Calvinism and Arminianism Compared
By Dr. A.M. Hills
Edited By Jeff Paton
When one observes Calvinism and Arminianism, we can see that on many subjects they are perpetually in conflict. Perhaps we may as well here as anywhere make a careful comparison between them.
Theistic fatalism would be but another name for Calvinism. "Predestination" says Calvin, " we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is ordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say is predestined either to life of death....."In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of Scripture (?), we assert that, by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined both whom He would admit to salvation and whom He would condemn to destruction" (Institutes, Book 3, chapter 21).
Predestination, in other words, consists in the predetermination of the Divine will, which determining alike the volitions of the human will and the succession of physical events, which reduces both the human will and physical events to a form of "unfreedom." But those who hold predestination, very uniformly hold also to volitional necessity, or the subjection of the will in its action to the strongest motive force. And as the divine will is held subject to the same law, so necessity, as master of God, and, and the universe, becomes a universal and absolute fate. The doctrine, installed by Augustine, and developed more sternly by John Calvin, in Christian Theology, is called of them Augustinianism or Calvinism.
In opposition to this system of necessity or fatalism, is Arminianism. It is the theology that tends to freedom, and is resolutely opposed to absolutism. Cicero said: "Those who maintain an eternal series of causes despoil the mind of free-will and bind it in the necessity of fate. " Arminians maintain that, in order to have true responsibility, guilt, penalty, and especially an eternal penalty, there must be in the agent a free will; and in the true, responsibly free-will, there must be the power, even in the same circumstances, and under the same motives, of choosing either way. No man can be justly, eternally damned, according to Arminianism, for a choice which he cannot help. If by fixed Divine decree, or volitional necessity to the particular act, he cannot be responsible or justly punished. Eternal suffering, for which there is no compensation, inflicted a judicial penalty on the basis of justice, can be justly inflicted, only for avoidable sin. If a divine decree or volitional necessity determines every act, then it is irresponsible and unjust to inflict a judicial penalty.
Arminianism also holds that none but the person who commits a sin can be guilty of that sin. One person cannot be responsible for another personís sin. A tempter may be guilty of tempting another to sin, but then, one is guilty of the sin, and the other is guilty solely of the sin of temptation. There can be no vicarious guilt; (one being guilty for another), and, as punishment, taken strictly, can be only be inflicted for guilt upon the guilty, therefore, there cannot be any such thing as a literal vicarious punishment. If innocent Damon dies in place of Pythias, who is guilty of murder, Damon is not guilty because he has taken the place of Pythias in dying, and his death cannot be rightfully said to be punishment, but merely a voluntary suffering which is substituted for another man's punishment. One must be guilty in order for them to be punished. The one who commits the sin is solely the sinner, the only one that is guilty, and the only one that can be punished..
1. Foreordination. The old Calvinistic Confession states as follows: "God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass." As Dr. Hodge put it: "The occurrence of all events is determined with unalterable certainty. Foreknowledge foreknows them as certain. Foreordination determines them, secures their certainty. Providence effects it. God effectually controls the acts of free agents. They are fixed from all eternity!" (Vol. II, p. 300).
