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)

Why doesn’t God present the Gospel so all will believe?

Came across an old post (2006) by Sam Storms today as I was drinking my coffee. Storms, a Calvinist and contributor to Parchment & Pen, notes that the two traditions – Calvinism and Arminianism – “share a considerable amount of common theological ground, even when it comes to the issue of salvation.”

In sum, the Wesleyan Arminian analysis of fallen human nature does not differ fundamentally from the Calvinistic one. So wherein do they differ? Why do Wesleyan Arminians affirm conditional election and Calvinists affirm that election is unconditional? The answer is what is called prevenient (or preventing) grace

Throughout the post Storms is fair and accurate in his presentation. He quotes from several Arminian theologians (Wesley, Oden, Thiessen) as he accurately describes prevenient grace as providing “people with the ability to choose or reject God.”

Presenting prevenient grace properly does not mean Storms agrees with it. As he sees it there are numerous problems. Most are rooted in suspending God’s sovereign work “on the will of man” and giving people a reason to boast about their part in salvation.

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Is Faith a Gift?

Faith, we all know that without it we can’t please God, nor can we have eternal life. It is through faith that we are placed in Christ and it is in Him that we receive every spiritual blessing. But have you ever stopped to think about how you would describe faith?

Would you describe faith as a gift? Something that is given to you by God. Or would you understand it as an act in which you expressed your trust in God, convinced that He will fulfill all of His promises? Continue reading