Arminian Video – What’s wrong with Calvinism, by Jerry Walls.

Jerry Walls recently did a lecture at Evangel University on what’s wrong with Calvinism.  It is a very good presentation.  Walls co-authored the book Why I’m not a Calvinist.  If you’ve read the book, you will recognize some of the material in his presentation, as he follows a similar train of thought.  The video is about an hour long.



Filed under Arminian Audio, Arminian Video, Calvinism, Jerry Walls

9 responses to “Arminian Video – What’s wrong with Calvinism, by Jerry Walls.

  1. Dave

    Hi Kevin,

    I decided “ah, what the heck – I’ll listen” to see if Dr. Walls has anything different to say than Dave Hunt, Norman Geisler, etc. I haven’t read his book, but I did watch the interview he did with the “young budding biblical scholar” on Romans 9-11 (which I’ve never had time to comment on; would have been nice if he had attempted to argue against Piper’s arguments laid out in The Justification of God; it would have been more instructive. But then again, in my opinion that would not have been very successful, but I digress :-)). I did not hear anything new in Walls presentation, but then again the arguments for and against Arminianism vs Calvinism are well known.

    And like Geisler (for example, Chosen but Free), this was almost an entirely philosophical argument. Arguments based on the philosophy of man are pointless and counter-productive in the end.

    I know that we could easily just trade back and forth on the A vs C thing, but that would be (mostly) fruitless; don’t think that we’ll settle the issue here :-) ! We all know that the arguments against Wall’s line of thinking are well documented and I don’t know that I would add anything that you haven’t heard/read before.

    However, I will offer a couple of things:

    1) On his 6-point “Core Calvinism” slides where he purports to show a contradiction (#3 vs #6), his points are mis-representative of Calvinism. All men have the ability to choose the offer; Total Depravity means that they will always choose not to, and they do so willingly.

    2) The whole “The God of Calvinism does not love” point is a red herring. Hunt and Geisler try to make the same point. It’s a fine thing to point to Calvinism and say that “a God of Love would never do this”; it isn’t in His character. Ok, great. But this only moves the issue, it doesn’t remove it. You just have to ask the question “How could a God of perfect love and omniscience create mankind as He did, fully knowing that some amount of them [and I’m of the theological camp that believes that He knew exactly which ones] would be eternally damned.” Now, you might say “Well God offered everything and it was the free will he gave man that allowed some men to choose Hell/not choose God.”. But God created man that way, so was this loving of Him to do so?

    Let’s use Dr. Walls final example – his granddaughter. As a parent, I know that I must protect my children, but I must also allow them to experience the consequences of their own choices. However, as a father, there are many consequences that I will not allow, if given the ability, my children or grandchildren to experience.. If my son (who is now 25; thus not too young to know better) doesn’t see a car coming and steps out in front of it, am I going to stop him given I have the power to do so? Or am I going to allow him to experience that based on his free choice to take the step?

    In this way, how is it loving of God to allow a person to enter into Hell, let alone knowingly create the person with the ability to do so in the first place (or even more specifically, create *the* person (John A. Theist) knowing that John would reject Him)? Wouldn’t it be most “perfect” to either not create them that way or at least save everyone? God certainly has the power to do so.

    I was also just waiting for Walls to bring up the whole Voluntarism vs Essentialism debate, but that’s another red herring of the same type. His argument was the same, but without using this formal terminology.

    God Bless,

    p.s. Please don’t read any “antagonism” into my words above. I really am just trying to point out the flaws in this argument, and in the end we are brothers in Christ and should treat each other as such.

    • Thanks for the thoughts Dave, and for watching the video. We disagree, but that’s fine. You rightly point out that we are brothers in Christ!

      I think Walls does a good job of pointing out the contradictions of Calvinism. Sure, he uses philosophical arguments, but so do Calvinists. You just disagree with his philosophy. :)

      I think your point #1 is a contradiction. If our inherent disposition prevents us from choosing God, and God does not draw us, we cannot choose God. Most Calvinists call this reality “total inability” (rather than “total depravity”). Genuine free will requires that we deal with reality. Arminians agree with Calvinists that we are unable to choose God without his drawing. The difference is we believe that God is drawing everyone.

      For point 2, your argument assumes a Calvinist understanding of foreknowledge that I reject. It might be a legitimate question for Molinist Arminians (who hold to counterfactuals), but it doesn’t apply to regular Arminians (who hold to simple foreknowledge), or to open theists.

