Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Calvinism for the Glory of God

My Arminian friend, who is possibly the greatest human being on the planet, recently asked me how Calvinist beliefs are more God-glorifying than Arminian beliefs.  If I remember correctly, I told him that they are, and he asked why.  At the time, it was one of those things where I believed the statement to be true, but I wasn’t really prepared to articulate and defend the statement.  When I woke up this morning, the articulation came to me.

These thoughts, like everything else I have, I have received.  Therefore, if you disagree, then disagree with David Hamilton.  But, if you agree, then do not praise David Hamilton.  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Calvinist beliefs glorify God moreso than Arminian beliefs, mainly because Calvinist beliefs cause us to shift our focus from man to God.

I think that Calvinist beliefs lead a person to study the whole Bible, and they lead a person to seek to faithfully preach, evangelize, and practice church Biblically.  The reason that I think that Calvinist beliefs lead us this way, which glorifies God more than the alternatives, is the fundamental difference between Calvinist and Arminian beliefs.  I think that the fundamental difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is that they differ on who makes the decision about salvation.  Arminians believe that the human makes the decision and accepts salvation, whereas Calvinists believe that God makes the decision and bestows salvation. 

It is logical that those who believe that it is necessary for God to decide to save a person in order for that person to be saved to focus on God.  It is also logical that those who believe that it is necessary for the person to decide to be saved in order for that person to be saved to focus on man.  Therefore, it is logical for Calvinists to focus more on God, while Arminians focus more on man. 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1 that, “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”  However, because Arminians wrongly focus on the decision of the person, Arminians will not rightly focus on the “word of the cross” as they ought.  This is logical.  Whereas “the word of the cross is foolishness;” whereas Arminians believe the human must decide to be saved; and whereas humans do not decide in favor of foolishness (well except when we decide to sin, but that’s another story); it flows logically that Arminians will not focus on the foolishness of the “word of the cross” as we ought.

The “word of the cross” and its foolishness will only be focused on as we ought when a person beleives that salvation is in God’s hands, rather than up to the individual person’s acceptance of salvation.  In this case, a person is at least more likely, I believe, to follow the words of the apostle Paul, who was a Calvinist about 1500 years before John Calvin lived:

We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. -1 Corinthians 1:23-25

and again:

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. -1 Corinthians 2:1-5

I believe that the prosperity gospel and the emergent movement have both grown from Arminian roots.  The biggest problem that I have with both of them is that neither preach Christ and Him crucified.  Because of this, neither preach about sin.  The latter flows from the former because Christ and Him crucified is the only answer for sin, and without Christ and Him crucified we have no answer for sin.  Furthermore, the problem with not preaching Christ and Him crucified is that such a failure relegates Christianity to the status of every religion other than Christianity.

Christianity alone deals with sin.  All other religions are works-based religions, and all other religions fail to deal with sin.  Though they have their distinctions, they are all systems whereby a person goes through a checklist, and if they do enough good and little enough bad, then they will be “justified.”  But none have a way of dealing with their failures. 

Christianity is the only religion that does so, and it does so in one way and one way alone: Christ and Him crucified.

Notice in 1 Corinthians 2:4 that Paul says that his preaching and message “were not in persuasive words of wisdom.”  If man can “decide” and save himself, then Paul’s statement is the most ridiculous statement possible, because under Arminian beliefs the only hope if we desire to see souls saved is to persuade people to believe.  Conversely, believing that a merciful and gracious act of God is necessary for salvation to come about; believing that the Spirit must cause a person to be born again; and believing that the Spirit acts so as to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ leads us away from “persuasive words of wisdom” and to one method of preaching, evangelizing, and practicing church.  That is, focusing on “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”  This also frees us because we do not have to be persuasive and/or have greater wisdom than anybody else in order to see souls saved.  We simply proclaim Christ and Him crucified, and prayerfully seek the Lord to act on His word and His gospel.

Although you will hear love, social justice, and the benefits of Christianity for this life from Arminians, you will not hear Christ and Him crucified- at least not as it ought to be proclaimed.  Love, social justice, and the worldly benefits of Christianity are all good things, but none of them have eternal benefits.  The only means to eternal prosperity, eternal benefits, and eternal assurance is Christ and Him crucified.  His death in my place to pay my penalty for my sins, whereby I am spared from the just wrath of my Creator, who will be my judge.  By faith alone forgiveness, reconciliation, and righteousness are mine by faith in Christ and Him crucified.

Therefore, by leading us away from man-centered, persuasiveness-driven “wisdom,” and by leading us to “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” Calvinism is more God-glorifying than is Arminianism.

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August 20, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Praise God for His glorious gospel! I concur that Calvinism is more God glorifying than Arminianism, and it grieves me that so many (including myself at one time) attack “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God alone be the glory) by taking some of the glory for themselves in the name of “free-will.”

    FYI – I found your post through reading The Contemporary Calvinist.

    Comment by Nathan W. Bingham | August 22, 2008 | Reply


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