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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part I: Historical Survey

Chapter 5


Calvin And Calvinism

     Throughout this whole controversy there runs a single thread, rooted in human pride and demanding the right to be personally responsible in the decision-making process at some critical point in the conversion experience. Many men desire to be saved, or say they do, until they discover that God's way makes them entirely dependent upon his grace, thus discounting completely any supposed merits they may have counted upon to improve their chances of being saved. Such are they who would take the Kingdom by force (Matthew 11:12). *
     The Gospel is that we are saved by faith alone without works of any kind, not even the working up of ourselves into a state of readiness or willingness to be saved, nor even the exercise of our own faith. Here is the heart of the matter. This is the "offense of the Gospel" (Galatians 5:11). Salvation is all of God; and since it is clearly a selective process (for only some are saved), it must be a sovereign act of God's Election. Man can neither choose to be saved nor can he initiate the process.
     The issue is whether we are called upon to co-operate in helping God (or conversely to ask God to help us), or whether we are simply clay in the hands of the Potter. Clay has no say. Reason tells us that we ought to be able to co-operate if we wish; pride tells us that we do co-operate. We offer our own willingness, or non-resistance, something of ourselves at least, anything of ourselves will do no matter how small it is. The

* In Luke 13:24 the Lord seems to speak of many who "will seek to enter in and shall not be able," as though men did indeed desire salvation but were refused. The answer to this apparent anomaly seems to lie in the fact that these many individuals did indeed wish to enter in but on their own terms. Like the man who crashed the gate of the wedding and sat down to enjoy the feast but without the appropriate wedding garment, such improper entry can result only in being rejected as soon as the King discovers their presence (Matthew 22:11-13). It is interesting to see that the individual in this little story knew perfectly well he was in the wrong place and had no excuse. He was speechless. And it is also significant perhaps that it was by this little story that the Lord introduced one of the most famous of all passages to be quoted in connection with Election: "For many are called, but few are chosen" (verse 14).

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great thing is that it is of ourselves. As autonomous beings we demand the right of making some essential contribution. It need not be much but it must be essential.
     Many, with all the self-assurance in the world, come loaded with good things to be credited to their account. The poorer souls may seem to come more humbly, but they too hug the only possession they have to offer, their own willingness. It is quite possible to be as proud of this as it is of a large account. Surely this is as great a thing, seeing their circumstances, as the goods their affluent neighbours can bring along! Certainly it is as offensive to the soul to have a humble contribution (humble by force of circumstance) set aside as it is for the affluent man to have his set aside. Pride is a mighty assertive force, and rather than cause offense, ministers all too frequently yield to pressure and adulterate the Gospel. It must be embellished, added to, completed by the pitiful works of man.
     This adulteration, this challenge to the perfect sufficiency of the Lord's sacrifice, is technically termed by theologians "the evil leaven of synergism." Synergism is a word which means "joint-effortism." If there is one pervasive theme above all in Calvin's system of theology it is this: Solus Deus. God alone! God alone is man's Saviour; the act of regeneration is monergistic, a solo work of God without man's help in any way whatsoever.
     Many years ago Warfield put it this way:
(1)

     Thus it comes about that monergistic regeneration "irresistible grace," "effectual calling," our older theologians called it becomes the hinge of Calvin's soteriology [i.e., doctrine of salvation], and lies much more deeply embedded in the system than many a doctrine more closely connected with it in the popular mind.
     Indeed, the soteriological significance of predestination itself consists to the Calvinist largely in the safeguard it affords to the immediate supernaturalness of salvation. What lies at the heart of this soteriology is absolute exclusion of creaturely efficiency in the induction of the saving process, in order that the pure grace of God in salvation may be magnified.
     Only so could he express his sense of man's complete dependence as a sinner on the free mercy of a saving God; or exclude the evil leaven of synergism by which God is robbed of his glory and man is encouraged to attribute to some power, some act, some initiative of his own, his participation in that salvation which in reality has come to him from pure grace.

