Are you better?
Those who believe in Calvinism are quick to accuse those who do not believe the same way. The accusation comes in the form of two questions. The questions that are commonly asked: “Why did you respond positively to the gospel, and your neighbor did not? Are you better than he is?” The implication is that if you believe that God created man a moral agent who can respond positively to God’s offer, this positive response makes you “better” than the one who rejects God.
Breaking down the argument
There are several assumptions in the Calvinist argument that should be tested by the Scripture. In this article, I will present three main assumptions that are hidden underneath the questions “Why did you respond, and your neighbor did not? Are you better than he is?” Included will be a biblical answer to these challenges.
1. If man freely responds, all are not equal
The first assumption of Calvinism is that if we can respond to God positively, that would mean we must be better than others. Or put another way, if you believe that God created man a moral agent who is able to respond positively to God’s offer of the gospel following the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and only some respond positively, then all people are not equal, and you are better than the unbeliever. Paul refutes this in Romans 3:9.
Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
If Paul stated that no one is better than the rest, what biblical precedent would you have to accuse a Christian that he is claiming he is better than others? Better is an indicator of nature. All were created with the same human nature, and all have sinned.
2. All cannot believe
The second assumption of Calvinism is that all cannot believe the gospel and be saved. Because the Bible shows that all do not believe, the underlying premise of Calvinism is that all cannot believe. Why is it that all cannot believe? Their reasoning is that God is Sovereign and He is the only one who truly has autonomous free will. Because God alone has Sovereign free will, God has the full right to choose the ones for whom Jesus would die. Said another way, the belief inherent in 5 point Calvinism is that God has not willed to give salvation to all. However, Paul stated that “all” are shut up in disobedience “so that” He may show mercy to “all.” “So that” is a stated purpose. All are shut up, so that all may be shown mercy. It is the same “all” and mercy is to be intentional. “Show mercy” is in the subjunctive which “normally presents the verbal action as being probable or intentional”. It is God’s purpose for all to be equal in the state of sin and all to be shown mercy in the death of Jesus.
Romans 11:32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
3. God’s mercy cannot be related to man
The third assumption of Calvinism is that God’s mercy is not dependent on man, but only on God’s Sovereign choice. Paul contradicts this in 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
1 Timothy 1:16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
Paul gave the condition and the reason for why he found mercy in 1 Timothy 1:13, 16.
If you are a Calvinist
If you are a Calvinist, I would like to dialog. Can you show me from the Bible where you get the idea that someone responding positively to the gospel would be considered “better” than one who rejected the gospel?
You are welcome to comment and to challenge back. Are you a Calvinist who challenges others to explain how responding to the gospel makes them better than the unbeliever? Let’s have a dialog!