Posted by: Hope | September 23, 2009

Calvinist Crap

I wanted to write a new blog, mostly out of questions rather than statements.

In a previous post: Dawkin’s Ten Commandments, Will (a reader) wrote a reply, “See why I’m Calvinist? God chose me.”

I’m sorry, but how does this even come close to fitting the Bible? Where does it say that God chooses certain people? Why then, if God chooses who believes and who doesn’t does he have a hell? Doesn’t that seem, oh I dunno, redundant? That statement made me more angry then anything else. I had to pick it out of the bushes.

Will, or anyone else…why dont you go ahead and explain this to me.

EDIT: I mixed up names. It was Will who made the comment, not Steve. Forgive me of any confusion or hard feelings, please.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hope,
    I will take a quick stab at it with a small disclaimer: I am not in agreement with some of the points of Calvinism in the strictest sense. I figured it was only fair since it might be partly my fault that the discussion even came up.
    The main thrust of the idea of God’s choice, as I understand it, comes from passages like Romans 9:

    16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    This is pretty straightforward reading, but I would like to point out that Scripture tells us that Pharaoh hardened his own heart before God started hardening it further. (Exodus 8:15, 32 compared to Exodus 9:12)

    Paul continues this line of thought by saying this:

    19You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”(Romans 9:19-20)

    I find it quite amazing when a person considers themselves qualified to judge God by their own standards. In an ironic way, that sense of outrage at a God who is being “unfair” is another indicator of His existence for where else would the concept even come from? I can’t say that I have a perfect answer for all of those questions you are asking. Scripture does seem to indicate that God chooses us somehow. But at the same time, I have noticed that the people who are most upset about this are those who either (a) deny God exists and insist they wouldn’t want to be around Him if He did or (b) people with genuine questions or concerns about God.

    In the case of category (a), I imagine that God is simply willing to give them what they request, a life devoid of His presence, since that is what hell ultimately is. The images of fire and torment in hell may seem graphic or unkind to us, but perhaps God is trying to help us understand what “life” is like when the source of Life itself is nowhere to be found.

    In the case of category (b), God is not offended by doubt or questions or concerns. He has been shown to be willing to show up and answer the question of unfairness before (see Job for example). He left us with a good deal of information about Himself, but if God is really transcendent and totally other from us in so many ways (which He would have to be); there is always going to be things that are beyond our comprehension. This is why Paul concludes his earlier discussion with this admission:

    33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    34″For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
    35″Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”
    36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.(Romans 11:33-36)

  2. I’m trying to reply to you cooly, Jeff. I respect you, and your attempt to answer my questions.

    In your quote from Romans, I find it fairly confusing. Yes, it is very straightforward. But I dont see how that reconciles why there is a hell. If he determines who he hardens, or who he “softens” then there is no sense in faith. There is no sense in hell. There is even no sense in heaven. What would you be awarded for? God pulling your name out of a hat? Woo-hoo?

    I do not mean to sound to critical, or even rude. But it seems to be so…absurd. And even a bit arrogant to sit there and say “yeah! god chose me!”

    What then is his criteria for who he chooses? What about the unchosen? Does that mean they have no choice? Is there destiny seriously already pre-determined?

    If they are predetermined for hell, why then would someone have any sense of hope?

    Many people have doubts in my doubts on religion. They find me to be very wishy washy. Which I suppose isn’t completely incorrect. But if I was destined to have doubts, why should I even sit and worry about it? I’ll never believe. At this point, I’m not sure I even want to believe. None of it makes sense at all. It all seems like a load of crap. I’m fed up.

    Sorry, again. I suppose my frustration is shining through.

  3. If he determines who he hardens, or who he “softens” then there is no sense in faith. There is no sense in hell. There is even no sense in heaven. What would you be awarded for? God pulling your name out of a hat? Woo-hoo?

    Hope,
    Your frustration isn’t just understandable; it is reasonable. When I look at Paul’s argument in Romans; it appears to be completely rhetorical. It is kind of a way of saying, “even if God did it that way, He is still God and I am not.” I don’t think Paul is trying to argue that God forces people to be condemned against their will. The truth of Scripture is that God doesn’t force anyone to do anything that I can find. If He did, Israel would never have gone their own way and blown it all for example. I do believe that God knows what will happen (this is a function of Him being outside of time itself, which is a hard concept to grasp), but God has chosen to limit Himself when He gave us a will of our own. That is the reason evil exists at present in our world.
    As I said in my first reply, I think God will allow a person to have exactly what they want to have, including the option to “exist” without Him. I put exist in quotes because it is ultimately a futile existence in whatever form it will take. Look again at Scripture and see that God continually offers a simple choice between life or death. It is the choice that was offered in the Garden to Adam and Eve. It is reiterated throughout Scripture (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19; Proverbs 12:28; Jeremiah 21:8; John 5:24; Romans 5:17 for examples John 10:10 makes an interesting statement in this light). It would seem that the choice is an obvious one when you hear it in such stark terms; but as human beings we seem to doubt that death is really the end result of a life lived against the designers specs on our own terms.

    I can’t stand those people who say that a person has no choice in what happens to them. God is not cruel or capricious. The same God who said this:

    19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

    Also said this:

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life(John 3:16)
    24Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.(John 5:24)

    All through the Gospels, Jesus calls to WHOEVER will listen and come to Him. There isn’t a sense of exclusion. There is an open call of God to life. I don’t honestly understand why some people do not choose life.

    The way most people argue about predestination who actually believe it tends to go way beyond anything we can know from Scripture itself. The only person who knows what has happened already to anybody when it hasn’t happened yet for us is God Himself. Anyone else who pretends to know God’s mind or have insight into His knowledge of the future or who is predestined or who is not is full of bovine excrement. The whole subject of predestination is misunderstood because we don’t often think well outside of the concept of time.

    I hope that helps some more. I know there are people who don’t agree with me completely, but I have spent plenty of years going through these arguments myself and I understand where you are coming from. This is what I have come to understand in this area and if I can be of more help, feel free to ask more questions. You know by now that I don’t mind at least trying to answer what I can answer.

    One more concept to ponder that is related to this. The fact that God is all-powerful and all-knowing (which I believe is true) does not obligate Him to act upon all things or in all situations, which would in fact limit His free will. Neither is God obligated to act in ways that we think He should. Misunderstandings in this area are at the root of many of the “predestination” and “problem of evil” issues.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: