These are remarks which some evidently Arminian commenters left on the Mourdock thread over at Joe Carter and Justin Taylor’s blogs. I’ve postponed direct comment on these remarks until now.
andrewOctober 29, 2012 at 10:39 AMif you are a determinist (a la Piper who is part of TGC leadership) don't you have to say that God caused the rape. At least if he is to be logically consistent with his theology.Ps - i agree with the article, just confused that i found here at TGC.AJGOctober 26, 2012 at 3:18 pmHonest question. Why would a Calvinist find anything to disgree with in Mourdock’s statement? If God controls every particle of dust in the universe (as Piper has stated he believes), then why isn’t the rape of a woman what God intended to happen? It seems like a perfectly reasonable description of the Calvinist stance to me. It’s not just that God intended for good to come from an evil act, but that God ordainded that the evil act should take place. That’s what the media is reacting to. It seems that Calvinists are shying away or distancing themselves from the logical conclusions of their theology.AJGOctober 26, 2012 at 4:26 pmThat’s not really a good answer at all. So is Piper a “Hyper-Calvinist”? I would guess so because he believes in double predestination. If God controls all of our actions for His glory, then did He control the rapist for His glory too? Piper himself has said that it is perfectly good for God to kill women and children whenever He feels like it. He also stated that it’s good for God to order someone else to kill women and children. If that’s the case, then why isn’t it perfectly good for God to ordain a man to rape a woman or a father to rape his own daughter?AJGOctober 26, 2012 at 6:03 pmI’m asking those who adhere to the idea that God ordains and controls everything to state why they have a problem with Mourdock’s statement. Al Mohler seems to think he spoke unwisely which allowed the media to run with a caricature of God. Does God ordain rape or not? Does God control every particle in the universe or not? If yes, then what’s the problem with Mourdock’s statement?AJGOctober 26, 2012 at 6:20 pmBTW, I don’t feel the need to attack Calvinism. More learned men than me have done a far better job of dismantling it than I could ever hope to on this humble blog. Either you believe that God knows and ordains and controls all that is, was and ever will be or you do not. Al Mohler does so he should not express displeasure when someone like Mourdock speaks openly to the public about those beliefs. I’m all for speaking the truth about what you believe instead of controlling the flow of ideas in the public sphere.
i) AJG has things upside down. For the most part, Mohler and the TGC bloggers were defending Mourdock. At most, they were critical of his formulation. They offered constructive feedback.
ii) There are two different ways to defend someone’s statement: you could defend it on the speaker’s grounds, or you could defend in on your own grounds.
For instance, one way to defend Mourdock is to point out that he didn’t mean what his liberal critics imputed to him. They twisted his words to suggest something he didn’t say or intend to convey.
So that’s a question of what Mourdock had in mind. You can defend his statement by correcting malicious misinterpretations of his statement.
As far as I know, there’s no evidence that Mourdock is a Calvinist. He seems to be a generic evangelical. As such, it’s entirely possible that Mourdock would draw some distinctions a Calvinist would not.
However, even if (ex hypothesi) Mourdock’s understanding of divine providence is inconsistent with Calvinism, that doesn’t make it inconsistent for a Calvinist to defend Mourdock’s statement. To begin with, a Calvinist could defend Mourdock’s statement on Mourdock’s terms. What understanding lay behind his statement? Correcting misrepresentations of Mourdock’s statement doesn’t require his defender to agree with Mourdock’s overall theodicy.
To take a comparison–some years ago it was revealed that Bill Bennett gambles. Liberal pundits immediately accused Bennett of hypocrisy.
However, there’s no reason to think he was guilty of hypocrisy. Bennett is a Roman Catholic. To my knowledge, gambling is not inherently sinful in Catholic moral theology.
Therefore, you could consistently defend Bennett against the charge of hypocrisy even if you personally disapprove of his gambling habit.
iii) Conversely, a Calvinist might defend Mourdock’s statement on Calvinist grounds. In that case, he might agree with this gist of Mourdock’s statement, but for somewhat different reasons.
