Considering 4 questions on soteriology, I’ve created this table to explain the views.
For a long time I’ve been interested in soteriology. This was actually the area of study which convinced me to “convert” from Lutheranism to Calvinism.
To my surprise though I found that within Calvinism there are multiple views. Here I speak of just 2 of these views, although there certainly could be more.
The first, Calvinism (1) is what might be called the “paradoxical” position. Note, however, that Lutheranism is also a “paradoxical” position. If one is to “embrace paradox” which paradoxical position should they chose? One of them, Calvinism (1) holds to limited atonement, while Lutheranism denies limited atonement. Whether one chooses Calvinism (1) or Lutheranism, there is a discontinuity in the doctrine when it comes to God’s desire. Both positions believe that God desires the salvation of all men, and yet not all men are saved. Does this mean that God is frustrated in his desire to accomplish that salvation?
To those Calvinists who prefer paradox, I suggest they become Lutherans. If you want paradox, consider their position: the atonement at the cross is universal, but at the work of the Holy Spirit it is limited. The persons of the Son and the Holy Spirit aren’t on the same page.
Universalism is clearly opposed by numerous Biblical teachings and has never been accepted by any significant group in Christianity.
Arminianism is also false. The question must be asked of this position “Does Christ’s death atone for ALL of the sins of ALL people, or only SOME of the sins of ALL people?” If the former, then even the sin of unbelief would be atoned for, and universalism is the result. If the latter position, then Christ’s death is insufficient and man’s action makes the difference. Arminianism makes faith a work of man rather than a gift of God.
Calvinism (2) is the position of the Protestant Reformed Churches, Gordon Clark, and others. I believe this is the consistent, and correct, position.