A Calvinist Isn’t Determined to Discuss Divine Determination

In a FB forum, a Calvinist posited:

[A] common misconception from [everyone in this group] is that a Calvinist won’t allow their children to sing “Jesus Loves Me” because, after all – He may not. That a person who holds to the doctrines of grace shares the gospel with their children like this, “Well, you may or may not be elect so, [it may be best to wait and see whether you’re one of God’s chosen unto salvation].” We teach our children the gospel according to Scripture. The gospel is that sinners can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a great relief and comfort that [we Calvinists parents] can’t do anything to mess up [our children’s] salvation. We teach them, pray for them and trust God with their souls. After all, [God] is far more merciful than we could ever be.

After some back and forth amongst Calvinists and non-Calvinists within the group, my conversation with a Calvinist kind of went like this:

Calvinist – It’s unbelievable how much time and effort people put into blowing out of proportion made-up meanings behind the simple lyrics of a children’s song.

non-Calvinist – With respect, I think the issue is not the lyrics of a children’s song but is instead the implications and inferences of a doctrine which is antithetical to the clear teachings of the Bible.

Calvinist – Then address the writings of the reformers head-on and stop setting up strawmen

non-Calvinist– How about a quick look/see into Divine Determinism? Here are some John Calvin deterministic quotes I’ve compiled:

– The counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.

– Men do nothing [except] at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what [God] has previously decreed [and] brings to pass by [God’s own] secret direction.

– The hand of God rules the interior affections no less than it superintends external actions. God [works] in [people’s] hearts to make them will before they [act].

– The will of God is the chief and principal cause of all things.

– In a wonderful and inconceivable manner [God] regulates all the movements of men.

– [Adam & Eve] fell because the Lord deemed [that they] should.

– Men can deliberately do nothing unless [God] inspires it.

– Thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which [God] has resolved to inflict.

– The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how much so ever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as he commands, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do [God’s] service.

My conclusion, and I think that of many within this forum and throughout mainstream Christian faith, is that the writings of Calvin clearly implicate that God is the author of all manner of evil and sin even ensures that man actually does sin.

Calvinist – You’re not going to solve anything by exchanging random quotes on social media. Everyone [in this forum] is creating animosity among fellow Christians who have a theological dispute. There is nothing positive or fruitful coming out of this discussion. Just saying.

non-Calvinist – Okay … well, it’s clear, then, that you aren’t willing to openly discuss the issues within the context and constructs of Calvinist doctrine. You asked me to address the writings of the reformers “head on”. I responded with quotes I’ve compiled from John Calvin. I think he qualifies as a reformer. I then posited my conclusions based on Calvin’s quotes. If you wish not to respond, fine and well. But to state that nothing can be solved by “exchanging random quotes on social media” misses the point of what this, and other forums present – an opportunity to openly discuss and argue differing theological positions. I’ll concede that posts can get long which may not be conducive to FB forums and the exchanging of thoughts and ideas. And sometimes, with much back and forth, answering direct questions can get awkward and cumbersome.

But … well … you asked … I responded … and now you tell me … oh, whatever. If you respond, then we can continue this conversation. If not, I guess we’re done.

Calvinist – I was trying to express that social media isn’t an appropriate forum for this kind of discussion. People love to take shortcuts rather than really digging into a theology and trying to understand it. I took the long road myself and attended seminary where I examined Arminianism and Reformed theology up close. You aren’t going to solve anything or convince anyone.

non-Calvinist – You went to seminary? And you aren’t willing to discuss your theological ‘bent’ or perspective? Hells bells, you earlier stated, “… creating of animosity among fellow Christians who have a theological dispute.” The. Dispute. Is. Ever. Present. That ardent Calvinists [such as Mrs. Robinson] can post something on this FB forum and receive ~450 responses within twenty-four hours speaks volumes as to the difficulties facing the Christian Church. That Christians can’t agree on basic doctrines when all are reading from the same source material (aka the Bible) says more about Christian faith than all the naysayers and non-believers combined. Well, that’s just my $0.02.

Calvinist – I think it’s very sad that Christians can’t agree on basic doctrine and at times it has even made me question the truth of Christian doctrine. Because we can’t both be right… or can we? It’s why I became a compatibilist. It’s the only way I see to reconcile theology. But nothing is going to be solved.

non-Calvinist – Well, given the number of quotes from Calvin, along with other significant Calvinist leaders, it’s obvious that Calvinism absolutely embraces divine determinism over every thought and every choice that anyone would ever make. No other conclusion can possibly be drawn. Imagine if a pedophile were to declare in a court of law, “Well, your honor, yeah, I feel bad, but I’m actually the victim here because, you see, it was God who caused me to kidnap, rape and finally murder that young schoolgirl.” No jury would accept God’s determinism as a “mitigating factor!” Absolutely not.

I’ve often heard people respond, “But that’s not what Calvinists believe! Calvinist don’t believe God is the author of sin!” Sorry, but Calvinists don’t seem to take their theology to a logical conclusion. I suspect that many have been confused by often used but rarely understood terminology and pleasant sayings from the likes of John Piper, John MacArthur, Robert Peterson, Norman Geisler, James White, Michael Williams, Arthur Pink and a host of other Reformed theology protagonists. I’ve heard numerous sermons in which absurdities regarding the logical implications of Calvinistic doctrines are clearly inferred but never actually divulged. It’s as though Calvinists don’t wish to “show their cards” or otherwise acknowledge their true belief that God is indeed the author and creator of sin.

Two main points can be derived from Calvinistic quotes on Divine Determinism:

– God plans, initiates and carries out every human thought, deed and action.

– God is therefore the source and the cause of every sinful thought or evil act by anyone, anywhere and at any time.

Calvinist – FYI. MacArthur is dispensationalist. If you really want to understand Reformed theology, you’re going to have to go farther back than Norman Geisler or John Piper. In fact, Piper has been peddling a soft form of works theology, so I wouldn’t use him anyway. But again, I don’t believe a back and forth on social media is the proper way to do a study on reformed theology anyway. Have a great day!

non-Calvinist – I give up. Good day!

This non-Calvinist’s conclusion:

It’s difficult to have a conversation when one of the parties doesn’t respond. Nevertheless, within the construct of Calvinism’s Divine Determination, these are my take-aways:

– There is no personal responsibility for behaviors, finances, decisions et al.

– One’s activities – nefarious or otherwise should be of no concern. God ordained it.

– One’s health should be of no concern. If one is obese, so be it. God’s choice has been manifested. If one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, so be it as this is what God has decided for you.

– There’s no such thing as mystery. It’s all God’s doing.

– God planned from the beginning that man would fall.

– The application of applied statistics is meaningless because there’s no such thing as chance, probability or happenstance. God rolls the dice, and he ordained the outcome.

– We are held morally responsible and punished for sins committed even though it was God who initiated those sins. We couldn’t do otherwise.

– God desires that we sin, and he makes it happen.

– The book of Proverbs is pointless.

– There is no such thing as wisdom.

Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: