Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, James White, writes: “If you think about it, if God really knows what man’s going to do, is man really free?, and that’s why the Open Theists go the direction that they do.” (Arminianism: It Robs the Gospel of its Personal Nature, emphasis mine)

White adds: How God can know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point….” (Debating Calvinism, p.163, emphasis mine)

According to Calvinism, God cannot know the future unless He has predetermined the future. Thus, the glaring problem of Calvinism is that God must predetermine everything in order to know anything. But why should we assume that God lacks the capacity to know an uncaused event? Doesnt God transcend all time and space? This is what distinguishes Arminians from both Calvinists and Open Theists. Arminians affirm that God knows the undetermined and uncaused choices of free agents, by virtue of His eternal nature. In this way, Arminians believe that God can know the future, self-determined choices of free agents because God is already there, present in what we call “the future,” and interacting with them. This is what is often referred to as the “Eternal Now” perspective.

Dave Hunt responds:White denies omniscience in his repudiation of any ‘grounds upon which to base exhaustive divine foreknowledge of future events outside of God’s decree.’ If God must decree the future to know it, He’s not omniscient.” (Debating Calvinism, p.389, emphasis mine)

Dave Hunt is absolutely correct. According to Calvinism, God must predetermine everything in order to know anything. Therefore, for God to know everything, He had to decree everything, which inevitably leads to the strictest form of determinism, and which inevitably leads to the “author of sin” charge.

To a deterministic Calvinist, this simply means that God also predetermined all contingencies. So, in other words, what Tyre and Sidon “would have” done, but didn’t, must also be a product of predetermination. Calvinists are free to make up whatsoever story they wish, but surely it is not very convincing, nor is there any apparent Scriptural support for such a proposed understanding.

Arminian, Michael Brown, states: “There are some Calvinists who say that if you are true Arminian, you’re gonna go the way of Open Theism, and of course I categorically reject that. I could say that if you are true Calvinist, you go the way of Fatalism, which they reject, so I would say that it’s best that we just define our own terms and beliefs.” (Dr. Michael Brown with Leighton Flowers on Soteriology101, 26:19-26:33)

Question:  Is there any evidence from Scripture which conclusively proves that God has the capacity to know something that He did not create, cause, decree or determine?

Answer:  Matthew 11:20-24.
Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism leads to Open Theism.

Myth or Reality:  Actually, Determinism leads to Open Theism. See here. Both Calvinists and Open Theists agree that if God did not determine whatsoever comes to pass, then God could not infallibly know it. So Calvinists take the fork in the road that says that God does know everything, because He has determined everything, whereas the Open Theists take the fork in the road that says that God did not determine everything, and therefore He must not know it. Open Theists agree with deterministic Calvinists that any future that is not 100% scripted by God, would be logically unknowable information. In contrast, Arminians declare such an alleged “fork in the road” to be a misunderstanding of both divine omniscience and eternity. Arminians embrace an “eternal now” perspective, for how God knows what He knows, in that God is independent of time, and yet can also interact with us, in time as we know it.