Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

One Calvinist explains: If Christ did indeed die for every, single human being (i.e. bore the punishment of sin for each and every person), then there would be no need for God to punish anyone else for the same sin. In fact, it would be unjust for him to do so. The very fact that people die and go to Hell is enough proof that the atonement is limited. (Actually, both Calvinists and Arminians teach limited atonement. Calvinists limit the scope of the atonement, whereas Arminians limit its effectiveness.)” (The Contemporary Calvinist, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, explains: “If God accepts payment of one person’s moral debt from another, will he then exact payment of the same debt later by the person himself? The answer is obviously no.”  (What is Reformed Theology?, p.166, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, James White, writes: “How will the opponent of a fully substitutionary and effective atonement respond to this argument? Does God the Father actually place the sins of those He knows will spend eternity in hell upon His Son?” (Debating Calvinism, p.173, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer explains: “Suppose I were to owe you a thousand dollars but was unable to pay my debt. But a kind friend intervenes and pays you what I owe. But you still elicit a payment from me, asking that I pay ever last cent. Would that be just? I think not. If my friend paid my debt, justice requires that I be free. The analogy is clear: if Christ’s sacrifice was for all men, then either all men will be saved or God will be unfairly demanding from sinners what has already been paid. If Christ died for people who will be in hell, his justice is in jeopardy. How could a righteous God demand a double payment for the same debt? ‘But,’ we protest, ‘the payment is no good unless it is accepted.’ Calvinists point out that the important point is that God has already accepted Christ’s payment on the cross.” (The Doctrines That Divide, pp.183-184, emphasis mine)

Lutzer concludes:If this was a payment for the sins of the whole world, then the unbelief of the ungodly was also included in the sacrifice. No one should be expected to pay for his sins in hell. If the treachery of Judas was included in Christ’s ransom, which the Father accepted, why should he be required to suffer for his sins?” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.184, emphasis mine)

The “kind friend” in Lutzer’s analogy bought the note of your sin-debt, but you still owe the “thousand dollars,” except now you owe it to the purchaser. However, due to the kindness of Christ, the only currency that He accepts for payment of your debt of a “thousand dollars” is faith in Him. However, without faith in Him, He will enforce the Law upon you (Matthew 5:17-18), so that in default, you will be sent to prison. Five-point Calvinists, like Erwin Lutzer, mistakenly believe that they simply got a free thousand dollars with no strings attached. John 3:16 confirms that receiving the gift of eternal life is conditioned on faith in Christ.

So in commercial debt, the debt is transferred, such as a new Mortgage company taking over a loan from the loan Originator. Thus, the Atonement can be viewed as a matter of Jesus purchasing our debt.

I’ve heard preachers say that Jesus paid for every sin but the sin of disbelief. However, that doesn’t sound right. I would think that a more accurate statement would be that Jesus paid for all of our sins, period, in the sense of having “bought” us or “purchased” us, and now the whole world is subject to Him, and His demands, and His demands, of course, are “light” (Matthew 11:30), insomuch that He requires that the whole world (that He purchased) turn from their sins and believe in Him, so that He would then forgive our outstanding debt. In this way, then, a person goes from “purchased” to “redeemed.” In that regard, consider the following quote:

Calvinist, William MacDonald, explains: “Here we should pause to remind ourselves that while these false teachers to whom Peter refers had been bought by the Lord, they had never been redeemed. The NT distinguishes between purchase and redemption. All are purchased but not all are redeemed. Redemption applies only to those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, availing themselves of the value of His shed blood (1 Pet. 18, 19).” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.2295, emphasis mine)

The universal purchase lays the groundwork for a universal provision, whereby the free gift of Christ’s grace, which abounds to all men (Romans 5:15), may be received by anyone who calls upon Him (Romans 10:13), in order to go from purchased to redeemed. Make no mistake about it, everyone was purchased, just as 2nd Peter 2:1 confirms.

God accepted Christ’s substitutionary payment at Calvary in order to become the new owner of your soul. For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1st Corinthians 6:20) The benefit of having Christ as the new mortgagee of your soul is that He has a special offer, and it’s a really great offer. According to Him, if you will simply place your trust in Him (John 3:16), then He will agree to pay off the full balance of your debt, on the merit of His shed blood alone. However, if you fail to act on His special offer, then your balance will remain in force and you will have to pay every last cent, and that’s why the Law remains in force until Judgment Day. (Matthew 5:18) With this free gift, Jesus reaches out to the world. However, this is not to be taken to mean that faith is a merit that pays for sin. That’s not it at all. Trusting in Christ is not an act of self-righteousness, but imputed righteousness. When you place your trust in Christ, the merit of His blood is applied to the doorpost of your heart. Christ holds out the free gift of eternal life to all men, and for His part, He willing that all receive it.

The bottom line is that Calvinists misunderstand the nature of the Atonement. It is a provision. Jesus gave an analogy of Calvary at John 3:14, as it relates to Numbers 21:6-9, and which is a great refutation of Calvinism, and the double-payment argument.

Debts can also be recalled. The parable of Matthew 18:21-36, which states: “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.” So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.’” So in this instance, even though the debt was forgiven, it was later recalled.

Consider the analogy of a home mortgage: Have you ever owned a home? If you’ve ever owned a home, then there is a good chance that at some point, your mortgage was bought out by another lender. In effect, that lender has paid off your mortgage note. Now what you should do is this: Write a letter to the new lender and tell them that since you are a 5-Point Calvinist, that you believe that you are no longer obligated to make any further monthly payments since they have already, kindly paid off the mortgage for you, and in having paid it off for you, any additional payments would therefore constitute “double payment.” What you’ll find in response is a legal foreclosure. The old mortgage was satisfied (1st John 2:2), but the new lender expects to be paid every last cent! (Matthew 5:26)
Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism violates the principle of Double Jeopardy by extracting Double Payment from condemned unbelievers.

Myth or Reality:  Calvinists seem unaware of the parable of Matthew 18:21-36, in which a completely forgiven debt was also later completely recalled. 
So instead of Double Jeopardy, what you actually have is a transfer outstanding debt. We still owe, but we owe a new Master, and subject to the new Master’s form of payment (i.e. simple faith in Him so that He would wipe the debt off of our record). That seems to make more sense to me, than what 5-Point Calvinists otherwise present.