Thinking Out Loud

October 14, 2011

Solving the Arminian / Calvinist Maze

Bruxy Cavey -- Here in Canada we grow our pastors a little different

Bruxy Cavey is a Canadian pastor of The Meeting House, Canada’s largest multi-site church.  After growing up Pentecostal (Arminian) for years he pastored a Baptist church that was more or less Calvinist, and was really drawn to the academics of the systematic theology.  But then, he discovered the Anabaptists (Arminian again.) 

If Cavey sounds like a theological chameleon, I’m sure he’ll forgive you for that accusation.  But now he wants to help his church understand the difference and has launched a series, Chosen and Choosing.  As I type this, the video for week one is up, but only the audio for week two has been uploaded.  I’ve decided to wait for the video for that one, but enjoyed his approach to week one, and regardless of which side of the doctrinal fence you lean to, you have to admire the way he turned the whole debate around in the last 3-4 minutes of week one.  I never thought you could give an invitation after a doctrinal debate, but he did!

Catch the series here.  And don’t forget the series, One Church, which we mentioned in the summer is also online. Bruxy invited people from various Christian denominations to ‘make their pitch’ over the summer with some interesting results. [Click further down the 2011 series tabs.]

…For those of you who weary of this particular debate, there’s always this.

Appendix [from the notes from Week One]:

AUGUSTINIAN (CALVINIST): We will not choose God unless he chooses to make us choose him. Without me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

PALAGIAN (FUNCTIONAL): We are free to choose God or not. Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

SEMI-PALAGIAN (ARMINIAN): God frees everyone to choose. When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself. (John 12:32)

ANABAPTIST (BRETHREN IN CHRIST): God works with our infirmed will to help us ask, seek, and knock. I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)


He chose us, not because we believed, but that we might believe.
— Augustine, Predestination of the Saints

By free will one shapes one’s own life.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994)

Free-will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.
— Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

If it is not in the power of every man to keep what is commanded, all the exhortations in the Scriptures… are of necessity useless.
— Erasmus, Diatribe Concerning Free Will

When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot make a movement towards goodness, far less steadily pursue it.
— John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

All unregenerate persons have freedom of will, and a capability of resisting the Holy Spirit… and of not opening to Him who knocks at the door of the heart; and these things they can actually do.
— Jacob Arminius, Certain Articles to Be Diligently Examined and Weighed: Because some Controversy Has Arisen Concerning Them among Even Those Who Profess the Reformed Religion

God having placed good and evil in our power, has given us full freedom of choice.
— Chrysostom, De proditione Judaeorum

God is the initiator and principal actor in salvation, and we should never think salvation originated with us. God, however, has given humanity a sense of freedom and requires us to make a choice.
— Gerald Borchert, New American Commentary on John

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.
— Jesus


  1. This is interesting to me because I left a calvinist church last year over doctrinal incompatability (baptismal regeneration and pre-destination to the enth degree). I had thought an Anabaptist-leaning sister like me could bring diversity into the mix but alas they simply shut me down.

    Comment by Cynthia — October 14, 2011 @ 11:39 am

    • With every new comment, I keep thinking you could write a book!

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 14, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  2. thanks for this. Discussion on these subjects is non-existant in my church, so I find this helpful.

    Comment by Brian — October 14, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  3. Thanks for this post. I’m a part of The Meeting House community. I thought the One Church series this summer was incredibly brave and generous and I’ve greatly enjoyed the Chosen & Choosing series. After growing up and later ministering in pentecostal denominations, the attitude of respect for other interpretations of scripture and the desire for thoughtful discussion that I’ve experienced among the anabaptists has been very refreshing. Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying these series, too!

    Comment by Chrystal — October 14, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

  4. I can hardly believe people need classes to learn that Calvinism is false.
    It is ironic how Calvinists claim Sola Scriptura, yet their beliefs are based on a doctrine that is nowhere in the scriptures. Nowhere in the scriptures does it say humans cannot believe in God on their own without the Holy Spirit enabling. If all were like the Bereans, they would have searched the scriptures to find where it says humans cannot believe in God on their own without the enabling of the Holy Spirit. They would not find that anywhere, but you would find how Jesus died for “all men,” for the “whole world,” and for “whomever” would believe. Please see John 3:16; John 3:36; 1 John 2:2; John 1:6-13; 1 Timothy2:3-6; Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 4:10. Repent of believing false doctrines, move on, and grow in the Lord.

    Comment by AMG — October 16, 2011 @ 12:30 am

  5. Election and predestination has been a favourite theological topic of mine since becoming a Christian 53 years ago. I suppose I am a Calvinist (though certainly not a hyper-Calvinist or a Calvinist in all points of his belief). I believe the Bible teaches the total depravity of mankind and that man, of himself, is unable to seek God. I believe that faith to believe is a gift of God and we of ourselves CANNOT understand the things of God or choose to follow Him. I know that in my own case, my salvation had NOTHING to do with me: it was ALL God’s doing.
    I am about to see what Bruxy Cavey has to say – looks interesting.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — October 17, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

  6. Here’s something to add some variety to the mix:

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 17, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

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