Archive for the ‘Beowulf2k8’ Category

God’s Decree = God’s Endorsement?

October 13, 2008

Beowulf2k8 (b2k8) has provided a further comment illustrating his lack of understanding of Calvinism. Since I doubt he is the only person with this misunderstanding, I think it may be helpful to highlight the error he is making and explain why, biblically, he is wrong. b2k8 wrote:

In the sense that Calvinism teaches that God’s Sovereinty [sic] means micromanagement and that God controls all of everything minutely, God is the author of Hinduism (according to Calvinism, of course, not me) and hence Hinduism is as as much “the faith” as Calvinism (according to Calvinism, since God decreed it equally with Calvinism, according to Calvinism), and therefore the Hindu woman is a martyr (to Calvinism, not to Christianity).

(source is an unpublished comment submitted on this earlier blog post)
It’s a little difficult to construct a meaningful argument from b2k8’s comment, but generally it seems to have the following structure:

1) Calvinism teaches that God micromanages all things minutely;
2) Minute micromanagement makes God the author of those things he minutely micromanages;
3) Therefore, God is the author of all things;
4) If God is the author of a religion, it is the faith;
5) Therefore, Hinduism is “the faith”;
6) If someone dies for “the faith,” then they are martyr; and
7) So, the Hindu woman in the article who was killed is a martyr under Calvinism.

As a preliminary matter, (7) does not follow from (6) because of a factual error, namely that the Hindu woman in the article was killed mistakenly, her tormentors and murders being under the misconception that she was a different religion than was actually her own.

The remainder of the errors are more interesting, as they are more fundamental leaps in reasoning and definition.

Error 1:

The first error is equivocation. It is the error by which b2k8 provides (4). We might agree that if God is the author of a religion, that is the faith. In agreeing with such a claim, though, we would need a definition of “author” that implies that the religion intended by God to be “the faith” and that it is the way that he has intended to be worshiped by his followers.

But these things cannot be said of Hinduism. Even assuming the remainder of b2k8’s misconceptions of Calvinism (that God is the author of all things, since God minutely micromanages), God has not appointed Hinduism as the religion of His followers – instead it is a religion of the enemies of God. It is not intended by God to be “the faith,” but is instead a counterfeit faith – a religion of devils.

Thus, at a minimum, we can see that b2k8 has equivocated (implicitly, of course, since he never provides a formal argument). Even if God is the author of Hinduism in some sense, that sense is not the sense required to make Hinduism “the faith.”

Sometimes God sends lying spirits as a judgment. Recall, for example:

1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

And sometimes as a judgment, God ordains that people will be deluded and believe a lie:

2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

Nevertheless, those lying spirits are not equivalent to the holy spirit, and the lies that ungodly believe are not equivalent to the truth.

Error 2:

A second error is definitional. B2k8 seemingly believes that minute micromanagement = authorship, but B2k8 provides no basis for this arbitrary definition. This is not the traditional definition of “author” that we use when, for example, we deny that God is the author of sin (yes, b2k8, it is the Calvinist position that God is not the author of sin). In the traditional sense, “author” comes from the Latin term auctor. In modern English the equivalent would be “actor.” The person by who power the thing is carried out.

The person who carries out sin is never God. Sometimes it is sinful men, other times it is fallen angels. It is always a moral agent, but it is never God. God cannot break the moral law: that is the exclusive arena of men and demons.

But instead, b2k8 implicitly defines authorship as minute micromanagement. This is bizarre, to say the least. We consider ourselves the author of a document, for example, even when we do not minutely micromanage a computer – but simply type in the words and click the “print” button. Likewise, we do not need even to know what goes on inside a gun in order to be the morally responsible agent for a shooting.

This brings us to …

Error 3:

Innovated standard of morality. For some reason, b2k8, along with many others, have invented a theory of morality in which, if God minutely micromanages things, he is morally responsible for what happens – and the actual person doing the sinful (or righteous – though that rarely comes up) act is not responsible under this theory.

But where did this theory come from? Who invented it? It seems to have been created out of thin air. There’s nothing in the Bible to suggest such a rule of morality, and there’s no particularly logical reason for arriving at such a rule.

