We are told that Calvinism is “Christocentric” on the grounds that God purposes His elect to be Redeemed by Christ.
However, the Arminian criticism is that this is merely back-end Christocentric, rather than front-end Christocentric, as Arminians wish to know from Calvinists exactly how and why “the Elect” supposedly became the Father’s “elect” in the first place? Did it have anything whatsoever to do with Christ, and if so, how? This is the challenge that Arminians have historically put to Calvinists, which Calvinists have not adequately answered, as the following quote by a Calvinist demonstrates:
One Calvinist explains: “Do Calvinists secretly believe that God chose them for some reason other than their need for salvation? Would I, as a Christian, believe that God chose me for some other reason than my need for salvation? Yes, I do. God chose me for His glory, for His pleasure, for His purposes. Sure I had a need for salvation. But that is not why He saved me primarily. In the Bible, God does not say He chose us because of our desperate need. He chose us before our need ever arose.”
Keep that quote firmly in mind, as we now delve into commentary by J. Vernon McGee:
J. Vernon McGee writes: “We need a mediator, we need a priest, and we have one, the Great High Priest.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, p.38)
Why would "the Elect" (in the Father) “need” to be mediated to the Father, if they were already, eternally mediated to Him according to His secret purposes, as John Calvin states: “…the elect always belonged to God…for while they are far away from him, he regards them in secret as his own.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.393) So again, what “need” have they of being mediated? The historical Arminian complaint against Calvinism is that it renders Calvary as little more than divine pageantry and symbolism, rather than an authentic saving act, and it’s actually a good point, which Calvinists need to ponder before shooting off a quick answer.
J. Vernon McGee: “Job’s heart cry even in his day was, ‘Neither is there an daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both’ (Job 9:33). In effect, Job was crying out, ‘Oh, if there were somebody who could take hold of God’s hand and then take hold of my hand and bring us together that there might be communication and understanding between us!” Well, my friend, today we have a Mediator--the Lord Jesus Christ has come. He has one hand in the hand of Deity because He is God. He is able to save to the uttermost because He is God, and He has paid the price for our salvation. He is a Mediator because He has also become man. He can hold my hand; He understands me. He understands you; you can go to Him, and He is not going to be upset with you. He will not lose His temper or strike you or hurt you in any way. You may say, ‘Well, I’ve failed. I’ve done such-and-such, and I’ve come short of the glory of God.’ My friend, He knows that, and He still loves you and wants to put His arm around you.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, p.38)
This is why we “need” Jesus, because He is able to stand between God and man and reconcile the two, but this is rendered absurd if the roles of Father and Son are blurred in order to try make Calvinism front-end Christocentric.
McGee adds: “And you should go through Him, because there is really no use coming and telling me your troubles. I may not be sympathetic with you; I might not really understand your case. He does. He’s human. He is a daysman, a Mediator. He has put His hand in mine. I don’t put my hand in His; He puts His hand in mine and taken hold of me, but He also holds on to God because He is God, and He has brought us together.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, p.39)
But all of this is pure absurdity if the Father is already holding your hand through secret Election, as John Calvin writes: “This way of speaking, however, may seem to be different from many passages of Scripture which attribute to Christ the first foundation of God’s love for us and show that outside Christ we are detested by God. But we ought to remember, as I have already said, that the Heavenly Father’s secret love which embraced us is the first love given to us.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, pp.76, emphasis mine)
If that’s true, then the whole process of Christ being Mediator between us and God the Father is one big charade. Again, Arminianism is not about doing homage to Free Will, as alleged so often by Calvinists, but rather Arminianism is about preserving the integrity of both Scripture and of God’s character.