Is Southern Gospel predominantly Arminian or Calvinistic?

Within the last year, I have heard multiple Calvinists express a view that the artists and other industry members of the Southern Gospel genre are predominantly Arminian. Recently, I heard an Arminian opine that the genre is predominantly Calvinistic.

Calvinism and Arminianism are, at their core, two different views of salvation. Arminianism asserts that man can, of his free will, choose to accept salvation. Calvinism teaches that man is dead in his sins, unable and unwilling to choose salvation, until God in His mercy steps in to give life and the ability to believe.ย Since the brevity of a blog post cannot do justice to either position, here are links to the Wikipedia summaries for Arminianism and Calvinism.

This leads is to today’s poll question. The poll, which is anonymous, asks for your view, and asks if you believe your view is the predominant view. (Participation from fans and industry members alike is equally appreciated.)

[polldaddy poll=5425563]

Feel free to share and elaborate on your answer in the comments below.

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70 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Neither. I believe the Bible, not Mr. Calvin or Mr. Arminius. I would hope most SG performers are the same.

    • I am afraid that your comment does not set a tone for cordial and well-balanced discussion. Let me try to gently redirect the tone, to keep this from becoming a flame war.

      Very few people would agree with every single thing Calvin or Arminius said. Yet the fact, I trust, none of us blindly follow either on every point should not take away from the discussion at hand: The vast gap between their views on salvation.

      Let’s try to keep the discussion focused on that one point of doctrine, and its acceptance and implications in our genre. Let’s please avoid the red herring argument that if you agree with Calvin on salvation, you agree with everything else he said, and likewise for Arminius.

      • I guess my response is that I don’t agree with either on salvation.

      • OK.

    • Also, if I may add: It takes a certain level of confidence to confidently declare that both Calvin’s and Arminius’s views on this doctrine are un-Biblical. (I’m not talking about hyper implementations of either view – juat the actual core perspective.)

      Let me modify my last comment: If you believe that both core perspectives are completely wrong, you may offer a third view here in the comments, and I won’t count it off-topic.

      • I believe that whosoever will may come and is saved by grace through faith alone, and that once he is saved, neither he nor anyone else can do anything to change that.

        I don’t necessarily believe that Calvin or Arminius’s views are all un-Biblical. My point was more that I subscribe to God’s view, not to the viewpoint of some man.

      • These men subscribe to “God’s view” as well, Brian. They subscribe to their individual interpretation of the scripture, just as you do. Your condensed statement of what you believe, the one you gave above, is the Brianistic view of salvation, see.

        The only difference is that their views have become extremely well-known and, because of their staunch opposition to one another, are used to sub-divide our faith (which I personally believe is not heathy for Christianity as a whole.)

        When our first president, Washington, was leaving office, he warned the American public of a few things: one of them being political parties. (Daniel, will know all about this due to your authorship of your book.) He encouraged politicians and politicians-to-be to stay away, shy away from the formation of political parties in America and the subsequent alignment that was sure to happen afterward. He was certain that the absence of political parties in America was the only sure way to keep others from subscribing to a predetermined, “cookie-cutter” style of politics.

        The same is true for the Calvinism v. Arminian debate within Christianity. If we (and more importantly our churches and denominations) would quit trying to “choose a side” then we could follow the scripture more truly when it says the Christian should “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling.”

      • Very good comment!

      • ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Earlier, Daniel had said, “It takes a certain level of confidence to confidently declare that both Calvinโ€™s and Arminiusโ€™s views on this doctrine are un-Biblical.”

        One could argue though that it takes a great deal of confidence to declare that EITHER gentlemen’s views on this doctrine are un-Biblical. Both schools of thought are backed by a substantial amount of scripture. Declaring one to be blatantly un-Biblical just because we have interpreted the scriptures differently seems a little harsh, if not irresponsible.

        I go back to what I said about the warning of Mr. Washington: I would say the majority of Christians fall somewhere between the two men’s theories, rather than pegged to one side or the either. Denominations, churches, and, even us, as individual Christians who proudly claim to be either Calvinist or Arminian in thought are missing the bigger picture. As Christians, we should not subdivide our faith any more than is already necessary.

