Unless God has a pre-eternal relationship with a special elect-class, it seems inevitable that Calvinistic, Unconditional Election, would necessarily be arbitrary.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “It seems impossible for God’s choice or rejection of a person to have nothing at all to do with the individual. Calvinists say that the basis for election or rejection is inscrutable, and hidden in God, but even if that is so, it must have something to do with the object that conditions God’s choice (even if it is just some mysterious reason why reprobating so and so brings God more glory than if he had otherwise elected the person). If God’s ‘reason’ has nothing to do with the object (person) at all, then with regards to the choice or rejection of that ‘particular’ person, it would have to be arbitrary.” (SEA, emphasis mine)
If not, Calvinists would otherwise have to engage in Special Pleading.
Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: “So God makes His sovereign selection from among the human race, a race of sinful and corrupt people, all of whom deserve condemnation. But God extends mercy to a vast multitude. He must be just, but He doesn’t have to extend mercy to any. Those whom He selects are saved---a great number out of every tribe and tongue and nation.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.30, emphasis mine)
However, Kennedy clarifies: “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)
But what Kennedy “unfair” and “absolutely capricious” is precisely what John Calvin professed:
John Calvin writes: “There are some, too, who allege that God is greatly dishonored if such arbitrary power is bestowed on Him. But does their distaste make them better theologians than Paul, who has laid it down as the rule of humility for the believers, that they should look up to the sovereignty of God and not evaluate it by their own judgment?” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.209-210, emphasis mine)
Calvin writes: “…the reason why God elects some and rejects others is to be found in His purpose alone. … before men are born their lot is assigned to each of them by the secret will of God. … the salvation or the destruction of men depends on His free election.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.203, emphasis mine)
Clearly, John Calvin conceded that Calvinistic Election is “arbitrary.”
Calvinist, John MacArthur, states: “We are chosen unto salvation. We are chosen to belong to Him. When you look at your salvation, then thank God. Thank God! Because you are a Christian because He chose you. I don’t understand the mystery of that. That’s just what the word of God teaches. That is the most humbling doctrine in all of Scripture. I take no credit, not even credit for my faith. It all came from Him. He chose me. He selected people to be made holy in order to be with Him forever. Why he selected me, I will never know. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m worse than many. But He chose me.” (Understanding Election, emphasis mine)
Not all Calvinists will go as far as John Calvin in deeming Calvinistic Election as arbitrary. Some will suggest that it only seems arbitrary from a human standpoint, but not from God’s standpoint, who knows exactly why he [allegedly] hand-picked John MacArthur for salvation over his unworthy next door neighbor. But if you say that God deemed him worthy of secret election, then salvation is no longer about mercy but about secret worth, since all are equally in need of mercy. Moreover, if this were about an election to service (and God eternally choosing a certain person for the ministry), then the problem would be easily resolved, but MacArthur is talking about an alleged, election to salvation.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “I simply admit that free will is a mystery; we don’t know why one person uses the gift of free will to good advantage and another uses it to disadvantage. But when confronted with this issue by a Calvinist, I turn the tables and as him or her to explain what makes the difference so that God elects one person and not another person. They insist it has nothing to do with anything God sees in the person elected. So what is the difference? Then they appeal to God’s ‘good pleasure,’ but that’s no answer. Why is God pleased to choose one and not the other one? When I suggest the choice is purely arbitrary they object. But what else can it be? There’s no other option. I prefer to live with the mystery of free will rather than the good and necessary consequence of the Calvinist view which is that God is arbitrary.” (SEA, emphasis mine) One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians states: “Calvinists say that men were not elected for anything good in them or for anything they did, so then why would God arbitrarily be pleased with certain people whom He arbitrarily picked, and also controlled from the womb and conversely not be pleased with others whom He did not pick and controlled them to not respond? That makes no sense whatsoever.” (SEA) By the way, even Calvinists, such as R.C. Sproul, admit that free will is a mystery. Another member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “Trust in another gives no glory to the truster and all glory to the trusted. Faith is the renouncing of any merit, but reliance on God and his unmerited favor. Thus, faith is the perfect vehicle through which God could have a fair basis for accountability and yet there be no merit in the basis of accountability. The Arminian need not run away from the fact that there is indeed a difference between the believer and unbeliever that leads to salvation vs. condemnation. We should embrace it. That’s what makes God’s salvation of believers and condemnation of unbelievers, not arbitrary. It is the very point we want to claim against the Calvinist view that God saves and rejects unconditionally. It is the non-meritorious means of faith, through which, we are saved. Mark well: The question of what the difference between the one who has faith and the one who does not, is simply that one trusts God and the other does not. This is why God saves one and condemns the other, by his own sovereign will and grace. He is not obligated, but out of unmerited favor, reckons faith as righteousness. And this provides for a non-arbitrary basis of non-meritorious salvation and de-meritorious condemnation, so all the glory goes to God for salvation and all the blame goes to man for his own condemnation.” (SEA, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, Peterson and Williams, explain: “His gracious choosing ultimately transcends our reason, but it is not arbitrary.” (Why I am Not an Arminian, p.66, emphasis mine)
This shows that Calvinists draw conclusions based upon their preference. Otherwise, how can Calvinists make any claim to know what “transcends” their reason? Other Calvinists may reason that it is indeed arbitrary, and that that’s simply God’s sovereign choice to do so.