Calvinism and Arminianism: 
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, James White: “The strength of the Reformed faith (and the confidence of those who embrace it) is the exegesis of the inspired text of Scripture. As long as the Word of God remains with me, it will teach the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace.” (Debating Calvinism, p.117, emphasis mine)

James White: “In this exchange I will be challenging Mr. Hunt to test his traditions, not merely reiterate them. I have chosen to present the positive case for the doctrines of grace based upon the text of Scripture” (Debating Calvinism, p.15, emphasis mine)

James White: “Objections to irresistible grace are, by and large, actually objections to the previously established truths of the doctrines of grace.” (Debating Calvinism, p.198, emphasis mine)

Dave Hunt: “Like other Calvinists, White refers repeatedly to Calvinism as ‘the doctrines of grace’ and ‘Reformed Theology.’ The Reformation was all Calvinism? Many others were involved! Non-Calvinists embrace all that the Bible teaches about God’s grace. We simply reject as unbiblical Calvinism’s ‘grace,’ which is irresistibly applied to the elect and neglects all others.” (Debating Calvinism, p.139, emphasis mine)

​Calvinists term their theology “The Doctrines of Grace.” However, it is more like “The Doctrines of [Limited] Grace” because Calvinism teaches that God’s saving grace is limited to only a special class of a secret elect, who alone are allegedly, eternally prearranged for salvation. What Calvinists do in response, is to use the approach that Arminians cannot criticize Calvinists in this manner, because what hurts them, hurts us also, since we too limit God’s grace, insomuch that we deny Irresistible Grace. However, how can we be accused of limiting what Calvinists otherwise add?

Dave Hunt: “All is to the glory of God’s limited grace, Christ’s limited atonement, and God’s limited love, attributing to God lower standards of each than He expects of us.” (Debating Calvinism, p.215, emphasis mine)

Ultimately, it is the Calvinist who rejects the “Doctrines of Grace.” Calvinists are always trying to give Calvinism a make-over, and the nice-sounding term, “The Doctrines of Grace” is usually invoked when Calvinists feel particularly threatened. But the fact is that Calvinism does not truly teach the Doctrines of Grace, but instead, the Doctrines of Limited Grace or Exclusive Grace that is, exclusively for Calvinism’s “elect.” It is the Arminian who agrees with the Bible that the free gift of Christ’s grace abounds to all men:

​Romans 5:12-15: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

So the next time a Calvinist mentions to you The Doctrines of Grace, challenge them to be honest and admit that what they really believe is The Doctrine of Limited Grace for relatively few:

John Calvin: “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) 

Hence, The Doctrines of Grace...for some people.

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “The use of euphemisms, glittery, good-sounding or technical terms often helps to provide emotional distance from the stark truth which these terms mask. For example, the term ‘Collateral damage’ is used as an acceptable technical term when a shoot-out includes the killing of innocent citizens who happen to be in way. In the Holocaust, certain code words were frequently used to mask the act of killing: ‘Evacuations’, ‘Special Treatments’ and ‘The Final Solution’ were a few. These terms help humans to disconnect immoral or evil concepts from the normal categories of moral right and wrong, good and evil. The ‘Doctrines of Grace’ is just such a good-sounding, flowery term used to hide and mask the dark concept of a god who births babies that he specifically designs for suffering eternally in a lake of fire. Then there is ‘un-salvific love’ which seems like it could easily be used to mask what in truth is the ‘absence’ of love. Or perhaps ‘un-effectual calling’ to mask what in truth is the ‘pretense’ of calling. I wonder what other Calvinist terms there are which fit that description?”

Another member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “Probably the most obnoxious example of Calvinist euphemism is the term ‘Doctrines of Grace’ which Calvinists use as a synonym for Calvinism. They do this because the word Calvinism is distasteful to some, and it sounds more like a label which isn’t very chic. So they give it a new name to hide that it is a philosophical system, and to try and make it sound like they are only defending grace. It also is an attempt to try and own the word ‘grace’, as if that is a purely Calvinist concept (despite the fact that the defining doctrine in Calvinism is unconditional election while the defining doctrine of Arminianism is prevenient grace. There are plenty of other examples: sovereign grace for irresistible grace, sovereignty for determinism, effectual atonement for limited atonement, etc... (CALVINIST RHETORIC: Euphemism and Dysphemism or “Poisoning the well while sweetening the pot, emphasis mine)

Stephen Hitchcock: “The call of God on our lives has not saved us, but our answer to that call by faith has. This is a huge difference. Consequently, the Calvinistic doctrines of grace are enemies to the doctrines of faith. This is because Calvinistic doctrine places the emphasis on Effectual Call as the singular determinate, in our subjective experience, in which a person becomes saved -- not their personal faith in Jesus.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.131, emphasis mine)

Calvinist Charge:  Arminians reject “The Doctrines of Grace.”

Myth or Reality:  Calvinists dont always like to be called Calvinists,” so they prefer alternative marketing brands such as “Reformed” over “Calvinist” and “Doctrines of Grace” over “Calvinism.” Of course, Arminianism also teaches a system of grace, most notably being Unlimited Atonement and Prevenient Grace. However, the specific label belongs to Calvinism.