Am I Still a Calvinist?
James White had a thoughtful post on the 12th about the theological issues faced in deciding whether or not one is Roman Catholic. Reading that post, and listening to his extended edition of the Dividing Line here has made me re-re-evalutate my stance on the Reformed position.
Although I’ve been coming away from the Reformed position, it has been nagging at me somewhat. What about the problem of evil? How is it to be answered in light of Arminianism? The only answer that Arminians have is that evil exists becauase of free will. That means three things.
First, evil is senseless. If evil exists because we define it and carry it out, then this is simply senseless.
Second, evil is out of God’s hands. Because evil is there due to the free will of man, and God either can’t or won’t stop it, it means that God has, in some sense or another, washed his hands of evil completely.
Third, evil is pointless. As the happenstance of existentialism, if we are caught in something evil it is because of that reason and not for any other.
Now consider Chapter 3, paragraph 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
From this, evil is not senseless or pointless, and it is not out of God’s hands. It exists alongside good for the purpose of glorifying God by God’s eternal decree. But notice the final thoughts of this paragraph: “neiter is God the author of sin . . . nor is the liberty or contigency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” Evil still exists by our free will, but our free will is subject to God and therefore he is still in control without being the author of sin. But sin is still included in his plan. And, guess what? We are still responsible for choosing that evil over good.
By Arminianism, sin cannot be included in God’s plan and is therefore out of God’s control. Well, not the God that I worship. Like the shirt says: CALVINISM: When a finite God won’t do.
I’m convinced that the truth of the matter lies somewhere in-between Calvinism and Arminianism. But for now, I’m afraid that I must remain on the side where God is in control of what happens on earth. I choose Calvinism.
This is likely to disappoint a great number of people who frequent this blog, like the commenter who goes by “rey” but is in reality “Beowulf2k8” from other Calvinist blogs and has his own rarely updated blog. My friend Caleb, who thought that I put the Westminster Confession above Scripture (and who might be mad at me for linking to him). I know this will disappoint the pastor of my church, since he, too, has a certain distaste for Calvinism (he spent an entire series in Sunday school–three weeks–preaching against predestination).
On the other hand, this will probably make other readers happy. Craig French, TurretinFan, and James White (if he reads this blog). Most readers probably won’t care too much. Hopefully this will solidify my apologetics, which have been faltering as of recently. Owing in no small part to my brief departure from sound theology, most likely.
To those I disappoint, sorry, but I’ve made up my mind. James White is right: Theology Matters. So, in answer to the question posed by the title, YES, I am still a Calvinist.