Arminians and Calvinists define some theological terms differently. This has a tendency to cause us to talk past each other when discussing theological issues. Here are some of the words that Arminians and Calvinists have different meanings for:
Arminians – A plan of God to establish parameters for the way something will work. For example, God can decree for humans to have and make decisions.
Calvinists – A plan of God to cause things to happen in a predetermined way.
Arminians – God chooses Christ. Those who follow Christ benefit from his election.
Calvinists – God chooses certain individuals to be saved. The chosen are elected.
Arminians – Faith means to trust God. Because of God’s drawing grace, it is possible for each person to trust God.
Calvinists – Faith is an ability that God gives to the elect but not to the reprobate. A person cannot trust God unless God causes him to to so.
Arminians – God has passive knowledge of our future choices. His knowing is based on our doing.
Calvinists – God foreknows the future because he has rendered it certain. His knowing is based on determining what will happen.
Arminians – Free will is the God enabled ability to make choices. A person can do one thing, or he can choose to do something else.
Calvinists – Free will means to follow one’s strongest desires. When a person makes decisions, his strongest desires determine what he does.
Arminians – God loves each person with an infinite amount of love, and desires for each person to be saved and to be in relationship with him.
Calvinists – God has a special kind of love for the elect that he does not have for all people. God may love the reprobate in some sense, but this is not a kind of love that enables them to be saved.
Arminians – Sovereignty means that God does what he wants to do. God sovereignly created a world where creatures have the ability to make choices.
Calvinists – Sovereignty means that God deterministically causes every thing that happens. If God does not ultimately cause everything, he can’t be sovereign.
Arminians – The world is inclusive of each and every person that has or ever will exist.
Calvinists – The world is all of the elect people from all over the world, not all people.