Calvinism and Arminianism: 
Myths & Realities

When does Calvinism ever have any practical application, and what good is a theology with no useful practical application?

​Question: Is Calvinism for the unsaved?

Myth or Reality: No. Calvinists admit that when they share the gospel, they do not talk about [the Calvinist interpretation of] election and predestination with unbelievers, as it is [per Calvinists] just for the spiritually mature.

​Question: Is Calvinism for Christians?

Myth or Reality: No, apparently not. Calvinists have candidly shared their doubts over whether or not they are “of the elect.” (In fact, if Jesus didn’t die for everyone, then how can any person know if Jesus died for them in particular?) Worse yet, Calvinism teaches a doctrine of Evanescent Grace (or Temporal Grace), in which God overcomes a person’s Total Inability, but only temporarily, until God later withdraws that grace, making them a special class of the damned. As a result, consider the following quote by Charles Spurgeon.

Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon recalls: “I frequently meet with poor souls, who are fretting and worrying themselves about this thought—‘How, if I should not be elect! ‘Oh, sir, they say, ‘I know I put my trust in Jesus; I know I believe in his name and trust in his blood; but how if I should not be elect?’ Poor dear creature! you do not know much about the gospel, or you would never talk so, for he that believes is elect. Those who are elect, are elect unto sanctification and unto faith; and if you have faith you are one of God’s elect; you may know it and ought to know it, for it is an absolute certainty. If you, as a sinner, look to Jesus Christ this morning, and say—‘Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling, you are elect. I am not afraid of election frightening poor saints or sinners.”  (Election, emphasis mine)

Here you have people who claim to trust in Jesus, but yet do not know whether they are saved, because they might not be “elect.” Spurgeons answer: “Have faith you are one of God’s elect.” Calvinists will rage that this is a mischaracterization of the faith of Calvinists, but guess what? This is documented history. Calvinists were, in fact, trusting in a process, moreso than a person. This is something unique to Calvinists. Arminians have no such such fear of an eternal draft. Arminians can simply trust in Christ.

Spurgeon concludes: “Let your hope rest on the cross of Christ. Think not on election but on Christ Jesus. Rest on Jesus—Jesus first, midst, and without end.” (Election, emphasis mine)

In other words, put Calvinism out of mind. This is also interesting in light of John Calvins interpretation of Romans 9:1-3.

John Calvin: “It is no objection that he knew that his salvation was founded on the election of God, which cannot by any means fail. The more passionate emotions plunge impetuously on, without heed or regard for anything but the object on which they are fixed. Paul, therefore, did not add the election of God to his prayer, but put it out of mind, and gave all his attention on the salvation of the Jews.”  (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.192, emphasis mine) 

Put it out of mind”? Is Calvin actually suggesting that Paul’s prayer was not because of Calvinism, but in spite of Calvinism? What an admission! So Calvinism has no practical application for Christians in their spiritual walk, whether it be for Assurance or for their Prayer Life. 

Additionally, on one occasion, a particular Calvinist lamented over a fellow Calvinist turning away from Christ. However, I pointed out that according to Calvinist theology, this is simply a matter of the God according to Calvinism expressing His sovereignty in predestination and non-election. Perhaps my comment was unloving and untimely. So does that mean that Calvinism had no practical application in that setting? Yes indeed. Calvinism hardly ever finds occasion to be of any practical application, and what good is a theology which has no useful practical application?

​Conclusion: The only practical application of Calvinism is in spreading it.

John Wesley: “Answer all [the Calvinists’] objections, as occasion offers, both in public and private. But take care to do this with all possible sweetness both of look and of accent… Make it a matter of constant and earnest prayer, that God would stop the plague.”

Arminian Charge:  Calvinism has no Practical Application.

Myth or Reality:  It appears that the only practical application of Calvinism is in the spreading of Calvinism.