Calvinism and Arminianism and the balance of the two in the bible

(Jeremiah Schuler) #1

I have been struggling with Calvinism and Arminianism and how they balance and interact with each other in the bible. I find validation for both perspectives in the Bible and in some cases this has made me somewhat confused on this subject. I have come to the conclusion that “God is a Calvinist and that we are to be Arminians”. This is somewhat tongue and cheek, but this idea seems to balance a message of personal responsibility and free will while addressing the Calvinistic nature of God. I am wondering if this would biblically stand up. Thanks. Also if anyone wants me to clarify, please ask me specific questions and I will respond. Thanks again.

(Curran Harms) #2

@jeremiahschuler This issue has taken hold of me many times. Some of my favorite pastors are on both sides of the fence at the issue. From Tony Evans to Erwin Lutzer. It almost distracts me from the word when I begin to ponder on it too long. They both have their valid points when you look at scripture. I kind of lean towards Calvinism in my outlook.

(SeanO) #3

@jeremiahschuler I would hesitate to say that God is "Calvisnitic’ - Calvin was one man who was seeking to explain the evidence we find in Scripture. Rather, let us say both that God is sovereign over history and that man is responsible for their decisions. I do not think that we can say with certainty that God has predestined everything that happens, but I think we can say with certainty that He is at work in history to achieve His ends.

Here are two other threads that you may find helpful as you think more about this topic. I think that this probably is a both/and topic - both free will and God’s foreordaining of historical events are true. But I do not think we can know the mechanics of exactly how that works. Rather, as we walk with God we learn to trust Him because we know that His heart is good and all that He does true and beautiful and pure and right and worthy.

Deuteronomy 29:29 - The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

The Lord bless you with wisdom and peace as you study this matter.

(Wade Holmberg) #4

It seems to me, anecdotally at least, that more and more people are coming to terms with the complexity of this issue and are willingly living within the tension. I find this to be refreshing and helpful both on a personal level and in terms of civility and respect on a more public (discourse) level. As you mention the bible affirms both the Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. I have also heard it said this way “Both the Sovereignty of God and responsibility of man are fully affirmed within the biblical narrative. We err when we try to determine where one ends and the other begins.” Or, by way of analogy: these two ideas are not like color as two colors cannot exist in the same space and the same time. These ideas are actually more like sound as two sounds can exist in the same space at the same time as a coherent cord without ceasing to be distinct. (I believe I heard this first from Vince V) Or, another example, these ideas are like light which exits both as particles and waves depending on how it is viewed. With that as background I (personally) would remove one caveat within your answer to Jeremiah. By specifying that God is sovereign “over history” it would seem that we are diving into “mechanics” which we cannot know. Or, to say it another way, we are trying to solve, or ease, the tension. Verses like Philippians 2:12 would seem to affirm the sovereignty of God not only at the historical or narrative level but also at the level of the individual. I would be very hesitant to limit the Sovereignty of God by restricting its influence or by clarifying where it ends but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

(Ryan C Melcher) #6


Thanks for the post! I struggled with this for a while. I actually had to go and look at a ton of passages and take an inductive study approach to them (so making sure I knew the context of the passages and the range of meaning for the Greek words, etc.). It took a while before I decided for myself with a degree of confidence where I was satisfied. I would encourage you to keep up you study. An additional point of view you may be interested in studying is Molinism. I am not a Molinist but have found it an interesting alternative to Calvinism and Arminianism. I would think it is closer to Arminianism than Calvinism, but it has to a degree elements of both. You can find out more on William Lane Craig website.

(Jeremiah Schuler) #7

Thanks for taking the time to outline all of these post for me. Cheers

(Jeremiah Schuler) #8

Thanks I have never heard of Molinism before. I will give it a read.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #9

I have struggled with this issue for a while now, but currently would say I’m still agnostic on this issue. There does seem to be evidence for both sides but I’ll need to study it more in the future. There are two books on this issue that I hope to read sometime in the future:

(Jeremiah Schuler) #10

Thanks for the recommendations