Announcement: I Am Done With Calvinism




I've been reluctant to post this since I've already ticked off a lot of people with the recent controversy over my post on divine determinism. But I think it's a good idea to come out and let people know that I'm stepping away from the debate on Calvinism...and also why I'm stepping away from it, perhaps for a couple of years, perhaps forever. I've grown more than tired of the soteriological debate. Really tired. I often find that conversations with Calvinists usually go around and around in circles (mainly because of the almighty appeal to mystery, and various eisegeted scriptures, and scriptures that disagree with Calvinism simply explained away through strained interpretations).

I'm sick and tired of being called pelagian, semi-pelagian, and pagan by Calvinists, being told I believe in a works doctrine, and that I value my autonomy over God's sovereignty. I’m tired of being called a blasphemer when I point out the overwhelmingly obvious truth that a God who causes evil is responsible for the evil He causes and is thus responsible for evil itself. I’m tired of being told that because I believe the blasphemous doctrine of universal divine causal determinism and the biblical doctrine of God’s goodness are logically incompatible, that therefore I lack trust in God, that I do not trust God. I’m tired of being called impious by tulip sniffers because I think a good God would never causally determine people to kill, rape, maim, steal, etc. but would instead cause people to only do good things. I’m tired of being accused of judging God. I’m tired of being told I worship free will and human autonomy. I’m tired of being condescendingly told that I’m being emotional every time I argue that Calvinism, given the implications of universal divine determinism, is logically impossible. Yeah, this issue does makes me pretty emotional. Blasphemy tends to do that to me. Paul and Barnabas were upset when people worshiped them as gods (see Acts 14:11-15) but that didn't mean their outrage didn't stem from intellectual reasons (i.e There is only one God deserving of worship, therefore, this is blasphemous). I have a similar response to when I see atheist post pictures demeaning Jesus. Universal divine causal determinism is extremely dishonoring to God, and I’ve done my best to help people see that.

Look, I agree that anything God does is good, and if God does it, it is good. But I don't think that means that God can just do anything and everything. Some things are inconsistent with goodness, and since goodness is His nature (by necessity), it is therefore inconsistent with God's nature.

Yet the way I’ve heard some Calvinists reason about the issue, they could say something asinine like "Jesus liked the thought of women getting raped" and then when you protest, they could appeal to mystery and say "Oh well, God's not entitled to do things according to your standard of morality. God probably has reasons for liking the thought of women getting raped". And it does no good to protest or say "Isn't that a little blasphemous? Isn't taking pleasure in such a heinous act evil?" For they will just keep saying the same thing. They'll probably also accuse you of making an appeal to emotion. This kind of response is actually similar to what somebody said to me in a Facebook thread, in response to my arguments that a good God could not and would not determine people to do evil things.

I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot reason with these people. In the conversation I referenced to above, on my own personal page, I was finally that convinced of that. I responded to the guy reasonably and respectfully at first, but then I decided to I treating the issue seriously and just began trolling the guy. Richard Bushey screen capped some of the things I said and posted them on his website, in response to my blog post “A Response To Richard Bushey’s ‘How Job Answers The Central Objection To Calvinism’” (which is the blog post that started a big controversy on Facebook that lasted for hours). The reason I decided to turn into a troll is threefold; first; the position the man was defending was so irrational, so unreasonable, such an affront to common sense, that to respond to him like it was a serious objection to be dealt with would give it a level of credibility that it did not deserve. Don’t believe me? Here’s what he said “’If He caused people to do evil, He would be responsible for that evil.’ No He would not. I don't accept that notion, but if He did, it still would not be evil for Him to do so.” Really? So God wouldn’t be responsible for evil if the reason people did evil is because He causally determined them to do so? He wouldn’t be responsible? Moreover, he said “’A good God would NEVER...’ A good God would never violate your standard of morality? Whatever a good God does is by nature good whether you or anyone else thinks it's good or not.” -- I responded by asking if he seriously thought a good and loving God would want a world where people kill, rape, maim, lie, insult, and steal from one another. I asked if he was so intoxicated with the smell of tulips that his cognitive faculties malfunctioned and lead him to think there's nothing wrong with a God who makes people sin. I said that Laurence Krauss and his universe popping into being from nothing is more reasonable than that!  Oh yeah, a good God would LOVE a world where weirdo rape little girls, and where Islamists blow up buildings, killing thousands of innocent people. God wants a world where people kill each other and maime each other. Desiring a world like ours is obviously what a morally perfect and righteous King would desire, right? That makes perfect sense, right? Not to any reasonable person, it doesn’t.

