The purpose of the this post is to give an overview and an introduction to the many ways Christians have answered the many questions around which the Calvinism-Arminianism debate revolve. I have attempted to lay out the central questions and give the historical and contemporary responses in language as close as possible to that of those who hold these beliefs. My hope is to show that the questions asked legitimately arise out of Scripture, to show that these positions are–while being mutually exclusive–not necessarily polarities, and to provide a better understanding of how the different positions have answered these questions.
See Allison 342, and then 343-350. Cf. 184 in Demarest, Grudem 499, Elwell375, Hodge 711
3 F. Loops, “Semi-Pelagianism,” ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1908), 349.; Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Nicene and Post-Nicene Chritianity. A.D. 311-600, Revised., vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.), sec. 146, accessed May 1, 2012, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc1.html.; Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker reference library (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1984), 1000.; Cf. with Canon 5 of the Canons of Orange. “The Canons of Orange,” accessed May 18, 2013, http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html. Gregg R Allison and Wayne A Grudem, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: a Companion to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2011), 349–350.; Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, and J. I. Packer, eds., New Dictionary of Theology, The Master reference collection (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 636.
5 Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2006), 33; F. Leroy Forlines, Classical Arminianism: a Theology of Salvation (Nashville, Tenn: Randall House, 2011), 1–34.
6 Some would say that prevenient grace comes through hearing the Gospel, so this is a generalization. But this is the strongest Arminian position outside of Molinism, which affirms the Arminian view of conditional election but does not require a doctrine of prevenient grace.
7Olson, Arminian Theology, 36.
8 Calvinism gone by many names, some prefer; the Doctrines of Grace, Reformed Soteriology, Augustinianism. Calvinism here does not refer to the entire system of Reformed ecclesiology or theology, but to the five doctrines at the center of the Arminian-Calvinist debate.
9Eg. Rom. 8:33; Luke 18:7; Mark. 13:20, 22; Matt 24:22, 24, 31.
10 Eg. Eph. 1; Rom.8:28-39, 11:2, 8:33; Luke 18:7; Mark. 13:20, 22; Matt 24:22, 24, 31
11There is another position under the banner of “Calvinism” known as supralapsarianism: this rather arcane position sees God electing and then ordaining the fall so that those He chose to damn would be damned. This position was made popular by the reformation scholastics and is not the mainstream position.
12Olson, Arminian Theology, 19, 35, 190.
13Middle knowledge refers to God’s counterfactual knowledge, his knowledge of possible futures and possible circumstances.
14 The best populariser and defender of Molinism today would have to be William Lane Craig, but various other philosophers and theologians have worked to help this position gain momentum. Another supporter seems to be Millard J Erickson and L. Arnold Hustad, Introducing Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001), 126–127. (Erickson appears to be quite inconsistent at times, often espousing a high view of God’s sovereignty and providence as found within Calvinist texts, but here affirming conditional election based on middle knowledge).
15Olson, Arminian Theology, 184–185.
16This is “before” in the terms of logical priority.
17Again, “before” and “after” do not necessarily have to refer to temporal priority.
18 The distinction between what I am calling the Neo-Reformed position and the Reformed position may be artificial, it may be based more on limited historical accounts than an actual distinction. Some modern accounts seem to attribute to the traditional view the same features as what I am calling the neo-reformed position, Packer—writing of the traditional reformed position—writes of the free offer of the gospel coming from Christ’s work of the cross and being offered to all people, seeming to imply that in this limited sense Jesus died for all. J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: a Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993). I am driven to make this distinction by what is left out of the traditional formulation at Dort and how Owen attributes even the most universal texts on Christ’s sacrifice to the elect (John 3:16). John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007), 209; Allison and Grudem, Historical Theology, 405.
19 See Five Points by John Piper, available as a free pdf download from Desiringgod.org. Also see D. A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2000), 77.
20 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology : an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press ; Zondervan, 1994), 598, 601.
21 For more on this position see Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ; Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, 73–79; Grudem, Systematic Theology, 594–603; Peter John Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: a Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012), 679–683; Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Vol. 2 546; Packer, Concise Theology: a Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Also see part 5 of John Pipers conference on TULIP from a few years ago and Five Points.
22 See Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ; Allison and Grudem, Historical Theology, 450; R. C Sproul, What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2012), 167; Michael Scott Horton, For Calvinism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2011), 92–97.
23 Olson, Arminian Theology, 221–225; Forlines, Classical Arminianism, 233–235, 189–195. Also see Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 757; Gentry and Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant, 671; Horton, For Calvinism, 91.
24 The best book on this I have read is probably; J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, IVP classics (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2008). Another useful read is; Arthur Walkington Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Seaside, Ore.: Watchmaker Pub., 2011). Cf. Grudem, Systematic Theology, 315–354.; Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 15–25, 122–144.
25 There is a broad school of thought under the heading Arminianism, so this is a generalization.
26 A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: HarperCollins Pulishers, 1978), 108–113; Forlines, Classical Arminianism, 79–83; Olson, Arminian Theology, 132.
27 Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 109.
28 Ronald H. Nash, The Concept of God, Contemporary evangelical perspectives (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1983), 65–66. For another answer, this time from a Molinist perspective, to the question of foreknowledge and causation see this article by William Lane Craig on Newcomb’s Paradox and backtracking counterfactuals. William Lane Craig, “Divine Foreknowledge and Newcomb’s Paradox | Reasonable Faith,” ReasonableFaith.org, accessed May 29, 2013, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/divine-foreknowledge-and-newcombs-paradox.
29 An overarching definition encompassing both definitions might be; The ability to make un-coerced choices for which we can reasonably be held responsible. The issue here is over the philosophical definition, what a Platonist my call the universal of freedom; what is the objective standard by which a choice is judged to be free and for which we can be held responsible. It is not merely semantics, but a debate over what is the nature of the created universe and even God’s freedom.
30 Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Luther also rights on the compatibility of sovereignty and human responsibility, but he chooses to throw out the term “free will”; Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, ed. J. I Packer and O. R Johnston (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 2003).
31 Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will (Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 2012).
Allison, Gregg R, and Wayne A Grudem. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: a Companion to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2011.
Calvin, Jean. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008.
Carson, D. A. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2000.
Edwards, Jonathan. Freedom of the Will. Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 2012.
Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker reference library. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1984.
Erickson, Millard J, and L. Arnold Hustad. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001.
Ferguson, Sinclair B., David F. Wright, and J. I. Packer, eds. New Dictionary of Theology. The Master reference collection. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1988.
Forlines, F. Leroy. Classical Arminianism: a Theology of Salvation. Nashville, Tenn: Randall House, 2011.
Gentry, Peter John, and Stephen J. Wellum. Kingdom through Covenant: a Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology : an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press ; Zondervan, 1994.
Loops, F. “Semi-Pelagianism.” Edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1908.
Luther, Martin. The Bondage of the Will. Edited by J. I Packer and O. R Johnston. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 2003.
Nash, Ronald H. The Concept of God. Contemporary evangelical perspectives. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1983.
Olson, Roger E. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2006.
Owen, John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.
Packer, J. I. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. IVP classics. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Pink, Arthur Walkington. The Sovereignty of God. Seaside, Ore.: Watchmaker Pub., 2011.
Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church: Nicene and Post-Nicene Chritianity. A.D. 311-600
. Revised. Vol. 3. 8 vols. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d. Accessed May 1, 2012. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc1.html
Tozer, A.W. The Knowledge of the Holy. New York, NY: HarperCollins Pulishers, 1978.