I ran across an old Facebook post today. Perhaps a dozen years old or more. In the context, an Arminian (one who believes that God chooses as his church people who would choose him) was saying that my view of God was one of anger, because God predestines His people based on nothing they had done, but instead He chooses to love who He will love for no reason that we can ascertain, nor can we qualify. Here were my thoughts then, and I have no objection to them now.Me, Myself and I
Is it correct to say that way more Calvinists than Arminianists believe that God FEELS intense anger toward the sinner? That would be ironic. While not believing that God gives irresistible grace to ANYONE, the Arminianist believes that God gives “enabling grace” to EVERYONE and continues to give it. With “enabling grace”, the person can choose to “sin” or to “not sin”; to “accept Christ” or “reject Christ” as if they are not slaves to sin already.
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
The question begins with the matter of whether a Calvinist or Arminian would be more likely to feel anger toward a sinner. I find this to be a difficult question to answer, as I believe the anger one assumes of God would depend on the level of holiness one attributes to God. If God is holy and rightfully expects His creation to be holy as well, either a Calvinist or Arminian could come out thinking that God is more angry. Therefore, I’m not sure that either group would be more likely to magnify the anger of God.
Choosing to sin or not to sin is another matter. Adam and Jesus are the only two examples of men who had the ability to sin or not to sin in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 15:22 shows us clearly that we all died in Adam. All who are descendants of the first man carry the same death that God warned Adam about if he were to eat of the forbidden fruit. Did Adam keel over and stop breathing upon his swallow? No. He died in the sense that he was no longer without sin and unable to continue in the uninterrupted presence of God. And we all carry that same stain. Likewise, all who are spiritually descended from Christ, that is all who repent and believe, are made alive once again and are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6)
Thus, the doctrine of “enabling grace” is not consistent with other teachings of the Bible. Such teaching implies that it is possible for a person to make the right choices consistently, thereby earning their own way into Heaven. If that were possible, why would Christ have taken our sins upon Himself on the cross? The gospel would be a command to try harder next time, not to rest in the mercy of your savior. Remembering that the word “gospel” can be translated as “good news” I don’t find the command to try harder to sound like good news.
So if this is true, shouldn’t it be “ARMINIANS” who believe that God is angry? Hence, I think that the idea of God being “angry”, though being biblically-based, was written in the way it was written because unregenerate people would have NO fear of God nor of sin if the bible had God saying, “It breaks my heart to do this but if you do not repent, I will HAVE to punish you for eternity. I’m not ANGRY but as a righteous God, my hands are tied and I MUST punish sin”.
I suppose it would be consistent with a non-gospel gospel to assume the Arminian would then preach an angrier God, but I would prefer not to say much more than that. I have been accused of constructing straw men before. I do want to caution you, though. If God’s hands are tied in any way, even by His own law, he is no longer sovereign and thus no longer God. The righteousness of God is not His defining characteristic. His holiness is. He is not like you and me. For us to assume fallen human traits to explain away His actions is dangerous to our own understanding of God. Simply put, God will punish all who do not have the righteousness of Christ on the last day. That is a goal we cannot meet on our own. Once again, that is why we need Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21)