Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinists like the rhetoric of saying that “Arminianism has led to...” and then following with wildly unsubstantiated claims. The argument is essentially that free-will necessarily leads to a declining culture, that is, declining in morality. However, Arminianism is not the Hippie Movement. The distinctive doctrines of Arminianism are Unlimited Atonement, God’s salvific intent for all (for His part), God’s  Prevenient Grace in reaching out to fallen man in lovingkindness. Arminianism isn’t so much about a Free-Will, than it is about a Freed-Will, that is, freed by the Holy Spirit who awaken, goads and convicts, while the Lord seeks, draws and knocks. Arminians affirm the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, the Lord’s bodily Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, Biblical Inerrancy, Heaven and Hell, ect. Since the leadership of the Southern Baptist denomination is primarily non-Calvinist (and functionally Arminian), should we say that the Southern Baptists are now responsible for Atheism, Evolution, Abortion and Gay Marriage? Calvinists simply cannot connect the dots from Arminianism to Atheism, and so they simply allege that “Arminianism has led to...” whatever it is that they wish to assail their nemesis over.

One Calvinist states: “There’s no getting around the fact that the Arminian controversy marked the beginning of Liberalism in the modern church. The issue of how a sinner is justified, as serious as that was, was simply the symptom of a greater disease, the disease of unbelief that bore itself out in the years following the Synod of Dort.” (Amazing Grace DVD, 1:39-1:45)

This Calvinist adds: “Whenever the tenants of Arminianism takes root, the cancer of Humanism inevitably creeps into the Church and into the culture she’s called to disciple.” (Amazing Grace DVD, 6:07-6:16)

Calvinists charge the John 3:16 view of Arminianism as being “man-centered...”, and then with those magic words, Arminianism is equated with Humanism. Also, when it is said, “Whenever the tenants of Arminianism takes root,” the question arises as to whether the first 300 years of early Church history is being taken into consideration, where Calvinists acknowledge that it was a time period in which Calvinism was noticeably absent? Coincidentally, it was also a time period in which the body of Christ experienced its time of greatest expansion. In contrast, wherever the trail of Calvinism has led, the wake of Liberalism has followed. Simply look at Calvin’s Geneva today. Look at northeast America, where the Pilgrims landed. The northeast is arguably the most liberal part of America. Consider the person that Calvinists generally regard as the most intellectual Calvinist since the Reformation period, that is, Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), former president of the “College of New Jersey,” which is now called, “Princeton University.” Is Arminianism to blame for all of Calvinism’s failures? In fact, you might say that Calvinism is akin to cold water being thrown on to the passion of evangelism, which Calvinists, mind you, that oppose Gospel Invitations and Altar Calls, even in Spurgeon’s day, in which he stood up to his Calvinist peers and defied them. You might note the embarrassing fact that Calvinists once represented the “Anti-Missions” branch of the Southern Baptist denomination. Similar problems with Calvinism arose in Europe. It would be a much easier case to make, to say that the cold, deadness of Calvinism has led to a cooling off of Christianity, and which then, naturally transitions to skepticism. However, the fact is that there are Calvinists and Arminianism who have turned away from Christianity to Atheism, and the blame is not so much on the theology, as much as it is on sin and unrepentance.  The John 3:16 view of Arminianism is not to blame, and Calvinist criticisms to the contrary are heavy on rhetoric and light on facts.

Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism inevitably leads to Liberalism.

Myth or Reality:  This charge has more rhetoric than reality. Calvinists actually blame Arminianism for Atheism, Evolution, Abortion and Gay Marriage.