     The controversy as carried forward by men like Gottschalk was essentially the same, but there was a different emphasis. Predestination to Election was the basic theme, not the grace of God as the sole means whereby that Predestination is realized in the life of the individual. Grace alone: this

1. Warfield, Benjamin B., Calvin as a Theologian and Calvinism Today, London, Evangelical Press, c.1909, pp.16f.

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is really Calvin's message. All else in his theology is subservient and derivative. Indeed, to Calvin, as to Owen and Spurgeon and a host of other spiritual giants of subsequent generations, this was the one theme that held all else together. Once admit man's spiritual deadness and total ineptitude in the matter of his salvation and everything else follows. Once abandon this, and the whole Christian system becomes indefensible and fragmented. Spurgeon wrote of Calvinism: "I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless we preach what is called nowadays Calvinism. It is a nickname, to call it Calvinism. Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else." (2)
     Now John Calvin was born on June 10, 1509, at Noyon in Picardy. Like so many other young men who became great warriors in the Lord's service, he had a notably devout mother. His father was quite well off and had sufficient influence with the ecclesiastical authorities that he could secure for his son certain benefices that allowed him a higher education and professional status. John had set himself to become a Man of Letters par excellence.
     Unlike Augustine, Calvin was a quiet student and his youth a blameless one seriously devoted to his calling. But he was an individualist and had no tendency to become a mere rubber stamp reiterating the words and phrases of his teachers. He was open-minded and affectionate and, contrary to the stern picture we tend to have of him in later life, he had a genuine and refreshing sense of humour as some of his letters show. By the time he was twenty-two he was an established humanist scholar, settled in Paris, with a well-earned reputation through his publication in 1532 of a commentary on a treatise by Seneca (c. 8 B.C.A.D. 65) entitled On Clemency.
     And then due chiefly to the influence of men like Ulrich Zwingli (14841531) and Martin Bucer (14911551), who had been greatly influenced by Luther, the whole direction of his life and interests changed. In due course he was solidly converted, the exact circumstance not being altogether clear. From that time, Calvin had no doubt that his goal was now henceforth to be a Man of Letters for God. And his pen became busy at once, but his forthrightness soon made it unwise for him to remain in France where there was a growing pressure against Protestants. He fled to Basel.
     In the spring of 1536 he published what he variously referred to as "An Apology," "A Manifesto," and a "Confession of Faith." It was a brief document of less than a score of pages. It is not altogether certain but it is generally believed that this was a first draft of what was to become the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Although it was brief, the title certainly was not. It read:

    The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Containing almost the Whole Sum of Piety and Whatever It is Necessary

2. J. I. Packer, Introductory Essay in John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, London,  Banner of Truth trust, 1959 reprint, [1852], pp.10f.

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to Know in the Doctrine of Salvation. A Work Very Well Worth Reading by All Persons Zealous for Piety, and Lately Published. A Preface to the Most Christian King of France, in which this Book is Presented to Him as a Confession of Faith. Author, John Calvin, of Noyon (Basel, MDXXXVI)

     Three years later he expanded his "little book" into an ample treatise on theology. The question of the precise relationship of these works and whether the 1539 issue was indeed merely an expansion of the 1536 draft is in some doubt. But this was certainly the beginning of his worldwide influence as a Reformed theologian and a Man of Letters for God. As already indicated, Predestination had only brief treatment in his initial statement. It was not a key issue at this point in the development of Calvin's theology. The key issue was the grace of God.
     After some moves back and forth between Geneva, Basel, and Strassburg, he began almost reluctantly an active ministry that kept him from his beloved books more than he wished but resulted in the establishment out of a group of French refugees like himself the first "model Church" under his shepherding.
     It was at Strassburg that his literary activity as a truly great Man of Letters really began, and it was from Strassburg that at thirty years of age he published the more elaborate form of his original "little book." Such was the prolific output of his pen subsequently that it was to require fifty-nine volumes to contain all the "Works of John Calvin."
     In 1559 he published the definitive edition of his Institutes, probably the most influential single work on Dogmatic Theology ever to have been written after the close of the New Testament Canon. The works of Augustine were certainly as influential, but they did not in quite the same way constitute a single thesis. As Benjamin Warfield put it:
(3)

     As the first adequate statement of the positive program of the Reformation movement, the Institutes lies at the foundation of the whole development of Protestant theology, and has left an impress on evangelical thought which is ineffaceable. After three centuries and a half, it retains its unquestioned pre-eminence as the greatest and most influential of all dogmatic treatises.

     The same writer underscores the debt which Calvin owed to Augustine. Calvin's doctrine of the Church was not his own creation, though he gave it a precision and vitality that was truly a reformation. It was his doctrine of grace that was so peculiarly his own as to be called thereafter Calvinism rather than Augustinianism. Yet as Warfield says: (4)

     It was Augustine who gave us the Reformation. For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine

3. Warfield, Bejamin B., Calvin and Augustine, edited by amuel Craig, Philadelphia, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1971, p.8.
4. Ibid., p. 322

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of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church. This doctrine of grace came from Augustine's hands in its positive outline completely formulated: sinful man depends, for his recovery to good and to God, entirely on the free grace of God; this grace is therefore indispensable, prevenient, irresistible, indefectible; and being thus the free grace of God, must have lain in all the details of its conference and working in the intention of God from all eternity.

