Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, Richard Mouw, writes: “There is no denying that a belief that we are predestined to eternal life can lead to a deterministic, even fatalistic, understanding of the Christian life. If it is God who does the choosing, then we may be tempted to think that our own choosing, our own responding to God, is a charade. It is all preprogrammed. But Calvinist theologians go out of their way to deny this implication.(Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport, p.66, emphasis mine)

Calvinists can deny whatever they want, but that doesn’t make their denials immune to accusations of Special Pleading.

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians states:The gospel may be foolishness to some, but it is never convoluted.(SEA)

Dave Hunt writes: “Calvinism turns the Bible and human experience into a charade.” (Debating Calvinism, p.311, emphasis mine)

Hunt explains: “‘He that winneth souls is wise’ (Proverbs 11:30) becomes meaningless; there is no persuading the damned, and the saved are regenerated without believing anything. ‘Come now, and let us reason together’ (Isaiah 1:18) is meaningless for the same reasons. The ‘great white throne’ judgment is also meaningless if God has willed every thought, word, and deed. The Bible’s call of hope for all--‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve’ (Joshua 24:15); ‘Seek ye the LORD while he may be found’ (Isaiah 55:6); ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor’ (Matthew 11:28); ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink’ (John 7:37)--all this and more is made meaningless by Calvinism!”  (Debating Calvinism, p.334, emphasis mine)

How you can truly win someone for Christ if they were already, eternally won by virtue of Calvinistic, Unconditional Election. However, if someone really was on the path to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, and a Christian shared the Gospel with them, and through its power (Romans 1:16), and the Holy Spirits willing involvement in convicting the world of its sin (John 16:8), they repented of their sins and opened the door to Christ to receive Him into their heart (Revelation 3:20), then you could say that this one was truly won. Otherwise, how would all of the joy in heaven among the angels have any meaning if these were already won from eternity past? Jesus states: I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)

John Calvin comments: “Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is offered to all. Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all men, yet not all receive Him.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.117-118, emphasis mine)

Calvin adds: “Two people may hear the same teaching together; yet one is willing to learn, and the other persists in his obstinacy. They do not differ in nature, but God illumines one and not the other.”  (Acts: Calvin, Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.229, emphasis mine)

John Calvin writes:When God prefers some to others, choosing some and passing others by, the difference does not depend on human dignity or indignity. It is therefore wrong to say that the reprobate are worthy of eternal destruction.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.120-121, emphasis mine)

Dave Hunt explains: “Calvin’s God is apparently taunting the nonelect with the gospel, offering a salvation He won’t let them have.” (Debating Calvinism, p.315, emphasis mine)

Hunt adds: “Calvinism creates the contradiction of God pleading with mankind to repent and receive the salvation He offers, while withholding the very grace without which no man can do so--pretending to offer salvation to those He has from eternity past predestined to the lake of fire!” (Debating Calvinism, p.362, emphasis mine)

Michael Brown explains: “Here is a big bottom-line thing for me: When God tells someone to turn to Him in faith and be saved, I believe it is a genuine invitation. A Calvinist would say, “Well, that’s the ‘Revealed Will’ but the ‘Secret Will’ may be different, and the point of fact is that person is unable to turn; they don’t have the capacity to turn unless God gives it to them,” so it’s not a genuine invitation, and if they did turn and they did believe and they said, ‘alright,’ if somehow they did have the power, if God granted them faith, they couldn’t believe in Jesus anyway unless Jesus died for them, so what kind of invitation is that? It violates everything the Word says about God’s justice and goodness and kindness and fairness and heart and mercy, as far as I’m concerned.” (The Line of Fire, emphasis mine)

Dave Hunt explains: “God is not in any way obligated to provide salvation for anyone. Yet the Bible repeatedly makes it clear that God’s gracious purpose is for all mankind to be saved: ‘Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.... Christ Jesus...gave himself a ransom for all....’ (1 Timothy 2:4-6).” (What Love is This?, p.258)

Hunt adds: “If salvation is not genuinely available to all, why did Christ command His disciples to go into all the world and ‘preach the gospel  to every creature’ (Mark 16:15)? Is that not giving a false impression, both to His disciples and to all who would read their account of Christ’s teachings in the four Gospels?” (What Love is This?, p.260)

That’s a great point, because a Calvinist will say that they preach the Gospel to all men, because they do not know whothe elect” are, but the point that they’re missing is the fact that Christ commands that all men be presented with the Gospel. That’s significant, because how can you tell someone to “repent,” unless they have a Savior to whom such repentance may be received? In fact, 1st Timothy 4:10 makes it clear that everyone does indeed have a Savior: “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” This means that Jesus has, in fact, died for everyone so that everyone has a Savior. Whether they will receive the Savior or not, is another matter. But the fact remains that there has to be an atonement that is unlimited in scope, in order to receive the repentance that is being demanded.

Dave Hunt explains: “Peter told the Jews gathered at Pentecost, ‘for the promise is unto you and to your children...’ (Acts 2:39). Calvinism turns this promise into a lie, and the preaching of the gospel becomes a cruel hoax to multitudes!” (What Love is This?, p.260)

God provides salvation.
God sets the rules on how to obtain it (i.e. faith in His Son).
God offers it to whomever He will (i.e. whosoever will come).
So according to John Calvin, Gods grace is “offered to all,” but “not because it in fact extends to all,” because God “illumes one and not the other.”
It seems like a primary apologetic tactic for most Calvinists is to adopt sort of a Lewis Carroll-esque facility with words:

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’”

-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, chapter 6.

Calvinists engage in Humpty Dumpty-like defenses. For instance, take the two wills theory of John Piper, where God has two wills: the “secret will” which is the total plan for how every detail in history goes vs. the “revealed will” in terms of what God merely declares as truth. Here, God ordains, preplans, desires and scripts every thought, word and deed, such as adultery, and then simultaneously says that adultery is wrong and that He hates it. The Humpty Dumpty Calvinist comes along and says this is not a contradiction, but that it’s a mystery, or otherwise, non-Calvinists simply lack the intelligence to understand it, but by no means is it a contradiction! Take the Humpty Dumpty Calvinist on free will. Humpty says that you are acting freely and have a *real choice* on decisions in which you have *no other choice* but to do precisely what is scripted. (To say that, “they would have wanted to it anyway,” fails to explain why they didn’t desire to do a myriad of other things instead). Take the Humpty Dumpty Calvinist on Reprobation. Humpty says that God is love, even though He preplans for most of humanity to go to an eternal hell, and He delights in sending them all to Hell so that he can demonstrate His other attributes such as wrath and justice!
Arminian Charge:  Calvinism turns the Bible into a Charade.

Myth or Reality:  The Bible describes God as loving the world in a way which resulted in Calvary, but if there is a non-elect caste that God has allegedly passed-by for grace, then what would that say of Gods love for them, and what would that say of the sincerity of His offer of salvation toward them? Moreover, the idea of winning souls would be a charade if its already set who can be saved and who cant be saved.