Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: “Now, if some are elect, then it stands to reason that other people are the non-elect. Thats the aspect we find disturbing. It bothers us that some are predestined for salvation and some are not. It seems arbitrary and unfair.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.28)

Calvinist, George Whitefield, stated: “For, without doubt, the doctrine of election and reprobation must stand or fall together.” (A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, James White, writes: “The wonder of God’s act of predestination is not that He justly condemns rebel sinners who love their sin and spit in His face on a daily basis. The wonder I that He actually quells the rebellion in the hearts of innumerable rebel sinners and solely from grace works the miracle of regeneration, removing their hearts of stone and giving them hearts of flesh.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.19, emphasis mine)

First of all, God only removes the heart of stone for those who are new creatures in Christ. (2nd Corinthians 5:17) White’s “miracle of regeneration” is actually a Calvinistic teaching that unless a man is unilaterally, involuntarily and unconsciously regenerated against his depraved will, man cannot believe because he is spiritually dead. That is the basis behind the Calvinistic teaching that unless a man is made born again, he cannot believe. Arminians correct the Calvinist by pointing to the rights and privileges to what is alone afforded to Christians, and point out that the biblical solution for the spiritually dead sinner is a living Gospel (Hebrew 4:12; Romans 10:17) and an active Savior. (John 12:32; John 16:8; Luke 19:10; Revelation 3:20)

Nevertheless, the Calvinist’s sentiments appear honorable. The aforementioned quote solely attributes salvation to the secret workings of God. However, the Arminian challenges the Calvinist to consider the implications of their teachings, both biblically and logically. That’s why Calvinism is like a coin. On the one side of the coin, Calvinists say, “I was saved by grace. I had nothing to do with it. God wanted me to be saved, and He made it happen. If it was up to me, I would never have chosen Him. He had to unilaterally act to save me, because if it was up to my own free will, I never would have opened the door to Christ, and would have eventually perished. God graced me. In fact, no one can become a Christian unless God graces them in like manner. Those who perish, are not graced, as I was graced. Man doesn’t choose who gets saved. God chooses who gets saved.” Then an Arminian comes along and bursts the bubble of the Calvinist by pointing them to the other side of the coin, and then the red-faced Calvinist says, “Oh, I don’t believe that!” However, that’s the inevitable consequence of Calvinism, and any Calvinist who is willing to admit it, receives the label “hyper.” In fact, Calvinists frequently anathematize each other!

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. I delight to preach this blessed truth—salvation of God, from first to last—the Alpha and the Omega; but when I come to preach damnation, I say, damnation of man, not of God; and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required.” (Jacob and Esau, preached January 16, 1859, emphasis mine)

That is referred to as Single Predestination, and Spurgeon cannot conceive of how can any Christian mind can conceive of Double Predestination. And then a Deterministic, Double Predestination Calvinist comes along and insists that Single Predestination defies logic and that its adherents are unwilling to be honest with themselves. And of, course, the Arminian sits back and says, “you’re both right, insomuch as the other is wrong.”

White continues: “He asks how a loving God could eternally choose to send anyone to hell. Such a question completely misses the point. The proper biblical question is: How could a holy God give of Himself in sacrificial love to rebel sinners so as to bring them into a completely undeserved relationship with Himself?” (Debating Calvinism, pp.268-269, emphasis mine)

First notice that White affirms what is known as Double Predestination, which is in agreement with George Whitefield, but not necessarily with all Calvinists, as Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, strongly argued for Single Predestination alone: “...if we examine the Scriptures carefully, we find a subtle but very explicit truth: The Bible never says that anyone is predestined to Hell. Again and again we see that people are predestined (elected) to salvation--but nowhere do we see that anyone is ever predestined to condemnation or Hell.” (Solving Bible Mysteries, pp.28-29) Kennedy is half-right. He arrives at Single Predestination erroneously, especially in his misquote of Ephesians 1:4.

Second, is White really asking the right question? He certainly thinks so, but consider what one former Calvinist observed from White’s type of logic:

Former Calvinist, Steven Hitchcock, explains: “We ought to stop and question a gospel that proclaims, ‘The wonder is not that He withholds mercy from some, but that He should be gracious to any.’ It sounds so spiritual, so humble, so weighty, and awesome, and yet it is a lie. Because of Calvinism we have actually come to think that God’s great willingness to be gracious is more unlikely than likely.” (Recanting Calvinism, pp.xxvi-xxvii, emphasis mine)

That’s a powerful point. Calvinism portrays God, not so much as the Good Samaritan, but as the Priest and the Levite, whose graciousness is more unlikely than likely, pleased to pass by people in need, because of a self-interest in damning them, as a need to demonstrate one’s own grace. This is the exact opposite of the character reflected at Calvary.

In terms of White’s type of reasoning, we should turn it around as follows:

The Calvinist will say that these supposed Divine Offers are worthless since fallen mankind is too depraved, too far gone, even for God’s hand to reach them, apart from an Irresistible Grace, of course. But why should we conclude that God cannot reach them through a genuine, bona fide offer, and a real opportunity through Prevenient Grace? (Calvinist’s don’t believe in Prevenient Grace, even though it just means the ‘grace that precedes’, which is certainly what they teach of Irresistible Grace. They simply refuse to acknowledge that God can give a Resistible Grace. In the Calvinist mind, the door to the argument is fully shut, when they conclude that Christ’s blood could be wasted when one perishes, but what it actually does, is provides the only real explanation, and real answer, to those who perish, when confronted on Judgment Day. The divine response is that they had a Savior, and that they had the provision of a full pardon, but that they rejected it. However, the 5-Point Calvinist cannot say this.)

George Bryson explains: “You cannot have an unconditional election without an unconditional reprobation any more than you can have one side of a coin without the other also.” (The Dark Side of Calvinism, p.374)
Arminian Charge:  Calvinism is like a Coin.

Myth or Reality:  Calvinists celebrate the positive things about Calvinism, while skirting the resulting negative implications.
Calvinist perspective:  The wonder is not how a loving God could eternally choose to create a non-elect caste and to send them to Hell for His glory, having prescripted all of their thoughts, and having withheld Calvary’s mercy, but that He should eternally choose to create an elect caste so that He could demonstrate His kindness and grace.
Arminian perspective:  The wonder is not how a loving God could allow any man to forsake Him and perish, but that He went to such great lengths to save them, through His own shed blood at Calvary, and with many offers and entreaties to receive Him through the goading of the Holy Spirit.