        I attend a baptist church because it BEST aligns (not TOTALLY aligns) to my personally obtained theological beliefs. I attend a Baptist church, but I am Christian, not a Baptist.

        Daniel staged

  2. “You mean you don’t have the choice to resist God?” Of you course, you do…God overcomes your resistance towards Him. You’re right, discussions on the actual topic of the two are too weighty to be discussed here. In general I believe that the majority of SG listeners for so long, had not been taught proper definitions of either. Before you knew it, what they thought was “Calvinism” was actually Hyper Calvinism. Why can’t God choose? He’s chosen since Abraham?

    I can go with the free will basis, but many Arminians also don’t believe in eternal security. Calvinists don’t usually worry about eternal security. When I’m around stout Arminians, I just describe that first and foremost I believe in 1. Divine Sovereignty. 2. Human Responsibility. That’s usually something that we can agree on.

    Regarding artists, I think there are a few who have understood the need for a sound theological distinctions, because it affects the core of your spiritual life. I would say, that 20 years ago, SG was primarily Arminian, very Arminian. But that number is diminishing. But most calvinists don’t talk about it as much on the bus or after concerts because so many of the veteran artists still abhor the the thought of that type of theology, not quite understanding it the way it ought to be understood.

    I would say Arminiasm still has the edge, but write about this again in 20 years.

  3. I think most SG listeners have never thought this deep and really don’t care. I believe this is what most fans think about:
    1. Is this doctrinally offensive (which varies with religions)
    2. Is this good music

    I would say number 2 is usually a bigger factor than number 1. As long as it doesn’t blatantly go against their religion I believe most SG listeners couldn’t care less about the writers theological background.

  4. Well on the surface I would say Arminian. Just because of the majority of the denominations that are in SGM. A majority of those denominations COG,AOG,FWB,NAZ,WES are Arminian. As always there are extremes and exceptions on both sides.

  5. “Arminianism asserts that man can, of his free will, choose to accept salvation. Calvinism teaches that man is dead in his sins, unable and unwilling to choose salvation, until God in His mercy steps in to give life and the ability to believe.”

    I am sorry to be the first to say this, but I don’t feel that you characterized the Arminian view quite accurately. I 100% believe what you stated as Calvinism’s teachings. However, I also believe that when God gives life and the ability to believe, He lends man the power of free will – to accept or reject the faith offered. That power doesn’t come from man, any more than the power to continue breathing while living a sinful life. But man is absolutely not able to choose salvation without the enabling grace of God.

    Calvinism also used to teach “limited atonement.” It’s one of the five points of Calvinism. If you disagree that man may accept or reject offered salvation, then I think you must conclude that the only reason some men are not saved is that God has not stepped “in to give life and the ability to believe.”

    As you say, this goes quite beyond the scope of a blog post, and it’s something I won’t normally touch with a ten-foot pole. I am aware that the ground between the two “factions” has narrowed considerably in the past centuries, because man simply is conscious that he makes decisions without being forced to. (Unless you’re a 5-pointer, which I couldn’t tell from your original post, and in which case I apologize!) The primary disagreements now are completely different, and have to do with the definition of sin, and unconditional perseverance, which I know we disagree on and I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I agree with you Amy…bloggers wouldn’t do this subject justice. There are pastors who couldn’t do this justice. As for Limited Atonement, I understand it as in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about the narrow and wide gates of eternal life, indicating salvation and states that “few will be chosen”. I do believe he was talking of salvation. Just an example, but in that sense, God’s grace is sufficient for all, but it’s not “efficient” for all.

      I think it would be also helpful that TULIP was a response from the Canons of Dort. It’s interesting stuff, research it if you get a chance.

      • Let me make a slight ammendment. I didn’t use the “few are chosen” reference to back up that it’s the only verse that lays out the doctrine, for there are numerous. And there are numerous passages of “all” and “whosever will”, and I think that only adds to God’s justice and grace and doesn’t take anything away from either doctrine. I was merely giving a quick example.

