Throughout the last 500+ years, the arguments between Calvinists and Arminians have been heated. For the past 100 years or so, it has seemed to wane somewhat. But within the past 6 to 7 years, this argument has become a major issue. The problem is that unfair labels are being applied to Arminians that are absolutely false. We don’t just see this happening amongst individuals, but in the media, at conferences, and in sermons. Definitions are important and many times, it’s easier to just throw around names that seem to fit, even though they differ in from the subject you are discussing. I do my best to correctly identify the groups or beliefs that I discuss, teach, etc. I go out of my way to be fair to my Calvinist brothers when talking about the subject. But, it seems that many are beginning to issue false or confused statements about the Arminian belief. Does this occur in reverse? Yes. But not in the volume or from such high profile sources. Hopefully, we can begin to dialogue using correct definitions, instead of subjective ideas.
These definitions are definitely lacking and one can research them further if necessary.
1. Arminian Theology – Belief that humanity is totally depraved, but is given the ability from God to become a believer. The individual is also able to refuse the call from God. Arminians may or may not believe in “eternal security.”
2. Calvinist or “Reformed” Theology – Belief that humanity is totally depraved and is unable to choose God and become a believer. On this basis, God elects whom he will save and whom he will condemn based upon His sovereign grace and choice.
3. Christian Universalism – Belief that ALL people will be reconciled to God through Christ sometime in the future. (This is the basic belief due to their being a few different schools of thought.)
4. Pelagianism – Belief that human nature is still able to choose and reach God without any divine touch, Jesus Christ included. This belief removes God from the equation of salvation except in accepting the individual if he reaches God.
5. Semi-Pelagianism – This belief rejects total depravity, but not salvation through Christ alone. It believes that man has the ability to make a decision for Christ on his own without any Divine help. In this view, man and God cooperate in the process of salvation, without the prompt into the life of the man by God.
I hope these clarify the basic differences.