Recently, I saw that some of my friends had posted the following banner on one of their social media sites, and as a result, I decided to jot down a brief reaction to what it is that they have been posting. I’ve seen that a lot of individuals appear to denounce any opinion that isn’t consistent with their particular Calvinist beliefs. In the following post, I will make a brief effort to respond to each of these concerns in a way that is compatible with a Classical Arminian viewpoint. I have highlighted the objections in red.
- Man is never so completely corrupted by sin that he cannot savingly believe the Gospel when it is put before him;
The Arminian position has always been that “being dead” does not assure someone can do nothing. Ephesians 2:1–3 demonstrates this situation:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
It is important to keep in mind that people who had died in their sins walked in lust and gratified the wants of both their flesh and their minds. Both Adam and Eve passed away after eating the forbidden fruit of the tree for the first time. The Bible says that “the day you eat of it, you will definitely die” (Gen 2:17). They did end up passing away! In another sense, though, they continued to live. Even though they were spiritually dead, they were able to respond to God and did so by preparing for His presence, hiding from Him, conversing with Him, and eventually accepting His solution for their nakedness. Biblically, spiritual deadness did not mean people could not respond. In the parable of the prodigal Son, the Son came to His senses in his ‘deadness’ (Luke 15:24). Jesus even promises that the dead will hear and believe in Him. In John 5:24-25 he said;
“Very truly, I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly, I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
Adam Harwood wrote;
“Affirming that people are spiritually dead does not require a denial that sinners can repent and believe in Jesus. In Scripture, spiritually dead people can and do respond to God.”
Now, insisting that Arminians say dead people can choose God is simply false. Only with the enablement of the Holy Spirit can any individual come to conclusive trust and confidence in Jesus Christ. Not off themselves or from their own goodness. Roger Olsen writes;
“Classic Arminianism does not say that people can choose God, but only with the help of the Holy Spirit… According to Arminius… whenever people choose God, that is proof they are not “natural, unregenerate” people but persons already under the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit.” 
Spiritually dead people choose goodness because it is goodness personified that moves them to do so. Roger Olsen writes;
“In redemption and in creation, human beings are wholly dependent on God’s sustaining and renewing power for anything good, including an exercise of goodwill towards God and acceptance of God’s offer of free salvation.”
Authentic faith cannot be forced or coerced into a real decision. When God demands us to repent, it infers the fact that we have some part to play in responding to what He demands. When God instructs Jerusalem to
“wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?” (Jeremiah 4:14).
It means they could act and repent .Does it mean they could do good for themselves? No. But what we see Arminian Scholars will call preregenerating grace. Robert Picirilli stated:
“By definition, pre-regenerating grace is that work of the Holy Spirit that ‘opens the heart’ of the unregenerate (to use the words of Acts 16:14) to the truth of the gospel and enables them to respond positively in faith….” Theologically, this concept meets the need of the totally depraved sinner. As already acknowledged, the unregenerate person is totally unable to respond positively, by his natural will, to the offer of salvation contained in the gospel. Pre-regenerating grace simply means that the Spirit of God overcomes that inability by a direct work on the heart, a work that is adequate to enable the yet unregenerate person to understand the truth of the gospel, to desire God, and to exercise saving faith.
- Man is never so completely controlled by God that He cannot reject His grace;
An Arminian response to someone who says that man is so controlled by God that he cannot reject God’s grace would be to emphasize the importance of human free will in the process of salvation. Arminians believe that God gives all human beings the ability to respond to His grace and choose to accept or reject it. This ability is not coerced or controlled by God but is a genuine choice that each person can make. Lemke concludes the story of Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem:
If Jesus believed in irresistible grace, with both the outward and inward calls, His apparent lament over Jerusalem would have been just a disingenuous act, a cynical show because He knew that God had not and would not give these lost persons the necessary conditions for their salvation.
Arminians would argue that the Bible teaches that humans have the ability to resist God’s grace and even to quench the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51, 1 Thessalonians 5:19). They would also point to passages that emphasize the importance of human faith and obedience in the process of salvation, such as John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, and James 2:14-26. Lemke adds further injury when he comments on Christ’s comment about the Camel going through the eye of the needle (Matt 19:24) and says;
Of course, if Jesus were a Calvinist, He never would have suggested that it was harder for rich persons to be saved by God’s irresistible grace than poor persons. Their wills would be changed immediately and invincibly upon hearing God’s effectual call. It would be no harder for a rich person to be saved by God’s monergistic and irresistible calling than it would be for any other sinner. But the real Jesus was suggesting that their salvation was tied in some measure to their response and commitment to His calling.
Arminians would also point out that God’s sovereignty does not negate human responsibility. While God is in control of all things, including salvation, He has chosen to work through human agency and free will. God calls all people to repent and believe, and it is up to each person to respond to that call.
In summary, an Arminian response to the idea that man is so controlled by God that he cannot reject God’s grace would be to affirm the importance of human free will in the process of salvation while also recognizing God’s sovereignty and the need for His grace to be at work in our lives.
- God’s election of those who shall be saved is prompted by His foreseeing what they, of their own accord, do;
Arminians believe that God’s election of those who will be saved is based on His foreknowledge of their faith and obedience rather than His unconditional predestination or determinism. This means that God chose to save those He foreknew would respond to His grace and put their faith in Him, rather than arbitrarily choosing some for salvation and others for damnation.
