Myth #2: a hybrid of Calvinism and Arminianism is possible. Instead, Olson argues, the two systems are incommensurable systems of theology.
Many think they are “Calminians” but there is no such possibility — according to Olson. Now the truth of the matter is that lots think they are; Olson suggests they are being inconsistent.
The heart and soul of Calvinism is a distinctive emphasis on the sovereignty of God, especially in the outworking of salvation. God is the all-determining reality; monergism is the driving force of the system. It is all about God, not us.
Arminianism, on the other hand, denies Calvinistic monergism and opts instead for a “self-limiting God who grants free will to people by means of the gift of prevenient grace” (63). Arminianism confronts Calvinism with “an evangelical synergism that affirms a necessary cooperation between divine and human agencies in salvation” (63).
Three areas where the two systems cannot agree: unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace.
Arminians teach conditional election: it is general in scope rather than particular in application. God elects those in Christ. The scope of atonement is universal; Christ has saved all from original sin; God’s grace is prevenient but humans can resist it.
For Arminians, the “unconditional and irresistible nature of grace … seems arbitrary if not capricious” (66). Arminians believe God, in prevenient grace, creates free will and free agency, and humans can freely resist.
Olson lays his cards on the table: he thinks Calvinists and Arminians believe what they do, not simply because of exegesis, but because of perspective. What some philosophers call “blik.” This “seeing as” (perspective) does not circumvent Scripture but reveals perceived patterns in it (70).
Both systems have insurmountable problems. Edwin Palmer, a defender of Calvinism, says this: “He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous” (71). Palmer appeals to God’s secret counsel. And Arminians stumble over how free agency can be an ability to do other than what one in fact does.
Jerry Walls: “The free will theologian cannot fully explain why some choose Christ while others do not. The Calvinist cannot tell us why or on what basis God chooses some for salvation and passes others by” (72).
The dividing line between the two systems is that God is viewed “as either (1) majestic, powerful, and controlling or (2) loving, good, and merciful” (73). This leads to the Arminian contention that “it is unthinkable that so much evil would abound if God has determined all human choices” (74).
We are back to Augustine: if God is good, he is not all-powerful; if he is all-powerful, he is not good. For many of us, the only thing that makes sense is that God gave, in his grace, humans the capacity of free agency — and that explains the chaos of the world. For many of us, we’d rather blame humans than be caught on Augustine’s horns.
Arminians believe in libertarian free will; Calvinists in some form of compatibilism. This is not an absolute free will.
Thus, the point of the chp is that you can’t be a Calminian. Those who make that claim are inevitably Arminian. Which means there are a lot more of “us” than “them.”