Calvinism spends a lot of time defending the truth because it is true. This shouldn’t be necessary, but unfortunately, it often is.
Because we spend so much time defending the truth for the simple reason that it’s true, we can underemphasize the linkage between the good and the true.
While the truths of Calvinism have the undeniable benefit of being true, they also have the additional benefit of being good.
Although we should be prepared to believe the doctrines of grace merely because they’re true, they are not merely true. In addition, they are good. They are true goods and good truths.
Take the holiness of God. To a sinner, the holiness of God is naturally threatening.
The natural tendency, then, is to soften God. A holy God is a menace to unholy sinners. Especially if sin were unredeemed.
What kind of parents would you like to have? Well, if you get into trouble, it’s nice to have an indulgent dad who turns a blind eye and bails you out. It’s a relief to know that no matter what you do, dear old dad is such a soft touch, is so blinded by his affection for your, that whenever you get into a fix, he will fix your problem.
For selfish reasons, we find that kind of father appealing. It’s very convenient. Very useful to have him around.
But while there are times when we might like to have that kind of father, there’s a catch.
That’s not the kind of father you can admire or respect or look up to. A father like that is a softheaded fool. We appreciate having him available when we get into a bind, but we also hold him in a certain contempt. We yank the chain and he comes running.
A father who lives for the approval of his kids is a weak father. A pitiful father.
Conversely, some sons have stern fathers. The strict disciplinarian. Never lets you get away with anything at all.
And that creates another tension. They respect their fathers. And they need a father who sets a standard.
But they need more than that. They also need paternal affection and approval. Especially when they are growing up. A father who is impossible to please is a crushing weight on a young son. Irreproachable and unapproachable.
God is just. God is holy. Not only should we believe it because it is true, but we should value it because it is good. Any other God would be unworthy of our worship.
But, for sinners, this presents a dilemma. What if the God you admire is the God you fear? You respect him. Revere him. Hold him in awe. But he scares you. Isaiah was afraid of God (Isa 6).
If you’re a sinner, then there’s a sense in which a good God is too good. Too much of a good thing.
It’s not coincidental that the heathen created gods who were just as evil as they were. If you’re bad, you hate the good. It stands over you like an ax waiting to fall.
Apart from the atonement, there is no solution to this dilemma. But the cross is, at one and the same time, an emblem of divine justice and mercy.
It allows us to draw near to the only God who is worthy of our worship. A righteous God, but a gracious God as well.
Ultimately, we wouldn’t want one without the other. Holiness without mercy is terrifying; mercy without holiness is contemptible.
Atheism suffers from the opposite dilemma. The “truths” of atheism, if true, are bad rather than good. “Unyielding despair.”
Dawkins tries to make a virtue out of the hopeless outlook of atheism. Make it sound brave and heroic. But courage in the face of nihilism and oblivion is an ersatz virtue. Play-acting.
There is no solution to the atheistic dilemma. The only choice is whether you die now or die later. And in the long run, it makes no difference.
Give thanks to God that a godless existence is not the end of the line. Give thanks to the justice of God. Give thanks to the grace of God.