(See Updated material at bottom)
Someone named Tim Kimberley wrote a post at Credo House asking, “What if my Children are not Elect?” The post is a response to an inquirer who is struggling with the horrific implications of Calvinist determinism with regards to the predetermined destiny of his or her children. Kimberley offers an answer, but it evades the heart of the problem. In the comments we see the same thing: Calvinist after Calvinist evading the heart of the problem and side stepping numerous straightforward questions being asked by those who are not convinced by the claims of Calvinism. Just reading the comments and the responses by Calvinists is really instructive and highlights what an impossible problem this creates for them in counseling parents who are struggling with such questions. The following comment highlights this problem well:
An honest question deserves a straightforward answer.
First, Kimberly’s “step back” is not only irrelevant but also deflects from the real issue, which the question evokes, and is misleading.
Although it is true that both Calvinist and Arminians agree that “each individual must come to Jesus on their own”, Kimberly fails to mention the Calvinist view portrays the individual as responding due solely to the divine predetermination regarding how this or that particular person will respond to the Gospel; that is, in reality, no response – positive or negative – is ultimately an act of one’s own free will but God’s predetermined act to effect the desired response from each individual based on nothing but God’s unrevealed will. This view is in stark contrast to Arminian soteriology and renders the similarity as Kimberly suggests as merely superficial.
Second, when “getting back to the issue at hand”, there remains an (unconscious? conscious?) attempt to evade the real answer which the inquirer seeks.
The question is not, “What if my kids do not love Jesus?” but “What if my kids aren’t elect?” There is a big difference between the two questions and, as such, his answer does not at all deal directly to the query.
The more accurate answer, logically following Calvinist teaching, is simply: if your child is not elect, there is nothing at all you can do about it. The only comfort that one may afford is that at present you do not know whether or not your child is elect. Praying will not change God’s mind if your child is not elect. As a Calvinist, all that seems left to do is cross your fingers and hope for the best; and, yes, the idea that one’s child is not of the elect should cause a parent to be sick and have “a hard time” – a very hard time – seeing it as conducive to God’s glory.
For more on this thorny problem for Calvinism, see my post: Does Erwin Lutzer Offer False Hope to Calvinist Parents?
I got into a little back and forth with some Calvinists in the comments thread of Kimberley’s post. I posted as “arminianperspectives” rather than “kangaroodort”. Unfortunately, it looks like they decided to shut down comments before I could respond further to these Calvinists or answer their questions. So I will leave my responses here (click on the comments section of this post to see my responses). If you want to follow that discussion, it starts here: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/10/what-if-my-children-are-not-elect/#comment-107855
It isn’t directly related to the content of the post, but my responses were for the purpose of clearing up confusion and misrepresentations of what Arminians believe (though I did try to get clarification on an “answer” that one of them gave here: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/10/what-if-my-children-are-not-elect/#comment-107860). It progressed from there.
However, the writer of the comment I highlighted here responded further, keeping the focus on the topic at hand. He wrote:
I’m disappointed that this conversation continues wide of the mark of the specific point that the question addresses. Here’s a blog that addresses the specific issue with, from my perspective, greater relevancy than either Kimerly’s reponse or everyone’s comments thus far. I would ask the Calvinist to please take time (it is not long at all) to read it:
Unfortunately, his comment was essentially met with snide remarks from these two Calvinists and another disturbing non-answer at the bottom of the thread,
Truth isn’t always comforting and, in this case, it definitely is not. Again unbelievers are without hope, without God. Parents can only surrender their children to the sovereignty of God and accept that whatever He has chosen to do with those children is right and glorifies Him – to do anything less is idolatry because it is putting those children ahead of God. (http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/10/what-if-my-children-are-not-elect/#comment-108016)
Filed under: Calvinism, determinism, election, God's glory, predestination, questions for Calvinists, secret decrees, sovereignty | 24 Comments »