Reformation vs Reformed Theology Pres.

Reformation Theology
compared with
“Reformed” Theology
What is Biblical and what is not
by Scott Mitchell, Asst. Pastor Calvary Chapel of Boston
I. 5 Solas of the Reformation
II. 5 Points of Calvinism (soteriological)
III. Predestination according to Calvinism
IV. Biblical Points of Calvary Chapel
V. Final Points of Comparison
VI. Correcting Misunderstandings
I. 5 Solas of the Reformation
What the church “rightly” came away with
1. The Scripture (Bible) alone (Sola Scriptura)
2. Salvation by Grace alone (Sola Gratia)
It is by faith in Christ that His righteousness is imputed to us
4. In Christ alone (Solus Christus)
We are rescued from His wrath by His grace alone
3. Salvation by Faith alone (Sola Fide)
The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice
Salvation…in Christ alone…for our justification and reconciliation to God the Father
5. For the Glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)
Salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone.
See “What was the Protestant Reformation” at
II. 5 Points of Calvinism
Followers of Calvin/Augustine
Total Depravity
all elect WILL be regenerated, regeneration precedes faith
Unconditional Election
only the elect are saved, the non-elect are unconditionally condemned
Limited Atonement
Christ only died for the elect, the non-elect have no atonement
Irresistible Grace
the elect will respond, the non-elect can’t respond
Perseverance of the Saints
no one can be sure they are elect until they reach the end, the non-elect will not
reach the end, thus they will show they are not the elect
See “What we believe about the 5 points of Calvinism” John Piper Desiring God Website
III. Predestination according to Calvin
“By predestination we mean the eternal decree of
God, by which He determined with Himself whatever
He wished to happen with regard to every man. All
are not created on equal terms, but some are
preordained to eternal life, others to eternal
damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been
created for one or other of those ends, we say that he
has been predestined to life or death.”
Quote from John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 3, chap 21, sec 5, 206.
III. Predestination according to Calvin
“We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much,
that God by His eternal and immutable counsel
determined once and for all those whom it was His
pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those
whom, on the other hand, it was His pleasure to doom
to destruction. We maintain that His counsel, as
regard the elect, is founded on His free mercy, without
any respect to human worth, while those whom He
dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life
by a just and blameless, but at the same time
incomprehensible judgment.”
Quote from John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 3, chap 21, sec 7, 210-211.
III. Predestination according to Calvin
“Predestination seems to cast a shadow on the
very heart of human freedom. If God has
decided our destinies from all eternity,
(unconditionally) that strongly suggests that
our free choices are but charades, empty
exercises in predetermined placating. It is as
though God wrote the script for us in concrete
and we are merely carrying out His scenario.”
Quote from R.C.Sproul, Chosen by God, 51.
III. Predestination according to Calvin
“It was certainly loving of God to predestine the
salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the "elect
or chosen ones." It is the nonelect that are the
problem. If some people are not elected unto
salvation then it would seem that God is not all that
loving toward them. For them it seems that it would
have been more loving of God not to have allowed
them to be born. That may indeed be the case.”
Quote from R.C.Sproul, Chosen by God, 32.
III. Predestination according to Calvin
“Though there is strong sentiment to speak of single
predestination only, and to avoid any discussion of double
predestination, we must still face the questions on the
table. Unless we conclude that every human being is
predestined to salvation, we must face the flip side of
election. If there is such a thing as predestination at all,
and if that predestination does include all people, we must
not shrink from the necessary inference that there are two
sides to predestination. It is not enough to talk about
Jacob; we must also consider Esau.”
Quote from R.C.Sproul, Chosen by God, 141.
