Calvinist, James White, writes: “I don’t know why more intelligent, well-read Arminians don’t seem to see this, but in essence, you de-personalize the Gospel. What do I mean by that? ... From the Arminian perspective, this elect group is just a nameless, faceless group that God has said, ‘Well if you get into this group, then these things will be yours, but it’s up to you whether you get in, and it’s up to you whether you stay in.’ So keep that in mind as you think of these words. Who can really say if God is for us, who is against us? [Only those people who can work-up the faith to stay in this group]. If you remain faithful, then you’re in this group, but you’ve gotta work that up. That’s you, faith can’t be a divine gift, it’s not the work of the Holy Spirit, it’s gotta come out of you, you see. And so He did not spare His own Son for a nameless faceless group that we have proper grounds for asking how God can know from eternity past who’s going to be in it, if it’s all up to man? I mean think about it, if God can really know what man is going to do is man really free? That’s why the Open Theists go into the direction they do. He did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all. Well I thought He was delivered over for every single human being, how is there any difference, from the Arminian perspective? ‘Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?’ How do you bring a charge against nameless faceless people?” (Arminianism: It Robs the Gospel of its Personal Nature, emphasis mine)
The eternal plan of God was the corporate salvation of those in Christ, and there is no reason why God, as an eternal Being, could not also foreknew each individual by name. So where, then, is the alleged, de-personalization?
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians writes: “White’s mind-numbing equation of corporate election in Christ, with a subversion of God’s personal communion with redeemed individuals, is just dumb. God’s ability to elect folks corporately doesn’t preclude a personal component to covenantal fellowship with God. This is depressingly obvious from even the Old Testament. In most of the Old Testament, God deals with the corporate, ethnic nation of Israel, but the individual component is not subsumed by these corporate dealings. The same is true of the New Testament. White intentionally skews the Arminian outlook on corporate election by creating a false dichotomy between the corporate and individual aspects. For a guy who pontificates about Romans 8-11 on such a regular basis, you’d think that he’d know this.” (SEA)
To address some of the other points raised by White, yes, God is indeed for all of us, as much as it is up to Him. (1st Timothy 2:4; 2nd Peter 3:9) Additionally, “staying in this group,” as White puts it, is not a mere static situation, since post- conversion, there is the dynamic element of the (1) Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, (2) the new birth, (3) regeneration, ect. That’s why White’s mention of “working up the necessary faith to stay in the group” seems a bit off base, as it ignores the fundamental change that takes place, post-conversion. Why White doesn’t recognize this as being inclusive of the “divine gift of the Holy Spirit,” is unclear.
Calvinists frequently make this type of statement, which Arminians find puzzling. Why can’t God, an eternal Being, know the future self-determined decisions of individuals? To a Calvinist, God couldn’t know such a thing, and Open Theists agree with the Calvinists on this point, which is why Open Theists believe that such divine foreknowledge would be impossible to know, that is, of being “logically unknowable,” and White agrees, but not Arminians. If God dwells independent of time, and is also able to interact with His creation in time, then it should be no problem for God to have the type of foreknowledge that Calvinists and Open Theists otherwise describe as “logically unknowable.”
James White also states: “He did not spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all. Well I thought He was delivered over for every single human being, how is there any difference, from the Arminian perspective? ‘Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?’ How do you bring a charge against nameless faceless people?” (Arminianism: It Robs the Gospel of its Personal Nature)
The Arminian response is that there was a purpose for Calvary, which purpose is redemption, extended toward “whosoever believes in Him,” comprising “The Church” or “The body of Christ,” and as much as it is up to God, He is willing that all repent and become saved and all become part of His Church, and God has made a way, through His Son. That’s really the only way that you can adequately explain Hell. Hell was not made for mankind, but for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) That means that Heaven, conversely, was made for mankind. God had good intentions for mankind, not Hell. The only time when some of mankind joins the devil and his angels in Hell is when they similarly reject God. However, Calvinism necessarily presupposes a very dark concept of God, in terms of purposely creating men and angels for Hell. Sometimes Calvinists reject that inference, but you merely need to ask the Calvinist: “Did God create the Calvinistically elect for Heaven?” Calvinists will say yes. Then ask, “Did God create the rest for Heaven as well?” Calvinists will have to answer no, and that’s when you press: “So, where did God design for them to go, if not Heaven”? So, in other words, the Calvinist cannot deny that their theology requires that men and angels were created for Hell.