Thursday, March 22, 2007

A response to the internet poster, "ExaminingCalvinism" regarding Failure

Is the deity
of the Anti-Calvinist
a Failure?

ExaminingCalvinism (EC) has a web page that acknowledges one typical Calvinistic complaint against those who claim that God desires and wants (not in a merely outward sense, but wholy and completely) the salvation of each and every person.

EC quotes Dr. White as saying: “…the Father can seek the salvation of each individual, the Son can die to secure it, and the Spirit come to bring conviction of sin, and yet the entire desire and work of the triune God collapse because of the unwillingness of the sovereign creature, man? Yes, this is indeed Mr. Hunt’s view, and I simply do not understand its appeal to the person who boasts only in the Lord.” (Debating Calvinism, p.332 [emphasis and reference thereto omitted])

EC then begins EC's response with a quotation from Mr. Hunt: “Only Calvinists would say that if His love is rejected, God fails.” (Debating Calvinism, p.332)

EC continues in EC's own words:

Only a Calvinist would be swayed to believe in a doctrine out of pure emotional “appeal.” For the Arminian, the only “appeal” is what the Bible says. God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants. If God wanted to be the author of sin, and enact Deterministic Decrees, then, as God, He has full right to do so.


Let's examine the fundamental issue before taking apart EC's response.

The fundamental issues are this:

1) Is God's entire desire and work to save each and every human being?

The typical Anti-Calvinist's answer would be "yes" if the Anti-Calvinist will give a straight answer. More often then not, the Anti-Calvinist will hem and haw, seeking to avoid answering the question. One tactic is not to respond with a "yes" but simply to quote I Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 5:15 or I Timothy 2:5-6. The response to such quotation is: "is that a yes or a no"? After all, if we Calvinists agreed with the Anti-Calvinists regarding the sense of those passages, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

2) Does God's entire desire and work to save each and every human being result in the salvation of each and every human being?

The typical Anti-Calvinist's answer would be "no" if the Anti-Calvinist will give a straight answer. Here they are typically more willing to boldly deny universalism.

Conclusion: God's entire desire and work did not succeed, but failed (at least partially).

If an Anti-Calvinist answers questions one and two with "yes" and "no" respectively, then the conclusion logically follows. It is the enescapable logical conclusion.

As for EC's individual claims:

- "Only a Calvinist would be swayed to believe in a doctrine out of pure emotional “appeal.” "

As illustrated above, the issue is not "pure emotional 'appeal.'" Even if it were, both Calvinists and anti-Calvinists can (and sometimes are) unduly swayed by emotions.

Query: Is EC saying: "Yes God failed, but so what?"

- "For the Arminian, the only “appeal” is what the Bible says. "

It should be that way: but is a deity failing consistent with the clear Biblical teaching regarding God's omnipotence? If so, what the Bible says should make the anti-Calvinist question whether his understanding of the Bible is correct.

- "God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants."

If the anti-Calvinist believes this, and the Anti-Calvinist believe that God does "want" in that sense to "do" the act of saving each and every person, then the result is universalism, not Arminianism or Huntism.

- "If God wanted to be the author of sin, and enact Deterministic Decrees, then, as God, He has full right to do so."

God enacted the Deterministic Decree that Christ be crucified. If that makes God the "author of sin" in EC's definition of the term, so be it. It does not make God the "author of sin" in the traditional sense of the term, or in any sense that matters.

Praise be to God who has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass,

-Turretinfan

Objections Answered

One anonymous poster reponded:

To say that "God has failed" is looking at Arminianism through they eyes of a Calvin. When free-will is applied, it is not a matter of succeeding or failing. God desires all to be saved, and God always makes the first move. At that point, it is man's choice to accept or deny...So, it is not God who has failed, but man.

I respond:

I am well aware of Arminian ideas of libertarian free will, and the Arminian idea of LFW does not change anything in the simple logical conclusion expressed above.

The question is: Does God succeed or fail in getting what He desires?

In a non-universalist anti-Calvinist world-view, the god who wants each and every person to be saved fails to get what he wants. WHY he fails to get what he wants is an important question (and it is one that is answered implicitly in the above objector's comments). The "WHY," however, is subservient to the "THAT."

