Can you please explain a few terms that I am hearing more frequently and direct me to some Biblically sound resources to learn more? Reformed-In the context of -“She came out as reformed.” Calvinism, and Arminian.
Being Reformed has to do with the early reformers beginning with Luther and Calvin, who were trying to correct the excesses of the Catholic church. Specifically, they tackled indulgences and some other views that became controversial, if not heretical. The Reformed group were Catholic priests who left and challenged the church on these issues. So when someone says they’re reformed, they’re reacting against the excesses of the Catholic church.
John Calvin came along in the sixteenth century. John Calvin poured gas on what Luther started as a grass fire. Calvin wrote extensively about a more Biblical theological framework moving away from the Catholic church’s view that the church has to interpret the Bible. They believe that we can’t understand the Bible on our own. In the Reformation, Calvin, in particular, said, ‘No, it’s available for everybody in their language.’ Calvin and Luther both had some unfortunate views that still held onto Catholic messages like infant baptism or the presence of the Lord at the Lord’s Supper. Calvinism was the packaging of the Reformation in an intellectual and theological framework.
Arminianism came from Jacobus Arminius. He’s the reason for the creation of TULIP. He challenged the ideas of election, predestination, and permanent salvation. Arminius said, ‘No, you must persevere, or you’ll lose your salvation.’ That would probably be the benchmark today of an Arminian church. They will say you can lose your salvation if you’re not good enough. The Catholic, Wesleyan, Assemblies of God and Nazarene churches are considered Arminian in that you can lose your salvation.
The Issue of Security in Salvation
There is always a tension between predestination, election, and free will. If God chose us before the foundation of time, we’re predestined as the elect. If you put those together, it appears that you have no choice in your salvation. Some arch-reformed thinkers would agree with that. However, you have to respond by faith at some point. This becomes complicated when we consider whether we respond by faith on our own or if God gives us the faith to respond.
Arminius was a heretic in many ways, but he was grappling with an age-old question, what part does man have in his salvation? Arguably, the more important aspect of Arminius is what secures our salvation. Hopefully, we’re growing as disciples and learning about what it means to have the assurance of salvation. We will progressively learn what Ephesians 2:8-9 means, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
So hopefully, we’re not trying to pinpoint every piece of theology. To say you’re a perfect disciple when you trust Christ is ludicrous. So, Arminians and Christians today wonder, ‘Am I really saved?’ The answer is, what is your faith based on? If you’re basing it on the part you do, you’re in trouble. If you’re basing it on what Christ has done in His Word, then you have the security of the believer. That’s the best way to define grace.
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