When you speak of "hardening" what do you mean? Who does the hardening? The bible speaks of men hardening themselves and in other places it speaks of God's judicial hardening of certain men. Calvinism's teaching implies guilt for His active hardening of lost souls so that they don't even have an opportunity to respond to his universal calling to repentance. This is why most believers are repulsed by such a doctrine. It brings reproach upon the justice of our God. I don't mean to nitpit an illustration because I do realize all analogies fall short, however I must point out the flaw of this line of reasoning. The president didn't merely pardon 2 of the inmates as you suggest. He pardoned them all. He called all of them to repent and be saved not just two of them. Your illustrations leaves out the universal calling of our God by the means of the gospel. Lets look at it this way. What if the president had made the provision for all ten imates to be pardoned and announced to the world that he had done so but he knew only two of them spoke English while the rest spoke spanish. He went to all ten of them knowing that only two would understand his words and said in english without any interpretor, "If you say you are sorry you can be pardoned." Of course only the two that understood him complied with his request and were freed. Then, knowing the rest could not understand him, sent them to be condemned. Why? Because they did not comply with his request, which he has publicly stated was made to all 10 inmates. This makes the president seem bias, imparitial and most definately unjust. Not because he condemned the eight men who deserved condemnation but because he claimed to have geniunely offer them something they did not have the ability to even understand. Calvinism makes God seem to be unjust and untruthful in his call to repentance to the whole world. How can anyone say God has not called them? He has called all to himself but some are unwilling. Calvinism teaches two calls. One is universal and the other special, internal, secret and irrestiable. Where is this second call taught in the scripture? You would think that something so important as a calling to true salvation might get at least a chapter of explaination. No, instead Calvinists misapply a couple of obsure texts to prop up a non-existant doctrine. No doubt that the Holy Spirit has the power to be irresistable but the scripture clearly shows us that people successfully resist Him showing that man has the power to resist the desires of the Holy Spirits working in one's life. Here is the universal nature of God's call to which I referred earlier. Is it "possible" and "offered" to all ten inmates? Then why do only 2 get pardoned? Is it ultimately because of their own free will refusal to accept that which has been granted to them, or is it, as you suggest, because they never really understood what was offered to them in the first place?