We will now begin to explore chapter 2 in Craig Brown’s book which he titles The Tulip and the Daisy. In this chapter we will be treated to many mischaracterizations of Arminian theology in order to paint it as unbiblical heresy while holding up Calvinism as pure gospel truth. Mr. Brown states his goals for the chapter as follows:
In order to show what Reformed Christians believe and why, this chapter will compare and contrast the doctrinal systems of Calvinism and Arminianism, and provide Scripture references that support the truth [i.e. the “truth” being Calvinism]. We will look at each of the five points of Calvinism, which are summarized by the acronym TULIP, and the Arminian response. (Arminians also have a flower, the daisy, because their doctrinal system says, in effect, “He loves me, He loves me not.”) (pp. 23, 24)
So we are immediately off to a bad start with the title of the chapter being The Tulip and the Daisy and the snide remark, “Arminians also have a flower, the daisy, because their doctrinal system says, in effect, ‘He loves me, He loves me not.'” This is extremely unfortunate for a book whose stated goal is to clear up misunderstandings concerning the doctrinal system of Calvinism. Apparently, Mr. Brown couldn’t figure out a way to clear up misunderstanding concerning Calvinism without grossly misrepresenting Arminianism. His statement about the Arminian flower being the daisy comes on the heels of the complaint,
The doctrinal system known as Arminianism has totally or partially taken over most protestant denominations. This is due not to a latent superiority in Arminianism but mainly to a misunderstanding of Calvinism. For instance, it is sometimes said that Calvinism denies man’s responsibility, makes man God’s puppet, or removes God’s love from the Bible. These statements are not true. (pg. 23 emphasis mine)
Neither is it true that Arminianism has a flower called the daisy because their doctrinal system amounts to “He loves me, He loves me not.” Does Mr. Brown believe that Arminians will gladly accept such statements concerning their system of belief as accurately reflecting that system? I can’t image that he does. So why on earth does he feel the need to take such childish cheap shots right after complaining about how Calvinism is so often misunderstood and misrepresented?
But I think it would do us well to examine the claim that the Arminian flower is the daisy for the reasons that Mr. Brown sets forth and see if perhaps the daisy better represents Calvinism than Arminianism. Does the Arminian really hold to a system of belief that says, in effect, “He loves me, He loves me not.”? Hardly. Maybe Mr. Brown has forgotten that it is the Arminian that insists that John 3:16 means exactly what it says when it tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Perhaps he forgot that Calvinists have traditionally tried to limit God’s love expressed in John 3:16 and other universal passages to the elect alone.
So according to Arminianism God loves everyone, and so it would be rather strange for an Arminian to say, “He loves me, He loves me not” since only the Arminian, even in the face of doubts and spiritual struggles, can cling to the Biblical promise that God loves him and truly desires his salvation. This is not the case for the Calvinist as the Calvinist cannot be sure in the face of such struggles that God is indeed on his side since these doubts and struggles may, in fact, be revealing the true nature of the Calvinist as a reprobate exercising nothing more than a false faith, as Walls and Dongell point out with regards to the practical difficulties involved in pastoral counseling for Calvinists,
Calvinism deprives those struggling with their faith of the single most important resource available: the confidence that God loves all of us with every kind of love we need to enable and encourage our eternal flourishing and well being. Again, Calvinists cannot honestly assure people that God loves them in this way without claiming to know more about God’s secret counsels than any human being can know. (Why I Am Not A Calvinist, pg. 201)
But Mr. Brown seems to particularly have perseverance in mind while making this statement (though he never bothers to clarify what is meant by his reference to the daisy) since most Arminians believe that true believers can yet forfeit salvation by later abandoning the faith. But this doesn’t bode well for Calvinism either since in Calvinism the only true test of genuine faith is its endurance (perseverance) to the end. So one can never be sure, in Calvinism, if his or her present faith and relationship with God is genuine, until the moment of final endurance (dying in the faith). The Calvinist’s faith may yet fail and prove that he was never really saved in the first place and his entire Christian experience was little more than a futile fleshly endeavor that he falsely believed was real. The Arminian, then, actually has a stronger doctrinal foundation for salvation assurance than the Calvinist as I have argued previously in my post, Perseverance of the Saints Part 13: Salvation Assurance. I concluded that post with the following observation,
Despite the claims by Calvinists that their doctrine of inevitable perseverance gives them a more solid footing than the Arminian with regards to salvation assurance, we have seen that Arminian salvation assurance better comports with the Biblical data and avoids the need to construct strange doctrines like that of Calvin’s “evanescent grace.” In the final analysis the Arminian doctrine of perseverance supports the Biblical reality that one can have present assurance of salvation while the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance falls alarmingly short in the same area.
I think we can safely conclude that Mr. Brown has misrepresented and misunderstood the Arminian doctrinal system and his statement that the daisy fairly represents Arminianism as a system of “He loves me, He loves me not” is simply false. We have also seen that the daisy might, ironically, fit comfortably in the hand of the Calvinist based on the doctrinal teachings of Calvinism as a whole.