Calvinism vs. Arminianism

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

Not unlike American politics which has fallen into two parties (Republicans and Democrats) with a broad cross-section of people at various places in the middle, there are now, broadly speaking, two general Christian schools of thought regarding salvation in general and predestination in particular. These schools follow the teachings of John Calvin and James Arminius. They are called Calvinist, and Arminian, respectively.

Just like many Americans do not feel entirely at home in either political party, in the Church also in the middle are many, if not most, Christians who do not feel entirely at home. One of the most well-known and beloved pastors in recent generations who lived in the tension of this middle ground was Chuck Smith who was the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. Before he died some years ago, I had the honor of having breakfast with him. I did not come to argue about anything, but rather learn anything I could from a man used mightily of God who helped make expository Bible teaching and rock-based Christian worship music popular.

Poppa Chuck, as he was fondly called, knew I was associated with Calvinistic teachers, conferences, and book publishing to the degree that upon the 500th anniversary of John Calvin Time Magazine named me among other Christian teachers as thought leaders carrying forth his legacy. Smith assumed I was a double predestination rigid five-point Calvinist and seemed surprised that I was neither. As I explained to him the single predestination view of Augustine and Luther in contrast to the double predestination view of Calvin, among other theological nuances in the middle between the two theological parties, he seemed intrigued and was not seemingly familiar with some of the nuanced options on the continuum between traditional and fixed Calvinism and Arminianism. Poppa Chuck, like so many other Christians, seemed to find this debate to be a lot like the Republican party versus the Democrat party with a lot of people in the middle feeling left out and not totally at home in either side of the fight.

How can you maintain unity with fellow believers with who you don’t necessarily agree about open-handed issues like Calvinism and Arminianism?

This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s Romans 8-9 commentary Duck Duck Doom. You can get a free e-book copy by clicking here or get a physical copy for a gift of any amount during the month of March here.

To find the new, free Romans 6-11 digital study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit or download the Real Faith app.

Mark Driscoll
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