Showing posts with label Determinism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Determinism. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Deconstructing Romans 9

A recent letter to another Christian blog writer referenced this bleak little video, in which a young woman who formerly professed faith in Christ shares with her audience why she no longer calls herself a believer. In her video, she quotes and attempts to dissect five passages of scripture that she says “caused me to lose my faith”.

“Losing her faith” also inspired her to start her own YouTube channel debunking it, which currently has 76 videos mostly devoted to “deconstructing” scripture. Jezebel Vibes has over 54,000 subscribers. Naturally, this self-styled “Jezebel” has monetized her apostasy. Viewers are invited to buy one of her deconstructionist T-shirts to share their non-faith with the world.

Hey, it’s YouTube. Why wouldn’t you?

Sunday, May 19, 2024

A Game of Determinist Chess

“How can a loving God allow [fill in the blank]?”

There may be questions Christians are more likely to hear from unbelievers than the various permutations of the above, but I can’t think of one at the moment. The query may be a defiant attack on the character of God or the honest expression of perplexity by a genuine seeker. Either way, the answers that satisfy you or me rarely settle the matter for those who do not know Christ.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

The Augustinian Error

I recently enjoyed a week of meetings taken by an ex-Calvinist who had been Reformed for 25 years. He left that movement because his own repeated reading of scripture was clashing with his systematic theology, and the cognitive dissonance eventually forced him to change his thinking. It was a terrific week. He is a gracious man by nature, but extremely thorough in his presentation and utterly convincing.

Not that I needed convincing on that subject …

Predetermined?

One of the points he made in the course of the week is that Calvinists often tell us determinism was the teaching of the early church, or at very least that Calvinism is consistent with the teaching of the church fathers. After all, or so they reason, the Bible teaches these things, therefore the fathers must have believed them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Superstition, Unbelief and Pattern Recognition

“On that night the king could not sleep.”

It has been pointed out that Esther is unique among the books of the Bible in that it contains no direct reference to God or religion. There are several indirect references to what appears to be divine providence or at least the potential for it, but nothing explicit.

For example, Mordecai tells Esther, “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place [Hmm, what place might that be?], but you and your father's house will perish” [I wonder how he could be so sure about that]. Esther responds by telling him to have the Jews fast on her behalf for three days. In scripture, a fast is not a fad diet, but rather an appeal to God.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

A Finger on the Scales

Let’s start with one of my favorite quotes from John Calvin:

“Those who have learned from the mouth of Christ that all the hairs of his head are numbered (Matthew 10:30), will … hold that all events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God.”

If I say to you, “Your days are numbered”, I could be saying no more than that I know exactly how long your life will last. I could also be threatening it. That is much like what Calvin wants the Lord to have said: that God personally determines the number of hairs on our heads. And if God exercises personal control over something so miniscule and insignificant, then he surely exercises personal control over all other matters in the universe both great and small.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Fatal Friends: Dawkins and Calvin

Hey, look — John Calvin and Richard Dawkins are riding on the same bus!

To be fair, I think neither is likely to be very happy the other has come along for the ride. They’re probably sitting at opposite ends, looking away from each other, and maybe pretending to read an outdated copy of The Times. But they’re riding to the same station.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

John Piper’s God

John Piper’s God is not someone I find particularly appealing.

Piper’s Calvinist determinism makes his version of heaven a scary place where every microscopic detail of human existence is examined, and from which God himself administers rough justice to his subjects on the spot as he sees fit, to believers and unbelievers alike, sometimes in the form of really bad weather.

A rash of tornados across the U.S. in 2012 prompted Piper to express his opinion in this post.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Anonymous Asks (64)

“Does everything happen for a reason?”

That ominous yellow ticket under your windshield wiper: did God do that?

Just curious.

Some Christians are determinists. They think everything that happens, no matter how minuscule or insignificant, is a product of God’s deliberate calculations; in effect, that God micromanages the universe. In believing this, they feel they are glorifying God, because they are acknowledging his sovereign rule.

In their view, yes, God gave you that ticket. You will thank him later.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Dear Preacher: On Calvinism and Pride

Dear Preacher Bob:

This isn’t a complaint, just a reflection. My point is not to object, but rather to expand the range of possible answers to a question you raised a couple of weeks back. Would you bear with me while I do that?

You gave a message on the subject “The Sovereignty of God”. I agree that this is an essential topic and for the most part, I found myself rejoicing in your take on it.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Remember to Quote the Whole Thing

Christians in the habit of proof-texting should consider examining the context of their favorite “gotcha” verses once in a while. It’s a healthy exercise, useful in maintaining doctrinal balance.

Determinists, for instance, would benefit immensely from making context-scrutiny a daily practice. Most of the great passages they like to cite on the subject of God’s sovereignty have overtures to human responsibility at their core.

Let me grab a couple of favorites from The Calvinist Corner, because nobody can make the point better.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fatal Friends: Dawkins and Calvin

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Gift of Singleness

This is the first of two extended lines of thought that wouldn’t fit conveniently into my post from two days ago. You may remember that one: John Piper was giving advice to a single mother who wondered if she should be looking for a husband.

A couple of common evangelical catchphrases were bandied around in the exchange and caught my attention. First, Piper referred to the “gift of singleness”. Later, the young woman declared she did not feel “called to marriage”. You have probably heard people say things like that. You may have said them yourself.

Both phrases sorta-kinda employ the language of the New Testament, but both do it in ways that can mislead us if we’re not paying attention to the way they are used.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Divine Veto

Lately I’ve been wondering how much latitude God gives his servants in choosing how they go about doing his work. If you read either Testament carefully, it seems like it could be an awful lot.

Now, bear in mind that from John Calvin’s perspective, it is really God doing everything that is done in the universe. I don’t think he ever used the word “pawn” (which might have been the most honest way to describe how he thought God treats his creatures), but in effect he taught that sentient beings, good or bad, cannot really act contrary to the will of God. God’s determinate counsel initiates and controls every transaction in the universe — “all events whatsoever”, as Calvin put it.

I’m not operating on that wavelength at all, so disciples of Mr. Calvin may want to take a pass on the following musings.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Forgiving Jesus

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

A strong desire that can never be legitimately sated is a huge distraction. This remains true even if we can’t currently explain where the feeling comes from. Whatever its origin, like any other source of intense motivation, same sex-attraction complicates the Christian life and needs to be managed.

For reasons I can’t quite nail down, blaming God for unfulfilled desire is becoming a regular thing in Christendom.

Monday, October 10, 2016

More Complicated Than It Appears

Cause and effect are not simple things.

Lots of people would really like them to be. Whether an effect is ultimately good, bad, or a little bit of both, they would like the question “Who did it?” to have a single, obvious answer.

John Calvin taught a deterministic view of the universe that remains exceedingly popular in Christian circles today — largely, I think, because of its simplicity. It reduced all causes to … God.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Did God Do That?

That ominous yellow ticket under your windshield wiper: did God do that?

Just curious.

Some Christians are determinists. They think everything that happens, no matter how minuscule or insignificant, is a product of God’s deliberate calculations; in effect, that God micromanages the universe. In believing this, they feel they are glorifying God, because they are acknowledging his sovereign rule.

In their view, yes, God gave you that ticket. You will thank him later.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fatal Friends: Dawkins and Calvin

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dear Preacher: On Calvinism and Pride

The most recent version of this post is available here.