Ken Stewart supplied me with some examples of non-Calvinists misrepresenting Calvinism. I have run across other examples over the years.
So, in fairness, let me shame non-Calvinists who misrepresent Calvinism. (Ken has himself corrected Calvinists who misunderstand and misrepresent it in his book Ten Myths about Calvinism which I reviewed in Christianity Today.)
Contrary to what many non-Calvinists think and say:
1) Calvinism is not fatalism. Fatalism is belief in an impersonal determinism. It does not include God or any other personal power guiding or governing the course of human affairs.
2) Calvinism is not anti-missions or anti-evangelism. Calvinists have long been in the forefront of world missions and evangelism. Nothing in Calvinism as a theological system militates against these.
3) Calvinism does not say that how a person lives is irrelevant to their salvation or spiritual status. Like all Protestants, Calvinists say that true saving faith is never without accompanying works.
4) Calvinism does not make persons automata (machines, robots). Calvinism claims that people have free will and are fully responsible for their decisions and actions. (Whether this is consistent with other things they believe is another question and rightly a matter of doubt and debate.)
These are four of the most common misrepresentations of Calvinism. Feel free to add others.
People who spread these misconceptions of Calvinism and Calvinists should be ashamed. “Before saying ‘I disagree’ be sure you can say ‘I understand’.”
Now, having said all that, there’s nothing wrong with arguing that Calvinism is unbiblical and/or illogical. I don’t object when Calvinists say that about Arminianism. I will argue back that they are wrong, but I won’t object that their claims, if limited to those without misrepresentation of Arminian beliefs, are unfair.