A Little Poser for those who hold to “Two Wills” in God

I am very concerned with theological precision.  I come across a lot of quite sloppy theological argument and assertion so I try to promote more robust theologizing at Veritas.

I class myself neither as a Calvinist nor an Arminian.  I know some folks say that one is either one or the other, but (again) I find their reasoning rather slipshod.  So I call myself a “Sovereigntist.”  The main tenet is that “God’s decision always precedes man’s decision.”  I think I can defend that view pretty well.

Being neither Calvinist nor Arminian I like to read books and articles from both sides (though my reading in Reformed literature outweighs reading in Arminian writings).  I recently read this piece in which the practical problem of balancing the supposed “two wills of God” was highlighted.  The post is titled: Calvinists on Hell and the Fate of Everyone who Ever Lives.

I tend to think adopting a determined Calvinist or Arminian position may foster a reluctance to see the opposing position’s argument.  Here is a pretty good one from an Arminian perspective.  See what you think.



  1. Paul, I have noticed a funny tidbit: over in the wider dispensational realm you are still considered a hardline Calvinist. Someone posted your earlier series on dispensationalism and TULIP on one of the most famous dispensational forums on the net the other day. The posts were instantly banished to the backroom (reserved for Calvinists, amillennials, Catholics, nonbelievers etc – no one but the moderators can read them) by that forum’s moderator team. That forum’s background is Calvary Chapel – one of the moderators is an ordained Calvary Chapel pastor, and the site prides itself as holding to the midpoint between Calvinism and Arminianism in election/predestination as expressed by the Calvary Chapel’s founder Chuck Smith.

    The “crime”? You hold to unconditional election, which to their eyes still marks you as a Calvinist.

  2. Ha! Well I’m used to being a maverick voice! What can I say. People like to be part of a herd. I like Smith’s emphasis on preaching through the Bible. That is huge to me. But I am saddened by the common mentality which makes believers judge other viewpoints from the perspective of their system and not from an openness to other possible views.

    I should be interested to know who borrowed my articles. They are welcome to them, but I might have been asked 🙂

  3. Hi Joel if you dont mind can you tell me what message board that took place at ? I really do not believe that Calvery Chapel is taking a middle road at all. They still embrace the Arminian view of condition election based on foreseen faith and the false doctrine of prevenient grace. I am trouble by what they did to Paul’s articles. His post are alot more balanced than what is being presented by Chuck Smith. Chuck Smith and Calvery Chaper pastors really should consult the writings of earlier dispensationalist on the issue relating to Calvinist and see the proper corrections that men such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, Merrill Unger and W.H. Griffith Thomas made that are in line with what Scripture teaches. Their views appears generally speaking to be close that what was presented in Paul’s articles relating to the five points of Calvinism.

  4. I like to know where that forum is too! I’m amaze that when you go to Calvary Chapel bookstores, there are books against Calvinism but I’ve not found works against Arminianism…

    1. I do think Chuck Smith has changed his tone on the subject of Calvinism.

      Have you read Chuck Smith’s book Calvary Distinctives? In that book he seemed to aim for the middle ground, offering a rather muddle-headed and incoherent attempt to mediate between Calvinism and Armininianism. As somebody who is happy to be called an Arminian, I found it rather irritating.

      These days Chuck Smith seems to be more explicit in his rejection of Calvinism.

      1. I have not read Chuck’s “Calvary Distinctives”…that does sound like a work I should try to find, as I’m rather amazed to hear Chuck Smith trying to aim for “middle ground.” This is news to me that he tries, for while I do hear often of Calvary Chapel attendees telling me they are middle of the road, the works produced by those from Calvary Chapel has been anti-Calvinists and never anti-Arminian. Brother, can you help me out here if there is any point that Chuck Smith might disagree with concerning Arminianism? Thank you.

      2. Jim,

        regarding your question about Chuck Smith. I have read his booklet and I cannot see any different between his view and that of an Arminian who holds to eternal security. His take on election via foreknowledge (which lends itself to corporate election) is Arminian. He just doesn’t recognize himself.

