Arminianism and Calvinism

Greg Strand – July 15, 2015 4 Comments

Is the EFCA Arminian/Wesleyan (Lutheran) or Calvinist/Reformed regarding the doctrine of salvation?

Historically, Evangelicals affirm that because of sin, God initiates salvation. For one theological stream (Arminian/Wesleyan), they affirm that God initiates through prevenient grace. For another theological stream (Calvinist/Reformed), they affirm that God initiates through effective grace. Though there are differences, in both streams God initiates, and both affirm that He must do so because of the state of all of humankind after the fall of being spiritually dead. Evangelicals deny Pelagianism (condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431) and semi-Pelagianism (condemned at the Council of Orange in 529).

The framers of our 1950 EFCA Statement of Faith wanted to create a statement that was consistent with both Arminian/Wesleyan and Calvinist/Reformed views of salvation, but which required or endorsed neither. This same is true in our 2008 Statement of Faith in which we state “He [the Holy Spirit] regenerates sinners” (Article 6).

What this means regarding the doctrine of salvation, then, is that the EFCA allows Arminian/Wesleyan, Calvinist/Reformed and Lutheran views of soteriology. The fact of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is essential. Both regeneration (the Spirit’s work) and faith (our response) are essential for salvation, and our Statement of Faith affirms both without giving logical priority to either. Whether regeneration precedes faith (Calvinism) or faith precedes regeneration (Arminianism), we have placed this in a secondary category. On a doctrine related to this question, we also allow both perspectives of the possibility of apostasy (one can fall away and lose one’s salvation) and the perseverance of the saints (eternal security).

This does not mean, however, that each and every local church would have an equal number of those positions represented. Each local EFC church would lean in one theological direction more so than another. But whichever way the church leans, the church ought to be welcoming to the person who leans in the other theological direction

In the EFCA this theological doctrine falls into the category of the “significance of silence,” or that area in which we affirm “unity in the essentials, dialogue in the differences,” and without division.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

4 responses to Arminianism and Calvinism

  1. Thanks Greg! This is helpful. I appreciate your clear, concise, and informative writing. In this entry you mention the “Lutheran view” of soteriology. How does the Lutheran view of soteriology differ from the Calvinist/Reformed view? Thanks for the help!

  2. A good word Greg. Thanks. One of the things that has changed for me over the years since our time in seminary is my view on this issue. I have always appreciated the emphasis in the EFCA of “where stands is written?”, not “how does this verse fit into my systematic theology?” (though not unimportant).

  3. Greg, Thank you for this. I appreciate your insights here. In this post you mention the Lutheran view of soteriology. How does the Lutheran view differ from the Calvinist/Reformed view? Sorry I was not able to attend the theological conference! Thank you!

  4. Jacob Dean feezor July 23, 2015 at 12:13 am

    But if Christ condemned those that would not inherit the kingdom of God. When he knew his purpose.do they still fall under grace? I believe not and it still applies today.

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