      • I’m very familiar with the arguments in either direction. However, that isn’t what limited atonement used to mean at all.

        I believe that in this culture’s “itching ears” phenomenon, most belief systems now “cherry pick” the sweetest morsels. So we have people who believe in unconditional perseverance, free will, and “sin every day in thought, word, and deed,” and it doesn’t hang together logically. The force that did most to shape my beliefs and help me understand them and how they relate to Bible teaching was John Fletcher’s “Checks to Antinomianism,” a two-volume work from early Methodism in the 1700s. He will help you understand that you can’t cherry pick. When you pick almost any of the core doctrines on either side, the rest of them follow irresistibly. However, some of them folks can’t stomach, and others they can’t give up, so we have some rather mongrel belief systems adding to our confusion nowadays.

        Which was NOT meant to reflect on your comment at all! Rather, it didn’t make it in to my original post. I’m merely saying that I have devoted many hours of study and thought to the subject; I’m not talking off the top of my head. I’m also not expecting or trying to convert anybody. I don’t even have the energy to debate this stuff effectively today. So I’m not debating, just stating (my position), because I didn’t feel like it was defined clearly enough. I could never state that I was Arminian in the sense implied at the top of this post.

        I might just add that I’m OK if you want to argue that Arminius did believe in free will as originally defined here. In that case, call me Wesleyan. That’s what I’ve studied anyway – their interpretation of Arminian doctrine.

      • Well that’s the problem with both camps. Definitions have been distorted. As far as cherry picking, I believe a solid Calvinist doesn’t have the choice to cherry pick, and God forbid if I do it. But I know full well the Wesleyan church. My grandfather and great grandfather were Wesleyan pastors. Being a Calvinist doesn’t mean you can’t choose. There are no conditions to be met, hence Unconditional Election. There are no conditions in which you CAN’T be saved.

        I think the bigger the bigger distinction is eternal security.

      • I think I agree with you on most of that! (Except the unconditional part, if I must be perfectly honest. But I don’t think we’re going to agree there, and it shouldn’t keep us out of heaven.) ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Yikes! Too early to get controversial ๐Ÿ™‚ . I personally believe man has a free will and choice to choose between salvation and being lost, but I have heard “sprinklings” of many doctrines in all kinds of songs. If I had to make a guess, I bet the ratio is pretty even between the two beliefs in SG. A lot of it stems from the backgrounds of the group. Family groups, primarily, because you know the whole family believes the same way and has been raised that way. With quartets, it can be a mixed bag. If you listen close, you’ll hear stuff sometimes that will make you scratch your head and wonder if they only put that in there because it was a good rhyme scheme. But this is good that you asked this, Daniel, because maybe folks will now listen more intently to the words and the message of the song, which must be the primary focus. Good post.

  7. Regarding the subject at hand, I am very surprised that only five people so far believe Southern Gospel is predominantly Calvinistic. Especially with Calvinism defined as in this post!

    If by Arminian people mean the Pentecostal influences within SG, I have to agree that they are substantial. By what I’ve heard, J.D. really held Arminian beliefs, although he recognized he didn’t live by them a lot of the time. (My source – one of Danny Jone’s editorials on the SN site.)

    However, when we come to eternal security (which I think FNR and I agreed above is important) and closely related doctrines, I think that even many of the Pentecostal churches today agree with the Calvinists, to all intents and purposes. (I don’t know what their denominational handbooks state, but I can rarely detect anything different in what I hear them saying.)

  8. Interesting: To date, no Calvinists believe that Southern Gospel leans Calvinistic.

    That doesn’t surprise me!

    • Your reasoning, Daniel?

      • It doesn’t surprise me because of things I’ve known first-hand and conversations I’ve had.

  9. I relly don’t have an opinion on this question at this time, because I have never really thought through SG songs from a Calvinism/Arminianism filter. What bothers me is song that imply a works salvation (e.g. making it to heaven by what we do here). And there definitely are some of those in SG. But I guess that is another column for you, Daniel.

