17 Sections
Are You a Calvinist, Arminian, or in-between?


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Chapter: 14.05
(Section 14: Selective Salvation)
Copyright © Michael Bronson 1998 - 2005

In the previous chapter we looked at some of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. We saw that both of these positions have some extreme doctrines in which most Christians are uncomfortable. This chapter will cover this problem even further.

Although there are some Christians who adhere fully to Calvinism or Arminianism, most don’t. Most Christians have a hard time accepting all of the doctrines associated with either of these two views. If you were to ask them if they were a Calvinist or an Arminians, they would say that they are neither, but are somewhere in-between. Unfortunately, I don’t think most Christians realize what they are implying when they say this.

If you were to ask me, "What are you, a Communist or a Nazi?" I would, of course, tell you I am neither. I would also tell you I am not somewhere in-between. There are many other political positions besides the ones found between communism and Nazism.

Likewise, I am not a Calvinist, Arminian, or anywhere in-between. My theological stance is quite different. There are other theological positions apart from what lays between Calvinism and Arminianism. I think if most Christians were to carefully examine the beliefs of both of these positions, they would conclude they are not somewhere in-between. (Please do not misquote me. I am not comparing communism and Nazism with these two theological beliefs. I only mentioned them to illustrate a point.)

If you refer to my Doctrinal Statement, you will find it is consistent with most evangelical Christians. I firmly believe Jesus’ death on the cross paid the full penalty for our sins. Salvation does not come from doing good works, but from personally accepting what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

Like many "Calvinists," I believe in eternal security and the sovereignty of God. However, I believe that God (out of His sovereignty) created us with a complete free will. This free will gives us the true ability to accept or reject God. This choice is not a preprogrammed choice, but rather it is a choice made from a truly free heart.

Many people call themselves Calvinists simply because they know they are not Arminians. They figure if they are not Arminians they must be Calvinists. Many Calvinists reinforce this belief in some of their writings. Following are some of their comments:

  • "It must be evident that there are just two theories which can be maintained by evangelical Christians upon this important subject; that all men who have made any study of it, and who have reached any settled conclusions regarding it, must be either Calvinists or Arminians. There is no other position which a ‘Christian’ can take." (Boettner, Predestination, p. 333)

  • "… only these two general schemes of Christian doctrine are logically possible … in the future, as the past, all evangelical believers will belong either to one dogmatic division or the other" (W. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure and Mixed, 1986, p. 149)

Once it has been established there are only two positions, people are shown that only one position is correct. The Arminian position is shown to be completely unscriptural. At this point people would rather call themselves Calvinists than the erroneous Arminians. Listed below are some comments by Selective Salvationists contrasting the two views:

  • "Calvinism is the eternal truth. Arminianism has always been an inveterate lie." (R. Harbach, Calvinism the Truth, 1984, p. 3)

  • "It is clear that Arminianism is anti-Scriptural, but that Calvinism is completely true to the Bible." (G. Clark, Predestination, 1987, p. 144)

  • "The Biblical truths of Calvinism are never so clear as against the erroneous ideas of the Arminian." (Palmer, p. 26)

  • "Arminianism thought is … the ancient pagan learning that had just been rediscovered in the Renaissance." (McGregor Wright, No Place for Sovereignty, 1996, p. 90)

  • "… [Arminianism is] the last and greatest monster of the man of sin, the elixir of Anti-Christianity." (Leighton, An Antidote Against Arminianism, 1982, p. 2)

  • "These doctrines are a perversion of the Truth of God and the way of salvation. They have no scriptural foundation." (W. MacLean, Arminianism: Another Gospel, 1976, p. 5)

  • "Arminianism is the plague of the church and the scourge of sound doctrine." (Herman Hanko, God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace, 1988, p. 16)

  • "We believe that what has been known in Church history as Calvinism is the purest and most consistent embodiment of the religion of Faith, while that which has been known as Arminianism has been diluted to a dangerous degree by the religion of works." (Boettner, Reformed Faith, p. 1)

  • "[Arminianism] appears as the gospel, but in reality is ‘another gospel.’ " (MacLean, Arminianism: Another Gospel, p. 5)

  • "Arminianism is that rejected error which has become the most insidiously devised heresy ever to lay claim to Biblical support." (Harbach, Calvinism the Truth, p. 3)

If you look at the doctrinal statements of strong Reformed churches and colleges, you will find most of them list certain documents in their doctrinal statements. The four most common documents are: Canons of Dort (1618), Belgic Confession (1561), Westminster Confession (1646-48), and Heidelberg Catechism (1563). Most of these were written about 400 years ago and were written to clarify their doctrinal stance.

The doctrine of selective salvation became popular about 400 years ago during the Reformation. Since this new doctrine was confusing to many people back then, many "errors" and "heresies" started to arise. The documents referenced above were written to address these heresies. Links to these documents can be found at the end of this chapter if you are interested in reading them.

Of all of these documents, the Cannons of Dort deals with selective salvation the most. I strongly recommend you read the first few pages of the Cannons of Dort; this will give you a very solid understanding of the teachings of Calvinism. (Throughout this section I will reference various parts of the Canons of Dort. For your convenience, I have listed the referenced items separately in the following chapter.)

For ease of viewing, I have each of these documents listed on my website. Click on the name below to view the documents:

Canons of Dort

Belgic Confession

Westminster Confession

Heidelberg Catechism







Other Chapters in this Section

PART 1: What is Selective Salvation?

What is Selective Salvation?
Summary of Why Selective Salvation can't be True
The Chosen Few
Summary of Calvinism and Armininism
Are You a Calvinist, Armenian, or in-between?
Highlights from from the Canons of Dort
Calvinism Versus Hyper-Calvinism
The "Privilege" of Being one of the Elect
How Long has Selective Salvation been Popular?
Why did Selective Salvation gain Popularity?
Are All Men Created Equal?
Interesting Facts about Slavery and Equality
Open Salvation
This is not an Attack
Being Misunderstood
Why is this Issue Important?

PART 2: What Does the Bible say about Selective Salvation?
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation
PART 4: “Choice” –The Achilles’ Heel of Selective Salvation
PART 5: Difficult Questions Answered

Appendix: Foundational Documents used by Selective Salvationists

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