Normally, we do not like to respond to poorly-articulated Anti-Arminian arguments when they come up, even when presented by respected scholars or writers, because a) there are sadly too many of them; and b) we simply don’t take them seriously enough to pay attention to them. However, one of our respected readers has pointed out a recent post on James White’s website, written by Alan Kurschner. So, out of a desire to show respect to our readers, and because I am in a bit of a silly mood, I thought I would give this “question” a go.
Here is the essential quote (06/05/2011):
Since you believe that God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does God not cause everyone to be saved? What is so all-mightily restraining his will to be able to save all people?
If you respond by saying that it is the resisting free-will of the unbeliever that impedes God to change their hearts, then why pray, “God, change the unbeliever’s heart”? If God is “all-loving” as you claim, should not his love for the hell-bound be more important than him “respecting” the resisting free-will? What sort of divine love is that in your worldview?
There are essentially two reasons why I don’t take this seriously. First of all, if anyone were seriously asking this question (though I am sure it was intended rhetorically), then all they need to do is pick up any basic primer on Arminian theology, or simply READ THE ARTICLES OF REMONSTRANCE! Why is it that every Arminian I have met has at least skimmed the Canons of Dort (and most have read it) but most Calvinists haven’t even heard of the Articles of Remonstrance? My copy of Dort is 17 pages long, and the Articles of Remonstrance is a page. It doesn’t take a lot of time.
This brings me to my second reason why I don’t take this seriously. Initially, I assumed that he was simply making a rhetorical challenge, attempting to point out something that he sees as a flaw in the Arminian view. But then he not only anticipates an answer, he gets the answer completely and unequivocally wrong. I have never heard a self-proclaimed Arminian say that a human’s free will can “impede” God’s will to change their hearts, and a true Arminian never would.
There is a difference between “resisting” God’s will and “impeding” God’s will. My son can resist me picking him up; he’s not going to impede me though. In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke , Han, and Leia resisted the trash compactor, but they weren’t impeding it (told you I was in a silly mood). The human ability to resist God’s grace is grounded in the nature of the grace, not in the power of man. God offers His grace in such a manner as to allow it to be resisted, but He could do otherwise. He chooses not to.
Most Calvinist interpretations of Arminianism fall short precisely because of this fixation they have on power. They erroneously assume certain things based off of the presupposition that because God can, then He must. Why doesn’t He? (Hmmm, that question sounds familiar.) Because He wants us to make a choice. He wants us to choose Him. He wants to be wanted (not needs to be, but wants to be — God needs nothing). This is the nature of love. If you love someone, do you force them to be with you, or do you want them to want to be with you? Hopefully the latter. Though all analogies fall short, it is hard for me to understand why so many Calvinists have trouble with this very basic point.
So, let me say directly and simply: God, in His sovereignty, created us with the capacity to follow after Him or to reject Him because part of His purpose in creating us is to have with us the kind of relationship which is grounded in love, trust, and devotion instead of necessity and servitude. What is “restraining Him from saving people” is His own creative purposes for humanity, and His desire to restore us to His creative intention.