Arminians have often accused the Calvinist’s view of God as being an unloving one because if God has the power to save whom He wills and He is willing to save some then why not save everyone? No doubt this is probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks in believing in the Sovereign Grace view of God. But the question is: How does switching one’s position to a more Arminian approach solve the problem? Both Arminians and Calvinists affirm that not everyone ends up being saved. Some will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven while others will be condemned in Hell forever. So whatever position one holds, the issue must still be dealt with as to why not everyone is inevitably saved. There are at least three approaches the Arminian could take.
The first option an Arminian could take is to deny the Sovereignty of God and thus His Omnipotence. One could say that God does not really have perfect sovereignty over all things and that His power is limited in certain areas. However, this would be to deny fundamental aspects that define God as God and bring one outside of orthodox Christianity and the clear teaching of Scripture.
The second option an Arminian could take is to deny the Foreknowledge of God and thus His Omniscience. One could say that God really does not foreknow all future events and that His knowledge is limited in certain areas. Again, this would be to deny fundamental aspects that define God as God and bring one outside of orthodox Christianity and the clear teachings of Scripture.
The third option an Arminian could take is to affirm that God has a purpose in not saving everyone. One could say that God, in His sovereignty, created man with a will and chose not to exercise His sovereignty so that man’s will could truly be free. God also foreknows who will receive Christ and who will reject Him, but He has a purpose in doing it that way.
The first two options are more akin to Open Theism. In a sense, however, those that take such an approach in response to rejecting Calvinism on the basis that it paints God as unloving are being more consistent with their argumentation. For the first option, God simply not having sovereign power over the wills of men would explain why God does not save everyone: He would be unable to do so. For the second option, God would be ignorant of all the events that would come to pass and while He may be able to exercise His wisdom in minimizing the damage done, He simply could not foresee all things and therefore some are lost. God not having omniscience in all things would explain why God does not save everyone: He would be ignorant of who will choose Him or reject Him. Another problem with the second option is that it limits the wisdom of God. If God were unable to foresee all events but was able to wisely orchestrate His Creation and Providence, He could in effect ensure the salvation of everyone. But since not everyone is saved, then it would cast question on how perfect God’s wisdom really is.
So what if one wants to affirm both the Sovereignty of God and the Foreknowledge of God and yet remain Arminian in their approach? One approach could be to first of all affirm the sovereignty of God by saying that God in His sovereignty created man with a will and that He chose not to exercise His sovereignty over the wills of men so that the wills could truly be free. Secondly, affirm that God knows all things even the future decisions and actions of men including who will inevitably receive Christ and be saved or who will reject Christ and be lost. Then, to solve the problem of why God created people He knew would be inevitably lost, it could be said that God chose to use the reprobates’ interactions with the elect as instrumental means to bring about the elects’ salvation. In other words, God knew that certain circumstances would bring about certain persons’ decisions to embrace Christ as Saviour while the removal of those circumstances would cause the end decision of the person to reject the Saviour. So to ensure the salvation of the most people possible God chose to create people He knew would be wicked to influence the elect for their good.
While there is likely some truth in the above scheme, it does not solve the issues involved with Arminianism. Remember, Arminianism rejects the Calvinistic view of God and man because they believe that God would be unloving to refrain from saving everyone and that man must have a Libertarian Free Will and this will of man is what causes some to be lost. So in the above scheme we have God knowing that people are making decisions based off of the influences in their lives. In other words, there would be certain breaking points for people which would persuade them to choose God. If this is what is a being affirmed in the above scheme, then why does not God orchestrate these events by His providence to bring about the salvation of everyone? Also, in the above scheme, it is required for the reprobate and their influence upon the elect to bring the elect to that breaking point. This is in opposition to the concept of Libertarian Free Will. Remember, one of the main arguments made by the Arminian against Calvinists is that their view of God is unfair. But in this scheme we just laid out, we see that there are different circumstances in peoples’ lives that would bring that person to choosing Christ and that those circumstances are not the same for everyone and those that end up lost do not experience those exact same circumstances. So now it seems we still have not solved the issue of fairness which is laid to the charge against the Calvinist and we are back to the board trying to reconcile the attributes of God in relation to the ultimate end of the creature: God’s Sovereignty, God’s Omniscience, & God’s Love.
The only feasible reasoning I have yet to find for the Arminian position would be to affirm that while God is sovereign and refrains from exercising His sovereignty over the wills of men, & that He foreknows all things that are going to happen, yet He chooses to create everyone including those who are going to reject Him because He has a plan and purpose which is of greater importance than the salvation of every one. Now this last point is exactly what Calvinists believe: that while God is able to save every one and knows who will and will not be saved, He yet chooses not to save every one because He wants to accomplish something greater than the salvation of every one. Now, the Calvinist and Arminian will likely diverge here into two different purposes, yet the basic argument is the same, and if the same then the Arminian ought not to lay this charge against the Calvinist.