What is Calvinism? What is Arminianism?

I’m not a Calvinist because I don’t believe that it accurately depicts God, nor is truly faithful to the Bible. As Christians, we base our beliefs on “what the Bible says.” Calvinists also claim to be faithful to the Bible, but Arminians chide Calvinists that their claim to “belief in the Bible alone” is not honest, if their interpretations steer away from the plain reading of the Bible. Arminians believe that God loves all people, and that Jesus died for everyone, so that anyone who places their trust in Jesus can be saved. Arminians believe that the epitome of their beliefs may be seen at John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Calvinists claim to also believe in John 3:16, and some Calvinists claim that God loves all people, and some Calvinists claim that Jesus died for everyone, but upon closer inspection, Calvinism believes in not one of those things. In truth, Calvinists believe that there are only certain people that God intends to save, and that these people are called “elect” and are chosen from eternity, secretly. Calvinists say that you can know if you are one of “the elect” if you believe in Jesus to the end, and that at the end, you will find out that you were secretly chosen. What does that mean for the rest? Calvinists try to explain it in a way that suggests that God still loves the “non-elect” even though God never picked them, and never purposed to save them, and that somehow, Jesus died for them, even though their teachings say that Jesus’ death only applies toward “the elect.”

Now the term “elect” is a biblical term, but Arminians believe that it in the New Covenant, it simply refers to Christians. For instance, both Calvinists and Arminians believe in “predestination,” “foreknowledge” and “election,” but both sides have a very different views of what those biblical terms mean. Arminians believe that predestination means “that which God does.” Calvinists believe that predestination means that “God does everything.” Arminians believe that “foreknowledge” means that God can know the future because He is eternal, and is not bound to time in the same way that we are. Calvinists believe that since God does everything, it necessarily follows that He knows what He does. Arminians believe that Jesus is “the elect One” or “the Chosen One” and that Christians are elect with Jesus because we become spiritually one with Him, “in Christ.” Calvinists believe that “the elect” are those whom God picks beforehand to become saved. So both sides believe in biblical terms, but have very different beliefs about what those terms mean.

Calvinists and Arminians are fellow Christians, and believe in the same Bible, but just believe differently about the nature of salvation. Arminians believe that the problem with Calvinism is that it takes a “systematic” formula known as TULIP (an acronym representing the 5 pillars of its systematic beliefs), and overshadows the Bible with that system, rather than allowing the Bible to speak for itself. Calvinists, in turn, claim that they take a “higher view” of the sovereignty of God than Arminians. Arminians respond that its not a higher view, but a narrower view. While Calvinists ask: “How does a sovereign God love?,” Arminians say that we should instead ask: “How does a God of perfect love express His sovereignty?” The answer to that question results in whether we fall into the Calvinist camp or the Arminian camp.

Question:  Is it about following John Calvin or about following Jacob Arminius?

Answer:  People who are new to the discussion tend to think that way, but it is untrue, since “Calvinism” was a label applied by its opponents, not proponents, and vice versa. “Calvinism” (named after John Calvin) and “Arminianism” (named after Jacob Arminius) involves a debate among Christians on how and why people become Christians. It is a debate primarily concerning Soteriology: The doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ.