Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

But God already chose to save everyone, under the condition that they believe in His Son whom He sent to save the world, as per John 3:16. Calvinists are simply skeptical that God would be so good, so gracious and so merciful that He would actually desire to save just anyone. It is almost as if Calvinists see God as a hard person, rather than a God who “is love,” seeking His own glory at the expense of others, who are created as mere object lessons for an expression of wrath.

Calvinist, Sam Storms, writes: “So, does the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional divine election and monergistic regeneration make God ‘a respecter of persons, arbitrary, and morally ambiguous’? Or again, God is not impartial, say many Arminians, if he favors some with life but not all. He is guilty of showing partiality toward the elect. Of course he is! That is what unconditional election is all about. But we should refrain from saying that God is ‘guilty’ of being partial toward the elect because this kind of partiality is a virtue, not a vice. It is a divine prerogative for which God should be praised, not vilified. Let me explain what I mean. To say that God is impartial means that he is not moved or motivated by human characteristics such as race or gender or color of hair or socio-economic achievements.”  (Does Unconditional Election Make God A ‘Respecter of persons’?)

Arminian, Billy Birch, comments: Calvinists like Dr. Storms would have us believe that God necessarily decreed the fall, thus decreeing and fixing the fallen state of sinners, yet unconditionally elects to save only some of them -- without any known reason or purpose. This, he posits, is a virtue. That Calvinists cannot comprehend the inherent problem in such a view is telling. We have, on the one hand, a theology which confesses God is actively working in the hearts of all people, not showing salvific favoritism to some, but desiring that all be saved. His grace is sufficient enough to generate faith in Christ for the salvation of those who hear the Gospel through the spiritual work of the Holy Spirit. He has declared that He will save, and is most freely willing to save, any who will by grace trust in His Son Jesus Christ. This is Arminianism. On the other hand, we have a theology which confesses that God claims He desires the salvation of all people, in some esoteric sense, but has unconditionally elected to save only some people, but that this favoritism is a virtue. Yes, Jesus’ blood is sufficient for atoning every individual, and God is more than capable of unconditionally electing every single person, but has secretly and unconditionally elected to save only some; and this, they believe, is virtuous. No, this is deplorable, claiming to love all people yet choosing to save only some unconditionally. This is Calvinism. This theology is unworthy of our most glorious God.” (On Sam Storms Concession of Favoritism in Calvinism)

Calvinist logic is a double-sided coin. See here for a side-by-side comparison.

Dave Hunt writes: “Surely love is the most important and most thrilling subject of all--and nothing is so beautiful as God’s love manifest in Jesus Christ. Tragically, Calvinism robs us of what ought to be ‘the greatest story ever told.’ It reduces God’s love to a form of favoritism without passion, and it denies man the capacity of responding from his heart, thereby robbing God of the joy of a genuine response from man and the glory it alone can bring.” (Debating Calvinism, p.255, emphasis mine)

Theoretically, God could have chosen to providentially govern His creation through either the Calvinist or Arminian paradigm, but notice the value of the Arminian paradigm that Calvinism would otherwise forfeit.

John Calvin explains: “Two people may hear the same teaching together; yet one is willing to learn, and the other persists in his obstinacy. They do not differ in nature, but God illumines one and not the other.” (Acts: Calvin, Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.229, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “...why God delivers one man and not another are matters constituting His inscrutable judgments and His uninvestigatable ways. Again, if it be examined and enquired how anyone is worthy, there are some who will say: By their human will. But we say: By grace or divine predestination.”  (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.64, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes:...God has chosen to salvation those whom He pleased, and has rejected the others, without our knowing why, except that its reason is hidden in His eternal counsel. (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.53, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, John MacArthur, states:Why he selected me, I will never know. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m worse than many. But He chose me.” (Understanding Election, emphasis mine)

Acts 10:28:You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

Acts 10:34-35:Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now. In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.’

Acts 10:43:Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.

