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:

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The Idol of God Being in Sovereign Control of Everything

The topic of discussion was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A quote from J. I. Packer followed, “To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.” My Calvinist friend then stated that God is absolutely and actively in control of all things and then followed up with how we must pray without ceasing and in all things trust in the Lord.

Suddenly – something clicked! I immediately wondered whether one believing God is in control of everything had to be a kind of idol worship if only because individuals are then absolved individuals of responsibility and decision making?

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Compatibilism and Christian Thought – It Bugs Me

Someone defined compatibilism as a reconciliation of the theological proposition that every event is causally determined, ordained, and/or decreed by God in conjunction with the free will of man. Well, that makes about as much sense as when I’d take my toddler to a shopping mall, put her down and let her roam “free”. I was in fact directing her to the next store I wanted to shop at. It’s a non-sequitur within compatibilism that people make free-will choices in anything as very event and action has already been predetermined by God and for his reasons alone.

Within the doctrines of Calvinism, nothing happens which hasn’t been causally determined, decreed or ordained by God. John Piper references the “no maverick molecule” concept wherein if any molecule or spec of dirt only moves through the air as it does because God determined it would. Someone came up with the nice little acronym “EDD” (exhaustive divine determinism) to best express this concept in which God causally determines every single thing and nothing happens which He didn’t determine would happen.

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God’s Total Control = Pointless Prayer

I’m currently re-reading John Piper’s book, A Sweet and Bitter Providence and am reminded that Piper is a hard determinist. I’ll likely be posting some thoughts on something Piper calls “the sovereign bullet’ in the near future. In any event, Piper has previously made deterministic statements including:

  • God [has predetermined] every tiny detail in the universe such as dust particles in the air and all of our besetting sins [because] the Bible says, “The dice are thrown in the lap, and every decision is from the Lord.
  • [Everything] including evil is ordained by an infinitely holy and all-wise God to make the glory of Christ shine more brightly.
  • God [ensures that everyone] does what God ordains – even if it involves evil.
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Additional Thoughts on Unconditional Election

Calvinists often site Eph 1:4 as “proof” that God chosen certain individuals from “the foundation of the world”. As I looked at the wording of the verse, it occurred to me that if the prepositions are removed, then the verse essentially distills down to God deciding that we were to be holy and blameless before he created the world. Calvinists often site Eph 1:4 as “proof” that God chosen certain individuals from “the foundation of the world”. As I looked at the wording of the verse, it occurred to me that if the prepositions are removed, then the verse essentially distills down to God deciding that we were to be holy and blameless before he created the world.

Well, it didn’t take long before I was chided (albeit, gently) with the following comment: “Ummm, [the word] ‘to’ is also a preposition [and] if you remove all the prepositional phrases, [then there’s] no verse left! The idea that there is an end-result to God’s choice does not define in any way how God made the choice, or why God made the choice. [T]he basic facts we are left with are that 1) God chooses, and 2) those chosen will be made holy. [Eph 1:4] supports “Calvinistic” election more than it does not.”

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The Will of God Will Never Take You Where the Grace of God Will Not Protect You – Part 2

Per WordPress statistics, the most popular post I’ve written – by far – was, The Will of God Will Never Take You Where the Grace of God Will Not Protect You (noted below). This would seem to show a huge interest within Christian faith as to God’s will – what it is, how do we know it and what can be expected when we follow the will of God.

Nicole states one can know whether something is the will of God by way of:

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What Is the Ultimate Aim of Calvinism?

Dave Hunt and James White, in a heated back and forth exchange, cobbled together one of the best books to understand the variance of thought as to Reformed Theology. Hunt is very anti-Calvinism. White is very pro-Calvinism. I readily admit my difficulties with Calvinist doctrine – especially unconditional election and this book has been an eye-opener to understand both sides of the equation.

I’m struck by a statement of Hunt, “Never forget that the ultimate aim of Calvinism is to prove that God does not love everyone, is not merciful to all, and is pleased to damn billions. If that is the God of the Bible, Calvinism is true. If that is not the God of the Bible who is love (1 John 4:8), then Calvinism is false. The central issue is God’s love and character in relation to mankind, as presented in Scripture.” (Debating Calvinism, pg.21)

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The Logic of Free Will vs Determinism

As much as I’m troubled by the doctrine of unconditional election, I think I’m even more bothered with the belief that God not only controls but brings to pass everything, anywhere, and at any time with whomever. To believe that God desires abortion … because, after all, it is legal in the United States (and elsewhere) is something I can’t accept. To me, I can only conclude that yes, we as individuals are free to make decisions and carry out actions of our own free will and volition. I recently came across a Facebook forum in which determinism was being discussed and one individual put forth some rather cogent questions and answers.

Q. How did we get free will?

A. God sovereignly decreed that humanity would have the freedom to choose.

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Some Thoughts on Abraham Piper – the Son of Prominent Calvinist John Piper

Kids can be challenging. Yet, we love them. We’re concerned for them, and we do the best we can for them. We don’t always like the decisions they make. And so, as a parent who dealt with a challenging teenager, I’m sympathetic to John Piper and what he must be experiencing with his son, Abraham. With our son being as defiantly independent as he was, about the only comfort I took was the hope that in the end, the natural occurring consequences of our son’s choices would bring about enough difficulty in his life for him to decide that just maybe it would be better to make other decisions. I’ve always thought that experience was a very good teacher.

However, in John Piper’s worldview with respect to his son Abraham, there’s nothing that could be hoped for. God has already chosen the path for Abraham. And that path appears completely devoid of God. John Piper is a ‘hard-determinist’ wherein God initiates and controls everything including the final outcome of any event or action. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that John Piper loves and cares deeply about his son. I have no doubt that John Piper wants only the best for his son. But John Piper, believing in God’s absolute determinism and God’s decreeing of all things which are to come realizes that there’s nothing that can be done to alter the course of his son’s life. This is most certainly one of the bitter fruits of Calvinistic theology – some people are blessed and given eternal life, and some people are screwed and cast off into the pit of hell. It wouldn’t surprise me for Abraham, having grown up with his father’s extreme Calvinistic teachings to ask himself, “What kind of God is this?”

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Sovereignty vs Free Will – A Wretched Discussion with Todd Friel

I’ve seen some of Todd Friel’s videos. He’s the host of Wretched Radio and is VERY Calvinistic in his theological approach to salvation. He begins a short video on determination (noted below) by responding to a letter from a viewer who’s confused as to whether God controls one’s desire for a favorite kind of breakfast cereal. Well, Christan determinism 101 per Todd Friel:

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