In other words, "Calvinism (in his case Supralapsarian Calvinism) can't be true because of...." (insert outcome here). Succinctly put, it seems to me that Arminians (and some Neo-Amyraldians) are awfully concerned about defending God's reputation. To take just one example, if God decrees evil, then, so they object, He is the "author" of evil. That's not acceptable to them, so, they reason, it can't be true. Indeed, we've seen this phenomenon at work on this very blog in recent history, in our dealings with Arminians like Ben and Thibodeux. We've also seen this in dealing with "RobertHenRonymous," when he objects to "exhaustive determinism" because if true then - insert outcome here (either "x is not a 'real' choice or "God is the author of evil").
The problem should be obvious. As Christians, we should never begin with this sort of aprioristic sort of thinking - and this applies equally to Calvinists as it does to anybody else. As Calvinists, we're told that we start with certain ideas about God's sovereignty and philosophical determinism and then deductively arrive at our theology from there. As Steve has pointed out, this objection is schizophrenic.
i) On the one hand, they claim that Calvinism is an axiomatic system. We begin, so we’re told, with the axiom of predestination, and then we deduced everything from our axiom. So our method is aprioristic. And we filter the Bible through our Calvinistic grid.Aprioristic methodology is the heart of rationalism. We see it at work all the time. Arminians do this with respect to LFW and "the love of God." They begin with these ideas and then work from that posture. We've even documented this through their own admissions - for example, Miley's theology, and in our own interactions with them in the past 2 or 3 weeks, they've admitted that "free will" is a presupposition that they bring to Scripture - not an action theory that is actually taught by Scripture (indeed, I've demonstrated repeatedly that Scripture explicitly and unequivocally contradicts LFW). The Orthodox, as in the case of Perry Robinson, use Christology in this fashion. Calvinism can't be true because (insert some Christological heresy here, no matter how tendentious) results. Roman Catholics often work from ecclesiology. Even Baptists and Presbyterians do this. Baptists do this with "Baptist tradition" more and more (just take a look at some of the SBC blogs these days), and we've been locked in debate with Presbyterians over ecclesiology now for centuries, with both sides accusing the other of rationalism - for example, Baptists will accuse Presbyterians of using their version of covenant theology to draw inferences about baptism and thus ecclesiology.
ii) On the other hand, they attack Calvinism because of the unacceptable consequences of our theology. How can we believe in a God who blames us for Adam’s sin? How can we believe in a God who predestines some people to hell? How can we believe in a God who decrees natural disasters?
The answer is: we believe these things because they are taught in Scripture, and we believe the Bible. We begin with the Bible and take it from there.
By contrast, it’s the critics of Calvinism who begin with certain consequences, which they deem to be unacceptable, and then construct a theological system to avoid those consequences.
Now, why mention this? Because with respect to atheism, I've noticed a trend lately. Namely, the arguments that are often presented by the Debunkers generally seem to beg the question in favor of Arminianism. Let's take this article.
Note the question about God's love.
"Christian, how do you reconcile the God of reason, the God of perfect love, with the ways he dealt with people who worship other gods? This is some very nasty stuff here. He will make them eat the flesh of their children and neighbors! "Now, I ask, why would any Calvinist find this question the least bothersome? God's love is not His only attribute. That objection might work against a doctrinally inept Southern Baptist Arminian, but it won't work against us Calvinists, particularly Supralapsarians, but, really, an Infra shouldn't find this at all a problem either.
God punishes the sins of His people by permitting them to fall into greater sin and with atrocities befitting reprobated pagans to fall upon them. So,what's the problem, exactly? Oh, I see, the idea that God "decrees" evil.
Unlike the Arminian, I don't feel a need to defend God's honor where He has chosen not to defend it Himself. Indeed, I have a bigger problem with Arminians who don't bother to follow their own theology on this very point. They too have an order of decrees, and that includes the permission of evil.
