Calvinism and Arminianism:
Myths & Realities

Calvinist, James White, writes: “There is a reason Arminianism has lead to Universalism. ...because when you really boil it down to its essence, you’ve either gotta just abandon biblical teachings and reach for Universalism or recognize that this system gives you absolutely no grounds for hope. Because when you really think through what they’re saying ‘who will separate us from the love of Christ?,’ well who’s us? Well it’s not me individually. It’s me ‘if’ I do this, if I do that, if I remain faithful. And since you can’t have a divine faith, you can’t have a will of God that is being accomplished and bring a certain people to salvation, then it’s you, you, you. God’s already tried His best, God’s put out a hundred percent, the deciding factor is you.” (Arminianism: It Robs the Gospel of its Personal Nature, emphasis mine)

The “us” would be those “in Christ” who believe in Jesus. Certainly the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit along with the New Birth and Regeneration gives “grounds for hope in remaining in Christ. On the other hand, the Calvinist is the one in a predicament, since they have the unique fear that they might not be one of the Calvinistically elect. They can pretend to be one of the Calvinistically elect, and sit around and loath their sin, but ultimately, for them, it’s not about trusting in Christ, but about presuming upon a secret election, and they look to their good works [and perhaps Legalism] to convince themselves of having been secretly drafted from eternity past. Worse yet, Calvinists are well aware of other Calvinists having fallen away, and this is chalked up to the notion that they “must have only had a Temporal Grace, rather than a full blown Persevering Grace, as the members of the Calvinistically elect have.  So Calvinists have a fear of having just a Common Grace all along. This is why Arminians are Christian by promise, whereas Calvinists are Christians by presumption.

Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: Do you know that you are elect of God, chosen of God, predestined to adoption as a child of God before the beginning of time? You can know for certain.”  (Solving Bible Mysteries, p.27, emphasis mine)

Can you? If you are a Calvinist, how can you have any assurance of that? The following quote explains the problem:

Calvinist, Mark Talbot, explains: “Now of course, nothing, that I, nor anyone else, can say can guarantee that anyone will continue to believe. Faith is a gift of God that we cannot produce.”  (Sin and Suffering in Calvin’s World, emphasis mine)

So there is no assurance for the Calvinist. There is no guarantee, as it could just be a temporary faith.

Walls and Dongell comment:This dreadful possibility is what haunts Calvinists who struggle with the assurance and certainty of salvation. Times of moral failure and depression can easily be construed as evidence that one is not chosen after all and that God is hardening one’s heart for not responding more faithfully to his grace.” (Why I Am Not A Calvinist, p.202, emphasis mine)

Thus, the Calvinist actually has less security than the Modern Arminian who teaches Conditional Security, since the Arminian would at least be trusting in Christ for security, rather than trusting in an election.

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians writes: “If we were to weigh which system (Calvinism or Arminianism) would be more amenable to Universalism, I would think that Calvinism would work better with it. If someone were a Calvinist who was deeply disgruntled over God’s gleeful damnation of those who are predetermined to be objects of wrath, it wouldn’t be too great of a stretch to just say, ‘Well, if God saves only who He wants, I just choose to believe that He wants to save everybody!’ From my readings of universalist thought and my conversations with them, most Universalists root their beliefs in the eventual salvation of everyone in the notion that God will save folks in spite of their free will, not through their free will. For Universalists, its compulsory heaven (or some equivalent thereof) for everyone! Universalists usually don’t know how to deal the fact that some folks don’t want to be saved. In other words, Universalists have a massive problem with their promotion of God’s pre-determined salvation of all people in light of the fact that some people freely choose to remain unsaved. White is merely playing a bizarre numbers game in his lame attempt to link Arminianism and Universalism. Here’s how he is really thinking: ‘Calvinism guards against Universalism because there are a necessarily limited number of folks who will be saved. Arminian beliefs in libertarian free will fling the door open wide for ANYONE to be saved should they choose to believe in Jesus. Because Calvinism puts a divinely-ordained cap on the number of saved folks, and Arminianism promotes the notion that the number of the saved depends upon who places faith in Christ, Arminianism MUST promote Universalism simply because it holds out the possibility that a great number of folks will be saved.’ This is how White’s brain works with regards to this issue. It’s about numbers. The greater the restriction, the less the possibility for Universalism. But he fails to note that if you just point God’s exhaustive determinism in the direction of the many as opposed to the few, you end up with a nice, heaping mess of Universalism.” (SEA, emphasis mine)

Calvinist Charge:  Arminianism inevitably leads to Universalism.

Myth or Reality:  Calvinism with an Unlimited Atonement equals Universalism, in which 4-Point Calvinists obviously disagree. 5-Pointers believe that if Jesus died for you, then He did so without your consent, and you are saved automatically, and thus when they hear Arminians discuss an Unlimited Atonement, they naturally connect the dots to Universalism. The flaw is in the 5-Pointers conception of the Atonement, as they are certainly not basing it on John 3:14 as it relates to Numbers 21:6-9.