Acts 4:12: And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

Adrian Rogers states: “God did not say that some people can be saved and other people cannot be saved, that some are in a select group. No! There is no respect of persons with God. None whatsoever. The Lord is not willing that any should perish. If you go to hell, a broken-hearted God will watch you drop into hell. It is not God’s plan that you die and go to hell. The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (The Christ of the New Testament: Acts 10:34)

John Calvin comments on Acts 10:34: “Many people make the mistake of explaining this in a general way--that God does not prefer one person to another. Thus, in the past Pelagius denied that some are chosen and some are rejected by God. But we must understand this to refer to external state or appearance and whatever about a person procures favor or rejection. Wealth, rank, number of servants, and honor make a person highly respected; poverty, low birth, and so on make a person despised. The Lord often forbids us to judge people on such grounds, which are a distraction from the real issue.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.181, emphasis mine)

Next, Calvin will argue that God is very much partial, especially reflected in His covenant with Israel:

John Calvin explains: “But it looks as if God did show favoritism for a time, when he chose the Jews and passed over the Gentiles. The answer is that this distinction was not based on men but originated entirely in the secret purpose of God. In choosing Abraham rather than the Egyptians, he was not motivated by any external considerations; God was never bound to persons.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.181, emphasis mine)

God’s “favoritism” for the Jew was a covenant blessing that stemmed from the faith of their ancestor, Abraham, and speaking of the purpose of Abraham’s election, God said, And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Genesis 12:3) God certainly had compassion for other nations as well, even wicked ones such as Nineveh, to whom God had sent Jonah. (Jonah 4:11) God had compassion on the entire city without showing partiality between individual citizens, and that’s just the way that God is. It is on this basis, that it can be said that Calvinism is not truly representative of the God of the Bible.

Nevertheless, Calvinists insist that God does show favoritism in terms of mercy. Romans 9:18 states: “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” The point often missed by Calvinists, when citing Romans 9:18, is the origin of this verse, namely, the passage at Jeremiah 18:1-13, in which God compares Himself to a Potter, and says that His molding is conditioned upon repentance, and He specifically mentions just how appalled He is by Israels depravity excuses.

For the non-Calvinist or Arminian who reads Acts 10:28 and Acts 10:34 and readily recognizes the impartiality of God, as clear as seeing the forest through the trees, we can only imagine that the Calvinists, who have so completely devoted themselves to partiality principles of Theistic Fatalism, when confronted with these same verses, must see something more like this:

Question:  Does Calvinism teach that God arbitrarily selected certain people to become saved?

Answer:  John Calvin used that very word: “There are some, too, who allege that God is greatly dishonored if such arbitrary power is bestowed on Him. … they should look up to the sovereignty of God and not evaluate it by their own judgment.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.209-210, emphasis mine)
Question:  Is favoritism consistent with the Bible?

Answer:  The two most commonly cited verses to the contrary are Acts 10:28 and Acts 10:34.
Question:  How do Calvinists account for the impartiality reflected in these verses?

Answer:  Calvinists argue that these verses speak of impartiality merely in terms of “external state,” “appearance,” “wealth,” “rank,” “number of servants” and “honor,” without regard to special Election. However, the question emerges: Can the Calvinists see the forest through the trees? Are they missing a general principle? In other words, if God is impartial in temporal things, then how much more is He impartial in terms of eternal matters?
Arminian Charge:  Calvinism teaches Favoritism by God.

Myth or Reality:  Calvinists certainly affirm this, as shown in the affirming quote below, denying that grace is in any way fair, or else if grace was fair, then all sinners would perish, and none would be saved, but that it was God’s unfairness that led to some being saved, namely, Calvinism’s elect. So if God is virtuous, and if God chose the method of Unconditional Election, and if Unconditional Election is favoritism at its core, then unconditional favoritism must be a virtuous trait. However, God seems to repudiate favoritism at Acts 10:34 as being unvirtuous. In conclusion, Unconditional Election must be false.