It’s curious that Calvinists I know and interact with are adamant they’re part of Team Elect and don’t seem to understand those who struggle with assurance of salvation. There’s an interesting tidbit in John Calvin’s Institutes of Religion 3.2.11; God not only reveals himself to those on Team Reprobate but also instills within the reprobate a sense of goodness and mercy where the reprobate believes God loves him and has mercy for him? However, the reprobate is only enlightened with a “present” and not “eternal” sense of grace. Therefore, what the reprobate experiences doesn’t lead to salvation. Afterall, one has to be unconditionally chosen to be saved. Nevertheless, I get the impression that God manipulates or otherwise toys with those he plans to send to hell.
This almost sounds like a headline from The Babylon Bee; A Calvinist finally admitting that God, in fact, decrees all manner of evil including such things as rape, murder, abortion, and [name your own evil] because God apparently has reasons for decreeing evil. Who knew?
This is how the conversation went:
An initial question from a non-Calvinist – How could Calvinistic determinism not have God as the author of evil? Logically, it doesn’t follow because you say God decrees all things. So, whatever has happened or whatever will happen is because God wants it?
First Calvinist – Calvinists believe that man cannot do good or evil unless God acts first, since God is the first cause for all things than can happen in existence. The evil is directly committed by the secondary causes such as man, Satan or creatures. Even though God as the primary cause decreed evil actions, God cannot be charged with wrongdoing.
I don’t know – perhaps this comes under the heading of let your ‘Yes’ mean yes and your ‘No’ mean no. Nevertheless, I saw this and laughed out loud! Irrespective of where one falls on the Calvinist belief spectrum, I trust that everyone can get a good laugh at this!
I’ve never understood Romans chapters nine to eleven to be, per se, about individuals. As I read it, Paul defends God’s intent to “collectively” (some might say corporately) bring Gentiles into the ‘fold’ who’re more open to salvation by faith and do away with the law (which the Jews apparently weren’t so good at keeping). My Calvinist friend, Mrs. Robinson, has sent me a defense for the Calvinist doctrine of individual unconditional election. C. Michael Patton wrote and published the below defense on his Credohouse.org blog in 2019I will respond to each point in due course. Patton incorporated some details for each point which can be found in his article referenced below. But, for now, the twelve points Patton puts forth are:
1. The whole section (9-11) is about the security of individuals.
2. In the election of Jacob over Esau (Rom. 9:10-13), while having national implications, starts with individuals.
It’s disappointing, and perhaps even a little depressing, to realize that what was thought to be an outlandish – maybe even a “one-off” belief amongst Calvinists is normative. This, of course, refers to the YouTube video of Dr. Theodore Zachariades claiming that God may prevent someone from committing adultery while at other times God may necessitate that someone engage in adultery.
It really is difficult for me to wrap my head around Calvinism. It’s my sense that Calvinistic doctrines are antithetical to Biblical teachings. Yet, I am ever surprised not only at the number of people who passionately profess Calvinism but also the (what to me are sometimes) strong arguments they make in favor of their doctrines. And so, it was of interest when a Calvinist I’ve come to know and respect posted:
“The evilest act to have ever occurred was [the crucifixion of] God’s only begotten Son, [where] the only sinless person to ever [have ever lived], was crucified. And yet Scripture tells us that this was foreordained by God. ‘This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.’ Acts 2:23”
The subsequent discussion quickly turned to the sovereignty of God. In all, around 140 comments were posted of which about 20 of the comments belonged to Mrs. Robinson. I thought it’d be an interesting study to take the comments from the OP in defense of Calvinism’s determinist beliefs and try to distill down to some sort of overriding theme. I’ve abbreviated some of the comments and have added requisite punctuation for readability. Anything in [brackets] is my wording to help with the overall clarification.
When I first viewed the video in which Dr. Zachariades claims that God enables or precludes someone from committing adultery (noted below) I thought, what kind of demented theology does this guy possess? I have always thought that one of God’s attributes is his holiness. Is Christian faith predicated on God who would violate his own moral standards? Can I then infer that God decrees all manner of sin including murder, rape, human trafficking, serial killers, and whatever other horrid act that one can possibly conceive?
S. Michael Houdmann wrote an article for the Christian blog, “Got Questions”, addressing why he believes some people so passionately oppose Calvinism? Houdmann’s last comment was intriguing; “For all you Calvinism haters out there, would it help if I told you that you were predestined to hate Calvinism?” I suspect Houdmann was trying to be cute inferring the deterministic aspect of his Calvinistic belief. But instead, Houdmann hammers home the stark reality that determinism within Calvinistic doctrines dominates all other aspects of that creed.
This sound bite is perhaps the most consistent presentation of Reformed Theology. And perhaps Dr. Zachariades is as true of a Calvinist as there is. Frankly, I admire his passion – and his consistency in being a hard-core determinist and believing that “God works all things after the counsel of his will.” So, Dr. Zachariades, you’re teaching me that God, as manifested through Calvinistic determinism not only prevents someone from committing adultery – but that adultery is ordained to be committed when God wants it to occur? Okay … no ambiguity there.
I found the recent post (noted below) by Mrs. Robinson as to “Christianity and the Narrow & Lonely Path” interesting. She raises difficulties as to living the Christian life, being engaged in ministry and, unfortunately, having to deal with some of the inherent ‘trash’ that comes with the territory of being married to a preacher.
A couple of things she mentioned are of particular interest to me:
First: The issue of God’s sovereignty – I know that Mrs. Robinson is an ardent Calvinist and very much agrees with the doctrine of unconditional election in which God sovereignly determines who shall be given salvation, and subsequently, who will be “sovereignly gifted” with reprobation. Mrs. Robinson stated a couple of things as to God’s sovereignty that I’d like to comment and ask about:
“The Lord had sovereignly ordained that [devastating car accident].”