This is a Guest post by Clint Archer. He is a Reformed Baptist pastor and author. He and his expanding family, lives in Durban, South Africa, and pities anyone who doesn’t. Read his blog, Café Seminoid or follow him on Twitter.
As the young, restless, Reformed resurgence has gained notoriety in Evangelical circles, the old irksome fallacies have been resurrected by a new generation of ignorant Arminians. I’m not bashing Arminians– I have friends who I joke with about how they were predestined from before the foundation of the world to think they chose Jesus. My beef is with a rare genus, the Arminianus ignoramus, … and ignorant Calvinists, for that matter. It is hyper-Calvinists who have sullied the reputation of the rest of the Reformed. These HC’s are the type who hide behind what Calvin “allegedly” said. Problem is, they have never read Calvin. If they had, they would recognize how un-Calvinistic their stance is.
Similarly though, Arminians who have not bothered to read writings by their When I encounter an uniformed Arminian, they tend to ask the same barrage of questions. Again, I am not talking about those who have carefully considered the two camps and chosen the Arminian stance, of their own free will I am referring exclusively to those who have not really taken he time to try understand their opposition. I can spot this species of antagonist without much effort, because they always proffer these three objections to Calvinism…
1. Calvinists Don’t Pray for People’s Salvation
On the contrary, it is only Calvinist theology that affords an encouragement to pray for the salvation of the lost. Think about it. It is precisely because I believe that God is sovereign over saving souls that I have the confidence to pray and ask him to save one. If free will were too formidable an opponent for God’s saving work, then praying to him would be futile. I challenge Arminians to be consistent in their prayer lives: either stop praying to God for something you don’t believe he can do, or come over to our side where the prayer is hot with conviction that our petitions can be answered!
2. Calvinists Don’t Evangelize or do Missions
False. First, the theology of Calvinism (as above) encourages the missionary endeavor because we believe the elect will respond, and that the fruit of our labor is ripe for the plucking. Second, history proves that this accusation is completely without grounds. William Carey, the father of modern mission was a Calvinist. George Whitefield, the über effective evangelist, was a Calvinist. Charles Spurgeon, known for his effective evangelistic sermons…yup, unabashedly Calvinistic. Jonathan Edwards, whose evangelism helped spark the Great Awakening, was the mouthpiece of Reformed doctrine in the world for half a century and his teachings echo in the contemporary writings of John Piper and John MacArthur (2 more TULIP pickers) to this day. To claim that the doctrines of grace dampen the flame of evangelistic zeal, is to ignore the contrary evidence.
3. Calvinists Think You Can Live Like an Unbeliever and Still Be Saved
This is a common objection, and one with which I can fully sympathize. The reasoning goes as like this: since we believe that one’s salvation is never dependent on one’s own effort at any point, and since we teach that once a person is truly saved they always remain saved, it follows that even if a person where to drift from the faith to the point of flagrant rebellion and even apostasy they would still enjoy security of salvation. I see the logic. The problem with this objection is that there is an entire point of the Five, which declares the exact opposite view. Perseverance of the saints (the P in TULIP) teaches NOT that a person who makes a profession is guaranteed salvation, but rather that a person who is genuinely saved WILL PERSEVERE in the faith. I.e. a true believer will always remain faithful to Christ in faith and practice (as a pattern) until their glorification. Thus, should a person fall away from the faith, they “were not of us” as the Apostle John puts it. If a member of my church suddenly fell into unrepentant sin, and refused to turn back through all four steps of church discipline (Matt 18), I would have to treat them as an unbeliever, irrespective of their past profession. If you live like and unbeliever, you probably are one, Calvinist or not!
My aim is not to pick a fight— simply to remind everyone in the game to play by the rules. Let’s not accuse our Arminian brothers of beliefs they don’t hold. And in return I feel it’s reasonable to expect the same courtesy.