Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

What Calvinists do here is engage in equivocation, in which they equate “evangelicals” with Calvinists, so as to force the conclusion that Arminians cannot be evangelicals, no more than Arminians can be Calvinists.

Calvinist, Michael Horton, asks:Is it possible to be an ‘evangelical Arminian’? In this article I attempt to defend a negative answer to that important question.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

Horton adds: “…allow me to focus on the argument that this term ought to be defined and used in its historical, time-honored sense.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

And what is the historical meaning of the term? Calvinism, of course. However, the burden of proof is on Calvinists to show that term “evangelical” has historically, uniquely identified only Calvinists.

Horton explains: “One simply could not deny total depravity, unconditional election, justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone, and continue to call himself or herself an evangelical.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

Calvinists are big into marketing. I wouldnt be a surprised if Calvinists also tried to claim the term “Orthodox” for themselves. However, if they did, the burden of proof would still be on them, as to how it would be an exclusive designation for their own theology.

Horton writes:From where I sit, the main problem is this: we have gone back to using ‘evangelical’ as an adjective. As its medieval use was ambiguous, referring more to a general attitude of humility, zeal, and simple Christ-likeness, so too the contemporary use falls most often into that category. An evangelical is someone who ‘loves Jesus,’ who ‘wins souls,’ and who has a ‘sweet spirit.’”  (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

And thats “the main problem”? How are any of these things a problem at all? Why shouldn’t this be the measure of an “evangelical”?

  • “Christ-likeness”
  • “Loves Jesus”
  • “Wins souls”
  • “Has a sweet spirit.”

Horton writes:Nevertheless, if we are going to still use ‘evangelical’ as a noun to define a body of Christians holding to a certain set of convictions, it is high time we got clear on these matters. An evangelical cannot be an Arminian any more than an evangelical can be a Roman Catholic.”  (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

Horton writes:In conclusion, the evangelical movement is faced with a difficult decision: either to reclaim the meaning of ‘evangelical,’ or to shed its confinement.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

First of all, Calvinists would have to prove that they own the copyright on the term “evangelical.”

Horton writes:Let those maverick ‘evangelicals’ who deny the great truths of the evangelical (and indeed, even the catholic) faith stand up with the courage of their convictions and lead an exodus from evangelicalism, but it is to my mind the height of arrogance and dishonesty to seek to represent oneself as something which one clearly is not.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

Horton writes:My purpose has not been to pontificate about what ought to be done with certain individuals, but to point out the serious crisis evangelicals face as a movement.” (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

So now its a “crisis” or better yet, a “serious crisis”?  Marketing is that important to Calvinists.

Horton writes:Today one can be an evangelical-which has historically meant holding to total depravity, unconditional election, justification by grace through faith alone, the sufficiency of scripture-and at the same time be an Arminian, denying or distorting this very evangelical message.”  (Evangelical Arminians: Option or Oxymoron?, emphasis mine)

In other words, the evangelical message is being distorted after you first equate “evangelical” with all things Calvinistic. But why should we do that? Because out-marketing Arminians is that critical?

Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism is not Evangelical.

Myth or Reality:  One Calvinist asks, “Is it possible to be an ‘evangelical Arminian’?” To a Calvinist, the answer is, “No.” Calvinists, who are so heavy on marketing, appear to be afraid of being out-marketed by their nemesis, the Arminians. Calvinists attribute to themselves the label of being “Reformed,” and denoting their theology as “The Doctrines of Grace.” Calvinists simply must have it all. The Gospel is exclusively Calvinism, and they are Reformed, Orthodox and alone possess Grace. Calvinism is grace, and Arminianism is works. Calvinism is “God-centered” and Arminianism is “Man-Centered.” Calvinists have marketed themselves in a way that pats themselves on the back, while Arminians have instead, quietly adopted their own label of being “Evangelical.” That won’t stand with Calvinists. So, naturally, Calvinists want the term “Evangelical” to be synonymous with, of course, Calvinism.
  • Step 1:  Only Calvinists possess the right to define terms.

  • Step 2:  Calvinists exercise their sole right to define terms by defining the term “evangelical” to mean all things Calvinistic.

  • Step 3:  Any non-Calvinist who claims the label of “Evangelical” is therefore guilty of copyright infringement.
Adjective vs. Noun

Calvinists dont want the term “evangelical” to be used as an adjective that describes personal disposition or activity, but to be a noun that exclusively identifies Calvinists.
Hello, Im afraid we have a serious crisis! There are people running around winning souls, who love Jesus and have a sweet spirit, and are calling themselves: evangelicals!’

Yes, that’s right.


“Uh huh.”

“Well, what are you going to do about it?”