I would like to briefly respond to an argument presented by Dr. Tim Stratton which he styles the Omni Argument Against Calvinism:
1- If Calvinism is true, whomever God provides “irresistible grace” to will go to heaven and not suffer eternal hell.
2- If God is omnibenevolent, He would not desire to, nor would He, send anyone to suffer eternal hell for choices they were powerless to make without God’s irresistible grace.
3- If God is omnipotent, he could provide irresistible grace to all people.
4- If God is omniscient, he would know how to provide irresistible grace to all people.
5- Some people suffer eternal hell.
6- Therefore, either God is not omnibenevolent, or not omnipotent, or not omniscient (pick at least one), or irresistible grace (and Calvinism) is false.https://freethinkingministries.com/true-love-free-will-the-logic-of-hell/
While this is put into the form of a logical syllogism one can quickly recognize that this is not the case. It assumes a tremendous number of theological baggage in its premises, argumentation that is inaccurate and misleading. Let’s look at the problems one by one.
“If Calvinism is true, whomever God provides ‘irresistible grace’ to will go to heaven and not suffer eternal hell.”
This a very odd way of saying that God elects to give grace and mercy to particular undeserving sinners. Irresistible grace is simply the recognition that when Jesus said “Lazarus, come forth!” He, as the Son of God incarnate, had the power to cause Lazarus to come forth, and Lazarus did not have the power to cause the Son of God to fail in His work. Hearts of stone cannot resist being removed by the Creator and replaced with hearts of flesh. Spiritually dead men do not have a latch inside their coffin by which they can keep the lid firmly locked in place. Irresistible grace is not a substance, or a “thing” given to someone: it is simply the recognition that the Holy Spirit is not dependent upon the cooperation of the creature to bring about the miracle of regeneration. So, the statement is an odd way of inaccurately representing the position: God’s elect will go to heaven because the Father gives them to the Son, they infallibly come to the Son as a result of being thusly given, and hence they will not suffer eternal punishment for their sins, since their sins were imputed to Christ, and His righteousness imputed to them. The irresistible grace aspect is simply the acknowledgement that the Spirit is able to apply the work of the Son to the elect at the time and in the manner thusly decreed by the Father.
“If God is omnibenevolent, He would not desire to, nor would He, send anyone to suffer eternal hell for choices they were powerless to make without God’s irresistible grace.”
Here we see the synergist’s arguments being smuggled in without provision of biblical basis, etc. This is why logical syllogisms rarely serve to deal rightly with biblical revelation. We are not given any definition of “omnibenevolent.” What does this mean? How can a person who is bound by the Biblical record define such a term. We know Yahweh is loving; we know Yahweh is, in fact, love. But we likewise know Yahweh is just, and thrice holy. We know Yahweh killed all the first born of Egypt, and then drowned Pharaoh’s army in the sea as they pursued His people. We know Yahweh sent plagues amongst the Israelites, and He struck down Aaron’s sons when they profaned His worship. And all of that was after He destroyed almost the entire population of the world in a flood. So “omnibenevolent” does not mean “always acting in a way humans would describe as loving.” The worst part is, the common use of the term omnibenevolent assumes the primary object of God’s love is mankind. The reality that God is to be the primary orientation of all love, honor, glory, thanks, dominion, etc., is often ignored, especially by synergists. Notice how Stratton’s words are focused upon man, not upon God, His will, His power, His glory, etc.
Assumptions are made about what God would “desire” to do without any reference to Scripture, just as omnibenevolence was not defined by Scripture.
But, of course, the second half of the sentence is where the majority of the flawed argument is presented. Assumptions are made regarding why someone is “sent to hell.” The argument says they are thusly sent to hell (rather than “condemned for their sins”) “for choices they were powerless to make without God’s irresistible grace.” This is, of course, a very obvious straw man, and is further reason why I stand by the assertion I made more than six years ago regarding Dr. Stratton’s former standing as an alleged “Calvinist.” While he may have thought he held to the “five points,” those five points are only relevant within the broader category of Reformed theology, and it is very clear, Dr. Stratton has never held the key and defining assertions of Reformed theology.
Even in this latter half of the sentence we have an inaccurate understanding of “irresistible grace.” We already saw it improperly defined as some kind of “thing” that must be “given” to someone, rather than the expression of the powerful work of the Spirit in raising the elect to spiritual life, releasing them from their bondage to sin. So the false idea is presented that people are sent to hell for not “making a decision” that they could only make if God gave them “irresistible grace.” A common straw-man, to be sure, but a highly combustible straw-man nonetheless.
Justly condemned sinners do not turn to Christ in repentance and faith because they do not want to. Jesus put is bluntly: they are slaves to sin (John 8:34). They do not have the capacity to free themselves; the Son must free them. In fact, they cannot even hear the words of God for they are not of God (8:47). As rebels, they love their rebellion, and only the powerful intervention of God can end their active rebellion and change their very nature so as to turn them from enmity with God to love of God. The Son must make them free. The decision is God’s not man’s. They are not condemned for not making a “decision” (as common as that man-centered terminology is in our day); they are condemned for their sin.
The synergist’s argument is that God must free all men from slavery to sin so they can “have a fair chance” to “accept Jesus.” One will search high and low through the pages of holy Scripture for such a concept, and never find it. God commands all men everywhere to repent and then, in His free mercy and grace, draws His elect people unto the Son by the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. Those He does not draw do not ever wish to come in the first place.
“If God is omnipotent, he could provide irresistible grace to all people.”
A canard. Irresistible grace, again, is simply the description of the Spirit’s capacity to accomplish His role in the redemption of the elect. So this argument is saying, “If God has all power, the Spirit could raise all people to spiritual life.” Well, of course. God could do that. But, His Word says He has not chosen to do this, and, instead, He has chosen to demonstrate all of His attributes, including his love and mercy and grace in the salvation of undeserving, rebel sinners, and His justice and power and wrath in the just destruction of other rebel sinners. This is the point of Romans 9. And note once again the representation of “irresistible grace” as a commodity, a thing of some kind.
“If God is omniscient, he would know how to provide irresistible grace to all people.”
Or, accurately, this is just a statement that God knows how to save human beings through the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit raising them to spiritual life out of spiritual bondage. Hardly a remarkable statement when accurately expressed.
“Some people suffer eternal hell.”
I will pass over for the moment some of the interesting statements Dr. Stratton has made about this topic, as he has clearly been influenced in some fashion by Chris Date, as he has admitted.
“Therefore, either God is not omnibenevolent, or not omnipotent, or not omniscient (pick at least one), or irresistible grace (and Calvinism) is false.”
As we have already seen, the argument does not define omnibenevolent, misrepresents irresistible grace, and in this complex and unsubstantiated conclusion, begs the questions inherent in all that came before.
This is simply not how serious theological inquiry is done, at least amongst those who believe God has spoken with clarity and sufficiency in the Scriptures. If one wishes to argue against irresistible grace, then the key texts of Scripture that teach the concept must be addressed directly, contextually, and accurately. And this is not something that a logical syllogism is going to accomplish.