The Calvinist Struggle with Truth

See this simple post…yet another horrific example of the evil that exists in the dark hearts of men.

But is this really an example of the total depravity of humankind? Those with a theological understanding of depravity must admit that an equally appalling vision of depravity is seen when you and I view our visage in the mirror. The Calvinist must take it one step further and ask the ultimate cause of horrors like Darfur, like the Holocaust, like …

Calvinism (and any theology derived from Augustinianism) is ultimately determinist meaning that God’s sovereign will is exercised as the cause of all things, including human acts. Gordon Clark says “I wish very frankly and pointedly to assert that if a man gets drunk and shoots his family, it was the will of God that he should do it.” (Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation, 221) Without a libertarian free-will, the man would be unable to not perform this wicked act and though the ultimate motivator for this heinous act may have preceded the moment by several hours or months or years, a determinist view sees all events from the beginning of time until the end to be causally connected like links in a chain (cf. Sproul, Invisible Hand). If God has arranged things in such a way that previous events and the choices associated with them cause those that follow and these choices are irresistible, events and choices must be seen as God’s intentional activity. Calvinist Edwin Palmer puts it bluntly as he intones that ‘the Bible is clear: God ordains sin.’ (Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism pp 85, 103, 106)

To return to the earlier mentioned post that confronts us with a picture of a refugee child being shadowed by a buzzard and the suggestion that this shows the ‘total depravity’ of humankind. As mentioned before many times, the total depravity point of the TULIP has nothing to do with measurement of evil, only that the bond between God and man is so completely wrought that only divine intervention can repair it. Given that, how do we work through Calvin’s system without coming to the conclusion that this scenario was anything but determined from the beginning of time? The Calvinist who thinks about their theology can come to nothing other than a morally reprehensible conclusion about God. Many will attempt the canard of ‘permit but not decree’ but the logic required by the theologian to supportion this notion is so uncomfortably twisted as to lead inevitably back to the previous conclusion.

Let’s think about our theology and ensure that it matches the whole of God’s revelation. So many times, we claim a theological standard that we have not given sufficient consideration to. This requires that we examine the possibility found in alternative systems before declaring them heretical. We must come to a conclusion: God is the author of sin or God is love.

One thought on “The Calvinist Struggle with Truth”

  1. I was surfing the net and came across your blog. Interesting reading.

    I disagree with your conclusion that God is either the author of sin (e.g., the “Calvinist” view) or that God is love (the “non-Calvinist” view). God is *not* the author of sin, and no proper Augustinian/ Calvinist would assert that He is. This is different than saying that God has ordained all things. The fact that God has ordained these things does not lessen human responsibility (the exercise of free will).

    Both the OT and NT affirm that God has ordained things which are difficult for us to accept. Habukkuk, for instance. The Chaldeans were godless and murderous, yet God “raised” them up for the judgment of His covenant people then turned around and judged the Chaldeans for their sin.

    I think it also helps to have a proper understanding of what it means when discussing “God’s will.” There is God’s decretive will (He has ordained whatsoever comes to pass), His preceptive will (all that He commands) and His will of affection (what He desires). Is murder God’s will? No, He has commanded us, “Thou shalt not murder.” Yet, it pleased Him to have His Son put to death by lawless hands (Acts 2). The murder of His Son was His will. Does this make Him the author of sin? Certainly not! The sin of murdering Christ lies not with God, but with those who carried out His unlawful execution. The Apostle Peter makes it plain in his first Acts sermon that God ordained the death of Christ but that it was his hearers who, with “lawless hands” had put the Prince of Life to death. And why was the Savior put to death? Because “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son…”

    Affirming the absolute sovereignty of God is neither equal to affirming Him as the author of sin nor equal to denying human responsibility/ free will. Neither does the affirmation of God’s absolute sovereignty negate Him being love. God is sovereign. God is love.

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