Jacobus Arminius, a 16th century reformist, was instrumental in advancing Christian theology beyond the restrictive view espoused by Calvinism. Arminianism clearly deviates from the five key points of Calvinism referenced by the acronym TULIP.
Using the points espoused in TULIP listed below are five ways in which the theology of Arminianism differs from the theology of Calvinism.
1. Total Depravity
The basis for Calvin's teaching on predestination is the total and complete sinful nature of humanity.
According to the Calvinist Corner
: "In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God? The answer is, He cannot. Therefore God must predestine."
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Arminianism recognizes the fall of Adam is responsible for man's sinful state, but humanity is not incapable of choosing between good and evil.
2. Unconditional Election
The doctrinal point of Calvinism that many, including Arminius, contend with is the belief that God chooses who he elects to salvation and who he sends to eternal damnation.
Arminianism proposes that the elect are predestined to salvation by exercising their freewill in choosing to follow Christ; referring to this point of doctrine as "conditional election."
According to the Society of Evangelical Arminians
,"the Bible teaches that God chooses for salvation those who believe in Jesus Christ and therefore become united to him, making election conditional on faith in Christ."
3. Limited Atonement
In Calvinism, there is no need to atone for the sins of those elected for damnation. Therefore, the atonement provided by Jesus Christ is only applicable to the elect.
Arminianists hold to the belief that God offers Christ's atonement to all humankind.
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Arminianism derives this theology from John 3:16 of the Bible (King James Version): "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
4. Irresistible Grace
Calvin taught a literal interpretation of the KJV's John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Calvinists insist this means the "grace of God is irresistible to the elect and they will inevitably be drawn to salvation.”
Arminians teach a theology that proclaims the free will of man allows him to accept or reject God's call and choose for himself salvation or damnation.
5. Perseverance of the Saints
Because the Almighty himself conditions salvation, in Calvinism's view, it is impossible for the elect to "fall away" once God saves them.
The perspective of Arminianism is that when an individual chooses salvation, they may also choose to ignore the "call of the Holy Spirit" by returning to their sinful ways.
"God necessarily cannot ensure the final salvation of anyone because they always have the free choice to turn away from faith," according to Theopedia
Arminianism proposes man is in control of his eternal destiny and that God has foreseen those who will accept His grace. Calvinism contends God foretells the eternal fate of individuals by his exercising dominion over His creation.
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