Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains:Calvinism flatters people into thinking that they had a greater potential for salvation than ordinary people. We call this ‘soteriological elitism.’

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains:When I look at the Calvinist view, I cannot help but feel that Calvinists take great pride in their personal election. They feign humility in this, but when challenged, I have seen them become arrogant and abusive.” (SEA)

One Calvinist acknowledges that there may be some validity to this concern:

Calvinist, Richard Mouw, states: “The idea of Election has often been wedded to a belief in a remnant, a faithful minority—tied to a sense that God has bypassed the vast majority of the human race and bestowed his saving mercies on a small number. Often this perspective seems to be worn as a badge of honor—as though Calvinists have a right to take pride in the fact that God has chosen them over most other members of the human race.” (Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport, p.84, emphasis mine)

Former Calvinist, Steven Hitchcock, explains: “To be Elect, as a Calvinist understands it, is to be one whom God has uniquely selected from out of the mass of sinful humanity. God has bestowed on the Elect a standing before Him that is glorious, because it mysteriously began in eternity regarding an insignificant, finite sinner. To imbibe Calvinism is to imbibe this new sense of glory, ironically seen as profound humility. It is everything to be one of the Elect, for it means that you are ‘in’ and bound for glory. Think of it. He chose you and not another!” (Recanting Calvinism, p.xxvii, emphasis mine)

In other words, Calvinism can have the opposite effect that Calvinists intend:

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)

MacArthur asks:To whom do you owe your salvation? You owe it to the God who chose you. You owe it to the God who predestined you. You owe it to the God who redeemed you, the God who forgave you, the God who wanted you to be His own because He wanted you to be His own. It doesn’t give any other reason, even though we are so unworthy, so unworthy.” (Understanding Election, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, states: “Friends, if you want to be humbled, study election, for it will make you humble under the influence of God’s Spirit. He who is proud of his election is not elect; and he who is humbled under a sense of it may believe that he is. He has every reason to believe that he is, for it is one of the most blessed effects of election that it helps us to humble ourselves before God.  (Election, emphasis mine)

Yet strangely, in the same sermon, Spurgeon went on to state:

Spurgeon adds: “‘I am God’s,’ says he, ‘I am distinct from other men. They are of an inferior race. Am not I noble? Am not I one of the aristocrats of heaven? Is not my name written in God’s book?’” (Election, emphasis mine)

This wasn’t a warning against pride. This was actually supposed to be the fruit of election, making a person “fearless” and “bold.”

Spurgeon adds:The man who knows he is elect will be too proud to sin; he will not humble himself to commit the acts of common people.” (Election, emphasis mine)

By his own definition, you would have to conclude that he is not one of the Calvinistically elect. Yes, pretty bizarre! But actually, this just sets up the grand finale:

Spurgeon concludes: “Let your hope rest on the cross of Christ. Think not on election but on Christ Jesus. Rest on Jesus—Jesus first, midst, and without end.” (Election, emphasis mine)

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians states: “One must wonder what a Calvinist would think of God if he were predestined for Hell. (Even Calvinists believe that some can have false faith.) When God asked him about his glory and wonder, what will he say about such grace? They only affirm their doctrine because they believe they are on the receiving end of the glory. It is human pride manifest in their theology. The cross is the glory of God. God’s glory is found in weakness, and suffering, and sacrifice for others. It is found in weeping over the lost, not rejoicing over the loss of any of those who bears God’s image in Hell. It is not found in the arrogance of human pride but in humility of God. The only portrait of the glory of God we must embrace is found on Mount Calvary. Romans 3:25-27 - ‘He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded.’” (SEA, edited)

Calvinist, John MacArthur, explains: “So, I went from the Arminian kind of side to the Reformed side, and there I was in the middle of this mix and I just decided I’d go to the Bible and find out what the Bible said. I think, in a sense, all of that experience sort of canceled each other out, which was good for me, and I went back to the Word of God and in the Word of God, without all the presuppositions cast in stone, I was able to let the Bible speak. Through the years, the Bible I believe speaks very clearly about what the truth is. But, I think if people could divest themselves of their presuppositions and if they could be willing to eat a little humble pie and say, ‘It’s possible that I might be wrong,’ and take another hard look at the Word of God, they would come to the right answers. It’s a very simple point to make, and it is this: if two people take two opposing views of something, they cannot both be right. Somebody is wrong. And it’s not us, right? Well, I mean, I don’t say that in a proud way. I just believe that we are where we are because we believe this is true.” (Bible Questions and Answers, emphasis mine)

MacArthur mentions “presuppositions cast in stone” without knowing that nothing can be cast in stone. Iron and gold can be poured into a casting but not stone. It’s “carved in stone,” not “cast in stone.” He also said, “Through the years, the Bible I believe speaks very clearly about what the truth is.” That’s big of him. He believes the Bible speaks clearly about what the truth is? Yet, elsewhere, he said the Bible contradicts itself. So why would he quote something that he believes has contradictions?

One Calvinist comments: “There is thus a difference between mere Arminians who do not know better, and devoted Arminians who knowingly, willfully and explicitly reject the Doctrine of Grace. Most Evangelicals are shallow Arminians and even Semi-Pelagians because they are untaught in the truths of Scripture, just like I once was. To them, instructing them in the truths of Scripture would be helpful. If they are truly teachable, they would slowly come to embrace the Doctrines of Grace, unless of course there are strong emotional barriers due to certain past experiences in their life which will make it hard for them to do so.”

But what if people reject Calvinism due to a biblical barrier? Calvinists give Arminians very little credit.

Arminian Charge:  Calvinism breeds arrogance.

Myth or Reality:  Some present Calvinists, and certainly former Calvinists, both acknowledge this phenomenon.
It’s quite natural that a depraved, ambitious and self-glorifying carnal man would just go gaga over Calvinism. After all, what theology does more to promote man into deity than Calvinism?

I was once in the Calvinist camp, in thinking that God created one class like David, vs. a non-elect class like Goliath, who were created only to be stepping stones for the David-class, and I remember how personally gratifying that it felt, not being like everyone else, but being special, as I was never at any time on a path to Hell or in any danger of Hell. And then I was hit with 2nd Peter 3:9, and I was dethroned.

And how exactly had 2nd Peter 3:9 “dethroned” me? I learned that I wasn’t in a special class, as one in which God plays favorites, but that what He did on the cross for me, He will do for any, and is patient and long-suffering toward that end.