Calvinism vs. Armenianism

After reading Enns’ section on “Reformation Soteriology,” critique and evaluate his assessment of Calvinism (Reformed) and Arminianism on the select topics of atonement and faith and works (Enns, ch. 30).  Are you in agreement with the Reformed or Arminian or some modified position?




Enns’ section on “Reformation Soteriology,” he does a fair job explaining Calvinism in contrast to Martin Luther’s view. The critical part of all of this comes when Enns quotes Philip Schaff as a conclusion to the idea that “Calvin understood election to salvation as unconditional, for ‘if election were dependent on man’s faith and good works, grace would not be free, and in fact would cease to be grace.’”< span> (Enns 2008, 479) This is a great summary of Calvinism, and gives a clear picture to anyone that is looking for a brief overview.


Unfortunately, Enns’ does not give the same detail to the Armenian view in this section, saving the details for a later section. He does give a basic understanding, but limits the content here to essentially, “provision has been made for all of humanity, because Christ died for everyone, not simply the elect…G od dispenses prevenient grace to all people, which enables them freely to choose to believe in Christ or reject Christ”< span> (Enns 2008, 480). This is a very basic understanding of the Armenian view regarding atonement and faith and works.


In regards to my  view on these positions, the church follows a modified position that is generally closer to Calvinism than it is to Armenians. I would agree with the Armenian viewpoint of Christ dying for the entire world. This would be apparent from scripture in that “Christ died for sins once for all” (NIV 1 Peter 3:18). However, men cannot lose their salvation as Armenians would argue. This is in part because man cannot do anything to gain their salvation, and therefore cannot do anything to lose it either. Man is capable of having once enjoyed fellowship with God and then resisting God’s leading and living in a carnal state, but that does not mean they have lost their salvation if they did truly have it in the first place.


Also, my church would not entirely agree with Calvin’s doctrines of justification and sanctification. Although the two would be closely tied much like in Calvin’s view, both are the working of God. God is the one who not only justifies but also sanctifies. The difference in the two is that although justification is done immediately at the time of conversion (such as in Calvinism), sanctification is the process by which God makes the believers more like Himself. Therefore, sanctification is not “ the believer’s response to gratitude”< span> (Enns 2008, 480), but rather is still the work of God. The key is that God is still doing the work, and although we are hopefully still responding the to the leading and growth of God, He is ultimately the one in control as He leads us into a closer relationship with Him.


Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.


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