In a recent post, Pastor Jared Moore wrote of the Calvinist-Arminian debate that “both sides largely arrive at the same conclusions.” This is one of the wisest statements I’ve heard concerning the debate between Arminians and Calvinists within the SBC. More leaders need to step up and embrace the common ground between the two sides. While their soteriological beliefs may differ in extent and process, the end result for an individual is the same. Salvation is found in the blood of Christ whether you’re Arminian or Calvinist. That’s a huge amount of common ground between the two camps.
I believe there is room for both Arminians and Calvinists under the Christian umbrella.
For myself, I’ve slowly drifted towards the Calvinist side of the debate over the last few years. My migration to Calvinism wasn’t as much a conscience decision as it was a natural outgrowth of studying the Bible. I would staunchly argue that if left to my own accord I would never have expressed faith in Christ. God had to step in and gift me with that faith. It was all Him and none of myself that led me to Christ. Thus, I am distinctly Calvinist in my attempts to express God’s saving grace in my life. I say that not to brag of my election but rather to point out how much I needed Him to save me. I wasn’t capable of choosing Christ on my own and I am humbled that He chose me.
But even as I embrace Calvinism it is important for me to remember that not everyone shares my unique perspective. More importantly, I am incapable of seeing things from God’s perspective. As such, though I may believe in Calvinism there are moments when I must live my life like an Arminian. Let me explain:
Concerning Election: Yes I believe that God elected me for salvation and that my discovery of Christ was purely His work and His alone. But because God is fair and just I certainly don’t perceive any violation of my free will in the midst of His election. Who in his right mind would resent the embrace of a perfectly holy God? Yes, God elected me, however, I can honestly say that from my perspective it was my choice to accept His embrace. His election is such that there is nothing unfair about it.
Sharing the Gospel: Some people suggest that the Doctrine of Unconditional Election somehow renders evangelism obsolete. Quite frankly, this is an absurd assertion. Though God elected people for salvation before the beginning of time, we must remember that, from our perspective, we don’t know who’s elected and who isn’t! And while God can save whomever He desires with or without our help, the beauty is that He invites us to play a small part in the process and enlists us into the wonderful cause of His Kingdom! And we must remember that Christ commanded us to venture into the world and make disciples. No one should need more motivation than that to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!
So while my theology is reformed I can agree with the Arminian that it is preposterous to suggest that God violates anyone’s freewill. And as I venture out to the world I can enthusiastically share the gospel knowing that God is control of the outcome.
In short, Calvinists should live their lives in ways that seem Arminian and both sides should step up and embrace their common ground.