Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

The real issue is that Calvinists protest over the natural implications of Calvinism, which their opponents are more than happy to point out, in terms of the other side of the coin, which Calvinists often simply erroneously attribute to misrepresentations. Calvinists themselves, often concede to divine mysteries, when being unable to fully defend their positions with logic. In some cases, Calvinists insist that the logic problems facing themselves is not unique to Calvinism, but is a shared problem with Arminianism as well. However, truth be told, Calvinists do their fair share of misrepresentations as well. Here is a perfect example:

Calvinist, James White, writes:Why should we give thanks to God upon hearing of the faith of fellow believers, if in fact having faith in Christ is something that every person is capable of having without any gracious enablement by God?” (Debating Calvinism, p.20, emphasis mine)

Obviously Arminianism affirms the doctrine of Prevenient Grace, whereby there absolutely is the “gracious enablement by God,” but what good does it serve, really, to cry “misrepresentation!”, when you could just as easily use the opportunity to exhibit grace by humbly clarifying your own position?

Calvinist, James White, writes: “No more soul-destroying doctrine could well be devised than the doctrine that sinners can regenerate themselves, and repent and believe just when they please.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.90, emphasis mine)

I don’t know of any theology that teaches that we regenerate ourselves. Rather, God alone does the regenerating, and regeneration only occurs through the Indwelling, when Jesus comes to live inside of us. (Calvinism, on the other hand, teaches that God first makes a person Born Again, and through that preemptive New Birth, an Irresistible Grace is instilled, through which the Calvinistically elect person then believes.) So Calvinists, themselves, are quite capable of the misrepresentations that they accuse others of doing.

Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, writes: “The most infamous allegations have been brought against us, and sometimes, I must fear, by men who knew them to be utterly untrue; and, to this day, there are many of our opponents, who, when they run short of matter, invent and make for themselves a man of straw, call that John Calvin and then shoot all their arrows at it.” (Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace, sermon preached April 11, 1861, emphasis mine)

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains:Calvinists claim their views are being misrepresented only when the fallacy behind them is clearly exposed and brought down to its basic level.” (SEA, emphasis mine)

The Westminster Confession of Faith states: “I. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” (III. Of God’s Eternal Decree, emphasis mine)

John Calvin writes: “So God in ordaining the fall of man had an end most just and right which holds the name of sin in abhorrence. Though I affirm that He ordained it so, I do not allow that He is properly the author of sin.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.122, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “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 man’s 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. Far be it from any of the faithful to be ashamed of ignorance of what the Lord withdraws into the glory of inaccessible light.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.124, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “First it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world; and yet God is not the author of evil.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “But it is quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.176, emphasis mine)

Are Calvinists correct, or are they merely double-talking, logic dodgers? Simply because Calvinists deny this charge does not make it false. Thus, to accuse Calvinism of making God into the Author of Sin, does not misrepresent Calvinism, so much that it charges that it becomes the inevitable consequence of Calvinism. Furthermore, the realm of Calvinism varies greatly. There are Single Predestinationists and Double Predestinationists, Supralapsarians, Infralapsarians and Sublapsarians. There is also the contradictory nature of Calvinism, of which even Calvinists find perplexing. Arminians seize upon the double talk, and develop their charges accordingly, in spite of the passionate objections of Calvinists who cry foul.

For instance, Spurgeon wrote: “I have endeavoured to give a scriptural reason for the dealings of God with man. He saves man by grace, and if men perish they perish justly by their own fault. ‘How,’ says some one, ‘do you reconcile these two doctrines?’ My dear brethren, I never reconcile two friends, never. These two doctrines are friends with one another; for they are both in God’s Word, and I shall not attempt to reconcile them. If you show me that they are enemies, then I will reconcile them. ‘But,’ says one, ‘there is a great deal of difficulty about them.’ Will you tell me what truth there is that has not difficulty about it? ‘But,’ he says, ‘I do not see it.’ Well, I do not ask you to see it; I ask you to believe it. There are many things in God’s Word that are difficult, and that I cannot see, but they are there, and I believe them. I cannot see how God can be omnipotent and man be free; but it is so, and I believe it. ‘Well,’ says one, ‘I cannot understand it. My answer is, I am bound to make it as plain as I can, but if you have not any understanding, I cannot give you any; there I must leave it. But then, again, it is not a matter of understanding; it is a matter of faith. These two things are true; I do not see that they at all differ. However, if they did, I should say, if they appear to contradict one another, they do not really do so, because God never contradicts himself.” (Jacob and Esau, sermon preached January 16, 1859, emphasis mine)

That’s a fine bit of Circular Logic by Charles Spurgeon. Nevertheless, people are going to draw inferences from Calvinism and build charges accordingly. Calvinists need not complain, but rather defend their views and explain how they are not contradictory. For instance, Calvinists who claim that God loves those whom He allegedly predestines to the Lake of Fire, should expect Arminians to charge that Calvinists deny God’s love. Calvinists need not complain about misrepresentation, but rather explain how God could love someone so much that He predestines their destruction. Calvinists who teach Deterministic decrees should expect charges of Theistic Fatalism. So instead of whining, Calvinists ought to anticipate what they feel are merely apparent contradictions, and respond accordingly. Thus, while Calvinists often bemoan being misrepresented, it’s more often just a matter of Calvinists disliking the implications of what they believe, and having to use double-talk to get around it.

Indeed, Calvinists frequently complain that their teachings are not only misunderstood, but also intentionally misrepresented. For instance, it has long been an accusation against Calvinism that it inevitably makes God into the Author of Sin. Calvinists, of course, vehemently denies this inference.
Calvinist Charge:  Arminians Misrepresent Calvinism.

Myth or Reality:  (Of course, this would be part of the alleged, immutable decree, correct?) However, I dont think that Arminians, or non-Calvinists, go out of their way to misrepresent Calvinism, moreso than the fact that Calvinism is simply a bit contradictory, and Calvinism’s detractors simply draw out the unfavorable conclusions about such contradictions, such as the Calvinist illustrations about parallel lines meeting in eternity, or how God can be the  author all things, but not be the author of sin, or Calvinist claims of being able to sync Determinism with Free Will, such as by Compatibilistic Free Will,” which is actually just camouflaged Determinism.