     Now the so-called Five Points of Calvinism, which were not really Calvin's to begin with though truly representative of his theology, were formulated implicitly by Augustine, who drew his inspiration for them from Paul. All through the centuries thereafter down to Luther's time these same five points have been argued over, denied, believed, explored, written about, and misunderstood. Whether man is totally depraved and spiritually dead or only very sick*, whether Election is based entirely on God's pleasure or on foreseen merit, whether the sacrifice of Christ is intended for all men or only for the elect, whether men can or cannot resist the grace of God, and whether the saints are eternally secure in their salvation or can fall away and be lost again: these are the basic issues of debate in the theology of salvation. Calvin did not put an end to the debate but he so crystallized the issues, and showed so compellingly the logic of their relatedness, that it has ever since been understood by the truly informed that they all stand or fall together. And Calvin showed why they all stand or fall together. He set forth in lucid terms the logical consistency and coherence of the doctrine of Sovereign Grace and showed that, granted any one of these Five Points, the rest must follow inevitably: deny any one of them and the whole structure is endangered. One cannot satisfactorily defend some points but not others.|
       Charles Hodge has a beautiful summary of the heritage that belongs to Reformed theology.
(5)

     Such is the great scheme of doctrine known in history as the Pauline, Augustinian, or Calvinistic, taught, as we believe, in the Scriptures, developed by Augustine, formally sanctioned by the Latin Church, adhered to by the witnesses of the truth during the Middle Ages, repudiated by the Church of Rome in the Council of Trent, revived in that Church by the Jansenists, adopted by all the Reformers, incorporated in the creeds of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland, of the Palatinate, of France, Holland, England, and Scotland, and unfolded in the Standards framed by the Westminster Assembly, the common representative of Presbyterians in Europe and America.

* Pelagius said man is well; Augustine said man is dead: Arminius said man is sick.
5. Charles A. Hodge, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Eerdman's, `973 reprint [1871-73], vol.II, p. 333.

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     When people today think of Predestination they associate it with Calvinism. This is unfortunate for it far antedated Calvinism and is one of the few doctrines about which there has been almost universal agreement in all the Churches. There is not the same agreement, of course, as to its precise meaning; nor is there the same agreement as to its basis. But as a fact of Christian theology it has not been challenged. It is also unfortunate that it should be so closely associated with Calvinism because it is only one facet of Calvinism and not the central one. It is a logical element in the doctrine of Sovereign Grace but it is a consequence rather than a cause. The cause of our Election lies in the good pleasure of God and the ground for it is not Predestination but the full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Election is a necessity because man is so spiritually dead that the Lord's sacrifice would never have become effectual but for the Sovereign Grace of God. Had his sacrifice merely been offered to man it would never have been accepted. And foreknowledge has nothing to do with Election because there is nothing good in man to be the grounds of that foreknowledge except negatively.* The only thing that God could foresee was that man would never be able to turn to Him for salvation unless He Himself first turned man. As the Psalmist said: "Quicken us and we will call upon your name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts . . . and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:18, 19). If man is to be saved at all, God must not only provide the means but undertake the entire initiative in making those means effectual. If anything is left to man there is no hope. Man is totally dependent because he is totally depraved, and unless God predestines some and elects them to be saved, man is entirely without hope. Salvation is all of grace and that grace is sovereign. Such was the burden of Calvin's message.
     John T. McNeill, who has provided an Introduction to the English edition of Calvin's works published in Philadelphia by Westminster Press in 1960, seeks to correct a commonly held view that Calvin's mind was a kind of factory turning out and mechanically assembling the parts of a neatly jointed structure of dogmatic logic.
(6) Throughout his work it is manifest that, like Augustine, Calvin's heart and mind were in beautiful balance. The spiritual, emotional, and intellectual aspects of his being were joined in the effort. He was not a professional theologian but a deeply religious man who made warm friends and who also happened to possess a genius for orderly thought. "The secret of his mental energy," McNeill wrote, "lies in his piety." The first great object of his pen was to make the way of salvation

* In the matter of Double Predestination, some theologians have seen Predestination to Reprobation as based entirely on foreknowledge of guilt.
6. John T. McNeill, Introduction, in John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1960, p.Ii.