And finally, we arrive at …

Error 4:

Minute micromanagement is simply the logical conclusion of God being:

a) Interested in the smallest details of human life;
b) Omniscient; and
b) Omnipotent.

If all of (a), (b), and (c) are true, then minute micromanagement of some kind (whether Calvinistic, Molinistic, or otherwise) must follow. This, of course, offends the autonomous heart of rebellious man, but that really cannot be helped. God is the ruler over all the Earth, and because of (a), (b), and (c), everything that happens a particular way happens that way, because that is the way God wants it to happen in His providence.

There is a final error that b2k8 makes, that is only implicit in his criticism above …

Error 5

Confusing the moral law of God and the Providence of God. God in his Providence ordains that certain bad acts will happen. God ordained that Jesus would be crucified, which was a sinful act on the part of those that did it to him. It was not sinless for Christ’s murderers, just because God had ordained that it would happen, and just because God wanted it to happen. In fact, one can hardly imagine a more horrible crime than to slay the incarnate Son of God.

God wanted this great sin to happen, He ordained that it would happen, and He was glad that it happened, although he still counted it as sin against those who did it. The same is true of the many lesser sins that occur in God’s providence. They happen for a reason that glorifies God ultimately, and yet they still sins for the people that do them. The fact that God has a good purpose in them does not excuse the people who commit the sins.

One hopes that this explanation will help b2k8, and others like him, to see that they have misunderstood and misrepresented Calvinism – perhaps simply because they have not fully understood its single source of authority: Scripture.

-TurretinFan

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Response to Beowulf2k8 on Calvinism

October 11, 2008

I noticed that Beowulk2k8 had commented over at Triablogue on the topic of Calvinism (link to comment).

B2k8 writes:

You guys are so ridiculous. When Calvinism is ridiculed, it is funny because the Calvinist system is truly stupidity and Satan worship. When Arminianism is ridiculed it is just asinine lame Calvinists trying to look cool after being burned by the truth.

What the Calvinist dictionary says about what you believe is true.

Augustine: The first church father.

Free Will: Something that can’t exist because it would make God helpless if true.

Infant damnation: Something that brings God glory.

Glory: Praise we give to God for anything wicked that has ever happened (except for the birth of Charles Finney).

God’s secret will: To save a few and reprobate the rest (secret to Arminians but not to us)

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Misleading children’s song.

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Another terrible song, obviously written by someone who didn’t take the time to do a proper exegesis of scripture.

You love talking about exclusive Psalmody because you want to sing about killing your enemies rather than Christ’s love. You love ignoring every ecclesiastical writer prior to Augustine because they all taught free will and election based on foreknowledge of faith (including Augustine before he became an Imperial bishop). You relish in the doctrine of infant damnation as if damning innocent infants for another man’s sin was some great honor and glory to your manmade god.

Let’s hit a few points: “When Calvinism is ridiculed, it is funny because the Calvinist system is truly stupidity and Satan worship.” This is the sort of comment that cannot be backed up. One has to chuckle a bit, because one of the more frequent criticisms of Calvinism is that it is excessively intellectual. The “Satan worship” comment just demonstrates that B2k8 doesn’t know what the Gospels is and who God is. A person who says that Calvinism is “Satan worship” is either (a) not a Christian, or (b) someone who doesn’t know what Calvinism is.

B2k8 claims that “Augustine: The first church father” is actually a Calvinistic belief and B2k8 thinks that “You love ignoring every ecclesiastical writer prior to Augustine because they all taught free will and election based on foreknowledge of faith (including Augustine before he became an Imperial bishop).” This is absurd of course. While Augustine’s writings are certainly notable, and undoubtedly contrary to B2k8’s views, we find the same Calvinistic themes not only in the Old and New Testaments, but also in the Apostolic fathers – those ECFs that are the earliest to leave any writings behind. For one example, see this earlier post of mine (link). Incidentally I’d be highly interested in the supposed ECF that taught “election based on foreknowledge of faith” … if anyone knows, please inform me.

