The Triumph of ArminianismFor the last several hundred years, the church in America has been mostly Calvinist whileArminianism has been a minority position. All that has changed.The evangelical church today is basically Arminian in its approach. For now, Arminianism has triumphed and Calvinism is in retreat. I don't mean that the Calvinist denominations have officially changed their doctrine. Most Calvinistic theologians have stuck with their five-points (see TULIP Calvinism Compared to Wesleyan Perspectives). But most of the ordinary people have drifted from traditional Calvinism toward the Arminian position. The average Christian today might claim to be Calvinist, but they function as a "practical Arminian." While many Calvinist pastors still ascribe to the Calvinist shibboleths, in their practical theology,they are functioning Arminians.Arminianism has triumphed. This great theological battle was won without warfare, with few debates, with "dueling magazine articles." How ironic that in a day when theology no longer matters to most people, one of the great theological battles of all times seems to have been settled. Droves of Calvinists have become Arminians—at least in practice..Some historical backgroundThe terms "Calvinist" and "Arminian" are derived from the names of two individuals whopromoted differing theological approaches. Calvinism comes from John Calvin who was a French reformer who lived in the early 1500's. He was a main leader of the Protestant
Reformation. An organized and systematic thinker with an excellent legal mind, John Calvin promoted the doctrines that eventually came to be called "Calvinism." Actually Calvinism was not a new doctrine at all. The approach was pretty similar to the theology of Augustine who livedabout a thousand years earlier.Arminianism derives from James Arminius who lived in the late 1500's. When Calvin died, Arminius was only four years old. James Arminius is not as well known in history as Calvin. But the Arminian approach was not new either. His approach was taken in the 400's and 500's by many of the early church's "Eastern fathers." One early church leader, Pelagius, even took this approach to the extreme and was ultimately condemned as a heretic by the Western church.The Differences between Calvinism and ArminianismDoes man have a role in getting saved?A true Calvinist begins and ends his discussion of salvation with God. God alone. For the true Calvinist, man has no ability to move toward God. He cannot even recognize his own sin. Salvation is something which happens wholly as God's work. What man does or is makes no difference. Confession, repentance, or "going to the altar" does not make a difference. To the trueCalvinist, salvation happens totally apart from anything man does or is. It is purely God's work done without man's participation in any way whatsoever.