Calvinism’s Greatest Fallacy

 

26 thoughts on “Calvinism’s Greatest Fallacy

  1. Excellent

    The Tozer quote is superb.

    I think the 4 examples used by Calvinists are a little more complicated. Take Joseph. His brothers wanted to kill him. Reuben suggested they put him in a cistern in order to rescue him. The Midianites came past and a decision was made to sell him. Selling Joseph was seen as more profitable than killing him. So what they actually did with Joseph was distinct than what they had initially intended. ANd it is not clear that God and the brothers intended the same thing initially.

    The hardening is more complicated. I agree with your self hardening though judicial hardening is more than just blinding. It may be strengthening the will to do what it wants to do but is afraid to. Further, God sent a lying angel to deceive Ahab and he sends delusions to the wicked who want to believe falsehood (Thess). I think the reason for this may be in part to show men what manner of ridiculous things that they will believe if they reject him. But it is false to apply this to all men because they are fallen. Even so, this is done by God to those who are already and actively rebellious. It is a form of judgment.

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    1. Can I tell you something I just learned? Far from being enemies of Christ before we were saved, most of us were “followers” and “disciples!” Think about it — Jesus 12 disciples were those who believed in Him and did what He commanded .. and He called them “friends.” (Jn 15:14) How many of us as children believed in Jesus and prayed, worshipped, thanked, etc. Him? But neither His 12 nor we, in doing so, are saved.

      Do you know that a Calvinist thinks that believing Jesus, worshipping, thanking, praying, etc. is their assurance that they are saved? NO! They are simply followers .. disciples. What happens when hard preaching comes along? When the command comes to repent and put off their own thoughts and ways? They go away rejecting that message. The Calvinist call to salvation is “believe and follow.”

      So here’s the interesting thing about the churches in Rev 2-3. Jesus first approves each of them for their good “works” in obedience to Him .. just as if they were His disciples. But then He turns to them and says only “some of you have not defiled your garments”(Rev 3:4).. only some of you are saved. The rest He commanded to repent (Rev 2:5, 16, 21, 3:3, 19) Acts 2:38-wise — “repent unto life.” (11:18)

      So the question is: Do you want to become a “friend” of God .. or a “son of God?” If you want to be called “son of God,” “repent[ance] turning to God” in prayer “calling on the name of the Lord” is a MUST (Acts 26:20, Ro10:13). Do not be a believer-follower who has good works but who fails of heaven.

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  2. Calvinists seem to worry more about God not being represented as Sovereign. It seems to me they do this at the expense of His holiness. How hard determinism, or compatibilism for that matter, uphold His holiness is beyond me. I am thankful the One I serve is both sovereign and holy. Thanks Leighton for once again doing a superb job in pointing to the Biblical record with so much clarity.

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  3. Unfortunately, your thorough logic will have utterly no impact on most Calvinists. Pop Calvinism glibly assures its followers that it is both true that God sovereignly ordains all things – including a supposed curse upon mankind that makes all men irresistibly compelled to sin – and yet men are somehow responsible for their own evil deeds and deserving of punishment. If that seems logically impossible – which it is – no worries, because God does not have to conform to human logic. Voila, today’s Calvinists are persuaded that holding two utterly opposite and contradictory suppositions is perfectly ‘logical’. It becomes impossible to engage such people’s thinking, to convince them that the system they have adopted is utterly untenable and illogical. They left logic and reason at the gate, assured by their ‘leaders’ that it is not necessary, even arrogant to try and make God ‘make sense’. Like unthinking sheep, they trust whatever is declared to be the ‘official’ orthodoxy of traditional Christianity – that is, whatever John Calvin made up and forced upon the masses via threats of excommunication, torture and murder. They never stop to wonder what the true body of Christ believed before Calvin ‘reformed’ christianity, or if they do, they claim that the church had ‘lost’ the truth for centuries, and Calvin ‘found’ it. In that case they should call themselves ‘Refound’, not ‘Reformed’. Bushwhacked, brainwashed and bamboozled at every turn, naive Calvinists tout everything their script demands, for no amount of reasoning will ever enlighten an individual who has been convinced that reason cannot be trusted and has loyally bound himself to ‘orthodoxy’.

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    1. Do Calvinists look at John Calvin as the only individual to have reformed Christianity? What about Martin Luther or Wycliff? Attributing Protestantism to Calvin alone would certainly be ignoring a lot. Is that what they’re doing by calling themselves “reformed”?

