Calvinism vs. Arminianism? Or something else…

Reading some Spurgeon lately I stumbled upon a few of his musings that fairly succinctly sum up my own personal position on the subject:

The system of truth revealed in Scripture is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines are one. For instance I read in one Book of the Bible, ‘The Spirit and the bride say come. And let him that heareth say come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him come and take the water freely.[1] Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that ‘it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.’ [2]

I see in one place God in providence presiding overall; and yet I see, and cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism.

That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment, two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can never contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.” [3]

I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Both systems touch on elements of truth contained within the Bible. But neither can fully explain the whole, so I opt for the “Two Lines” or “Parallelism” that Spurgeon articulates here. I want to hold the same tension Scripture reveals. I know that God in His sovereignty can reconcile the irreconcilable. Without that fact there could be no hope of our own salvation. In the end God will take all of the mysteries and seeming contradictions our finite minds perceive, and will reveal them as perfectly, seamlessly crafted puzzle pieces within His master plan. §


[1] Revelation 22:17

[2] Romans 9:16

[3] Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Vol. 1 (Passmore and Alabaster, London; 1897), 176-177.


One Response to “Calvinism vs. Arminianism? Or something else…”

  1. Luke Forman Says:

    I agree, Mark. Forcing soteriology into a box robs it of its supernatural mystery.

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