One Calvinist explains: “Evil is the result of man’s natural condition, if not for the grace of God, it would be far, far worse. Why does man think he deserves any better? The question isn’t why do bad things happen to good people. The question is, why do good things happen to ANYONE?” (emphasis mine)
However, what about the evil of Lucifer, pre-Fall? Was Lucifer’s evil the result of his “natural condition”? What about the evil of disobedience by Adam and Eve, pre-Fall? Was their evil the result of their “natural condition"? When Arminians hear about the Westminster Confession of Faith, in terms of God having decreed whatsoever comes to pass, they are told that all things, including sin, and foreordained. Some infer that in different ways, but even those who soften it, such as RC Sproul, also maintain that God “decrees to permit,” as God could have decreed *not* to permit something. However, that seems more like permission is being wedged into determinism without a natural fit, much like Compatibilism has “free will” being wedged into Determinism without a natural fit, as it is still just Determinism. From an Arminian standpoint, when Arminians hear Calvinists say that evil originates from man, one the one hand we agree, that man is indeed an independent being from God, originating sin from within himself, but at the same time, Arminians approach this with “eyes wide open” insomuch as we are also very well aware of what Calvinists also often attribute to an “immutable decree,” in which God causes all things, period (followed by explanations of primary and secondary causes).
Arminians feel like that are receiving conflicting messages from Calvinists, concerning the nature of an “immutable decree,” and the origin of sin:
Calvinist. R.C. Sproul, states: “But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.” (Chosen By God, p.31, emphasis mine)
John Calvin writes: “But now, removing from God all proximate causation of the act, I at the same time remove from Him all guilt and leave man alone liable. It is therefore wicked and calumnious to say that I make the fall of man one of the works of God. But how it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what man’s future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.123-124, emphasis mine)
Calvin adds: “If anyone object that this is beyond his comprehension, I confess it. But what wonder if the immense and incomprehensible majesty of God exceed the limits of our intellect? I am so far from undertaking the explanation of this sublime, hidden secret, that I wish what I said at the beginning to be remembered, that those who seek to know more than God has revealed are crazy. Therefore let us be pleased with instructed ignorance rather than with the intemperate and inquisitive intoxication of wanting to know more than God allows.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.123, emphasis mine)
“High Calvinists” go in another direction from the aforementioned quotes, by simply embracing the idea that God simply decrees all, regardless of any and all theological consequences, in terms of whether or not it makes God into the “author of sin.” Low or Middle Calvinists will introduce a nuance, in which God decrees whatsoever comes to pass, but in a way in which that avoids God necessarily being the author of sin, but also without providing a logical pathway, either, and instead, simply asserting “divine mystery,” which is really just Special Pleading. Nonetheless, what follows are examples of protests by Low or Middle Calvinists against High Calvinists:
Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: “Again and again we see that people are predestined (elected) to salvation--but nowhere do we see that anyone is ever predestined to condemnation of Hell. When we think of God as unfairly, arbitrarily electing people to Heaven or Hell, it is as if we have a mental picture of a row of people sitting on a fence, and God passes down the line and points at each one, ‘It’s Hell for you, Heaven for you, Hell, Hell, Hell, Heaven, Hell...’ Now, that would be unfair--and absolutely capricious! But that’s not the kind of God we love and serve.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.29, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, writes: “My soul revolts at the idea of a doctrine that lays the blood of man’s soul at God’s door. I cannot conceive how any human mind, at least any Christian mind, can hold any such blasphemy as that.” (Jacob and Esau, January 16th, 1859, by C. H. Spurgeon, 1834-1892, emphasis mine)
The aforementioned affirm what is known as Single Predestination, against Double Predestination. Arminians, however, disagree with both. High Calvinists contend that the Low or Middle Calvinists are simply being logically inconsistent, and which Arminians agree. Low and Middle Calvinists typically respond with an appeal to divine “mystery.” However, genuine biblical mystery is not some unsolvable puzzle, but something that awaits revelation, and that’s where Arminians disagree with Low and Middle Calvinists. Here is a quote from a High Calvinist:
Calvinist, Vincent Cheung, writes: “One who thinks that God’s glory is not worth the death and suffering of billions of people has too high an opinion of himself and humanity.” (The Problem of Evil, p.10, emphasis mine) Calvinist, John Piper, writes concerning the Newton massacre: “What if God is an author and this world is his story and we are his characters? Would we see the problem of evil in a different light? ... Here’s the basic claim: God is an Author. The World is his story. We are his characters. Scripture points in this direction when it tells us that God preached the world into existence. ... The analogy of an author and his story helps us to understand how God can be completely, totally, and exhaustively sovereign; how human beings can be responsible; and how their choices and actions can be meaningful and significant. It allows us to see layers in our understanding of causality. Why was it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia? Because the White Witch enslaved the land. Why was it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia? Because that’s the way Lewis wrote the story. Why does Aslan have to die? Because Edmund was a traitor. Why does Aslan have to die? Because that’s how Lewis wrote it. Who killed the White Witch? Aslan did. Who killed the White Witch? Lewis did. Every aspect of the story—from plot to characters to background details—is under the sovereign control of the Author. And the actions of the characters are necessary for the resolution of the plot. This is the sort of layered causality that we see in the story of Job, whose goods are stolen by Chaldean raiders, whose children are killed in a natural disaster, and whose body is afflicted with disease by the enemy of our souls himself. Yet in all of these calamities, in all of these evils perpetrated by Satan and carried out by wicked men and the forces of nature, Job recognizes the sovereign hand of the Lord, the one who is to be blessed when he gives and when he takes away (Job 1:20-21).” (Confronting the Problem(s) of Evil: Biblical, Philosophical, and Emotional Reflections on a Perpetual Question, emphasis mine)
One High Calvinist candidly admits: “Yes, God has determined everything. Why is this so hard for people? Oh yea, they want control, like Eve”.
Another High Calvinist Calvinist adds: “Yes God has originated and decreed every thought of mine, yours, demons...etc!!!”
Such statements as these are met with the following response:
The Society of Evangelical Arminians states: “It is simply baffling that Calvinists can decry the diabolical, heinous actions of Kim Jong-Il (and others like him), and yet they hold that God first conceived in his own divine heart every one of the man’s wicked actions, thought them up without any influence outside of himself, and unconditionally and irresistibly decreed them without any influence outside of himself, resulting in the man doing them all without any chance, power, or ability to do anything else. It’s madness I tell you! Madness!! (Calvinism and the Evil of Kim Jong-Il) Here is a link to additional High Calvinist quotes.