Now certain things are involved in such statements: (1) The decrees of God are eternal. (2) They are immutable. (3) They are unconditional. (4) They are absolute. (5) They are without contingency. (6) They are certainly efficacious. That is to say, God from all eternity, predetermines not only all physical agents, but also all the volitions of responsible agents. To this, Arminianism objects that the predetermination of the agents volitions, destroys the freedom of His will; that it makes God the responsible determiner and willer, and author of all the sin in the universe; and it enables every sinner to say that his sin is in perfect accord with the divine will, and therefore, so far as he himself is concerned, is right. The Calvinistic system makes God first decree the sin, then create the sinner to commit it, then cause the sinner to commit it, then damn him because he committed it. It logically makes sinners only helpless instruments in Godís hands, and God the only real sinner in the universe! The Arminian theory is this: God does from all eternity, predetermine the laws of nature, and the succession of physical and necessary events; but as to free moral agents, God, knowing all possible future events, does choose that plan of His own conduct, which, in view of what each man will ultimately do in his freedom, will bring out the best results. His system is a system of His own actions, and Godís predeterminations of His own acts are so far contingent, as they are based on His pre-recognition of what the agent will freely do; yet, as His omniscience knows the future with perfect accuracy, so He will never be deceived nor frustrated in His plans and providences. Arminians deny, as against the Calvinists, that foreknowledge has any influence upon the future of the act, as predetermination has. Predetermination fixes the act. Foreknowledge is fixed by the act. In foreordination, God determines the act as He pleases; in foreknowledge, the agent fixes the prescience as he pleases. In the case of Calvinism, God alone is responsible for the creatureís acts; in Arminianism, man is free to act and thus is responsible for his own actions.
John Calvin wrote: "For since God foresees future events only in consequence of His decree that they shall happen, it is useless to contend about foreknowledge, while it is evident that all things come to pass rather by ordination and decree.....It is a horrible decree, I confess; but no one can deny that God foreknew the future fate of man before he was created; and that He did foreknow it because it was appointed by His own decree." This lurid quotation involves three fundamental errors of Calvinism, and they are all false. (1) That God by decree causes everything, and so, is responsible for everything. (2) That God cannot know anything unless He causes it! This is a baseless assumption. (3) That God unchangeably decreed a universe necessarily so full of wickedness, and involving the unavoidable, eternal, helpless, hopeless doom of so many people that the very thought of it should fill any right-thinking soul with horror! This whole idea is accusing God of great wickedness. He never made any such "horrible decree." How so many great and good men have failed to perceive the vast unreasonableness and the monstrosity of such a theory, we cannot understand.
2. Divine Sovereignty. Calvinism affirms that if a man is free, God is not sovereign. Just so far as man is free to will either way, Godís power is limited. Arminians reply that if a man is not free, God is not sovereign but sinks to a mere mechanist. If man's will is as fixed as the physical machinery of the universe, then all is machinery, and not a government, and God is only a machinist and not a moral ruler. The higher manís freedom of the will is exhaled above mechanism, so much higher is God exalted as a sovereign. Here, according to Arminianism, Calvinism degrades and destroys Godís sovereignty, and Arminianism exalts it. The freedom of man no more limits Godís power than the laws of nature which He has established.; that in both cases there is a self-limitation by God, of the exercise of His power. Arminianism holds to the absoluteness of Godís omnipotence just as truly as Calvinism, and to the grandeur of His sovereignty even more exaltedly.
The Calvinists urge against the Arminian system, that it represents that the will of God that all men should be saved; and, insomuch as all are not saved, the will of God is defeated., and this is irreconcilable with the divine sovereignty. Ralston replies to this as follows: "The primary will of God is that all men should be saved. This He has most solemnly declared, and the benevolence of His holy nature requires it. But He does not thus will absolutely and unconditionally. He only wills it according to certain conditions, and in consistency with the plan of His own devising. He wills their salvation, not as stocks or stones, but as moral agents. He wills their salvation through the use of the prescribed means; but if, in the abuse of their agency, they reject the Gospel, His ultimate will is that they perish for their sins. This is essential to His moral government over His creatures.
