Debate on Calvinistic Compatibilism Part 1: Derek’s Challenge

After posting up a number of quotes from mainstream Calvinists (which can be found HERE) I entered into a dialogue/debate with a fellow brother in the Lord named Derek. Derek is a Calvinist and interpretes God’s sovereignty and man’s free-will through a compatibilistic framework–also called soft determinism. Our debate revolved around my initial contention that his view of compatibilism ultimately collapses into causal determinism that invalidates genuine human freedom. Derek disagreed. The debate occurred firstly in the comment sections of my post mentioned above. It soon became obvious to me that it needed its own page for greater readability.

WARNING: The posts are long and we cover significant ground. However the issues we cover cannot be resolved adequately through sound bites–that always creates more heat than light.  We deal with the nature of freedom, God’s determinative decrees, logical implications, alleged paradoxes and mysteries, alleged determinative verses in Proverbs as proof of God’s determining of sinful choices, God exploiting sinful characters and overruling evil’s intentions to bring about good vs. decreeing sin and evil to bring about good, Joseph being sold into slavery, the predestined nature of the crucifixion, the problem of evil as dealt by Calvinists and the problem of evil as dealt by Arminian-minded thinkers (whether they be classical Arminians, Molinists or Open Theists).

PART 1. DEREK ARGUES:

Matt,

Thank you for sharing this great collection of quotes and your thoughts on them.

I can certainly understand not liking what you believe to be the unavoidable logical implications of Calvinistic theology. Fair enough. I hope you won’t mind my asking a few follow up questions.

1. So, you deny that all events are ordained by God, correct? And your primary reason is that certain objectionable events have occurred, and you cannot conceive of a good God ordaining those events, correct? I want to be sure I am accurately understanding your position.

2. Okay, assuming I have understood you correctly, what are the alternatives?

Does God ordain any events? Which ones?
What are the primary differences between “ordained” and “non-ordained” events?
Is God aware of “non-ordained” events before they occur? Or does He learn about them as they happen?
Can anything outside of God (i.e., creation) exist without His initial creative action to “ordain” its existence? If not, how do we separate this initial “ordaining” action on God’s part from the creature’s subsequent actions, so as to say that God in no sense “caused” or “ordained” some of the creature’s actions? At what point do a creature’s actions begin to be “non-ordained”?
What is the relationship between “ordained” and “non-ordained” events? Do some “ordained” events depend on “non-ordained” events (e.g., does the “ordained” event, forgiveness, depend on the “non-ordained” event, sin)? How does God “ordain” the good events without “ordaining” the evil ones that must occur in advance?
Does God have the power and authority to prevent “non-ordained” events?
If God foresees and allows an event, is He not in some sense “ordaining” its occurrence?
Do “non-ordained” events happen in such a way that God cannot be said to maintain any control over them, i.e. to cause, allow, or prevent them?
If these events cannot be caused, allowed, or prevented by God, what is His relationship to them? Does He have any authority or power over them?
In what sense can any event occur outside of God’s ultimate oversight and authority? Does He maintain any sovereignty over these events, and in what sense?

I don’t expect you to answer all of these questions. My intent is simply to show that it is easier to object to Reformed theology’s answers than it is to propose a well thought out and Biblically grounded alternative.

Thanks again, and have great weekend.

Blessings,
Derek Ashton

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About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I am unmarried yet blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an even more broken and apathetic church.
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