Are You a Calvinist or Arminian?
This question assumes that there are only two views. In my early years as a Christian when someone would ask me this question, I assumed that by being a Calvinist I was letting people know that I believed in “Eternal Security”. However, I have long since learned that what Calvinists call “Perseverance of the Saints” is not exactly the same as “Eternal Security”. There is an old Latin expression which basically says, “A third is given”. Since I have not been able to find this Latin expression, I cannot give it to you in Latin. However, I do believe that the concept is very important. Many times we argue over my view and your view not knowing that there is possibly a third or fourth view. We assume that one of the two of us is correct and the other one wrong. But this is not necessarily the case. Both of us could indeed be wrong, and that a third or fourth view is the correct one. This may have been a saying by Augustine, but I do not have any record of it. I would be greatly pleased if someone out there would let me know where I can find this saying.
Calvinism has produced a large number of excellent biblical scholars. Actually much of what is called Calvinism was not actually taught by Calvin himself, but was the product and formulation of his followers.
The formulation of the TULIP was not the creation of John Calvin. The T.U.L.I.P was the result of the Council of Dort and the Remonstrance. There were five concepts which the followers of Jacob Arminius had for this Council. The answers to these five concepts were the answers which came to be formulated in the TULIP. I have read many interpretations of these five points. Some of them interpret these five concepts somewhat differently. While many Calvinists will tell you that you must accept all or nothing of this formulation, my college Bible professor stated that most of us were probably 3 1/2 point Calvinists. A strict Calvinist will tell you that all must hang together because they are integrally related.
Also, I must mention to you that there are some Arminian believers that truly believe in Eternal Security. Some Calvinist might even consider me an Arminian. Also, in the area of God’s sovereignty, I believe that God has chosen not to directly control all things. Part of God’s sovereignty is that He has sovereignly chosen to grant a limited free will to some of His creatures: especially man and probably the angels. As a poor example: A king may be considered the sovereign of his country but even if he could he would not chose to control and regulated every detail of his subjects lives. He delegates authority to various parts and persons of his kingdom. God could control every aspect of our existence but it is my judgment that He choses rather to delegate limited authority to various parts and persons of His creation. Does that mean that He is not sovereign? Absolutely not! When I talk about free will, I almost always use the term “limited free will” because I do not believe there to be any such thing as absolute free will. There are a number of items that determine how much free will that we possess. Where we were born is one. Our parents is another. Our education is another. There are many more items that determine our freedom. For instance our personal sin and the sin of others limits are true freedom. To explain and illustrate this aspect of limitation of freedom, I use the example of a dog tied to a stake. The dog has his maximun freedom when his rope or chain is at its full length. However, if the dog choses to go the wrong way and wrap and wrap his chain about the central stake he progressively loses his freedom. This is truly illustrative of mankind’s progressive slavery when he continues to live a sinful life. Augustine made a truly great statement when he said, “He only is free who is free to do the will of God.” Just like a car or machine functions best and most effectively (and runs freely) when the design and purpose of the car or machine is followed. We do not put sugar in the gas tank of our cars. Why? Because the designer did not design cars to run on sugar. The same is true of mankind. God our Designer did not design us to operate on sin in any of its various forms. He is most free who is fulfilling the purpose and design of His Designer.
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. John 8:34-37 (KJV)
The label Arminian might fit if you consider anyone that is not a five point Calvinist is automatically an Arminian. However, I consider that too simplistic a type thinking. When reading a Seventh Day Adventist commentary on the Galations 5:4 , the writer stated that Seventh Day Adventist do not believe that a person can lose their salvation because of sin, but only by lossing their faith. However, I also do not believe that a true believers can actually loss their faith. Since the Holy Spirit permanently remains in a believer until the day of redemption, true faith likewise remains in that saved person regardless of what he may say.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Gal 5:4 (KJV).
This verse does not teach lose of salvation, but illustrates that the believers removes himself from the walk and enablement of grace by attempting to live by the Mosaic covenant (Law). Look closely at the context of this verse. Paul is not arguing that a person can lose his eternal life and eternal salvation. He is arguing that a Christian that attempts to live his life by the Mosaic covenant is nullifying the work of grace and power in his Christian life.
The most common thinking and usage of the word “Arminian” is the idea that a truly regenerate person can lose his/her salvation because of sin or loss of faith. Many Christians become Arminian or come to believe that a true Christian can lose his/her salvation by their misunderstanding of the problem passages in Hebrews especially Hebrews 6:4-6.
On this website, I present a third way which is clearly biblical. While John Calvin and those who followed him were great scholars, they were not infallible nor did they have all the truth of Holy Scripture. We must build upon the labors of others, but not be afraid to examine their interpretations and conclusions.