Thus we can clearly see how the Almighty can, according to the system of Arminianism, primarily will the salvation of all men, and through the atonement of Christ render it obtainable, and yet maintain His absolute sovereignty over the moral universe. But it is not the sovereignty of an arbitrary tyrant, nor yet such a sovereignty, as that by which He rules the physical universe, according to the principles of absolute and fatal necessity. It is the sovereignty of a righteous and benevolent Governor of moral and intelligent agents, according to holy and gracious principles. A sovereignty variant from this would be repugnant to Scripture, and derogatory to the divine character." ( Elements of Divinity, pp. 321, 322. )
3. Imputation of Adamís sin. Calvinism holds that Adamís posterity is truly guilty of Adamís sin, so as to be justly and eternally punishable therefore, without a remedy. Since this makes all mankind personally guilty of this sin, God might have had the whole race born into existence under a curse without ever giving a means of deliverance, and had justly consigned every created being to an eternal punishment. Arminians would say that this dogma violates the fundamental principles of eternal justice. They deny that guilt and literal punishment can, in the nature of things, be transferred from one person to another. (Editorís Note: Sin is personal, and thereby cannot be transferred from one individual to another. I cannot transfer my sin to you and make you guilty of that sin. You can no more transfer honesty to a liar than you can transfer adultery to an infant. For an individual to be tortured for a crime that they did not commit is an injustice, and cannot be properly called "punishment." In order for someone to be punished, there must be guilt, or otherwise, the pain suffered must be heroism on he part of the sufferer to save another from their consequences, or if it is involuntary, it is an injustice, and martyrdom at best.)
Their theory is, that upon Adamís sin, a Savior was immediately placed as the Mediator for the race as a previous condition to the allowance of the propagation of the human race by Adam, and a plan was put in place that there would be a provision for their inherited disadvantages. Had not a Redeemer been thus provided, mankind, after Adam, not being held guilty of his sin, but by the law of natural descent, just as all posterity inherits the speciesĖ qualities of mental, physical, and moral traits of their progenitor. Before his fall, the presence of the Holy Spirit, with Adam in fullness, supernaturally empowered him to holiness, Ė the tree of life imparted to him a supernatural immortality. Separated from all of these, he sank into a mere nature, subject to appetite and Satan. The race in Adam, without redemption, is totally incapable of salvation; yet under Christ it is placed under a new redemptive probation, is empowered by the quickening of the Spirit, given to all, and through Christ, by the exercise of free-agency, may obtain eternal life.
(Editorís Note: Dr. Hills in his work, The Establishing Grace, makes the apt point that the depravity we are born with " is not our blame, it is our misfortune." No man will end up in an eternal hell for a nature that he was born with. For this he is not responsible, and because of that, he cannot be held guilty for the sin, nor the depravity that was the result of the personal sin of the father of our race. Given time, we have all personally followed Adam in his sin and have brought condemnation upon ourselves through our own personal rebellion against our Creator. For all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God."
4. Reprobation. Calvinism affirms that the whole mass of mankind thus involved in guilt and punishment for sin they never actually committed. God in His redemptive purpose, has chosen to "pass by" a large share of mankind, without any intention to recover them. This has all been done from "the good pleasure of His will," and for a display of "His glorious justice." The other portion of mankind God does, "from mere good pleasure" without any superior preferability in them, elected, or chose to confer regeneration and eternal life upon them, "all to the praise of His glorious grace."
This horrible charge against God they state as follows: "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death. These angels and men thus predestined and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
Those of mankind that are predestined unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith and good works, or perseverance in either of them or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto, and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, thereby He extends or withholds mercy as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice."
Arminians pronounce such a proceeding to be arbitrary, and fail to see in it either "glorious justice" or "glorious grace." The reprobation seems to them to be injustice, and the "grace" with such an accompaniment, unworthy of the acceptance of free-agents. And to say that the blessed Savior, who wept over sinners and died praying for them, created an infinite number of men and angels, on purpose to damn them, and was "pleased" to do it, just to display His irresistible "power" to the universe, is an inexcusable, wanton, blasphemous slander against the loving Christ!
"Election and reprobation, as Arminians hold them, are conditioned on the conduct and voluntary character of the subjects. All submitting to God and righteousness, by repentance of sin and true, self-consecrating faith, do meet the conditions of that election. All who persist in sin present the qualities on which reprobation depends. And as this preference for the obedient and holy, and rejection of the disobedient and unholy, lies in the very nature of God, so this election and reprobation, are from before the foundation of the world."
