There is a powerful relationship between theology and politics. To be more accurate, the relationship is actually between what is commonly called Calvinism and the age-old heresy of Arminianism. The freedom, or subjugation of people, rests upon one or the other of these theological ideas as it is fleshed out, and applied to, the political arena.
Simply put, Calvinism is that form of religion which trusts solely upon the merits of the Lord Jesus for salvation apart from any individual human righteousness or good works. It is that religious man that finds himself powerless against sin and the temptation of the flesh, and who then finds himself at the sheer mercy of God for His unmerited favor unto redemption. And therefore, it is that man who trusts not in himself, but in the mercy of God in the face of his redeemer Jesus Christ. This is Calvinism at its basic root. It is this religion that the Apostles preached and which became a controlling influence in forming both the character of men and the political structure of freedom loving nations.
The Rev Dr Archibald Alexander Hodge defines Calvinism this way;
“Calvinism is a term used to designate, not the opinions of an individual, but a mode of religious thought, or a system of religious doctrines, of which, the person whose name it bears [the Frenchman John Calvin] was an eminent expounder.”
Hodge goes on to designate three distinct forms of doctrine that have impacted the world, both negatively and positively.
First, the Pelagian doctrine which denies the guilt, corruption and moral impotence of man, and makes him independent of the supernatural intervention and/or assistance of God.
Second ,at the other end of the doctrinal spectrum is Calvinism, which emphasizes the guilt and moral impotence of fallen man, exalts the justice and sovereignty of God, and refers salvation absolutely to the unmerited and undeserved favor of God whereby man is rebirthed as a result of the atoning power of the cross and the empowering by the Spirit.
Third, is the compromise between the two known as Semi Pelagianism, which is also known by its modern name Arminianism after its founder Dutchman, James Herman aka Jacob Arminius. This compromise between Calvinism and Semi-Pelagianism admits man’s original corruption, but denies the guilt referring the moral restoration of the individual to the co-operation of man with the divine energy given to him in his free will. In other words, denying that man’s will by nature does not seek after God, (which is a direct refutation of the Apostle Paul’s declaration) the Arminian must exercise his free will in order to trigger God’s response upon his soul. This doctrine further denies completely the fact that man is dead in sins and trespasses and that his nature is enmity with God. What is so interesting about the many doctrines that are unmistakably heretical is that their heretical view of God, Christ and the Holy Scripture have as a common denominator, Arminianism.
Author Nathaniel S. McFetridge explains in his excellent book, published in 1882,’Calvinism in History’,
‘Out of Arianism grew Socinianism, and out of that modern Unitarianism, which makes Christ neither a man nor God, but a created being somewhere above angels and between humanity and Deity. And while Arminianism is neither Arian nor Socinian nor Unitarian, these all are Arminian…every new phase of Arianism to this day is infallibly Arminian…’
What we find today is not only do these heretical groups share in the Arminian heresy, so too do many Baptist congregations along with the Methodists, Episcopalians and Roman Catholic churches. These all hold to the unbiblical Arminian soteriologically.
Church Government: Structured upon Theology
What is fascinating about the Calvinists and Arminianists is the structure of their church government. Each of their ecclesiology has a distinct affinity – an organic connection – with their doctrinal belief. Calvinism, with its presbyterian and independent Genevan form vs the Arminian, with its prelatical or episcopal form. Where the Arminian churches hold to a “Top Down” governing structure, the Reformed Churches, (those holding to the Calvinist theology) which are distinctly and explicitly Calvinistic, hold to a representative/republican form of Church Government.
Emotion vs Doctrine
Two central themes are foundational in the Arminian doctrine; emotion and works. This is why these churches are prone to focus on the outward ceremonies and a call to holiness and good works as a cop-operative means of justification, without the Gospel call of Christ’s Free Grace through faith. This leads to a good works moralism, rather than a trusting in Christ by faith apart from forms, ceremonies, good works, or religious experiences of emotion.
McFetridge explains further,
This connection between doctrine and the form of worship is not superficial or accidental, but inherent. A system of doctrine, as Pelagianism, which teaches salvation by our own good works or, as Arminianism, which teaches salvation partly by works and partly by grace, of necessity sympathizes and affiliates with rites and ceremonies, and lays, in the very spirit of it, the foundation for a ritualistic service.
Theology and the Political Structure of Nations
Calvinism has always been connected with the spirit of democracy, republicanism and freedom, while Arminianism has always been the favor of those of the rich aristocracy, or what is sometimes called the protective party. History bears this out as fact since whenever the conscience of men was constrained and subjugated by tyrants it was from those who held to the Arminian doctrine. Whereas the Episcopacy and Papacy ruled oppressively from the pinnacle of a top-down structure, Calvinism along with its cousin Puritanism, functioned from a grass roots, independent, bottom up, representative structure.
McFetridge wonderfully makes this connection.
‘Thus, we see how Arminianism, taking to an aristocratic form of church government, tends toward monarchy in civil affairs, while Calvinism, taking to a republican form of church government, tends toward democracy in civil affairs.’
There is therefore an aristocratic tendency in Arminianism and a democratic tendency in Calvinism. The history of Western civilization and now in our own modern times bears record that the more any society leans toward equality and freedom via a democratic republican form of government, the more likely it is that its theological opinions will be Calvinistic. On the other hand, the more a society leans toward inequality, fascism and slavery, the greater the probability of those theological opinions will be Arminian.
In addition to this bent toward inequality and oppressive domination by the Arminian governing structure, there is also a strong element of class divisions. Arminianism, ruling as the aristocracy, establishes, and then maintains, a class, or caste system within its social order. This is a controlling mechanism. Divide and conquer, or in this case divide and control. This is a Marxist tactic. Divide the proletariat from the bourgeoises, the rich from the poor, the black from the white, the brown from the black, the yellow from the red man, the Republican from the Democrat, the farmer from the city dweller, the vaccinated from the non-vaccinated, the true patriot from the complacent subject of the State, the Christian from the non-Christian, and the list goes on and on!
Again, McFetridge explains,
We find then, these three propositions proved by historical fact and logical sequence: First, Arminianism associates its self with an Episcopal form of church government, and Calvinism with a republican form of church government; Second, episcopacy fosters ideas of inequality in society and of monarchy, and a one man power base in civil affairs; and Third, Arminianism is unfavorable to civil liberty, and Calvinism is unfavorable to despotism.
The reason why Calvinism is so favorable to liberty lies in its Theology. It is the doctrine of God’s free grace, His electing predestinating Sovereignty, His providential orchestration over men and nations, and His victory over sin and death that gives the Calvinist the confidence to stand against all manner of Arminian tyranny in the realm of civil and political affairs.
McFetridge once again weighs in,
‘Calvinism was the spirit which rises in revolt against untruth – the spirit which…has appeared and reappeared, and in due time will appear again unless God be a delusion and man be as the beasts that perish…’
George Bancroft observes,
‘More truly benevolent to the human race then Solon, more self-denying than Lycurgus, the genius of Calvin infused enduring elements into the institutions of Geneva, and made it for the modern world the impregnable fortress of popular liberty, the fertile seed-plot for democracy…’
If liberty is to be regained in the West, fascism, tyranny and Marxist socialism must be destroyed at its theological root – its Arminian power base.