Calvinist Complaint: Arminianism denies the Providence of God
In order to know what of Calvinism that Arminianism allegedly denies, it is first helpful to know what Calvinism teaches:
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 it’s 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 God’s omniscience. There is also God’s 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)
That’s 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 anyone’s responses to His preset parameters?