A Conversation between a Calvinist and an Arminian about God’s Sovereignty

, posted by drwayman

written by Roger E Olson, PhD

Calvinist to Arminian: “You Arminians don’t really believe in God’s sovereignty.”

Arminian: “You Calvinists don’t really believe in God’s love.”

Calvinist: “Oh, but we do. You’re so wrong! The Bible is clear about God being love.”

Arminian: “But you don’t believe God loves all people, so how can you believe, as the Bible says, that God is love?”

Calvinist: “God loves all people in some ways but only some people in all ways.”

Arminian: “Uh, you seemed to be in a trance as you said that. Are you sure you didn’t just hear that somewhere and are repeating it like a mantra—without really thinking about what you’re saying?”

Calvinist: “No, that’s what I really believe!”

Arminian: “How does God love those he predestined, foreordained, to hell?”

Calvinist: “He gives them many temporal blessings.”

Arminian: “You mean he gives them a little bit of heaven to go to hell in.”

Calvinist: “Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.”

Arminian: “That’s what it sounds like to me.”

Calvinist: “That’s because you don’t understand God correctly. God is infinite and beyond our comprehension. So God’s love is not the same as our love. It transcends it.”

Arminian: “How is that different from saying God is ‘supercalifragilisticexpialadocious’?”

Calvinist: “Look, you Arminians have a low view of God. That’s your whole problem. You don’t understand the glory of God. Why, you don’t even really believe in the sovereignty of God—as I said.”

Arminian: “No, you’re wrong. We do. But God’s ‘sovereignty’ is different than any of our notions of human sovereignty—even the best and highest of them. God is infinite and transcends our categories.”

Calvinist: “Wait a minute. ‘Sovereignty’ means absolute, total control.”

Arminian: “It might in your vocabulary or even in your dictionary but that doesn’t matter. ‘When we attribute something to God we have to realize it’s totally different in God than in us because of God’s glory.’ At least that’s so if we play the theology game your way. If you can say you believe in God’s love but God’s ‘love’ is different than our highest and best concepts of love and that it’s even compatible with what we know as hate, then surely we can say, without you objecting, that we believe in God’s sovereignty even if our concept of God’s sovereignty is totally different than any concept of sovereignty you think is normal or compatible with human knowledge or experience.”

Calvinist: “Okay, I see. You’re trying to turn the tables on me.”

Arminian: “I’m just trying to get you to put aside double standards and play fair in your rhetoric about Arminianism. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You can’t appeal to God’s infinity and incomprehensibility to defend your unusual (to say the least) meaning of ‘God is love’ and then turn around and object when others use words about God in ways beyond what you think is normal understanding.”

Calvinist: “Well, we Calvinists are just going by what the Bible says. We have to understand God’s love by what we see clearly revealed in Scripture about God’s actions.”

Arminian: “Well, we Arminians are just going by what the Bible says. We have to understand God’s sovereignty by what we see clearly revealed in Scripture about God’s actions.”

Calvinist: “Now you’re mocking me.”

Arminian: “No, I’m just trying to point out that two can play that game.”

Calvinist: “Well, I don’t even know what you mean. God’s sovereignty in Scripture is clearly absolute control. That’s how God acts in Scripture.”

Arminian: “And what about all those times when God didn’t get his way and regretted things because of what humans did to thwart his plans and will? And what about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and saying he wanted to…but they would not? Et cetera?”

Calvinist: “Oh, well, that’s easy. Those are anthropomorphisms.”

Arminian: “And so could be all those times in Scripture when God controlled circumstances and people.”

Calvinist: “No, those must be taken literally.”

Arminian: “You are coming to Scripture with a preconceived idea of God and choosing what to take figuratively and what to take literally based on that. Your starting point is a philosophical idea of God drawn from reason and then you use that as a Procrustean bed of hermeneutics.”

Calvinist: “Wait. I think you’re trying to turn the tables on me again. That’s what we Calvinists say you Arminians do—with free will.”

Arminian: “Oh, really?”

For the original post, go to: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/08/a-conversation-between-a-calvinist-and-an-arminian-about-gods-sovereignty/