      As for why God created the world, I think it’s because he’s relational. He wanted to create beings who would freely love him without coercion. The only way he could do that was by creating a world where it was possible that people would reject him.

      • Dave

        Hi Kevin,

        On your response to point #2 (relating to God’s foreknowledge), I just want to point out that the paper and position taken by Cottrell which you (I believe) refer to does not in fact align with your statement.

        According to his paper (“Understanding God: God and Time”, Cottrell, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Fall 2002), God knew both prior to His decision to create as well as create a specific universe, what exactly would happen – “from all eternity he has had a complete knowledge of all possible worlds and all possible contingencies, and has eternally known his own potential responses to whatever contingencies will ever arise” (pg 12). So according to Cottrell’s position, God knew prior to His decision to create that certain (specific) people would be consigned to hell. And in fact, Cottrell states that following God’s decision to create a specific universe, but prior to doing the actual creation (the phase he calls the “noetic big bang” (which you also referred to)), God plans His own interaction with His creation, imposing “his own creation purposes, permissive will, and providential intervention” (11). Even at that point, God could have chosen to intercede (i.e. pulling back the young son from stepping out in front of the car in my example), but He evidently didn’t (if Cottrell is right) or at least not for everyone. [Calvinists would say that at that point, He did choose (aka elect) some to intercede for; that decision was not based on anything of the creature (will or works), but on His own will and purposes. That interceding takes the form of God’s effective call.]

        I’m not claiming that Cottrell’s view in this paper is your view, but in fact I’m assuming it isn’t. I’m just pointing out that Cottrell doesn’t seem to share your view. He does in fact state that “for most Arminians God’s foreknowledge is immediate, intuitive, and eternal (AF 471), and not derivative as I have described here.” (pg 11). But this is really just talking about *how* knowledge unfolds in God’s mind, not the actual knowledge itself (i.e. temporal vs atemporal).

        On the topic of philosophical positions, see my comment over on Part 2 of Wall’s interview with Paul Sloan on Romans 9.


      • Hi Dave, I’d disagree with your summary of Cottrell’s argument. He’s actually closer to the Open view. In Cottrell’s view, prior to the “noetic big bang” God knows all possibilities, but not certainties. After God decides to create, then he knows specifics.

        Cottrell writes:
        “Just as the universe (supposedly) began at a single point of space and almost instantaneously exploded to form the massive universe we now observe, so did God’s foreknowledge of the entire history of the universe begin at a single point of time and then expand in a kind of noetic “big bang.” This noetic “big bang” or explosion of foreknowledge was an event in the life of God, an event that occupied “X” amount of time. Before this event, God had no knowledge of this actual world; after this event he knows its entire history. Since the knowledge occurs prior to the actual creation of the world, it is true foreknowledge.”

        So the order would work like this: 1) God knows all possibilities but not certainties prior to the decision to create. 2) God decides to create our world 3) Noetic big bang – God knows everything that will happen in our world. 4) God creates the world.

        They key thing to note in the simple foreknowledge view (as distinct from Calvinism and Molinism) is that God decides to create prior to having exhaustive foreknowledge.

  2. So I found your site from the Top 10 Movie Proofs that Calvinism is False. I like an Arminian with a sense of humor so I clicked around on your site. I was happy to find someone respected trying to refute Calvinism and hoped by listening I could learn something or find some problems that I should think through. Sadly, as the comment above states, there was no where in the entire video where Walls refutes Calvinism based on scripture. Say what you will about what he believes, but John Piper builds his argument exclusively on scripture. An argument without scripture is pointless. Pointing out that it is logically flawed is what I would expect from an atheist. I’m willing to listen to the other side, but Scripture alone has the final say so and to not base your argument on it is telling to me.

    • Hi James. Glad you enjoyed the humor. Check out Wall’s series called “Calvinism and the Bible” (link), where he addresses scripture passages such as Romans 9 and Ephesians 1. Thanks for stopping by and God bless.

  3. Dave

    Hi Kevin,
    Well since you referred James over to Jerry Walls interview with Paul Sloan on Romans 9, I guess I’ll have to finally make some comments on this :-). Hope all is well.

    By the way, I did finally track down a version of Cottrell’s paper regarding God and Time (“Understand God: God and Time”, Cottrell, 2002). I assume that this is the one: The link you have to it no longer works.


  4. Dave

    Hi Kevin,

    Yep, I see that now; I didn’t notice that his position only knows the possibilities, but not the choices of his free will creatures.


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