  10. Daniel, I’m assuming you aren’t planning on doing a follow-up post on these results. You didn’t mention it. So I hope this isn’t out of line. I just noticed some things that surprised me.

    Out of 51 votes at the moment, 25.5% self-identify as more or less Calvinistic. About 59% self-identify as Arminian. That surprises me.

    About 15% believe that SG is predominantly Calvinistic; about 68% believe it’s Arminian. That surprises me a little less.

    I wonder what results we would have if we asked people to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the core doctrines of each school of thought? Unfortunately, that’s outside the scope of an SG blog. Or is Arminian winning out here because it is (correctly) identified as believing in free will?

    This poll only leaves me more curious than before. ๐Ÿ˜†

    • No plans on a follow-up at this point. Merely asking the question took all the nerve I had! So feel free to summarize and draw conclusions as desired.

    • I will say this much: I think the reason that the results are strongly skewed toward a perception of SG being or leaning Arminian has less to do with song lyrics and more to do with the typical SG altar call.

      • Then that’s not something I’m familiar with.

        I did figure it took some nerve on your part!

      • Oh, by virtue of not attending many SG concerts?

        SG altar calls tend to strongly emphasize one’s choice to become a Christian. (Calvinists, meanwhile, tend to not be fans of Finney or his methodologies.)

      • Yeah, you’re outside my realm of familiarity.

        My perception is based on the song lyrics.

      • My perception is that, while it still may not be a majority, that the percentage of Calvinists among songwriters may be higher than the percentage among performers (or at least emcees!)

  11. I am Arminian in belief. I am not, however, going to argue the finer points of differences between the two viewpoints here… ๐Ÿ™‚

    I guess I have always been under the impression that the majority of current SG singers are Baptist in one form or another, and therefore Cavinistic in belief.

    Is that an inaccurate view?

    • I think that would be inaccurate, since many Baptists aren’t Calvinistic.

      Also, if you note the poll results above, it looks to be the case that Calvinists and Arminians agree, by greater than a four-to-one margin, that SG leans Arminian.

      • Well, I guess I have one more good reason to like SG!
        The question then becomes, if so many are Arminian in belief, why do I hear so many songs that I would consider to be Cavinistic? Could it be that some don’t know WHAT they believe? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’d like to read an example of a “Calvinist” lyric and an “Arminian” lyric. Anyone?

      • Latter – how about “Choose God” – Gold City?

      • True. I’d be even more interested in hearing a Calvinistic one.

        I guess I just think of them in terms of Biblical or not-Biblical. Never thought about it in the way this topic addresses.

        For the record, “Choose God” is in my Biblical category. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I’m sure there are some, even though none come to mind.

        As to thinking of it as Biblical – I am perpetually amazed at how our worldviews shape our thinking, even when we do not realize it.

      • I suppose one could construe “He Is To Me” as Calvinistic:

        “But if I could I’d take you to a humble little place

        Where these blinded eyes were made to see

        He opened up my heart, and then He saved me by His Grace

        And now He means everything to me”

        I prefer to think of it as Scriptural. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • This is funny to a point, but let’s not get carried away!

      • John – I think that a higher percentage of songwriters would be Calvinistic than emcees/singers, though I personally think both are well below 50%.

    • Since when are Baptists Calvinistic? “Calvinist” is a bad word in my Baptist church. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Well, there are Reformed Baptist Churches – I currently attend one – Free Will Baptist churches, and even Neither Baptist Churches. ๐Ÿ™‚

        At any rate, judging from the 4-1 plus margin on the poll, we have decidedly found something on which we can agree. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Neither Baptist. I found my label. Haha.

        Actually, we like to say that we are independant, fundamental, old-fashioned, missionary-minded, KJV Bible, sin-hatin’, devil-fightin’ Baptists.

        But that takes longer to type.

      • I thought that would bring a smile to your face! In a discussion like this one, especially online, it’s important to keep enough clearly light-hearted humor to keep both sides smiling, because if not, it’s way too easy for both sides to end up frowning!

