Unity within the body of Christ is something we strive for as a church. While ministries and denominations may differ from us in their focus and in minor points of theology, we desire to be one with all who share our faith in Christ and affirm the core truths of Christianity. To divide over debatable issues is not God’s will for us. 1 Corinthians 12:25 says “That there should be no schism in the body.”
Over the past four centuries one great schism in the body of Christ concerns the raging debate between Calvinism and Arminianism. Although many Christians are oblivious to this debate, we realize that there are believers who are exceedingly zealous in their opinions and are continually trying to draw others over to their particular theological camp. At Calvary Chapel we take a balanced view of scripture and are neither Calvinist nor Arminianist in our convictions.
This is reflected in the portion of our statement of faith concerning Calvinism which reads, “We reject Five Point Calvinism… Calvinism teaches that Jesus’ atonement on the Cross was limited, that is, that He died only for a chosen group, His “elect”, not for the sins of the entire world. At Calvary Chapel, we believe that Jesus died on the Cross for all the sins of all people, and that anyone who wants to can accept Him as Lord and savior and be born again. Strict five point Calvinists believe that only the elect can be saved and that God has elected others to spend eternity in hell.”
Another point of Five Point Calvinism we disagree with is the teaching of “irresistible grace.” This is the belief that man cannot, even if he wants to, resist the call of God to salvation. Instead, at Calvary Chapel we believe that man has a free will and he can resist the call of God if he chooses to do so.
In recent years Calvinism has become much in vogue in evangelical Christian media through the ministries of prominent preachers such as John Piper, RC Sproul, Charles Stanley, John McArthur, and members of the Gospel Coalition network. While these men are all gifted Bible teachers and we acknowledge their wisdom and contribution to the body of Christ, we need to be reminded that they are not infallible but are ordinary men as we are and, like us, also capable of error. For this reason we need to be Bereans, testing all things by the word of God (Acts 17:11) and considering the whole counsel of God’s word and not isolated verses of scripture (2Timothy 3:16).
I wish to recommend these two resources to you. The first is Chuck Smith’s booklet “Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Word of God,” and the second is a message by Norman Giesler, “Why I am not a Five Point Calvinist.” You may download them freely by clicking on the respective title above. You can also download one of our messages on Calvinism here
May the Lord truly make us one in Him without any schism whatsoever!
Calvary Chapel Community Church Cape Town