Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Dave Hunt writes: “…the ultimate aim of Calvinism…is to prove that God does not love everyone, is not merciful to all, and is pleased to damn billions. If that is the God of the Bible, Calvinism is true. If that is not the God of the Bible, who ‘is love’ (1 John 4:8, emphasis added), Calvinism is false.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.21, emphasis mine)

Dave Hunt adds: “...Calvinism insists that God doesnt love everyone, that He doesnt want everyone in heaven, and that He even takes pleasure in predestining multitudes to eternal suffering.” (Debating Calvinism, p.255)

John Calvin writes: “At this point in particular the flesh rages when it hears that the predestination to death of those who perish is referred to the will of God.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.208, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “Solomon also teaches us that not only was the destruction of the ungodly foreknown, but the ungodly themselves have been created for the specific purpose of perishing (Prov. 16:4).”  (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.207-208, emphasis mine)

Calvin answers: “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)

Do Calvinists truly look to the sovereignty of God, or do they look to what they’ve forced it to mean? God is sovereign because He gets the last word (Philippians 2:10), and because He is in control, though not controlling everyone. There’s a big difference. Man is not a pawn. Rather, in God’s sovereignty, He allows men to operate with a free-will within the parameters that He has set. (1st Corinthians 10:13) This does not negate the fact that God hardens those who, by their free-will, have rejected Him.

Calvin writes: “Those therefore whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children.”  (Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 23, Section 1, emphasis mine)

This should dispel the notion that Hunts charge was any kind of an illegitimate, Straw Man Argument.

John Calvin writes: “The Lord in His unmerited election is free and exempt from the necessity of bestowing equally the same grace on all. Rather, He passes by those whom He wills, and chooses whom He wills.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.200, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, James White, writes: “And the love God has for His own people, the elect, is different than the love He shows to the creation in general or to rebel sinners outside of His grace in particular.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.268, emphasis mine)

The primary Calvinist strategy is to suggest that God has degrees of love:

Calvinist, James White, answers: “There is no basis in the Bible for asserting that God’s love knows no levels, kinds, or types.” (Debating Calvinism, p.267, emphasis mine)

In the book Debating Calvinism, James White repeatedly stated that God has different types, levels and forms of love, and Dave Hunt just as often reiterated that he couldn’t agree more that God has various types, levels and forms of love, but that there is no type, level or form of love which includes predestining someone to Hell, and James White simply pretended not to hear him, and kept echoing the same argument. So in this case, what I’ve observed is that some Calvinists will turn it around to say, “Well, you believe in omniscience don’t you? So even by your own beliefs, God still creates people that He knows will end up in Hell, and yet creates them anyway, and yet, by your theology, He loves them. So how is that love?” But the difference is an unlimited Atonement. With an unlimited Atonement, God gave the world Jesus. If the world disregards God’s gift, then that’s their problem, and certainly cannot negate the genuine act of love in providing mankind with Calvary. In the Calvinist system, God controls them straight to Hell (for a purpose, because somehow God gets more glory by certain people spending eternity in Hell), whereas with Arminianism, God supplies the provision of Calvary and the sufficient grace to receive Him. Regardless of God’s omniscience in knowing the outcome, if a person didn’t have to go there, and wasn’t designed to go there (as per Matthew 25:41, in which Hell was created for the devil and demons, rather than man), then God’s knowledge of their choices cannot negate the love in the offer that they rejected. I would certainly agree that God has a greater love for believers (John 16:27), but one type of love does not negate another.

Whitefield explains: “And so it is, but not his saving mercy. God is loving to every man: he sends his rain upon the evil and upon the good.” (A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, emphasis mine)

Rain? Rather, God sent His Son. So let me see if I have this right: “For God so loved the world...that He sent rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” While it is certainly compassion that does this (Matthew 5:45), that’s not the context of John 3:16. Rather, God sent His Son, which is infinitely more significant than rain. Indeed, God sent the greatest, not the least, gift that He could give, namely, His own Son: He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32) If “all” does not mean all in the sense of the whole world, then this statement should have had a qualifier, and the same goes for 2nd Peter 3:9. Calvinists seem perfectly content in dismissing this merely as a reference to all of the elect, on the basis of the audience, which still would not justify universal statements without the addition of qualifiers. Furthermore, seriously, what is rain in comparison to allegedly having been predestined for hell? How would that be loving at all. That’s a tough question for Calvinists to have to face.

R.C. Sproul candidly admitted: If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born.” (Chosen by God, p.32, emphasis mine)

First of all, the question itself assumes what is otherwise an erroneous theology, namely Calvinism, and second, if indeed God had predestined someone to Hell (which indeed would not be all that loving”), then why would God command and demand the same poor people to love Him in return, even as the greatest of all commandments? How would that make sense?