  12. I think it would’ve also been interesting to have had an extra question added to the mix – that being, “What is the definition of Arminianism and Calvinism?”

    It’s been my opinion for awhile that many who sit in the pew on Sunday know more about Politics than they do church history.

    • Ouch! You’re entirely right!

      To my ears, someone saying, “It doesn’t matter what we believe about salvation, Arminianism or Calvinism, just so long as we’re saved”

      comes across as oddly as it would if someone said,

      “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, just so long as you’re a voter!”

      • Correct. I have heard more than one person say, “If you don’t know where we have BEEN, how can we be sure as to where we are going?”

        Church history is vitally important!

      • I do not see how the church’s theological history is relevant at all. If one follows Paul’s words to the Phillipians, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” then the church’s past beliefs seem totally irrelevant to today’s Christians.

        I guess what I’m saying is this: What does it matter what our ancestors used to believe? If I pray, read and study the scriptures, and seek God’s guidance, He will lead me to a certain level of understanding the likes of which so far trumps church history it is almost laughable.

      • I think “working out your own salvation with fear and trembling” would go right alongside church history.

        And right into sanctification.

        As cliche as it is, how well you know history, will help in not merely repeating mistakes, but also for world-renown revivals.

      • Jordan – it does matter what our ancestors (in the faith) believed.

        II Peter 1:20 tells us that no Scripture is open to private interpretation. If we have an understanding of Scripture different from how every orthodox believer through the centuries has interpreted it, there’s a better chance than not that we’re wrong.

        Of course, there are issues (like this one) where there have been disagreements through the centuries, too. But if someone comes up with an entirely novel interpretation of Scripture, which disagrees with everything the church fathers and the genuine Christians through the centuries have taught, the burden of proof is certainly on that individual!

        That is all I am saying and meaning, and I don’t intend for anyone to read anything into my comment beyond the burden of proof point.

        And besides, more often than not, something we think of has been thought of in the past, and Godly and wise men have examined it carefully, and we can use their insight in contemplating whether it is truth or error.

      • At some point, both Calvinism and Arminianism were those two individuals fearfully, prayerfully brewed individual interpretations.

      • At least as far as Calvin is concerned, I don’t think that is a fair representation of the historical record. Calvin went to great lengths to show how his views of man being dead in sins prior to salvation were rooted in the understanding of the pre-papacy early church fathers, 1200+ years before – especially Augustine.

        Yes, Calvin searched the Scriptures diligently, and prayed for wisdom. At the same time, he did not ignore church history.

      • Oh, yeah.

  13. It is said that Charles Spurgeon, Prince of Preachers and well known Calvinist, was once asked concerning John Wesley, well known Arminian preacher, “Mr. Spurgeon, do you believe we will see Mr. Wesley in heaven?” Spurgeon replied, “No, I’m sure we won’t.” Then he added, “Because he will be standing so near the throne we will be blinded by the light!”

    By the way, I too have a Reformed Baptist background. My theology is Calvinistic and I pastor a Baptist church. At the same time, I have spent many years promoting Southern Gospel. Go figure.

    • That is actually what Wesley said after George Whitefield, a prominent Calvinistic minister, passed away. Maybe Spurgeon said it too. Anyway, it makes the right point.

  14. I would love to get in the middle of this one but I am respectfully holding my tongue; (mainly due to the obvious fact that I am neither). However, I will speak to the original question. I think most Southern Gospel does conform to a type of Arminianist view. But one that is updated from traditional Arminianism. I would be very surprised if there were any large numbers of 100% pure Calvinists or Arminianists working in the genre today.

  15. The only time you really give a serious thought about in-depth doctrinal beliefs is when you are signing the roll of membership in a local church.
    The best place is local setting of a Christian Education, small groups, Bible Studies and training sessions using tools based on tenets of the local church within a denomination.
    There is five examples of the diversity in doctrinal beliefs represented within the genre of southern gospel music.

