Roy Ingle said:
From the Calvinist viewpoint, God chose His elect before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14). God elected to save people by His grace alone and by His sovereign choice in His Son (John 1:12-13). Therefore, we did not chose to become disciples of Christ but He chose us (John 15:16)
These comments are taken from Roy Ingle's recent blog article on the question of who chooses who in salvation. Roy's article is basically concerned with contrasting his views as an Arminian with those of the Calvinist in order to demonstrate that the Arminian position is preferable in regards to the question being addressed. My drawing attention to his comments here will not be an attempt to counter Roy's arguments but rather to point out some problems with the way in which Roy represents the Calvinist position. For instance, the last sentence from the above excerpt is not an accurate statement of the Calvinist position. Roy's statement would give the uninformed the impression that Calvinsts do not believe that men choose to become disciples of Christ. This common error in representing the Calvinist position on the reality of choice is regrettably repeated in Roy's post as we are about to see.
Calvinist strongly oppose free will in man...
Here again, Roy makes a mistake in how he represents the Calvinist position on the reality of choice. Calvinists are not opposed to free-will per se. It is the libertarian notion of free-will that a Calvinist strongly opposes. In other words, the issue is not over whether there is such a thing as free-will, rather, the issue is over how free-will is to be defined.
...because of their teaching that God directly controls all things including the very decisions of men.
The accuracy of this statement depends upon what Roy means by the phrase "God directly controls". That is, Calvinists believe and teach a distinction in how God causes things to come about. This distinction is usually stated as primary causation versus secondary causation. An example of primary causation would be the incarnation of Christ. God the Holy Spirit directly acted upon Mary's person and caused her to conceive a child. An example of secondary causation would be Adam and Eve's first child. The child came about by way of natural procreation without divine intervention and yet, the text of holy writ nontheless attributes to God a role in bringing about this event (see also Gen. 4:25). Such distinctions in Reformed theology should be acknowledged by anyone performing even a cursory critique of Calvinism. Otherwise, the danger of misrepresentation becomes unavoidable.
Arminianism, however, believes that God does not directly determine man's decisions but He does directly control man's decisions. In other words, God is in control but He does not violate man's free will.
Here, Roy states that in Arminianism God does not violate man's will which is all well and good. However, a problem arises when one remembers that Roy is contrasting Arminianism with Calvinism. Thus, the implication is that in Calvinism God does in fact violate man's will. But the Calvinist is left wondering how such an assertion can be made in light of the fact that the Calvinist position on man's will has not been shown to lead to such a conclusion. Indeed, the Calvinist position has yet to be mentioned!
So the Arminian understanding of the question of who chose whom would be that God did in fact chose us by His grace alone but He did not force us to chose Him.
And it is also the Calvinist understanding of the question at hand that God does not force men to choose the things that he does. No Calvinist with whom I am familiar believes or teaches that men are forced to do anything. Now, Roy may well believe that this is what the Calvinist position boils down to but he does not present an argument for consideration thus, there is no reason why anybody reading Roy's article should accept his charicature of the Calvinist position.
He does draw us unto Himself through His Son (John 3:16-17) but He allows the human being the freedom to chose to love Him and obey Him (John 3:36; 14:15; 1 John 2:3-6).
Again, Roy's statements carry with them the necessary implication that it is the Calvinist position that men do not have the freedom to choose to love and obey God. But this is patently false. Calvinists do in fact believe and teach that men have the freedom to choose whatever they want. If a man chooses to love and obey God, he will. If a man chooses to hate and reject God, he will. Thus, if a man can choose according to what he desires, how is this not freedom?
At any rate, while I found Roy's article to be interesting, I don't think he properly represented the issues surrounding this ancient debate. There was very little if anything that a Calvinist could have agreed with in regards to how their view was presented and this in itself should be enough to give the cautious reader pause.