Have you ever had a Calvinist tell you, “I used to be an Arminian. That’s how I used to believe. That’s the way I was raised.” Calvinists view themselves as more mature Christians. One Calvinist jested: “Every Christian starts out as an Arminian, but it’s the ones that God enlightens that become Calvinists.” Another Calvinist states: “My transition to Calvinism was somewhat reluctant, but the inevitable result of Christian maturity....” (Sovereign Grace Church, emphasis mine)
Have you ever had a Calvinist show you a Bible verse, and then insist that it plainly confirms Calvinism, and then they look back at you with amazement that you have the audacity to reject such a plain truth? Now since they claim to have started out as, as they put it, a clueless Arminian, have you ever challenged such a person to present the alternative Arminian interpretation of that particular Bible verse, only to receive a blank stare in return? After all, they allegedly used to be an Arminian, so shouldn’t they know what they used to believe? There’s a reason for that. They were never really Arminians. They were simply non-Calvinists. The term “Arminian” is generally used by most Calvinists to broadly refer to those who oppose Calvinism. Nevertheless, the reason why most Calvinists seem so baffled when an Arminian views their proof-texts and disagrees with their conclusions is because of the Calvinist’s rose-colored glasses, which is the notion that everyone was born either as an elect sheep or a non-elect goat. It is through this lens, that the Calvinist views the Bible and concludes that the Bible affirms Calvinism.
I’m not, repeat, not calling Calvinists a cult. However, let me give you an analogy of the rose-colored glasses in terms of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will trade Bible verses with you, back and forth, all day long, and yet will remain just as unconvinced of your arguments from the moment your discussion started. What’s the problem? It’s the rose-colored glasses. Rose-colored glasses are what everyone wears, whether they consciously realize it or not. Our rose-colored glasses are our presuppositions that determine how we interpret any given verse in the Bible. Most former Jehovah’s Witnesses will tell you that the best approach for witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses is gently help them to remove their rose-colored glasses, which is the notion that the Watch Tower Society is God’s Organization, and sole channel of God’s truth to mankind. Those glasses are lifted when the Watch Tower is exposed as an unrepentant, false prophet.
The reason why the Calvinist is bewildered by the hesitation of others to accept the Calvinist perspective on a Bible verse is because they are wearing something that others are not. It is the rose-colored glasses of the 5-Points of Calvinism. Calvinists force every Bible verse through the filter of the Deterministic Decrees of an eternal in the Father Election whereby, through Preemptive Regeneration alone, is a person able to respond to the call of the Gospel. For instance, when a Calvinist comes across a verse such as 1st Samuel 15:35, where God says that He “regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel,” they receive a slight amount of turbulence while the verse is being filtered through the immutable decrees of Calvinism, until what spits out on the other end, is a dual secret-will, whereby on the one hand, God outwardly says that He regretted making Saul king over Israel, but secretly, and inwardly, was not only exactly what He wanted to happen, but also exactly what He predetermined would happen. Meanwhile, the Arminian has the audacity to insist that God actually means what He says, which of course becomes a monkey-wrench in the logic-circuitry of the Calvinist, and then ensues the emotional pleadings of “You believe in the Sovereign creature Man!” Then, like a horse-race, the bell rings and the announcer shouts: And They’re Off! Calvin remains one length ahead, but coming around the turn is Arminius! who closes the gap, and now they’re neck and neck for what shapes up to be a photo finish.
Question: Why does a Calvinist believe one way about the Bible, and an Arminian, the complete opposite?
Answer: Presuppositions. Our preconceived ideas frame how we view any given verse in the Bible. The presupposition of the Calvinist is the conviction that God has an eternal decree of Determinism by which He has predetermined everything. Arminians are convinced that this idea inevitably renders God as the author of sin. Meanwhile, the Calvinist argues that the presupposition of the Arminian is that the Free Will of man must be protected at all costs, which of course is absurd. The reality is that the presupposition of the Arminian is merely that God’s word is not the charade of contradictions that Calvinism inevitably makes it out to be.
Do Calvinists acknowledge that Calvinism sets the Bible up as contradictory?
Calvinist, John McArthur: “That’s one of the reasons I know the Bible is written by God, because men would fix it. If I wrote a book that had those contradictions, Phil [Johnson] would edit them all out. One of the bench marks of divine inspiration is the fact that you're dealing with transcendence.” (Election and Predestination: The Sovereignty of God in Salvation, emphasis mine)
Obviously, this quote does not sit well at all with the presuppositional glasses that the Arminian wears. While the Calvinist feels comfortable with a Secret-Will theory to explain alleged contradictions, the Arminian wonders why anyone would even take these Calvinists seriously.
To get the Calvinist to see, without being encumbered by the rose-colored glasses of Calvinism, ask the Calvinist to explain the verse from the Arminian perspective. After all, that’s what they claim to have been before becoming a Calvinist. When they give a half-hearted, joke answer, persist and ask them to seriously think of about it. It’s tough. Emotionally, their heart will simply not allow them to go there because Calvinism is something that they really, really, like a lot. They don’t want to go back to the old way of thinking. They like what they have now. That is precisely why this website will not have the desired effect with the Calvinist. They will see things discussed like in the Father and in Christ and figure that it’s all just “splitting hairs” and “false dichotomies.” The best way, however, to unlock a closed mind is by asking pointed questions. David A. Reed explains: “Notice, too, the teaching methods that Jesus used. Glancing quickly over any one of the four Gospel accounts, you will observe that many of his sentences had question marks at the end. Question marks are shaped like hooks--‘?’--and they function much the same way in hooking on to answers and pulling them out through the other person’s mouth. Jesus was highly skilled at using these fishing hooks. Rather than shower his listeners with information, he used questions to draw answers out of them. A person can close his ears to facts he doesn’t want to hear, but if a pointed question causes him to form the answer in his own mind, he cannot escape the conclusion--because it’s a conclusion that he reached himself.” (Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse By Verse, p.115)
Therefore, when a Calvinist comes across a Bible verse such as Jeremiah 32:35, which states: “They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin”, ask them: When Israel committed child sacrifice, did God specifically say that it did enter His mind that they should do this? Immediately, the Calvinist will open his MacArthur Study Bible and race through the pages to get the answer. The saying holds, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” You can plant the seed, which is the Word of God, but ultimately, through prayer, it is the Holy Spirit who must do His work in opening stubborn hearts. (Acts 16:14) Here is a link to a Blog discussion on this topic.