      Joshua 24:15 sticks out rather prominently in my mind, but I’m sure the Calvinists would have an excuse to get around that. When I once asked one about a contradiction between their thinking and a passage in the scriptures which states that God wants everyone saved [1 Timothy 2:4], the only reply I got was “some one is upset about vessels fitted for wrath.” The strong indication was that they really didn’t have a reply for that.

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      1. eleventhhourworker6 writes, “Joshua 24:15 sticks out rather prominently in my mind, but I’m sure the Calvinists would have an excuse to get around that.”

        Joshua 24:15 begins, “if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you…” Paul writes, in Romans 8, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Calvinists conclude that the unsaved are so depraved that they have no desire to serve God. Both Calvinists and Arminians hold that God must extend grace to the unsaved to enable them to desire Him.

        Then “I once asked one about a contradiction between their thinking and a passage in the scriptures which states that God wants everyone saved [1 Timothy 2:4], the only reply I got was “some one is upset about vessels fitted for wrath.”

        The standard Calvinist explanation is that “all men” refers to “all kinds of men” and in this particular instance, to God’s desire to save both Jews and Gentiles. Thus, Paul writes, in v7, “I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles,” with the justification “I am telling the truth, I am not lying,” as if people would not believe him.

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      2. “Are you a Calvinist yourself?”

        I think I am more reformed – RC Sproul being one of my favorite authors – then Calvinist although there may not be much difference between the two.

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  4. This topic reminds me of the reality of the “World View”. We humans look at the data of life, (and as biblical persons, the data of scripture), and interpret that evidence to support a given world-view. It should be clear that the Calvinist world-view, just as the non-Calvinist world-view, drives their interpretation of the data. Sometimes when I see a dialog going back and forth between a Calvinist and non-Calvinist, it becomes quite clear that many of the concepts debated, are shrouded behind the veil of the individual’s world-view. When we study philosophy we learn principles concerning world-views. And one of those principles, is called: “Rescue Devices”.

    Rescue devices, are intellectual arguments that are designed to neutralize aspects of a world-view that are “unpalatable”. The interesting thing about “unpalatable”, is that it has to do with current cultural mores, What is “unpalatable” today in U.S. culture, may not be unpalatable in another culture, or another time period.

    I think it a fair analysis, that much of John Calvin’s hard-core insistence upon an absolute **VOLUNTARISTIC** deity, which displays as a deity whose morality is “subjective”, and his holiness is, “mutable”, may very well, in John Calvin’s day been palatable, to a sufficient percentage of the population, wishing to escape the evils of Catholicism. However those conditions are not the case today.

    Calvinists appear to be, firstly pragmatic, and secondly dogmatic. There is no real value in a white-knuckled defense of John Calvin’s VOLUNTARISTIC deity, if it results in you becoming the last thrashing dinosaur of a theology going extinct. And here is where the “Rescue Devices”, and the experts in rhetoric who deploy then, come into play.

    Now we see compatibilistic free-will and an appeal to secondary causes as the primary “Rescue Devices”. A world-view, that, in our current culture, requires an expertise in rhetorical magicianry, because it is saturated in monotheistic fatalism, which is currently unpalatable. How successful that theology is at making the unpalatable magically disappear, depends a lot on how savvy we are at detecting the current “Rescue Devices”.

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  5. Pastor Flowers writes, ‘if God has indeed “brought all things to pass by His unchangeable decree,” as Piper teaches elsewhere (see footnote), then what is it in the heart of this ruler that God is restraining if not His own “unchangeable decree?” In other words, hasn’t God merely restrained the very intention He unchangeably decreed?
    Suppose the ruler, referenced in Proverbs 21, wanted to rape his servant and God restrained him from fulfilling this heinously evil intention. From where did this evil intention originate?”

    Calvinists hold that Adam was created with a libertarian free will wherein he could obey or disobey God. Adam chose to disobey God and the result of his sin was that the human nature was corrupted – the person no longer had a libertarian free will. Now the person is a slave to sin and could only do evil – i.e., he would not chose to glorify God in his actions. The mind of corrupted man is now as described in Genesis 6, “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” This is the source of a person’s evil intentions. Thus, God is in the position of restraining the person from doing that which he wants to do.

    The issue here is not to explain why people want to do evil but why God does not stop that evil when He could. The Calvinists conclude that God does not prevent evil because that evil serves His purpose. Pastor Flowers agrees with his appeal to hardening. If the non-Calvinist has another explanation, let’s see it.

