Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Calvinism and Arminianism

Dr. Sam Storms is asked to describe the "primary reason" for the division between Calvinists and Arminians. It seems a pretty fair summary coming from one who is clearly on one side of the divide.
I would like to be able to say that it's nothing more than a disagreement over the interpretation of certain biblical texts, but there's more to it than that. Behind and beneath our reading of Scripture, I'm sad to say, are theological beliefs that often govern what we allow the biblical text to say. The bottom line is that Arminians are already persuaded that the Calvinist view of divine sovereignty destroys human responsibility and makes God the author of evil. Likewise, Calvinists are already persuaded that the Arminian view of human freedom renders God contingent and transfers credit for our salvation from God to us. These convictions color how we interpret the Bible and which texts are given priority over others. Now, of course, both would loudly insist that they hold their respective positions because they believe that's what the Bible teaches, but all too often our interpretation is driven by a preconceived fear of where such interpretation might lead.

In addition to this, Arminians are concerned that Calvinism will undermine evangelism and the necessity of prayer. Calvinists are likewise concerned that Arminianism compromises grace and denigrates from the glory of God.

Needless to say, these are powerful and emotionally charged concerns that often derail the conversation and prevent us from looking at the text and allowing it to form and fashion our beliefs about the role of God in salvation.
As one who can make no claim to either biblical scholarship or theological training, I have wondered about the level of passion and amount of energy devoted to this dispute over the centuries [millennia, actually]. I suspect that the most serious advocates on both sides sincerely believe that they have permitted the text to "form and fashion" their beliefs. Perhaps the relationship between God's sovereignty and human free will is simply beyond our comprehension, or - at least - a degree of modesty should prevail about the level of certainty that can be asserted with confidence.

Source: Enjoying God Ministries

No comments: