May 13th, 2010 | 18 Comments
One of Calvinists’ staple arguments in favor of monergism is the inference that positing God as relying, in some sense, upon our decision to participate in salvation is actually a demotion of God, a heinous and (usually) heretical inversion of man’s sovereignty over that of God’s. On Facebook today, a Calvinist posted the following statement:
It is no less blasphemous to proclaim Allah to be god than to proclaim the one true God to be a slave of your own will and whim.
I’m pretty sure he meant to state it in reverse order: it was an attack on non-Calvinists rather than Muslims. I think his point was that those who “proclaim the one true God to be a slave…” are no better than Muslims.
One of his friends concurred, asking rhetorically, “Where in the whole Bible does [God] give man authority over Him?”
That brought me into it.
I responded that, while I might quibble with the specific formulation of this question, the whole concept of prayer changing things, Moses changing God’s mind about killing the whole mass of the children of Israel, Abraham bartering with God over Sodom, etc. clearly portrays God as allowing people to decisively influence His actions. Why is it spitting in His face to entertain the belief that this same economy prevails even in the area of salvation? Even though I dislike it being framed in terms of “authority”, it is no less true that delegating authority is not ceding authority, but a mark of authority.
Someone else responded to my comment succinctly: “So, for God, the future changes?”
Without wanting to get into Open Theism, I responded that the fatal problem is in saying that because God has apparently (as Scripture presents it) chosen to respond to human action that He is therefore being forcibly enslaved to our own will and whim. These sorts of conclusions are based off of overreaching desires to systematize that disregard much of Scripture’s testimony.
The chief “faults” of non-Calvinists are that they don’t take their logical systems too seriously when applying them to God’s sovereignty and man’s will, and that they take the depictions of God as He interacts with man throughout Scripture too seriously.
Non-Calvinists see no need for fancy footwork to explain away the fact that the biblical authors are clearly trying to portray God as “repenting” of certain actions based upon some factor, such as pre-Flood mankind’s sinful behavior or Moses’ prayer. They see no reason to deny that “Ye have not because Ye ask not” means anything other than “God’s giving is actually contingent upon your asking.” They have encountered no logical rationale necessitating the conclusion that soteriologically related petitions such as “Choose life!” and “Repent!” were imperatives merely chosen to sound exactly like they demand human response, when all the while they were simply code phrases for “Just hang tight while I enact my plan to redeem and damn whomever I already decided I was going to.”
Yes, the Bible says that it is God who called and predestined; it says that some are, whensoever He wills, just plain SOL. If, as I doubt, it does indeed logically and necessarily follow from those propositions that our actions cannot influence God decisively, then you’re stuck with Scripture contradicting itself — which I’m fine with, by the way, but most Calvinists aren’t! We shouldn’t rely so heavily on our logic and our ability to systematize away the tensions in Scripture that, when we consequently run roughshod over clear depictions like I mentioned above, we end up excommunicating those who aren’t willing to do so despite their honest confession of God as sovereign. That is my main beef with the majority of Calvinists I have encountered.