Hunt adds: “How could God who is love, not love all mankind when He commands us to do so?”  (Debating Calvinism, p.255, emphasis mine)

John 3:16 is a real pickle for Calvinists. 5-Point Calvinists argue that not the whole world is intended, which relieves them of the difficulty in having to explain how God could love those whom He allegedly, does not wish to save, or put another way, passes by, as per the Calvinist doctrine of Preterition. However, the downside is that it leaves them with having to compromise the integrity of the Bible, since the context of John 3:16 reveals that the whole world is indeed in focus, that is, including both believers and unbelievers, to whom Jesus had been sent. (John 3:17-18) 4-Point Calvinists, preferring to maintain the integrity of Scripture, acknowledge that the whole world, indiscriminately, is in focus, though are left with having to explain how God could love someone that He simultaneously, allegedly, does not wish to save, despite having given them Jesus. Therefore, John 3:16 offers no simple solution for any type of Calvinist, and therefore it ought to often be mentioned in discussions with them.

1st John 4:8-11: God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Dave Hunt writes: “How could God, who is love, predestine anyone to eternal torment, much less take pleasure in doing so?” (Debating Calvinism, p.255)

One Calvinist argues:If one ultimately agrees that God does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3), then one cannot but conclude that those who are not included in salvation are not included by God’s good plan and, therefore, ultimately, His good pleasure. Moreover, how is it possible that a Sovereign God, about whom Scripture plainly says He does what ‘He pleases’ (Psalm 115:3), would fail to save those whom He wants to save?

So, in other words, God doesn’t want to save everyone, and the Arminian accusation holds true.

James White continues: “No matter how one understands ‘JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED’ (Romans 9:13), this verse alone should be enough to refute such an errant view of God’s love.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.268, emphasis mine)

And there is your confirmation. (As for Jacob and Esau, here is a link to Romans 9:11.)

Stephen Hitchcock explains:Calvinism directly undermines a love for all mankind, because it teaches that God does not really love all men.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.61, emphasis mine)

Stephen Hitchcock adds: “We need to really understand that our core passion must be love, not God’s sovereignty. Certainly, God is sovereign, but what God wants Paul to emphasize above all else is not a cold idea that separates God from those whom He has created, but love.” (Recanting Calvinism, p.62)

Stephen Hitchcock concludes: “Calvinism, because of its own self-disclosure emphasizing God’s sovereignty over love, has invalidated itself as a system of doctrine that participates in the gospel.”  (Recanting Calvinism, p.62)

One thing to add, is that it’s not a matter of sovereignty or love, but that God made a sovereign choice to rule and reign in love. God’s rejection of Calvinism falls squarely within God’s sovereign prerogative.

Adrian Rogers continues: “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 10:43, emphasis mine)

Adrian Rogers adds: “Some people submit to the will of God, some people do not. All are called, but not all respond. Those who do not say to God, ‘Not my will, but thine,’ will one day in hell hear God say to them, ‘Not My will, but thine be done.’ What a terrible way to end, resisting God.”  (Foundations For Our Faith, Vol.II, A Study In Romans Chapters 5-9, p.94, emphasis mine)

God desires a reciprocal relationship of love with human persons. The notion of true and loving reciprocal relationship is completely contradicted by the Calvinist doctrine of a “forced love” through a purported, Irresistible Grace.

Some Calvinists suppose that when God permits the evil acts of the wicked, that God must, by default, be siding with them, in permitting their evil actions. Some such Calvinists ask: “Why does God allow the molester to violate a child’s free will? Why does the libertarian God respect the free will of the abuser, more than the free will of the victim? To say that love can’t be ‘forced’ is hardly an adequate response, even on libertarian terms. How is it loving to the victim to allow a child molester to abuse him? Why not coerce a child molester to make him refrain from child abuse?” “Coerce”? How? By Pixie Dust? Rather, God mightily comes to the aid of those who call upon Him: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Psalm 34:7, KJV) God wants people to call upon Him, because He wants that reciprocal relationship.

If Jesus died for everyone, then you can at least say that Jesus  loves everyone, to the extent that He died on the cross so that they can be saved, so that by believing in Him, they can have eternal life and can someday go to Heaven. Simply by saying that Jesus loves someone, does not mean that they are automatically saved, but that’s the impression that Calvinists want to leave, in order to poison the well, so to speak, in characterizing Arminianism as necessarily leading to Universalism.

There is no dispute that God has a special kind of love for Christians. However, is it accurate to say that God’s love knows a level, kind or type which translates into unconditionally predestining someone to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire?
But this is nothing more than just a Straw-Man argument, right? Or is it exactly what Calvinism teaches?
Question:  Although God indeed has a special love for Christians, how does that change the fact that God loved the whole world, in the sense of having given it the greatest gift that He could ever give, namely, the gift of His Son, Jesus, so that anyone in the world can become a Christian?
Question:  Is there a “level,” “kind” or “type” of love which results in a person being predestined to spend eternity in Hell?
However, to most Calvinists, it simply becomes a “sovereignty” issue:
Question:  How can a loving God send anyone to Hell, period?

Answer:  Because a loving God sent them Jesus so that they wouldn’t have to.
Question:  Why doesn’t God prevent the acts of the wicked from harming those whom He loves?

Answer:  God does. There are plenty of examples in Scripture where God has rescued those who call upon Him in the day of their distress.
Arminian Charge:  Calvinism distorts Gods Love.

Myth or Reality:  If, like the father of the Prodigal Son, God permits people to go their own way, then love is preserved. But what if divine permission is just an illusion of Determinism, where God is pleased to send people to Hell by design?