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plain; the second was to persuade men to believe it; the third was to encourage the elect to adorn their faith by their lives.
     In order to deal in depth with Calvin's doctrine of salvation, it is appropriate first of all to examine the circumstances which led to the formulation of the so-called Five Points to which reference has already been made. As will be seen these Five Points did not originate with Calvin's pen but with those who opposed his doctrine. Nevertheless they provide a very good starting point for a consideration of the structure of Calvin's theology of salvation.
     Throughout the whole controversy between grace and works, between synergism and monergism, between the Total Depravity of man and a residue of natural human goodness, between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, there was always a concurrent issue the solution to which is probably one of God's secrets, but it is an issue which has refused to go away. This was the question of Double Predestination, a question which has kept cropping up throughout the history of Christian thought. It will be remembered that the term originally meant that men were divinely predestined either to be saved or to be lost. The assumption was made that if some were predestined to be saved then the rest of mankind was automatically predestined to be lost and God was accordingly accused of injustice. Augustine held it in the sense that the sinner is, by reason of the very moral fabric of the universe, destined (and so predestined) to suffer the consequences of his guilt, or predestined to be saved from those consequences by the sacrifice of Christ. One or the other is necessarily man's destiny. But while God clearly knows beforehand what is to happen in every individual instance, it is not necessary to assume that this foreknowledge means that it was also his intention that many should be lost. It can just as easily mean that man is allowed to suffer the consequences of his guilt as a sinner and is therefore predestined to reprobation, a reprobation which God clearly foresees and foreknows.
(7) It is a case of divine permission of a certain course of events predetermined by the very structure of the moral order. God gave man free will and in Adam man made his choice freely. Thereafter human nature prefers the course of action which leads to destruction. Man chooses destruction as a free expression of his fallen nature and God allows him this choice. The end result is that man by nature is predestined to reprobation but the foreknowledge of God relative to this fact is not the cause of it.
    On the other hand, Election to Salvation is causative because man's will, freely expressed, would not otherwise allow Election to Salvation to be effectual. Thus Predestination to reprobation is caused by man; Predestination to salvation is caused by God. The first is a natural consequence of the

7. Berkhof, Louis, History of Christian Doctrines, Edinburgh, Bannr of Truth Trust, 1975 reprint, [1937], p.136.

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will of man; the last is a supernatural consequence of the will of God. Yet both may fairly be described as "predestined" events.
     Thus the situations are essentially different. The Predestination which is the natural consequence of man's corrupted will is self-fulfilling, inevitable, in one sense uncaused except by the spiritual laws which God has built into his universe. But there was always a tendency to confuse these two very different kinds of Predestination. The concept of Predestination was taken to mean the same thing in both cases, thus making God responsible for man's unhappy destiny. God became in fact the author of sin. And those who thus understood Calvin's view on the matter could justify this position (as Zanchius did) by an appeal to certain passages in Scripture which can be interpreted to support it. Calvin himself never seems to have been quite able to make up his mind on the matter. He seems in certain places to be teaching Double Predestination (he called it Decretum Horribile, an awful decree), by arguing that God really planned that man should fall in order to work out his divine purposes to his own glory by the saving of a certain number of the fallen. The important point here is that God so planned before He created man. He did not first create man, permit him freedom of choice, and therefore leave the way open for the Fall to occur. God made his plan before creating man and then, being sovereign, determined that this plan should be followed. Calvin said, "It is an awful decree, I confess. . . .  God not only foresaw the Fall of the first man and the ruin of posterity in him, but arranged all by the determination of his own will" (Institutes, III.xxiii.7). It may well have been pointed out to Calvin that his reasoning here was of doubtful validity for it would surely be just as true to say, "God foreknew what end man was to have (if and when he fell) before creating him, because He had so ordained reprobation to be the inevitable consequence of disobedience." What God did was to allow man to fall; but man having fallen, God then predetermined what would be the consequences.
     In his study of Calvin's doctrine of Predestination, F. H. Klooster notes Calvin's assertion that there could be no Election to Salvation without its opposite, Election to reprobation (Institutes, IlI.xxiii.1), and adds with propriety, "This assertion is not a logical deduction."
(8) I believe he is right.
     If a group of guilty men are in prison for their crimes and one is reprieved by the decree of a State Governor, it is not the State Governor's decree in freeing the one man that caused the other men to remain in prison. They remain in prison because they have not yet completed their sentence. They remain in prison because they are in prison to begin with, and under judgment not yet fully satisfied. Men who do not believe in the Lord are not condemned because they do not believe; they are condemned already (John 3:18) and simply remain so.

