08 December 2021 by Published in: Jared Smith, Bible Doctrine No comments yet

A Transcript Of The Video Study

The simple answer is yes, there are adaptations of Arminianism and Calvinism. However, the answer becomes a little more complicated when attempting to identify the variant teachings of these two frameworks. In an effort to simplify the matter, there are three main categories under which these adaptions of Arminianism and Calvinism may be arranged—First, the “point” classification; Second, the “scale” classification; Third, the “shade” classification. All of this may sound rather technical, but as I hope to show you, it actually explains in a concise form an otherwise bewildering clash of differences between believers on these matters.

Let’s begin with the first category—the “point” classification. The point classification is based on the number of points to which one subscribes. For example, if someone subscribes only to the Preservation of the Saints, otherwise known as Eternal Security, then he/she may identify as a one point Calvinist. Or, a person may subscribe to four of the five points—everything except for Limited Atonement. In this case, he/she may identify as a four point Calvinist. Henceforth, there are one point, two point, three point, four point and five point Calvinists. However, these labels do not specify the exact points to which one may subscribe. You will only find that out when conversing with the person on the subject.

Now, it should be observed that if one identifies as a one point Calvinist, then it stands to reason that he/she is a four point Arminian. If one identifies as a two point Calvinist, then he/she is a three point Arminian. If one identifies as a three point Calvinist, then he/she is a two point Arminian. If one identifies as a four point Calvinist, then he/she is a one point Arminian. Only a five point Calvinist is an anti-Arminian.

So, the next time you hear someone identify as a three or four point Calvinist, you should have a much clearer understanding of the labels. These labels are based on the “point” classification.

Let’s now look at the second category—the “scale” classification. The “scale” classification is based on a more fluid movement between Arminianism and Calvinism. For this grading system, we must return to the Spectrum of Sovereign Grace which I introduced you to in our previous study. The Spectrum of Sovereign Grace is a color gradient designed to illustrate how a regenerate sinner grows in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The black dots represent the unregenerate sinner, who is dead in trespasses and sins. The green dots represent the regenerate sinner, who has been made alive unto God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The lightest shades of green represent a babe in Christ, whose understanding of the gospel is closer to the philosophy of Humanism, whereas the darker shades of green represent a mature believer in Christ, whose understanding of the gospel is closer to the revelation of sovereign grace.

Now, there are six measurements on this scale—High-Arminianism, Moderate-Arminianism, Low-Arminianism, Low-Calvinism, Moderate-Calvinism and High-Calvinism.

High-Arminianism identifies one who subscribes to all five points of Arminianism. Moderate-Arminianism identifies one who subscribes to only three or four points of Arminianism. Low-Arminianism is one who subscribes to only one or two points of Arminianism. As you can see, the highest Arminians are those who are closest to the philosophy of Humanism, whereas the lowest Arminians are those who are closest to the revelation of Sovereign Grace.

Those who belong to the remaining three measurements are all five point Calvinists. However, they do not share the same understanding of the doctrines of grace. Low-Calvinism identifies one who interprets the doctrines of grace based upon the framework of Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a theological framework which views God’s masterplan for the ages to be based on His dealings with the human race according to the authority of specific time periods throughout the course of history. This theological framework is promoted in the Scofield Study Bible, which is the leading resource responsible for propagating these teachings among Evangelical and Fundamental churches throughout the 20th century. In this regard, Low-Calvinists share much in common with the Arminians, for they all tend to approach the Bible according to a dispensational scheme. This, of course, leads the Low-Calvinist to nurture views of the doctrines of grace which fall short of a consistent framework of the gospel.

Well, this then brings us to the last two measurements on the scale. Moderate-Calvinists and High-Calvinists share one thing in common—they interpret the doctrines of grace based upon the framework of Covenantalism. Covenantalism is a theological framework which views God’s masterplan for the ages to be based on His dealings with the human race according to the authority of specific covenants under which men and women are in relationship with God and accountable to Him. Rightly understood, Covenantalism is the only consistent framework of theology which supports the five points of Calvinism—Dispensationalism is incompatible with Calvinism.

Now, that is what the Moderate-Calvinists and High-Calvinists have in common. But where do they differ? In a nutshell, the difference between a Moderate-Calvinist and a High-Calvinist revolves around one issue—the number of perpetual covenants God has established for the human race. The Moderate-Calvinists believe there are three perpetual covenants—the covenant of works, the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace. On the other hand, the High-Calvinists believe there are only two perpetual covenants—the covenant of works and the covenant of grace (they believe the covenant of Redemption and the covenant of grace are one and the same). In practical terms, a Moderate-Calvinist, based on a three-covenant framework, will subscribe to doctrinal positions such as Duty-Faith, the Free-Offer and the Moral Law (Ten Commandments) as the rule of conduct for the Christian life. However, a High-Calvinist, based on a two-covenant framework, will reject Duty-Faith, believing that the sinner is only warranted to savingly believe on Christ after his/her new birth. The High-Calvinist will also reject the free offer, believing that the gospel is to be freely and fully preached rather than falsely and foolishly offered. The High-Calvinist will also reject the Ten Commandments as the rule of conduct for the Christian life, believing that the gospel law is the rule by which the regenerate sinner is to conduct his/her life.

So, this is the second category—the “scale” classification.

Let’s now look at the third category—the “shade” classification. The “shade” classification is the least rigid and most fluid of the three categories. You see, in the “points” classification, believers are identified by definite labels—he/she is a five, four, three, two or one point Calvinist. Likewise, in the “scale” classification, believers are also identified by definite labels—he/she is a Low, Moderate, High Arminian or Calvinist. However, in the “shade” classification, there are no labels to be given to believers. These shades are designed to illustrate the slow and gradual growth of a regenerate sinner. The more the regenerate sinner matures in the faith, the deeper will be his/her shade of sovereign grace. From this standpoint, the “shade” classification tends to be the most tolerant method of measuring a believer’s maturity in the faith, for there is a universal recognition among the Lord’s people that we are all growing in grace and are at different stages of growth.

Having said this, all three measuring systems are helpful in their own ways.

The “point” classification is the most popular and widely used, mainly because it simplifies the process of gauging what one believes with regards to sovereign grace. To classify believers as one, two, three, four or five point Calvinists provides a general idea of his/her understanding of the gospel.

The “scale” classification is not widely used, if used at all. However, I would argue it is a more accurate measurement of a believer’s understanding of the gospel. For example, whereas a Low, Moderate and High Calvinist are all five point Calvinists, yet there are wide differences between their understanding of the five points. Henceforth, this type of classification helps distinguish the difference between, let’s say, the teachings of John MacArthur, who is a Low-Calvinist, and the teachings of R. C. Sproul, who is a Moderate-Calvinist, and my own teachings, as I am a High-Calvinist. Whereas MacArthur, Sproul and I will identify as five point Calvinists, yet there are significant differences between our understanding of the five points.

The “shade” classification is also not widely used, if used at all. However, of the three scales, I believe this better reflects the position of most believers. This third scale puts into perspective our continual journey in grace and in a knowledge of the gospel. There are always deeper shades in our journey of grace, as none of us will ever arrive at the deepest shade this side of heaven. We will never graduate from the school of Christ. It was on this very point the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Ephesus—“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph 3:14-19) The breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ—my dear friends, that is what it means to be a deeper shade of green on the scale of sovereign grace!

Well, that is my answer then, to this question—Are There Adaptations Of Arminianism And Calvinism? Yes, and they may be measured according to one of these three grading systems. I wonder, where do you perceive yourself on each of these rankings? That is the question I leave with you to explore.

Jared Smith



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