A Well Expressed and Concise Comment on the Fundamental Problem With Calvinist “Sovereignty”

Of course, when Calvinists speak of sovereignty, they are referencing their own bizarre definition of sovereignty which is synonymous with exhaustive decretal determinism.  While Calvinists hold to this definition of sovereignty (what they often call “absolute” sovereignty), they have a hard time speaking and thinking in a consistent manner with all that view of sovereignty entails.  Thankfully, they likewise have a hard time taking their views to its logical conclusion: making the God of holiness the author and originator of all sin and evil.  This short post at SEA states the matter succinctly in light of recent comments by Calvinists concerning the death of Kim Jong-Il,

After the passing of Kim Jong-Il (our font makes it look like “Jong the Second,” but it is really the capital letter i followed by the lowercase letter L), Justin Taylor did a brief post highlighting how diabolical he was:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/12/19/inside-kim-j…

It is simply baffling that Calvinists can decry the diabolical, heinous actions of Kim Jong-Il (and others like him), and yet they hold that God first conceived in his own divine heart every one of the man’s wicked actions, thought them up without any influence outside of himself, and unconditionally and irresistibly decreed them without any influence outside of himself, resulting in the man doing them all without any chance, power, or ability to do anything else. It’s madness I tell you! Madness!!

http://evangelicalarminians.org/?q=sea.Calvinism-and-the-Evil-of-Kim-Jong-Il

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15 Responses

  1. Yes, Calvinists can not come to terms with the finality of what their view of God’s sovereignty means, thus the different levels of Calvinism. If man has a choice, then God is in the clear, if God gives us no choice, He is the one responsible for our actions, much the same way the man who trains an animal to attack another man is responsible morally for the actions of the animal. Below is a 4 part video I did in which I try to work out this issue exhaustively. I DO ramble a lot, but I think the fruit outweighs the rambling.

  2. yet they hold that God first conceived in his own divine heart every one of the man’s wicked actions, thought them up without any influence outside of himself

    What a fantastically concise, incisive statement of the logical implications of Calvinistic approaches to aseity and sovereignty.

  3. kangaroodort,

    I really do WISH that Calvinists would NOT take determinism to its logical conclusion (that God is the author of sin).

    Sadly, I am seeing a trend in my context to not deny but to affirm that premise!

    See the C&A debate group wall on Facebook (which is swamped by Calvinists by the way and the Arminians there could do with some help!): https://www.facebook.com/groups/2205096914/ There are several posts DEFENDING the notion that God is the author of sin, by the Calvinists.

  4. Matt,

    I typically do not allow people to post YouTube feeds directly in the comments thread. Could you leave a link to the video instead? I want people to be able to access it, I just don’t want it in the thread itself.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  5. Hmmm. It looks like leaving a link automatically puts the feed in the combox. Is there anyway to leave a link without it creating the feed in the combox itself?

  6. Yeah, sorry, the link automatically makes the player available on this site. If you need to erase it, that’s fine, just please tell the name of the video so people can search it. Thanks

  7. Calvinists don’t all believe that God directs man’s evil-ness. We are already evil and wretched of ourselves….that He chooses to save any of us is completely merciful.
    We have free will..in that when God offers regeneration to whomever HE wills, we, of course, accept it…it is irresistible because of His Holiness. Before He regenerates us…we are too selfish to ever truly want what God wants. We are not puppets. The chosen are saved because God says so and who are we to say otherwise? With the Holy Spirit *in* His chosen, a true desire for righteous and holy living is what they strive for.

  8. I need to add…Kim Jong Il made his evil choices of his own….he was born sinful and chose to act out according to his sinful desires.

  9. Katy,

    Sorry to have missed this comment somehow over a year ago. You don’t seem to realize that in Calvinism God decrees everything. That includes our sinfulness and our sinful choices. We don’t just get that way independent of God’s decrees. Rather, God’s decrees are the reason we are sinful in the first place. Assuming you ever come to check back on this post, here is a post you should probably check out:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/john-piper-on-god-ordaining-all-sin-and-evil-part-1-an-arminian-response-to-pipers-first-question/

  10. God does decree everything…but that does not make Him the author of sin.

  11. AW Pink puts it beautifully here: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attrib_02.htm

    (Much, much better than I could sit and explain on my own!) To say that God does not decree is to say that He does not have sovereign control. Technically, God could stop anything He wants to before it happens…so if he knows it is going to happen and doesn’t stop it ~ that doesn’t make it *His* fault! 🙂

  12. Beautifully written by Jonathan Edwards:

    Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He either doth approve of them or doth not approve of them; that is, He either is willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them. (Jonathan Edwards).

