Although not specifically directed toward Calvinists, the following quote is one potential explanation for how one might hold to Calvinist beliefs:
Steven Hitchcock explains: “Many are hardened in their hearts toward God because they do know that they are sinful. Their outward hardened appearance is usually because they are not right with God and they respond to their guilt by adopting a harsh view of God and of religion.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.78, emphasis mine)
A. Brent Cobb writes: “We become more and more like our concept of God. If I see him as harsh, that’s the way I’ll become, but if I see God as compassionate, that’s the kind of person I’ll become.” (The Great Scandal, emphasis mine)
Dave Hunt explains: “Calvinists exult in a ‘sovereignty’ that has chosen a select group alone to salvation and predestined the rest of mankind to eternal torment.” (Debating Calvinism, p.47)
Dave Hunt writes: “Theology inevitably affects behavior.” (Debating Calvinism, p.227)
Dave Hunt adds: “Life reflects doctrine (2 Timothy 3:10).” (Debating Calvinism, p.248)
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “One of the things that I think happens as people get into studying soteriology is that they become desensitized to notions such as the suggestion that God creates the vast majority of people so that He can torture them forever in Hell, and that this shows His glory, what He is really like and about, that people actually become desensitized by such claims....” (SEA, emphasis mine) Continuing: “Calvinists picture God as someone who ‘does whatever He wishes’ with the non-elect, like mere objects, instead of viewing them as actual beings created in His image. It sickens and angers me. And we wonder why some of them act the way that they do.” (SEA, emphasis mine) One member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians comments: “We become what we worship. So if a Christian’s God has a light side and a dark side, (a benevolent side and a sadistic side), then it is acceptable for that Christian to abuse others, for he is just mimicking his God.” (SEA, emphasis mine) Another member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians comments: “A person tends to become like the God they worship, and if your character and actions do not fit the God of the Bible, then possibly you are worshipping another God, a false God, and engaging in idolatry. This is why I take Calvinism to be such a serious error. If it were like Millennial beliefs (where different believers hold different views but have the same views of God), that would be one thing, but Calvinism leads to a defective character, and worse yet, a defective and false view of God. That needs to be challenged and cannot be ignored.” (SEA, emphasis mine)
Consider the following examples of harsh views of God:
Calvinist, Vincent Cheung, writes: “One who thinks that God’s glory is not worth the death and suffering of billions of people has too high an opinion of himself and humanity.” (The Problem of Evil, p.10, emphasis mine)
However, God’s glory is not simply about raw power, but about power with integrity and goodness.
John Calvin writes: “Hence Augustine, having treated of the elect, and taught that their salvation reposes in the faithful custody of God so that none perishes, continues: The rest of mortal men who are not of this number, but rather taken out of the common mass and made vessels of wrath, are born for the use of the elect.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.107, emphasis mine)
John Calvin adds: “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” (Institutes of Christian Religion: Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 5, emphasis mine)
Another way that this is expressed, is that we are to be grateful to God for creating the non-elect so that we who are of the Calvinistically elect can appreciate “grace” all the more.
One Calvinist states: “God’s everlasting love is toward the elect only. His common love (His universal love) is toward absolutely everybody. When God shows love toward the nonelect, He does so knowing their eternal destiny in burning unending retribution. Thus His common love is a Holy love, a love which is experienced by every human being. Its ultimate purpose is to add intensity of sorrow to the nonelect who no longer experience it, as they used to—no more quietness, peaceful days, wife, family, friends, water, rest, sunshine etc. Yeah for all eternity they will remember His universal love, even as they scream and wail and pop and burn.” (Calvinists often make the worst Calvinists, emphasis mine) One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians comments: “Wow, what a sick twisted view of who God is. Sounds more like a description of Satan. What kind of a God would choose to send someone to Hell just to torture them even more by giving them a love that amounts to nothing in the end. God does love everyone, but he also gives as many who hear, a chance to repent.” (SEA)
Consider additional examples of the desensitizing nature of Calvinism.
