Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Consider the Calvinist comments from the following video presentation:

One Calvinist explains: “Arminianism has real implications for the doctrine of Scripture. How can God superintend men’s words so carefully and so precisely so as to ensure an inerrant Scripture, if God is a God who allows absolute freedom, and allows sinners, like the apostle Paul, or sinners like the apostle Peter, to make absolute choices? If the Arminian God is inspiring Scripture, we would expect it to be filled with some mistakes, because that’s the nature of freedom. If on the other hand, we have the sovereign God who exercises His good providence for the purpose of mercy upon His creatures, then we can expect that there are times when He does not allow freedom, in order, for a particular task to be accomplished, thus superintending every single word that the Apostle Peter writes. Though the Apostle Peter, as we know, is prone to sin.” (Amazing Grace DVD, 3:01-4:10, emphasis mine)

Another Calvinist explains: “The Arminian says, ‘no you have to have free will that operates on its own, and divine sovereignty respecting free will.’ If that is so, how can we be guaranteed that the persons who penned the Bible did not sometime exert their free will, apart from the sovereignty of God, and put some mistakes in it? And this is the common way that Arminianism leads. It leads to higher criticism. It leads to a man-centered understanding of the Bible and the inspiration. Eventually, you lose the doctrine of Inerrancy.” (Amazing Grace DVD, 4:11-4:39, emphasis mine)

If, however, the apostle Peter freely yielded to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then free-will presents no problem. As an analogy, if I normally drive a car, but chose to take a flight aboard a plane instead, then I am no longer in control during the course of the flight, as it was my choice to yield full control over to a professional airline pilot in order to reach my destination. Even if I tried to interrupt the pilot, I would be restrained. My freedom ended the moment that I freely yielded control.

Another Calvinist states: “Arminians have a problem defending the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture because the way it would require God to override the free will of man.” (Amazing Grace DVD, 4:40-4:49)

Another Calvinist states: “Of course, this is not to say that all Arminians today are likely to compromise on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. Many, thankfully, do not. What we are saying, however, is that one who consistently holds to the doctrine of free will, the foundation for believing the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, will ultimately be compromised.” (Amazing Grace DVD, 4:50-5:14)

Calvinists don’t seem to be very good at proactively anticipating and considering dissenting viewpoints. Where is their response to an anticipated answer?

The whole concept of divine inspiration conveys the meaning of divine intervention, in which God steps into a particular matter to express Himself. However, if as Calvinists say, that God had decreed “whatsoever comes to pass,” then wouldn’t we have to conclude that all things are subject to divine inspiration? That’s what becomes deeply problematic for the Calvinist. For example, we know that God literally penned the Ten Commandments into stone tablets, and so if all things were exhaustively fixed and determined by God without the slightest deviation ever, then all things would be similarly set in stone, and hence, there would be nothing in existence that is outside of divine inspiration. That would mean that the daily life of every individual is every bit as much inspired as the Ten Commandments. It would mean that every book, not just the Bible, is inspired by God. Follow the Calvinist’s trail of logic: How can God guarantee the accuracy of His immutable decree if individual persons could at some times exert their free will, apart from the sovereignty of God, and thus introduce mistakes in the divine decree?So Calvinists are not merely denying free-will in times of inspiration, but also denying free-will in total, and so when Calvinists hold to exhaustive determinism, then they are also holding to exhaustive inspiration. The existence of sin, therefore, would be just as much divinely inspired as anything else in existence, and hence which leads to the common “author of sin” charge, rightly applied to Calvinism.

From the positive side, if people submit to the will of God, then God can and will use them. As an analogy, I see the new birth as monergistic, where man submits to God, and in turn, God takes over and performs the spiritual surgery of making him Born Again. Man submits to God, and in turn, God takes over and uses him however He wishes, whether for evangelism, for missionary work, or for preaching an inspired message on a Sunday morning. From the negative side, if people refuse to submit to the will of God, then God can still use them by outsmarting them. In summary, Calvinists miss the opportunity to proactively considered the response to their arguments, and also miss seeing how their perspective on inspiration applies to the overall picture of Calvinistic determinism.

Also Consider the analogy of a person going in for surgery. A person may freely give consent to the doctor to perform the surgery, and once he does, he no longer has any choices until he regains consciousness. For while the patient is under, he is not conscious to be able to tell the doctor, “Splice here and suture there.”

Similarly, when a person hears the faith-producing Gospel (Romans 10:17), and repents and receives Christ, he is said to be “sealed” by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:13) As such, people do not regenerate themselves, but merely submit to the Holy Spirit, who in turn, performs the spiritual operation. The inerrancy of Scripture may be explained in similar terms. An apostle may of his own free will, submit to the will of the Holy Spirit, and what follows, are the inspired words of the Great Physician. So in reality, Arminians have no problem explaining the inerrancy of Scripture, in light of both the liberty of man, and the sovereignty of God.
Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism overthrows Biblical Inerrancy.

Myth or Reality:  The argument is that if the apostles truly had free-will, then they could have made mistakes in writing Scripture, and hence, Scripture could not have the guarantee of being 100% inspired. However, have you ever heard a pastor pray from the pulpit, Lord, may I step aside, and allow the Holy Spirit to take over, and speak through me? Now if that actually happened, and the Holy Spirit really did take over and speak through that person, then the pastors free-will did not spoil this, but rather, the pastors own free-will yielded to the Holy Spirit. So if you imagine Scripture being written in similar manner, then its not hard to understand how free-will and inerrancy could be compatible.
Question:  If man has a freewill, then how can we be guaranteed that the persons who penned the Bible did not sometime exert their free will, apart from the sovereignty of God, and put some mistakes in it?

Answer:  Even if we accepted the argument that the apostles had no freewill during the writing of the later canonized letters, and were irresistibly overpowered, and did not willingly and joyfully submit to the Holy Spirit in the articulation of His thoughts, how would the loss of freewill in that particular moment of time, be in any way indicative of the rest of their lives? That’s what I don’t get, and yet it is a key extrapolation being attempted. Two additional points: (1) From a practical standpoint, sometimes Pastors will say and pray from the pulpit, “And now may God cause me to step aside, and the Holy Spirit take over.” In this way, a person is voluntarily and willingly yielding to the will of the Holy Spirit to speak an inspired message through them, and it is implicit that the pastor believes that this can happen, even through their own freewill, or else they wouldn’t have asked for it in the first place. (2) Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, as per Numbers 23:11-12, and notice what is said: “Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!’ He replied, ‘Must I not be careful to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?’” Notice that by Balaam’s own freewill, that he is fearful not to disobey the words that God gives him, and that he has worked it out in his own mind that it would be dangerous for him not to comply. Therefore, if a lesser prophet should yield to God in such a manner, then how much more of those who are faithful prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah?