Can we all get along?

Charles Colson: “On these, there has disagreement for nearly two thousand years. If Calvinists and Arminians haven’t been able to settle the question of free will and predestination in nearly five hundred years, there is no human reason to expect that they will, any time soon. But of course, on all such issues of disagreement, God can and will resolve them to His own glory, either now, or on that great day of His return. By this, will all men know you, that you love one another. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. Unity with diversity. How can we achieve what the early Church did? Mere Christianity. The kind that elicits the Tertullian response: ‘See how these Christians love one another.’” (Being the Body, 2003)

The official statement from the Society of Evangelical Arminians: “Despite stark differences, SEA generally accepts Calvinists as fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord who adhere to a reasonable but seriously flawed biblical theology. As an association of evangelicals, we are committed to a high view of Scripture as the word of God, which we therefore consider to be the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. Indeed, it is because we trust in the Bible as the word of God that we are Arminians, for we are convinced that Arminianism most accurately reflects the teaching of the Bible. Our evangelical identity also comes to expression in our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which offers salvation by grace through faith for all who believe. It is an exciting and profound message of good news from a good God who loves the world and has provided for the salvation of all in the death of his Son, though only those who believe will receive the salvation that God wants to give them. Such good news–salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life offered to us by God as a free gift at the greatest cost to himself–the life of his own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord!” (About Us)

​Question: Why do Arminians (and more specifically, “SEA”, the Society of Evangelical Arminians), consider Calvinists as “fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord,” when Calvinists teach such ghastly things about God?

Answer: First of all, it’s not just a matter of Calvinism being morally objectionable, but being anti-Scriptural. Of course, Calvinists think the opposite: “When I teach the doctrine of predestination I am often frustrated by those who obstinately refuse to submit to it. I want to scream, ‘Don’t you realize you are resisting the Word of God?’” (Chosen by God, p.14)So the two sides clearly do not see eye-to-eye. But being pragmatic, the Society of Evangelical Arminians is “evangelical” before it is “Arminian,” insomuch that in a broader picture, if Calvinists are furthering the scope of the Kingdom of God, in the form of a net increase in the number of souls escaping Hell, and experiencing God’s forgiveness, through Christ’s shed blood at Calvary, then how much, really, are Calvinists in opposition to us? Even if Calvinism is spiritually degenerative, as Arminians see it, if Calvinists collectively amount to a net gain for the Kingdom of God, then we are technically (even joyously) on the same side. (Of course, not all Calvinists are so generous, and these types have been found to be just as brutal towards fellow Calvinists, as they are towards Arminians. These are typically referred to as “Hyper Calvinists.” Of course, very few Calvinists would refer to themselves as “Hyper.” Most often, Calvinists will use the phrase, “not truly Reformed,” as a way to scold or deride fellow Calvinists, and when the gloves really come off, they will denounce fellow Calvinists as being “Arminian.”

This is not a back-handed compliment, but a proper understanding of mutually shared goals. The devil is just as much their enemy, as he is our enemy too, and Jesus is just as much their beloved Savior and Lord, as much as He is our beloved Savior and Lord, too. It is a fact that Calvinists want to see people come to know Jesus, just as much as we do, too. And then there is this:

One Calvinists relates: “My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity....”  (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)

One Calvinist explains: “A wonderful friend of our family once commented that coming to understand the Doctrines of Grace was akin to a type of salvation within salvation.” (, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon: “...there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as; the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except upon His throne.”  (Divine Sovereignty)

Calvinist, James White: “Those who are in rebellion against Him fight against this divine truth.”   (Debating Calvinism, p.36, emphasis mine)

Sovereign Grace Church: “Because God’s election and God’s grace cannot be separated, to believe in God’s grace in the biblical sense is to believe in the ‘doctrine of election’. If ‘the doctrine of election’ is not ‘truth essential to salvation’, then the ‘doctrine of grace’ is not truth essential to salvation.” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)

One Calvinist explains: “The world in John 3:16 means the elect from all over the world, not just Israel. That is a major theological development and a great mystery that the apostles wrote about again and again. In no way does it mean that Christ died for every human that ever lived. If that were the case then Hell would be empty and the Bible would teach Universalism.”

None of these statements is particularly heartwarming to an Arminian, and Arminians must show a great deal of patience and tolerance with Calvinists, just as the Bible states:

1st Thessalonians 5:14: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

2nd Timothy 2:24: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.

Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Question:  Can Calvinists and Arminians get along?

Answer:  Arminians attack Calvinism, as a theology, whereas often it seems that, in turn, Calvinists attack Arminians personally. The reason for this is because Calvinists are so inextricably connected to Calvinism, that they cannot separate themselves from their theology. Hence, any perceived any attack on Calvin-ism is deemed as a personal attack. To a Calvinist, Calvinism is the central tenant of the Gospel, and being what identifies them, personally. Therefore, this is perhaps the reason why debates over Calvinism can get so heated. On the other hand, lesser experienced non-Calvinists can also get frustrated, and hence escalate the conversation, if they believe in their heart, through their conscience, that something is unbiblical, but yet are unable to answer an otherwise more experienced Calvinist. However, Arminians can also get ugly over the doctrine of Conditional Security.