Irresistible Grace in Islam and Calvinism
Updated: Jan 28, 2020
In Calvinism, the doctrine of irresistible grace (the 'I' in TULIP) is a doctrine that directly attacks man's free will. Islam also has writings about this concept, stating that even man's faith is a direct result of God's will overcoming him.
Irresistible Grace: the belief that a person who is chosen by God to believe in him cannot exercise free will to stop God from forcing him to believe.
The Calvinist and Islamic View of Irresistible Grace
When comparing Calvinism and Islam regarding this topic, the main difference between them is that Calvinism illustrates a person's conversion as a process, whereas Islam uses wording that makes it seem like a person's conversion happens in a moment.
(Calvinism) The Westminster Confession of Faith Ch.10 Sec.1: "All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace."
(Calvinism) Canons of Dort Heads 3&4 Article 11: "But when God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect or works in them true conversion, He not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them and powerfully illuminates their mind by His Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man; He opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, He quickens;"
(Islam) Quran 10:99-100 Abdel Haleem Translation: "Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. So can you [Prophet] compel them to believe? No soul can believe except by God's will, and he brings disgrace on those who do not use their reason."
(Islam) Quran 76:29-31 Abdel Haleem Translation: "This is a reminder. Let whosoever wishes, take the way to his Lord. But you will only wish to do so if God wills- God is all knowing and wise-- He admits whoever He will into His Mercy and has prepared a painful torment for disbelievers."
(Islam) Sahih Muslim 6724 The Book of Al-Qadr: "One of you may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is nothing between him and it but a cubit, then the Decree overtakes him and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it. And one of you may do the deeds of the people of the Fire until there is nothing between him and it but a cubit, then the Decree overtakes him and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise, and enters it."
In these next verses, the Quran makes a point to say something that is not explicitly said in Calvinism, but only implied. This belief is that something catastrophic may be happening (or about to happen) to a person and that person all of a sudden becomes a believer by the will of God. In Islam, it could happen on a battlefield when a Muslim was about to kill an unbeliever, whereas in Calvinism, it could be when one is being tortured for heresy or being threatened with being burned at the stake.
(Islam) Quran 4:93-94 Abdel Haleem Translation: " 93 If anyone kills a believer deliberately, the punishment for him is Hell, and there he will remain: God is angry with him, and rejects him, and has prepared a tremendous torment for him. 94 So, you who believe, be careful when you go to fight in God’s way, and do not say to someone who offers you a greeting of peace, ‘You are not a believer,’ out of desire for the chance gains of this life–– God has plenty of gains for you. You yourself were in the same position [once], but God was gracious to you, so be careful: God is fully aware of what you do."
Refuting Calvinism and Islam's View on Irresistible Grace
The Difference between what Calvinism and Islam teach in relation to true Christianity is that true Christianity teaches that salvation is a free gift that is not forced upon anyone, but is offered to anyone who wants it. We see in 2 Timothy and 2 Peter that salvation was offered to the false prophets, but they decided to "resist the truth" or that they were "denying the Lord that bought them."
(True Christianity) 2 Timothy 3:6-8 King James Version: "6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith."
(True Christianity) 2 Peter 2:1 King James Version: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
God is not going to force anyone to do anything that they are not willing to do. He simply has done enough signs and presented enough information for people to make an informed decision to either choose to believe on Jesus Christ or choose to not believe. Everything at this point is up to man's free will. This is why Jesus is telling people to come to Him and "take the water of life freely."
(True Christianity) Revelation 21:4-6, 22:16-17 King James Version: "4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely ... 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
This post is part of the series The Hard Truth About Calvinism and Islam under The Five Points of Calvinism in Islam
Calvinism and Islam Compared: Total Depravity
Calvinism and Islam Compared: Unconditional Election
Calvinism and Islam Compared: Limited Atonement