Calvinism and Arminianism: 
Myths & Realities

The idea of secret-salvation, also necessarily gives rise to the concept of birthright-salvation, as per the Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Election, which at least bears some resemblance to Judaism, in that one is salvation by birthright, being a Jew and a descendant of Abraham.

John Calvin: “The word purpose distinctly excludes all that men imagine they reciprocate, as though Paul were denying that the causes of our election are to be sought in any other place than in the  secret good pleasure of God.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.180, emphasis mine)

John Calvin: “This way of speaking, however, may seem to be different from many passages of Scripture which attribute to Christ the first foundation of God’s love for us and show that outside Christ we are detested by God. But we ought to remember, as I have already said, that the Heavenly Father’s secret love which embraced us is the first love given to us.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.76, emphasis mine)

John Calvin: “I answer briefly that Christ was so ordained for the salvation of the whole world that He might save those who are given to Him by the Father, that He might be their life whose Head He is, and that He might receive those into participation of His benefits whom God by His gratuitous good pleasure adopted as heirs for Himself.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.102-103, emphasis mine)

One Calvinist explains: “Do Calvinists secretly believe that God chose them for some reason other than their need for salvation? Would I, as a Christian, believe that God chose me for some other reason than my need for salvation? Yes, I do. God chose me for His glory, for His pleasure, for His purposes. Sure I had a need for salvation. But that is not why He saved me primarily. ... In the Bible, God does not say He chose us because of our desperate need. He chose us before our need ever arose.” (emphasis mine)

Calvinist, John MacArthur: “We are chosen unto salvation. We are chosen to belong to Him. When you look at your salvation, then thank God. Thank God! Because you are a Christian because He chose you. I don’t understand the mystery of that. That’s just what the word of God teaches. That is the most humbling doctrine in all of Scripture. I take no credit, not even credit for my faith. It all came from Him. He chose me. He selected people to be made holy in order to be with Him forever. Why he selected me, I will never know. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m worse than many. But He chose me.” (Understanding Election, emphasis mine)

John MacArthur: “To whom do you owe your salvation? You owe it to the God who chose you. You owe it to the God who predestined you. You owe it to the God who redeemed you, the God who forgave you, the God who wanted you to be His own because He wanted you to be His own. It  doesn’t give any other reason, even though we are so unworthy, so unworthy.” (Understanding Election, emphasis mine)

Calvinist, James White: “Jesus begins where Christian salvation begins (and ends!), with the FatherThe Father gives a particular people to the Son.” (Debating Calvinism, p.118, emphasis mine)

James White: “I just also believe the undisputed and unrefuted fact that I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, gave me to the Son in eternity past.”
(Debating Calvinism, p.306, emphasis mine)

​Question: When responding to Calvinism, I’ve heard people ask: “Why Jesus? I mean, if we are already elected to salvation, why Jesus? Why the cross? Why is it necessary?” 

Answer: It’s a good question. Calvinism seems to make Calvary into a “rubber stamp” of Election.

Arminian, Robert Shank: “Thus Christ’s ‘redemptive’ career--the incarnation, His death and resurrection, His ascension and intercession--are seen as incidental and symbolic, divine pageantry rather than authentic saving acts.” (Elect in the Son, p.32, emphasis mine)

Robert Shank: “The atonement wrought by Christ was by no means symbolic. It was an authentic saving act made necessary by the holy character of God Himself, a saving act whereby God can adopt into sonship and into His kingdom men who have transgressed His righteous laws, outraged His holiness, and of themselves are sinners. The death of Jesus Christ was not pageantry. It was a decisive saving act in which Jesus Christ was truly instrumental in the election of men to salvation and the everlasting kingdom of God.” (Elect in the Son, p.36, emphasis mine)

One member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians: “In Arminianism, however, we are elected in Christ. His Sacrifice comes first in line, and then, through His merits, we can be saved. Calvinism otherwise makes us worthy of Jesus’ death, since God elects us, thus making us worthy of having His Son, Jesus, die for us. But, in fact, it is to the contrary: Only Jesus’ death makes us worthy of God’s election. We’d otherwise deserve Hell, hadn’t Jesus’ merits gained us so great a salvation.”

I surmise that Calvinism [and it’s Unconditional Election], makes Jesus’ death mandatory, rather than a personal, self-less act of love. In other words, Calvinistic Unconditional Election makes us worthy for Christ to die, whereas in Arminianism, Christ’s death makes us worthy to be elected. 

Arminian Charge:  Calvinism teaches Secret Salvation.

Myth or Reality:  Calvinists plainly admit it, and even admitting that it seems unusual and different. One merely needs to show the quotes to prove it. The problem with a Calvinist’s reliance upon a “Secret Will” defense is that it takes God’s answer of “no” and turns it into a “yes.” For instance, God will say that He is not responsible for something (Jeremiah 32:35), and then a Calvinist’s “Secret Will” defense turns God’s answer into a “yes” that He is responsible for it, as its mastermind and architect.