Object Lesson in Why Some Hate Calvinism, part II
Mike from the blog Finding Bliss has objected to Calvinism. He says, “I find it spiritually abusive,” calls it “reckless [sic] doctrine”
In my previous post, I showed that Mike isn’t objecting to Calvinism proper. In that vein, I will answer some of the objections he then comes up with in the latter section of his post, most of which can be defused by appealing to what Calvinism actually teaches, not what Mike thinks it teaches. First objection:
How many nights have people laid awake at night questioning whether or not God chose them first? Or if like me you first believed and then you fell then that could very well mean that I was never truly saved in the first place.
Typical anti-Calvinist objection. Here, the seeker is out-thinking himself, trying to reason as God. Newsflash: You’re not God! Stop trying to think like him, and just trust him. That’s really what salvation is all about, trust in God through Jesus. Not enough? Here’s the deal, straight from the Bible:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Pet 1:3-10)
So, to make your calling and election sure, practice the virtues that Peter has listed. If you’re elect, you will practice these virtues, and you won’t fall. If you’re not, then you probably won’t ever feel the need to practice them in the first place.
Perhaps an illustration. When my daughter was born, I was extremely worried when I had to clean a certain “spot” after a wet or poopy diaper. I was wondering when a simple cleaning crossed the line into a fondle, and how psychologically damaging that could be to a young girl.
Then a thought occurred to me. If I didn’t worry about the difference between a wipe and fondle, that would be extremely disturbing.
The rub (I couldn’t resist) of it is this: If you’re actually worried about your salvation, then you have nothing to worry about. People who aren’t saved, Christians falsely-so-called, never worry about that sort of thing. They just continue living. The gospel is transformative. If it is transforming your life, and you are bearing the fruit described in Scripture (both the verse above and Gal 5:22-23, among others), then you’re saved.
Mike goes on to write, “I’ve never been a fan of the theology(can this possibly mean I am not elect?)” Here we have the classic battle between orthodoxy (right belief) versus orthopraxy (right practice). In reality, faith and works play off each other and together they save you.
Classical Calvinism did condemn as heretical any doxastic system other than itself, and posited that its adherents weren’t saved. The moment a doxastic system takes precedence over simple faith in Christ as the deciding factor in salvation, you fall into the error of Gnosticism. The New Calvinist movement isn’t as dogmatic about believers in Christ adhering to Reformed theology.
Likewise, pragmatic approaches stressing orthopraxy run aground on the shores of Pelagianism, the error with which Augustine contended. Rick Warren falls into this problem in modern times, stressing numerous times to potential converts to try living out the Bible, and you’ll like it for sure.
True faith is a deep trust in God, and a condition of one’s heart. It becomes a part of the person’s very nature. In a sense, salvation is both a choice and a unilateral action of God simultaneously.
Bottom line is: if you’re truly saved, you will act it out in your own life. You will seek to please God rather than men, and you’ll build up treasure in heaven rather than acquiring material wealth on earth that you can’t take with you. If you’re not doing any of these things, then your salvation is questionable at least, nonexistent at worst.
Mike continues to object:
I oft times wonder how people like Mark Driscoll or anyone else for that matter can take comfort in the doctrine in which they believe. How can THEY be sure that their salvation is a sure one? How can THEY or ANYONE know the heart of God?
Well, you can’t know for sure, but the Bible calls for a balance of orthodoxy and orthopraxy like I outlined above. Peter tells us we can be sure. But Arminian soterology isn’t immune from the same question, so I fail to see how this is a convincing counter-argument to Calvinism.
Mike goes on:
The bible is very clear that God sent Jesus to die for the sins of the entire world. Whether or not you believe that everyone will or won’t eventually be saved it’s clear in the narrative that ALL are called.
This objection completely disappears by distinguishing the types of “calls.” Remember: all are called (general call) but saving grace is only applied to the elect (effectual call).
What if someone believed all their life, served God and fellow people all of their life and before they died their grandchild was taken by some horrible disease. And before they died they renounced Jesus and God, were they ever really saved? According to Calvinism it is impossible for the elect to resist the calling. Yet,,,,,,
Arminianism also falls prey to the same objection. Is this hypothetical person going to heaven? Probably not, in either Calvinism or Arminianism. So the question of present or past salvation is moot.
Mike expounds on the previous point:
If you have created all of these beings and knew they would sin and knew that you would only choose some, redeem some, why create the others? What does that prove? How is that fair and right and just to those not called? How would anyone be able to praise God in heaven knowing people that they loved, who had no choice in the matter were suffering in hell?
Once again, how is Arminainism faring any better with this objection? God still created “all of these beings and knew they would sin and knew that” only some would choose him and become redeemed, so why create the ones he knew wouldn’t be saved? “What does that prove? How is that fair and right and just. . . ? How would anyone be able to praise God in heaven knowing people that they loved, who had . . . [a] choice in the matter were suffering in hell?”
This is interesting:
The God that I have found is an inclusive God who wish for all of his kids to come back to the table. I’ll not got into whether or not they all will I honestly don’t know but what I do know is that the gospel was created and meant for the entire world to share. Whether or not they do and who will and won’t be there when it is all said and done isn’t for me to decide.
Beautifully stated! I think that we both agree, but have come to this by very different methods of inquiry.