Do you profess to be a Bible believing Christian? All Bible believing Christians fall into one of three categories of Christian beliefs, known as Calvinism, Arminianism and Universalism. These are the three distinct and separate schools of Christian theology. With regard to salvation, every professing Christian inevitably falls into one of them, whether he understands or is aware of these terms or not. So, if you claim to be a Bible believing Christian, after you remove all of your denominational clothing, you are a Calvinist Christian, or an Arminian Christian or a Universalist Christian.
Each belief claims to be biblically based, and theologians have argued and debated the issues relating to them for centuries. However, the core differences between these three beliefs are irreconcilable. It is not our intention to go into a detailed complicated theological analysis of each belief system, but only to highlight and summarise the core differences between them.
What is Calvinism?
Calvinism is a system of theological belief promoted by the French man, John Calvin (1509-1564), and expressed in the document ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’. It laid the foundation for the Reformed Theology of the Reformation period, and Calvinism is the basis for the doctrine of many Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican and Reformed churches.
According to Calvin: Before the beginning of the world, God predestined to save a certain group of people called God’s Elect. God’s sovereign will for the salvation of these Elect cannot be resisted or thwarted, as his irresistible grace ensures that all of them will willingly accept Jesus Christ at some point in their lives before they die. The non-Elect cannot come to Christ because natural fallen man is totally sinful and depraved. Salvation is entirely the work of God from start to finish. All believers (the Elect) will go to heaven, but all unbelievers (the non-Elect, the vast majority of humanity) will be judged by God and cast into hell where they will be tortured forever.
What is Arminianism?
Arminianism is a system of theological belief promoted by the Dutch man, Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). Arminius started out as a strict Calvinist, but later changed his views as stated in the document ‘The Remonstrance’. Arminianism is the theological basis for Methodists, Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Free Will Baptists, Holiness churches and many charismatic churches. Roman Catholicism is also basically Arminian in its belief.
According to Arminius: Jesus Christ died for all people and God wills all men to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. However, God’s will can be frustrated and thwarted by man and God’s grace can be resisted by man‘s free will. This is because it is left up to each person to ultimately decide whether he wishes to be saved or not. Therefore, in order to go to heaven each person must choose to accept Jesus Christ before he dies. All those who die without choosing Christ (the vast majority of humanity) will be judged by God and cast into hell, where they will be tortured forever.
What is Biblical Universalism?
Biblical Universalism is the belief that ultimately everyone will be saved through the shed blood of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD) is the earliest known Christian theologian to have written about Universalism. However, Origen did not have the revelation of true Biblical Universalism believed by Apostle Paul and the very early Christians.
According to the Bible: God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to die on the cross to forgive the sins of the whole world, and He is indeed the Saviour of the whole world.
The powerful truth of the Bible is that God has solved the problem of sin once and for all through the sacrifice made on the cross by His only begotten Son for the sins of the whole world (Romans 6:10, 1 John 2:2). The Bible says that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6), and when sin abounds, grace abounds much more (Romans 5:20). Yes, everybody is born a sinner because of one man’s sin, Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12), but everybody is destined to become righteous because of one Man’s righteousness, Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Romans 5:18-19).
God is not desperately trying to save the whole world during this life, and Satan is not winning hands down by taking all unbelievers, who are the overwhelming majority of humanity, to hell when they die. These multitudes, billions upon billions of unsaved people, are not lost forever because God will save all of them after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan is to first call and save a few in this life before they die. They are His Elect Saints, who are a set number of Jewish Elect together with a set number of Gentile Elect, referred to as the Firstfruits. They will rise in the First Resurrection in their glorified immortal spirit bodies as the Bride of Christ, at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, to rule and reign with Christ forever. However, all those who die as unbelievers, both from the nation of Israel and the Gentile nations, will rise in the Second Resurrection and they will first need to undergo God’s refining Lake of Fire judgement during the Great White Throne Judgement Day, before they are saved and hence all of them will enter the Kingdom of God.
Which God are you serving?
The god of Calvinism sacrificed his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for his elect few only, and he predestined only his elect to be saved. This must also mean that he predestined, knowingly and willingly, to cast the vast majority of humanity (the non-elect) into hell to be tortured forever. This makes the god of Calvinism an evil god, infinitely and unimaginably more evil than Hitler could ever be.
The god of Arminianism sacrificed his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all people, and he wills all people to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, but he has made himself weak and helpless to save all people by allowing man’s fallen free will to override his will in salvation. Against his will, the god of Arminianism is forced to throw the vast majority of humanity into hell to be tortured forever, because for one reason or another, they failed to accept Jesus Christ in this life before they died. Even worse than that, the god of Arminianism knowingly and willingly created human beings with the full foreknowledge that the vast majority of them would reject salvation and end up being tortured in hell forever. This makes the god of Arminianism both an evil god, as evil as the god of Calvinism, and a weak god who allows the free will of sinful fallen man to override his will in salvation.
The God of the Bible, the one true Father God Yahweh Elohim, so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ Yeshua Elohim, to sacrificially die on the cross for the sins of the whole world. Jesus Christ died for all people; past, present and future, and God wills all people to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. He has unlimited love and power to save all people in His time and in His order, extending beyond this age. This makes the one true God of the Bible the all-powerful, all-loving, wise, just, merciful, forgiving and gracious Father God.
Make no mistake about it. You are profoundly affected by how you understand these three beliefs: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Universalism. Your understanding of God’s sovereignty, His love, His justice, His righteousness, His forgiveness and His grace are all fundamentally governed by your belief system.
People who believe that God will punish unbelievers in hell forever or annihilate them limit God’s sovereignty, power, love, forgiveness, grace and the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. They deny that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is indeed the Saviour of the world.
In fact, the truth of the matter is that both Calvinism and Arminianism are man-invented unbiblical theologies that have no revelation of who the true Christ of the Bible is, and His finished work on the cross for the universal salvation of the whole world.