According to Roger Olson:
Second, I am not a Calvinist because (hold on!) IF I WERE A CALVINIST I would have trouble distinguishing between God and the devil. Some Calvinists have misinterpreted this saying. They think I’m accusing them of worshiping the devil. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All I am saying is, if I were a Calvinist, being of the bent of mind that I am (striving for logical consistency as much as possible), I would have trouble clearly distinguishing between God and the devil in my own mind.
But if a worshiper finds it psychologically difficult to distinguish between a divine object of worship and a diabolical object of worship, then isn’t Olson, in fact, accusing the Calvinist of worshipping the devil?
To my Calvinist acquaintances who take umbrage at this...
I don’t take umbrage. But it does give the lie to the notion that Arminians are more tolerant than Calvinists.
The point is–God’s character. IF God elects people to salvation unconditionally and IF God IS love (1 John) why doesn’t he save everybody?
Of course, that oversimplifies 1 John. For one thing, John writes in very divisive terms about believers and unbelievers. If God is light and love, then a loving God hates darkness. A loving God hates the antithesis of light.
IF I could be a universalist, I could be a Calvinist. I don’t care about free will for its own sake or for any humanist reasons. Hell is the sticky issue. The Calvinist God could save everyone because his election to salvation is unconditional and his grace is irresistible. Apparently, he purposefully chooses to “pass over” some (which is in effect the same as foreordaining them to hell). Why? For his glory? Some Calvinists say hell is necessary for the full manifestation of God’s attribute of justice. I ask what that says about the cross-was it not a sufficient manifestation of God’s justice?
But it isn’t clear why the Arminian God couldn’t save everyone. Is Olson claiming that there is no possible world in which the inhabitants freely choose God?
Even in this world, there are many people who, according to Olson, freely accept Jesus. So why can’t the Arminian God create a world consisting of people like that?
The devil wants everyone to go to hell. The God of Calvinism wants many to go to hell. Is that enough of a difference of character? Not to me.
That could scarcely be more simpleminded. It’s like claiming that everyone who kills another person has identical motives. A father who shoots a house burglar who threatens his wife and kids is morally equivalent to the house burglar who shoots the family.
Assuming that the devil wants everyone to go to hell, his reasons are quite different from God’s. The devil is a sore loser. He presumably wants to take as many others down out of sheer spite (e.g. Rev 12:17).
That’s hardly equivalent to God exacting retributive justice on the wicked. What does it say about the level of Olson’s moral and theological discernment that he can’t tell the difference?
The God of Jesus Christ is absolutely, unconditionally good. The God of Calvinism, from my perspective, is not absolutely, uncondtionally good and, in fact, has a dark side that includes willing that people perish eternally (contrary to 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4).
i) Of course that’s dishonest because it disregards alternative interpretations.
ii) For that matter, it’s not even consistent with Arminianism. How is the Arminian God unwilling that people perish eternality when he deliberately and knowingly makes hellbound sinners even though it lay within his power to spare them that fate by not making them in the first place?
What I think is that Calvinists are confused insofar as they believe God is love (as Scripture clearly says) and yet hold onto their belief in unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace.
It’s both patronizing and implausible to say sophisticated Calvinists are “confused,” as if they hadn’t thought through that issue before.
What really bothers me at a personal as well as professional level is the present, on-going attitude of superiority and even exclusiveness being fostered among many of the young, restless, Reformed Christians.
Doesn’t he think his own theological viewpoint is superior to another viewpoint which confuses God and Satan? Surely he regards Calvinism as decidedly and fatally inferior.
He talks about “exclusiveness,” but you have to wonder how many Reformed theologians, Reformed exegetes, and Reformed philosophers he’s personally shared his views with. He comes across is being very insular.