I recently came across someone on a FaceBook forum supporting Calvinism. He stated, “The Bible nor Calvinist do not hold to fatalism as assumed and inferred by those criticizing or misinformed.” He went on stating that anyone not agreeing with him therefore believes that man is superior to God. A list of various scriptures in support of “a non-guilty God [ordaining] his own purpose[s]” was provided. One verse listed was a portion of Eph 1:11 “…the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
For the record, the Eph 1:11 in the NIV says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
I responded that he made a rather compelling argument in support of Calvinism being equated to fatalism. I also found it ironic that he would list numerous versus delineating various things God has done or otherwise controlled when his intent is to (I think) show otherwise. Whatever.
The obvious question (for me, anyway) is to understand God’s “purpose” as referenced in Eph 1:11. Looking at the entire passage (vs 1-14) a few things immediately pop out:
vs 4 – God determining that we would be holy and blameless in his sight
vs 5 – God determining that we would be adopted as his sons through Christ
vs 9 – the mystery of his “will”
vs 10 – that “will” is to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment
As I see it, Paul’s is talking about God doing away with “the law” thereby enabling both Jew and Gentile to be made right with God by God’s own sacrifice of his son through faith. To which, I see nothing in Eph 1:11 by way of Calvinistic determination or fatalism wherein God “chooses” or otherwise “elects” a select few via unconditional election. Rather, it’s God’s desire for everyone to come into fellowship with him, through Christ – by faith.
So, how is it that good-willed people can come to such different perspectives as to matters of faith? Am I simply ignorant here and lacking in understanding? Truly that can’t be the situation with regards to such as John Piper and Greg Boyd. Am I, consciously or not, choosing to make God into something that I find more palatable? I’ll plead guilty if only because I believe God’s greatest attribute is his love. Sadly (I believe) so many Calvinists I know seem to relish believing that God’s greatest attribute is his justice. I don’t understand and can’t explain it. But I find it difficult to be in fellowship with such people.