How relevant is a 400 year old argument for our lives today?

Calvinism arose out of the Protestant Reformation and was largely defined by John Calvin. The doctrine emphasizes God’s sovereignty, man’s depravity and the salvation of God’s elect by grace alone. Well-known Calvinists are George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon and more recently, R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer, Tim Keller and John Piper. Churches that subscribe to Calvinism include the Presbyterian Denominations and the various Reformed Churches around the world.

Arminianism is a school of theology based on the teachings of Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius in the late 16th century. It arose as an objection to Calvinism in relation to its doctrines of predestination and election. Arminius and his followers, the Remonstrants taught that God has given humans free will, and humans are able to freely choose or reject salvation.

Well-known Arminians include John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finney and more recently Charles Pinnock, Roger Olson, Ben Witherington, and Thomas Oden. It is perhaps most prominent in the Methodist movement and found in various evangelical circles today such as the Baptist denominations, the Pentecostals and Catholics.

The debate between Calvinists and Arminians has been ongoing among the evangelicals for a long time, drawing from various Scriptures and the early church fathers to support their respective views. However the differences remain – particularly as related to the sovereignty of God in salvation and the ideas of election and predestination, and atonement.

The question remains: How big are the differences between the two views?

Alexa Ho speaks to Pastor Jeremy Lim who offers a Calvinist standpoint and David Tan who speaks from an Arminian perspective. Will sparks fly?


Pr. Jeremy Lim

Pr. Jeremy Lim encountered Christ while studying abroad at Ohio State University. It was there that he received the call into missions. Upon returning to Malaysia, he joined Campus Crusade for Christ. His first understanding of the process of salvation was of the Arminian perspective. His home church, PJEFC, supported his further studies in STM in 2014. Upon graduation, he joined their pastoral team.

David Tan

David Tan is the son of a Methodist pastor, with whom he co-wrote a series of articles defending Arminianism in 2016 and 2017 for Berita TRAC, a publication for the Trinity Annual Conference. An engineer and applied microbiologist by training, he does research on infrastructure and public health with the UN, while doing part-time studies at STM. While in the states, he studied in Calvin College and attended Bethlehem Baptist Church. He attends Whispering Hope Methodist Church where he also preaches occasionally.