Calvinism, Arminianism, & Vocabulary

We are going through Christian Theology in Sunday school, and this week we were covering both the similarities and differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. We focused on two passages in Ephesians (1:4-6 and 2:8-9).

For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will— to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.

and

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

The emphasis in class was on how each group understands key words in Scripture like grace, faith, and election.

Each group uses these words – but they do not mean what the other group thinks they mean. Definitions for these words were explored using key documents like the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Canons of the Synod of Dort, and the writings of Arminius.

Here are the slides (pdf)

What is the Full Gospel according to Calvinism?

In an interview, posted in October on the Desiring God site, John Piper was asked:

Can an Arminian preach the gospel effectively — Christ and him crucified?

This question was prompted by Charles Spurgeon’s claim that “[t]here is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism”.

Arminian’s do preach an effective gospel, affirms Piper, if by effective it is meant that there is “enough of gospel truth so that God is willing to use it to save sinners.” While admitting that an Arminian can preach an effective gospel, Piper underscores the point that they cannot preach a full gospel; only one that is defective and harmful.

piperfullgospel

Can an Arminian preach the gospel fully?
Can an Arminian preach the gospel without implicit or explicit theological defects?
Can an Arminian preach the gospel without tendencies that lead the church in harmful directions?
Can an Arminian preach the gospel in the most Christ-exalting way?
And my answer to all those questions would be: No, they can’t.

Piper explains that when gospel truth is presented it can and often is stated in such a way that both an Arminian and a Calvinist would readily accept it.

However, he rightly notes that as one unpacks the terminology in that presentation that there would be a different “direction” or meaning behind many of the words and phrases that are used. Differences that, Piper notes “really do matter as people grow in faith.” Continue reading

Does God want all to be saved? A response to Dr. Kruger.

Dr. Kruger is the President and Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). His interests in the formation of the NT canon and the early history of the church align with my interests in these areas. In a recent post on his blog (Canon Fodder), he writes about the question: does God really want all to be saved (link). It is a very short treatment, answering the question from a Reformed perspective.

By way of background, it is clear in Scripture that God’s desire is for all to be saved and none to perish (1 Tim 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; Deut 30:19; Ezek 18:23,32; 33:11).

In the Reformed view, those who will be saved and those who will perish are rooted in the unchangeable and unconditional decree (or choice) of God. It is by God’s design that some (known as the elect) are granted mercy and an efficacious, irresistible grace so that they are saved. And it is by design that others (known as the reprobate) do not receive this same mercy and grace insuring that they perish. Continue reading