Category Archives: Calvinism

Chosen By God: Two Extremes and Some Middle Ground

Just how much is God at work in the world? Is God responsible for all things or nothing at all? Is God involved in every detail of every happening or has God left us to fend for ourselves? There are two extreme positions to just how much God works in the world. On one side of the pendulum you have deism. This view says that God created this world and then pretty much left it alone aside from a few moments of divine intervention. Because God is sovereign and omnipotent He has decided to use his power and freedom to keep to himself. God has checked out for a while and has as little to do with the goings on in this world as possible. On the other side of the pendulum you have Calvinism that in its most extreme position says because God is sovereign and omnipotent, there isn’t anything that happens that God didn’t choose to happen in advance.

 

Here is what Charles Spurgeon had to say about God’s full control of all details of the world,

“I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of . . . leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

 

John Piper refers to that quote quite often concluding this in answer to the question of whether or not God predetermines our sin, “So the macro-world and micro-world are all managed by God. Which means, Yes, every horrible thing and every sinful thing is ultimately governed by God.” (link)

 

If that is the case, I conclude that God is the most confused and confusing being in the universe (if not outright evil). The Bible repeatedly tells us of God’s holiness and His aversion to sin and yet here we have God administrating sin itself. Why? Because the conclusion drives the interpretation. If you conclude that God’s full sovereignty and omnipotence requires him to be in full control of all things at all times in order to adequately live up to his characteristics then this is the outcome. In that view, there is no room for human freedom because that would seemingly take away from God’s sovereignty. Yet, even the king who gives the orders to his subjects gives a certain level of freedom in how his orders are carried out and no one believes His sovereignty has been put into question.

 

I find human freedom in scripture. I find God punishing the results of that freedom. If God is ultimately responsible for all things and controls us in every way, again, I would find God to be the most confused and confusing if not outright evil being in the universe. I cannot accept that and I don’t have to accept that because that is not what I see in scripture. By the same token we can conclude that God is love and a loving God would not both control someone in every way and then punish them for what God made them do. But we don’t even have to go that route either because, again, good interpretation allows texts to stand on their own and say what they say without me having to fit them into a bigger picture right off the bat. Instead, I believe there is a necessary tension in the sovereignty of God and the freedom of mankind that needs to be allowed to rest in tension with each other without one diminishing from the other but BOTH being upheld as equally true. The claim of Calvinism that God is so sovereign that he must control all things results in a God who is not truly sovereign because they are not willing to grant God, in all his power and sovereign authority, the ability to grant freedom without compromising his character. That is not truly a sovereign God because that in and of itself limits Him.

 

So before we address what it means to be chosen by God it is important to figure out how we understand God to be working in the world, to properly define what it means for God to be sovereign and omnipotent and then to consider how human decisions interact with that.

 

The middle ground position is a God who, in all of His sovereign authority, has blessed humanity with self-determination that is all still living ultimately under the sovereign authority of God. So we have the power and ability to make our own decisions. God grants us that because anything less than that would not be love. That doesn’t diminish from God’s sovereignty because God has the power to grant us control of our own selves. God can grant us that freedom for the very reason that God is sovereign and He can grant it in such a way that He still fully maintains his character and qualities without any compromise. He must be able to do that or else God is not fully sovereign or all powerful.

 

So what does it mean to be chosen by God? We will get to that in the next post.

Southern Baptist Convention Puts Out a Report on Calvinism in the SBC

Here is a link to Christianity Today’s article on it. The article has the full text of their report ” Will New Calvinism Report Calm Tensions among Southern Baptists? This is a plea for unity without uniformity. It is also a plea to not let the SBC be dominated and directed exclusively by either sideContinue Reading

The Ultimate Argument Against Predestination

is 4-5 year olds in “organized” soccer. Some say God has predetermined every event, action and thought. I say, if you believe that, you haven’t been to a kids soccer game …those things have “free moral agent” written all over them. I would like to take a Calvinist to one of these games and seeContinue Reading

Ever Wonder if Someone Was a Calvinist? Here is the Big List

Ever wonder if a popular preacher is a Calvinist? The Light Hearted Calvinist has a big list of Calvinists. This guy has done his homework…there is a massive amount of supporting links and explanation involved. Just thought some of you would find this list helpful.

A Few Things I Don’t Get About Calvinists

Be forewarned, the following post contains broad generalizations based on what could be an unrepresentative sampling of Calvinist authors. I have been reading from various Calvinist authors recently and one of the things I have noticed time and time again is that they don’t talk about “Christianity.” They talk about “Calvinism”. Where most of usContinue Reading

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