This objector's works-salvation is showing itself: note how this objector indicates that God makes a first move and then it is man that fails or succeeds. That is a great definition of works-salvation. It is to be contrasted with a salvation in which God is both the author (first mover) and finisher (last mover) of our faith.

Praise be to the Author of our Salvation!

-Turretinfan

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good work, TF.

I have had caonversations with Anti-Calvinists where they claim God is not a failure, despite obviously failing to perform the very action (salvation for all individuals) they claim God desires in an absolute, immutable sense. Usually when faced with this blatant contradiction, since they reject universalism, they decree I am wrong and move on to another topic.

On a side note, what is your experience in the creationist/evolution debate?

Keep up the good work in Christ,
VP

Turretinfan said...

Thanks, VP!

Maybe they will prove us wrong and post a brilliant response. Nevertheless, the logic looks a little too "steel trap" for that.

Similarly, on the Creation / Evolution issue, the debates tend to be one sided:

Scripture clearly and unambiguously teaches the God created all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

It's a doctrine (Creation is) that ties into Providence: because God's right to ordain History is connected with His right as Creator. God can do whatever He likes with what He has made.

Praise be to the Potter!

-Turretinfan

Anonymous said...

Well, perhaps I was a tad bit unclear, but I was curious if you had any knowledge of the technical aspects, since I, myself, am having difficulty believing in a literal six day creation.

Also, I was curious if you know the significance of the fact God never seems to directly call the second day of creation "good." This point was brought up to me one day, and my curiosity was piqued because I had never noticed that before. Just curious if you have any thoughts of its significance, if any.

Turretinfan said...

* I am quite familiar with the techical aspects, and the usual evolutionary (and OEC) arguments.

* Assuming you accept that God himself wrote in stone the ten commandments, and assuming you accept that the ten commandments include that the reason for resting on one day out of seven is that on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had made (Exodus 20:11), then it may be unfathomable to try to imagine a six-day creation, but you cannot escape the testimony of Scripture that such is what actually happened.

* You may interested to discover that the LXX and the Old Slavonic does include "And God saw that it was good" in verse 8 (although this is not followed by any modern translation), while most modern translations (following the Masoretic text and the Vulgate) do not include it.

* Given the existence of the variant in the LXX, I doubt it was considered significant in the time of Christ, and I doubt we should find any particular significance in it today.

* If it has any significance, it is in unraveling the "Genesis 1 is just a cute poem" theory that some OEC and Evo folks have. The omission breaks up the parallel among the six days of creation.

-Turretinfan

Anonymous said...

Do you have any book recommendations in regards to the creation/evolution debate? I suppose my main problem is that I simply can't seem to reconcile the seemingly obvious observations in nature with the words of Scripture, and I have no idea how to go about solving that.

Thanks, VP

Turretinfan said...

VP:

What would you consider a good book on the subject?

I'm working on something (it's not going to be coming out any time soon) that will address the purely Scriptural question: What does the Bible say?

I think, however, that you already know the answer to that question: the Scripture does not discuss evolution, and God's many claims to be our Creator are scattered across the Bible. Adam was formed of dust, and God breathed life into the dust. Eve was formed of Adam's rib.

There is no possible way one could scientifically verify that Adam was formed from the dust, or that Eve was fashioned from Adam's rib.

Trying to reconcile the Bible with the opinions of scientists regarding nature is a largely futile task, when what is being dealt with is a miracle.

If Adam were here, a scientist could confirm that Adam was really a man, but a scientist could never confirm that God formed Adam from dust.

If a group of scientists travelled back in time to day eight, and looked at Adam, I think everyone agrees that the group would say that Adam did not look like a two-day old human.

If any scientist had analyzed the wine that Jesus made, they would not have concluded that it was made from water.

Do you see where this is going?

The point is that, no matter what, the opinions of scientists, employing naturalistic assumptions and standard techniques are never going to verify the origin of things that are miraculously produced.

Given that, what are you looking for in a good book?