Secondly; the things I said in my trollish responses proved a point; namely that you cannot hold me responsible for anything I say or do if you truly believe God causally determines all things. So I said things like “You’re an idiot! Whoops! I’m sorry. God made me say that.” and other things like that. I’ve screencapped the conversation and posted the pic below so you can take a look for yourself (you'll have to click on it to enlarge it). The point my trolling was making was that If determinism is true, I don’t have to take personal responsibility for anything. I can blame it all on God. If I can’t blame it on him, I can blame it on my sin nature (since some who adhere to a more watered down version of Calvinism believe that it’s not God who determines everything we do, but our sinful nature). If X determines me, then X is responsible for what I do, regardless of what X is. I believe X is myself, so I'm to blame for my own actions. But if X is God, then God is to blame. If X is my sin nature, then my sin nature is to blame.

Thirdly; when the people would get butt hurt for my trolling them, telling me my behavior was unChristlike and childish (a prediction I made that came true), I would ask them if they believed I could have done otherwise. With every rebuke I received for my trolling, I would ask that question; “Do you think I could have behaved in a different manner tonight?”. Now, if they said “Yes” I would have responded “Welcome to libertarianism, pal.” or if they said “No.” then I would have responded with something like “Then why do you find fault with me? I couldn’t help it.” However, no one even attempted to answer my question. They didn’t even acknowledge that I had asked the question. They completely avoided it. See, if people don’t have free will, then they cannot be moral agents. They cannot truly be held responsible for the things that they do. If people are determined, then to get mad at them for doing something or saying something you find offensive would be as rational as getting angry at a puppet for making an inappropriate joke rather than getting angry at the comedian (an analogy to divine determinism), or it would be as rational as getting angry at fire for burning you (an analogy to the sin-nature-determines-our-actions view) since fire can’t help it, it’s in its nature to burn.

The irrational responses like the one the guy gave above is one reason among many why, after this incident, I’m going to try to steer clear of this discussion altogether. I’m not going to write blog posts about it, I’m not going to post about it on Facebook, I’m not going to tweet about it, I’m not going to comment on any posts advocating Calvinism, and I’m not going to debate this issue either (either Google + Hangouts On Air or social media). If I don’t get some illogical response like the above, I’ll get various appeals to mystery; “Oh, God must have his reasons. You just need to trust him. His ways are higher than ours.” And that’s the gentle response. Other times I’ll be accused of condemning or judging the Almighty Himself! Since when did criticizing a view ABOUT God equate to criticizing God Himself? And how come Young Earth Creationists never make this charge when I say that their argument that God created the universe with an appearance of age makes God out to be a deceiver? Maybe it just hasn’t occurred to them. Maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas.

You can lead a person to logic, but you cannot make him think. I’d rather deal with 1,000 atheists who believe that things can pop into being out of nothing than I would one Calvinist who believes it’s okay for God to causally determine people to do evil things. The former is so much more rational than the latter, and that’s saying something! Now, granted, a Calvi would never say God delights in rape (like the example I used above), but with universal causal divine determinism….they might as well. If everything God does is “for his good pleasure” as many Calvinist confessionals and John Calvin himself wrote, and if God causally determines a man to rape a woman, that would seem to entail that a woman being raped gives God “good pleasure”. It's modus ponens. How such a God could still be called good in this scenario is beyond me. But they'll find some way to believe He could be through a massive amount of cognitive dissonance. 

Richard wrote a response to my article “A Response To Richard Bushey’s ‘How Job Answers The Central Objection To Calvinism’” but he didn’t really add anything substantive. You can read his response of my response here. He certainly didn’t SHOW how God could (1) causally determine people to do evil, and (2) not be morally responsible for the evil that He causes. Instead he continued to take me to task for not trusting God, accused me of blaspheming God, and said my post was filled with appeals to emotion. He mockingly told me in a Facebook comment “This should probably not be titled ‘A Response To Richard Bushey’. You should change it to, ‘Another Post Where I Repeat The Same Thing Without
Addressing Criticisms’" even though it is different from the other posts I’ve written on this subject. I did say some of the same things, but that was to show, in summary, the argument I made that he was criticizing for readers who may not have known about that blog prior to that. Moreover, I pointed out that there’s a difference between a mystery and sheer nonsense. Not everything is a mystery. If that were the case, we could intellectually justify just about any kind of bull dung we thought up. One example I used was a man putting on pants but claiming he was still naked. This is similar to claiming “God can cause evil but not be responsible for causing evil”. There’s no mystery in either statement, both are absurd. Both are the utterances of an irrational person. This is why his appeal to the story of Job was meaningless.

My appeal to Paul Copan was to point out that if appeals to mysteries were satisfactory, his book would have been a lot smaller. But Copan was wiser than a lot of Calvinists I meet. He knew that wouldn’t jive with atheists, other non-believers, and even Christians who might be bothered by things they read in the Old Testament. I can imagine that if a calvi wrote that book, it would have been much shorter.

Richard wrote a response to my response, as did a couple of other people, but I’m not going to address them. If they can't see the problem with universal causal divine determinism, then nothing I say is going to make a difference. The novel writer Ayn Rand once wrote “The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.” Richard and his fellow Calvinists have decided not to see the glaringly evident implications of universal causal divine determinism that virtually every non-Calvinist sees so plainly.