  5. My experience with Calvary Chapel in the past is similar – I would never had said they were ‘balanced’ in their approach to Calvinism. Everything I’ve seen them endorse has been very one-sided toward the Arminian position. As a movement, they’ve also had pretty close teaching involvement with Dave Hunt.

    Nevertheless, I am surprised by the responds Paul’s articles apparently received. I posted them at our site — not because I’m a fan of the Arminian position 🙂 — but because I thought the main thrust of Paul’s observations concerning differences in understanding the content of the points from a dispensational perspective was very good. In other words, if when one comes down on the same side of a particular letter in TULIP as a Reformed Calvinist, our understanding of the way in which the point is supported by Scripture must necessarily differ.

    I’m guessing that because Paul’s articles dealt with important subtleties about how many of the points are taught and understood – rather than an outright repudiation of them – that this still crossed the trip-wire. 🙂 The problem is, Paul, you still uphold God’s sovereignty and I guess that’s a ‘no-no’ regardless of your criticisms of aspects of the Calvinist position.

    How the Scripture can repeatedly say chosen, elect, and so forth in so many passages and people still get almost rabid pushing the notion that God’s sovereignty doesn’t extend to salvation is beyond me. Just one more of numerous areas where human opinion refuses to bow at the altar of sound exegesis.

  6. Tony and Paul, as a recovering Catholic, ex-cultist and ex-New Ager I’m sometimes a little lost and behind you guys in understanding the concept of God’s sovereign election in contrast to man’s free will. I appreciate the input here.

    Paul, I can hear a book on systematic theology calling out….”write me, write me”. Can you hear it?

  7. Thanks for your sympathetic words guys. The forum I referred to is called Rapture Ready. There is a current thread (as in October 2011) in which the moderators of the forum are busy bagging Jonathan Edwards as teaching unbiblical theology in his famous sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” (!). They are barely short of calling him a false teacher.

    Go and have a look at the site.

    1. Thanks for letting us know…I’m in agreement with Tony below concerning forums…I’ve grown tired of them since some people are so easy to take easy swipes, and plus all the tangents…

  8. As an aside, it has been my experience over the course of a number of years that many forums, whether begun initially taking the high road, soon descend into a level of interchange which is mostly heat and little light. There are numerous reasons for this. To name a few.

    – The entry level for expressing opinions is too low (lack of editorship).

    – Some people are carefully responding to comments and expressing subtle issues whereas most others are simply reading past them and do not carefully communicate.

    – A general lack of politeness and respect coupled with a tendency to verbally abuse those who disagree.

    – Pride, arrogance, sloppiness, a general loss of decency in communication within the culture which is only becoming worse with time.

    – Did I say pride, arrogance, sloppiness? 🙂

    So you wind up with a lot of exchange, strong words, but precious little in the way of careful and thoughtful communication. As I result, I’ve more-or-less sworn them off. As they say in communication engineering, the “signal to noise ratio” is simply to low.

  9. “regarding your question about Chuck Smith. I have read his booklet and I cannot see any different between his view and that of an Arminian who holds to eternal security. His take on election via foreknowledge (which lends itself to corporate election) is Arminian. He just doesn’t recognize himself. ”

    I agree with you there on that one. I personally found no essential difference between his view and that of Arminianism. The two essential points of Arminianism is election based on who God foresees will believe and it’s doctrine of prevenient grace. What I see absent from his writings and that of other Calvery Chapel teachers is the absence of any mention of any dispensationalist such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, Charles Ryrie or W.H. Griffith Thomas who in their writings dealt with the issue of election and predestination. Their writings on the subject from what I see are not generally consulted even though these men are dispensationalist. And did not take in to consideration their own modifications on it either. From what I have seen from Chuck Smith and others of his non-denomination denomination is that they reject any and all views that are Calvinistic moderate or otherwise. They are very divisive on this issue . I do see them causing problem amoung dispensationalist about this issue. They put forth a lot of anti-calvinism material . I might go over to ” Rapture Ready ” message board and see how they deal with me . 🙂 I will use only dispensational materials if I do post there to see what they do. 🙂 lol

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