Five Points of Calvinism Vs. Arminianism

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According to WJ Seaton’s pamphlet The Five Points of Calvinism, in 1618 the Synod of Dort (a council) met to discuss the five points of Arminianism.  Arminianism is the doctrinal teachings of Jacobus Arminius or his followers that say that Christ died for all people. They met this way for seven months (154 sessions) until they came to the conclusion that they could not find any “ground in which to reconcile the Arminian viewpoint with that expounded in the word of God.” Therefore, to reaffirm the aspects that were said at the Reformation and made by John Calvin, the Synod of Dort put together the five points of Calvinism. Word IQ describes Calvinism as “the theological system and practical theories of church, family, and political life” which were adopted by John Calvin.  WJ Seaton does a brilliant job of expressing to his audience how Calvinism’s total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible calling, and perseverance of the saints, are real scripture points in contrast to Arminianism’s beliefs.

 WJ Seaton begins by talking about the first point of Calvinism; total depravity. Total depravity is the opposite of Arminianism’s first belief of free will and human ability. In this first point of Arminianism it is taught that “man although affected by the fall (Adam and Eve sinning in the Garden of Eden), was not totally incapable of choosing spiritual good and was able to exercise faith in God in order to receive the Gospel and thus bring himself into possession of salvation.” In opposition, Seaton says that man’s “natural state” is of total depravity and therefore there is a “total inability on the part of man to gain, or contribute to his own salvation.” With concerns to the Arminian’s view of free will (the ability of man to choose right in the eyes of God by man’s own power), Robert Morey, a well known Evangelical theologian, explains how this idea of free will “does not exist in Reformed Calvinistic theology; it is a myth” (Morey 1).  Nowhere in the Bible is this concept of free will even mentioned. 2 Timothy 2:25 provides clear evidence to the first point of total depravity. It reads: “In meekness instructing this that oppose themselves; if God [perhaps]will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth and that they may recover themselves out of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (ESV Bible New Testament). This is saying that only God can give us repentance and bring us out of evil.

The second point of Calvinism is unconditional election. “If man is unable to save himself on accountof the fall in Adam being a total fall and if God alone can save, and if all are not saved, then the conclusion must be that God does not save all people” (Seaton 12). This is contrary to the second point of Arminianism, which is conditional election. The second point of Arminianism says that God puts his “hands” out to the people who are saved through free will and therefore “not completely fallen anyway.” The second point of Calvinism is in complete opposition, Seaton tells us that God only saves his chosen and his chosen were saved by God not by their own free will. Seaton uses scripture texts like Luke 4:25-27, John 15:6, Romans 9:21 and Ephesians 1:4-5 to back up his point.

The third point of Calvinism is the point of limited atonement. Seaton tells us that this point is the “central fact of the gospel [the purpose of God’s death on the cross.]” God was the atonement for our sins. “This atonement, as we all acknowledge, was accomplished through Christ’s voluntary submission to the death on where He suffered under the justice of this just God, and procured the salvation that he as Savior had ordained”(Seaton 16.) Basically, Christ died on the cross for our sins so that our sins could be forgiven. According to the third viewpoint of Arminianism “Christ procured a potential salvation for all men.” This means that Christ did die for all our sins, but that Christ’s works on the cross does not become “effectual until man decides for Christ and is thereby saved.” In contrast, Seaton says the Calvinistic viewpoint of atonement states that “Christ dies positively and effectually to save a certain number of hell-deserving sinners on whom the fatherhad already set his free electing love” (Seaton 15).  

            Seaton introduces the fourth point which is irresistible grace, by first giving credibility to the Calvinistic system as a whole. He says that the Calvinistic system is of “pure biblical belief which stands firmly on the word of God.” It seems that Seaton is doing this to give the reader a sense of protection and knowledge about what exactly the five points of Calvinism are saying. From there he goes on to explain irresistible grace. Seaton says that when God calls out to people, either through a preacher or through his word, not everyone “heeds” to his calls. There are two types of calls, the inward and outward calls. The outward is the “words of preachers” and cannot alone bring a person to faith. It is a mixture of the inward and outward call that brings a person to Christ. This inward changer is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit calls a person by His grace, the call is irresistible. Seaton uses a plethora of quoted scripture like 1 Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (Seaton 19). The Arminian’s fourth viewpoint is that man has the choice to resist the Holy Spirit and turn away from him. That is biblically incorrect and there is no scripture in the Bible to back this point. Unlike Arminians, WJ Seaton uses correct verses from the bible and explains them in great detail so that we as the reader cannot misunderstand the text.

The final point of Calvinism is perseverance of the saints. The idea of perseverance of the saints is that once a person is saved or born again, they can never stray away from God’s word. Seaton explains this, then immediately gives us a verse to show evidence of it. John 10:28 says “I give unto myself eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Arminianism’s last point is called falling from grace. It teaches that a “saved man can fall from salvation, that it is the “logical and natural income of the system” (Seaton 20.) This is in complete opposition to what the Bible teaches and what scripture reads. Seaton argues this point by saying that “any man who falls from God, was never really saved in the first place” (Seaton 23).

            WJ Seaton in his pamphlet The Five Points of Calvinism expresses the differences between the five points of Arminianism and the five points of Calvinism. He uses scripture and logical thinking to provide evidence for total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints; to express the true and biblically correct points of the righteous faith of Christianity.

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