Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 26th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Calvinism is Rooted

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I cannot explain to you my distaste for this form of deterministic Calvinism. Not only does it require God to send people to hell, but it requires God to cause all things, sin included.

This is from John Piper:

If he can’t govern that moment, he can’t govern the rest of your life and do the miracles you need for him to do. So you need two things. You need a God who disapproves of the ugliness and you need a God who ordains that all things come to pass and is so sovereign he can take everything — including that — and work it for good. And so you try to say there is no sense in which the sovereign God willed that, you will lose God for the rest of your life.

Source: John Piper Explains God’s Will in Scrabble and Child Molestation and We Pick Up the Pieces | The Wartburg Watch 2015

You can find more gems at the site linked to above. But this is the jist of it:

God is all powerful and establishes his reign as such. Therefore, he chooses to send some to hell and some to heaven, so that no matter what, we may not step over that choice. God has determined all things.

John Piper (theologian)

John Piper, heretic according to Christian Tradition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But God is equally powerless. He cannot undo what he has done. God has established that some will be raped, some will be murdered, and so on. He cannot change this, regardless. But, what is now required from us is our blind obedience and acceptance of this divine fiat. We must accept that this is God’s will, or else we will be lost forever.

Unless you say God has willed child molestation, you are going to hell.

Among other things, God can make a rock so heavy he cannot lift it.

If this was but Piper alone, we could conceal it as a Piperism. But it is not.

God . . . brings about all things in accordance with his will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory (see Ex. 9:13-16; John 9:3) and his people’s good (see Heb. 12:3-11; James 1:2-4). This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child . . .

— Mark R. Talbot, “’All the Good That Is Ours in Christ’: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do to Us,” in John Piper and Justin Taylor (eds.), Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 31-77 (quote from p. 42).

What do we make of this? Either God is the cause of all evil and sin, or God is powerless to do anything about it.


When I say Calvinism is a heresy, oftentimes I am perceived as joking. But I am not. Rather, I am quoting the Confession of Dositheus (Jerusalem Synod, 1672). This confession is a charge against Calvinism, from top to bottom.

In one part, it reads,

But to say, as the most wicked heretics do and as is contained in the Chapter [of Cyril’s’ Confession] to which this answers — that God, in predestinating, or condemning, did not consider in any way the works of those predestinated, or condemned, we know to be profane and impious. For thus Scripture would be opposed to itself, since it promises the believer salvation through works, yet supposes God to be its sole author, by His sole illuminating grace, which He bestows without preceding works, to show to man the truth of divine things, and to teach him how he may co-operate with it, if he will, and do what is good and acceptable, and so obtain salvation. He takes not away the power to will — to will to obey, or not obey him.

But than to affirm that the Divine Will is thus solely and without cause the author of their condemnation, what greater defamation can be fixed upon God? and what greater injury and blasphemy can be offered to the Most High? We do know that the Deity is not tempted with evils, {cf. James 1:13} and that He equally wills the salvation of all, since there is no respect of persons with Him. we do confess that for those who through their own wicked choice, and their impenitent heart, have become vessels of dishonor, there is justly decreed condemnation. But of eternal punishment, of cruelty, of pitilessness, and of inhumanity, we never, never say God is the author, who tells us that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. {Luke 15:7} Far be it from us, while we have our senses, to believe or to think this; and we do subject to an eternal anathema those who say and think such things, and esteem them to be worse than any infidels.

If we suppose God has foreordained everything, evil and good, then we are betraying the Gospel — and instead, substituting “another Gospel.”

Finally,

And that these fine gentlemen know the Orthodox doctrine of the Eastern Church (though they pretend not to know), is evident. Firstly, from the Holy Scriptures themselves (a knowledge of which they make a special boast), and from the holy theologians of the Catholic Church. For they know very well—these maligners not only of men but of God Himself know,—that if indeed God be just, and if indeed the father of us all, as He Himself hath told us in many places; and that His commandments were given to men as something necessary unto salvation; and that the choice of what is good and the refusal of what is evil is taught by the Scriptures; and that to every one will be given according as he hath wrought;† and that God is not the author of evils, nor a respecter of persons, so as to love one, and hate another without cause; but desireth and willeth the salvation of all,—that the thesis of free-will is certain, and to be held of necessity, according as the Catholic Church maintaineth; and absolutely to be banished from the sacred precincts of the faith is the nonsense about destiny derived from Greek* myth; which, as a pernicious outrage, the wickedness of Calvin hath imposed upon mankind, opposing every virtue of a life that is according to Christ (for which Christ became man), and introducing depravity and lawlessness, and that most superstitious and false notion, that faith forsooth simply and alone saveth man, and that works are of no avail whatever, which the Scriptures most plainly admonish him to do who would be saved, since faith without works is dead.1

  1. Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheus, The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem (ed. J. J. Overbeck; trans. J. N. W. B. Robertson; London: Thomas Baker, 1899), 10–11.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

5 Responses to “Calvinism is Rooted”
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    Calvinism could be a theology of biological predisposition resulting from confusing religion with science.

    Calvin may have been sufficiently observant to notice that tenancies run in families. For example, alcoholic fathers often produce alcoholic children.

    At the same time, having what can perhaps be most charitably described as a Bronze Age mind, Calvin ascribed the resulting life paths to God’s will rather than some non-theological causality.

    Much the same mistake would be made four centuries later by eugenicists assuming that children would merely be replications of their parents. Only, instead of consigning those parents and children to hell in the future, the eugenicists had them sterilized in the here and now.

    That misadventure in science paved the road to that hell on earth known as the Holocaust.

    Variations of Calvin’s thinking manifest themselves to day in pseudo-science lunacies such as Young Earth Creationism .

    • uh… no. no bronze age mind. nothing like that. It was ego and a poor interpretation of St. Augustine.

      • Know More Than I Should says

        John Calvin seems to have been very much a my-way or barbecue-you kind of guy. In particular, his post-secular mind seems to have been very much in tune with those Middle Eastern Bronze Age despots serving as prototypes for the creation of Yahweh. A massive ego was merely part of an inevitable persona.

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