8. Klooster, F. H., Calvin's Doctrine of Predestination, Calvin Theological Seminary Monograph Series III, Grand Rapids, Calvin Theological Seminary, 1961, p.36.  

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     If I hold a golf ball in my hand it does not fall. Because I am holding it, I am in the strictest sense the cause of its not falling. If I let it go, nature takes its appointed (predestined) course and it falls. It is only in a manner of speaking that it falls because I let it go. The real reason that it falls is gravity. In a spaceship, away from the gravitational forces of the earth, I could let it go and it would not fall. If I throw it down I am contributing directly to its fall, but if I let go of it I am not a direct cause of its falling. The principle is a very wide one, and it is very easy to use language loosely and therefore to confuse the issue.
     These two alternative effects of Predestination both appear to be grounded in the same phenomenon, the intention of God. But they are not really so at all. Predestination to Salvation is causative, the will of God being the cause of salvation; Predestination to Reprobation is consequential, reprobation being the consequence of the disobedience of man. The first is therefore the result of God's intention, the second of God's permission. It should be pointed out perhaps that by this circumstance those who find themselves in heaven have only God to thank, whereas those who find themselves under judgment have only themselves to blame. To make the analogy of the men in prison complete, one might therefore say with equal propriety that the one who was reprieved has only the Governor to thank, whereas the ones who were left in jail have only themselves to blame.
     Calvin quotes Matthew 15:13, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up," and comments on this by saying that the hearers are being "plainly told that all whom the heavenly Father has not been pleased to plant as sacred trees in his garden are doomed and devoted to destruction" (Institutes, III.xxiii.1). The implication here is quite specific. Those who do not reside in Paradise are not of God's planting. God is not the author of such trees. For this reason they do not belong in the garden. Thus the analogies we have used above are reflected in Scripture by implication if nothing else. For the divine Gardener did not plant these foreign trees in the first place. It is as though, like weeds, they had planted themselves.
     It seems clear that Calvin's own logical mind sensed the illogic of Double Predestination and yet never quite succeeded in resolving the issue to his own satisfaction. J. L. Neve in his History of Christian Thought says: "Calvin did not express himself clearly or consistently on this matter."
(9) Certain passages in Calvin's writings can be quoted in favour of Double Predestination and others against it. This caused some dissension and disagreement among his followers. A scholarly layman, D. V. Koornheert of Holland, wrote against this teaching, and demanded that the Belgic Confession, which incorporated it, be revised. Jacob Arminius (15601609), known for

9. Neve, J. L., History of Christian Thought, Philadelphia, Muhlenberg Press, 1946, vol.II, p.16.

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his dialectic skill and for his loyalty to Calvin, was invited to reply to him. But the effect of the studies which Arminius made in preparation, carried out specifically to formulate his rebuttal, converted him to a non-Calvinistic position! * He turned against the whole system of Calvinistic theology, perhaps because he realized for the first time that there was no room for any kind of sentimental humanist acknowledgment of man's innate goodness, a discovery which he did not like. He became so actively hostile that a serious schism arose affecting the whole Reformed Church in Holland.
     Though Arminius died in 1609, his followers produced a number of able spokesmen. These met together in 1610 and drew up the Statement of Faith setting forth the grounds of their opposition to Calvinism and their alternative interpretation of the whole question of Predestination, foreknowledge, and Election. Their Articles were called Remonstrances, and they themselves were accordingly called Remonstrants. The Calvinists issued a counter statement, but to no good purpose. So the matter was introduced before the famous Synod of Dort in 1618 at which representatives were present from England, Scotland, the Palatinate, Hesse, Nassau, East Friesland, and Bremen.
     The representatives of Arminianism were treated with great discourtesy, and the Five Articles of their Remonstrance were condemned. Five Calvinistic canons were drafted and the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism were formally adopted. In spite of the rather unlovely procedure, the end result was a magnificent Statement of Faith that eloquently reflected Calvin's theology.
     The Five Articles of the Remonstrance have ever since served as one of the most effective backdrops against which to set the Reformers' position. They may be summarized in the following way. They are here arranged not in the original order in which they were presented but to reflect the order in which they were answered.

