Home Pastors Pastor Blogs Election: Calvinism or Arminianism? Or a 3rd Option?

Election: Calvinism or Arminianism? Or a 3rd Option?


I started my Christian journey as a classic Calvinist., I devoured Calvin’s Institutes, books by R.C. Sproul, and John Piper.    After a decade of prayer, study, and reflection, I hold to and teach a 3rd option. Since I don’t like to label myself, I don’t have a name for this third option. Some may call it “Modified Calvinism” or “Moderate Calvinism” since I also believe in eternal security.

Some theologians also call this view Congruism. Congruism contends that the Bible teaches that because God is sovereign, He unconditionally chooses the elect for salvation and that each individual person freely decides to reject or accept Jesus as Savior.

Just as Jesus is 100% God the Son and 100% human, Scripture presents God’s sovereignty and human freedom as twin truths in tension.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) expressed this glorious mystery when he said, “Take away free will and there will be nothing to save; take away grace and there will be no means left of salvation.”

This 3rd option, which I hold to and teach, is in alignment with the Church’s greatest theologian/philosopher Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the beloved and brilliant C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), and my mentor and friend Norman L. Geisler (1932-present).

According to this 3rd option, God’s election is neither based on His foreknowledge of man’s free agency (classic Arminianism), nor in spite of His foreknowledge of man’s free agency (classic Calvinism), but rather is in accordance with His foreknowledge of man’s free agency.


Now, I need you to follow along to grasp the beauty of Thomas Aquinas’ mind and his commitment to theology. Aquinas concluded that God’s sovereign, unconditional election of man and man’s freewill response to God are congruent because of two of God’s attributes, His simplicity and His timelessness.

Classical theism teaches that God is simple in the sense that His nature is undivided and without parts. In this view, time is a part of creation. Therefore, God, who is eternal and timeless, lives outside of time in the eternal now. Past, present, and future are equal before Him.

Therefore, there is “no chronological or logical priority of election and foreknowledge. All aspects of God’s eternal purpose are equally timeless. Both God’s foreknowledge and predetermination are one in God’s indivisible essence. Both must be simultaneous, eternal, and coordinated acts of God” (Geisler & Rhodes, Conviction Without Compromise, 252).  God’s acts outside of time, but His actions are in time.

Since humanity is hopelessly dead in sin and can do nothing to obtain salvation, God graciously restores, by His Spirit’s power (John 16:8-11, John 12:30-32; Acts 17:26-27), the ability for all men to receive or reject His offer of salvation.

In the congruent view, God’s sovereign election and man’s response to God are simultaneous.  In the 3rd option, God is all-loving, sovereign, and man has free agency.

Therefore, God predetermines in accordance with His foreknowledge.