Faith is common to man, which Calvinists readily acknowledge, though while offering the caveat of a distinction between what they define as human “natural faith” vs. divine “saving faith.” For the Calvinist, “natural faith” never saves, while special “saving faith” is a product of a gift of Irresistible Grace for Calvinism’s elect.
What do Calvinists believe?
James White: “God will not abandon His own. We are kept indeed by the power of faith, but it is not a merely human faith, but a divine faith, a gift from God! Why do some stumble and fall while others persevere? Is it that some are better, stronger, than others?
“No. The reason lies in the difference between having a saving faith and a faith that is not divine in origin or nature. Many are those who make professions not based upon regeneration, and the ‘faith’ that is theirs will not last. Jesus taught this truth in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. But the growth produced no fruit and did not last. These are those who have false, human faith that does not last. But those with true faith produce fruit and remain.”
Calvinists frequently say that the unregenerate cannot take even one step toward God, and yet, what does this parable show? Luke 8:13 shows that some, with whatever faith they had, whether “natural faith” or “human faith,” did “receive the word with joy” and did “believe for a while,” until in times of temptation had fallen away. So from the Calvinist perspective, does that not constitute a “step”? What do Calvinists define as a “step”? Also from the Calvinist perspective, why would God have opted against giving these joyful believers an effectual “saving faith”? Is it because they were not elect? In Calvinism, the concept of “Monergism”means that God gives regeneration, not based upon anything whatsoever in the individual, but solely based upon God’s secret purposes.
Conversely, from the non-Calvinist perspective, God is always interested in the repentance of even a single sinner. (Luke 15:7) So, it’s not that God did not want them. He certainly did. God has a universal Salvific Will. God wants everyone, though not unconditionally but conditionally. God is looking for something in the individual to bestow regeneration. The problem for the temporary-believers is that they didn’t truly have a heart for God after all, unlike those who “have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:15) So the contrast with Calvinism is that non-Calvinists believe that God indeed looks to the individual, order to determine whether they have met the divine condition for giving the promise of eternal life, while in Calvinism, God doesn’t look to the individual for anything at all, as thetemporary believers are just a special class of the damned.
What do Calvinists believe?
Everything good comes from God, and since faith in God is good, then the faith to believe in God must come from Him.
Faith is not a “thing,” as in a tangible object, such as the sun and rain which God provided to nourish life on earth. Faith (or trust) in God is an act of the will, describing an action between two agents. If the agency of man is absorbed under “Monergism,” then it is no longer faith or trust being displayed, but instead an action that God does to Himself through another agent. Faith and trust in God requires willing human consent, or else it’s no longer faith and trust that we are talking about. The reality is that faith is common to mankind. Everyone trusts in something. Even Atheists have faith. Anyone who has ever witnessed to the Jehovah’s Witnesses know that they have faith. Their trust is in the Watchtower Society. So, the problem isn’t whether they have faith, but that they have misplaced their trust.
128 The Potter’s Freedom (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press Publishing, 2000), 293.