Expanded SBC Calvinism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart

SBC Calvinianism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart Expanded

  • 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 Traditionalists at the bottom, but with incremental steps toward the middle mapped out. As you move toward the middle of the chart, you find more potentially common doctrines. 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, it is illustrated that all of us “slide the bracket” one way or the other to some degree.
  • 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.
  • The term, Traditionalist, is not precisely defined, and covers both non-Augustinians (denying prevenient grace and total inability of the sinner, etc.) as well as those who are more Augustinian (affirming prevenient grace and total inability, etc.).
  • The distinction between moral inability and natural inability was taught by Jonathan Edwards and Andrew Fuller. A natural inability is like a man born blind, who cannot see no matter how much he might want to. Natural inability provides an excuse. A moral inability is like a rebellious child who holds his hands over his eyes and refuses to see. The inability in both cases is just as debilitating — both will fall into the ditch if they try to walk — but the latter inability provides no excuse.
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6 Responses to Expanded SBC Calvinism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart

  1. Ken Hamrick says:

    The differences between Perseverance of the Saints and Eternal Security will be explained in my next article—hopefully soon…

  2. Adam Harwood says:

    You have improved on a chart that was already good and helpful. Thanks for considering and incorporating the feedback.
    In Him,

  3. Ken Hamrick says:

    Thanks, Adam!

  4. Pingback: Toward Southern Baptist Unity, Part 1: We are a Spectrum, Not a Polarized Body | SBC Open Forum

  5. Pingback: SBC Calvinism-Arminianism Spectrum Chart | SBC Open Forum

  6. This is a serious and, possibly, ruinous mistake. If the approach was not that of an either/or, that is, the analytical or so-called scientific (present day) method, then the commentary on the theological ideas involved might really stumble across the reality involved, namely, a both/and. I call the latter approach crisonist (borrowing from Paul Halmos’ theory of creative dissonance and uniting Christ and dissonance). The truth is both the perseverance and the preservation; they constitute the truth – and not the one or the other. In fact, the both/and proposition is so designed by the word of God to produce a tension in the mind of the believer so that he or she might be able to respond to events from the pole appropriate to the situation confronting. Long ago, according to the info that I have been able to gather, the fellow responsible for the present day taxonomy, the system where one studies one subject to the exclusion of the other, though going from subject to subject (e.g., math, language, history, science, theology, etc.), pointed out that when observation shows the rule to be true and the exceptions likewise true, then both constitute the truth. In this case, we might call such case the whole truth. What made the First and Second Great Awakenings as well as the launching of the Great Century of Missions or the Modern Missionary Movement the work was that the theology, then called Calvinism, was of that both/and nature, either stated or exemplified (and mostly of the latter). We have forgotten about the reality of paradoxes; we know hardly anything about therapeutic paradoxes. And, sadly, due to the way we read and interpret the Scripture, we know even less about how God can use opposites to accomplish a most positive purpose as witness the message of Jonah to the city of Nineveh. That is why we totally ignore or explain away truthful statements such as, God is angry with the wicked every day, and, God hates all workers of iniquity, and, God’s wrath abides on the one who believes not, and, God hated Esau before he was born, and, Peter’s remark about the person stumbling at the word whereunto also they were appointed.

    One can almost hear the Calvinist saying that’s right, that’s right, forgetting that they are being called by a man’s name. And the doctrines of TULIP associated with the name were around long before that man was every born, much less converted. And what is worse, they forget these doctrines including Predestination and Reprobation are invitations to salvation. In fact, though they always have been, but at present are looked on with repugnance, and are now beginning to come back to their true reality, the most attractive and winsome doctrines ever presented to the totally helpless and hopeless sinner. Like the young lady who said to a friend of mine named Spurgeon (not C.H. but M.E.), “O, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.”

    This theology will be the means to the Third Great Awakening just as it was to the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of modern missions. I always think it ironic that the person who went insane with joy over the first convert, Krishna Pal, was Dr. John Thomas, whom some accused of being a Hyper-Calvinist. O yes, God does work by irony, perhaps the most sophisticated and subtle means of communication that we know of today. I think, and I could be wrong, that we are going to have the Third Great Awakening, the one which wins the whole earth and every soul on it as well as reaching to septillions of planets throughout the starry skies in the next 20,000-900,000 years. The both/and poles were so designed to create in us that tension of love and commitment that hangs in there until Hell freezes over. Consider how William Carey drew help, comfort, and inspiration from Jonathan Edwards’ writings on the Sovereignty of God, if I remember correctly my reading of Dr. Timothy George’s biography of that wonderful man of God.

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