I join the ranks of countless Arminians who are frustrated with what seems to be an assumption by most Calvinists I’ve read and engaged. That assumption seems to be that the debate between Calvinists and Arminians can be settled by exegeting the Scriptures. Roger Olson puts it like this:
[T]his problem of Arminian-Calvinist meeting of the minds (which never seems to happen on this subject) is that most Calvinists I talk to THINK the disagreement can be settled by mere exegesis. Obviously it can’t. It’s been going on between equally scholarly Christians for hundreds and hundreds of year (going way back before Arminius or Calvin!) Obviously the disagreement has something to do with differing gestalts–”seeing as.” That is when Calvinists read Scripture they see God and salvation AS such-and-such whereas when Arminians read Scripture they see God and salvation AS something else. Not totally something else, but importantly something else. In other words, the disagreement is perspectival which is why it cannot be settled by exegesis or even philosophy. Both accounts of God and salvation (etc.) are reasonable ones. It’s just that one, taken to its logical conclusion (it’s “good and necessary consequences”) lands in one place and the other one lands in a very different place. And the further you push the good and necessary consequences the further apart the two perspectives get from each other. (Here)
Because there are valid interpretations of every passage employed by both sides, for me it comes down to which side one can stomach. For some people – I think – they are convinced that exegetically the scriptures fall on the side of Calvinism. Some people don’t have a problem with that, others do. Yet because for them it makes the best sense of the scriptures, they accept it even though they don’t like it. Still there are some, the most moderate of them, who will speak of the positive of what the scriptures teach about the elect and leave any other potential talk (the “good and necessary consequences”) as something we ought not think about.
But I have already thought about it. I can’t undo that. If there is a single reason why I cannot accept Calvinism it is here: the “good and necessary consequences” of Calvinism irreparably mars the character of God.
God cannot be trusted and my faith is in vain.