ARMINIAN – CALVINISM DIFFERENCES:
Most Baptists are Arminians until they are saved and partial Calvinists afterwards. That means that we believe in free will until we choose to accept Christ and then do not believe that we can fall from grace after accepting Christ. That is where I stand.
Calvinists have 5 points, called TULIP:
“T” is for Total Depravity which means that sin has separated us so far from God that man is totally incapable of even wanting to be saved. The image of God is completely missing from the lost. Baptists generally believe that we have a very small part of the “image of God our Creator” left even after the fall. This would relate to the conscience and the inner light that very weakly seeks to know God.
“U” is for Unconditional Election where God has elected, pre-destined or pre-ordained specific individuals to be saved even before they were created. God has done this, not because he knows how we will choose in the future, but because He has decreed it to be so. Many Baptists believe this Calvinistic doctrine. Others (like myself) believe that God’s elects, not specific individuals to be saved, but those individuals who “choose to respond to God’s call.” God knows the future, the end from the beginning, and He knows who will eventually choose to respond to His call. In this sense they are the “elect according to the promise.”
“L” stands for Limited Atonement which means that Christ only died for those specific persons whom he predetermined and forced to be saved. He did not die to pay for the sins of those who will never be saved. His atonement was limited to the elect. Most Baptists reject this also.
“I” stands for Irresistible Grace which means than God forces His grace on those who will be saved. They cannot resist. There is no such thing as “free-will” concerning salvation. God irresistibly compels both justification and sanctification. The opposite of this is that the lost will never be enticed by God to be saved and are doomed from eternity past.
“P” is for Perseverance of the saints. Calvinists and Presbyterians say that God forces the will in sanctification and endurance also. Free-will does not determine one’s level of sanctification. All you can do is seek to understand God’s predetermined will for you. This is the error of Purpose Driven Church and Purpose Driven Life. Baptists insist that we have free will to backslide but we do not have free-will to remove ourselves from God’s hands and salvation.
Read Purpose Driven Life, pages 12-16, and think real hard about it (especially pages 12 and 16). These are not Baptists doctrines.
These are not my ideas. They come from one of my Presbyterian books.