The Calvinist and Arminian that went to Hell

This post is a continuation from something I wrote earlier this week that can be found here (Arminians, Not Pagans). The reactions to my last post varied, for some it was a helpful correction and for others it was condescending. To clear some things up, the post was intended for Calvinists, not necessarily Arminians, although I did expect some to read it. This post like the first, is intended for Calvinists, although I expect Arminians to read it as well.

There was some very disturbing dialogue that arose from the conversation afterwards. Many of you who are Calvinists believe without a doubt that YOUR way is the right way and if others aren’t completely onboard with you, then they are lost. It’s good to have strong convictions like that, even I do. HOWEVER, we need to move beyond that. If we think it’s our way or the highway, we have put God into a box and officially made our system of theology our god. I’m firmly convinced Satan loves us arguing about these kinds of things. Yes, it’s important to understand the doctrine of election, yes it’s important to understand the Spirit’s effectual call, and yes it’s important to teach these things, but don’t let them replace the main things. This is where I’ve failed time and time again.

Many of you think that Arminians save themselves and somehow the glory belongs to them because they chose to believe in Christ. I don’t want this to be the main focus of the post, but please educate yourself by reading some Evangelical Arminian theology. Roger Olson is a great place to start. While I would disagree with Dr. Olson on much, I’m firmly convinced that he is saved and that he believes it is all of grace. Here is a helpful debate on Calvinism/Arminianism that you can listen to between Michael Horton and Roger Olson.

Please hear me when I say that it’s important for us to stand by our doctrines that we’ve become convinced of by the reading of God’s word. More importantly than the tribe (Calvinist, Arminian, etc.) we are in, let’s be faithful to God’s word and pursue Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. Calvinist’s like to emphasis the last in that list, a lot. And hear me out again, it’s important that we “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” as the Scriptures teach. But more than anything, I really want to push you on to a life of holiness in Jesus Christ. We need to remember that the system we believe in doesn’t save us. We won’t be saved by being convinced of the “TULIP” and being able to recite each letter and what it means with clarity. We are saved by the work of Jesus and we receive that by faith and repentance which leads to a new life in Him. The new creation we become leads to a life of humility, because we know that we don’t deserve it. It’s a change that happens inwardly, not an outward change by quoting the Canons of Dort (although that would be impressive, it’s not enough to save!)

Romans 2:28-29 – For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.

So, I ask us: Can we be okay with fellow believers in Christ being Arminians? Can we be okay with brothers and sisters in Christ never becoming convinced of the Doctrines of Grace? I sure hope so, otherwise I fear our eternity.

“Satan does not care whether he drags you down to hell as a Calvinist or as an Arminian, so long as he can get you there.” – Charles Spurgeon


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  • Jasmine

    Amen!!! thank you so much for this article!! I agree 100 percent. There is so much division and heated debates that stem from these particular denominations. And you were on point when you mentioned that Satan does want us to waste time arguing about these things. I was meeting with my fellow Christian friends who were asking me if I knew about TULIP and the doctrines of the Calvinists and Arminians, I said no…I just read and study my Bible. It frustrates me and discourages me to see that so many Christians are caught up in the same thing…and if we don’t wake up then that quote by Charles Spurgeon will become a reality…because God is looking for a child-like passion and desire for him….its that SIMPLE…

    • Bonnie


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  • Daniel Thomas

    I really enjoy reading these posts. I was raised in a charismatic church before coming to the Reformed faith a few years ago, so many of my oldest friends are charismatics who speak in tongues and the whole nine yards. I came to Reformed Theology through the back door, through the apologetics of Greg Bahnsen and Cornelius Van Til, and, as I’ve heard it said, the experience was similar to falling down a flight of stairs and hitting my head on every step. Naturally, I wanted all my charismatic buddies to believe what I believed, so I took them to the same stairs and tried to push them down. I thank God that He was gracious to me through that, and through that I’ve learned that the best way to discuss theological differences is simply to allow Scripture to have its way. Sometimes I’ve been the one who’s needed to learn. I appreciate this post, as well as the previous one, because it encourages humility — not only before Scripture, but before fellow believers. It seems to me that humility is what wins the heart, not cogent argumentation. I am of the belief that when a friend sees me as teachable before God’s Word, they’re more receptive to being taught from God’s Word. We may ultimately disagree, but at least that humility and teachableness may encourage further discussion.

    On a side, one of the guys that I enjoy listening to (from the Arminian perspective) is Steve Gregg. He and Douglas Wilson had a 6 part debate over the biblical foundation of Calvinism, and the thing that I appreciated about Gregg in that debate was his attempt to back everything he said with Scripture.

    Anyway, thanks for the post! I really enjoy reading them… they are an encouragement!

