Critiquing the Calvinist Critic

How an author treats the comments posted in response to something they have written tells the reader quite a bit about the strength of their convictions. In a dynamic forum such as a blog, one should be prepared to defend what has been written. If I voice an opinion or state something as fact, readers are free to disagree, point out the flaws in my thinking, correct what I interpret as fact, and generally call me to task if there are damages that result from my words. The comments tool that appears at the bottom of most blog postings gives the readers an opportunity to immediately make their thoughts known, not only to myself but to all of the others who might read the same piece. Blog software generally allows for a ‘moderation’ setting, giving the author the chance to review the comments before he or she displays them. Often, this is for the purposes of filtering the language, etc. so as to maintain a predetermined level of civility in the discourse. Occasionally, it is used to hide from opinions different than yours, to shield the weakness of your position from the buffeting of opposing arguments and facts. On most issues, we could dismiss this weakness as simple cowardice and not be too concerned with reading that writer again, but when the eternal destiny of the human soul is the topic being discussed, it is too important to let pass.

Recently I came across this piece, ‘Calvinism Analogy’ by REDACTED on her blog. I began reading with interest as a theologian but quickly saw the tenor of the post when she casually refers to Arminian believers as “duped” and “self-deceived”. Her exact words are:

Calvinism is a theological expression describing those who believe man, by his own “free” will, is not able to sincerely “accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior” and to confess Him as Lord. People who are duped in this way are called Arminians. The reason self-deception happens is because human nature is corrupted with pride and Arminian theology complements this.

The factual error here is simple but important: the assumption is that Arminian theology does not account for the total depravity of man [which of course it does] and the necessity of the sovereign grace of God [again, which it does]. Whether through malicious intent or ignorance of the facts, Ms. REDACTED sets up a straw man argument to support her attempt at analogy. She goes on to point out that Arminians are further guilty of misinterpreting the word ‘all’ and the ‘world’ throughout the Bible. Most of you who study theology are familiar with the Calvinist/Arminian arguments on these words so you already know the direction that her thoughts take.

She continues then, after presenting these incorrect arguments in favor of the Calvinist position, to give us her analogy:

I sometimes equate salvation to be a bit like we’re dogs at the pound awaiting our death sentence. God is the dog lover looking to adopt. He decides what dogs He wants, goes home to prepare a place for them, and then comes back to bring them home. I know it’s not quite like that (especially since God elects His children before they’ve even been conceived), but still in all, it describes love. Dog lovers don’t adopt every single dog that has ever been born and/or is alive; but yet one can still be a lover of dogs even if he never adopts more than just one dog.

Here is where Ms. REDACTED thoughts really run into trouble. Her scenario positions the dogs in the pound as though they were magically created or simply the products of biological interaction between other dogs. God, in her mind, is this distant observer of the kennel, graciously coming in and granting freedom to one or two of the creatures while leaving the rest to their destiny. The problem here is that God is not a distant observer but he is intimately involved in the creation of the creatures:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

“Your hands shaped me and made me.

Will you now turn and destroy me?

Remember that you molded me like clay.

Will you now turn me to dust again?

Did you not pour me out like milk

and curdle me like cheese,

clothe me with skin and flesh

and knit me together with bones and sinews?

You gave me life and showed me kindness,

and in your providence watched over my spirit. (Job 10:8-12).

Her analogy of the Calvinist supralapsarian position is better voiced (using the same language) portraying God as the breeder of the dogs. He purposely creates many dogs, some intentionally created for eternal torment and destruction while some are adopted and saved. Not only did he create them, He continues to create them centuries after the original genetic sin that infected their parents occurred.

What is most troubling about this posting is the not inaccuracy of the arguments (you can read similar threads every day) or the poorly constructed analogy (for which the author claims to have been praised) but the fact that when her facts and illustrations are challenged theologically she refused to engage. A lovingly worded response was posted in the comments of her blog asking for Scriptural and textual support to the various incorrect assertions made in her writing and gently providing an alternative view on her analogy which fell into “awaiting moderation” limbo. Apparently unwilling to support her thoughts are address the Scriptures, the author chose to simply delete the comment as thought it never happened, thereby cementing her notions as correct and worthy of praise.

Teaching about God and His ways is a risky endeavor and not one to be taken lightly like this (“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”) If you think that I have erred in discussing ideas that have eternal importance, I expect that you will correct me and likewise others who presume to teach should also stand ready to be challenged. The souls of men and women are at stake in these types of discussions as they read them and accept the ideas as fact and simply having your feelings hurt by a theological challenge is not an acceptable reason to avoid engagement. Blog authors are free to run their world however they like, but to speak of about God is another dimension altogether.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort toe keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4:2-3)

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