Someone called the “Gatekeeper” dropped a link to his (or her) site called Grace Gate and asked me to check it out. I did check it out and will continue to check it out. It is just another Calvinist site devoted to indoctrinating Christians into the “Doctrines of Grace.” There is no place to leave comments at his site and he (or she) does not encourage interaction (though there is an e-mail address), so I thought I would interact with some of the material over here and invite him (or her) to comment freely. Below is an introductory paragraph under the heading (B-1) The Freedom of God.
The question here is this, ‘Is God completely free to do whatever He wills, or is He limited in His freedom by what humans choose to do?’ If God is dependent even 0.000001% on the choice of any other being, then He can not logically be completely free. Some would argue that releasing a small amount of His sovereign will to the decisions of humanity is not relinquishing the free-will of God; that He is ‘sovereign over His own sovereignty.’ But by logical definition, for God to release control of His complete freedom is to no longer have 100% complete freedom. The premise of ‘(B-1) The Freedom of God’ is to show that God is revealed in the Scriptures to be 100% completely free to do with humanity as He has decided in the mystery of His eternal counsel. He is not ‘The Great Responder’, but is free to write all of human history and decree the movement of every molecule and the fate of every person; to His glory, never limited, stymied or thwarted by an overruling decision of man.
I find this paragraph to be both irrational and self-refuting. First, it is self-refuting since it says that God has total freedom to do whatever He pleases but denies Him the freedom to create free moral agents and hold them accountable for how they respond to him (note that he says God is not “The Great Responder”). It’s the usual, “God is sovereign and can do anything He wants except create man with a measure of free will”, which of course severely limits His freedom. If God is not free to create man and endow him with a measure of free will, then He is not completely free is He? So the question is not what God can do (since we should all agree that God could micromanage His creation or create free moral agents), but what God actually does.
If He is completely free then He could freely create a world full of free moral agents or a world full of creatures that are always and only controlled completely by God in all they think and do. We need to look to Scripture to determine which of these things God sovereignly and freely decided to do. That is the real point of contention, is it not? So the above paragraph does not prove that a free God could only be the Calvinist God. In fact, it demonstrates that Calvinists are the ones who look to limit God’s freedom and sovereignty by putting restrictions on what He can and cannot do.
Second, the paragraph is irrational. Look at this statement which attempts to say that God can only be truly free if He is not free to give His creatures a measure of freedom,
“Some would argue that releasing a small amount of His sovereign will to the decisions of humanity is not relinquishing the free-will of God; that He is ‘sovereign over His own sovereignty.’ But by logical definition, for God to release control of His complete freedom is to no longer have 100% complete freedom.”
Let’s use an analogy to further demonstrate the irrationality of this claim. If I am on my couch and I want my two and a half year old daughter to come to me from her bedroom I will call her. Now I could go and grab her and bring her to me but that is not what I want to do (it is not my will). I want her to come to me because it is what is in her best interest and I want her to learn to trust me that when I call her there is an important reason for her to respond. My perfect will is that she will come to me, but my permissive will is that she will suffer the consequences if she does not obey (be punished). My will is not to grab her and bring her to me so if I do not grab her and bring her to me then my will has in no way been violated and neither has my freedom (for I was still free to bring her to me but did not will to do so).
What if she was near a hot stove? I would sternly warn her not to touch the stove because I do not want her to get burned. But I also want to see if she will trust me and not touch the stove. I could intervene immediately but decide instead to see if she will obey. If she disobeys she will get burned. This would be my permissive will for her but not my perfect will because I do not want her to get burned. But what I want more than anything is for her to freely obey me and demonstrate that she trusts me as her Father and protector. So I freely decided to allow for an opportunity for her to trust me or reject my counsel and suffer the consequences. I am still in complete control and I am free to intervene if I like, but I am also free to leave the outcome with her and how she decides to respond to me. Either way, I am free and in complete control. My freedom is not limited if I intervene and my freedom is not limited if I don’t. In either case I am perfectly exercising my freedom and she is not violating it by either choice she decides to make.
So it is with God. He is not willing that any should perish. He is also not willing to irresistibly cause his creatures to trust in Him. God’s will is to have a relationship with them based on trust and love which springs freely from the creature. His will is not violated if His creatures refuse Him because God’s will was for them to have the opportunity to either trust in Him or reject Him. His perfect will is realized when His creatures trust in Him and enter into a loving relationship with Him, and His permissive will is realized when His creatures reject Him and suffer the consequences of that rejection. God’s freedom is not limited in Arminianism. God gets exactly what He wants and He is not worried about the fact that His creatures have free will. He is big enough and wise enough to accomplish His will despite allowing His creatures a measure of free will, as I stated in a previous post,
While there is mystery in how God can perfectly arrange an event like the crucifixion without violating the free will of His creatures, it is a true mystery on par with the Trinity, incarnation, and creation Ex Nihilo. It is not hard to accept given God’s unfathomable wisdom. Compatibilism, on the other hand, wants us to accept two completely contradictory assumptions under the umbrella of “mystery”. It tells us that God causes people to engage in sinful activity, and yet also tells us that God is not the author of sin. It tells us that the one who sins in accordance with God’s infallible decree is responsible for that sin while the God who ordained that sin is not. That is not a “mystery”. That is a flat contradiction and an abuse of normal human language.
It seems to me that when it comes to the scope and nature of God’s sovereignty, the Arminian God is far wiser than the God of Calvinism. A God who controls His universe like a puppet master is not that impressive to me. A God who can control His universe and accomplish His will without having to override or meticulously control the will of His creatures seems far more impressive and worthy of worship. I believe that Calvinism does not exalt God’s sovereignty but rather limits it by not properly incorporating God’s infinite wisdom into the equation. The Arminian view exalts God’s sovereignty within the balanced context of His omnipotence and omniscience. It also allows for divine mystery within its proper context and definition, without expecting us to accept disturbing contradictions.