Within the last couple of years, I have discovered that Calvin was not truly a Calvinist and Arminius was not an Arminian. Very interesting indeed. I will talk about this later. It is clear from John Calvin’s writings that he did not believe in “Limited Atonement” meaning that Jesus Christ only died for the sins of the Elect. There are many statements in John Calvin’s writings in which he clearly states that Jesus Christ truly died for the sins of all mankind. I am not sure at what point in his life he wrote this. Almost all of the Reformers came out of the Roman Catholic Church and as a result did not completely rid themselves of some of the garments of Roman Catholicism.
Personally, I believe that Norman Geisler wrote a tremedious book on this subject entitled Chosen, but Free. Many Calvinists have criticised his book, but I still believe he made a great contribution to the discussion of Election, Predestination, and limited Free will. It is well worth reading.
The major issue that the Reformers dealt with and corrected was “How does a sinner gain acceptance in the eyes of God?” The major doctrine that they recovered was “Justification by grace through faith alone, through Christ alone.” The doctrine of Justification by faith alone was the true battle cry of the Reformation.
Unfortunately, many within today’s churches do not know of or understand the crucial nature of this teaching or doctrine. In my teaching I attempt to alert every believer to the importance of this crucial teaching. It is the basis of all true Christianity. Even if a Christian does not understand the theological doctrine of Justification, if he is indeed regenerate he understands it to some extent. However, to have a true and unequivocal assurance of one’s eternal life and salvation, it is crucial to understand the teaching of Justification by faith. A few years ago, two major professors, Norman Shepherd and Richard Gaffin at Westminster Theological Seminary were removed because they did not teach the true doctrine of Justification by faith.
Unfortunately, they had continued to teach an erroneous view of Justification for many years. And by so doing they contaminated many of their theological students, future pastors and biblical scholars.
The doctrine of Justification by faith was the doctrine that set Martin Luther free. This was the doctrine which was the heart of the Reformation. However, he was not the first to understand this teaching. This is the clear unequivocal teaching of the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.
All my articles that I post will not necessarily be by those who believe in Eternal Security, but most will be.
I am currently formulating definitions for the key sections in the book of Romans. The book of Romans is the nearest thing to a systematic theology in the Bible. William Tyndale said the book of Romans “Was a light and way into all of Scripture.” The book of Romans truly sets the believer on the correct path for a clear interpretation of the rest of Holy Scripture.
My outline of the Book of Romans has one word sections which should be memorized along with the chapter, verse references, and a clear definition of that word. This will help you think your way through the Book of Romans.
I. Introduction 1:1-17 – This is self-evident
2. Condemnation 1:18 – 3:20 – Basically this word means “to consider guilty and worthy of punishment.” But it is not the punishment itself. A prisoner may have gone before the judge and been declared guilty but he has not yet been sentenced or punished. He may remain in jail for a long time before he is sentenced and his sentence is carried out. The word “condemnation” or “Damnation” is almost equal and opposite of the word Justification which we will discuss next.
Notice the contrastive verse in Proverbs 17:15. 15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord. Prov 17:15 (KJV)
3. Justification 3:21-5:21 – The Greek word for Justification means
“to declare” righteous or in right standing.” It does not mean “to make righteous” in the sense that it changes something in the person’s character. Justification is a legal, judical, and forenic act of God whereby He legally declares the believing sinner in right standing or relation to Himself based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for our sins. However, God does not simply Justify us, He regenerates us immediately when we place our trust in Jesus Christ. So God does make a significant and major change inside us. But the fallen nature is not removed or eradicated by this act. From that point on God starts His process of making us righteous in a practical sense. This is generally called “Progressive Sanctification.” This is the next word and section in Romans.
4. Sanctification 6:1-8:9-
Many church people truly misunderstand the correct and true meaning of “sanctification”. There are many words that come from the Greek root word “hagios”. The words holy, holiness, sanctify, sanctification, and saint all come from this same root word “hagios”. The word “hagios” does not mean sinless. It is used of inanimate objects which cannot sin. For instance it is used of the Jewish Temple and of the dishes used for special feasts and occasions. These words are designated as “holy” items as opposed to “common” items. The word “hagios” basically has the idea of “dedicated unto”, consecrated, special, and selected for a specific purpose. Remember it does not mean “sinless” but those who are “holy” will by their dedication (separated unto the Lord) will sin less.
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16 (KJV)
Greek Strong’s Number: 40
Greek Word: ἅγιος
English Words used in KJV:
Holy One 4
miscellaneous translations 3
[Total Count: 229]
5. Glorification 8:10-8:39
Glorification is probably the most difficult words to define without a clear dictionary definition. However, I will give you some of my ruminatings about “glory” and “glorification”. One day when I was musing (big word for thinking), The thought might have been a blasphemous thought. God wants all glory to go to Him. Then I thought is God a “glory hog”? That could not be actually true. I then thought what does it do when I glorify God? Then I realized the when we honor, idealize, and worship, we tend to become like. When we honour, idealize, and worship Him, we start to take on His likeness, character, and qualities.