Arminians believe that God’s election is not based on anything inherently superior or deserving in the elect but on God’s gracious choice to respond to the faith and obedience of those who choose to put their trust in Him. This means that God’s election is conditional rather than unconditional and is based on His foreknowledge of each person’s response to His grace. Thomas C. Oden beautifully writes;
The Fact that God (who sees all from the beginning in eternal simultaneity) foreknew what every believer’s response would be does not imply that God is coercing the act of belief or irresistibly determining a particular response, but rather that God is emphatically foreknowing both the options that a particular person’s freedom will experience and how one will freely choose.
Arminians would point to passages such as Romans 8:29, which says that God foreknew those whom He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, and 1 Peter 1:2, which says that the elect are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Arminians would also emphasize that God’s desire is for all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9) and that His grace is sufficient for all to respond to His call to salvation.
Overall, Arminians believe that God’s election of those who will be saved is based on His foreknowledge of their faith and obedience and that this election is not arbitrary or predetermined but is conditioned on each person’s response to His grace.
- Christ’s death did not ensure the salvation of anyone, but what it did was create the possibility of salvation for everyone if they believe;
God’s command for all to repent and believe makes it possible for all to experience salvation, but not all are saved. Thomas C. Oden writes;
Sinners are lost not because of a defect of God’s mercy but a defect in their reception of it.
As the Statement of Baptist faith and message (CC347) says;
“Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner except his own voluntary refusal to accept Jesus Christ.”
Arminians believe that Christ’s death on the cross made salvation possible for all people but did not guarantee the salvation of anyone. The atoning work of Christ on the cross provided the means by which God could offer salvation to all people, but it is up to each individual to respond to that offer in faith and repentance. Arminians believe that God desires all people to be saved and has provided the means for their salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, salvation is not automatic or guaranteed for anyone but is conditioned on each person’s response to God’s grace.
Arminians believe that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation and that it is possible for individuals to reject God’s grace and choose to remain in a state of unbelief. They also believe that individuals have the ability to resist God’s grace and fall away from the faith, which is why perseverance in faith and obedience is necessary for salvation. In summary, Arminians believe that Christ’s death on the cross created the possibility of salvation for all people, but salvation is not automatic or guaranteed for anyone. It is up to each individual to respond to God’s grace in faith and repentance and to persevere in faith and obedience in order to receive the gift of eternal life.
Arminians believe that believers must persevere in faith and obedience in order to remain in a state of grace and receive the gift of eternal life. They hold that salvation is not a one-time event that can never be lost or forfeited but rather a process that requires ongoing faithfulness and obedience.
- It depends on the believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith. Those who fall away and are lost.
Arminians believe that believers have the ability to resist God’s grace and fall away from faith, as emphasized in passages such as Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-27. They also believe that individuals have the freedom to reject God’s grace and choose to remain in a state of unbelief. F. Leroy Forlines comments;
The teaching is simply this: The believer’s relationship with God is a personal one between him and God. Though all the powers of the universe were to combine against the believer, they could not take the believer away from God. Some would add, ‘Neither can the believer take himself out of the body of Christ.’ Yes, that is true. But, it is also true that he could not place himself into the body of Christ. However, upon his faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit placed the believer into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). If the believer renounces his faith, God will take him out (Jn. 15:2, 6). There is no contradiction between the statements ‘No man can take us out of Christ’ and the statement ‘God the Father takes those people out of Christ who turn from Christ in unbelief.
However, Arminians do not believe that believers can lose their salvation simply by committing sins or experiencing doubts. Rather, they believe that the loss of salvation is a deliberate choice on the part of the individual to reject God’s grace and turn away from faith. They believe that true believers will inevitably persevere in faith and obedience and that those who fall away were never truly saved, to begin with.
Arminians believe that believers must rely on God’s grace and power to persevere in faith and obedience, but also recognize the importance of human responsibility in the process. They believe that believers must choose to cooperate with God’s grace and strive to grow in faith and obedience in order to remain in a state of grace and receive the gift of eternal life. In summary, Arminians believe that believers must persevere in faith and obedience in order to remain in a state of grace and receive the gift of eternal life. They hold that salvation is not a one-time event but a process that requires ongoing faithfulness and cooperation with God’s grace.
When evaluating these common objections to the Arminian position it is helpful to remind people what Robert Peterson and Michael Williams write about when referring to the “optimistic anthropology” in their book, “Why I am not an Arminian,” where they affirm.
“[Arminius and Arminians] held that the human will has been so corrupted by sin that a person cannot seek grace without the enablement of grace. They [Arminius and Arminians], therefore, affirmed the necessity of priority of grace in redemption. Grace must go before a person’s response to the Gospel. This suggests that Arminianism is closer to Semi-Augustinianism than it is to Semi-Pelagianism or Pelagianism.”
Blessings to all!
 Calvinism: A Biblical and Theological Critique. Pg 64.
 Arminian Theology, Pg.138.
 Arminian Theology, Pg.141.
 Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation, Calvinism and Arminianism (Nashville: Randall House, 2002), Pg.154.
 Whosoever Will: A Biblical Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism. David Allen & W Lemke. Pg.120
 Whosoever Will: A Biblical Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism. David Allen & W Lemke. Pg121.
 The Transforming power of grace. Pg. 129.
 The Transforming power of grace. Pg. 82.
 The Quest for truth, Pg.275.
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