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Calvinism & Arminianism compared..

Here is also an acrostic by Roger Nicole on Grace…

Grace is…

Obligatory (that is indispensable)

Sovereign (in choice)

Particular (in redemption)

Effectual (in operation)

Lasting (that is, secure)

*I would see myself the Atonement, like Calvin I believe, as general or “Sufficient” for all, but only “Efficient” for the Elect.

  1. But, of course, a somewhat useless “sufficiency,” given the limited efficiency.

  2. hughmc5 permalink

    If it is, indeed such a “mystery.” God has revealed his secret things to us via his word. It is the speculations of the theologians and philosophers that have confused things. The 17th Article leads us back to more biblical footing.

    This article sees logic not as a created “thing,” certainly not to be maligned, but as God’s essence:

    • Yes Gordon Clark was a fair Calvinist, and also a Historic Pre-Mill (I am certainly the latter, myself). I also consider myself an Augustinian first, then something of a Calvinist!

  3. If men have no personal choice, why do you bother Fr. Robert?

    • I can see that you have little understanding of true Reformed Divinity, men have a choice and responsibility, it is just not a total so-called Free-Will choice. See btw Abraham Kuyper’s doctrine and teaching of Common Grace.

      Btw, God’s great decrees & sovereignty are always full of God’s mystery, but his mystery (musterion) is a given revelation – spiritual truth generally as revealed in the Gospel, (1 Tim. 3: 9). But is always beyond our poor minds themselves!

      • Michael Frost permalink

        The eternal debate…

        I think one of the better recent books that looks at the various “models” or “explanations” is Gregory Graybill’s Evangelical Free Will: Philipp Melanchthon’s Doctrinal Journey on the Origins of Faith (Oxford Univ. Press, 2010). Few great thinkers and magisterial Reformers struggled with this more than Philip! He took it so seriously and struggled with it so mightily, his entire theological life, up until his death. He constantly toiled to better understand scripture and refine his own thinking. Of course, he caught grief from all sides, which I take as a plus. As Graybill puts it:

        “Yet Melanchthon’s evangelical free will was something new. It was neither a [RC] transformational model of justification, nor Luther’s understanding of the bound will combined with imputed righteousness. In fact, it was a development from within the theological landscape of Luther’s soteriology. It was a retention of Luther’s mechanism of salvation (substitutionary atonement in Christ alone through faith alone), coupled with a deliberate departure from the negative consequences of a strong view of the governance of God.” (p. 316)

      • Melanchthon was a great biblical-theological student for sure! But he is quite apart from Luther on the Bondage of the Will! Luther is always the Augustinian!

      • Michael Frost permalink

        I think the scholarly consensus is that Master Philip was…

        1. a most erudite theologian and linguist,
        2. a systematic theologian
        3. a theologian with a low tolerance for saying “these two ideas are paradoxes, so be it and leave it alone”, and
        4. a theologian with very high pastoral sensibilities.

        He believed God wanted his revelation to be known and know-able to all, not just to the very learned. And that with God there aren’t true paradoxes.

        I think Calvin shared 1, 2, and 3 with Philip. Not quite so sure on 4.

        Luther shared 1 & 4. Definitely not 3! And too bad for all of us now that he didn’t hsare 2. We can all find whatever we want somewhere in Corpus Lutherus (my form of Road Runner-Wiley E. Coyote fake Latin!). 😉

      • Indeed the Calvin pastoral heart, like Luther’s, was not going to overthrow the great justice of God! No antinomianism here! And btw, this is one of the greatest modern (really postmodern) weakness, the loss of the Moral Law of God!

      • Michael Frost permalink

        Philip was one of the first “official” anti-nomians of the magisterial Reformation. Far more anti-nomian than Luther! See his 3 uses of the Law in his Loci Commues from 1535-1559. And see Timothy Wengert’s Law & Gospel: [PM’s] Debate with John Agricola of Eisleben over Poenitentia (Baker Academic, 1997).

        No cheap grace, easy repentence, or free living for Philip.

      • No doubt to his mind! But, he was somewhat semi-Pelagius in my opinion! 🙂

        Btw, many see Luther as supralapsarian, just a point.

