Monday, June 08, 2009

Calvi-minians - Fatalism, Luck, and Superstition

I've pointed out before that most people accept a number of Calvinistic principles in their everyday life. Young men intuitively know that wooing young ladies works and that the decisions young women make about how they will spend their time (particularly with whom) can be influenced. Young women too know that they can influence the decision of young men to woo through various arts both cosmetological and sociological. On a larger scale, the advertising industry receives enormous amounts of money to influence everything from political elections to what sort of carbonated beverage you drink.

Nevertheless, the common woman also has a strong intuition that no amount of lipstick and batting of eyes is going to guarantee and the common man also realizes that flowers (even dozens of them) can only increase your chances, but not ensure the desired result.

I've mentioned "chances" and this leads to another intuition. The average "Joe" thinks that there is a lot of "chance" or "luck" in the world. Thus, he amuses himself with games of chance, throws coins into fountains, and even purchases lottery tickets in what might appear to be a highly irrational investment strategy.

Nevertheless, the average Joe thinks he can make his own luck. He attempts to control the odds in various ways. Some ways - ways used by the professional gambler at craps at blackjack (and most especially in poker and the like) - are rational attempts premised on "luck" being largely a predictable quantity or of minimizing the reliance on "luck" by - as they will say - playing the person rather than the cards. Others are simply superstitious attempts to control the supernatural and impersonal "fate" that decides outcomes that we assign to chance. Thus, the superstitious Joe carefully scratches his Lottery ticket from right to left, since a few years ago this technique led to substantial success - or buys the ticket only when there is no one else in line to buy tickets.

On the flip-side of making one's own luck, the average Joe has a strong sense of his own freedom. The average Joe has no problem with the idea that he inevitably influenced the young lady to marry him, but he doesn't like the idea that she inevitably brought about his wooing in the first place through her own arts. He prefers to believe that he is "free" to be interested or uninterested no matter how charming and beautiful she is.

What's interesting, though, is that the average Joe does seem to think that populace can be bought. Maybe the individual is free in his mind, but politician "X" won the election because he spent more on advertising. "Oh, if only politician "Y" had had a bigger warchest," the person will complain, "he would have been able to pull off a victory." Voting is clearly an exercise of the will, but the average person admits that this will is susceptible of being determined (at least on the scale of the population as a whole) by advertisement.

So, there is tension in the common man's mind. He exhibits a number of Calvinistic traits in recognizing that the human will is determinable and that there is a force that determines what happens, and yet he exhibits Arminian traits in asserting his own autonomy from determination and his attempt to control deterministic forces.

Calvi-minians - that's a good name for these folks (a name I stole from Steve Hays, by the way). There is a part of their heart that informs them of the providence of God, but they seek to suppress that truth. They are fundamentally inconsistent. They refuse to let it be that God determines everything that happens, but they'll give him the big things - just as they do with advertisers.

They'll even do the same thing on an individual scale. They don't have a big problem with God foreordaining that Pilate would crucify Jesus rather than releasing him, or miraculously converting Saul of Tarsus, but they have a problem with God foreordaining that their best friend would repent and believe. They don't have a problem with God hardening Pharaoh's heart, but they have a problem with God hardening their sister's or father's heart.

They pray for the salvation of others, but they deny that God has the power to bring about that salvation. The wish to manipulate God's power through prayer, but they do not believe he has the power to manipulate his own creation. They hate to think of themselves as puppets, but they love to treat God as though he were a puppet. That is the Calvi-minian. He is a strange but sadly a common beast. And there is only one cure for this ailment: Scriptural consistence -- to realize that the Scriptures teach that there is no such thing as an impersonal force of "luck" but that even what we perceive as "random" outcomes are the decision of our Provider (Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.), that it is not just the "big things" that concern God but even the little things (Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?), and that God is the author (Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.) and finisher of our salvation (Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:).

So, dear reader, if you are a Calvi-minian - root out the "minian" and follow Scripture more completely. God is both the Creator who made all things of nothing in the space of six days, and the interested Provider who works all things together to the good of his followers (Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.).



Anonymous said...


for me the irony is in the verses cited seeing He makes the proof positive that we shall be saved because of His Personal Guarantee to see to it we are!

(Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:).

This one here seems to me to have a greater grip on it, don't you suppose?:::>

Psa 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

Now the question that also should shed the minians from Calvi- is this one:

1Th 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 5:24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

How can He do that and make that claim in this world devils full?

I am not objecting to it, mind you! :)

When once one has had a bout or two with the Almighty, His Way, mind you, the peaceable fruit of Righteousness comes more easily! :) :)

It is long lasting.

It is sure.

It is God's Way!!

Also, by the way, this is a good article and most likely the ones who need to hear it or read it most won't even know about it! grrrrrr. Which leads me back to my circular, Philippians 1:6, Psalm 119:9 and 1 Thessolonians 5:23-4.

It's as though we are going around and, around and around we go! Weeee!

Susan said...

Great post Tur8in :) thanks for this