Jared Smith's Bible Doctrine

3 Bible Doctrine – Do These Teachings Originate With Arminius And Calvin?

A Transcript Of The Video Study

In our previous study, we considered the meaning of the labels “Arminianism” and “Calvinism”. I presented to you the five major doctrines each framework of teachings represent—the five points of Arminianism based on the teachings of a Dutch theologian named Jacobus Arminius, and the five points of Calvinism based on the teachings of a French theologian named John Calvin. And so, the question which naturally follows—do these teachings originate with Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin?

The answer is, no! Arminius and Calvin were not the authors or originators of these teachings. They merely set out in a systematic form what had been in circulation for centuries. In fact, both systems of theology can be traced as far back as the garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, before any other humans were brought into existence.

Take, for instance, the teachings of Arminianism. The teachings of Arminianism are based on the philosophy of Humanism. Humanism is a philosophy which is built upon the premise that man is the measure of all things. God is dethroned, self is enthroned. Humanism is the deification of one’s self, to that point that he/she governs his/her own life, according to his/her free will and good works. A humanist does that which is right in his/her own eyes, worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Humanism is the philosophy adopted by Adam and Eve after they transgressed the law of God in the garden of Eden. There were three expressions of their humanistic religion:

First, in an attempt to make themselves right with God, they sewed fig leaves together in order to cover their nakedness and hide their shame.

Second, in an attempt to avoid accountability towards God, they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord amongst the trees of the garden.

Third, in an attempt to escape the judgment of God, they blamed others for their personal transgression.

“But”, you ask, “How does this represent the framework of teachings set forth by the Arminians?” Well, this framework of Arminianism is rooted in the philosophy of Humanism. Every one of these Arminian doctrines grows out from the root of Humanism. Arminianism is nothing other than the attempt to “Christianize” Humanism. Just as the two components of Humanism are the free will and good works of the sinner, so, free will and good works of the sinner are the two primary components of Arminianism. At its core, there is little difference between Humanism and Arminianism.

What about Calvinism? Where do we find this framework of teaching in the third chapter of Genesis? Well, keep in mind, the first and last points of Calvinism are all about the sinner—the first point is about the unregenerate sinner; the last point is about the regenerate sinner. And then, the middle three points are all about the TriUne Jehovah—unconditional election is the work of the Father; particular redemption, or, limited atonement, is the work of the Son; irresistible grace, or, regeneration and sanctification, is the work of the Holy Spirit. This threefold work of God is called a covenant—the agreement between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, whereby each Person undertakes certain obligations to save the elect from their sins. This is called the covenant of grace, because God is the measure of all things, especially the salvation of His people—it is all of grace, the sovereign grace of God. Man is dethroned, and God is enthroned; God governs His people according to His free will and gracious works; God does that which is right in His own eyes, magnifying the glory of His grace.

Looking at Genesis 3, we find Adam and Eve transgressing the law of God, which rendered their souls dead in trespasses and sins, bringing upon themselves the wrath, judgment and condemnation of God. This is a description of every unregenerate sinner—he/she is totally depraved.

We then find the testimony of God, preaching the gospel. (1) In Genesis 3:15, there is the electing love of God the Father, illustrated by the seed of the woman; (2) In Genesis 3:21, there is the redeeming grace of God the Son, illustrated by the coats of skins; (3) In Genesis 3:24, there is the sanctifying power of God the Spirit, illustrated by the flaming sword. This is the threefold gospel message, declared by God from the beginning, shortly after Adam and Eve had plunged themselves into an unregenerate condition.

And then, we find in Genesis 3:20, Adam and Eve responding to the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, when Adam called his wife’s name Eve, “Because,” he said, “She is the mother of all living.” That is a clear and decisive testimony that both Adam and Eve had been made alive unto God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, according to the effectual power of the Holy Spirit—that is the perseverance and preservation of the saints.

Now, you see, the five points of Calvinism are nothing new. They did not originate with John Calvin, nor were they invented by the committee of men appointed by the Dutch Parliament in 1618. These teachings have their roots at the beginning of history and in the opening pages of the Word of God. These teachings are rightfully called sovereign grace, for they magnify the free will and gracious work of the TriUne Jehovah, rather than the free will and good works of the sinner. Arminianism sets forth a system of teachings whereby the sinner ultimately accomplishes the work of saving himself; whereas Calvinism sets forth a system of teachings whereby the TriUne Jehovah accomplishes the work saving the sinner. Arminianism is all about what the sinner must do to make himself right with God—that was Adam and Eve’s false religion of Humanism, before they were born again. Calvinism, on the other hand, is all about what God does to make the sinner right with Himself, that is called sovereign grace—and that was Adam and Eve’s true religion, after they had been born again.

Henceforth, what we actually have in these two systems of teaching, is the epitome of all false and true religion. Arminianism, having its roots in Humanism, is false religion; Calvinism, having its roots in sovereign grace, is true religion. Now, it appears that this dichotomy of teachings, as I have presented it, is quite dogmatic and inflexible. Are we to conclude that if a person subscribes to the framework of Arminianism, and if Arminianism is a false religion, then he/she must therefore be a non-Christian? Are only those who subscribe to sovereign grace, or the teachings of Calvinism, true believers in Christ? This is an excellent question, and I hope to share my thoughts on the answer in our next study.

Jared Smith