Why Do Some Choose God and Others Reject Him?

, posted by SEA

On his website, Arminian Perspectives, Ben Henshaw has a questions page at which he answers questions about Arminianism and Calvinism that visitors to his site pose in the comment section of the page. Here is a question from a commenter with the screen name TDC:

Question Part 1: I think my question at the moment is ultimately about freewill and our responsibility. With libertarian free will, we are sent to hell for our free choice to reject God. Why then, do some choose God and others reject Him? If they all have the same ability to choose freely, and are all given the grace of a choice to accept Christ, and yet some accept and others reject, what is the cause? If it is external factors (influence from environment, time period, family, etc.) it seems unfair that the only difference between the one in hell and the one in heaven is that one had better environment. If you say, however, that the cause is something in us, rather than external factors, why are we that way in the first place? Did not God create us the way we are?

I’ll try to put it another way… This is my dilemma. If person A chooses God and person B rejects Him, is it because of their differing environments or because of the way they are? And if it is the way they are, how is God not responsible for creating them that way?

Question Part 1: I think my question at the moment is ultimately about freewill and our responsibility. With libertarian free will, we are sent to hell for our free choice to reject God. Why then, do some choose God and others reject Him?

Answer Part 1: For a multitude of reasons. No one is denying that we make choices for reasons or in accordance with motives. Arminians only deny that such things irresistibly cause our decisions. When we choose in accordance with a motive, or for a reason, we do so freely, rather than by necessity. The free agent weighs the motives and chooses accordingly. Motives do not irresistibly dictate choices.

Question Part 2: If they all have the same ability to choose freely, and are all given the grace of a choice to accept Christ, and yet some accept and others reject, what is the cause?

Answer Part 2:The cause is the God given power and capacity to make a free choice (or, as you say, “the ability to choose freely”). The cause is the agent himself and the agent’s will is a full and adequate cause in itself, needing nothing more to make (or cause) a choice, in accordance with whatever reasons or motives it deems important.

Question Part 3: If it is external factors (influence from environment, time period, family, etc.) it seems unfair that the only difference between the one in hell and the one in heaven is that one had better environment.

Answer Part 3: Influences are factors, but they are not irresistible factors. That is all the Arminian is saying.

Question Part 4: If you say, however, that the cause is something in us, rather than external factors, why are we that way in the first place?

Answer Part 4: Yes, it is the God given alternative power of the will that is in us. We are that way because God created us with the power to make free un-necessitated choices. It was His good pleasure and sovereign right to do so.

Question Part 5: Did not God create us the way we are?

Answer Part 5: Absolutely. He created us as free moral agents.

Question Part 6: I’ll try to put it another way… This is my dilemma. If person A chooses God and person B rejects Him, is it because of their differing environments or because of the way they are?

Answer Part 6: Ultimately, neither. Those things factor in to our choices, but they do not irresistibly cause us to choose a certain way. The reason for the choice is ultimately the agent himself who freely decides what he or she will do and why he or she will do it, in accordance with the God given power of free will. You would probably do well to read this series by J.C.

https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics/

[Editor’s note: You might also be interested in this article on our website: Brian Abasciano, “Addressing the Calvinist Challenge, ‘Why Did You Believe and Your Neighbor Did Not?’” http://evangelicalarminians.org/brian-abasciano-addressing-the-calvinist-challenge-why-did-you-believe-and-your-neighbor-did-not/]