The notion of an eternal election is contrary to reason and Scripture. There is nothing eternal but God. Election is an act of God done in time. The "calling" goes before the "election," and men are elected or chosen through the "belief of the truth," the "sanctification of the Spirit," and the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:2). We may easily believe that "before the world was," God decided to choose men out of the world and sanctify them in time, on proper conditions. To affirm that in purpose men were elected from eternity "without foresight of faith or good works" is to say, that from all eternity God purposed to constitute His church of persons to whose faith and obedience He had no respect. He eternally purposed to make Peter, James and John members of His church, without respect to their faith or obedience, or anything else in them. His church is, therefore, constituted on the sole principle of this arbitrary purpose, not on the basis of faith and obedience. How contrary to Scripture such a notion is! Peter, James and John did not become disciples of Christ in unbelief and disobedience. They were chosen, not as men but as believing men. Men are chosen out of the world, and into the church with respect to their faith. If actual election in time has respect to faith, Godís eternal purpose in regard to election must have had respect to this faith also, "We are elect according to the fore-knowledge of God." (1 Peter 1:2).
Then God foreknew something as a reason why He "elected.." God "chose the Thessalonians from the beginning unto salvation in or through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (2 Thes. 2:13). Sanctification and faith were the means of the election. In other words, there was a choice of obedient believers into the family of God. (see Wakefieldís Theology, pp. 394-397).
John Wesley, in a letter to Whitefield, paid his respects to unconditional election and reprobation as follows: "Though you use softer words than others, you mean the same thing. Godís decree concerning the election of grace amounts to what others call his decree of reprobation. Call by what ever name you please, election, preterition, predestination, or reprobation, it comes in the end to the same thing. The sense of all is plainly this: By virtue of an eternal, unchangeable, irresistible decree of God, one part of mankind are infallibly saved, and the rest infallibly damned, it being impossible that any of the former should be damned, or any of the later saved.
1. It renders all preaching vain and needless to both classes.
2. It tends to destroy holiness by removing motives of hope and fear.
3. It tends to destroy zeal for good works, for they avail nothing.
4. It makes Christian revelation unnecessary.
5. It make Christian revelation contradict itself.
6. It is full of blasphemy; for it represents our blessed Lord as a hypocrite and a dissembler, pretending a love which he had not. It also represents the blessed God as more false, more cruel, and more unjust than the devil; for, in point of fact, it says that God, has condemned millions of souls to everlasting fire for continuing in sin, which, for the lack of grace, that He purposely withholds, they are unable to avoid. This is the blasphemy contained in the horrible decree of election. The devil only tempts, but God forces men to sin. You make Him more false, and more wicked than the devil."
Fairchild well says: " The Gospel invitations are such that we feel warranted in offering salvation to every man; nor is there any suggestion of any obstacle in the decree and purpose of God, or in His election. We know, from the terms of the Gospel, that every sinner determines for himself, whether or not he will be saved, and thus determines his own election. The doctrine of sovereign, absolute, unconditional election has grown out of a false application of passages which set forth the salvation of the sinner as springing from the divine purpose. Passages which represent that salvation as turning on his own acceptance or nonacceptance of the Gospel are equally explicit and authoritative; and the two classes of passages must be combined to give us a symmetrical and truthful doctrine of election." (Theology, pp. 296, 297).
5. Philosophical and Volitional Necessity. Calvinism maintains the doctrine that all volitions are determined and fixed by the force of the strongest motive, just as the strokes of a clock-hammer are fixed and determined by the strongest force. The will can no more choose otherwise in a given case, than the clock-hammer can strike otherwise. Calvinism often speaks, indeed, of "free agents," "free will," "self determining power," and "willís choosing by its own power," Ė the language of freedom. But bring their theory to analysis, and it will always be found, that it is the freedom of a falling body, or of a water running down hill, or of a clock-hammer to strike as it does, and as it must, and not otherwise.
Arminianism answers, that if the agent has no power to will otherwise than motive force determines, any more than a clock can strike otherwise, then there is no justice in requiring a different volition any more than a different clock strike. It would be requiring an impossibility, and to punish an agent for not performing an impossibility is an injustice, and to punish him eternally is an infinite injustice.
