Wednesday, September 06, 2006

An answer to an old question?

Years ago, Dave mentioned no Calvinist had ever given him a satisfactory answer to his question of how predestination squares with God's desire for all to be saved (1Tim 2:3-4). Does the following article count as a good answer? (I don't accept the TULIP doctrines)


kris said...

Regardless of how many scripture verses seem to support it I just don't feel comfortable with puppet-master theology.

The way I read that article is:
a. God wants everyone to be saved but
b. No one chooses salvation therefore
c. God graciously gives some people a pass into heaven and others a pass into hell. They don't get to see what pass they're holding until they die.

I'm starting to think Christians spend more time thinking about who's getting into heaven than the Bible warrants, but I guess that's another story.

Dave King said...

Um no. not even close. His argument that we think God is subject to fate is just a straw man argument. I left the article there as it doesn't seem to be really interested in the question.

Dave King said...

His basic argument is that there is no difference between God who sends people to hell and God who creats people who choose hell. Aparently God can not create people who choose. That's not a statement I find congruenet with the stories of the Bible.

- Peace

Lisa S said...

It seems to me that many great truths about God have some sense of contradiction about them.

It's interesting to think about, but I agree that we spend far too much time on this argument. What good would a definative answer do? How would it affect the commands God has given us? This is distracting us from the task of loving those people God has created and put around us, whether they or we were preordained for one thing or another.

Richard said...


Thank you for pointing us towards the theology which must be lived. A debate over predestination requires consideration over how it influences our actions towards our neighbor if it is to be valuable.

I cannot help but think that if God has indeed gifted us with the freedom and choice, including the freedom to disobey, it means very much concerning our actions towards our neighbor.

For example, it could suggest that some "immoral acts" might be best dealt with through invitation and education rather than the use of force or coercion (something Christians both Catholic and Protestant could improve upon).

It might also suggest that if one's willful choices influence one's final judgement, then our earthly courts and judges should consider this in handing out sentences. We see this in the distinction between murder and manslaughter. We see this in the way we punish drunk driving or extreme injuries inflicted by hockey players.

Anyone else have additional ideas on how this issue might influence how we deal with others?

Michael said...

I'm with Lisa.
Having been in a CRC church I know they have a problem doing much evangelism because of their predstination stand.
The question should never stop us from sharing Jesus love to people who need it.

Calvin said...

I think some of you may have misread (or, not-read) the article. To my reading the argument strand was basically:

1. God desires all people to know him and be saved.

2. God desires some men to not know him because he created them knowing they would reject him.

3. This contradiction is solved by splitting God's desire into a revealed will (what we are supposed to understand, i.e., that God desires all people) and a secret will (that we cannot understand, but somehow is actually how God acts, and defies our attempts at logical analysis.)

Maybe one way that this kind of argument can help us to love others is to remember, even if you are a Calvinist and believe in predestination, as far as God is concerned you had better act as if He really desires everyone, since that is what has been revealed to us. This seems reasonable.

kris said...

Jerry Falwell once said, "let's get out there and get more people predestined."

How he goes about doing that, well, that's another story.

Dave King said...

Calvin, point 2 is the problem. He equates God giving people free choice knowing that some will reject him with his own understanding of the elect saying that this choice group just move the two wills problem to creation. But giving people choice is not the same thing as choosing for them so it's a bad argument. He covers this up with some stuff about how the choice group believes God is bound by fate, and that's just a straw-man argument.

I think Lisa makes a good point. The one thing I do appreciate about the Calvinist (not the same as Calvin, either famous or friend) view is their utter disdain for thinking salvation is something we earn.

Richard said...


I also agree we all should have "utter disdain" towards the idea that we can earn our salvation.

Steve Wood (a former Calvinist) sharply criticizes Catholic education programs for failing to correct the prevalent mistaken belief that we can earn our salvation. Not only does he speak of how for twenty years he led numerous Catholics away from the Catholic Church he says that each one believed that the Catholic Church taught that you could earn your salvation.

Unlike other Catholic apologists, Steve Wood does not present Protestant attempts at converting Catholics as a series of errors which need to be recognized and rejected. Instead, he says that Protestant attempts to get people to leave the Catholic Church are a genuine act of love motivated by concern for sould endangered by the "salvation-by-works" heresy.

I think he goes so far as to suggest that as long as this heresy remains common belief, people will necessarily leave the Roman Catholic Church not out of rebellion but out of obedience to Christ.

Calvin said...

Dave, it was my understanding that Calvinists believe that it's only by God's grace that a person can accept God. So acceptance of salvation is not a choice of the person, it is a choice of God. So point 2 is I think just part of the Calvinist view, which is where the author is arguing from. As for the fate stuff, honestly I don't remember that being very much part of the main argument.

Dave King said...

Calvin, I know that's where he's coming from. And that's fine. But a good answer recognize that's not how the other side sees it. Yet he insists on describing the other side in terms that assumes his postion is correct, and as I've said that's a classic strawman argument. He's not really interested in the question. That's when I left the article.

- Peace