  • Pat

    I’m an Arminian and while I do agree with the conclusion of your post and would say that view should be held by all Christians, the following two statements seem contradictory to me:

    “Many of you Calvinists believe 100% that YOUR way is the right way and if others aren’t completely onboard with you, then they are lost. It’s good to have that kind of conviction, even I have that conviction.”

    “We need to remember that the system we believe in doesn’t save us.”

    I don’t see how one can believe their system is not what will save and still have the conviction that others are lost if they don’t believe as you do.

    • Stephen McCaskell

      Hmm, you are reading it differently than I wrote, well than I intended! :) When I say that some say “if others aren’t completely onboard with you, then they are lost” – I am referring to Calvinist’s that think that. When I say I have that kind of conviction, I am not saying that I think people that don’t think the same as me will be lost. If that makes any sense. I know MANY that don’t think the same way I do, and I know they are saved.

      To the second statement I made, I don’t see any problem. While I would fall into that “system” or “tribe”, I don’t want get caught up in it. It’s not the system that saves, Jesus saves.

    • Stephen McCaskell

      I reworded a couple of those lines in the second paragraph. Hope that makes a bit more sense now. :)

      • Pat

        Thanks, Stephen. I wanted to believe that’s what you meant, but asked to be sure. Thanks for your graciousness.

  • S.D.G

    I recently became convinced and convicted of the doctrines of grace.For certain reasons, I am still in my present church (charismatic), which subscribes to arminian theology. Oh trust me when I say that there is so much to unlearn and to relearn. So many things go against the grain. But by God’s grace, He is changing me. I think that while its important that more come to know the doctrines of grace, a more serious problem we are facing is the perversion of the gospel message itself. If you’ve been in my circle long enough, you will realize how many false converts are being churned out by promises of a better life, etc. All they need to do is repeat a prayer and someone pope-ishly pronounce them born again, when in actual fact, the true gospel of faith and repentance was not preached. I think that modern evangelicals nowadays lack sound doctrine. Few would even consider broaching the subject of hell and God’s judgement. Many more buy into the prosperity gospel. I used to, until God awakened me.

    We have to pray, as the state of Christianity today is apalling. We have to teach our brothers and sisters in love. Show them the scriptures and allow God to convict them through it.

    I am reminded of 2 Peter 2:1.

  • Robert C Jackman

    The trouble with calvanism v arminianism is that each hold some truth. I consider myself a 4.5 point calvanist. God gives me everything in the equation except that I must be willing. He has for sure chosen me, but I must be willing.

  • Steve

    I agree with this article 100%. I was never interested in the Calvinism v Arminianism debate, and always made this clear amongst my Christian brothers and sisters, even though sometimes I would be reluctantly dragged into the conversation. At the end of the day it’s about Jesus Christ and His saving grace, not a theology. Brilliant article, just what I needed for confirmation of what the Spirit has been showing me these last few weeks. God bless you Brothers and sisters. Amen~! All glory to Jesus!

  • jason greene

    I rarely agree with you, but I agree with you on this one. I am a Wesleyan Arminian. We do NOT believe that we can earn our salvation. We believe that GOD’S grace OPENS our HEARTS, and then and only then are we free to respond to that grace. But that very act of responding is a gift because God has opened our hearts. Where we would disagree with you is that we believe that GOD then allows us to respond with a yes or a no. Thank you for this post. I have friends who are both Calvinists and Arminians as well; they all love Jesus and live lives of faith in him for the GLORY of GOD.

  • Eduardo

    Thanks. Needed to hear this. Our theological system won’t save us, just Christ alone.

  • CJ

    Great post. It’s time that people on both sides of this argument (I’m a Wesleyan Arminian) start believing and living this. Our systems of theology describe how we are saved but they are not what save us.

  • Randy Davenport

    SBCtoday has some great articles on this. Even better is the white paper at New Orleans Baptist Seminary Leavall Center, Neither Calvinist nor Armenian but Baptist.

  • Mark McNeil

    Those committed Christians smarter than me tend to be Calvinists. But as the Church has arrived into the 21st century, it seems to me the Baptist and Assembly of God denominations are thriving while a main branch of the Presbyterians denomination has crashed and burned. Maybe God’s blessing congregates, rather on this theological debate, on those who do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)