-Turretinfan

Anonymous said...

Well, that's just it; I have no idea what books. I suppose I would just like to get some information regarding evolution enough to get the people who hold it so dogmatically reason (and I emphasize reason) to question it. Or, at least, something along those lines. It's not so much I need to back up my belief in the origin of life and such, just enough to hold my own in a debate, as it were.

Thanks,
VP

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Thanks for taking the time to do this. EC is bound and determined to make scripture fit it's philosophy of what God would and would not do. Very dangerous thinking, and it's even more concerning when you pay for and write a whole website to shoot down a (biblical) view that the owner is clearly afraid of.

Turretinfan said...

VP:

The website "Answers in Genesis" takes a very different approach from the one that I take, and I can't say I fully agree with their methodology or views on every point.

However, they are much hated by the radical evolutionists such as those on the website "Talk Origins" and so they are definitely having an impact.

Answers in Genesis' web site contains a lot of useful material, and some material that is rapidly becoming outdated (because evolutionism is constantly evolving).

The bottom line, however, is this: the natural mind is at emnity with God. There is no limit to the speculative explanations that men dream up, and men who do not want to worship the creator can, and will, find speculative naturalistic ways to try to explain the phenomena presented to them.

They do it on the issue of origins, and they have done it and are doing it on the issue of the Resurrection. Recall what the Jews immediately claimed: "His disciples came and stole the body."

There is no possible way that someone can prove that biological evolution is false from the phenomena. Why? Because the major claims are so broad, and because the minor claims will change as new evidence is presented.

There's so much more that could be said, and never enough time to say it.

If you are interested in debunking some of the outright lies of evolutionism, Answers in Genesis is a good place to start.

If you are interested in philosophically responding to evolutionism, Genesis itself is a good place to start.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Dear Jim,

I agree. What is even more saddening is that EC either:

1) does not understand Calvinism (which I suspect); or

2) deliberately misrepresents Calvinism (which I am disinclined to believe, based on my limited interactin with EC so far).

Nevertheless, it is good that EC is interacting with Calvinists. Perhaps one day EC will see what Calvinism actually is singing the praises of Him who has gathered His people from the nations and from the most distant isles.

Praise be to our Shepherd-King!

-Turretinfan

Anonymous said...

To say that "God has failed" is looking at Arminianism through they eyes of a Calvin. When free-will is applied, it is not a matter of succeeding or failing. God desires all to be saved, and God always makes the first move. At that point, it is man's choice to accept or deny...So, it is not God who has failed, but man.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for your objection. I've responded to your objection by editing the body of the post above.
-Turretinfan

Anonymous said...

This objector's works-salvation is showing itself: note how this objector indicates that God makes a first move and then it is man that fails or succeeds. That is a great definition of works-salvation. It is to be contrasted with a salvation in which God is both the author (first mover) and finisher (last mover) of our faith.


Calvinism has a works-salvation as well, even though it is concealed. For example, consider the sermons of Paul Washer. More than anyone else in the calvinistic movement, he emphasizes what he calls the signs of a genuine conversion by means of a very suspicious works-oriented self-introspection. "If God has started a work in you, then he will continue it." How will He continue this work? By your works . In the final analysis, calvinistic "sanctification" boils down to the real payment of what was first handed over as a "free gift of grace". How does a believer know that he is a believer? Because of his works. And there is much talk about the Perseverance of Saints. How do they persevere? Well, by persevering on their own!
How does calvinistic sanctification work? By their own subjective judgmental opinions. Where is the line between "sheep" and "goats"? Well, again a matter of subjective, personal guess work, personal attitude and opinion. So the only "salvation" in calvinism is ultimately not without works on the part of the recipient of God's grace. While I know that Calvinists vehemently deny this conclusion, I haven't seen anyone clearing up what the significant difference between a "true conversion" and a "counterfeit conversion" is supposed to be. Folks like Washer do not contribute any more clarity here but promote the idea of salvation by works more and more in the reformed minds.

Another Anonymous in America

Turretinfan said...

AAA:

I have responded to your comment in a new post (link).

-TurretinFan