For instance, both Mourdock and his Reformed defenders are prolifers. That’s the point of common ground. That’s the level at which they agree with him. They support his statement because they are prolife and he is prolife. He was defending the unborn. By defending his statement, they are defending the unborn. That’s perfectly consistent.
iv) These are elementary distinctions. The fact that Arminian critics fail to draw these elementary distinctions is a reflection of their knee-jerk hostility to Calvinism and blind partisanship for Arminianism.
v) Which brings us to another issue: where are the Arminians in this controversy? Why do we have Reformed bloggers like Joe Carter, Albert Mohler, Justin Taylor who seize this opportunity to defend the unborn, but Arminian bloggers like Ben Witherington Scot McKnight, Roger Olson, and Brian Abasciano fall strangely silent?
Why do some Arminians always have time to attack Calvinism, even when Calvinists are defending a worthy cause (which has no direct bearing on Calvinism), but they don’t have time to defend the worthy cause on their own? Why can’t Arminians declare a temporary cease-fire in the perennial Arminian/Calvinist debates for just long enough to defend the unborn?
Why haven’t the Arminians I named treated the Mourdock controversy as an opportunity to defend the unborn? Why do they abandon the field to Mohler and TGC contributors?
vi) Mohler carefully parsed Mourdock’s statement, explaining what he agreed with and what he didn’t. The Arminian commenter is deliberately misstating what Mohler actually said.
vii) Does God “cause” rape? That depends on how you define causation. For instance, the decree is just a plan. By itself, a plan doesn’t cause anything. It must be put into effect.
viii) However, what do we mean by saying something caused something else? Here’s how one philosopher put it:
“We think of a cause as something that makes a difference, and the difference it makes must be a difference from what would have happened without it. Had it been absent, its effects — some of them, at least, and usually all — would have been absent as well.”
On that definition, if God allows rape, God causes rape–for allowing it to happen makes a difference. You wouldn’t have the same outcome, absent divine allowance. That’s the differential factor.
On that definition, the God of Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, or open theism “causes” rape.
ix) The term “intention” is ambiguous. In ordinary usage, there’s an obvious sense in which God intends whatever he plans.
What’s more, if God knows what will happen down the line should he do something, then there’s a sense in which God intended the chain-reaction. It doesn’t a divine accident. It wasn’t an unforeseen contingency. Rather, it was a calculated result.
And that’s unavoidable on Arminian assumptions (i.e. belief in God’s simple foreknowledge and/or middle knowledge, coupled with God’s creative fiat).
x) On the other hand, “intention” is sometimes used in a more specialized sense. According to the double-effect principle, an agent doesn’t directly intend the unfortunate side-effect of his action. That’s a (conditionally) necessary, but incidental or secondary consequence of his principle aim.
Put another way, God doesn’t intend evil for evil’s sake. Rather, he intends evil to facilitate a higher good.
xi) “Piper himself has said that it is perfectly good for God to kill women and children whenever He feels like it. He also stated that it’s good for God to order someone else to kill women and children.”
a) The commenter doesn’t give us a verbatim quote where Piper says that. I suspect Piper’s actual position is more qualified.
b) But it’s revealing that an Arminian commenter would attack Piper for saying “it’s good for God to order someone else to kill women and children.” After all, that’s exactly what we find in Scripture.
Increasingly, Arminians are indistinguishable from atheists. Raising the very same objections. That’s how open enemies of the faith like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens attack Christianity.
xii) As a Calvinist, I don’t distance myself or shy away from the logical conclusions of my theology. Indeed, I just confronted the objections head on.
However, there are times when you ought to express your support rather than voice your disagreement. If a Christian is doing the right thing, you shouldn’t use that as a pretext to tear him down so that you can ride your hobbyhorse.
And even if you’re somewhat critical, that can be constructive criticism, where you commend his efforts and suggest ways in which he can improve on his efforts.
For instance, I have serious disagreements with William Lane Craig, but when he gives a good answer to a question, I’m happy to plug his answer. I don’t use that as an excuse to cut him down.
When Justin Taylor, Joe Carter, or Albert Mohler are defending the unborn, it’s inappropriate for Arminians to dilute the effect of what they are doing by diverting this into yet another interminable debate over Calvinism.