Remarkable passage regarding God’s sovereignty. Exodus 34:24 – “For I will drive out nations from you and enlarge your borders, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the Lord your God.” Three times a year, every male Israelite, at the command of God, left his home and inheritance, and journeyed to Jerusalem to keep the feasts of the Lord; and in the above Scripture we learn He promised them that, while they were at Jerusalem, He would guard their unprotected homes by restraining the covetous designs and desires of their heathen neighbors. (Excerpt from the Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink)
Interesting. So, you mean to tell me that God has access to ALL men’s hearts? I thought they had to give Him permission. He could only make that claim to the Israelites if He was sovereign over the reprobate.
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever He will.” Proverbs 21:1
I understand you to infer here and elsewhere that anything and everything that would ever happen to anyone anywhere in the world is a direct result of God wanting it to happen. That is, nothing happens outside of what God has divinely ordained. Is this an accurate reflection of your beliefs? Would it be fair for someone to consider you to be a divine determinist?
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].”
A medical “itis” is never a good thing. The same thing could be said as to a theological “itis” Maybe I should join a twelve-step support group – “Hi, my name is Bob and I have Calvinitis.” The condition of Calvinisticalism occurs when something normally easy to read and understand suddenly becomes difficult and complicated because word definitions have unknowingly been altered to convey a completely different thought. This condition is most prominent when a non-Calvinist reads a Calvinist’s letter and must superimpose Calvinistic tenants onto that letter in order to understand just what actually being inferred. For example, the below letter is from a Calvinist pastor inviting his congregation to participate in small group discussions about the prodigal son. I’ve imparted Calvinisticals to make clear the inherent Calvinist logic and thought which may not be obvious to those unaffected by Calvinitis. The bolded and bracketed wordings are the Calvinisticals.
Dear friends – perhaps you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted anything in past few days. If you’d be so kind, please pray for my father’s healing. As God promises in his Word, he can heal any sickness, disease, and infirmity. And that’s where our hope is right now – that our mighty and inerrant physician – who is in control over everything would bring his healing powers to my father. I appreciate your prayers in the name of Jesus. All glory be to him.
I lost my own father twelve years ago and so I’m sympathetic to this friend’s request. However, I’m frustrated because we’ve had numerous discussions as to whether or not God controls the events in our lives. This Calvinist believes God divinely determines all things including when an individual will leave this earth. That being the case … I would think that this Calvinist’s prayer would NOT be for the healing of his father but instead should be for God to grant peace to the dying father and family members.
Calvinists obviously have their tenants and beliefs, but I sincerely doubt they understand why so many express serious disagreements with Calvinistic doctrines. After a recent encounter, and in no particular order, I cobbled together 10 difficulties that I have with Calvinist doctrines.
1st point: Many Calvinists seem to delve into the Greek language when doing Bible studies if only to ‘prove’ a point. I prefer the NIV and believe it to be a reasonable translation. The scholars who put together the NIV (or any other translation for that matter) typically have advanced degrees and have studied the language, culture and history. How can I hope to do better?
A Calvinist recently asked me why I have such antipathy towards the Doctrines of Grace. I responded how I find the teachings of determinism and unconditional election problematic such that they affect the very nature and character of God. I elaborated how it’s beyond me that a Calvinist can realistically say, ‘Well, it may be that God has chosen you to be reprobate. But don’t feel bad. God has intentionally doomed you for his glory.’
I went on to explain that years ago, and without realizing it, I’d been attending a Calvinist church. I’d gotten involved in a men’s Bible study where one of the books we went through was Jerry Bridges’ Is God Really in Control? I read through each page and continually said to myself, “That can’t be right” or “I don’t think so!” if only because theistic determinism is (to me) so incompatible with the entirety of Scripture. Why would God see the need to give us Proverbs if he’s determining everything that will happen?
Someone stated on a Facebook forum, “Anyone who believes that man’s will is entirely free, and that he can be saved by it, does not believe the fall.” He went on, “God is in control of our thoughts, our words, and our deeds, without making us robots or puppets! We are responsible for all of it!” Lots of verses were provided to justify his beliefs. However, if anything, I found his supply of verses justifying his pronouncements to be woefully lacking. And so, perhaps against better judgement. I responded:
I suspect our respective doctrines are altogether different – especially with respect to such things as Total Depravity, Unconditional election and Limited Atonement. Our doctrines are obviously based on our respective understandings from the Bible. To which, it would seem as though God has taught you things which are significantly different from what he’s taught me. Now, why would he do that? Unless maybe, just maybe, the tenants of determinism within Calvinism are fraught with error. And on that point, I can’t imagine you disagreeing with John Calvin who has written in his Institutes of Religion: