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.
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.
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.