Our father used to tell us of an intemperate neighbor of his, in his boyhood, who, when drunk, would order his clock to stop ticking, and because it did not obey, would take a club and smash it. Calvinists would have us believe that the infinite God acts as unreasonably as that drunken fool. They tell us that we are all paralyzed with moral inability. God commands us all to believe on Christ and be saved. By irresistible grace He creates the ability to do it in the elect; but He purposely withholds it from the non-elect, and determines secretly that they never shall have the ability to believe and be saved; then He damns them because they do not do the impossible!!! Stripped of all useless verbiage, and set forth in its naked enormity, it is a beautiful (?) theology!! Arminians hold that the Calvinistic theory, by destroying freedom, destroys all just punishment, and all divine government.
6. Infant Damnation. Holding on to the doctrine that the human race is truly guilty and judicially condemnable to endless torment for Adamís sin, Calvinism necessarily maintains, that it is just for God to condemn all infants to eternal punishment, even those who have never performed any moral act of their own. This was held by Augustine, and wherever Calvinism has spread, this has been part of the doctrine more or less explicitly taught. Earlier Calvinists maintained that there is actual reprobationĖ that is, a real sending to hell, as well as a particular election of the elect infants.
Arminianism, denying that the race is judicially guilty or justly damnable for Adamís sin, affirms the salvation of all infants. As Dr. Whedon puts it, "The individual man, as born, does irresponsibly possess within his constitution that nature which will, amid the temptations of life, commence to sin when it obtains its full grown strength. He is not, like the unborn Christ, "that holy thing." There is therefore a repugnance which God and all holy beings have toward those which have a contrary nature and an irresponsible unfitness for heaven and holy association. If born immortal, with such a nature unchangeable, he must forever be unholy, and forever naturally unhappy, under the divine repugnance.
Under such conditions divine justice would not permit the race after the fall, to be born. But at once the future incarnate Redeemer, interposes, restores the divine complacency, and places race upon a new probation. Man, therefore, born in a state of "initial salvation," as Fletcher of Madely called it, and the means of final salvation are amply placed within reach of his free choice."
7. Pagan Damnation. On its own principle that power to perform is not necessarily an obligation to perform, Calvinism easily maintains that Pagans, who never heard of Christ, are rightly damned for want of faith in Christ. They may be damned for original sin, and for their own sin, and for unbelief in Christ, without ever having heard of him!!
(Editorís Note: Richard S. Taylor, in his monumental book, A Right Conception of Sin, notes that those that follow the theological consistency of the Calvinistic system to its end could easily sit back and rest in the knowledge that these heathen are either elect, or non-elect. He gives an example: "Far more logical was Calvinismís answer to Carey when that fervent youth dared to challenge his ministerial brethren with their responsibility for the salvation of the heathen. "Young man, sit down, sit down! Cried the leader. "Youíre an enthusiast [fanatic]. When God pleases to convert the heathen, Heíll do it without consulting you and me." That is undisguised Calvinism. Though it does not present the modern attitude of Calvinism toward evangelism and missions, it is more thoroughly consistent with the basic doctrines of their system." page 17.)
"Arminianism, on the contrary, maintains that there are doubtless many Pagan lands saved by the unknown Redeemer. "They not having a law a are law to themselves." Nay, they may have the Spirit of faith so that, were Christ truly presented, He would be truly accepted. (As with Cornelius in Acts 10.) They may have faith in that which Christ is the embodiment. Like the ancient worthies enumerated in Hebrews 11. There may not be as great of a difference in the chances of salvation in these foreign lands as Calvinism assumes. Where little is given, much is not required. Arminianism holds that no one of the race is damned who does not have a full chance for salvation. Missions are none the less important, in order to hasten the day when the mass of men shall be converted. (Editorís Note: While Dr. Hill seems to be riding on the idea of a post-millennial optimism, it is important to remark that all who are ever saved are saved by the blood of Christ, whether as an Old Testament Saint trusting in a future Messiah, or a modern heathen trusting in an unknown Redeemer. To know the measure of one's personal trust and faith can be only known by God, it is essential that missions are supported to point to the one sure way of salvation, and to give the heathen who is trusting in God a sure directive of the necessity of trusting in Him.) If that millennial age shall come and be of long duration, Arminianism hopes that the great majority of the entire race of all ages may finally be saved." (Whedon).
