Here is a hurdle for Calvinists who believe that God has decreed “whatsoever comes to pass,” as per the Calvinist Westminster Confession of Faith:
Luke 17:1-2: “He said to His disciples, ‘It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.’”
If God is the cause of all sin and temptations, having first conceived of it from the creative mind of God, and then scripted it for men and angels to think and to perform, then to whom would the woe be due? Calvinism creates these sorts of issues and then Calvinists use subtle nuances to make the logical problems go away. Arminians conclude that omni-causation is thus impossible.
Now consider the following verses that proponents of omni-causation often use:
Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”
Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Ephesians 1:11: “...also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will....”
What usually happens is that an unsuspecting Christian, who is not at all knowledgeable in this area (and certainly not an Arminian, but just an uninformed non-Calvinist), will be carefully led by a trained, determined and aggressive Calvinist, so that they will come to the same understanding as the Calvinist, and thus serve as a sense of confirmation to the Calvinist, because an independent-mind will come to the same understanding that they have, and the cycle perpetuates. Calvinism is like a virus, but the Bible is the cure. The Bible is not the cause of the problem. One’s own assumptions are the cause, and one is led by the Calvinist to accept the same assumptions, without question.
God indeed works all things, but does not cause all things, in the sense of a writer, producer and director of a static and unchangeable script, in which all humanity are the characters in a divine play. God works events based upon His foreknowledge. We see this with Pharaoh and we see this with Calvary.
Exodus 3:19-20: “‘But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.’”
Acts 2:23: “...this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23)
1st Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
God knows what you are able to handle. God knew what Israel intended to do with His Son. God knew that Pharaoh would refuse to comply, except under force. What is evident is that God acts contingently based upon what He knows of others. In this way, God is in control, but without being all-controlling, and that represents a fundamental difference between Calvinism and Arminianism, in which Calvinism is a theology which affirms the notion that God is all-controlling, even with sin, but for a good purpose, but there is no good which wills wickedness, and that’s the problem facing Calvinism, and the very thing that harms the conscience. Another example is that of Joseph and his brothers, according to Genesis 50:20.
Genesis 50:15-21: “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father charged before he died, saying, “Thus you shall say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong. And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’”’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
God knew what the brothers intended, and so God sent the traders, so as to provide a “way of escape” from killing Joseph. God knew what they meant and used what they meant, but God did not mean what they meant, since their evil intentions were uniquely their own, rather than God’s intentions for them. As such, if God had known that the brothers would have meant to kill Joseph, regardless, then God would have taken stronger measures to protect Joseph. The bottom line is contingent-action. God works contingently, based upon what He knows of others. God knows what you can handle, and are able to endure. God provides alternatives and options. In this way, God sets the parameters and works any given situation, and is in control, but without being all-controlling. In this way, God directs your steps. In this way, God has the events of your life prepared for you. In this way, God can take the evil of others and cause it to work for your good. This is a God who is fully engaged. This is a God who participates in your life-activities, as part of a relationship, but without reducing you to a puppet, whose every thought, word and deed are pre-scripted. That is the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.