B2k8 claims that “Free Will: Something that can’t exist because it would make God helpless if true” is actually a Calvinistic belief. This is wrong as well. Calvinism teaches that men have a compatible free will, as opposed to the Arminian conception of an autonomous free will. The former kind of free will is compatible with predestination, that latter is not. The former kind can exist, and the latter – if true – would make God helpless to save those he wants to save. For more discussion, see my earlier post on deflating assumptions regarding man’s free will (link).

B2k8 claims that “Infant damnation: Something that brings God glory” is actually a Calvinistic belief. This is a confused objection. First of all, if God chooses to damn any infants, it certainly will bring God glory. “All have sinned” applies not only to adults but to infants as well. Adam’s sin is placed on the account of each of his natural descendants. Consequently, God would be just to condemn infants as well as adults. Nevertheless, God is also able to save infants, if he chooses. The standard Reformed position is that “elect infants, dying in infancy, will be saved.” Some Calvinists believe that the category of “elect infants” includes all those infants who die in infancy, and others believe that the number is a subset of the group of those who die in infancy (there may even be some who believe that no infants who die in infancy are among the elect, but I’ve never much such a person). For more discussion, consider my earlier article on the “innocence” of children (link).

Bk28 claims that “Glory: Praise we give to God for anything wicked that has ever happened (except for the birth of Charles Finney)” is the Calvinist position. Leaving out the parenthetical, the statement is true but incomplete. We give glory to God in all things, or at least we try. It can be difficult to be like Job and say, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21. Charles Finney’s theology is error-riddled, but God had a purpose in his life as well. The comment is incomplete, because we give God praise as well for the good things that he does. In all things, God is to be praised. (1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.) Previously, I discussed the dangers associated with discerning God’s providence, which is connected with this fact that everything that happens is for the best (link).

B2k8 thinks that “God’s secret will: To save a few and reprobate the rest (secret to Arminians but not to us)” is an accurate picture of Calvinism. It seems clear that B2k8 doesn’t understand Calvinism, at least on this point. God’s secret will is his decree of Providence: his decision about what will happen. This is a “secret” will because God has given us very few details about what will happen. We know that there is a judgment day coming and that Christ will return, but we are not told whether the stock market will recover from last week’s down-turn, or whether Georgia will remain an independent European nation. We know that in general all of the elect will be saved, and that all of the reprobate will not, but Calvinists do not claim to know who the elect are. I have discussed this issue of God’s will many times, but one example would be in debating the issue with Seth McBee, as can be seen from this open question to him (link).

B2k8 thinks that “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know: Misleading children’s song” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children: Another terrible song, obviously written by someone who didn’t take the time to do a proper exegesis of scripture” are the Calvinist position. He’s mostly right. The first song tends to suggest that all children are in God’s present favor, the latter song explicitly says so. In point of fact, many (if not most) children are sinners in God’s disfavor and in need of salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. It is interesting to note that at least some Calvinists seem to like the first song (Pastor Bill Shishko, for example, seems to fall in this category). Nevertheless, generally both songs are theologically weak. I’ve previously addressed “Jesus loves Me” (link).

B2k8 thinks that “You love talking about exclusive Psalmody because you want to sing about killing your enemies rather than Christ’s love.” This sort of dualism is practically Gnostic in its radical dispensational bent. And it is just wrong. We don’t sing the Psalms because we want to sing about killing our enemies. I cannot think of any Psalms that are written with that focus (though there certainly some in which we ask for God’s judgment on his and our enemies). Moreover, the Psalms are full of Christ’s love. Psalm 1, for example, mentions that “the LORD knoweth (loves) the way of the righteous,” and Psalm 2 speaks particularly of Christ saying, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” We could go on and on. My readers my recall my previous post contrasting certain modern worshipper-centered worship vs. God-centered worship (link).

Finally, B2k8 thinks that “You relish in the doctrine of infant damnation as if damning innocent infants for another man’s sin was some great honor and glory to your manmade god.” Mostly this is already addressed above. It is addressed at further link in this previous post (link).

-TurretinFan


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