    Assemblies of God has 16 tenets of faith.
    Christian and Missionary Alliance has 11 statement of faith.
    Church of the Brethren has a 19 page handbooks on their beliefs.
    Church of the Nazarene has statement of beliefs.
    Southern Baptist Convention has 19 basic beliefs.

    I would think that southern gospel music within the southern gospel music genre should focus what is contained within seven artices in the Statement of Faith of the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Ask me about a group singing in a local church?
    It is based on staying attuned to Godโ€™s calling and your gift of discernment.

  16. I’m glad you’ve thrown this topic “out there”. It’s very interesting, indeed. From my experiences on the road over the last several years, I can tell you there are two major issues that are slowly, and almost silently, damaging, even destroying, the unity of Baptist churches from within. The controversy over “Calvinism” and the use of Alcohol as a beverage. Music is a third, major issue, but it’s debated out in the open…as everyone on this page knows, all too well.

    • Yes, music is certainly out in the open.

      I think that the issue of salvation can be discussed in the open in a Biblical way, loving and respecting brothers who disagree. I wish that were the case more often!

      • Keep on wishin’!

      • Oh, how well I know!

      • Amen Brother!

  17. Interesting topic, which has possibly strayed a little from the original question: “Is S G predominantly Arminian or Calvinistic?” into a debate polarising the extremist positions of both camps!

    The, majority, answer to the original question appears to be; “predominantly Arminian.”

    Within the overall context of; Baptist/Pentecostal, SG music-as-a-part-of-evangelical-services, it is hardly surprising that this is the majority opinion.

    The more difficult question may be; “Are SG leaders and emcees Arminian or Calvinistic in their leanings?”

    I think the poll would still return a majority Arminian vote on that also.

    Again, “Is the choice of song and lyric predominantly used in SG music from an Arminian or Calvanistic tradition?” is a deeper and more difficult question to answer!

    The inclusion of “appeals”, “altar calls”, and “hand raising” more generally associated with the form of evangelical activities which include music as part of the “ambience” of their services, may predispose towards an “Arminian” position of being ABLE to PERSUADE sinners….

    It is possible, I submit, that the more “Calvinistic” position of NOT being ABLE to persuade sinners, tends therefore to lean away from an atmosphere which may be PERSUASIVE?

    Therefore, I would expect SGM to exist in a predominantly Arminian setting, regardless of the personal doctrinal positions of individual members or performers.

    In short. Is it not expected that SGM by its nature and context is predisposed towards an “Arminian” position?

    • It doesn’t have to be. Virtually all Calvinists – all except the most extreme hyper-Calvinists, who go far beyond what Calvin intended – believe that the Gospel must still be proclaimed.

      Virtually all Calvinists have no problem doing this with song.

      I believe you could make a very solid case that altar calls, as typically implemented in our genre, are inherently Arminian in nature. However, neither proclaiming Gospel truth through songs nor proclaiming a Salvation message at the end are inherent conflicts with Calvinism.

  18. When I listen to SG music, I don’t detect anything obviously Calvinistic or Arminian. Maybe that’s because it’s more subtle than I realize.

  19. We donโ€™t want to forget GODโ€™s foreknowledge is a key element of HIS sovereignty and omniscience and has to be the hinge thatโ€™s opens, closes and supports the door of all soteriology. GOD foreknew โ€“ Romans 8:29 โ€“ and therefore, we were known before we were born and salvation was in place before the foundations of the world were laid. Letโ€™s emphasize that GOD is bigger than Zwingli, Calvin or Arminius and get about the business of proclaiming the โ€œGood news.โ€

  20. It’s ashame this blog is almost two years old (I found it by googling “calvinist quartet”) because it would have been fun to participate in the original conversations going on here. I am a former SG fan and have sang in quartets most of my life. After the Lord opened my eyes to the doctrines contained in the TULIP acronym commonly referred to as “Five-Point Calvinism” I couldn’t appreciate much of the music I had enjoyed before due to it’s theological errors, or as in most cases, theological shallowness.

    It’s important to remember, as the original blog says, that a blog like this can’t possibly explain the comprehensive nature of these two views but I think some things would be beneficial to add to this discussion should the author or anyone else care to revisit it.