John Calvin writes: “Solomon also teaches us that not only was the destruction of the ungodly foreknown, but the ungodly themselves have been created for the specific purpose of perishing (Prov. 16:4).” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.207-208, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, J. Vernon McGee, writes: “I don’t care who you are or where you are, God created you for His glory. Somebody says, ‘What about the drunkard in the street? What about that crooked man? That lost man--what about him? You mean he’s for the glory of God?’ My friend, this is a strong pill--are you read to swallow it? All of that is for the glory of God. ‘Oh,’ you may say, ‘I don’t like that.’ I don’t remember that God ever asked anyone where or not he liked it. He has never asked me that.” (Thru the Bible: Proverbs Through Malachi, p.56, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, initially explains the common perception of Calvinism, but then reinforces it:
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “Predestination seems to cast a shadow on the very heart of human freedom. If God has decided our destinies from all eternity, that strongly suggests that our free choices are but charades, empty exercises in predetermined playacting. It is as though God wrote the script for us in concrete and we are merely carrying out his scenario.” (Chosen by God, p.51, emphasis mine)
Sproul explains: “In Reformed theology, if God is not sovereign over the entire created order, then he is not sovereign at all. The term sovereignty too easily becomes a chimera. If God is not sovereign, then he is not God. It belongs to God as God to be sovereign.” (Chosen by God, p.27, emphasis mine)
Sproul states: “...what God permits, he “decrees to permit.” (What is Reformed Theology?, p.173, emphasis mine)
Sproul writes: “God, and God alone, is the sole primary cause in the universe. He is not merely the first cause in the Aristotelian sense of the first in a long chain of causes. He is the ground of all causal power.” (What is Reformed Theology?, pp.173-174)
Sproul: “We make real choices. Yet a secondary cause is always dependent on the primary cause, God himself, for its efficacy. God brings to pass his sovereign will through or by means of secondary causes.” (What is Reformed Theology?, p.174, emphasis mine)
With Sproul’s “script” in mind, ponder how Calvinists on Internet discussion forums such as www.CARM.org then view God’s will in relation to things such as Abortion: Calvinist CARM member, beloved57, states: “Abortion is according to Gods sovereign will.” Calvinist CARM member, 4calvinism, explains: “God has His reasons for allowing abortion. I would rather believe that than believe in a God who could stop abortion anytime he wanted but chooses not to. Or a God who is simply incapable of stopping it. Which do you choose?” Calvinist CARM member, Big Bus, also explains: “Of course it brings glory. In what way, we have no idea. All things bring glory to God....even punishing the evil people who commit abortions. What a sad and pathetic god you have that has the power to prevent these MURDERS but just will not because of violating man’s will.... You see, we C’s actually have an answer for things like this that are biblical....God’s GLORY and RIGHTEOUS PURPOSE. All you guys got is the imaginary ‘God won’t violate their free will’ defense...or something even stranger, like ‘God lets these phases of time just play out’. Yeah, sounds good. I think I’ll go turn off all the streetlights and just let things play out FOR NO REASON AT ALLLLL! Good stuff.”
Jesus states: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” (Matthew 18:14) Nevertheless, in remaining consistent to the mind-set of a Calvinistic “script” theory, however inconsistent that it may be with Scripture, the Calvinist must conclude that Matthew 18:14 speaks only of the “little ones” who are Calvinistically elect. The dehumanizing factor is that ultimately, God must have no interest in helping or loving the lost in general, except of course with superficial rain. In terms of things that have eternal value, these, according to Calvinism, are passed by:
John Calvin writes: “The Lord in His unmerited election is free and exempt from the necessity of bestowing equally the same grace on all. Rather, He passes by those whom He wills, and chooses whom He wills.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.200, emphasis mine)
Calvin adds: “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)
Calvin writes: “When predestination is discussed, it is from the start to be constantly maintained, as I today teach, that all the reprobate are justly left in death, for in Adam they are dead and condemned.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.121, emphasis mine)
The dehumanizing factor is that if Jesus passes them by, then why shouldn’t you? However, the reality is that according to Luke 10:30-37, Jesus doesn’t pass people by, nor does He exalt those who do.
