People are often tempted to believe that there is some mediate option which will allow them to avoid the Calvinist/Arminian debate. This inclination comes from a commendable impulse — to hold fast to Scriptural truth without imposing a man-made system, and avoid being sidetracked in the work of the Gospel by endless doctrinal controversy. These impulses lead people to declare that they are “Biblicist” or that they are both Arminian and Calvinist.
Now, within Calvinist and Arminian frameworks there are many different issues and nuances of dispute. There are systematizers and systemic implications, but there is really only one basic issue: Does God unconditionally choose who will be saved, and who will not? If you believe this you are a Calvinist, if you do not, you are, in the general sense an Arminian. It really is as simple as that.
Do you believe that your neighbor who died in unbelief was foreordained before the foundation of the world to burn in hell for all eternity? If you can affirm that without blinking, you are a Calvinist. If you simply believe that your neighbor was not chosen, but you were, then you are an inconsistent Calvinist.
I have three sons. If my house were burning down in the middle of the night, and I chose to rescue my oldest and drive off, then I have made a choice about the other two by ignoring them — a very deadly choice. It is impossible to avoid the moral responsibility associated with intentionally abandoning them in the house. No father who loves his children would ever do this, and yet some are able to sleep at night believing that our Heavenly Father does just this.
If on the other hand you believe that Our Heavenly Father went to the greatest extent by sending his only Son into the burning building to save as many as would follow him out of the fire, then please welcome yourself to the Arminian side. When it boils down, Arminians are simply those who believe that God genuinely wants to save every person from the burning building.
It’s just that Calvinists can be intimidating. They can make you feel like everyone since the Reformation was a Calvinist, to be anything other than a Calvinist is suspect, and to proclaim one’s self an Arminian is like building your house on sinking sand. Nobody wants that. So why not be neutral? I can’t be neutral on whether or not God would rush into the burning building, can you?