As a Christ follower, I have experienced that common argument between other Christ followers in terms of what is right to believe in in terms of the theological opinions of Armenius and Calvin. I never really had an answer, though, thus began my search for the truth. What follows below includes excerpts from an essay I wrote about this topic for Theology (I got an A+, so yes, it is based off legitimate research).
Asking any knowledgeable Christian about Armenianism will most likely leave one with the answer that this theology deals primarily with the idea of free will to lose one’s salvation. Similarly, if one were to ask any knowledgeable Christian about Calvinism, one will most likely be informed that this theology deals primarily with the idea of predestination or universal pre-determined salvation. As most assumptions are, however, these generic views of these theologies are misleading and fail to take into account the surrounding aspects of their theologies.
In short, Arminius believed that the main difference among those who are saved in Christ’s universal salvation verses those who are not are the ones who consciously choose to commit sins, do not repent, and shun Christ as their Savior. Arminius, the remonstrant, and Armenians today believe that salvation can be lost if a believer or the doubter consciously sins and doesn’t repent or acknowledge Christ devoutly.
Calvin, on the other hand, focused on the question of sin than most other schools of theology. He believed there is a direct connection between Adam’s sin and all humanity throughout all time, and in some way, Adam’s sin isn’t just the sin of an individual but is also our sin. All persons are guilty of Adam’s “original sin“. Because we participate in that sin, all people from the beginning of life receive a corrupt nature, an inherited tendency to sin, and a guilty conscience when we do it.
In short, all human beings are entirely degenerate to do anything spiritually good (as is the common belief now and was in the sixteenth century reformation) including exercising a good will toward God.
Therefore, Calvin concluded that people are designated (predestined) to either salvation or damnation.
The Calvinist and Armenian positions are based off of different interpretations of scripture as well as theological concepts such as original sin, Paul’s descriptions of Adam in Romans chapter 5, and the relationship between humanity, Christ, and God himself.
Calvinists base their beliefs off of a very literal and serious understanding of original sin: Through one man’s sin, all became sinners. As in Romans chapter 5:12-19, Calvinists believe that Paul’s statements about Adam and sin indicate that all sin entered the world through Adam. Because sin is death and death is begotten by sin, death passed to all individuals because all sinned by Adam.
Armenians agree with this interpretation of Adam’s original sin, as described by Paul, however, Armenians view man’s wickedness as a spirit of sin, and because Christ removed the faults from sinners’ sins by freely dying the on the cross for all humanity, Christ’s grace—a prevention from death— is extended to everyone and in effect neutralizes the corruption received from Adam’s original sin.
Overall, I found that when obtaining a truthful and unbiased understanding between the polarity of Armenianism and Calvinism, I related my struggle with an anonymous blogger known as “The Heartist”, who, when switching churches realized how many misconceptions both sides (Armenians vs. Calvinists) have of each other.
“One side scares people with the thought that you could at any time “lose your salvation without a moment’s notice” while the other scares people with the thought that all one has to do is “pray a little superficial prayer and then can live ‘like hell’ ” when neither represents the other with even a remote sense of accuracy.”
These two schools of thought have indeed become such a delicate issue between their corresponding constituents that people either avoid discussing what they believe or they build walls between understanding their beliefs and the beliefs of their rivals.
With the help of the knowledge I obtained from my own journey in search of what I believe in, I can now evade the event of ignorantly responding offensively when someone confronts me with the argument-eliciting question, “What do you believe in?”, and describe why I mostly agree with
So…what do you believe in?
To check out some opinions other than my own, check out this poll, but I highly recommend searching for the truth yourself.