ORIGEN, ARMINIUS, CALVIN

NOTE: I set out to write a short article presenting an amalgamation, a blending of the three schools of thought.
I failed.

(Origen, Arminius, Calvin )

There are three names associated with three different schools of theology.

Origen Adamantius (185 – 253) is known for his teachings called universalism.

John Calvin (1509 – 1564) is known for his teachings called Calvinism.

Jacobus Arminius (1560 – 1609) is known for his teachings called Arminianism.

There are many fine points of differentiation among the three, but the theology associated with each is best known for their belief about salvation.

The history of each man plays an important part in an understanding of each one’s theology, but that is too much to go into here.

Briefly stated—

  • Universalism—everyone will be saved
  • Calvinism—only the elect will be saved
  • Arminianism—you must choose to be saved

Each of these possess a well-developed theology mostly derived from the Bible. “Mostly” because each one must support some of their thinking with logic in order to follow a complete line of thought to its conclusion.

Each of these “schools” has its adherents. Each of these have theological training centers whereby men and women can be indoctrinated with their particular and specialized belief.

There have been long and sometimes vehement debates about which is the correct thinking.

If one will come to each line of thinking without a preconceived thought as to veracity, then one will leave believing what is said. It doesn’t matter which one, they each have their strong points.

And this becomes the reason for so much argumentation among the populace as to which one is correct. We each want to defend our position, whatever that may be. And we “know” we must be right, because we would never believe a lie.

QUESTION—what if they are each correct?
What if each line of reasoning has its valid points?
What if each one is a building block for a complete understanding?

Let’s consider.

Only the elect can be saved (Calvin), but in order to be saved one must choose Jesus (Arminius).

No problem. Calvinists believe that also. Arminians believe that one’s election is proven by their choice. Okay. No harm. No foul.

Universalists believe that everyone is ‘elected’ to salvation and will eventually choose Jesus. This is the same as the other two, but with a different timeframe.

This is where it gets sticky, because Arminians and Calvinists both believe that many will be (should be) punished.

Universalists prefer to focus on the love of God, whereas the other two focus on His justice.

Whenever the love of God is mentioned, there will almost always be a counter with, “Yes, but He is also just!” (as if justice is more important than love or is contrary to love)

Universalists do not deny the justice of God. They simply maintain that the punishment must be in accordance with the crime.

There is NO WAY that punishment by fire for ever and ever, time without end, can be just for having failed to make a decision within a short 70-year life span.

There is NO WAY
that punishment by fire
for ever and ever,
time without end,
can be just for having failed to make a decision
within a short 70-year life span.

On this there is no agreement from the other two schools of thought and theology.

CONCLUSION—there are many different labels attached to those who follow the theology of Origen—universalism, inclusionist, hyper-grace, ultimate reconciliation.

No label for this group, or for any other group can accurately describe the group or its beliefs, because any label is, by definition, limiting.

However, for convenience sake, we like to find a label that best suits our stance. That is part of the human condition when it cannot deal with any sort of ambiguity.

Since I cannot to my own satisfaction answer some of the questions challenging the universal salvation position, my label of choice is therefore “a hopeful inclusionist.”

I hope that I am right about EVERYONE eventually being saved to know and experience the love, grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Right or wrong, none of us are going to hell for our theology.

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