This short paper contains a list of common-sense and biblical arguments and counter-arguments
against Calvinism and predestination. I am not saying that Calvinists are going to hell
or anything radical like that. Calvinists are Christians and Calvinists
and non-Calvinist Christians share a multitude of common ideas and
beliefs. Truly, in the end, it doesn't matter if God elected us or if we elected God, for we are with Him.
My main beef against Calvinism is the belief that God
predestined certain people to be "elect"; in normal words, Calvinists
believe that God dictated who will be saved before that person was even
born. Now, that in itself is not so radical when you stop to consider how
God sees time. But what is outragous is how Calvinists believe that man
has no free will in the matter. I.e., man does not choose to follow God,
God predestines man to follow God and be saved. So they believe that it's
not: "Because you have faith in God and follow his ways, God will have mercy on you and save you." Instead, they believe it's: "Because God chose you, you will serve God and be
saved." This paper will refute this notion.
What is Calvinism?
There are five main points to Calvinism spelled out by the TULIP acronymn:
- Total Depravity/Inability
- This is saying that man is hopelessly sinful. Man is incapable of
being "good." Any "good" deed is truly motivated by
something evil. The rest of the four points rely on this point.
- Unconditional Election
This is what I find outrageous. Since man is totally evil, man's
salvation is completely dependant upon God. This part is somewhat
biblical; God chooses who he chooses. No matter how hard man tries, his
actions alone cannot get him into heaven;
God is the only one who has control.
However, I believe that God will save those whose hearts are totally
dedicated to Him, thus granting some influence to man. Afterall, God is
just. However, calvinists see it otherwise. Calvinists believe that man
has no free spiritual will.
- Limited Atonement
Since God predestined the elect, Jesus paid only for those few
- Irresistible Grace
The elect have no choice about being elect. The elect cannot resist
- Perseverence of the Saints
Calvinists believe that once you're saved, you're always saved
since God had predestined the elect and the elect have no choice about
Why is Calvinism based on an unstable foundation?
The last four points rely so strongly on the first point. Is man purely
evil and incapable of good deeds whose intentions were not born of evil
origins? Many non-calvinists typically grant this first point, for it
seems biblical and logical. Unfortunately, if we grant the first point,
then the other four points can easily be proven as true, thus
acknowledging that Calvinism is in fact true. But I contend that man is
not purely evil. For if man was indeed purely evil, it is easily seen
that man cannot possibly obey God's command to repent.
eternally punish those who do not repent. But if man is purely evil and
thus cannot repent, then God is not just. Rather, man can indeed repent.
Even Moses declared to his hearers that what he is commanding them to do
is not too difficult or beyond their reach. Moses simply commanded them
to love God, to walk in his ways and his commands, decrees, and laws.
Yet, if man is totally incapable of any non-evil-motivated action, then
man surely cannot whole-heartedly repent, and man surely cannot obey God's laws with all his heart and all his soul as is commanded in Deuteronomy 26:16This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Many Calvinists would point out Romans 9:15-18For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires., which state
something along the likes of " '[God to Moses:] I'll have mercy on whom I
have mercy, and I'll have compassion on whom I have compassion.' [Paul:] So it
depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy... So then
he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever
he wills." The calvinists suggest that this is the silver bullet proof
that God predestines the elect. However, this is an incorrect interpretation.
These verses are simply stating that nothing man can do by himself can get him
into heaven. Man needs God's grace and mercy, which only God can grant. God
grants mercy to those he grants mercy to, and we can presume from Jesus' teachings
that God will grant mercy to those whose hearts are truly seeking
God and who follow Jesus' path in heart, mind, and action.
- If God has already elected those who are going to heaven, then why
evangelize, seek to be saved, or even follow God's path?
- Your traditional Calvinist would proclaim, "Because God told us so!"
But if God has already elected those who will be going to heaven, no amount
of influence from Christians will change who is elected or not. Evangelism may be the means of how God saves the elect, but our
decision to not evangelize will not affect the elect.
- The interesting counter-argument would be when Calvinists say to
non-Calvinists, "But why bother evangelizing... God already knows if a
particular person will ever accept the message or not." However, foreknowledge does not imply predestination, and God transcends time.
- If God predestined everything, then there is no use in praying for
your friends or family.
- Basically, God has already predestined the events and no
appealing to God will likely change his mind- it has already been
predestined and cannot be changed.
- If God predestined everything, then God created sin.
This is where Calvinists disagree among themselves. There are
several camps; some that believe every little detail has been
predestined, those who believe that God predestined all major events
(including salvation), and those who believe that God only predestines
those who will be saved. I suppose this point would address the
first camp; If indeed God did predestine every little thing, then
God did create sin. He caused man to act a specific way knowing in
advance what it would lead to.
- If man is totally incapable of
good, then man cannot truly be remorseful or repentant.
- If man is totally incapable of
good, then man cannot be faulted for his
- If God predestined everything, then there is no such thing as
randomness. (Now that's an interesting research topic..)
- If God predestined everything, then why eternally condemn the
non-elect? After all, it is not their fault.. they were predestined to
- This concept is called double-predestination. The logic
is rather simple: if God only allows the elect to be saved, and God
predestined the elect, then by default, God predestined everyone else who
is not elect to be eternally condemned.
- Most Calvinists believe it, but
there are quite a few who don't. Thomas Aquinas' view was that God does not in fact damn those
whose inherent sin would normally be condemning; God simply "passes over" those who he chose to
not predestine. While this view is also somewhat arrogant, (how arrogant it is for us to
believe we were predestined while our neighbor might not be), it simply doesn't make sense.
The bible clearly states otherwise.
- (never mind that little verse that says "whoever believes
in him should not perish but have eternal life")
- Jesus died for everyone, not just the elect.
- Calvinists would point out verses such as John 10:11I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep., Acts 20:28Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood., and John 15:13-14Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you., which states that Jesus
died for his friends. However, Jesus promptly then states that we are his friends if we obey his commands. Clearly, though, Jesus
died for everyone. Verses decribe Jesus as the savior of the world, the
savior of all men, and etc. Specifically, 1 John 2:2, which
states that "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."
- Once-saved-always-saved is a farce
- One only has to read the very last two verses of James
(James 5:19-20)My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. to see
why. "My brethren, if any among
strays from the truth and one turns him
back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way
will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
- Calvinists typically don't have a response to verses
like these other than to falsely argue that "well, the sinner must
have ever really been born from above to begin with."
- It is not unfeasible for someone to be whole-heartedly devoted to God
for a majority of their lifetime and then suddenly snap and turn totally
against God in his heart. For example, suppose Billy Graham were to all
of a sudden denounce God and start worshiping Satan. Calvinists would
suggest that Billy Graham must not have ever have been saved whereas any
other rational person would say that he once was a great man of faith
whose heart was totally devoted to God but then suddenly
Yes, God is omnipotent and omniscient. He knows what will happen
before it will happen. But foreknowledge does not imply
predestination. Our problem is that we cannot fathom time the way God
knows it. We see time as a constant stream from point A to point B.
This is why we cannot fathom that there is no beginning to God and no end
to God. God is infinity. God simply is.
Yes, I believe God predestines many events. Many events throughout the Bible
have been predestined. Jesus' birth was
predestined. Jesus' death was predestined. Jesus' resurrection was
predestined. Many things in our own lives could very well be predestined.
But God certainly does not predestine people to go to heaven or go to
hell. It is man's choice to either accept God's path or reject it.