Calvinism vs. Arminianism: What’s The Difference?

The Calvinist and Arminian debate is one that has been ongoing for centuries. Calvinism is the belief that God predestines who will be saved, whereas Arminianism believes humans have free will to choose their fate. Calvinists believe salvation is within reach for everyone because it’s up to God whether or not someone is saved, while Arminians believe salvation can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. Calvinists are convinced of their theology because they interpret the Bible literally, but Arminians reject this notion since it contradicts other parts of scripture.

The question that arises in most debates between Arminians and Calvinists is “What does the Bible say?” At first glance, it seems like a good question. After all, if both sides claim to be Christians, shouldn’t they take the words of Jesus seriously? Does Jesus ever mention either of these doctrines in His teaching? The answer is yes! Jesus taught about both of these concepts in John Chapter 10.

COMMON VIEWS: Calvinism vs Arminianism

First, will start with some common views regarding Calvinism vs Arminianism. But make sure to see our view at the end. Most Calvinists focus on chapter 10 of Johns’s letter, by citing verses 26-28 to support their view, while Arminians tend to focus on verses 39-40. Let’s look at each passage and determine what it says about the relationship between faith and salvation.

John 10:26-28 reads:

But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Jesus is in the process of explaining that He is the Good Shepherd and that He lays down His life for the sheep. In verse 27, Jesus is contrasting the false shepherds who are bad or hirelings. The hireling sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep to be eaten by the wolf. In contrast, when Jesus sees a wolf coming, He holds His ground in order to protect His sheep. The wolves are other false teachers, or enemies of the church in this case.

Theologically speaking, these verses provide a major argument for limited atonement, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s consider verse 28: “And I give eternal life to them….” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say “if” they follow Him. Rather, He says “when” they follow Him. This shows the security of salvation for those who are truly His own sheep.

On the flip side, Arminians believe that every person is only responsible to believe in Christ. If a person does not hear about Jesus or chooses not to believe, then it is not possible for them to be saved. John 10:39-40 states:

Therefore they were seeking again to arrest Him, and He eluded their grasp. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He stayed there.

John 10:40 reveals that Jesus’ works were a huge part of His preaching. If a person did not believe the things that He said and did, then they most likely would not be saved. Again, it appears that works are important for salvation throughout this passage, but only if a person has ears to hear and eyes to see with spiritual understanding. To some, John 10:27-28 and John 10:39-40 both provide examples of what is needed for salvation.

Some argue that both Arminianism and Calvinism fall short in one respect or another when attempting to understand the true meaning in the Bible. For example, many Calvinists misinterpret verse 28 and say that Jesus only gave eternal life to His sheep, not all of mankind. This is an incorrect way of understanding Jesus’ words. If Calvinism were true, then it would be impossible for a person to ever truly reject Jesus after they have had faith in Him. That’s why Arminians believe that some people will end up in hell. However, both sides agree that works are an indicator of true faith.

John 10:26-28 and John 10:39-40 show the need for anyone, regardless of their theological beliefs, to take the words of Jesus seriously. He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name and loves them unconditionally. With this in mind, let us all follow His example and lay down our lives for one another in love.

OUR VIEW: Calvinism vs Arminianism


John Calvin was a French theologian who had an incredible impact on Christian thought and life. He is responsible for the systematization of Reformed theology, which he called Calvinism after his own given name (Calvin).

Calvinism holds to the total depravity of man while Arminianism holds to partial depravity.

Bottom line, Calvinists completely reject the idea that any human has the ability to willfully call on Jesus unless God essentially makes them. They also say that God does not choose some people. Instead, he decides alone but they are destined for hell. I would completely reject this theology.


Arminianism is named for Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609 and made several theological contributions.
His most famous work was ‘The Five Points of Calvinism Defuted’. He also originated the concept that we could attain salvation by human power alone; this idea became known as “free grace”.

As I see it Calvinism got it wrong. Well. some scriptures seem to support what they say, they’re not looking at the entire context in light of all scripture. There’s plenty of very plain scripture that should end this debate fairly quickly.

[2 Peter 3:9] he Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

It seems that Cavaness would have a difficult time explaining this verse. It seems clear that God’s heart is that all human beings but look at the Son and believe.

Many Calvinists argue that it is impossible for any human to go to Jesus unless he draws them.  I actually completely agree with that. And there is scripture to support it. But there’s also scripture that they seem to be overlooking that would support Arminianism. Because the question to be asked, is exactly who is God drawing to himself. Can we get that answer in John chapter 12.

[John 12:32] And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.”

So clearly Jesus is not leaving anyone out. He is drawing all human beings to him. We have to make a decision. We get a choice. We can choose to believe or we can choose to reject him, and for that reason, we will all be with the excuse. It is only we who can do the rejecting.

We often read in the Scriptures that we hear his voice today that we need to respond. What this is teaching us is that we need to make a decision. That decision is not forced on us.

[Hebrew 3:15] Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”

In Matthew 23:37 we see where God wanted his Jewish children to receive Him, but we also see that some chose against God’s desire. And apparently, God did not override their choice.

[Matthew 23:37] “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

At the end of the day comes down to one question. Does God pick some and not others? If that’s the case then why share the gospel? Why worry about believing or not believing? Because you clearly would not have a choice in your pathway would already be chosen. I’m not sure how Calvinists would be able to defend this. If you’re interested in taking a bit of a deeper dive into this whole predestination theology, I encourage you to check out the link below. I think it will be the icing on the cake to resolve this debate about Calvinism versus Arminianism.

Click this link>>> Predestination: Does God Pick Some and Not Others

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.


  • Bob Palmer Posted February 28, 2022 8:19 pm

    Mike, I love your Heart! I am in a Church that “now” is now teaching Calvinism.
    I guess in some ways this is good, as it makes me take a deep dive back into the scriptures, to be sure that what I believe is correct….. and your teaching has been very helpful in that.

    • Mike C Posted February 28, 2022 8:50 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! 🙂

  • Pete Posted January 4, 2023 3:56 pm

    How’s this for oversimplification. I am made in his image. He’s a chooser, and I’m a chooser!
    Thanks Mike for your good work

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *