NOTE: At this point in our debate another blogger named Prometheus entered the discussion and suggested I was displaying an uncharitable attitude and being too combative in my responses. I sought to apologize for this and explain where I was coming from. It was a small detour and later our discussion continued.
I do apologize to you if I came off too combative or arrogant. Let me share briefly where I’m coming from. I sometimes wonder how Jesus would have responded to a people who attribute both all things good and all things evil and sinful to his ordaining mind and ultimate handiwork. The closest we get to that is when Jesus (rather sarcastically) says, “Can a house divided against itself stand?” I can’t help but think it would make his blood boil– after all we are talking about rape, child abuse, causing children to stumble, etc.
If Jesus had harsh words towards those that would dare cause children to stumble– saying it would be better for them if a millstone had been thrown around their neck and both cast into the sea– then I can’t help but think he would real in horror at the suggestion that his holy mind chose and decreed the very evils that would qualify as “millstone worthy.” I can’t help but think he would manifest a righteous indignation at the suggestion that he decreed every act of child molestation, abuse, abandonment and parents dying of AIDS. Here in Asia I work with kids who have come from such situations and I can tell you, it would be the end of their precious trust in the Lord if they were told that the God who loves them is the same God who causally determined the evils done against them–for his glory. Since I see it as the very anti-thesis of glory and all things true, good and lovely, I think, “My God–what if this stuff spreads further? What if this way of thinking gets into the 3rd-world villages/churches around me?” The fact is though…it already has. And I have seen it rob people of compassion and incentive to extend mercy. Why? Because some people have a greater appreciation for logical implication than does Piper… and to be very honest, you Derek. Not everyone has the capacity to remain balanced on the see-saw of an alleged paradox. Rather they realize that if God chose it, determined it, decreed it– then hasn’t he more or less condoned it? If a person stepped on a land mine, then God determined they would step on a land mine… That means God wanted them to step on a land mine, God wanted them to be maimed for life. And if God wanted that to happen to them, why is it a tragedy? Why should I extend myself to help them overcome it? They have been cursed by God!
So rather than pointing to the beauty of a Kingdom view that clearly sees good as good and evil as evil and motivates people to self-sacrificially serve and rescue those in bondage to evil, Calvinism ends up being substituted for Buddhist karma, which similarly has a view that everything that happens to you is the direct result of higher controlling force called Karma law.
So I somewhat get emotional when I hear the other side discussing the incomprehensible horror of their views in a rather disengaged, philosophical voice. I call it the “plague” of cognitive dissonance that appears to be an epidemic among Calvinists. They do not allow themselves to fully understand or pursue the utter tragedy of what they believe– if they did I really think many would recognize it as house divided against itself. There is a reason people like Piper strip out all the tragic, logical consequences of a deterministic sovereignty when they first present it to new initiates. That is what troubles me the most. They are not forthright and upfront with the host of underlying, controversial assumptions inherent to statements like: “Reformed/Calvinist theology extols God’s sovereignty and glorifies Him the most!” Well–what Christian doesn’t want to glorify God the most? The problem is they are not being honest, they are not laying all their cards on the table. They don’t tell people God’s sovereign glory means He inspired and decreed the very acts of Satan. Satan becomes more or less God in disguise.
This is one of the principal reasons I started my “Critiquing Calvinism” blog section. I’m seeking to put on the table the Calvinist cards that have long been hidden from view. I pray to God I can do it without becoming ensnared in a downward spiral of discussion–so I do need reminders like yours Prometheus. Thanks… and I luv you Derek