I’ll admit it: yesterday went badly.
Mostly, there was an abject refusal to obey the rules I asked all players to abide by, and while Dan valiantly tried to stem the tide, it all went completely downhill sometime around the place where I posted my reply to Adam O. Calvinists and their deniers were all to blame, so please everyone pause for a moment of repentance and shame.
OK. Now that you are all appropriately chastised, I have a couple-three observations about yesterday’s meta, and then a couple of words regarding why you should just stop pretending that modern-day objections to “Calvinism” are really “Arminian”, really not “pelagian”, and really do any good for you as you think about and proclaim the Gospel.
On the meta:
- Isn’t it somewhat bizarre that, given the opportunity to simply shine and show off how logical and biblically-cohesive their view is, the non-calvinists/anti-calvinists didn’t have much to say until the meta fell apart?
- And isn’t it completely telling that, as Dan pointed out, you can’t make the non-calvinist position make any sense in 500 words – you have to go long and hope that the reader isn’t paying close attention?
- Most importantly, isn’t it most telling that the non-calvinists really wind up being people who don’t receive Paul’s answer to the hypothetical questioner in Romans 9 with any kind of seriousness? You know: Romans 9 where God has apparently failed in His promise and man is sort of just a victim of God’s capricious choice to save or not.
But here’s the thing: almost none of these people are really “arminian”: they are post-Finney revivalists who are afraid that the Gospel in Calvinistic terms is too hard on God. It makes God too seriously-involved in the real world so that He might be (mis)construed as the author of evil. But the consequences of that concern have consequences these people do not have any regard for. For example:
- If God does not (in the Gen 50 sense) “intend” evil in any way, he certainly does not “superintend” the acts of the universe – so the future, while God may “know of it” in some way, is not in His control. The case the Bible makes plainly that God knows even if a single sparrow falls to the ground, and how many hairs are left on your head, and He knows the content of men’s hearts, and He does nothing without knowing the end from the beginning. No “arminian” makes any sense of this problem – which is a foundationally-biblical problem as it is actually the point of most of the Bible.
- Suffering has to make sense in this world. It is too pervasive a state for a “gospel” which is to be declared to every man to ignore – and the “arminian” who is trying to protect God from being sovereign over ever evil is stripping the Gospel of any credibility in a world where children starve, babies are murdered, old people suffer in pain and loneliness, nations suffer under despotic and vile men, and acts of nature dispossess people of life, liberty, and property every single minute of every day. The rosy world of the anti-calvinist simple, blithely, whistles past the pervasive nature of evil and pain in this world. If God is not in charge of it in some meaningful way, the universe He is allegedly running is running away from Him.
- The death of Christ cannot be explained if God did not intend it is some direct and specific way. It was an evil act: make no mistake. Peter says in Acts 2 it was an act of evil men. But He also then says it was God’s plan accomplished by God’s means. There is no meaningful explanation of the crucifixion of Christ unless it is to say that God intended it specifically and particularly.
Finney was himself a virulent anti-calvinist, so much so that it is hard not to call him a full-blown pelagian. His view that the faith should be about new methods and moral reform plainly spell out the problem: he doesn’t see man as essentially unable to be faithful to God – and frankly, that's Pelagius version 2.0. We sort of admit in humility that we are “sinners”, but that label doesn’t imply, for example, real enmity and rejection of God: it only means we make mistakes.
The Gospel comes, and Christ is sacrificed on a cross, not because you didn’t try hard enough. Christ’s work wasn’t made so you had an example of how to live a better life. The wall of enmity had to be torn down, and the only power strong enough to do it was perfect obedience and God’s authority. So I am sure you people will run the meta into the ground again today – because you didn’t really know this about yourselves, and it’s hard to hear. Listen: I’m on vacation. I’m not headed back this way today. You make sure you abide by the normal rules of this blog, and you can have the last word.
And go ahead and be in God’s house with God’s people on God’s day this week, and you could there repent of thinking God isn’t really great enough to be in authority over evil without being the author of evil. I forgive you – if you repent. God offers you the same deal – and it’s his opinion which should matter to you.
And I lack my normal sig file, so you'll have to suffer through ...
[Perhaps I can help — DJP]