Scot McKnight writes an interesting article concerning the Calvinism-Arminian issue.
I am an affirmed Arminian, in the sense that I do not believe a person is irresistibly held in their salvation through grace. I believe that a person honestly seeking the face of God will never slip away, but a person, through rejection or laziness can loose the assurance of their salvation.
I do love the grace-fullness of Calvinism. I love the grand vision of God. But I can't get past the evidence of God's interaction with His human creation as evidence that His sovreignty is something different than what Calvinists generally mean by the term "sovreignty." I think that Arminians often resort to guilt, in practice, to "encourage" people to pursue God and grow in grace. We have a works mentality that we need to "do" more and more to stay in.
I think there needs to be a balance. We are responsible to "do" the works of that come from a life of faith and grace. But we should not be constantly worrying if we are "in" with God. I think much of the problem for both Calvinists and Arminians comes from our definition of salvation. Salvation is not simply saying the sinners and prayer and being "in." Salvation is accepting Jesus' way of life as our own. It is a journey. We get into trouble when we think of salvation in terms of "in" or "out," or in terms of only a point (event) in time. Making a decision to follow Jesus and trust in His salvation is always immediately connected to growing in grace.
Anyway, the debate is almost not worth bringing up because all it does is create dissension. I think that much of the problem that some have with the Emerging Church (ala Brian McLaren) is more a Calvinist-Arminian debate.
Jesus Creed » Why I Kissed Calvinism Good-bye: "I love the “architecture” of Calvinism — that is, the focus on God’s glory and loving God, and I love the magnitude of grace in that theology, and I even love the radical transcendence that is often found in Calvinism. The CT piece frequently connects the attraction of young Christians to Calvinism because of its beauty.
When I was in college I sat for afternoons in our library and pored through Calvin’s Institutes, leading my dear wife to comment that I’d be better off underlining what I didn’t like because I had underlined most everything! Calvin’s Institutes are doxological; I still dip into him and read him. And, at the same time, I was a huge, huge fan of Spurgeon and read his Autobiography twice while in college. And, of course, other Calvinists banged around my desk — like the ever-wordy John Owen and I read devotionally John Brown’s commentary on Hebrews and Manton on James.
Then I went to seminary at Trinity, Grant Osborne asked me to be his TA, and one of his first assignments was to work through his extensive notes on the Calvinist-Arminian debate. Which I did. To be up to snuff on it, I read Howard Marshall’s Kept by the Power of God — and my mind changed. Not all at once, but this is what I remember: the consistency of the OT warnings for the covenant community formed a natural bridge for me to the NT warnings. And I couldn’t contest his many, many passages that all added up to one thing: genuine believers can lose their faith by throwing it away consciously."