  • Mick Lee

    I am a rather “orthodox” Lutheran—which I am sure through past experience put me beyond the pale for many if not most of you. For both Calvinists and Arminians, Lutheranism is too close to Catholicism for their comfort. Thus, to both Calvinists and Arminians, Lutherans aren’t where stuff is “really happening”. They don’t matter. So I can afford to observe this Calvinist/Arminian food fight with curiosity and –to be truthful—some amusement.
    If it wasn’t for the fact that Lutherans argue with themselves, get into pitched battles and try to burn each other’s houses down, I’d call a pox on both your camps. But, as it is, Lutherans have nothing to brag about in the “love your brothers and sisters in Christ” department. So I sit quietly in the stands.
    What strikes me is that you Calvinists and Arminians proceed from entirely assumptions—so much so that I have to wonder why you bother to go hammer and tongs with each other. After 500 years of arguing, sheep stealing, and even wars, Lutherans and Catholics have developed a respect and even a peculiar affection for one another. Yet, most Lutherans and Catholics would even dream of switching sides. Despite all the ecumenical dialogues, and joint statements of agreement in discrete doctrines, we are further apart today than we were even a hundred years ago. After 500 years, why get worked up about it now?
    Yes, indeed. Why get yourselves all worked up about it now? Seems to me it is well time to invite each other to tea and talk baseball—and remember the savagery of the Cross.
    Just a suggestion.

  • Dick Bryan

    In the fourth paragraph of your article you say, “More importantly than the tribe (Calvinist, Arminian, etc.) we are in . . .” The proper word is “important” not “importantLY.”

  • Mick Lee

    All apologies. The line above which reads: “Yet, most Lutherans and Catholics would even dream…” actually should read: “Yet, most Lutherans and Catholics WOULDN”T even dream…”

    Sorta changes the sense of the writing, doesn’t it.

  • Drew Rowe

    I am a conservative Presbyterian, who believes in God’s complete sovereignty and in His Unconditional Election of those whom He chooses to save. And that is the paradox of Calvinism: God will save whomever He pleases, not whomever has the right theology. In Heaven, there will be neither Arminians nor Calvinists, only God’s elect, those whom He has called to be His own and whom He has made righteous and holy, through the sacrifice on the cross and the resurrection from the dead of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • Michael Snow

    There is an (most likely) apocryphal story about George Whitfield and John Wesley that demonstrates a right spirit.

    Some Calvinists asked George Whitfield (the former student) whether he expected to see his friend John Wesley (the former oxford fellow) in Heaven.

    His answer was, “No, I expect that he will be so close to the throne of grace that I shall be unable to get a glimpse of him.”

  • Harry Vest

    Here’s a thought. Maybe they are both wrong!!

  • Abraxas

    Reading these kinds of discussions reminds me of how Catholic I am.

  • John stute

    Calvinism? Arminianism? they’re both way of! Its thomism all the way!

  • Mike Twedt

    I’m a Calvinist. But I believe:

    Both the Calvinist and Arminian can be among the elect,
    When they meet in their glorified resurrected bodies in the New Jerusalem, the Calvinist will have had the right theology, but, neither will care or mention it.

  • Bonnie

    I am a recently returned Roman Catholic. Can I jump in here too for a minute. I am so excited to read this article because this has been such a pressing issue for me. Very recently, I asked a 78 year old priest, “…what about the Eucharist? What happens to someone who believes in Jesus but not the Eucharist?” He surprised and delighted me to go back to the scripture in the Gospel of John. Jesus, said, “…I am the bread who came down from heaven…..he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…..” my condensed version. Most of the people at the time, got grossed out and turned from following Him. When he asked his closest followers if they too wanted to leave, they said no, and asked where would they go, he had the words of eternal life. The priest said, that was the key! Jesus has the words of eternal life, following Him is the key to salvation, whether we understand what He means by what He says or not doesn’t matter. It’s our willingness to put or faith and trust in HIM. I see that here in what you are saying about doctrine. Being true to what we believe is essential but keeping the work of Christ first in all things and loving one another as He commanded us to do is above all else. Thank you for this article, and to my husband for sharing it with me.

  • Nancy A. Almodovar

    When I read blogs like this i wonder if the person who wrote it ever even attended a semi-pelagian church? I wonder if they understand what they are defending (arminians are okay….let’s not argue doctrine…). Well, i grew up in an Arminian church. While they, like mormons and others who detract from scripture and create their own, use the terms of Scripture, they define them differently. Yes, I was taught you are saved by grace, but not by grace ALONE. Instead, you make the decision, you cast the final vote (cause God voted for you and the devil against you so you break the tie) or raise your hand or sign a decision card but then you had better maintain that decision. Yes, i was taught that we are saved by grace but it is a prevenient grace given to everyone, you just have to act on it. So it is a different “grace” that arminians speak of. I was an arminian for over 30 years. I attended conferences, spoke and even preached it. However, you are not saved by Grace ALONE. You are saved, ultimately, by grace PLUS. Plus devotions, plus going to church, plus joining choir, plus witnessing, plus being hospitable, plus doing all kinds of good works, plus surrendering all, plus plus plus plus plus.

    Do I believe there are the elect in arminian churches? yes, but i also firmly believe God sanctifies your theology and understanding of Scripture too and He will move you out.

    Are full blown unrepentant arminians our brothers and sisters? Nope. not till we see their soteriology change. And remember, I was one and I’m saying this.

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