Trinitarian theology---Calvinist or Arminian?
Contrary to common misunderstandings held by some (many?) Western Protestants, Calvinism and Arminianism are not the only theological "games in town." Trying to locate Trinitarian theology within the continuum between those dueling theologies is like trying to force the proverbial square peg into a round hole. The result, often, is badly misinformed criticism of Trinitarian theology.
The wrong thing to conclude...is that Lutherans are hesitant Calvinists, or two-and-a-half-point Calvinists, or imperfect Arminians. Lutherans are Lutherans. Their theological frame of reference is not closely related to the Calvinist-Arminian continuum. Lutherans have their own theological history, one that has contributed in major ways to the evangelical movement.There are, of course, similarities between all Christian theologies. Trinitarian theology does have common ground with Calvinism and Arminianism. But there are important differences. We do an injustice to all theologies when we try to force them into the grid of another. Instead, we should evaluate each one on its own merits, comparing it principally to the revelation of Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus is ultimate Theology. His person and work (which are inseparable) constitute the complete and final revelation of the true knowledge of God. Every Christian theology, being faithful to the orthodox, historical, Christian faith (as summarized in the early creeds), bears something about this true knowledge of God (i.e. true theology). There are similarities that can and should be noted, and the truths found should be appreciated and embraced. But there are real differences to be noted (without demonizing any of them). Within my tribe (Grace Communion International), we find incarnational, Trinitarian theology to be the most faithful representation of the theology found in the person and work of Jesus--his revelation of the nature and work of God.
The roots of that theology are found in the writings of the Apostles. It was then developed by some early church leaders (most notably Athanasius and the Cappadocian fathers--pictured below). These leaders sought to understand the theology that upholds the truth concerning Jesus given in Scripture and through the church's life in the Spirit.
To learn more about this theology, read GCI's booklet, The God Revealed in Jesus Christ. To learn more about T.F. Torrance, click here to read chapter one of Myk Habet's helpful book, Theology in Transposition.