Then I thought about my son. For some good reason God gave me an excellent superb son. I was afraid to have children because I was afraid the God would punish me with bad children because of how bad a child I had been to my parents. I was amazed and am still amazed at the son God gave me. Then I thought when my son does good and excellent things, he glorifies me. Even though the credit may not truly be deserved, my son is glorifying me. He makes me look good.
With God it is altogether a different matter. God is all the wonderful and good things we can attribute to Him. We can never glorify God enough and He totally deserves every bit of it.
But as we glorify God we become like Him. We grow more and more into the Image of God in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)”…conformed to the image of his Son….”
Here are two articles on Glorification that is on this website:
6. Explanation 9-11
Chapters 9 Through 11 explain the Past Election of Israel, the Present Salvation of Israel (any Jewish person), and the Future Restoration of National Israel.
a. The Past Election of Israel – 9
b. The Present Salvation Israel – 10
c. The Future Restoration of Israel – 11
7. Application 12:1-16:27
The application section is somewhat self-evident.
Just to prove that I take seriously the book of Romans, I took two courses on the book of Romans: one in Bible College and one in Seminary. Also, I memorize the first eight chapters of Romans which is the clearly theological section. Memory work is the heart of true biblical study and scholarship. Two of my favorite Bible scholars and pastors recently mentioned on their radio programs their investment in Scripture memory work. Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Church, mention his serious memory work in Holy Scripture. Dr. David Jeremiah stated clearly on his radio program that he memorized in B.M.A. (Bible Memory Association). For you that do not know of B.M.A., I consider it the best Bible memory organization in the Christian world. Approximately 75% of all participants in B.M.A. completed their books at the time I was involved with the ministry. For some years I was on the Midwest B.M.A. council. I memorized almost all of the BMA books on Scripture.
Dr. N.A. Woychuk , the founder died approximately a year ago. He was 90 some years old. His son now is the head of this ministry. The ministry now goes by the name (SMF) Scripture Memory Fellowship
Probably the most beneficial thing in my Christian life was memorizing Scripture and B.M.A. was one of the major factors in my life.
I recommend that you memorize in the New King James Version (or if you value the K.J.V.) or the King James Version. Most of the modern versions are based on the Westcott-Hort theory which I find lacking in true biblical integrity. All of my memory work was done in the KJV, but I am not a KJVonly person. However, the Bible version you begin with, you will need to continue with, so chose your version wisely. Even though the New King James Version is extremely close to the King James Version it would be hard for me to switch to memorizing the NKJV.
Many of the excellent Pastors, teachers, and biblical scholars still use the King James Version. The King James version is not as difficult to read and understand as the promoters of the newer modern versions would have you believe. In fact, there have been studies done that show that some of the modern versions are actually more difficult to read. Many of the modern versions use multisyllabic words instead of simpler monosyllabic words which are in the KJV. The issue with Bible translations is not the translations themselves, but the Greek text upon which they are based. Basically there are only two Greek texts: 1) the traditional Greek text which is variously called “Textus Receptus”, Byzantine text, or Majority text. This was the biblical text that was used up until 1870 when Westcott-Hort put out their alleged better Greek text. Basically, Westcott-Hort created a Greek text with primarily two greek manuscripts Vaticanus and Sinaticus both of which have major problems. Westcott-Hort theory is basically the idea that “Older is better”. The traditional Greek text has over 5,000 manuscripts most of which are more recent. This is the reason that these are called the Majority Text. However, the Textus Receptus, the Byzantine text, and the Majority text are not exactly the same. If you want to understand the terminology you will have to read up on the specifics.
By the way, you can be saved, sanctified, and become an effective Christian with almost any good version of the Bible. But I truly believe that the acceptance of all these various modern versions have not increased the knowledge of God or His Word. There seems to be much less memory work being done today.
If a person choses to change from KJV to some modern version, I believe that the New King James Version would be an appropriate change. It is a recent translation 1982 and is so much like to KJV that many people when they read it do not immediately recognize that they are not reading the KJV. The New King James Version reads at an 8th grade level. The N.I.V. (New International version) reads at a 7.9 grade level which almost the same as the NKJV.
But for Scripture memory work, choose the best literal translation from the best Greek text you can find.
Many, if not all, of the modern translations seem to be driven my money and financial concerns. Every year there is allegedly a new and better translation which will make you a miracle scholar. Allegedly it reads like the newspaper, etc. etc. ad Infinitum. Many of these translations appeal to laziness and the instant mentality of our modern generation. If you are going to truly master the basics of the Bible you will have to dig, dig, and dig. Most of the simple concepts are clearly available to all, but for some of the finer points one must dig.
We are here to be of assistance for your birth and growth in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our only blessing is your benefit.
May God bless your study of HIS WORD. Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you understanding and action to understand, believe, and practice HIS WORD.
Rev. Thomas Clark – Phil. 3:14