God’s brilliant plan (according to calvinists and arminians)
If you are going to do anything major in life: say move house, get married or change career – planning is probably a sensible idea! As we say in business: “those who fail to plan plan to fail”. Of course, along with planning, we set goals. Hopefully, we ask the questions: “what are our targets; what are we hoping to achieve; how do we know we achieved it?”
The Calvinist version of God’s plan.
So, what about God’s plan of salvation for the world? What is his goal? Is he aiming just to save a few elect and fortunate souls – who have absolutely no choice in the matter – as calvinist theologians believe? Consequently, the unfortunate majority – who also have no choice – are purposed for destruction or eternal torture in hellfire?
Therefore, according to calvinist doctrine, one of the thieves on the cross went to be with Jesus in paradise because that was his destiny, while the other was destined for hell? Therefore, even though both equally committed crimes, irresistible grace found only one because that was his destiny?
Therefore for a Calvinist, God only plans for a small elect group of people to be saved and they have no choice in the matter.
Of course there are scriptures that support this view, so I believe aspects of Calvinism are likely to be true. Here is one :
Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Many Christians throughout history have believed this view of God’s plan. Notably George Whitefield and Jonathon Edwards.
The Arminian version of God’s plan.”
Alternatively though, maybe God doesn’t know or control the outcome and he’s hoping for the best? He’s thinking: “If I get a 10% return on my investment then that makes it worth while!” Basically, this is what the Arminians believe: the end result is at the whim and free-will response of human beings and their ability to ‘sell’ this salvation message to their fellows. It’s all a bit of a lottery or gamble really!
Does God really ask for permission before he saves you? If you saw somebody drowning and you went in to rescue them you might even have to do what lifesavers do and knock them unconscious to stop them struggling!
Therefore, for an Arminian God does indeed provide for and plan for the whole human race to be saved but he leaves it up to the free-will choice of individuals. Of course, this means that if they never hear about the choice that they should make then unfortunately – they go to hell as well! Additionally, this would also mean that salvation is restricted only to the last two thousand years that the gospel has been preached?
1 John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Many Christians throughout history have believed this view of God’s plan. Notably John Wesley and Charles Finney.
Conclusions so far?
In my opinion, both these two theological positions have both positives and negatives but are not water-tight theologically or even logically! Both, don’t quite make sense and are of course contradictory. Of course, both are apparently supported by scripture!
The question is: is the Almighty God really that incapable or powerless to save people? Or, maybe his love only extends to a small percentage of the human race? I mean, look around you – most people are not born again and don’t have any relationship with God – let alone attend a church!
Has the gospel failed therefore? Was Jesus death and resurrection a failure? Definitely not! I believe that the gospel plan is a victorious gospel. Love indeed does win – somehow. It has too! This Almighty God we are talking about! In the next article we will look at this plan of God in more detail.
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