This was one of my early objections to Calvinism. I could not see how Calvinism did not lead to this conclusion. I no longer have this as an objection. My objection was a result of a misunderstanding of Irresistible Grace. Click here to read how I worked through this issue.
I found a post over at Classical Arminianism by Billy Birch entitled The Robots of God where he discusses this issue from an Arminian perspective. Interestingly, he addresses the issue from the Total Depravity argument not from the Irresistible Grace argument.
He starts out by saying
“Does depravity effect every area of a human being? We would answer, “Yes.” Arminians, however, do not believe that depravity renders an individual helpless in trusting Christ Jesus for salvation.”
What does the Bible have to say about this? Romans 3:10-18 says: “(10) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (13) “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” (14) “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (15) “Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) in their paths are ruin and misery, (17) and the way of peace they have not known.” (18) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This paints a pretty clear picture of the condition of man. It would seem that the depraved man is not righteous, does not understand, does not seek God, has turned aside, become worthless, does not do any good….and does not fear God. How can any person who fits this description trust is Christ so they can receive salvation?
Next Billy discusses the ability to persuade someone to accept Christ. He says
“Persuasion only works on those who have the ability to reason. If people are in the state as Calvinists believe, then persuasion and reasoning are rendered moot.”
I believe that persuasion and reasoning is all a waste of breathe until God does a work in the heart of the hearer. Until God allows the lost person the ability to understand that they are lost and to respond to the Gospel once they hear it. I think some Arminians call this prevenient grace. I used to teach people that God had to remove the blinders so that the person could see their true spiritual condition. I have come to believe that another name for this is regeneration. In other words, God must regenerate a person so that they can understand and respond to the Gospel once they hear it. Until they are regenerated they cannot and will not respond to the Gospel because they are still slaves to their sin nature. John 8:34 says “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
“Jesus pleaded with myriads of people to trust in Him for their salvation. If we are to think as the Calvinists think, then Christ was actually pleading for people in vain. And not only so, but Christ Jesus knew full-well that people COULD NOT trust in Him for salvation unless His Father first regenerated them!”
This has given me a few problems in the past and probably still does a little. It sounds right but is it. This is the real question. Who was Jesus really pleading with – everyone or the elect? I am beginning to think it is the elect. It was that way from the time of his birth. Matthew 1:20-21 says “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (21) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
“Since no one loves God “naturally,” as they would have it, then God was also choosing who would love Him as a result of being regenerated. That, to me, is one of the most odd aspects of Calvinism: God chose who was going to love Him. This, among many other oddities of Calvinism, is something foreign, not only to Scripture, but also to the human psyche.”
This is not foreign to Scripture, it is in complete accord with it. In regeneration God changes the nature of the person. The nature goes from one at enmity with God to one the seeks God. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it this way “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
To sum things up: All people are totally depraved. This is to the point that it affects every aspect of their lives. It is a result of being slaves to sin. Sin taints every part of the person. As such, people cannot (and don’t want to) trust in Christ unless God first frees them from their slavery and gives them a new nature. Some would call this regeneration. Once regenerated, a person is ready to respond to the Gospel when it is proclaimed to them. It is all an act of God from start to finish. But this does not mean that we are robots….our choosing God is a natural response to His freeing us from our bondage and giving us new life.