8. Doctrines of Grace. Calvinism maintains that the death of Christ is an expiation for manís sins; first, the guilt of Adamís sin, so that it is possible for God to forgive and save; and, second, for actual sin, that thereby the influence of the Spirit restores the lapsed moral powers, regenerates and saves the man. But these saving benefits are reserved for "the elect only"!
Arminianism, claiming a far richer doctrine of grace, extends it to the very foundations of the existence of Adamís posterity. Grace underlies our very nature and life. We are born and live because Christ became incarnate and died for us. All the institutes of salvation,Ė the chance of probation, the Spirit, the Word, the pardon, the regeneration, the resurrection, and the life eternal are through Him. And Arminianism, against Calvinism, proclaims that these are for all, Christ died for all alike; for no one more than for any other man; and sufficient grace and opportunity for salvation is given to every man.
Calvinism also maintains the irresistibility of grace ; or, more strongly still, that grace is absolute, like the act of creation, which is called irresistible with a sort of impropriety, from the fact that resistance in that connection is truly unthinkable.
Against this, Arminians reply that the human will, aided by prevenient grace; is free, even in accepting pardoning grace; that though this acceptance is no more meritorious than a beggarís acceptance of an offered fortune, yet it is accepted freely, and with the full power of rejection, and is none the less grace for that. (Editorís Note: Grace in general is defined as "unmerited favor," and rightly so. The difference between the Calvinist idea and the Arminian idea of grace is substantial. To the Calvinist, when grace is conferred upon the individual it is a converting grace. This places conversion and regeneration before faith or belief. The difference between the opposing theologies therefore is, the Calvinists believe in an irresistible "forced" grace, and the Arminian believes in a "free" grace." The offer of grace is irresistible in the sense that when converting grace is offered, it comes upon us whether we desire it to or not. It is at that moment are empowered to believe and to accept or reject that grace. The moment of belief however, is not a "saving faith" until Christ is obeyed and surrendered to.)
9. Justifying and Saving Faith. Faith according to Calvinism, is an acceptance of Christ, wrought absolutely, as an act of creation in the man, whereby it is as impossible for him not to believe unto salvation as it is for a world to not be created, or an infant not to be born. And so this faith is irresistibly fastened in the man, so it is irresistibly kept there, and the man by necessity perseveres to the end.
Now if this were true, all the commandments of God to believe are perfectly superfluous, and quite as needless. The irresistible grace would create the faith in the elect, as well without a command as with it; and the non-elect could not believe anyway, try as much as they please. (Editorís Note: Wesley summed up his opinion at the end of his translation of Zanchiusí work on predestination saying: "The sum of all this: one in twenty (suppose) of mankind are elected, nineteen in twenty are reprobated. The elect shall be saved, do what they will; the reprobate shall be damned, do what they can." And then he ends the summary with a statement that reflected the Calvinists of his day, as many are today, "Believe this or be damned." This is an odd inconsistency in many who believe this Calvinistic theory, they speak and act as if assent to their doctrine is somehow essential to salvation, while doctrinally, they cannot even know for sure if it is they themselves that are being deceived of God for His own pleasure, making them believe that they are one of the elect when they are not! According to their own theory, belief and morality can have nothing to do with the election of God, so it is a denial of their own "truth" if they insist upon doctrinal assent).