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  6. If everything that happens is in accordance to God’s perfect will (which I think most Calvinists would affirm) then the rulers evil intentions are part of God’s will, and if he prevents them from being carried out, God is merely restraining what He intended. No matter how you try to explain it away, in Calvinist logic, God is just playing both sides of the chess board and everyone is a pawn with no moves of their own.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, ” if [God] prevents them from being carried out, God is merely restraining what He intended. No matter how you try to explain it away, in Calvinist logic, God is just playing both sides of the chess board and everyone is a pawn with no moves of their own.”

      The distinction being that God is not the source of the ruler’s intentions. Certainly God knows those intentions, but the ruler’s sin nature is the source of his intentions. God only plays both sides of the board because he knows the moves that a person wants to make. As God is sovereign, He can prevent a person making a specific move or do nothing and the person moves as he intended. I don’t see why that makes everyone a pawn. Any chance you can explain your thinking on this?

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  7. Rhutchin writes: “The distinction being that God is not the source of the ruler’s intentions.”

    This is not true. Rather, it is merely an attempt to hide the fact that, under Calvinism, God is indeed the source of ‘whatsoever comes to pass’. Whatsoever means whatsoever, and no amount of mumbo-jumbo, euphemistic, ‘look over there’ magic can disguise the fact that Calvinism, at its very foundation, yes, the one thing that sets it apart from all other theological systems, asserts that God is the sole, deterministic cause of ALL THINGS. That’s right, ‘all things’ or, if you will, ‘whatsoever comes to pass’. That would, of course, include the actions of the above mentioned ruler, along with anything else that ever occurs in the entire creation. Whatsoever.

    It is silly to insist that this ‘sin nature’ (thought up by God as ‘punishment’ on men who have not yet been born or done anything to deserve punishment) causes all sin, and not God. It is mere game-playing to insist that ‘the sin nature’ is the source of a sinner’s intentions, when the ‘sin nature’ (according to Calvinism) was inflicted on men before they were ever born; by God – not Adam and not Adam’s sin. Adam had no power to inflict anything on all mankind, nor could some inanimate ‘sin’, which is not a being and has no power to issue and enforce decrees. It is only an all-powerful, sovereign God that could possibly afflict all humankind with a nature that is ‘sinful’, that causes them, irresistibly, to sin.

    If God is sovereign and omnipotent – as all Calvinists must admit – then apart from God gifting mankind with genuine free will, only a cruel, tyrannical and evil God could be the source, originator and cause of all sin and all evil that exists in the world. This is Calvinism’s faulty, but undeniable assertion, however much Calvinists might wish to hide or restate it. It is a futile attempt to disguise this hideous assertion that compels Calvinists to blame sin on man – who is helpless, has no choice and is born, without any hope of escaping Calvinism’s so-called ‘sin nature’ – or the so-called ‘sin nature’ itself, which is decreed and enforced by God and cannot be ‘blamed’ for anything.

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    1. truthseeker00 writes, “Rhutchin writes: ‘The distinction being that God is not the source of the ruler’s intentions.”
      This is not true.”

      He says, “under Calvinism, God is indeed the source of ‘whatsoever comes to pass’.

      This is called sovereignty.

      He argues, “It is silly to insist that this ‘sin nature’ (thought up by God as ‘punishment’ on men who have not yet been born or done anything to deserve punishment) causes all sin, and not God.”

      What does Paul tell us in Romans? “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” and “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.” Then, Galatians “the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.”

      He argues, “It is a futile attempt to disguise this hideous assertion that compels Calvinists to blame sin on man”

      What does James tell us? “When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.”

      We can conclude that truthseeker00 has been deceived. It is also true that people are able to express their desires because God has given them the freedom to do so.

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  8. I think there is another concern here that this article insight-fully highlights and in which there was recent dialog here as well.

    There are, and continue to be, various voices of influence representing the Calvinist view, which can be readily observed, presenting their opinions, in an almost “EX CATHEDRA” fashion. We find these individuals standing tall, chest puffed out, pontificating with supreme confidence. Those who speak this way, tend to draw followers after themselves, and become big names. This type of behavior was common in the Egyptian empire, where priests of the Egyptian deities stood before the people and spoke with great pomp and circumstance, and average minded people readily trusted every word, and bought the religious products they sold.

    I suggest that much of the popularity of these voices, is not due to their handling of theological determinism, or monotheistic fatalism, with a logical precision, these beliefs really deserve. But in their powerful rhetorical, and in many cased highly equivocal skills. The ability to persuade people by sophisticated persuasion techniques., verbal smoke & mirrors..and so forth. Their followers, then, are a reflection of the same lack of precision in thinking.

