Calvinism and Arminianism: 
Myths & Realities

One person echoes the Calvinist sentiment: “The Calvinist comes back something like this and says, if God wanted to he could have created a world in which man never would have sinned. So by determining to allow Adam to sin God is still complicit in the origin of sin. So the Arminian does not escape the problem of evil in God’s creation.” (emphasis mine)

But the Father of the Prodigal Son” also determined to allow his son to leave, and therefore would Calvinists say that the father was thus complicit” in his son’s resulting debauchery?

When an Arminian says that God determined to allow something, he means to say that God allowed an independent party do their will. Conversely, when a Calvinist says determined to allow,” what he means is that God determined to give the illusion of allowing something, because God secretly scripts their every thought, word and deed, without which (the Calvinist reasons to himself), God otherwise couldn’t infallibly know it. So the problem of evil is quite different between Calvinists and Arminians. For the Calvinist, it’s not a problem at, but a matter of allegedly God getting precisely what He scripted.

Roger Olson writes concerning Calvinism: If that’s the case, then there is no getting around it that sin and evil are good because without them God’s glory could not be fully revealed.” (Part 5 of Response to The Gospel as Center: Chapter 5 “Sin and the Fall”, emphasis mine)

One Calvinist responds: Sin and evil are not good in themselves, but they can be used to bring about a greater good that couldn’t be realized without them.” (Part 5 of Response to The Gospel as Center: Chapter 5 “Sin and the Fall”, emphasis mine)

In Calvinism, God meticulously causes the “sin and evil” of Dependent Agents, in order to arrive at a particular good, whereas with Arminianism, God simply uses the “sin and evil” of Independent Agents to bring about a particular good. Therefore the matter “sin and evil” of does not apply evenly to Calvinism and Arminianism. In other words, with Calvinism, all “sin and evil” are good simply and solely because God decreed it; God derived it from no outside example, but conceived of it from His holy imagination. So to a Calvinist, “sin and evil” are good because it originates from God. Conversely in Arminianism, all “sin and evil” are conceived outside of God, independent of God (consider Jeremiah 32:35 for instance), as God uses the “sin and evil” others tsalvage good from the bad. The “bad” is not a “means to an end,” as it inherently is with Calvinism, but “bad” within Arminian-thought is something that God works around, never intended, never desired, never wanted, and best of all, never needed. But in Calvinism, God absolutely does need it, and thats a significant difference. God would have been just as blessed (and I would argue, far more), had Adam and Eve never fallen. Calvinists cannot say this. In Calvinism, God absolutely needs “sin and evil,” while in Arminianism, “sin and evil” doesnt stop God.

Regarding the matter of Dependent Agents, what is meant is that with Calvinism, all agents, both human and angelic, are dependent upon Gods decree for their every thought, word and deed, without which (as Calvinists tell us), God couldnt otherwise infallibly know what any of the aforementioned would think next. With Arminianism, God knows the future self-determined choices of others, as a factor of being an eternal Being, independent of time. Moreover, with Arminianism, all “sin and evil” are committed independently of God. God never needed the child-sacrifice described at Jeremiah 32:35, though such atrocities do not stop God. 

Now to a Calvinist, that results in the following: Sin without purpose. But why does sin have to have a purpose? Does all the sin currently being committed in Hell need to have a purpose? Moreover, for Calvinists, not only does sin have to have a purpose, but it has to have God as its origin.

Calvinist, James White: “If God’s decree does not include the evil of mankind, that evil has no purpose, and Hunt is left directing us to a God who creates the possibility of evil, starts this universe off on its course, and then tries His best to ‘fix things’ as they fall apart in a torrent of wickedness. This is supposed to comfort us? This is the God who says that He works all things after the counsel of His will? Hardly!” (Debating Calvinism, pp.319-320, emphasis mine)

First of all, James White assumes that there is such a decree in the first place. Second, somehow White finds it much more comforting if the origin of every single act of sin and evil is sitting on the throne.

Dave Hunt: “White contends that if God doesn’t decree evil, ‘evil has no purpose.’ Evil must have a purpose?” (Debating Calvinism, p.327, emphasis mine)

To a Calvinist, if God permits sin, then He must have a purpose in permitting it. But as an illustration, did the father of the “Prodigal Son” have a purpose in permitting his son to leave? No. The father didn’t want it, and was thrilled when his son returned. Sin doesn’t have to have a purpose.

Calvinist Charge:  The problem of evil,” in terms of its implication upon God, is just as much of a problem for Arminians as it is of Calvinists, and hence all Arminians should temper their criticisms of Calvinism accordingly.

Myth or Reality:  False. There the matter of sin and evil is entirely dissimilar between Calvinism and Arminianism.