Roy Ingle, Arminianism Begins With God’s Goodness

, posted by AndrewLobb

One of the main assertions by Calvinist is that Arminians begin with man’s free will while Calvinism begins with the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace. In fact, most Calvinist web sites will focus on what they deem, the doctrines of grace (or Calvinism). If you ask the average evangelical church goer the main difference between Calvinism and Arminianism they will likely tell you it’s predestination and free will. This is simply not the case.

The reason that Arminians reject monergism is not because of free will but because we begin with the goodness of God. I believe that the entirety of the Scriptures teach that God is good and that He does not cause anyone to sin nor does He desire that anyone perish without salvation in Christ (2 Peter 3:9). I believe that God directs human decisions but He does not decideor determine human decisions. Because God is good, He is not the author of sin or unbelief. He has given His common grace to all and His call to salvation is given to whosoever will (John 3:16; 20:31; Revelation 22:17). Arminianism doesn’t begin with man’s free will but rather it begins with a good God.

Calvinism, on the other hand, begins with the sovereignty of God (of which Arminians firmly believe in) to the point that God is sometimes viewed as the author of sin (called exhaustive divine determinism). For example, Edwin Palmer in his popular Calvinist book The Five Points of Calvinism believes that God ordains sin (pp. 85, 103, 106). I well remember asking a student once, “Did God cause Adam to sin.” His reply, “Yes.” Many Calvinist will argue that God does not cause sin but how do they explain Adam and Eve? Did they truly have free will? Logically, if God is absolutely sovereign to the point that He even determines all decisions beforehand than the logical conclusion is that God ordains sin as Palmer notes.

To the Arminian, this is appalling. As John Wesley rightly said, “Appeal to God’s glory to justify unconditional reprobation to hell makes our blood run cold. What kind of God is it who is glorified by foreordaining and unconditionally reprobating persons to hell?” How can we justify the Holocaust or the events of 9/11? How can we justify rape, murder, envy, lust, abortion and other sins as “to the glory of God?” Is this a good God?

So thus, Arminianism begins not with free will but with the goodness of God. His love, grace, and mercy flow across the pages of the Word of God (Exodus 33:19; 34:6; 1 Chronicles 16:34). Because God is good, He does not sin nor does He cause anyone to sin (James 1:13-15). Because God is good, He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins and the cross is the perfect expression of His justice toward sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:3-5). Jesus took away the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:19). As Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (ESV). Jesus’ blood was shed for many (Matthew 26:28). Therefore, people will spend eternity in hell because they have rejected the Son of God and His cross but not because of God’s sovereign, predetermined decree (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2:10).

I rejoice then as the psalmist rejoices over God’s goodness in Psalm 100:5 when he wrote, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (ESV).

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