The Calvinistic, Westminster Confession of Faith, states: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, III. Of God’s Eternal Decree, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, comments: “This statement refers to God’s eternal and immutable decretive will. It applies to everything that happens. Does this mean that everything that happens is the will of God? Yes.” (What is Reformed Theology?, p.172, emphasis mine)
Yet, at the same time, Sproul distances himself from what he calls hyper-Calvinism:
Sproul explains: “Equal ultimacy is not the Reformed or Calvinist view of predestination. Some have called it ‘hyper-Calvinism.’ I prefer to call it ‘sub-Calvinism’ or, better yet, ‘anti-Calvinism.’ Though Calvinism certainly has a view of double predestination, the double predestination it embraces is not one of equal ultimacy. To understand the Reformed view of the matter we must pay close attention to the crucial distinction between positive and negative decrees of God. Positive has to do with God’s active intervention in the hearts of the elect. Negative has to do with God’s passing over the non-elect. The Reformed view teaches that God positively or actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to insure their salvation. The rest of mankind God leaves to themselves. He does not create unbelief in their hearts. That unbelief is already there. He does not coerce them to sin. They sin by their own choices. ... The dreadful error of hyper-Calvinism is that it involves God in coercing sin. This does radical violence to the integrity of God’s character.” (Chosen By God, pp.142-143, emphasis mine)
But positive and negative decrees are an invalid dichotomy, since everything flows from the decree, even any permission. Simply ask whether God is permitting something that may or may not happen. Once Calvinists admit that all things must happen as decreed, the dichotomy crumbles.
If, as Sproul says, that God is the “sole primary cause in the universe” and that Second Causes are “dependent” upon the Primary Cause for their “potency,” then does it not logically follow that second causes are in some way coerced by their primary cause, through which they receive their potency? To Sproul, the word “coerce” would be pivotal, since that’s how he distinguishes his theology from that of those whom he labels as “hyper Calvinists.” Sproul writes: “The dreadful error of hyper-Calvinism is that it involves God in coercing sin. This does radical violence to the integrity of God's character.” (Chosen by God, p.143, emphasis mine)
Calvinists are often offended by the hyper-Calvinist views of some of their Calvinist brethren, but I would like to say that I highly doubt that their hyper-Calvinist brethren have all set out with the intention of building a theology in which God takes pleasure in, and obtains glory from, the creation of billions to eternally destroy. Rather, what I would say, is that what to them has been fed, is that Scripture, absolutely declares, that God has unconditionally elected, some to Heaven, some to...err...passing by the rest, with the result, that these “hyper-Calvinist” brethren, simply follow their logic, all the way, to its natural end.
Here are more views of harsh Calvinism about God:
Calvinist, James White, writes: “Surely it is part of modern evangelical tradition to say, ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,’ but providing a meaningful biblical basis for this assertion is significantly more difficult.” (Debating Calvinism, p.265, emphasis mine)
White adds: “Everyone knows John 3:16, and that’s the problem. So many are familiar with the verse that very few stop to consider the traditions that have been packed very carefully into its constant and often acontextual citation.” (Debating Calvinism, p.376, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, J.I Packer, explains: “…the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message.…we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence ‘at the door of our hearts’ for us to let them in.” (Introductory Essay to John Owen’s Death of Death in the Death of Christ, emphasis mine) Calvinist, Alan Kurschner, writes: “God desires that his sheep are saved. God desires that his people are saved. He does not desire that every single individual who has ever lived, live in glory with him forever. If that were the case, we have an incompetent, unhappy, and impotent God.” (The Calvinist Gadfly, emphasis mine) Calvinist, Matthew McMahon, writes: “I reject anything which makes God a cosmic bell-hop tending to the commands and demands of sinful men as another gospel. I reject anything which removes God’s sovereignty to place man as the Sovereign as another gospel. I reject anything which denies the sovereign decrees of God and His electing grace to put salvation into the hands of sinful men as another gospel. I reject anything which denies man’s total depravity and exalts his fictitious free will as another gospel. I reject anything which places the perseverance of man to glory in the incapable hands of a sinful man as another gospel. I reject anything which endeavors to treat God as the great Grandfather in the sky beckoning and pleading with man to be saved as changing the true God into a pitiable wimp.” (Why I am a Calvinist, emphasis mine) One Calvinist explains: “You have quoted Adrian Rogers as saying: ‘If you go to hell, a broken-hearted God will watch you drop into hell.’ Of course, the bible doesn’t teach this sappy nonsense at all. God hates the wicked, not just their sin but them specifically. (Psa 5:5; 11:5)” (“Giant Sale! All merchandise half price”, emphasis mine)
Whenever Calvinists try to sell people on the idea that God only loves Calvinism’s elect, it comes at the cost of diminishing God’s goodness, and could have the net effect of making Calvinists more jaded. Perhaps this is why Calvinists are such notorious hand wringers.
Here is a Blog discussion on this point.