The difference between Calvinists and Arminians is not over the fact of permission, but it's nature. For the Calvinist, the Fall, to take an example, was planned all along. The Arminian view most often expressed is that the Fall was permitted - ineffaciously, so Redemptive History is ultimately, if we take it to the logical end, "Plan B." Of course, I should quickly note that Molinist Arminians are in a real pickle here, since they affirm that God instantiated only this world of all possible worlds, which leads to a whole set of objections from us with respect to how they can object to Calvinism if that's true - but I digress.
Let's see how this plays out in practice...
Gene said...What's wrong with God decreeing the existence of evil?What's wrong with this? It's a load of emotionalism without any substance. You cannot see this because you're blind - no, stupid - no, incompetent. Hmmm, it's difficult to find the right description here; there are just soooo many.
What's wrong with this? Your God is a despicable thug, a degenerative dictator, who can never be trusted, and who is unworthy of any kind of worship. Why you cannot see this is because you are blind. Why you’re so willing to bite this bullet in order to solve the problem of evil baffles me to no end. You believe the weight of evidence of historically conditioned documents as idiosyncratically interpreted by you, over the weight of the empirical evidence of horrible evils themselves. You must be very sure you are right about these historical documents in order to dismiss so easily the presence of the evil that surrounds you. It makes me think of pantheists with maya, who also deny what they experience on a daily basis.
Let's connect the dots here:
You asked a question in your "article" to us about an "all loving God." The problem is, of course, that, as Calvinists, we deny that God is "all loving." So, you're complaint would only work against some Arminians. You're like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target.
To even raise this objection, you need to establish that God is "all loving" if God exists. To do that, you'll need to do something like prove Arminianism over and against Calvinism. So, along with the rest of the poor argumentation and inept exegetical material in the article, all you've done is beg the question with respect to Arminianism - and, in a crushing blow for us Tblogers, posted it in a combox on this blog. The default mode of this blog is not Arminianism. It's Calvinism. All of us are Calvinists here, with the possible exception of Jason Engwer who has not, to my knowledge, taken a public stand on that and our resident, inactive, Lutheran, the Pedantic Protestant.
It's only "biting the bullet" with respect to theodicy, John, if it would thereby mean that there is such a thing as *gratuitous* evil - but as Calvinists, we deny this, and our theology does so quite consistently.
It's only those who embrace the Free Will Defense as you did when you were an Arminian, that would be led into having to admit that such evils existed if God decrees evil. Why? Because their theology is calculated as an objection to ours. We've been over this with them before. If God did not "decree" evil, then its unplanned, and unplanned evil could well be construed as, in fact, gratuitous.
So, I'm willing to "bite this bullet" because "biting this bullet" doesn't lead to where you think it does, unless you're an Arminian. That's what I keep trying to tell you, John. You write this sophomoric objections to Christianity that don't begin to touch our theology. I guess that's what you get for studying with Craig, good Arminian that he is. It makes the job much easier for us though.
So, here's just one more good reason I'm not an Arminian: I don't have to concede the "problem of evil" in order to offer a cogent theodicy. I think Arminians who object to Calvinism on an ethical basis need to step back and ask themselves why their theodicy concedes the problem of evil.
1. If LFW is not taught by Scripture, and is, indeed, contradicted by Scripture, it is false.
2. Therefore the FWD is not a sound defense and should be jettisoned.
3. If LFW is false, then so goes Arminianism, since LFW is a key pillar for it.
4. Moreover, the objection that Calvinism makes God the "author of evil" if God effaciously decrees it naturally leads to the concession of the so called Problem of Evil. Namely, if God didn't decree it; then there is such a thing as unplanned evil, whether moral or natural. If it's unplanned, it's gratuitous. That's a major concession, and it makes it look like Arminianism is convertible with Atheism, yet Arminians are not atheists by any stretch.
5. Finally, we should not seek to defend God's honor where He has not so sought to do so Himself. It is impertinent to speak in ways He has not licensed. He has not invoked the Free Will Defense, and His Word does not seek to deny that He foreordains all things. We should not do either.