Are you looking for an introduction on Calvinism and Arminianism? Few Christians seem to care about the debate these days, particularly because few have ever heard of it — at least in the typical church setting, anyway. And yet, if you peruse a few local seminaries and bible colleges, Calvinism and Arminianism are all the rage when it comes to discussions of soteriology (the study of salvation) and how God saves. If it’s important to bible colleges and seminaries, why isn’t it important enough for college and seminary graduates to bring into the churches and pulpits?
Essential Church Pastor D.M. Richardson believes it’s time that Calvinism and Arminianism become a larger topic, inviting everyday Christians who’ll never grace a bible college or seminary classroom to the table. The grace of God and the aid of the Holy Spirit have moved her to pen a new book titled Theo-LOGICAL: Understanding Calvinism and Arminianism, an introduction to these two salvation systems for those who have never studied them before.
“Calvinism and Arminianism are two systems that claim God saves in different ways. Calvinism says that God selects who will be saved and that if He reprobates you, there’s nothing you can do about it. Arminianism says that God selects those who believe in Him. So in Arminianism, if you genuinely believe in Jesus, God chooses to save you. Calvinism excludes a number of the world’s population, while Arminianism opens up salvation to every person on the planet. These two systems are worlds apart in what they claim. And the worst part is, if you don’t know how God saves, then how do you know you’re saved?” Richardson asks.
This is what makes Calvinism and Arminianism such a big deal: because our knowledge of these systems (and salvation) impacts our assurance of salvation. If we don’t know something, then we can have no assurance of it. If we don’t know that a job we’re hired for is short-term or long-term, then we can have no assurance that we’ll have it three years from now. This is an example, but it shows us that ignorance about salvation does not produce assurance of salvation.
We can’t just believe; the Scriptures constantly assert that we must “believe and know” the truth (John 6:69). To believe is the first step; experience, walking with the Lord, is what leads us to “know” God. Once we know God, we can have an assurance of who He is because we have experienced God. We no longer have to take the word of someone else because we have our own relationship with the Lord to examine for knowledge.
If we get to the end and salvation happens apart from what the Scriptures teach, if salvation really happens based upon the divine whim (though Scripture says “whoever” can come), then we never had a chance to be saved to begin with. If you believe that Jesus allows anyone to come to Him and be saved, and that He acknowledges the sincerity of their hearts and gives them salvation, then you can have an assurance of salvation because you’ve believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God (and thus, you are not condemned; see John 3:18).
Theo-LOGICAL breaks down Calvinism and Arminianism into their five doctrines on Depravity, Election, Atonement, Grace, and Perseverance. Richardson not only studies Classical Calvinism and Classical Arminianism, the two original systems put forth by founders John Calvin and James Arminius respectively, but also modifications to Calvinism and Arminianism such as the systems of 4-Point Calvinism and 4-Point Arminianism. “4-Point” as an adjective refers to these systems’ acceptance of 4 out of the 5 original doctrines. 4-Point Calvinists accept everything but Calvin’s view of Limited Atonement, while 4-Point Arminians accept everything but Conditional Perseverance (the fifth point).
Richardson uses God Logic, the words of Jesus Himself, to assess these four salvation systems (or two original salvation systems with modifications).
“I wanted to tackle Molinism as well alongside these two major systems, but book space for an introduction did not permit me. Perhaps a later book devoted to God Logic and Molinism will surface,” Pastor D.M. says. We anxiously await its arrival. There is good news, though: the work on Molinism will not arrive this year, but Richardson says a systematic theology of her own undertaking (an original work) will arrive later this year, so keep your eyes tuned to essentialchurch.net for more updates.
Theo-LOGICAL: Understanding Calvinism and Arminianism is currently on sale at Amazon for $9.99 (Kindle) and $17.50 (paperback). It went on sale on Mother’s Day (May 12, 2019) and contains a tribute to the two matriarchal giants in Richardson’s life, her mother and grandmother (mom’s mom).
Continue to pray for Pastor D.M. as she continues to do the work of the Lord. She (and The Essential Church) will celebrate their second church anniversary next month on July 21st.
For more details on Theo-LOGICAL: Understanding Calvinism and Arminianism, head to the Amazon link to preview and purchase below.