"Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought in Protestant Christian theology founded by the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius. Its acceptance stretches through much of mainstream Protestantism. Due to the influence of John Wesley, Arminianism is perhaps most prominent in the Methodist movement.
Arminianism holds to the following tenets:
 Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation
 Salvation is possible by grace alone
 Works of human effort cannot cause or contribute to salvation
 God's election is conditional on faith in Jesus
 Jesus' atonement was for all people
 God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe
 Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith".
"Within the broad scope of church history, Arminianism is closely related to Calvinism (or Reformed theology), and the two systems share both history and many doctrines in common. Nonetheless, they are often viewed as arch rivals within Evangelicalism because of their disagreement over the doctrines of predestination and salvation."
Indeed the first three items listed above are consistent with Calvinism. However, regarding the last four points the two theological systems are diametrically opposed.
Point #4 above deals with divine election which has to do with predestination.
The Calvinist says God's divine election pertaining to salvation is unconditional (i.e. unconditional election).
The Arminian says God elects for salvation those who place their faith in God (i.e. conditional election).
We at BibleTruthforToday believe that many people have placed the emphasis in the wrong place - that divine election is NOT about God picking who (individually) will be "saved", but rather that God "elected" (foreordained) that Jesus Christ would be the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of man, and that those who put their trust in Him are saved because they are "in Him", not because God picked and chose them, nor are they excluded solely on the basis that God did NOT pick them.
Secondly, God "elected" a people group called Israel through which He would demonstrate to the world things concerning Himself, and through which He would bring to pass His promises made to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden regarding a future deliverer (namely, Jesus Christ, the Messiah). Similarly, God also "elected" that there would be a group of believers (those who believed the fulfillment of those promises to Adam and Eve) who would constitute the "body of Christ" (the Church).
Thirdly, God "elected", or chose, people to do certain jobs - sometimes based on the very abilities which God had given them, and sometimes in spite of the lack of any natural ability. Following are just a few examples of being chosen for specific service, not for "salvation".
God chose Abraham for a purpose ("Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gen. 12:1-3);
God chose Moses to be the "deliverer" of Israel from Egypt; ("Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10);
God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet ("I ordained you a prophet to the nations" Jer. 1:4);
God chose Jonah to go on a specific mission ("Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me".” Jonah 1:2);
Jesus chose men to be his disciples ("And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." Matt. 4:18-22);
Point #5 above deals with the atonement.
The Calvinist says that Jesus died only for those who He had pre-determined He would save (limited atonement).
The Arminian says that Jesus' sacrifice was sufficient for all people, not just "the elect" (general atonement).
We at BibleTruthForToday believe that the Scriptures as a whole are clearly in line with the Arminians on this particular point. Furthermore, we deny that this position in any way lends credibility to the idea of universal salvation (meaning that ALL people of all time are automatically redeemed by Jesus' substitutionary atonement). We believe an excellent example for our position on this particular point is provided in the Passover. Historically recorded in Exodus 12, and explained further at Leviticus 23, (if unfamiliar with those passages, we strongly recommend reading those), it would have been possible for the passover lamb to be properly selected and even to have been properly killed, but unless (through obedience to God's revelation of what must be done and how it must be done) the blood was actually applied to the doorpost and lintel, the blood had no power to prevent the angel of death from taking the life of each firstborn within that house. The blood of the lamb had all the power necessary to spare the family from death, but it was only effectual for those who obeyed God. So it is with Jesus Christ - His blood shed at Calvary was clearly adequate and sufficient for the sins of all men for all time. However, its effectiveness is only for those who will obey - God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance! (2 Peter 3:9). If you sincerely want to know this sacrificial Lamb (Jesus Christ) Who died for YOUR sins, and you want to know how to "apply His blood" to the doorpost and lintel of your life, please feel free to contact us and we would be delighted to share the Gospel (Good News) with you.
Point #6 above deals with God's grace and man's response.
The Calvinist says God's grace in electing someone to salvation cannot be avoided - that God's grace which picked a person will SURELY see that the person hears the Gospel, believes the Gospel and obeys the Gospel unto eternal life (irresistable grace).
The Arminian says that man has freedom to reject God's grace and to resist God.
We at BibleTruthForToday are concerned that we often try so hard to fit everything into one theology or the other that we place the emphasis in the wrong place. We believe, based on the Bible, that God is the Almighty (all-mighty) God Who is clearly able to do whatever He pleases and in that ultimate sense, we have to agree that ultimately God's grace IS irresistible. God planned that when the fullness of time had come He would send forth His Son to be born of a virgin - that actually happened and no man (yea, not even Satan!) was able to "resist", to deter, to prevent what God determined to carry out. (Hallelujah!)
However, we cannot deny what else the same Bible also says:
- that God created man in His likeness,
- that Jesus (Who IS God) died for the sins of the whole world (not just the "elect"),
- that God Who is Himself love, created man with the purpose that man would relate to God, interact with God, in a love relationship which entails willing, voluntary responses to God -
- that God would reveal Himself to man and offer Himself to man - but leave the choice with man whether to accept the revelation and the offer and be "with God", or to reject the revelation and the invitation and be "without God".
Point #7 above deals with what is often called the "security of the believer", or sometimes "eternal security". We at BibleTruthForToday do not agree with the Arminian viewpoint on security. We agree with the basic position of the Calvinists but not for the same reason as the Calvinists. Please see our link on Assurance of Salvation.