To this absurd notion, the Arminians reply, that faith, as a power to believe, is indeed the gift of God; but faith as an exercise is the free, avoidable, yet really performed act of the intellect, heart and will, by which the man surrenders himself to Christ and all holiness for time and eternity. In consequence of this act, and not for its meritorious value, or in any way compensating for earning salvation, it is accepted for righteousness, and the man himself accepted, pardoned and saved.
And as this faith is free and rejectable in its beginning so through life it continues. The Christian is as obliged, through the grace of God assisting, to freely retain it, as at first to freely exercise it. It is of the very essence of his probationary freedom, that he is able to renounce his faith and apostatize, as he was able to refuse to believe at first.
10. The Extent of the Atonement and Offers of Salvation. Earlier Calvinism maintained that Christ died for the elect alone. It was more consistent and logical than later Calvinism which affirms that He died for one and all, and so offers salvation to one and all on the condition of faith.
But Arminianism asks: With what consistency can the atonement be said to be made for all men, when by the eternal decree of God, it is foreordained that a large part of mankind shall be excluded from its benefits? How can it be for all when none can accept it but by efficacious grace, and that grace is arbitrarily withheld from a large part of mankind? How can it be for all when God has so fastened the will of a large part of mankind, by counter motive force, that they are unable to accept it?
The same arguments show the impossibility of a sincere offer of salvation to all, either by God or the Calvinistic pulpit! How can salvation be rationally offered to those whom God, by an eternal decree, has excluded from salvation? What right has a preacher to exhort the very men to repent whom God determines, by volitional necessity, not to repent? What right have we to exhort men to do otherwise than God has willed, decreed and foreordained what they shall do? If God has decreed a thing, is not that thing right? What an awful sinner the preacher is who stands up to oppose and defeat Godís decree! If a man is damned for fulfilling Godís decrees, shouldnít that imaginary God be damned for making such a decree? If a man does what God decrees, shouldnít he be approved by God and saved? And, since all men do as God decrees, wills and determines that they shall do, for "God unchangeably foreordains whatsoever comes to pass," shouldnít all men then be saved? The true theory therefore should be Universalism.
How can grace be offered to the man whom God decreed never to have grace? How can faith be preached to those whom Gd has made faith impossible? How can conditions be proposed to those from whom God withholds the power of performing the conditions? The offers of salvation might as well be made to tombstones, or hitching-posts, or the beasts of the field! Hence the Arminian affirms that in all public offers of a free or conditional salvation to all, the Calvinistic preacher contradicts his own creed.
11. Basis of Morality. Calvinism claims that the very severity of its system, its deep view of human guilt, and necessary damnability by birth and nature, its entire subjection to divine absolutism, irrespective of human ideas of justice, tends to produce a profound piety!
Arminianism responds, this is basing Christian morality on fundamental immorality. For God to will and predetermine the sin, and then damn the sinner for it,Ė for Him to impute sin to the innocent, and to eternally damn the innocent as guiltyĖ are procedures that appear fundamentally unrighteous, so far as the deepest intuitions of our nature can decide. Thus, first to make God in the facts intrinsically and absolutely bad, and then require us to ascribe holiness and goodness to His character and conduct, perverts the moral sense. It is to make God in our theology, what we are in duty bound to hate, and then require us to love and adore Him. Such adoration, secured by the abdication, not only of the reason, but of the moral sense, and the prostration of the soul to pure naked absolutism, naturally results in the somber piety of fear; just as children are frightened into artificial goodness and obedience, by images of terror.
Arminianism, on the other hand, holds up to the admiring gaze of man, a God of infinite love, impartial in the offer of His blood-bought mercies, and just to all His children. In order to arrive at a true and rational piety, it exalts the ideal of rectitude in the divine character and conduct, not by mere ascriptions contradicted by facts, but both in the facts and the ascriptions. A harmony of facts in Godís conduct and our intuitive reason has produced a love to the Divine, that is based upon a rational sentiment, which produces a cheerful, hopeful, and merciful piety, and a glad obedience to God that becomes realized.
BIBLICAL THEOLOGY ETERNAL SECURITY.US