  13. Katy,

    You should really read this post again. I am afraid you do not seem to have a good grasp on what traditional Calvinism teaches. I highly recommend the post I directed you to since it interacts quite a bit with Edwards (who you quote) and shows that the way he used language was often inconsistent with his actual teachings. I see the same thing in your comments. You write,

    God does decree everything…but that does not make Him the author of sin.

    This is a fine assertion and I am glad that you deny that God is the author of sin, but this is just an assertion. The difficulty comes in explaining God decreeing all sin and evil from eternity without any influence outside of Himself could make Him anything but the responsible author of all sin and evil. In other words, your two thoughts above, divided by the ellipsis, represent a clear contradiction.

    Much, much better than I could sit and explain on my own!) To say that God does not decree is to say that He does not have sovereign control.

    Nobody is saying that God never decrees anything, but even if He did not decree anything (from eternity) that would not mean that He does not (or could not) have sovereign control. God can control things without needing to irresistibly decree those things from eternity. However, Arminians affirm that nothing can happen unless God either causes it or allows it. The problem is that allowance is incompatible with Calvinist determinism. The post I directed you to explains that very well. So when you say,

    Technically, God could stop anything He wants to before it happens…so if he knows it is going to happen and doesn’t stop it ~ that doesn’t make it *His* fault!

    …you are talking like an Arminian and not a Calvinist (or at least not as a Calvinist should properly speak). The Calvinist accounting of sovereignty has everything originating in the eternal decree of God. That means that every sinful thought, desire and action originated in the eternal decree of God (not in us). That is why Arminians say that Calvinism effectively makes God the author of all sin and evil, as this post demonstrates. So to speak of God “not stopping” something is incompatible with that fundamental Calvinist teaching. It isn’t helpful to say that God “doesn’t stop” something He irresistibly decreed from all eternity to happen. Remember, nothing at all can happen outside of God causing it to happen in accordance with His irresistible eternal decree (in Calvinism) in the first place. To speak of God permitting, allowing, or not stopping something is to speak like an Arminian. Again, I recommend you read the post I directed you to on Piper which delves into this in great detail. Here is the link again,

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/john-piper-on-god-ordaining-all-sin-and-evil-part-1-an-arminian-response-to-pipers-first-question/

    I will be happy to read the article by Pink that you directed me to. I might even write a post about it.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. I noticed Katy seems to like Pal Washer a lot. Perhaps she would be interested in your articles related to him (https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/paul-washer/), particularly the one on his doctrine of election: Paul Washer’s – “Doctrine” of Election: An Arminian Critique (https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/paul-washer%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9cdoctrine%e2%80%9d-of-election-an-arminian-critique/).

  15. Trying to come to a logical understanding of Calvinistic sovereignty–in the classical sense–rattles my brain. My brain has hurt for the past two months! Katy, you touched on it in a couple of places. In Calvinism God decrees whatsoever comes to pass, and so that is why we are saved ultimately…because God said so, not primarily because we find his holiness irresistible.

    And if we can point our salvation back to God’s sovereignty in this way, why can we not point the evil back to God who has decreed whatsoever comes to pass? If he decreed it, it didn’t get there by accident. “Secondary causes” are made with an ability to sin because of God’s decree that it would be that way. Salvation was planned before creation, so did God allow the fall or did he decree it? If he allowed it, then that language alludes to a possibility that man could have never sinned.

    We point back to God when things are good, but when there is evil we point to man. Man would never have had the power to sin if God never decreed it, and neither would we be saved if God hadn’t decreed it. I often hear the word “allow” in Calvinist speech when we talk about sin, but why not when we talk of salvation or good things? I myself have chosen my words carefully when talking about such things, but it never set right with me philosophically.

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