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.
There are five points in Calvinism, five points in Arminianism, and even five points in Universalism, which outline each of these beliefs. It is not our intention to go into a detailed complicated theological analysis of each point in each belief system, but only to highlight and summarise the core differences between them.
Universalism was the most widely held belief for the first five centuries, following the death of Jesus Christ. However, this all changed when the Roman Catholic Church, in the Fifth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople in 553 A.D., pronounced anathema on anyone who believed in Universalism. The Roman Catholic Church reigned supreme and dominated the western world from the fifth century until the Protestant Reformation, which started in 1517 A.D. Currently, Universalism is a very small minority belief of perhaps no more than 2% of Bible believing Christians.
Calvinism was the most dominant and widely held belief of Protestant Christians from the time of the Reformation for hundreds of centuries up until the last century.
Arminianism has now overtaken Calvinism by a long way, and currently most Christian churches are Arminian in their belief.
What is Calvinism?
It 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’. Calvinism laid the foundation for the Reformed Theology of the Reformation period. 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 His 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?
It 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: 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 freewill. This is because it is left 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?
Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) is the earliest known Christian theologian to have written about Universalism, the belief that eventually everyone will be saved through the work of the cross. However, we do not believe that Origen had the full revelation of true Biblical Universalism.
According to the Bible: Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, died on the cross to forgive the sins of the whole world, and He is the Saviour of the world. Father God is working out His Grand Family Plan for the Universal Salvation and Reconciliation of All through His Son Jesus Christ in Ages, in God's time and order.
1 Corinthians 15:22-23
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order:
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 helpless to save all people by allowing man's freewill to override his will in salvation. Against his will, the god of Arminianism is forced to throw the 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 will freewill of fallen man to override his will in salvation.
The God of the Bible sacrificed His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for the sins of the whole world. He died for all people; past, present and future, and He wills all people to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. He has unlimited wisdom, power and love to save all people in His time and His order. Ultimately, all people will freely and thankfully accept the gift of salvation in this life or the next life, and be reconciled to God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This makes the God of the Bible the all-powerful, 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 and coloured by each 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 is indeed who He says He is, the only begotten Son of Father God and the Saviour of the world.