Archive for the ‘Two Wills’ 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(source is an unpublished comment submitted on this earlier blog post)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.


Another Quasi-Amyraldian Attack on Dr. White

April 14, 2008

Tony Byrne (aka Ynottony) comrade-in-arms of Trey Austin and another of David Ponter‘s band of Quasi-Amyraldians (who host the misleading “Calvin and Calvinism” website), has launched a fresh attack on Dr. White’s radio debate with Steve Gregg. (link to attack piece) (Update: To be clear [and particularly since Carrie Hunter – one of David’s friends – has complained], when I say “attack” I do not mean that Tony calls Dr. White a big meanie. What I mean is that Tony (ironically) insinuates that Dr. White doesn’t understand the theological issues involved.)

The piece handles a complex (in terms of its grammar – not logically complex) question asked during a cross-examination portion of the debate, and appears to attempt to suggest the same thing that Trey Austin tried to suggest, namely that Dr. White doesn’t know the Reformed position.

This, of course, is absurd. Dr. White is well aware of the two wills distinction mentioned by Tony, and would indeed fully endorse it. What Dr. White would not do, however, is to make a false distinction between the non-elect who do not hear the gospel and the non-elect who do hear the gospel.

I’m not sure whether Tony misses this issue, or just doesn’t understand it. There is no difference with respect to the revealed will of God (or the secret will of God) between the non-elect who hear and do not hear the gospel. God’s revealed will is the same for both, and his secret will is the same for both. What is different is the culpability of the group that hear the gospel and reject it.

Tony goes so far as to accuse Dr. White of denying that God’s revealed will is that all men repent and believe, as though Dr. White would reject the fact that the gospel is revealed to be a command to be obeyed.

From where does Tony get these ridiculous ideas, it’s hard to say with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, the underlying root is clear. Tony has a mistaken idea that for the call to repent and believe to be universal and “well meant” it must be that (a) Christ died for the non-elect, and (b) God wants to save the non-elect. Of course, Dr. White would reject (a) as contrary to Scripture, and – if he would not reject (b) outright – would qualify it in ways that Tony could not accept.

After all, as Tony inconsistently is forced to admit, Christ died with the intent that his death be efficacious only for the elect. Once one recognizes that fact, the warm fuzzies generated by repeatedly using the term “well meant” go away. Unless Tony his slipped from Amyraldianism (what Tony likes to call, “moderate Calvinism”) into Arminianism or worse, his theology cannot really accommodate a gospel offer that is any more well-meaning than that of the Reformed position.

As Hoeksamaa explains, the gospel call is universal but conditional. It is, in a sense, an offer of salvation, but there is an explicit condition: a condition that none of the non-elect ever fulfill. It’s sincerity is not to be judged by a criterion of whether the non-elect can fulfill it, or whether hypothetical provision has been made in case the non-elect were to fulfill it, but rather by the certainty of salvation for those who do fulfill it.

Those who repent of their sins, and turn in faith to Christ alone for salvation will be saved. Those who do not, will be damned forever. It’s not just an offer, it’s an offer you cannot refuse. Once you realize that it is the truth, once you appreciate the sinfulness of your sin and the holiness of the God who stands in judgment over you, you’d have to be absolutely out of your mind to refuse to repent and trust in Christ. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

But the non-elect (in fact, even the elect, prior to regeneration – and thus all the unregenerate men) have a moral inability to come to Christ, because they love darkness better than light. They hate God and will not heed the warnings that God’s messengers give them. The command is there, Repent and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ but to them it is as though someone were mocking. It is truly a sad thing to watch the wicked perishing, because we have empathy for our fellow men. Let us, therefore, bear testimony to the truth of God’s word and seek to persuade those around us to obey the Gospel command, for if they do, they will be saved.

Trust in Him!


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