Ever notice how Arminians sometimes act and pray like Calvinists?

I’m not trying to start the whole Calvinism / Arminian debate here, I’m just making an observation.  I’ve known people who oppose Reformed Theology (aka Calvinism), but they talk and pray like Calvinists when it comes to evangelism and salvation.

If you talk about evangelism they are quick to say it is all up to God, and they’ll pray for God to change people’s hearts.  It is a humble sentiment, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in with their Arminian theology.  I wonder if it is an excuse to avoid the hard and risky work of evangelism?  They don’t seem to want God to “woo” people, they seem to want him to really change them — forever.

I lean to Reformed Theology now but caught myself thinking the same way when I leaned towards Arminianism.

12 thoughts on “Ever notice how Arminians sometimes act and pray like Calvinists?”

  1. It’s easy top do because there is an awful lot of Bible that supports the more reformed position. Talking about conversion invariably draws us to a conversation about the Spirit’s work in the process and so forth. Its just tough to miss. It makes it easy to do when you are just praying. Honestly though, as a more calvinist leaning thinker I find myself arguing apologetics and using concepts like free will in an effort to answer accusations regarding God and his working.


  2. Disclaimer: I’d consider myself a Calvinist (even though he persecuted Baptists back in the day — it’s a convenient term people understand {shrug}).

    I think you’re probably right, but think the reverse situation should be more what Christians do. As the saying goes, “Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.” Seems biblical, and makes the most sense of the passages that cause contention between Calvinists and Arminians.


    1. Ooh! I like that! I’m still trying to make head or tails over the argument between the two camps. I can’t see that either has the definitive position and I feel it’s really nothing over which I should concern myself. My study is for my own personal edification. In the meantime, that saying works for me.


    2. Hi Kathy,

      To be more precise, Calvin had a beef with ANAbaptists. While the Anabaptists indeed are similar to modern Baptists in regards to their belief in believer’s baptism only, this is where the similarities end.

      For example, Anabaptists in general taught that all forms of violence by the state were morally wrong, including warfare (even just wars) and capital punishment. As a result, they believed it was immoral for a Christian to serve in the military or as a magistrate. They also argued for common ownership of goods (think an early form of socialism). In essence, they were in many regards anarchists and a danger to public order.

      The fact that they advocated for believer’s baptism was at most an ancillary issue. To give some more perspective, the London Baptist Confession of 1644 calls itself:

      “London Baptist Confession of Faith A.D. 1644 The CONFESSION
      OF FAITH, Of those CHURCHES which are commonly (though falsly)
      called ANABAPTISTS”

      Clearly, Baptist ≠ Anabaptist


      1. Thanks for the elucidation. I have read almost nothing about it, but know that some of my Baptist friends cringe at being called “Calvinist” because of Calvin’s involvement in persecuting Baptists. And up until reading your comment, all I knew of Anabaptists was that they believed in believer’s baptism, and the term “Anabaptist” was not one they called themselves, but was what detractors called them. They would have called themselves Baptists, since they disregarded the so-called “infant baptism” as being anything but getting the baby a little wet; but for the paedo-baptists who considered that to be a valid form of baptism, believer’s immersion was “baptizing again”, hence, “Anabaptist”. Knowing only that, the Baptists of 1644 could have likewise eschewed “Anabaptist” as being a false appellation simply because they considered that when they immersed a believer, that was the first time he was *truly* baptized, and he was not truly “baptized again”. [I’m not arguing with you over what the term meant; merely explaining that this is what I have known up until this point. Sounds like I may need to delve into more church history….]


      2. Ironically enough, their modern day counterparts revel in the charge of being Anabaptist. Calvin was not alone in combating their errors. The Lutheran Book of Concord rightly condemns their errors (in regards to common property and the renunciation of occupations such as magistrate and soldier)

        Your Baptist friends can take note that the signers of the 1644 and later 1688/89 LBC were stalwart Calvinists. 😉


      3. The churches of my denomination still use the 1689 LCoF. 😉 In fact, a couple of years ago my church used that as the basis of its Wednesday night Bible study / service. And we have 2 or 3 copies in our personal library. I don’t have a particular beef with the term “Calvinist”, nor did *most* of the people I know; I just heard from a couple of people that some “Calvinistic” Baptists did refuse the term because of Calvin’s actions.


  3. When I pray for God to change people’s hearts, I know that He won’t force them. Rather I expect that God will guide the individual to see that he needs to change his heart. Although I also know the person can continue to ignore all the guidance.


  4. Neil,

    That is exactly correct. It was something I also noticed a few years back and have pointed it out to many, many people. Nearly every Christian prays with the Reformed understanding of God’s work in salvation. To this day, I have never heard anyone pray in a fashion that would be consistent with Arminian Theology. It’s pretty telling.


  5. Great point! There’s an extended biblical and philosophical case that we all pray
    Ike Calvinists in a new book called Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will? By Dr. Thaddeus Williams. This book also offers a Reformed rebuttal to Bell’s Love Wins. If interested you can watch the promo video and find out more at http://www.lovefreedomandevil.com



  6. So this is incredibly old, but I’m trying to work through your blog from first entry forward.

    Holy comments education Batman! 😲 I had always called myself anabaptist because I was told that’s what we were. I think my mother leans their way (soft pacifist and some socialism, believer’s baptism) which is probably one of the reasons she differentiated from *Baptist* plus, I think, bad taste experiences. I guess I’m going to have to go over some creeds for myself soon here…


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