Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer, writes: I must point out that Arminians who stress the freedom of the will nevertheless pray that the unconverted might come to Christ. Is not this a tacit admission that God has the ability to work in the human will to bring about salvation? If God does not ‘tamper with the human will’ (as one Arminian puts it), why bother to pray that the unsaved will be drawn to the Savior?” (The Doctrines that Divide, p.193, emphasis mine)

No, because people don’t naturally think like Calvinists (nor does God apparently, as per Isaiah 5:3). People pray according to what they understand about God, and if doesn’t come across their mind that God would operate irresistibly, then likewise their intercessory prayers wouldn’t think of it either.

People do pray that God would convert their loved ones, and if it was up to us, yes, absolutely it would irresistible. But it’s not up to us, and we understand that. God will have people come to Him on His terms only. One of the things that Jesus teaches us about prayer, concerning the lost, is this: “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’

Adrian Rogers explains: “God is the author of everything. God made everything perfect, and when God made man, God made His creature perfectly free. Free Will, then, man’s Free Will, is the origin of evil. God did not create evil. God created perfection, and God made man perfectly free, and freedom therefore gave rise to this evil. You see, this is what makes us moral creatures. Somebody says, ‘Why didn’t God just make us where we couldn’t sin?’ Well if God had made us where we couldn’t sin, He could have no more fellowship with me than I could have with that pulpit or that speaker. Because God made us moral creatures; love is the highest good; and God wants us to love Him. This is the first and great commandment: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy mind.’ Love is the highest good, but forced love is a contradiction in terms. Forced love is not love at all. In order to love, we must be free to love, to choose to love, and to choose to love, we have to be able to choose not to love. And so God gave us perfect choice. Adam chose in the Garden of Eden, and the sons of Adam after him, to sin, and that’s where the heart-ache, and the groan and the moan come from, as we’re going to see in a moment.” (Turning Hurts Into Hallelujahs: Romans 8:8-11, emphasis mine)

Ultimately, then, where does that leave Calvinism, which teaches forced love, insomuch that God must forcibly change a person’s nature, against their totally depraved will. Recall that Jesus had told Paul that he had been  kicking against the goads. (Acts 26:14) So the question then goes from whether Calvinism is forced love, to whether it qualifies as love at all, and whether Calvinism destroys the highest good.

Arminian, Jerry Walls, explains: “God’s very nature is love and he created us in his image for relationships of love, both with himself and other persons. For us to truly love God, we have to be free. If God determined our ‘love’ for himself, he would be loving himself rather than receiving genuine love from us. So for genuine love and worship to be possible, it must be possible that we can refuse to love God, to worship and obey him and so on. If that happens, we are necessarily unhappy for we are missing out on the very thing for which we were created–loving relationship with God and other persons. Hell is the natural misery that results when we choose not to love and obey God.” (Predestined to eternally suffer? An interview with philosopher Jerry Walls)

Question:  So why wouldn’t God, who “is love” (1st John 4:8), simply give everyone an “irresistible grace” in order to live in Heaven with Him forever?

Answer:  Because forced love, is not love, and love is the highest good.
Arminian Charge:  Calvinism teaches forced Love.

Myth or Reality:  Calvinism would otherwise rob God of the joy of a genuine response from the heart, and love that is freely returned.