    It is said that there are two characterizations for irrational beliefs. 1) The avoidance of contrary or contradicting evidence. 2) A tendency to misappropriate evidence in order to make it appear to affirm what one wants. The problem with voices of influence which operate with such an inadequate degree of scholarly precision, while speaking “EX CATHEDRA”, is the large number of followers who assume so much risk by believing every word.

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  9. Thank you, Leighton, for all your work in putting that information together. As you have rightly observed the Calvinist wants to have his cake (divine determinism of all things) and eat it too (no divine culpability for sin). I get a little weary when observing the continued defense of popular views with little display of willingness for self-evaluation of one’s position against Scripture and reason.

    I am reminded how the Lord used your willingness to retest your stand for Calvinism by looking at it again, especially at its weakest points Scripturally and logically, as if you were debating the other side for them. How I wish more would be willing to humbly reexamine what and why they believe so strongly what they believe and to ask themselves if they are willing to jettison long-held positions like they wish others would jettison theirs if convinced by Scripture and reason.

    Whether the Calvinist backs up to giving free-will to Adam (which is inconsistent with determinism) or free-will to Lucifer (also inconsistent), ultimately he must recognize that his view of free-will for God is also fantasy, for it can never be exercised, since they have it locked behind an immutable omniscience that they think is baked into His nature. And the Arminian, imo, does no better by trying to make the future a settled thing in God’s mind as if it is something that exists independently from God, but with which God somehow freely interacts, meaning it was not truly settled eternally in the first place.

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    1. brianwagner writes, “Whether the Calvinist backs up to giving free-will to Adam (which is inconsistent with determinism) or free-will to Lucifer (also inconsistent),…”

      I still do not understand what makes this inconsistent. As omniscience does not determine – in the sense of, cause – anything, there is nothing wrong with God knowing that X will occur in the future and then God having determined that X will occur in the future, through some action or inaction by Himself. This is because much of what God determines is brought about through the actions of secondary causes. Adam can have the freedom to choose whether to eat the fruit and God can know that decision beforehand even though that decision is freely made by Adam. God’s involvement in Adam’s decision is that God made Adam and by making Adam to be less than Himself – not omniscient, without infinite understanding, without perfect wisdom – He made Adam with the ability to make bad decisions and do so of his own free will – without interference from God.

      Then, “…ultimately he must recognize that his view of free-will for God is also fantasy, for it can never be exercised, since they have it locked behind an immutable omniscience that they think is baked into His nature.”

      I still do not understand this conclusion. To say that something is “locked behind an immutable omniscience” only means that God has determined what He will do and did so prior to the event. Given that God is omniscient, has infinite understanding, and has perfect wisdom, anything that God decides is automatically “locked behind an immutable omniscience” as there would be no need to change that decision. How does that make free will a fantasy for God – a decision by God made on a course of action does not destroy the free will exercised by God in deciding that course of action.

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      1. But you know I believe it is Calvinism that limits the meaning of “omniscience” to God only able to know one set future forever. And that limited omniscience is limiting so that God, even if He has free will, will never be able to exercise free will and make a true decision between true possibilities, for none exist or can exist.

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      2. brianwagner writes, “you know I believe it is Calvinism that limits the meaning of “omniscience” to God only able to know one set future forever.”

        Oh, Brian!!! We both agree that God can know the complete set of possibilities for the future of the universe He created. We then agree that God is able to decide beforehand what He will do in response to each possibility. My claim is that God knows what He will do regarding each and every possibility and knew this in eternity past. You have this notion that God doesn’t actually decide what He will do with regard to each possibility but waits to decide until that possible event physically manifests in the course of time. Either way, whether in eternity past or in the present day as time is accounted in His creation, God makes the same decision. Your complaint about “one set future” means nothing. There is only one set future anyway. God’s decisions regarding the extent of His involvement in the affairs of His creation set that future. As God is sovereign, He has the final say in everything that happens – thus, He, and He alone, can, and does,set the future in concrete (so to speak).

        Then, “…God, even if He has free will, will never be able to exercise free will and make a true decision between true possibilities, for none exist or can exist.”

        Even you realize that you have a problem, because you have to refer to a “true” decision between “true” possibilities. So, you allow God to exercise His free will to make “decisions” but, once God makes a decision, He can no longer exercise his free will to make a “true decision.” So, what is a “true” decision and how does it differ from ordinary, everyday decisions?

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      3. Again, Roger, you present the same old contradiction – You said: “We both agree that God can know the complete set of possibilities for the future of the universe He created.” That He “can know” is false in Calvinism for there are no such things as “possibilities” that are possible in God’s locked-in omniscience. He can’t unlock it. It would change His nature.

