Calvinism vs. Arminianism Debate
As the lowest ranking security guard (least of the apologists) we continue on to the most dangerous part of the Eternity-In-Christ airport, the check-in counter.
Passengers receive their tickets for from the Grace-Through-Faith Ticket Machine (GTFTM) at the entrance of the airport. The tickets are free of charge to the passengers but they aren't cheap, they were purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The Airport Guidebook says these things about the GTFTM.
John 3:16-18 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
There are many other verses in the Bible about salvation you can find some of them here. http://dailyverses.net/salvation?p=2
So long as we stick to the actual words of the Bible, there is no disagreement among Christians. However, whenever we try to impose our own (or some great theologian's) interpretation of these Scriptures, debates and divisions often follow. I believe that these disagreements come because our finite minds cannot fully understand the great gift of salvation given by an infinite triune God. As a result, our best attempts create a systematic theology related to the mechanics of salvation end up trying to fit Scripture into a box and regardless of whether or not it is a Calvinist shaped box or an Arminian shaped box, NEITHER box can fully define salvation without cutting off some important aspect. The same is true for the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that there is one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God but I freely admit that even though I believe it, I cannot fully comprehend with my finite mind all of the facets of how 3 in 1 really works. Some theologians, have tried to force the Trinity into their box that they have ended up either denying the Trinity or cutting off some important feature that won't fit into the box of their understanding.
My thoughts about salvation are interrupted by a great commotion by the Check-in Counter. A stapler flies by my head. I duck for cover behind the GTFTM. I peek around the corner of the ticket machine and see that a riot has broken out between the staff at the check-in counter. One group says, "God is sovereign!" the next group says, "Humans have free-will!" It goes back and forth and tulips are mentioned and various names of theologians like Calvin, Arminias, Augustine, and Wesley are thrown back and forth. Meanwhile, those who are have just received their tickets and are waiting in line to check in their luggage, which are the rewards that they want to take to heaven with them are getting more and more confused and frightened by the controversy.
After a few minutes the violence settles down and it turns into a cold war of muttered, "God is sovereign" and "Humans have free-will." Eventually, I have to smile because it reminds me of a beer commercial that was on television, when I was a kid. One group would say "Tastes great!" and their opponents would say "Less filling!" but they were talking about the same beer (which I never tried).
Finally I get up my courage and head over to the Check-in Counter, where the muttering continues. I say, "Excuse me, did you realize that you all are talking about the same salvation from the same God and that
Suddenly, I realize I have achieved one goal helping the two groups of Check-In Counter staff to unite. Now, they are united against me! As they start looking around on their desks to find things to throw at me I retreat behind the GTF ticket machine and pull out my Guidebook, the Bible. I come back out and say, "Look I understand you are angry, but before you throw things at me, please listen to these verses from the Bible."
John 17:20-24 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!"
"These are from the prayer that Jesus gave before He was crucified to pay for our sins. His greatest desire was for us to be united, "so that the world will believe." If we get into fights with each other, then, we are not being obedient to Christ's desires for us, EVEN IF WE ARE CORRECT!" So, Calvinism, may be correct or Arminianism may be correct or more likely, both are partly correct and partly incorrect, but if we are divided, we are failing to live up to God's best for us."
Here are some more verses. Notice that I am not quoting some "great" theologians interpretation of the Bible but I am quoting from the Bible itself. This is because, "
If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them." It seems that following these different teachers are leading you all to be divided so I ask you to please, put their books back on the shelf, take a break from listening to their messages, and get back into the Bible itself. We may not understand everything, but we can trust promise of Jesus Christ, through Scripture, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)
Here are some more verses related to Christian unity:
- "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
- "I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose." 1 Corinthians 1:10
- Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. 1 John 4:7-21
So, by God's grace, I am not going to get sucked into arguments about Calvinism vs. Arminianism because they just lead to divisions and they distract us from God's Word and cause us to focus on the teachings of men more than the Word of God.
I admit that I don't understand HOW people get saved, but I do believe it is very important THAT people get saved. God commanded Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it." (Genesis 1:28). Adam and Eve probably didn't understand all of the mechanics of reproduction beyond what they could observe among the animals. But, despite their lack of knowledge, they were able to be obedient to God's command and they could reproduce! On the other hand in modern times, people have a great deal of knowledge about the mechanics of reproduction, but these people have fewer children than those who, in the words of Nike, "Just Do It." Or, in the words of 1 Corinthians 8:1, "But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church."
In Matthew 28: 18-20 we read, "Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” By obeying Christ's commands, the Church starting at Pentecost has been able to grow, multiply, and reproduce despite persecution. They had very little but they were faithful with what they had.
I am not writing this to pick a fight or start and argument, but to announce that with God's help, I don't want to get sucked into any more arguments about this topic. When we get to heaven, God will reveal the mechanics of salvation to us, until then, we only have our guesses, which are just that, guesses. If you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, that is fine, just make sure that you don't forget to obey Scriptures related to Christian love and unity other Christians who have a different perspective. Our entrance in to Heaven depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no theology 101 quiz at the door. If our salvation depended on how accurate our theology is, none of us would have any hope of salvation. So, I am thankful that it is "not through works of righteousness" including being able to comprehend just how salvation takes place. I am content in the knowledge that I have received my salvation by God's grace. Therefore, I want to be obedient to all of God's plans for my life including to use me to help others receive salvation as well.
So if you ask for my opinion on this topic, I will probably respond something like this.
1. I don't know.
2. It's God's business.
3. I love you. I love them. I hope you all will love each other. I hope you will keep loving me.