Recently C. Michael Patton has been posting on Calvinism [see here and here] and has mentioned more than a few times God’s unconditional election and sovereignty as well as man’s responsibility. Rather than deal with the obvious contradiction between these ideas in the Calvinist framework he has simply opted to call it a ‘mystery’ and compare it to the Trinity [to which I strongly object!] — taking the ‘we don’t know how it works, we just know that it’s there in Scripture’ approach. In response to my objection to the seeming contradiction he said:
Nick, while I understand your problem, I just don’t think that we can expect to solve the tension. Calvinists can accept the tension believing that human responsibility and divine unconditional election are true. Arminians have to do some pretty extensive acrobats to harmonize the system. I can’t do the same. I will let the tension reside and place my hand over my mouth. Who am I to answer back to God? I know that sounds pious, but if your system does not lead you there based upon an examination of these issues, you are not interpreting Scripture correct (in my opinion). Otherwise, there is not need for the hypothetical objectors’ objections in Romans chapter nine. In other words, only a belief in unconditional election makes sense of the objectors’ objection.
The authors argue for a compatibilist view of freedom affirming both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. And yet conservative Arminians also affirm both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The real issue is the definition of “freedom.” Calvinists affirm that man is free, yet deny the power of contrary choice. Thus, for Calvinists “freedom” allows a man to vote, but there is always just one name on the ballot.
Vic Reasoner. “Review: Why I Am Not a Calvinist; Why I Am Not an Arminian” in The Arminian 23/1 (Spring, 2005), 10.