Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Consider 1st Corinthians 10:13 which states: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Clearly it is Gods sovereignty that determines the parameters, in terms of not allowing a person to be faced with something that they cannot handle, and with providing the way of escape, but is Gods sovereignty really nullified, if God allows man to decide whether or not to take His provided way of escape? Does God have to determine all of mans choices, in order to remain sovereign? It seems like a ridiculous proposition, but thats in essence what is being charged by Calvinists:

Calvinist, James White, writes: “The truth is that the Bible speaks much of free will--God’s free will, that is, not man’s.” (Debating Calvinism, p.36, emphasis mine)

White writes: “Indeed, it must be remembered that the tradition Hunt proposes so exalts the autonomous will of man that the very work and intention of the triune God is left subject to abject failure. Not only can God’s love fail, but the attempts of the Father, Son, and Spirit to save each and every individual person on earth also fail on behalf of those who enter into eternal punishment.” (Debating Calvinism, p.270, emphasis mine)

White writes: “ is far more common to hear the traditions of men, which extol man’s ability and insist that though he is dead in transgressions, a slave to sin, and an enemy of God, he is able by the exercise of his will to frustrate the intentions of the triune God in saving him.” (Debating Calvinism, p.63, emphasis mine)

White writes: “The idea that the fallen creature has the ability to control God’s free and sovereign work of salvation does not find its origin in the exegesis of inspired Scripture, but in the philosophies and traditions of man.” (Debating Calvinism, p.72, emphasis mine)

One Calvinist explains: If Calvinism isnt a true representation of the work of salvation, then what alternatives are there that do not make the will of mankind stronger than the will of God? In other words, consider the following supposition: IF Christ died for all as the provision made by an all-powerful God, AND some people can actually refuse this provision and not reap any of the benefits, THEN, how is it possible to say that the will of God is stronger than the will of mankind?

Dave Hunt responds:Did God fail because Israel rebelled or because Adam and Eve sinned or because the entire world routinely breaks His commandments? Calvinism’s denial of Gods sovereign gift of free will to man reflects a failure to understand that love cant be force a heart response.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.275, emphasis mine)

Calvinists are in a bit of a pickle here, because if there is no libertarian free will, then to what do we attribute the fall of Adam and Eve, or the fall of a third of the angels? Do we attribute it to the free will of God, who otherwise would “fail if they had not chosen to fall?

John Calvin writes: “But now, removing from God all proximate causation of the act, I at the same time remove from Him all guilt and leave man alone liable. It is therefore wicked and calumnious to say that I make the fall of man one of the works of God. But how it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what mans future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.123-124, emphasis mine)

Calvinist. R.C. Sproul, states: “But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.” (Chosen By God, p.31, emphasis mine)

This is why Calvinists often appeal to compatibilistic free will, which is not genuine free will, but just more of the same Determinism.

Calvinist, James White, writes: “The biblical relationship of Gods sovereign decree to the creaturely will of man has been aptly called ‘compatibilism, the belief that these two things are not contradictory but compatible with one another, when viewed properly.” (Debating Calvinism, p.43, emphasis mine)

White adds: “...compatibilism, the oft-used description of how the decree of God interfaces with the will of man.” (Debating Calvinism, p.56, emphasis mine)

There is no such interface. You cannot have one preeminent cause, causing everything, A through Z, and then a secondary cause, causing anything, A through Z, especially since the secondary cause is a factor of the primary cause. Everything would otherwise be swallowed up by the primary cause. Also, notice that he didn’t say anything about how the decree of God interfaces with the [free] will of man. That’s because there is nothing free about it, but is all 100% Determinism. In other words, if there exists a range of choices between A through Z that a person could choose, and the alleged decree of God has determined A, then is it possible that the person could instead choose anything B through Z? The answer would be no, because A is the overriding factor for what is decreed. Therefore, compatibilism is simply window-dressing for Determinism. Compatibilism fails to distinguish itself from Determinism in any meaningful way. It’s still just Determinism, and if it really is all just Determinism going on in the world, then that leaves Calvinists with no wiggle room, in order to explain the fall of Adam and Eve or the fall of a third of the angels.

Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism magnifies man’s will.

Myth or Reality:  The Calvinist charge is essentially that the libertarian free will of man would otherwise nullify the sovereignty of God. So most Calvinists prefer to endorse compatibilistic free will” instead, but the Arminian complaint is that its nothing more than camouflaged Determinism, and not real free will.