Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

One Calvinist writes:I will tell you exactly when faith in Christ is a work (that is, a work OF MAN). Exercising faith in Christ is made to be a work when it is taught to be something which is left up to man to exercise or not and the determinant cause of his faith finally rests with him.”

Calvinist, James White, writes: “Indeed, all other answers must at some point be because I was better than those who did not believe.” (Debating Calvinism, p.100, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer, writes: “Because salvation rests wholly with God, no one can say he chose Christ because he is wiser than others; he did so because God had chosen him and quickened him that he might believe. Calvinists have often accused the Arminians of taking at least a bit of credit for their salvation.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.181, emphasis mine)

The Calvinist argument is that if we freely receive God’s gift (without an “Irresistible Grace”), when others reject it, then the reason for our good decision must make us in some way good, or better and wiser than others, thus stealing from God, for His goodness alone in providing the gift of salvation. However, God never makes this argument; only Calvinists do. Scripture, on the other hand, pits works against faith, in teaching that faith attributes all credit to God: “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.” (Romans 3:27)

However, Calvinist John Piper, writes:Trust is the one thing that can put God in debt. The reason trust can do this, is that it is the one human attitude that looks away from our sufficiency to God’s sufficiency. When God’s sufficiency is at stake, he will prevail.” (On Lending to God, emphasis mine)

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “Notice how Piper articulates the non-meritoriousness of faith, indeed, in an extreme way that many Arminians would not (i.e. we would not say that faith puts God in our debt). Nonetheless, his articulation is helpful for its eloquence in pointing out the fact that faith is not meritoriousness, nor a work even though it is something we do that God responds to by saving us. (SEA)

Even John Calvin stated: “Now it may be asked how men receive the salvation offered to them by the hand of God? I reply, by faith. Hence he concludes that here is nothing of our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all praise, it follows that salvation is not of us. … When, on man’s side, he places the only way of receiving salvation in faith alone, he rejects all other means on which men are accustomed to rely. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.144, emphasis mine)

There is no argument there, and Calvinists would do well to consider these quotes.

Calvinist, James White, writes: “Is the outcome of all history merely the fortuitous result of the decisions of free creatures, and if so, how can God claim glory for its final form?” (Debating Calvinism, p.360, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, John Piper, explains: “God governs the course of history so that, in the long run, His glory will be more fully displayed and His people more fully satisfied than would have been the case in any other world. If we look only at the way things are now in the present era of this fallen world, this is not the best-of-all-possible worlds. But if we look at the whole course of history, from creation to redemption to eternity and beyond, and see the entirety of Gods plan, it is the best-of-all-possible plans and leads to the best-of-all-possible eternities. And therefore this universe (and the events that happen in it from creation into eternity, taken as a whole) is the best-of-all-possible-worlds.” (What does Piper mean when he says he's a seven-point Calvinist?, emphasis mine)

Calvinism portrays God as a glory-hound, but I think that that’s more reflective of the devil. The devil is the one who is a glory hound, and sought to be worshipped as God. I think that God has all of the glory that He needs. I think that if God created the universe out of a need for glory, then that would indicate something lacking on His part viz. Aseity issues. I think that God created the universe from a surplus, rather than a deficit, that is, a surplus of love, which had motivated God to want to express that love, such as with a couple wishing to have a child. The parent isn’t looking for glory, but rather, the parent is looking to express and share their love.

Man was never supposed to know evil. Man was supposed to fellowship with God in taking dominion over the earth, but man ruined that gift, but God still wins, because even in the Fall, man goes through struggles and hardships, and through it, man learns to trust in God, and forms a bond with God, and builds a unique connection with God, which can only be achieved through such struggles, so that with or without the Fall, God still wins because He is still able to pour out His surplus of love upon others, and in a way that is unique from His experience with the angels.

Question:  Why would God wish to “claim glory” or take credit for the final form of the outcome of “all history,” when it is filled with sin, the same sin that He will condemn on Judgment Day?

Answer:  God did not script history. Sin is not His work. Furthermore, if God determined everything, as Calvinism claims, then for God to be robbed, that would be a product of Determinism as well, and thus God would simply be robbing Himself through mankind. Calvinism has unusual theological implications.
Question:  How would it be consistent for Calvinists to think that God is truly being robbed in some manner, if they simultaneously believe that God predetermined and decreed all thoughts and all actions, from eternity to eternity? In such a Calvinistic scenario, would not God be robbing Himself?
Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism robs God of His Glory.

Myth or Reality:  But according to Determinism, God would have scripted it.
John Calvin writes:We rob him of his glory if we think the Gospel is brought to us either by chance or by human will or labor.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.338, emphasis mine)

The Holy Spirit awakens, goads and convicts, while the Lord seeks, draws and knocks. The initiative is the Lord’s in the “divine encounter.” Arminianism simply rejects the idea of elect caste and the use of an Irresistible Grace.