One Calvinist preacher ordered his congregation to repeat out loud: “Predestination!” Say it again. “Predestination!” Pondering why people hated Election so much, he also had them shout: “Election!” Say it again. “Election!” The reality, however, is that Arminians have no hatred for either Predestination or Election. The Arminian teaching on Election is that it is founded in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-4), as the Father’s legal adoption of the redeemed in Christ. Similarly, the Arminian teaching on Predestination is that it is God’s eternal plan to make Christians like Jesus, in terms of His nature: “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2nd Peter 1:4) Predestination is also God’s plan to bring about certain events, such as Calvary. In fact, Acts 2:23 also reveals that such Predestination is guided by God’s Foreknowledge, as is Election. (1st Peter 1:1-2) So for Calvinists to suggest that Arminians hate either Predestination or Election, is nothing more than empty rhetoric, when the truth is that both Predestination and Election are simply understood differently:
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “Predestination seems to cast a shadow on the very heart of human freedom.” (Chosen By God, p.51, emphasis mine)
That would be true only if you believe in the kind of Predestination as taught by Calvinism, in which biblical Predestination is erroneously equated with Greek Determinism.
Sproul continues: “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)
That’s the kind of Predestination taught by Calvinism, which is also known as Theistic Fatalism, or even Hard Determinism. Sproul is, however, merely echoing a characterization of Calvinism.
Sproul explains: “Determinism means that we are forced or coerced to do things by external forces.” (Chosen By God, p.59, emphasis mine)
Sproul will now contrast his view of Predestination with that of Hyper Calvinism:
Sproul writes: “The dreadful error of hyper-Calvinism is that it involves God is coercing sin. This does radical violence to the integrity of God’s character.” (Chosen By God, p.143, emphasis mine)
Such views on sin would be also drift toward Gnostic beliefs.
I grant that Calvinists can easily be misunderstood, which perhaps I may have somewhat misunderstood Sproul, but that would only be because of rampant (and frustrating) double-talk, such as through phrases like “decreed to permit,” in which (perhaps unintentionally), passive and active expressions are fused together, until the listener has no idea which shell contains the bean. But Calvinists often do this, in order to escape theological dilemmas. So, then, you’ll ask the Calvinist, “By ‘decreed to permit,’ do you mean that God decreed to permit something that might or might not happen?” That’s how you can smoke-out the theological funny-business that’s going on. Notice a perfect example of how an active decree and passive permission are intentionally blended, so as to blur the distinction between active and passive:
One Calvinist points out: “God willingly permits that which is against His will. Hence, evil is a result of God’s decree to permit evil and thus evil is God’s will. The WCF says that evil exists not because of ‘mere’ permission but because God decrees it.”
So God permits evil, and God decrees to permit it. Thus, evil is God’s will. Evil exists not just because of mere permission, but primarily by God’s will. That’s how Calvinists spin people in circles. They just blend passive and active terms together, so that passive terms become active terms.