Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains:My own supervisor here at [edited], who is a full, settled Calvinist, once told me that he absolutely lives his life like an Arminian. Well, for me, I want a theology I can live by. What good is Calvinism if you can’t live or do ministry by it? Surely, one of the truth tests for a theological system is whether you can live by it! On this score, Calvinism is a major fail.” (SEA)

Another member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians comments: “I have always maintained that Calvinists must preach as Arminians before they can indoctrinate as Calvinists.” (SEA)

Calvinists often try to soften the image of Calvinism [viz. the alleged, “hard truths], which frequently comes in the form of attributing catastrophic events to divine permission, even though Calvinism also teaches exhaustive Determinism viz. an immutable decree. The following is just such an example:

Nowhere did John Piper cite Determinism and an all-encompassing script. Instead, we see this: What He did was govern all things...He did have that ability and He didn’t use it...He did not stop them. ... God was totally in charge....” That sounds like permission, and yet, permission is completely incompatible with a predetermined script. Essentially, John Piper gave the Arminian explanation.

In other words, the state of the church being unregenerate is a factor of us having done something. We have done something. We have lost the Gospel, and the result is that many in the church remain unregenerate (meaning not Born Again). But yet, according to Calvinism, what determines whether a person is regenerate” or unregenerate? According to Calvinism, whether a person remains unregenerate or is regenerated is completely the sovereign decision of God, whether to unilaterally impart Irresistible Grace or not, which is completely independent of anything that man chooses to do. So essentially, James White, while engaging in his classic handwringing, is speaking from an Arminian perspective. This happens a lot. Calvinists often speak like Arminians.

On the video for Q&A with Reporters (4th one, on the bottom of the page, at the 14:10 mark), a female reporter (Kathy Grossman of USA Today) takes Calvinist, John Piper, to task on his view of God’s sovereignty:

Kathy Grossman, USA Today: “I’d like to ask Rev. Piper if you could please go back to your opening comments about what you would tell the children who lost their parents, because I must have misunderstood you. If I lost a spouse and I took my child to your church and I heard you say those things, I would take my child out and never come back. So, clearly I misunderstood.” 

John Piper: “Not necessarily.”

Kathy Grossman, USA Today: “It seemed to me that you said, that the answer to these children was, ‘Look at what the great opportunities are that God gives you now for your life,’ and I think that doesn’t actually answer the question that you raised.”

John Piper: “No, that is not what I said. He didn’t give them opportunities. What He did was govern all things at the moment when their parents died. So if they asked me, ‘So where was God?’, or ‘Did God have the ability to stop my daddy’s death?,’ I would say that He did have that ability and He didn’t use it, and then they would say, ‘So you’re saying God took my daddy?’ I would say, ‘God was wise, loving and good towards you when He did not stop them.’ I’m trying to avoid words….”

Kathy Grossman, USA Today: “I’m not sure I get, though, how that answers the question.”

John Piper: “Yeah, ok, that’s stage one. Then, if they say, ‘I don’t think that’s helpful to tell me that. That sounds very unloving of God.’ I would say, ‘But if you deny that, then what you’re denying is that right now, the help that you need to handle your difficulties given to you by the loss of your Dad, the difficulty you’re facing, you were facing marriage, you were facing job, you were facing cancer, these difficulties, the very God, who you let be sovereign at 911, that sovereignty is the very thing that will give you stability and strength and hope right now. That’s the gist of it.”

Kathy Grossman, USA Today: “How can that person count on that? Since they saw that it didn’t….”

John Piper: “Because whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. In other words, if I get shot tomorrow, if I walk out of here, and somebody didn’t like what I said and they shoot me dead, God was totally in charge, of that, and that would be the best thing that could happen to me.”
Calvinist, James White, states: Look around at the churches that, at least, try to take the Bible seriously. Brother Tom Ascol has rather openly stated that he views the Southern Baptist Convention as an unregenerate denomination. Our churches are filled with unregenerate people, and I think that’s a very, you know, as our conference, we’ve lost the Gospel, and I think that’s a very valid observation to make.” (The Dividing Line, emphasis mine)
Arminian Charge:  Calvinists masquerade as Arminians.

Myth or Reality:  Whenever there is a natural disaster, Calvinists camouflage as Arminians by espousing Divine Permission, contrary to Determinism.