    1.) Though the blog accurately portrays the two sides (which is a breath of fresh air), I don’t think it goes far enough in describing arminianism. Today, most people who either think they are arminian or think they understand historic arminianism, don’t. Historic arminianism doesn’t teach that men, in and of themselves, have the free will and ability to repent and believe. That particular view would be considered “semi-pelagianism” which is the predominate viewpoint of the majority of the southern gospel climate as well as evangelicalism as a whole. Roman catholicism and liberal protestantism would also hold to semi-pelagianism if not full blown pelagianism itself (which denies original sin and is itself officially condemned as heresy in the 4th century). For more on what the meaning of these two positions are, google the “Augustine vs Pelagius controversy.”

    By contrast, historical arminianism holds to a doctrine entitled “prevenient grace” by which God grants everyone who hears the gospel a certain amount of grace, making it possible for them to choose to repent and believe of their own Free-will. The difference between this view and the predominate “arminian” view today isn’t what it teaches about God but rather what it teaches about man. The historical arminian view would be much more closer to what calvinism espouses about the fallenness of man then semi-pelagianism teaches.

    2.) It is not at all surprising that the “I’m neither” response one the race of first comment to this blog. It is in itself a fallacious statement. Either God is sovereign in salvation or man makes an autonomous choice, either election is conditional or unconditional, either the atonement is limited or universal. On every point of soteriological (theology of salvation) point calvinism and arminianism are polar opposites in an argument where neutral ground is impossible. Now one could be an inconsistent arminian (holding to all arminian points except the idea that one could lose their salvation), but that doesn’t make them neither, it just makes them an inconsistent arminian.

    3.) Neither arminianism or calvinism follow the men the doctrinal positions are named after. Calvinism is really just Augustinianism rediscovered after the protestant reformation. Anyone who’s ever read Martin Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” will recognize that he was almost entirely in agreement with Calvin’s doctrine on salvation decades before Calvin was even well known. As a calvinist myself, I’d argue that the doctrine is found everywhere in scripture, from Paul to Jesus, all the way back through the Old Testament. Israel was God’s chosen people, in which the promises of God found their yes and Amen in Christ, who if we are in are recipients of those promises.

    Likewise it wasn’t Calvin and Arminius that fought this battle but rather students of Arminius brought five points against the church by which the Synod of Dort was formed to discuss and weight. After an enormous amount of time the Synod of Dort came out with a condemnation of the Remonstrants arminian doctrines and their own five point rebuttal which is now called the five points of calvinism. All of this occurred after the death of both Calvin and Arminius.

    4.) I honestly don’t think much of the Southern Gospel climate has thought through theology to the level where they can make an educated decision about such things. I view SG and evangelicalism as a whole as theologically shallow, and almost anti-intellectual, in how they treat the word of God.

    After growing up in and being around both liberal and evangelical baptist circles I can confidently assert today that I am a Presuppositional, Calvinistic, Covenantal, Reformed Baptist who’s still working out all the systematic positions of my theology. I neither held to, nor was aware of any of my current positions until I was 25, which I attribute to the shallow (and in some cases apostate) nature of the Christianity I had been familiar with. Because it wasn’t until I was 25, after all the quartet singing and SG music listening and three years removed from the church’s I had grown up in, that God visited me on break at work through the reading of the Word and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that I actually had any desire to live a life of godliness and repentance unto Christ.

    Today I enjoy a wide range of music that I never would have before. Anything from SG music, to hymns (many of which are Calvinistic), to sovereign grace music, to Christian hip hop (more accurately described as lyrical theology). The genre’s may differ but one thing remains the same, they are all theologically rich and drive me to worship our great God in both spirit AND truth.

    “Ye Chosen seed from Israel’s race, ye ransomed from the fall;
    Hail Him who saved you by his grace, and crown him Lord of All.”

    “Not the labor of my hands, can fulfill thy law’s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.”

    For anyone wanting to discuss these things further you can find me on Facebook “Rett Copple” or e-mail me at