Aside from my frustration with the irrationality of determinist responses reaching its climax, God recently placed it on my heart that my time would be much better spent dealing with issues from outside the Christian faith such as atheist arguments and criticisms, refuting heresies (like Mormonism, Jehova’s Witnesses, Modalism), writing about issues in the Christian life (like some of the topics in the “Christian Life Issues Library”), the historical Jesus, and so on and so forth, than I would to continue to beat a dead tulip covered horse.

I've chosen to go down the route William Lane Craig has (wisely) chosen to take; which is focusing on debating non-believers on issues regarding the truth of the Christian worldview. Things like the existence of God, the Resurrection, the problem of evil, the hiddeness of God, Trinity VS. Oneness, Sola Fide VS. Works Based Salvation, and so on, and avoid anything related to Calvinism whatosever. Even blog post wise, I’ve found that I’ve been spending way too much time on soteriology. Blog articles refuting Calvinism shouldn't be near to outnumbering blog posts criticizing atheism and theistic heresies (e.g Mormonism, Jehova's Witness theology, etc.), yet check out the Soteriology Library on this site and you'll find just as many blog posts criticizing Calvinism as you will atheism. I've just become too preoccupied with the whole Calvinism debate. God put it on my heart that I should spend more time giving nonbelievers a defense for why I believe what I believe than showing Calvinist’s why their view is unbiblical and an affront to the beauty that is God.  

I wouldn’t even have written the two most recent ones that I did had Richard Bushey not singled me out in his posts. I thought I should address his “arguments” since he specifically was criticizing me. Had he not done that, “A Response To Richard Bushey’s‘How Job Answers The Central Objection To Calvinism’” as well as this one wouldn’t exist right now. That’s a counterfactual of creaturely freedom that you can take to the bank.

These conversations are just utterly fruitless. Now, you might think "Well, the determinism subject is clearly a dead end, but maybe exegetical discussions on the 5 points would be more fruitful" I find that  even the exegetical debates on the 5 points are pointless. Even though The Bible contradicts the T.U.L.I.P (well, at least the U.L.I part, the T and the P are amply supported), the T.U.L.I.P is practically unfalsifiable because no matter what scripture you use or how much you use, they’ll always find some ad hoc, strained interpretation to avoid the clear meaning of the text. They’ll also counter with scriptures they’ve eisegeted to prove their point. I’ve been stunned at some of the scriptures they think proves some of their doctrines. For example, one guy I talked to used Matthew 1:21 used to try to prove limited atonement and another used this same verse to try to prove irresistible grace.  

These conversations are such a waste of my time and energy. I’m writing this to alert everyone, everyone who might want to challenge me to a debate, or ask me a question about it in the weekly Q and A session, or write a response to any of my articles, or anything like that. I’m done. I am so done. Have questions about soteriology? Go find someone else. Want to debate a Molinist? Go find someone else.  Have no fear. I’m not going to delete the posts I’ve already written on Calvinism and determinism, I just won’t be writing any new ones in the foreseeable future.

Besides all of my complaints above, this issue is far too divisive. Determinists are way too sensitive and defensive when you challenge them. I've unfortunately had people unfriend me on Facebook because of this. 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

I'm backing out of the Calvinism discussion because

1: When I press them on the implications of their determinism, all I get are either appeals to mysteries, rebukes that I'm judging God, rebukes that I'm blaspheming God, I get accused of "being emotional", or I get irrational responses like even if God caused evil, he wouldn't be responsible for causing evil.

2: I'm tired of being accused of so many things by the calvis, among which are being pelagian or semi-pelagian, believing a works based doctrine, etc.

3: I've been spending way too much time and effort addressing pro-Calvinist arguments and not enough of defending the Christian faith against the intellectual attacks of unbelievers. I would be spending my time much more wisely spending time writing and debating topics like the existence of God, the resurrection, the Trinity, and so on.

4: Exegetical discussions are fruitless. They'll never fail to find some ad-hoc and strained explanation for the text that undermines one of the 5 points, and they'll eisegete texts you'd never even dream could be used to support Calvinism.

5: I'm tired of ticking people off simply for pointing out the obvious. Even this post is bound to offend some, and for that, I'm sorry. My only intent is defend the character of God against doctrines that distort it and turn my wonderful Lord into something ugly. From now on, if I'm going offend someone, it's going to be unbelievers with the gospel message.

For these 5 reasons, I'm backing away from the Calvinist debate. I want nothing to do with it anymore. I'm going to end this post with a quote from John Wesley; "It [Calvinism] represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust"  -- To that, I can only give a hardy amen. To those who fail to see this, I can only pray that God opens your eyes. He's the only one who can get passed your willful ignorance. And I'm truly sorry that you've allowed this issue to come between us.