like Michael Servetus, a medical pioneer) by burning him at the stake with slow burning green wood. In my view, Calvin presented a doctrine of God that makes Adolph Hitler look more righteous than God. I mean, Hitler only wanted to exterminate the Jews and be done with them. The god of Calvin has immutably decreed that almost every man ever born, and most babies as well, will suffer the agonies of hell eternally because it pleases the god of Calvin to do this for his own glory. See this link for more details. Calvin got a lot of his ideas from Augustine, a profilic theologian whose eclectic views drew on Greek notions of God and who prayed to Mary believing her to be apparently able to hear and answer prayers as some kind of Savior of the world.

Much theological debate in the last few hundred years has centred on the issues surrounding "human free will", "God's Sovereignty", "election" and so forth.

What is at stake is the picture we have of God. Is God essentially a puppet-master or a lover? Does God obtain a "love response" from people by irresistably drawing them, regenerating them and then making them believe and repent, or does God only provide "prevenient grace" - enough grace to enable a person to repent and believe, without MAKING them do so.

Many complex philosophical and theological issues are at stake. The difficulty in all this lies in the fact that AT FIRST READING, there are passages of Scripture which seem to support BOTH VIEWS. Therefore, some Christians resign themselves to talk of "God's paradoxes", "truths which must be held in tension" and so on and so forth. Others go so far as to suggest that the truth of these matters can only be understood in terms of extra dimensions that God is aware of and we currently are not.

I believe that if possible and important to DEAL with all the Scriptures and to understand them in an intellectually and emotionally satisfying way. Whether I can fully do this right now is not the issue. "We know in part and we prophesy in part". This section of the site has been added because I believe for a limited number of people (those who want to UNDERSTAND difficult ideas) the discussion of these issues may be truly helpful.

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