Arminianism, which is often contrasted with Calvinism, has been an influential theological belief system in Protestant Christianity for 500 years, though certain elements of it are much older. Just like some Protestant denominations are Calvinist theology, others embrace Arminian theology.
Denominations in the Methodist-Wesleyan tradition are Arminian, like the United Methodist Church. Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God, Church of God, and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, are also Arminian. Some Baptist denominations are also Arminian.
How can some Baptist denominations be Arminian or Calvinist? Who are some well-known Arminian pastors and theologians? Does Arminianism have five points like Calvinism does? Keep reading to learn more.
Can Baptists be Arminian or Reformed?
The Baptist tradition is one of the largest branches of the Christian faith in the world. The Southern Baptist Convention is almost twice the size of the next biggest denomination in America (i.e the United Methodist Church).
Historically, the Baptist tradition has championed doctrines like baptizing professing adults (i.e. not infants), congregational church government, and the separation of church and state.
In general, the Baptist tradition welcomes Arminians and Calvinists, yet certain denominations and churches have belief statements that reflect a commitment to Arminianism or Calvinism.
- The National Association of Free Will Baptists is an Arminian Baptist denomination
- The Association of Reformed Baptist Church in America is Reformed or Calvinist Baptist denomination
- Other denominations, like the Southern Baptist Convention, include Arminians and Calvinists
In recent years, the Southern Baptist Convention has experienced tension inside the denomination over the issue of Arminianism and Calvinism. According to one poll, there are significant numbers of people on both sides of the debate in the denomination.  In response to the statement, “I am concerned about the impact of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention,”
- 35% of responders strongly agreed
- 26% somewhat agreed
- 14% somewhat disagreed
- 16% strongly disagreed
- 9% didn’t know
Other discoveries of the research included,
- An equal number of pastors consider their congregation Arminian-Wesleyan as did Reformed-Calvinist
- 78% of pastors reported that they aren’t five-point Calvinists
- 10% of members agreed with the statement, “Christ died only for the elect, not for everyone in the world,” which is a tenant of Calvinism; 80% disagreed with the statement
- 94% believe in the eternal security of a believer; 5% believe a person can lose their salvation
Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay Research, an arm of the SBC concluded,
“Most Baptists are not Calvinists, though many are, and most Baptists are not Arminians, though many are comfortable with that distinction. However, there is a sizeable minority that see themselves as Calvinist and holds to such doctrines, and a sizeable majority that is concerned about their presence. That points to challenging days to come.”
Who are some famous Arminian Christians today?
There have been many well-known Arminian pastors, theologians, authors, speakers, and other influencers. The well-known 20th-century evangelist Billy Graham (1918-2018) was one of the most famous Arminian Christian leaders.
While there have been famous Calvinist evangelists in Christian history, Graham’s beliefs drove him to preach the gospel to the lost. Graham made a concerted effort to preach the gospel in a way that was simple and that a lot of people could understand.
This was important because one of the reasons that Graham was effective is because he worked closely with the local churches near his large evangelistic meetings. His goal was to connect new converts with a local church ministry after he moved on to the next city. As a result, Graham worked well with both Arminian and Reformed churches and denominations.
Another important church leader who is Arminian is Roger Olson, who is a Baptist theologian and professor at Baylor University. Olson believes there are not enough vocal proponents of Arminianism within the Christian church today.
Many people who are theologically Arminian don’t even know that they are Arminian. The same is not the case for Reformed or Calvinist Christians, who tend to be both familiar with and proud of their theological tradition.
In Olson’s view, Arminianism is important because, unlike Calvinism or Reformed theology, it does not run the risk of making God the author of evil. Olson believes that God’s character is at stake in the Arminianism-Calvinism debate.
He also thinks that Arminianism is necessary to preserve human moral responsibility. The argument goes that God cannot condemn someone to hell who never had a chance to believe the gospel in the first place.
Other well-known Arminians include,
- Charles Finney
- Dwight Moody
- Rick Warren
What are the five points of Arminianism?
In 1610, the followers of Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) wrote the Five Articles of Remonstrance in response to the Belgic Confession, which is a Reformed statement of theology. These articles led to a series of debates within Reformed churches.
After the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), the Reformed churches in the area condemned Arminianism. Sometimes people call these tenets the five points of Arminianism.  The five points are as follows:
|Free Will or Human Ability||Total Inability or Total Depravity|
|Conditional Election||Unconditional Election|
|Universal Redemption or General Atonement||Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption|
|The Holy Spirit Can be Effectually Resisted||Irresistible Grace or The Efficacious Call of the Spirit|
|Falling from Grace||Perseverance of the Saints|
Free Will or Human Ability: The first point states that God gave all people free will, through prevenient grace. This means that every person on earth is able to reach out to God in faith at any moment. In Arminianism, faith precedes regeneration. No one must wait for God to regenerate their heart before they are able to believe.
Conditional Election: The second point refers to God foreseeing if person will believe in Christ for salvation. God elects those who he foresees will reach out to him in faith. This, according to Arminian theology, preserves each person’s moral agency.
Universal Redemption or General Atonement: The third point means that Jesus died on the cross for all people, not just the elect. This allows evangelists to boldly say that Christ’s death of the cross can be effective for everyone. God desires that everyone should come to faith.
The Holy Spirit Can be Effectually Resisted: The fourth point emphasizes the belief that salvation requires a cooperation between God and man. God will not violate a person’s will in order to draw them to himself. God offers salvation and rejoices when people accept it.
Falling from Grace: The fifth point teaches that people may fall away from the faith. However, God has given people power through the Holy Spirit to persevere until the end. Not all Arminians agree on the details of this final point. Some think that once a person has fallen away, they cannot return.
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