Many of you have heard of Pascal’s Wager as a motivator to believe in God, but I think it also applies to the Calvinist/Arminian debate.
Here is Pascal’s Wager: Belief in God, if God exists, gives infinite gain; God does not exist, gives finite loss.
Unbelief in God, if God exists, gives infinite loss; if God does not exist, gives finite gain.
I think that this can be applied to the debate of whether human free will plays a part in salvation.
If Calvinism is true and (by implication) our witness makes no difference in other people’s salvation (because salvation does not depend on human will or exertion), then our beliefs in Calvinism and Arminianism make no difference in the salvation of others. X number of people get saved if we all become Calvinists, and X number of people get saved if we all become Arminian.
If Arminianism is true and our witness does make a difference in the salvation of others, then Arminianism will very likely produce more saved people than Calvinism. Specifically, Arminians tend to be more involved in outreach, and if salvation does depend on human free choice, apologetics that acknowledge this will be more effective.
Now I suspect the Calvinist counter-argument would be that we don’t know if Arminianism, if true, will produce more saved people. But I think such a position betrays an unwillingness to take this argument seriously. The Calvinist apologists I have met have admitted to me that they would change their apologetic and witnessing strategy if they stopped believing in Calvinism. Implicit in that admission is that the new strategy would be more effective if we do live in an Arminian world. If you don’t believe me, ask any Presuppositionalist.
Bottom line: If it is even remotely plausible that Calvinism is false, then we are obligated to live as though it is, and to give the free will position every benefit of the doubt. We have almost nothing to lose if we are wrong, and a lot to gain if we are right.