Recall from 1st Corinthians, the command not to simply follow men, but Jesus only, who died on the cross for our sins:
1st Corinthians 1:10-17 states: “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “Arminius himself is practically irrelevant to me for determining my theological position. It’s the same for Calvinists. There are all sorts of positions within Calvinism, and any number of Calvinists disagree with Calvin on any number of issues. That’s how it should be. The labels ‘Arminian’ and ‘Calvinist’ do not mean agreeing with Arminius or Calvin on everything, but only on certain defining issues, and even then it is only at a general level. This is one reason why it is totally bogus when people criticize Arminians or Calvinists for ‘following men’ or whatever. The names of these men are simply descriptive of a general theological position, and not of any kind of devotion to the men themselves, or feeling the need to follow their views. Of course, some Arminians and Calvinists might feel such a need, or have such devotion, and some level of that is not even necessarily bad, but that is not what the theological labels indicate.” (SEA, emphasis mine)
Rather than Calvinists advocating following John Calvin, per se, Calvinists are more often seen running from him, and his questionable character and dealings, such as by saying, “We are Calvinists. We are not Calvin.” Conversely, Jacob Arminius did not have as questionable of a character as John Calvin, but even still, I’ve yet to encounter a single Arminian who suggests that a right standing with God requires that one follow Jacob Arminius. More often, instead, the labels, “Calvinist” and “Arminian,” are used as scare crows, scarlet letters and derogatory titles, such as to call-out a particular theologian. In fact, there are many who are functionally “Arminian” in their beliefs, such as Southern Baptists, but who run from the label, for fear of its negative implications about the doctrine of Eternal Security. Additionally, often times a Calvinist will broadly label anyone who believes in Free-Will as “Arminian,” and more dogmatic Calvinists will sometimes label lesser Calvinists as either “not truly Reformed,” or even “Arminians.” Conversely, if a particular pastor comes to embrace a more Deterministic outlook (i.e. Calvinism), he is soon branded by his opponents as a “Calvinist” (and rightly so, simply for the simple sake of full disclosure), but the point is that neither side actively promotes the concept that one must follow a certain man, in order to have a right standing with God, as it usually functions in the opposite manner, in which opposing groups use the label as a call-out.
Bystanders often demonstrate the mistaken notion that “Calvinists” and “Arminians” actively promote the concept of following men, because they don’t realize that often the origin of such labels are from each other’s opponents, in order to function as a warning to others. “You’re a Calvinist” and “you’re an Arminian” is typically how the finger-pointing goes, and thus some on each side, sometimes express the desire to instead call themselves “Biblicists,” though if everyone identified themselves with the same exact label, then how would you know what others believe? For example, imagine if your Southern Baptist Church just announced the good news that they’ve found a new youth pastor who calls himself a “Biblicist,” but in reality, who is actually a Darwinian Universalist? So would that really be “good news,” after all? Labels are necessary, but those who are ignorant, usually use the labeling system as a way to avoid having to confront the difficulties of figuring out where they stand. As for me, I accept the label of “Arminian,” because if it is fair for me to label someone else as a Calvinist, then it is perfectly fair for them to label me as an Arminian, in return. All it really is, is an identification system for full disclosure and truth in advertising, and which is common in society, such as labeling one person as a “Catholic,” or another as a “Mormon” or another as a “Jehovah’s Witness.” Can you imagine if we had no such labels? Obviously, it would be better if everyone believed the same thing, where such labels were unnecessary, but that was also the endeavor of historical Catholics, who used deadly force as a means to make it happen. So was that a good thing? No, of course not. It won’t be until we get to Heaven that every Christian believes the same way, because at that time, all mysteries will be revealed, but until then, we will all have to just live with the fact that not every religion believes the same thing, and thus an identification system is necessary.
The labels, “Calvinist” and “Arminian,” are adverse labels issued by the opposing factions. The labels that each faction advances for itself are “Reformed” and “The Doctrines of Grace” for Calvinists, while “Evangelical” and “Orthodox” are what Arminians advocate for themselves. Naturally, each side claims that they own the same positive label as well. “Evangelical” is a perfect example.