Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, Jay Adams, cautions: “As a Reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, for they cannot say that. No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died. But the counselor’s task is to explain the gospel and to say very plainly that God commands all men to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ.”  (Competent to Counsel, p.70, emphasis mine) 

So in other words, the Gospel is not an offer, but just a command, which only the Calvinistically elect will obey, through an Irresistible Grace, and if you do “endure to the end,” then you must have been one of “the elect,” and Jesus died for you after all. This is the resulting by-product of the Calvinist doctrine of a Limited Atonement.

Walls and Dongell comment:Calvinism deprives those struggling with their faith of the single most important resource available: the confidence that God loves all of us with every kind of love we need to enable and encourage our eternal flourishing and well-being.” (Why I Am Not A Calvinist, p.201, emphasis mine)

An Arminian can say that God loves them because God loves everyone, and has a kind will for everyone, at least for God’s part. For God’s part, He is willing that you turn and live. So if God loves everyone, and I am a someone, then God must love me too. Calvinism undermines this with their doctrine of Unconditional Election and Unconditional Preterition or Reprobation.

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: Do you know that you are elect of God, chosen of God, predestined to adoption as a child of God before the beginning of time? You can know for certain.”  (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.27, emphasis mine)

But according to Calvinism, is this possible?

Calvinist, Mark Talbot, explains: “Now of course, nothing, that I, nor anyone else, can say can guarantee that anyone will continue to believe. Faith is a gift of God that we cannot produce.”  (Sin and Suffering in Calvin’s World, emphasis mine)

In other words, the fact that you believe today is no guarantee that you will still believe tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after. You can only hope for the best, that your ordained fate is better than others, and that your grace is not a temporary grace, here today and gone tomorrow. Mark Talbot explicitly offers no illusion for your hope of tomorrow. There is nothing that you can do, but hope for the best. It’s completely out of your hands and completely in God’s hands. If you should find yourself an unbeliever tomorrow, your gift has run out.

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, continues: “Because you are reading this book, odds are that you are a follower of Christ who wants to grow deeper in the Christian faith. In that case, you are one of God’s elect, chosen before the foundation of the world. ... By choosing Him today, you can know for sure that He has first chosen you!”  (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.31, emphasis mine)

Trusting that one has been secretly drafted is not a real strong basis for confidence. (Notice that Ephesians 1:4 was misquoted.) Calvinists themselves acknowledge that Kennedy is being presumptuous. The dichotomy is that Arminianism derives confidence in simply trusting in Jesus, knowing that He wants to save me, in particular, because He died for everyone, and Im a subset of everyone, whereas with Calvinism, confidence is derived in supposing to be one of the secret Elect. Now that doesnt seem to serve as much of a basis for confidence.

One former Calvinist turned Atheist candidly comments: “I am really not sure I remember what came first. I think it probably began with a serious spiritual dissatisfaction with God and my life under His providential care (so I believed then). I started getting less and less out of church, so I wondered what I was doing wrong. I tried to justify my feelings by saying, God just didn’t move today. But others would occasionally seem to actually be touched by the Spirit, so I supposed. Then I started wondering if I was praying enough. I prayed more. Then I started wondering, is there unconfessed sin in my life? None that I could think of. I had (and this is deeply personal but probably not surprising at all to you) problems of lust and covetousness (not of money, but of social success and friendships and relationships and such), but these were ongoing confessions in my prayer life, with associated ups and downs but no real deliverance. I was desperately lonely and could not understand the providence of God in my life to allow not only crushing loneliness, unanswered prayers (forgot to mention, a rather big omission that) in various and numerous requests to God, but also the apostasy of near and dear friends who held devoutly to the same religion of Christianity that I held to, and the absence of saving faith in so many family members (again, more unanswered prayers) who were variously Catholic, or nominally religious at best, some not hostile but completely apathetic to religion (something I just for the life of me could not understand, especially with all the wonderful experiences in the Christian faith I had, wonderful relationships inside the church at least, at one-time a very growing and healthy spiritual life, and the like, and how could anyone not want more than the daily grind of a never-ending rat race offered by the world?). I even began doubting my election in the sovereign grace of Christ, having no real proof for it with which I could satisfy myself (and I had been given several times the spiritual tests given by Peter to see how one’s personal spiritual growth lined up with the expectation and assurance of the Scriptures, and probably other passages which I cannot remember right now).” (Why I Doubt Christianity, emphasis mine)

Thats part of the problem with Calvinism.

Lutzer writes: “Historic Calvinism stresses the ‘perseverance of the saints,’ namely that true believers never fall away, and if they do, it is not for long. If a person fails to continue in the faith, he is giving proof that he was never saved.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.231, emphasis mine)

But if that person was never said, then they sure got a lot of mileage out of their Total Depravity.

Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, recalls:I frequently meet with poor souls, who are fretting and worrying themselves about this thought—‘How, if I should not be elect! ‘Oh, sir, they say, ‘I know I put my trust in Jesus; I know I believe in his name and trust in his blood; but how if I should not be elect?’ Poor dear creature! you do not know much about the gospel, or you would never talk so, for he that believes is elect. Those who are elect, are elect unto sanctification and unto faith; and if you have faith you are one of God’s elect; you may know it and ought to know it, for it is an absolute certainty. If you, as a sinner, look to Jesus Christ this morning, and say—‘Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling, you are elect. I am not afraid of election frightening poor saints or sinners.”  (Election, emphasis mine)

It sounds more like faith in Election, than faith in Christ.

Former Calvinist, Steven Hitchcock, explains when originally converting to Calvinism: “The flip side of this is the disturbing thought that you might not be one of the Elect.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.xxviii)

Walls and Dongell comment:This dreadful possibility is what haunts Calvinists who struggle with the assurance and certainty of salvation. Times of moral failure and depression can easily be construed as evidence that one is not chosen after all and that God is hardening one’s heart for not responding more faithfully to his grace.” (Why I Am Not A Calvinist, p.202, emphasis mine)


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)

Exactly. Confidence doesnt come from Calvinism, but from trusting in Christ.

Arminian Charge:  Calvinism destroys Confidence.

Myth or Reality:  If Jesus died for all, then He died for you too. But if Jesus did not die for all, then how do you really know that He died for you? As a non-Calvinist, I dont have that concern. I know that Jesus died for me, because He died for all. I know that God desires for me to be saved, because He desires for all to be saved, and for His part, and as much as it is up to Him, He is willing.
Arminians are Christians by promise, knowing that God promises “eternal life” to whoever believes in His Son.

Calvinists are Christians by presumption, presuming that they are “one of the elect,” and hopefully do not possess a mere Temporal Grace.