SBC Calvinism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart

SBC Calvinianism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart

An expanded and improved form of this chart, which includes Traditionalists, can be found HERE.

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12 Responses to SBC Calvinism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart

  1. Ken Hamrick says:

    Some explanation may be in order. The Calvinist doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is often confused with the Baptist doctrine of eternal security (once genuinely saved, always saved), but the two are very different. In fact, the doctrine of perseverance of the saints has much in common with the Arminian doctrine of a losable salvation. Both perseverance and losable salvation portray apostasy as a real and ongoing danger, overcome only by the efforts of the believer in concert with the grace of God. In other words, in the perseverance doctrine, God keep His own by ensuring that their works are sufficient to keep them from falling away; while in the eternal security doctrine, those who genuinely believe in Christ are forever secure based on the works of Christ alone—there is no danger of apostasy.

  2. parsonsmike says:

    Good job!
    Why is eternal security on there twice?

  3. Ken Hamrick says:

    Thanks, Mike! The chart is intended to represent the spectrum, with those doctrines that are least likely to be held by Calvinists at the top, and those least likely to be held by Arminians at the bottom. As you move toward the middle of the chart, you find more potentially common doctrines. Since—in the SBC—both those who are mainly Calvinist and those who are mainly Arminian are likely to hold to eternal security, but both are not as likely to hold to the form of original sin that does not include imputed guilt, then the latter doctrine must be centered between two listings of eternal security on the chart. The idea is that you could take a sliding bracket and move up or down the chart, so that you could have eternal security at the bottom of the bracket and Libertarian free will at the top of the bracket, and have a good representation of an actual set of doctrines held by many within the SBC.

    Additionally, I wanted to illustrate that no groups within the SBC are strictly Calvinist or strictly Arminian, but all of us “slide the bracket” one way or the other to some degree.

  4. Ken,

    What you have suggested about perseverance is not quite accurate. It is true, Calvinists believe in the necessity of perseverance. The inaccuracy of you statement occurs at two points [at least]. First, Calvinists don’t believe our works are sufficient to keep us from falling away. Our security is in Christ’s finished work alone. Second, for genuine believers, we believe there is no danger of apostasy. The key is “genuine believers.” Those who are genuine believers will go on believing.

    I also doubt that any Baptist Calvinist is a paedobaptist.

  5. Ken Hamrick says:

    I disagree. Even the word, perseverance, implies that something ongoing is required—something involving effort. The idea in Calvinism is not that the one who comes to Christ in faith is forever secure from that moment on, but that the one who comes in faith will be saved if he perseveres to the end—coupled with the idea that those who are elect will indeed persevere to the end, while those who do not persevere to the end were not elect. The contradiction between this and justification by faith is addressed (insufficiently, in my opinion) by saying that the elect merely prove by persevering that their faith was the kind of faith that perseveres, while the nonelect convert has a lesser faith that will become evident by a lack of perseverance. Strongly implicit in this is the ongoing danger of apostasy, against which one must struggle, resist, and persevere unto the end—else by not persevering, one will prove one’s faith to have not been the kind of faith that perseveres (and the kind of faith that accompanies genuine salvation). The diffferences between this and the standard Baptist doctrine of eternal security are subtle but important.

    As for paedobaptism, if you will notice, that falls outside the “Southern Baptists” box.

    Thanks for commenting!

  6. Ken,

    You may disagree all you like, but since you aren’t a Calvinist and I am, I suspect I know more about what Calvinists believe than you do. Some of you guys need to […EDITED BY OPEN FORUM ADMIN…] listen what others are saying. Whether you like our argument or not isn’t the issue. The issue is whether you stated it accurately or not. You didn’t!

    I suppose you believe once you get them down the aisle, they are eternally secure no matter what they do? I was reared with that tradition, and it will not stand the scrutiny of Scripture.

    There is no contradiction between what we believe and justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. No Calvinists believes anything he does subsequent to conversion contributes anything to the basis of his justification before God. That is simply a straw man argument. Our security rests soley in the finished redemptive work of Christ. What we do believe is that the same God who gives us the ability to believe also sustains our faith so that we never stop trusting in Christ alone to save us.

    Many of those on SB church rolls have left their profession long ago and a large number are dead and died having abandoned any profession of faith in Christ. Do you plan to tell me that because at one time they made a profession of faith in Christ, they are secure with God for eternity? You were much more correct when you spoke of “genuine believers.”

    We simply believe “genuine believers” don’t stop believing.

    You wrote,

    “”The idea in Calvinism is not that the one who comes to Christ in faith is forever secure from that moment on, but that the one who comes in faith will be saved if he perseveres to the end.” Both those truths are taught in Scripture, by the way.

    Either you are truly inept at expressing yourself or you are showing your abject ignorance of our position.

    Of course we believe those who [genuinely] come to faith in Christ are secure forever from that moment on. Surely you are astute enough to know not everyone who makes a profession is a true believer. We believe once saved always saved. It is just that we believe you have to be once saved to be always saved.

    Re: the “standard Baptist doctrine of eternal security,” I thought you guys had decided there was no standard—that every man could do what was right in his own eyes.

    Perhaps when you spoke of “standard Baptist doctrine” you were thinking of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith which states,
    “We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

    Or maybe you were thinking about the Baptist Confession of 1689, later the Philadephia Confession of Faith. I think it is pretty “standard.” It stated,

    Chapter 17

    Of The Perseverance of the Saints
    1. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.
    (John 10:28, 29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 2:19; Ps. 89:31, 32; 1 Cor. 11:32; Mal. 3:6)
    2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
    (Rom. 8:30, 9:11, 16; Rom. 5:9, 10; John 14:19; Heb. 6:17, 18; 1 John 3:9; Jer. 32:40)
    3. And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet shall they renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.
    (Matt. 26:70, 72, 74; Isa. 64:5, 9; Eph. 4:30; Ps. 51:10, 12; Ps. 32:3, 4; 2 Sam. 12:14; Luke 22:32, 61, 62)

    The BF & M us so anemic, who knows what its “standard” is? If you have to get along with people who don’t understand truth, you have to water things down.

    I don’t really care if you don’t agree with us. Do care if you misrepresent us. […EDITED BY OPEN FORUM ADMIN…].

  7. gracewriterrandy,

    Such language as telling people they need to “shut up,” or accusing people of “bearing false witness” because you disagree with how they represent your position, will not be accepted.

    On a friendlier note, let me point out that you may also submit your thoughts as a lead post by emailing them to

    SBC Open Forum Admin

  8. Ken Hamrick says:


    I will substantively address your comments as time permits—probably tomorrow.

  9. Ken Hamrick says:

    Brother Randy,

    I apologize for the delay. I think this disagreement deserves an article posting of its own. Possibly Monday, but more likely on Tuesday. See you then!


  10. Adam Harwood says:

    Nice work. Although I disagree on certain issues (such as your use of the term Arminian), I like that you have attempted to illustrate the relationship between Calvinism and “Centrist” Southern Baptist theology graphically. This kind of work advances the conversation. Blessings, brother.

  11. Ken Hamrick says:

    Adam Harwood,

    Based on your objection to the lack of the term, Traditionalist, I have expanded the chart, which you will find here:

    I think you will like it better. Thank you for your kind comments, and I hope the conversation does advance.

    Blessings back at you!

  12. Ken Hamrick says:


    Let’s move this discussion about eternal security to the new post:

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