  4. Michael Frost permalink

    Hey mate! You trying to pick a fight? Peliagian…pfffft…. We prefer semi-Augustianian. Or would that be earlier Augustinian? Depends on the work and year when it comes to Augustine. 🙂

    I don’t worry about the -lapsarian positions or the -millennialism positions. Those really weren’t issues of the magisterial Reformation. More like pre-post-Modernism for Evangelical Protestants? 😉

    • No fight, just my own opinion historically, theologically. Myself, I like to read and study Reformed Scholasticism and history. And surely the NT has its own historical effect, Jewish Hellenism, Greco-Roman, and here are no doubt some ideas from Aristotelianism, Plato, etc. Indeed the N.T. did not just drop out of heaven! Like Tertullian, and Augustine, I am more of a Western minded Christian, to my mind Saul/Paul and the Pauline is more within here. Paul was always the Roman citizen, (Rom. 13).

      • Michael Frost permalink

        Come on Father, you know I’m joking! You need to keep a sense of humor! Or for you, humour? 😉

      • I have a sense of humour, I am Irish, but not so much when I am seeking biblical theology and history! WE live in an age of almost complete stupid-humour! I HATE the late night American talk shows! Ugh, talk about being dumbed-down! And I know ya know, I am a conservative! 😉

  5. Michael Frost permalink

    I’m 50% Bohemian (from mom) and 25% German/25% Irish (from Dad). So…I love a good beer!

    I have a soft spot for some late night comedy. My adult kids and I love Tosh.O. Saw him live with my college graduating daughter last week. But I also subscribe to and read The Economist, Weekly Standard, National Review, Touchstone, First Things, and Wall Street Journal.

    Oh, and we have a heck of a wake. I’m a somewhat libertarian, federalist conservative. Limited government that focuses on the essentials (e.g., the common defense) and leaves most things up to State, counties, cities, and families. So if a State wants the death penalty and legal marijuana, that is up to their legislature and voters.

  6. According to history – Arminianism has been the historic position of the united Church.
    Calvinism is something entirely new to Protestantism.

    Translation – Calvinists contend everyone got it wrong (including Augustine who they have to deliberately misinterpret AND John Calvin who never even held their heretical teachings) up until God sent them to show up and correct everything.

  7. Well of course I would completely disagree! I guess you have not read the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles? Which are surely Calvinistic, noting especially Article XVII, Of Predestination and Election. And most certainly too, both Calvin and Luther were Augustinians!

    • Michael Frost permalink

      Guess it depends on how you define terms? I think Art. XVII is actually very Lutheran. Formula of Concord. But also very Bullingerian. 2nd Helvetic Confession. Actually so much overlap between Lutherans, Reformed, and Anglicans. 🙂

      • Sadly, I have met very few Lutherans in my day that agree with Article XVII!

      • Michael Frost permalink

        Sadly, so very, very true for the now fallen heterodox ELCA! 😦

        I think the LCMS and LCWS are pretty good on FOC, at least in seminaries and official theological dogmatic formulations. I sometimes encounter this with them because they tend to be the most hostile to Melanchthon and use the FOC against him where they think they can. And they tend to obsess about Luther’s thoughts on Bondage of the Will. A subject you agree with them on! 🙂

        *Yes, of course we must “obsess” about our convictions and presuppositions, biblical & theological! 😉

  8. Michael Frost permalink

    Should’ve added, I think too often we define “Calvinism” entirely thru the lens of Beza and the 17th century Westminster Confession. 😉

    • Well, at least Theodore was hand-picked by Calvin, surely closer to him here on the subject!

    • Michael Frost permalink

      For us English speakers, I wonder if it would be bit more accuarate to say “Calvinism” ended up being Calvin as viewed thru Knox & Beza by way of the Westminster Confession?

      Sadly, other interesting forms of the Reformed Church ended up either dying out (Bucer), being superseded (Bullinger), or mutating (efforts to graft Melanchthonian Lutheran thoughts with it, e.g., the Palatinate thru Ursinus & Olevianus). Which is why I can see so much irenic mature thought in both the 2nd Helvetic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism and yet so little influence of either in today’s orthodox Scottish, Irish, or American Reformed?