IV. Biblical Points of Calvary Chapel
I. Saving faith in Christ always and immediately results
in regeneration and any and all lost sinners can
believe in Christ and be born again (Jn. 1: 10-13,
20: 30-31)
- God draws sinners to Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit
to make this choice by faith
Saving faith in Christ is before and results in the
regeneration (born again) of the believer
IV. Biblical Points of Calvary Chapel
II. God desires all men to be saved and has
determined that all can and will be saved on
condition they believe in Jesus Christ (Jn. 3: 15-18,
1 Tim. 2: 3-4, Acts 16: 27-31)
The condition required to be saved is exercising
faith in Christ
All can believe so all can be saved
IV. Biblical Points of Calvary Chapel
III. Christ died savingly, redemptively, or propitiously for
all the sins of all sinners, faith makes the work of
Christ effective in the life of those who believe (1
Jn. 2:2, 2 Cor. 5: 14-15)
There is no sinner beyond Christ’s redemptive
work of the cross
Christ died for all the sins of all sinners
IV. Biblical Points of Calvary Chapel
IV. God calls all lost sinners to a saving faith in Jesus
Christ through a Gospel proclamation and by
believing the Gospel all lost sinners can be saved
(Rom. 1: 16, 1 Cor. 15: 1-3)
- The call of the gospel can be received or rejected
based on the choice of the sinner
all sinners are called to faith in Christ and will be
saved if they believe in the gospel
IV. Biblical Points of Calvary Chapel
V. All those who believe in Jesus Christ and are thus saved
(regenerated and justified) are called to live a life to please,
honor, and glorify the Lord and that such a life (although
possible for and expected of the believer) is not inevitable for
the believer (Rom. 12: 1-2, Eph. 4: 1-3, 2 Pet. 1: 1-10)
The assurance of salvation for believers is found in their
abiding in Christ, not apart from it
All who are saved should and can live a godly life, but
living a godly life is not inevitable for the saved
V. Final Points of Comparison
Regeneration is required for and results in faith in Christ - Calvin
Faith in Christ is required for and results in regeneration - Bible
Election is required for and results in faith in Christ - Calvin
Faith in Christ is required for and results in election - Bible
Christ died only for the sins of the elect – Calvin
Christ died for the sins of all the lost - Bible
Only the elect are efficaciously called to salvation through faith in Christ - Calvin
All of the lost are truly offered salvation through faith in Christ - Bible
Only the elect will persevere in holiness and faith to the end - Calvin
Perseverance in righteousness to the end is the legitimate goal of all believers – Bible
VI. Correcting Misunderstandings
Not being a Calvinist, does not make a person an Arminian, nor
the opposite, it is a non-sequitur
Both Theologies are extreme systems
It is not required to fit into one or the other system
Predestination is not a word owned by Calvinists
It is used in the NT in contexts removed from Calvinist’s interpretations
“Election” would also fall under this same criteria of context
Faith is not considered a “work” in the Bible
Man is said to be saved by it, and he can’t be saved by works
Paul “contrasts” both faith and works in his argument on justification by
faith apart from works
VI. Correcting Misunderstandings
In Eph 2:8, the word faith is not the “gift” spoken of
The gift “refers not to faith or grace, but to the act of being saved by
grace conditioned on faith on our part” (Robertson’s Word Pictures)
The gift is “not faith, but the salvation” (Vincent’s Word Studies)
The gift is “not your faith”, the gift of God is “of your salvation” (Henry
Alford Greek NT)
“The salvation is not an achievement but a gift, and a gift from none
other than God” (Expositors Greek NT by Nicholl)
The word “gift” (doron Strong's #1435) under heading number 1, “of
salvation by grace as the “gift” of God” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of
NT Words)
VI. Correcting Misunderstandings
Eph 2:8, the word faith is not the “gift” spoken of
A fuller explanation: The words, "through faith" speak of the instrument or
means whereby the sinner avails himself of this salvation which God offers
him in pure grace… The word "that" is touto, "this," a demonstrative
pronoun in the neuter gender. The Greek word "faith" is feminine in gender
and therefore touto could not refer to "faith." It refers to the general idea of
salvation in the immediate context. The translation reads, "and this not out
from you as a source, of God (it is) the gift." That is, salvation is a gift of
God. It does not find its source in man. Furthermore, this salvation is not
"out of a source of works." This explains salvation by grace. It is not
produced by man nor earned by him. It is a gift from God with no strings
tied to it. Paul presents the same truth in Romans 4:4, 5 when speaking of
the righteousness which God imputed to Abraham, where he says: "Now, to
the one who works, his wages are not looked upon as a favor but as that
which is justly or legally due. But to the one who does not work but believes
on the One who justifies the impious, his faith is computed for
righteousness.“ (Wuest’s Word Studies in NT)
VI. Correcting Misunderstandings
The Bible never has regeneration prior to faith, it always follows faith
Rom 4:3 (quoted of Abraham in Gen 15:6, foundational to all Paul's teaching on justification by faith)
Eph 2:8 (note previous grammatical presentation, faith not the “gift”)
Gal 6:15 (new creation after explaining faith required for justification)
1 Pet 1:23 (born again by the Word of God, faith comes by hearing the Word of God, Rom 10:17)
John 3 The explanation by the Son
v3 – “unless you are born again, you can’t see the kingdom of God” – Jesus; truth stated!
V9 – “how can these things be?” – Nichodemus; question asked about that truth.
V15, 16, 18 – “whosoever believes” – Jesus; answer given!
The Bible is the ONLY authoritative teaching on the doctrines of GRACE
It has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11)
Man is saved by it (Eph 2:8)
Faith is according to it (4:16)
Man is justified by it (Rom 3:24)
It is contrasted with works (Rom 11:6)
It can be received in vain (2 Cor 6:1)
Redemption and forgiveness is from it (Eph 1:7)
The church should not be divided because of Calvinism –
either from Calvinists or those opposed to it. The church
should seek to operate in unity for the cause of Christ.
Whether someone wants to believe in the doctrines as
they are understood by Calvinists is their own choice and
should not be a cause of division. Believers should be able
to fellowship with each other in Christ without their views
on predestination and the 5 points of Calvinism becoming
more important than Christ. Those leaders who came out
of the Reformation were not all agreed on predestination,
freewill and other non-essential doctrines of the faith. And
since we all like to adhere to 5 solas that were the
foundation to the Reformation period, we should at least
be willing to remain in unity on these beliefs and not
divide on the particulars of Calvinism.
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