        You dogmatically state – “There is only one set future anyway.” Of course you have no biblical statement that matches that premise, and so much of the Scripture reads contrary to it, as we have discussed. Do you feel I am dishonest for trying to redefine omniscience along biblical lines?

        And by the way… I appreciated your attempt to qualify your use of “dishonest.” But I still think you should only use such terms when you have evidence that someone is knowingly misrepresenting Calvinism by using the same terms omniscience and total depravity and say they believe those things the same way Calvinism does, defining them clearly as Calvinism does, but then go on to make clear statements that reject those same things. That is dishonest. Confusion and ignorance is not dishonesty.

        You have used the present tense in the previous discussions to talk about God’s deciding and choosing as if you agreed with my position, when I knew you didn’t. I didn’t think you dishonest… just a little sloppy and/or experiencing a Freudian slip towards the truth subconsciously. 🙂

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      4. brianwagner writes, “That He “can know” is false in Calvinism for there are no such things as “possibilities” that at possible in God’s locked-in omniscience. He can’t unlock it. It would change His nature.”

        The term “possibilities” only reflects that there are alternative ways that God could have accomplished His purposes. That God chose to do X does not deny that Y was a possibility. Regardless, staring today, they is a set of possibilities for the future regardless what God has determined to do. You are saying that nothing is possible other than what God has decided to do. That is always the case. From your viewpoint, anything is possible tomorrow, but it really isn’t because God will ultimately determine what happens even under your system – this because God is sovereign and God has the final say plus no new information will appear before God makes His decision (He already knows all possibilities so He has all the possible information He needs to make decisions.).

        Then, “You dogmatically state – ‘There is only one set future anyway.’”

        There is only one future as there is only one past. Your issue is that the future has not been set, not that there is more than one set future. There are many possible futures (from your perspective) but still only one set future even if that future is not known.

        Then, “Do you feel I am dishonest for trying to redefine omniscience along biblical lines?”

        You have merely defined omniscience on a technicality to fit your system. You use a condition – God really doesn’t have to make all His decisions in eternity past. What you have not done is to provide a means for new information to become available to God at a point in time in His creation that would cause God to make a different decision than He would have without that new information. This is because you allow God to know all future possibilities shutting out any new information. Thus, the actual timing of God’s decisions becomes irrelevant. Whether God makes a decision is eternity past or waits until later doesn’t matter – God makes the same decision either way.

        Then, “…by using the same terms omniscience and total depravity and say they believe those things the same way Calvinism does, defining them clearly as Calvinism does, but then go on to make clear statements that reject those same things. That is dishonest.”

        Are you saying that br.d identified several people as holding to omniscience but did not tell us that they define omniscience differently than the Calvinists? Nonetheless, there is a definition for omniscience that has prevailed through the years without issue – it is that omniscience includes knowledge of all future events. That the Open Theists have staring speaking of an omniscience* as if they were speaking of omniscience has confused the issue.

        Then, “You have used the present tense in the previous discussions to talk about God’s deciding and choosing as if you agreed with my position,…”

        I don’t think that there is a past, present, and future with God. God describes Himself as “I am.” There is no sense in which God “was” or “will be.” What people do is relate to God on human terms. Just to please you, I am going to have to find a different way of communicating with you.

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      5. Well, Roger, I am sorry that you don’t see your inconsistent reasoning. That’s the best I can do for now. You continue to use anthropomorphic verbs and tenses when you know they do not accurately represent your view.

        To say “God chose”… “God will ultimately determine”… “God makes His decision”… “God makes the same decision” are all “dishonest” statements by your definition for they falsely represent your view, and you even know it. Everything is past tense, eternally set with no “choice” or “determination” actually being made in your theology. How I wish you would “honestly” represent it!

        “There is only one future as there is only one past” is a non-sequitur argument. And that you “don’t think there is a past, present, and future with God” or “There is no sense in which God ‘was’ or ‘will be'” is another good example of how your theology denies clear Scriptural teaching about God who is “from everlasting to everlasting”, “who was and is and is to come.”

        You can have the last word in this conversation if you wish. I hope you have a good time worshiping this Sunday.

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      6. brianwagner writes, “I am sorry that you don’t see your inconsistent reasoning. That’s the best I can do for now. You continue to use anthropomorphic verbs and tenses when you know they do not accurately represent your view. ”

        I think I have language that will work. Look forward to it in comments coming in the future.

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