Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities












According to Calvinism, everything which occurs is either because God determined it or permitted it, but that if something happened without Gods knowledge, or caught Him off-guard, so to speak, then it would amount to a denial of Theism in general. However, Calvinism adds that even what God permits, He determines to permit, and therefore it follows that God must have, in some sense, foreordained everything that comes to pass, even the sin that He permits.

Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “If he permits something, then he must decide to allow it. If He decides to allow something, then in a sense he is foreordaining it. (Chosen by God, p.26, emphasis mine)















John Calvin writes: “We also note that we should consider the creation of the world so that we may realize that everything is subject to God and ruled by his will and that when the world has done what it may, nothing happens other than what God decrees.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.66, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “What we must prove is that single events are ordered by God and that every event comes from his intended will. Nothing happens by chance.” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, p.73, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “First, the eternal predestination of God, by which before the fall of Adam He decreed what should take place concerning the whole human race and every individual, was fixed and determined.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.121, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes:Whatever things are done wrongly and unjustly by man, these very things are the right and just works of God. This may seem paradoxical at first sight to some....” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169, emphasis mine)

Calvin writes: “For the man who honestly and soberly reflects on these things, there can be no doubt that the will of God is the chief and principal cause of all things.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.177, emphasis mine)

That is Calvinistic Hard Determinism or Theistic Fatalism, that is, that God has allegedly, fixed and predetermined absolutely everything that will ever come to pass, and yes, Arminianism certainly denies the Calvinistic portrayal of God’s Providence.










Calvinist, James White, writes: “So often is the ‘God looked into the future and saw who would choose Him’ statement made, that most accept it without any inquiry into its truthfulness. But the fact is that the text knows nothing of this ‘crystal ball’ approach to God’s decree of salvation.” (Debating Calvinism, p.145, emphasis mine)

Not only is that not what Arminianism teaches, but its also a misunderstanding of the nature of God. First of all, God is omni-present. The Psalmist states: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” (Psalm 139:8, KJV) Second, God is also eternal, in that time cannot contain Him. Third, God is omniscient, in that no information can hide from Him. Psalm 147:5 states: “Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.” Neither time, nor space, nor any particle of information can hide from Him. He knows the future as if it were the past because God, the eternal, dwells independent of time. Foreknowledge touches upon only one aspect of Gods omniscience. There is also Gods Middle Knowledge, which is the answer to “how God can have particular providential control of the world without resorting to determinism.” (Why I am Not a Calvinist, p.141) That’s the Arminian explanation of God’s Providence. So what is it?













































One Calvinist cautions: “...once you add Omnipotence to Omniscience [You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being (Rev 4:11)], then.... Knowing the future may not determine the future, but knowing all possible outcomes, and choosing to create that world in which the future that comes about is the one which you chose still makes you the author of that future.”
(www.StudyLight.org, emphasis mine)

Thats also a concern of many Arminians. Nevertheless, based upon 1st Corinthians 10:13, God would merely be the author of the parameters, and no matter which set of parameters that God ultimately settles upon, how would that make Him the determiner of anyones responses to His preset parameters?

So, then, what does Arminianism have to offer as an alternative to Calvinism?
Question:  What is Middle Knowledge?

Answer:  With respect to Tyre and Sidon (Luke 10:13), and even Sodom too  (Matthew 11:20-24), God knew what their actions would” have been, had they seen His miracles, even though it never came to pass. God knows this in His mind, just as if it had already occurred, and is even admissible evidence on the Judgment Day. This proves that God knows more than just what comes to pass, and that His understanding is indeed “infinite.” God “knows everything they would have done in all possible circumstances.” (Why I am Not a Calvinist, p.136) This is omniscience on a far more grand scale than what Calvinistic Determinism teaches. The Bible also teaches: 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. (1st Corinthians 10:13) How does God know what you are able to handle, if He does not have exhaustive Middle Knowledge? He knows the choices of every man, given an infinite number of alterations in his environment, and with an infinite number of variables interacting with him. It is an intellect that is truly infinite.
Question:  How does this address the sovereignty-responsibility tension?

Answer:  In lieu of 1st Corinthians 10:13, God does not determine the choices that we make, but rather, He determines the factors that affect our choices, and keeps them within certain set parameters. In His sovereignty, “God arranges the world as he chooses based on his middle knowledge. God exercises sovereign control in the sense that he creates the persons he wishes to create and brings about the circumstances he wills, knowing just what choices all those persons will make in the circumstances he has brought about.” (Why I am Not a Calvinist, p.137) Additionally, “God ordained all of this in the sense that he created the world and the relevant states of affairs knowing that these events would unfold in just this fashion.” (Why I am Not a Calvinist, p.137, emphasis mine) “Ordained” is a loaded term, and I would merely clarify that this was “ordained” from the standpoint that God choose to allow a particular future to unfold, permitting man to make his choices within predetermined boundaries (1st Corinthians 10:13), though not making mens choices on their behalf.
Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism denies God’s Providence.

Myth or Reality:  The charge is essentially that Arminianism refuses to allow God to be God, and to do what pleases Him, in determining whatsoever comes to pass.
Question:  But in the immutable decree, would God be allowing something that may or may not come to pass?

Answer:  That’s what cuts right through it. Calvinists are intentionally confusing active and passive terms, so as to befuddle non-Calvinists into thinking that Calvinism is an essential component to Christianity in general.