While most reformed people I read do their best to advocate for their theology, there’s a nasty tendency to advocate against the presumed character of their opponents. And not in the sense of overt sin or corruption, like suggesting that Islam is obviously false in part because it is bloodthirsty and cruel – as clearly evinced by practitioners. Rather, they try and find sins that result from their understanding of the theology they disagree with, not any particular observable sin.

The favorite choice is humility/pride. For example:

Keep in mind that “Arminian” is just how Calvinists who only read other Calvinists say “non-Calvinist”.

Non-Calvinists, it is said, can’t be humble because they think they’ve somehow earned salvation by the work of putting their faith in Christ. This understanding clearly contradicts Scripture, as faith is always opposed to works, and faith just means trust, or putting your trust in someone. So to put your trust in someone is utterly opposed to works.

This, the Calvinist says, is in contrast to his own humility, which results from the fact that God gave him his faith. Given that faith is the act of trusting, and knowing what we know about Calvinist doctrine, this means in effect that God caused the Calvinist to believe. How then could a Calvinist be proud?

But this, to get back to the start, this is to discredit a theological system because of sins it might produce without any evidence as to what actually happens. In my experience, non-Calvinists don’t take any more pride in their Salvation than Calvinists. Generally, I see more pride among Calvinists, most often in the form of haughty, arrogant speech – and I don’t just mean tone. It’s clear even from their grouping of every non-Calvinist – the vast majority of Christians – into the category “Arminian” all because Arminius is for them as wicked a man as has ever lived. This isn’t remotely accurate in theological terms, as most Christians have never even heard of Arminius and probably disagree with him at least as much as they disagree with Calvin.

But how do we assess the claim? Who is really humble here? I think it’s pretty simple.

A Calvinist could be humble because he doesn’t think he’s responsible for his own belief. A Calvinist could be proud because he can’t avoid the fact that God picked him while damning millions of others.

A non-Calvinist could be humble because he could not save himself so in desperation he put his trust in Christ. A non-Calvinist could be proud because he thinks works (not faith) contribute to Salvation.

Both could be proud. Both could be humble. It’s a bad, dishonest test.

Importantly, however, between the two theological systems, the Calvinist could theoretically be proud and consistent, while the non-Calvinist would need to import additional theological mechanisms, like grace being merited by works.

I wouldn’t recommend this tactic to my reformed friends.