Updated: Jan 28, 2020
It is extremely important to know how Calvinism and Islam view people in their natural state. In Christianity, we would call these people the unsaved, whereas in Islam, it appears to be the state of mind that a person is in before Allah guides their heart to become a Muslim, or one who submits/surrenders to Allah. In this section we will be focusing on the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Depravity (the 'T' in TULIP) and showing evidence of that same concept in the doctrines of Islam. Then, we will show Biblical proof for why the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Depravity is wrong. First, we must define what total depravity is.
Total Depravity: the belief that man is inherently evil by nature and can do nothing but sin unless God intervenes. He is unable to choose God because of his state of spiritual death and his lack of free will. He is totally reliant on God to choose to make him spiritually alive and make him believe in Him.
This can be simplified into "unbelievers are bad people who can't believe unless God wants them to."
The Calvinist and Islamic View of Creation and the Fall
We see in both Calvinism and Islam that God, on purpose, created man to be a sinner.
(Calvinism) The Westminster Confession of Faith Ch.6 Sec.1: "Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory."
(Calvinism) The Institutes by John Calvin Book 3 Ch.23 Para.7: "I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but at his own pleasure arranged it."
(Islam) Quran 2:30 Abdel Haleem Translation: "30 [Prophet], when your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a successor on earth,’ they said, ‘How can You put someone there who will cause damage and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know things you do not.’"
Regarding sin nature, we see in both Calvinism and Islam that they claim that God is not the author of sin, contradicting the belief that God had a purpose for creating men to be sinners. This is seen in The Calvinist and Islamic View of Man's Sin Nature below.
Refuting Calvinism and Islam's View of The Fall
When one reads the entirety of Genesis, we see that The Fall had nothing to do with creating a sin nature in man. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil after they were tempted by the serpent. By eating, they gained the knowledge of how to sin.
(True Christianity) Genesis 3:4-5 King James Version: "4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
(True Christianity) Genesis 3:22 King James Version: "22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:"
We also see that God wished that he had not made man because of his sin, showing that he was obviously not pleased to permit it and did not have the foreknowledge to know how evil man would become. If God knows exactly what is going to happen, then why would he create a world that he knew would go so badly? All of this is because of man's sin and man's choices.
(True Christianity) Genesis 6:5-7 King James Version: "5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."
The Calvinist and Islamic View of Man's Sin Nature
We see that Calvinism and Islam teach that the natural man is completely unable to not sin.
(Calvinism) The Westminster Confession of Faith Ch.6 Sec 4: "From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions."
When the Westminster Confession states that "we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions," it is a fancy way of saying "the Devil made me do it." It tries to take personal responsibility completely out of the conversation when talking about sin. Not only is this outright wrong, but it is part of Satan's plan to completely destroy human morality using false religion.
(Islam) Quran 12:52-53 Abdel Haleem Translation: "52 [Joseph said, ‘This was] for my master to know that I did not betray him behind his back: God does not guide the mischief of the treacherous. 53 I do not pretend to be blameless, for man’s very soul incites him to evil unless my Lord shows mercy: He is most forgiving, most merciful.’"
This concept that a man's soul "incites him to evil unless my Lord shows mercy" is exactly what Calvinism teaches, but it more often uses the word "grace" instead of "mercy." John Piper does this in a devotional of his using the ESV, twisting scripture to promote his "faith plus works" false gospel. Doing good works in addition to your faith is a good thing, but we should never mix the two regarding salvation.
The idea in both Calvinism and Islam that it is God's grace or mercy that enables us to not sin is a lie. This is an example of religion corrupting people's minds by changing the definitions of words, when in reality, grace and mercy are words that are used to convey unmerited forgiveness. Man has the ability to choose to sin or to choose to not sin because man has free will.
Refuting Calvinism and Islam's View of Sin Nature
For us to refute this idea of sin nature, we must first know how the Bible defines sin.
(True Christianity) 1 John 3:4 King James Version: "4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
From this definition of sin, we can find that the unsaved man is able to resist sin. We see that if sin is the transgression of the law, and people who have not read God's law and do not know the law, still do the things in God's law by nature, it confirms the good side of man's knowledge of good and evil.
(True Christianity) Romans 2:14-15 King James Version: "14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)"
The truth is that God gave us a conscience when he made us. That is why every person has a general idea of right and wrong, even though most have not read the Bible. This does not mean that man is righteous, but it does mean that when every man chooses to do wrong, it is of his own voluntary will.
Calvinism and Islam's View of Evangelism
When comparing Calvinism and Islam's view of converting unbelievers, we can see the in-group vs. out-group dynamic here. Barry Gritters is the most blunt person I have ever read regarding this topic, but you will see this from other Calvinists in a more watered down way, using words like "election," "the gift of faith," or "God's sovereignty."
(Calvinism) Rev. Barry Gritters of Protestant Reformed Seminary: "Can you 'offer salvation' to anyone? That is surely impossible. One might as well offer food to a dead man than salvation to a dead sinner."
(Islam) Quran 2:6-7 Abdel Haleem Translation: "6 As for those who disbelieve, it makes no difference whether you warn them or not: they will not believe. 7 God has sealed their hearts and their ears, and their eyes are covered. They will have great torment."
(Islam) Quran 17:45-46 Abdel Haleem Translation: "45[Prophet], when you recite the Quran, We put an invisible barrier between you and those who do not believe in the life to come. 46 We have put covers on their hearts that prevent them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. When you mention your Lord in the Quran, and Him alone, they turn their backs and run away.
Refuting Calvinism and Islam's View of Unbelievers
When studying Calvinism, it is common to see people take John 6:44 and build their whole doctrine around it without reading other passages.
(True Christianity) John 6:44 King James Version: "44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
However, there are clear scriptures that teach that God the Father and Jesus Christ are doing everything they possibly can to get everyone saved.
(True Christianity) John 12:32-33 King James Version: "[Jesus Speaking] 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die."
Next, we see that God wants everyone to be saved and that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man.
(True Christianity) 1 Timothy 2:3-6 King James Version: "3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
We also see that it is the Father that gives believers to Jesus Christ and that people cannot lose their salvation because "no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
(True Christianity) John 10:28-30 King James Version: "28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one."
We see in the previous verses of this section that, even though we are unable to come to God on our own and are totally reliant on God to draw us, God is drawing everyone to Himself through Jesus Christ because he "will have all men to be saved." God does not discriminate in any way. He wants everyone to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, but He is not going to force us to.
To eliminate any confusion, the concept of "are one" in John 10:30 does not mean that Jesus and the Father are the same person. They are different people who operate as a unit, working together for the salvation of all.
This post is part of the series The Hard Truth About Calvinism and Islam under The Five Points of Calvinism in Islam