Calvinism vs. Arminianism

Historically, one of the most destructive and divisive controversies within Protestantism has been between the followers of reformer John Calvin, a French theologian who lived from 1509-1564, and the followers of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609. The name-calling and propagandizing against one another by these two groups has been damaging our unity of the faith — as well as our reputation among the unsaved — ever since.
Interestingly, the people who so vociferously and aggressively proclaim allegiance to one side or the other generally have little or no clue as to what their own side actually believes, much less their opponents. This is especially true of those who proclaim themselves to be Calvinists, many of whom would be shocked to find out what John Calvin actually taught and believed, were they to bother giving his teachings even a cursory examination.
Many self-proclaimed Calvinists, upon hearing that some folks don’t agree with them, knee-jerk and immediately jump to the conclusion that nay-sayers believe in a “salvation by works” theology when most often those non-Calvinists are actually firm believers in the grace of God — they just don’t believe it the same way the Calvinists do.
Worse still, each side is incredibly hostile and judgmental towards the other, considering their opponents to be evil heretics because they have the temerity to disagree with their position, rather than treating them as their brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot help but imagine Satan nodding approvingly at this kind of behavior.
Some others of you may think that this discussion amounts to something similar to the ancient — and totally worthless, I might add — theological debate concerning the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin. I mean. really, who thought up that nonsense in the first place? What were they actually discussing? Here’s my short list of possibilities:

  • First, about the pin: What size is the pin and what is it made from? Is the head spherical or flat like a nail? What is the ratio between the thickness of the pin’s shaft vs. the diameter of its head? Is the pin in a vertical, horizontal, or inverted (point up) orientation? Is the pin stuck into something or suspended in mid-air? If suspended, what holds it in place?
  • Now, about the angels: Is there gravity in heaven and, if so, is it different from Earth’s? How big are angels, anyway? How much do they weigh? Do angels really dance? If so, why would they want to? Who gives them dance lessons? What kind of dances are involved? Hora? Polka? Charleston? Argentine Tango? Ballet? Viennese Waltz? Quick-step? Cha-cha-cha? Samba? Jive? Hip-hop? Country Line Dance?
  • Etc., etc., reductio ad absurdum!

Inquiring minds want to know! 😀
But, all kidding aside, where we stand on the issues presented by this controversy between the Calvinists and Arminianists has a direct impact upon things like:

  • How we see God and His dealings with mankind.
  • How we see Jesus and His finished work of the Cross
  • How we see ourselves as believers at the foot of that Cross
  • How we interpret God’s Word, the Bible, and integrate its principles into our lives

In this article, I’m going to analyze the tenets of both groups for you so we can see what about each of them is scriptural and what isn’t. I’ll then explain where I believe the Truth actually lies.
Continue reading “Calvinism vs. Arminianism”

The Maker of the Universe

Michaelangelo's Creation of AdamBelow is a poem by F. W. Pitt, an author and poet who lived during the middle part of the last century. His beautiful and eloquent words are a succinct presentation of the Gospel and evoke powerful images of Christ’s earthly incarnation and his substitutionary atonement for our sins.
A few years back, Phil Keaggy put it to music on his album Way Back Home. It’s one of one of my favorite songs of his.
Continue reading “The Maker of the Universe”

He is Risen! #2

Once again it is the most significant holiday, in fact the only truly scriptural holiday, in the Christian calendar: Easter.
Our church does a huge outreach during this season, trying to reach the CEOs (Christmas & Easter Only) of our community. As part of this, we celebrated Good Friday by serving communion and praying for people by our church’s rather large cross located by one of the highways (a local landmark) and, afterward, showing The Passion Of The Christ movie in our auditorium.
Before I move on to the rest of what have to say, though, I want to comment on the movie itself. While Mel Gibson has some weird and toxic religious views, as well as apparently being an anti-Semite and an alcoholic, I have to say that, despite a few minor sops to Roman Catholic myth and the annoying and repetitive tendency for Mary to be filmed staring off into space, this film really hit the nail on the head. It is truly a masterpiece! Mel, ya done good, kid!
And as a completed Jew and a supporter of the State of Israel, I can honestly state there was not an ounce of anti-Semitic content to the film, a possibility that the Jewish community, who has long suffered the most heinous of persecutions at the hands of the Roman Catholic church to which Gibson belongs, were quite reasonably concerned about.
Unfortunately, they totally over-reacted, as people who have been maligned, tortured, and murdered for literally centuries by a host of pagan, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox followers are wont to do. And Gibson’s subsequent anti-Semitic rants only served to pour gasoline on that fire. Pray for the man — he’s caught in a conflicted state between his strict bondage-inducing religious views (which are not at all Christian, I might add) and his innate sinfulness as a typical human being. But I digress…
What I really feel the Spirit wants me to talk about is divine healing. Appropriately, The Passion opens with a paraphrased verse from the book of Isaiah, which says:

…He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. — Isaiah 53:5

Continue reading “He is Risen! #2”