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Calvinists are fairly consistent in espousing what appear to be Bible-based arguments for their positions. The purpose of this document is to cite and refute the arguments they typically offer in defense of their system of philosophical speculation. It is evolutionary in nature, which means it will expand as additional arguments are recognized, evaluated, and documented.
The Arguments Cited and Refuted
God would never require for sins to be paid for twice
This argument contends that a just God would never extract a penalty twice for sins—once from Jesus as the suffering Sin-bearer, and a second time from the lost sinner who dies in unbelief and spends eternity in the Lake of Fire. A common illustration used to support this argument goes as follows: You have a mortgage on your home. A certain benefactor visits your lender, and pays the principal balance in full on your behalf. Yet the lender continues to require you to make payments against a mortgage debt that has already been satisfied in full. The resultant question is this: Would a righteous God satisfy the demands of the law against a sinner, and then require that same sinner to pay a penalty for his or her sins in the suffering of Hell fire?
Now, this argument sounds good on the surface, but is built upon a false premise. It assumes that Hell, as endured by the sinner, has some measure of propitiatory value God-ward with respect to sin. Does this not have the ring of Pergatory? The fact is Hell has neither redeeming nor propitiating (satisfying) value God-ward respecting our sins. And to suggest in any manner that the sufferings of Hell constitute a “payment” or “satisfaction” for sin is an insult to the Cross of Christ. The double-payment argument is such an insult.
The “no double-payment” argument breaks down on another critical point—the necessity of faith on the sinner’s part to appropriate the gospel benefits of forgiveness and life. If an individual’s sins have been paid for in full at the cross, why then does God require faith as the condition upon which he justifies that sinner, and applies the spiritual benefits secured by the cross of Christ? Why does God require anything?
It is God that arbitrarily grants repentance to sinners
Calvinists cite 2 Timothy 2:25 as a proof of this argument. Now, I have no problem with this argument one its face. The ability to repent and believe the Gospel is rooted in the grace of God, without which no man can believe and be saved (Acts 18:27). But to offer this passage as proof that God arbitrarily decides to whom he will give repentance ignores and violates the context. The fact is God has granted repentance to every Gentile on the planet on the basis of Christ’s all-inclusive death and resurrection (Acts 11:18). But giving repentance (or the ability to repent) is no guarantee of a faith response on the sinner’s part.
The context has to do with those who “oppose themselves”. The fact is no sinner opposes himself until he hears the truth of the gospel and rejects it. Those to whom Paul refers are lost sinners to whom God had already granted repentance, but chose rather to “hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness” and were therefore given over by God to reprobate minds (Romans 1:18-28).
The issue in the context is the manner in which the pastor should handle such folks (i.e., “in meekness instructing them”). Paul is referring to those who were exposed to Gospel truth, refused to acknowledge it, and were therefore abandoned to and entrenched in spiritual blindness and satanic bondage as a result. The issue is not whether God gives repentance on an arbitrary basis to rank-and-file sinners, but whether God would be pleased to give the ability to repent a second time (or third, fourth, etc.) through the God-like and tender approach of His representative—the man of God. This is simply another example of Calvinism disregarding a context in search of a proof text.
The fact that all sinners are not saved is evidence that the atonement is limited in some fashion
Calvinism proposes this argument in an attempt to establish an equal-footing posture with the Biblicist. That is, the concept of a limited atonement should not be distasteful to any since Calvinism simply limits on the Divine side what others limit on the human side. Now, this argument sounds reasonable enough except that it does not square with the truth.
First, the Gospel has two major components: (1) its basis—the good news that Jesus tasted death for every man, bearing their sins in his body on the tree, making an all-inclusive atonement for their sins, and rising from the dead on the third day as a vindication for the substitutionary nature of that death, and (2) the offer of forgiveness and eternal life to every sinner for a look of faith toward the Christ who loved them and gave himself for them. If atonement is limited on the Divine side, as Calvinism affirms, there cannot be a Gospel to those for whom Jesus did not die. This is exactly why Calvinism must reduce the Gospel to the offer alone, eviscerating it of its Cross-centric basis. A theory of limited atonement robs the Gospel of its gravamen—the Cross.
Secondly, the scriptures clearly limit the effectiveness of the Gospel on the human side. Jesus himself taught Nicodemus that the benefits of the Son of man being lifted up, as a cure for sin-bite, would be limited to those who looked to him in faith for salvation (John 3:14-18). The Lord through Moses provided a brazen serpent as a remedy for all who were snake-bitten, but not all of the snake-bitten looked and lived. The biblical record tells us there were twenty-three thousand for whom God provided a cure that perished without a look of faith.
The author actually heard one Calvinist argue that the reason those twenty-three thousand died is because they were not elected to look. This is how convoluted Calvinistic thinking can get when those who embrace the system are forced to defend its errors. Even if we allow the ridiculous notion that election or the lack thereof was the arbiter for whether a snake-bitten Israelite looked in faith for healing, it does not alter the biblical truth that the Lord through Moses provided a remedy for all. This is just another example of how Calvinism must kick a lot of truth rocks to the curb in defense of its errors.
If Jesus so linked the atonement’s application to faith on man’s part (or the lack thereof), then the Biblicist is clearly on solid ground when his or her doctrine is in lockstep with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because the five points of Calvinism are out of line with biblical truth, the arguments used to defend them are easily exposed with a little forethought and biblical analysis.