      • Indeed Calvin’s Genevan men, Beza & Turretin, etc. (of course too one of those etc.’s is Knox!) But the Irish Articles (with Ussher get little note today, strangely?)

      • Michael Frost permalink

        re: The Church of Ireland and the diminished influence of the Irish Articles… Think you can blame Archbishop Laud and King Charles I? And you know how much I like Laud. 🙂

      • Yes I agree, but look at where so-called Christian Ireland is today sadly. But this touches all of Christendom today, with modernity & postmodernity!

  9. Stephen K permalink

    Hey, Father Robert, Michael: what do you think of the following two views?

    (1) from Karl Rahner’s “Grace in Freedom (1968) (p.229):
    “…..there is at least today a distinct experience and teaching in Catholic theology according to which God must be understood as the all-efficient Giver who gives himself both the potency of freedom and its good act according to his grace that is neither derived nor compelled, and which nothing in man precedes. Hence all specious sharing out of divine and human causality in this matter is false and an heretical attack on the absolute sovereignty of God…………Hence God’s grace, which ultimately means himself, must set freedom free for God. It can therefore perform its very own deed to which it is called, namely to receive God from God through God……the theological doctrine of freedom proclaims the grace of God, while the “natural” freedom of man in potency and act is only the presupposition, created by God himself, to make it possible for him to give himself to man in love.”

    (Rahner accepts the possibility of “No’ as well as “Yes”, of damnation as well as salvation, but he speaks of freedom, not as some kind of incidental liberty but as a developing existential realisation of one’s own being, which God alone can judge.)

    (2) from the Rev. Charles Neil in “The Protestant Dictionary” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1904):
    “Upon such a subject as the grace of God, full of divine mystery, it is easy to indulge in speculations which lead to little profit…… (Some) speak of grace as irresistible. But here we need to be cautious in adopting such a term. If grace were absolutely irresistible, then man would be a mere machine in the process of salvation and his free will would be entirely destroyed if at least no room be left for its action. The XVIIth Article states that grace works first and then we work with the grace…… the Arminians hold that power is given to enable all to embrace salvation. The Calvinist contends that only the elect can or do receive grace which enables them to believe……. Upon a subject which is profound and highly speculative, upon which we have so little revealed and upon which the holiest men have differed, and will to the end probably differ, it is well to be not unbecomingly dogmatic.”

    (Ironically, Neil goes on to criticise the Roman Catholic definition of grace as a “supernatural gift” because it becomes “something…possessing a transferable character through human instrumentality than the true grace of God which in its every aspect is sovereign and free in its character.” He thinks there is no better way “to exclude from the Church the Person and work of the Holy Spirit”. He also criticises the Ritualists for adopting “the materialistic theory of Aquinas”.)

    • Sounds more like something of Rahner’s “anonymous Christians”. Indeed on grace and salvation Rahner was a confused thinker! And Neil’s statement is typical Anglican ad hoc for the time, note he does not properly define Calvinism!

      • Stephen K permalink

        Can you be so confident that Rahner was confused? Or that Neil is not saying something sensible? (Namely, that we’re all just speculating – and audaciously so – about how grace and redemeption work?) Isn’t all this just beyond our capacity to insist on one model rather than another? Serious question here and just asking.

      • I like Rahner’s book on the Trinity btw! But, generally on issues of salvation and the Christian life, Rahner does have a liberal approach, he does write that since and with Vatican II, “Catholicism.. was setting free…from the confines of Neo-Scholasticism”. And thus strictly speaking, Rahner’s ontology – and causality – is no longer (or was) Aristotelian, and certainly not Augustinian! Though he was certainly influenced by both Augustine and Aquinas, especially on the doctrine of the Trinity, and is still rather “Greek” here, on the Trinity at least, though closer no doubt to Barth on the Trinity, with the idea of “personhood”. Note too, Rahner was a Jesuit.

        Btw note, I am quite an Augustinian myself, and too a Neo-Calvinist generally! These are some of MY biblical-theological “presuppositions”! 🙂 And this would include the Pauline Greco-Roman, (Gal. 4: 4, etc.)

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