Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Arminians and Calvinists Can Work Together, Wrote Prominent Calvinist

When it comes to Calvinist-Arminian relations, my dad said something to me once that summed up my experience.  He commented that Arminians can get along with Calvinists, but Calvinists have a hard time getting along with Arminians.  They often seem up-in-arms.

That has been my experience in my reading.  My favorite Calvinist authors--Spurgeon, Packer, Piper--seem unable to avoid strong language at times when it comes to Arminians.

In all fairness, I'm sure my dad's statement is not a universal rule.  In fact, I know it's not.  My senior pastor is a Calvinist, and we've worked well together for 16 years.

But boy did I get a blessing when I came across this comment of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, quoted in his biography:

"I have always asserted and argued as strongly as I could that evangelicals should not separate on the question of Calvinism and Arminianism."

Fantastic!  Lloyd-Jones was a great preacher of the last century and a strong Calvinist.

He went on to write, "In the IVF [Inter Varsity Fellowship], both here in Great Britain and on the international level, Arminians and Calvinists work most happily and harmoniously together, and it is my privilege to co-operate with all such ..."  (Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, 230).

I completely agree that we can work together.  As my senior pastor and I have discussed it, if someone is not walking with Christ, we may disagree about whether that person was ever saved, but we both have the same goal and prayer, that s/he will walk with Christ now.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kent, the feelings of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones and yours, are well taken. I have wondered sometimes about the pre-Calvin-Arminian days of the Chruch. While Orthodox Theology is wonderful and, obviously, has been raised up by God and greatly blessed, yet, what kind of harmony between intense Bible-believing men then existed? It seems that men who know Theology well, sooner or later become embroiled in this debate. Almost always men who are Calvinist have never thought of a possible Arminian interpretation on their own. And Christian men who are of the Arminian Theological persuasion have NEVER thought of the salient points of Calvinism, namely T.U.L.I.P. witout someome else introducting it to them. Interesting. The late, Dr. William Forest Weddle said he has observed that God has blessed the respective ministries of men in both persuasions. And when he met young Christians who were always afraid they were going to lose their salvation, he would use Scriptures Calvinists would used to counsel them and assure them. And, conversely, for the more flippant about their faith, he would counsel more from the Bible passages Arminians would use. In our church we embrace believers of both persuasion and partake of the same Holy Commuion table together. I personally know a Christian Calvinist -- It's nobody you know, Kent -- who simply cannot understand how that is possible at all in the same church. I never told him I was neither a hard-boiled Calvinist nor Arminian; but I think he began to suspect it the longer we fellowshiped together. (I can comfortably lean toward either persuasion depending on whom I am with at the time in order to avoid the debate. Although I do lean more havily toward Arminian doctrine at times.) But when pressed upon against interpreting some Scriptures a certain way, I think men of the Calvinist persuasion find that more unacceptable than do Arminians. --Dad

Anonymous said...


The famed Gospel singers, Bill and Gloria Gaither, in a song they once wrote concerning issues of getting along with each other in Church harmony among brother believers: "When the house is burning to the ground, it ain't no time to stand around arraingeing all the pictures on the wall." Concerning this same idea also, King David of Israel, wrote Psalm 133, which is certainly the thought and opinion of God by way of the Holy Spirit's inspiration:
" 1 How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore." (N.I.V., 1984) --Dad