(1) The Fall left man spiritually very sick but not in a state of total incapacity. He still has some freedom to good. His will is not entirely enslaved to a sinful nature. He needs only God's assistance in his coming to conversion. In this he brings his own faith and his own willingness.

(2) Accordingly, Election is based upon foreknowledge. God foresees who will be willingly disposed and who will refuse, and elects those whom He knows will assent. If some oversimplification is permitted it might be said that Arminians held that God's foreknowledge related to those who would seek salvation. In the Lutheran system this foreknowledge related to those who would not resist God's call. In the Methodist system God's foreknowledge related to those who He knew would persevere. 

* An excellent and sympathetic biography of Arminius has been written by Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study of the Dutch Reformation, New York, Abingdon Press, 1971.

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(3) Christ died for all men, for the salvation of all men was God's original plan. It is not God's will that any should perish but, having been given freedom, man is able to accept or reject salvation and only a few are saved. (The fourth point was joined to this third point, though these two points are generally set forth as two separate articles.)

(4) Man is entirely free to resist the grace of God.

(5) Even after yielding to God and accepting the Lord as Saviour, a man may so resist the influence of the Holy Spirit thereafter in his life that he becomes a castaway, a reprobate, disapproved, "turning again to his former wallowing," and so in the end losing his salvation.

     It will be obvious that these Five Points of the Arminian Remonstrance have the same kind of logical coherence as the system of Calvin does. One point follows from the other and all hold together in a kind of organic unity, granted the premise. The premise of the Remonstrance is that man is able to contribute to his own salvation because he is not totally depraved, and that God requires this contribution to make salvation effectual. From this it follows that man can subsequently cease to support his part of the bargain so that the work of God then fails in its objective and man is finally lost. Since the sovereignty of God in salvation is thereby surrendered and his predeterminate elective purposes can no longer be considered the cause of man's salvation and perseverance, Election is the result simply of foresight relative to the individual's anticipated response.
     The crux of the matter in these two logical (or theological) systems is the Sovereignty (or otherwise) of the Grace of God, and its co-ordinate the freedom (or otherwise) of the will of man, determining his own destiny. It has been rightly said that evangelism based on Calvinism lays the emphasis on the Sovereign Grace of God; evangelism based on any form of Arminianism is dependent upon man's powers to persuade. The world has developed highly successful techniques of high-pressure advertising in the hands of the so-called Persuaders, and Arminian evangelism has tended to adopt many of the same tactics. Power lies with man and must be applied with maximum effect, as in all advertising the emphasis is often laid more on the method than the message.
     Although the great Confessions of the Reformed Churches (Thirty-Nine Articles, Westminster, Heidelberg, and so forth) are Calvinist, and although ministers in the denominations that once drew their inspiration from these Confessions are therefore Calvinist by profession, the great majority of them have long since adopted an Arminian approach to evangelism and depend far more upon techniques of persuasion than upon the truth of their professed Reformation theology. There is today a great need for a return to the Gospel of Sovereign Grace as the sole remedy for man's Total Depravity.
     These two streams of theology, the Calvinist on the one hand, and the 

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Semi-Pelagian-Arminian-Lutheran-Methodist on the other, seem always to have existed side by side within the household of faith almost from the day the Church was born. Undoubtedly God uses both streams to create saints and to forge their characters. But in many important ways there can never really be complete fellowship between the Lord's people in the two camps. The basic premise of each is so totally opposed to the other and its effect so pervasive on each system of thought that conversation quickly deteriorates into argument as soon as it becomes seriously involved with fundamental issues. As long as we remain at a superficial level we can praise the Lord together. But one is aware always of skating together on thin ice. Since such arguments can never be wholly resolved unless both parties adopt the same basic premise there can never be real reconciliation. If the logical constructs in each system were simply abandoned there might be hope of reconciliation, because equally illogical adjustments would either pass unnoticed or would not disturb those who employed them. But such is man's constitution that irrational thinking never really proves an adequate base for peace of mind or heart. Fellowship on such grounds is always a fragile thing on the edge of collapse if some unexpected thought should intrude itself. Guarded conversation is not conducive to openness of heart which is essential to true fellowship.
     And so we seek desperately to "sink our differences," and this serves merely to produce a unity among us which is theologically emasculated and powerless to challenge a sinful world.

     Having set the historical background in some perspective, we now turn to an in-depth study of these two Five-Point alternatives to see what Scripture has to say on the matter.
     The chronological table below will help the reader to see the historical relatedness of the events we have outlined.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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