Saturday, May 24, 2014

Disfellowshipping Calvinists as damnable heretics

I'm going to comment on this post:
Then you and I are different. I begin with Jesus. If God turns out to be radically different than Jesus, then he is not the God I worship. In that case, God would have been deceiving me through his self-revelation in Jesus Christ.

But Olson doesn't begin with Jesus. For instance, Jesus often began with the OT. But Olson doesn't begin with the OT. So Olson doesn't begin where Jesus began, in which case Olson doesn't begin with Jesus. 

Likewise, Jesus reaffirmed OT theism. But Olson repudiates OT theism. Olson refuses to believe that Yahweh said and did certain things which the OT attributes to him. So Olson doesn't believe in Yahweh. Yet, according to NT Christology, Jesus is Yahweh. When Olson disbelieves in Yahweh, he disbelieves in Jesus. 

Olson begins with his preconception of what is good. That's what he really believes in. His preconceived notion of goodness is what selects for his brand of theism.  

I have said that if it were revealed to me in a way I could not doubt that the God of consistent, five point Calvinism is the one true God over all, the maker of heaven and earth, I would not worship him because I would not think him worthy of worship. 

I don't have any problems with that statement inasmuch as it tells you a lot about Olson, but nothing about God. 

Because I have openly admitted here that consistent Calvinism turns God into a monster and makes it difficult to tell the difference between God and the devil, some have assumed I believe the answer must be no. However, I have never said that Arminians and Calvinists worship different Gods. 

Why not? Isn't our concept of God the object of worship? Worship is mediated by our concept of God. We worship our idea of God. What we think God is like. 

Perhaps they just see that he is courageous enough to say publicly what they must really believe in some corner of their minds--even if with most of their minds they deny it.

This is a malicious, conspiratorial narrative that Arminians like Walls and Olson are promoting. It's like liberals who say conservatives are really racists, even if they deny it. 

Arminians define "author of sin," then accuse Calvinists of dishonesty when we refuse to grant that God is the author of sin on their loaded definition. It's like liberals who accuse Christians of being "bigots" and "homophobic" if we oppose sodomy or lesbianism. They equate opposition to homosexuality with "hating" homosexuals.

Well, sure, if you allow them to define the terms. 

You completely miss the point. When Calvinists say God permits sin and evil they mean "efficacious permission" (God withdraws the grace the creature would need not to sin so that he certainly sins) and based on God's intentional design and ordination...i.e., that sin and evil are planned and willed and rendered certain by God. That is why I object to their using the language of "permission" with regard to God and sin/evil. It's misleading.

i) I'm not big on "permissive" language. However, as I've explained in the past, there's nothing misleading about a Calvinist invoking divine permission. If an agent has the wherewithal to prevent something from happening, but refrains from preventing it, then he permitted it. He allowed it to happen because he was in a position to disallow it. 

ii) Olson defines "God's intentional design and ordination of sin and evil" with three descriptors: planned, willed, rendered certain. 

Presumably, that's how he distinguishes Reformed permission from Arminian permission. I take it that he defines "intentional design" in terms of "planning" and "willing" while he defines ordination in terms of "ensuring." 

Let's consider these descriptors:

iii) Take Arminians who affirm divine foreknowledge. How did the Arminian God not plan or will the foreseeable consequences of his own actions? If he knew in advance that by making the world, humans would fall into sin, how did he not will that outcome? Likewise, if he saw it coming, as a result of his creative fiat, how could that still be an unplanned consequence of his actions? Keep in mind, too, that according to Arminian concurrence, God enables the sinner to sin. 

So, on Olson's own definition, the Arminian God "intentionally designs" sin and evil. 

iv) What does it take to render an outcome certain? Consider a few examples:

a) Suppose I see a little boy playing on the RR tracks, oblivious to the oncoming train. There's just time enough for me to rescue the boy. If I don't intervene, it's inevitable that the boy will be killed by the speeding train. My inaction renders certain his demise.

Notice that under this scenario, I didn't create the situation. I didn't cause the circumstances leading up to this life-threatening situation. I'm not responsible for the situation. But if I don't act, I ensure the boy's demise. At that point, I am responsible for the boy's demise.

b) Suppose I put a cobra in a nursery. Suppose the cobra bites the baby in the crib. The baby dies. 

I'm directly responsible, and culpable, for the baby's death. 

c) Suppose a cobra creeps into the nursery. Suppose I find the cobra in the nursery. Suppose I don't kill the cobra. I leave it there. As a result, the cobra bites the baby.

I didn't put the cobra in the nursery. I didn't make the cobra bite the baby. 

Yet my action ensured the baby's death by snakebite. 

In Arminian providence, there are countless sins and evils which God renders certain by divine nonintervention. For many sins and evils are certain to happen unless God steps in. Many outcomes are certain to occur if events are allowed to take their course unimpeded. Once a certain chain of events is set in motion, doing nothing will make it happen. Nothing further needs to be done to guarantee the outcome. 

v) But even if the outcome is not a dead certainty, so what? Suppose I let the child be run over by the train. I excuse my negligence on the grounds that, for all I know, it was possible for the child to jump off the RR tracks at the last moment. Suppose I let the child be bitten by the cobra. I excuse my negligence on the grounds that it wasn't a sure thing that the cobra would bite the child. Would those excuses be exculpatory?  

What makes God worthy of worship is God’s perfect goodness combined with his greatness. God must be both great and good to be worthy of worship. Garden variety Calvinists do believe God is good as well as great.
A few have stepped out of the pack and have said that God is the creator of sin and evil. I think they are more logically consistent than their fathers who are garden variety Calvinists. 

How does Olson define "creator" of sin and evil? If, in Arminian theology, God creates the initial conditions which eventuate in sin and evil, isn't he the creator of sin and evil? He may not be the sole creator, but he's a co-creator. Olson can introduce buffers, but so can the Calvinist. 

Of course, even they affirm God’s goodness but only by believing that God is freely good and that whatever God does is automatically good just because he is God. 

i) Olson fails to demonstrate that voluntarism is a logical implication of Calvinism. 

ii) Notice that Olson is imputing one horn of the Euthyphro dilemma to Calvinism. Does that mean Arminianism is hooked on the other horn of the Euthyphro dilemma?

Or, in some cases, they defend their belief in God’s goodness by appeal to a “greater good” that justifies God creating sin and evil. In that case, of course, sin and evil aren’t all that bad.

Isn't the freewill defense a greater good defense? Freewill theists defend their belief in God's goodness by appealing to the greater good of freewill. The evil consequences of freewill are offset by the superior benefits of freewill. A world with sinful free agents is better than a world with sinless agents who lack libertarian freedom. So by Olson's logic, sin and evil aren't all that bad given the freewill defense. 

The “crunch” comes with the question of whether God “designs, ordains and governs” sin and evil and everything else we consider awful, bad, horrendous, etc.—such as childhood death from agonizing illness or accident. From an Arminian perspective it’s difficult to see the difference between affirming that God is the “author” of all that and that God “designs, ordains and governs” all that.

How is the Arminian God not the "author" of accidents or illness? Do accidents have freewill? Do pathogens have freewill? 

Some illnesses are due to high-risk behavior, but many are not. 

To Calvinists this makes the human decision to respond positively to the offer of grace “the decisive factor” in salvation. Of course, Arminians never say that and we deny it.

In what sense are Arminians in a position to deny that human acceptance is the decisive factor in responding positively to the offer of salvation? 

I say the same about garden variety Calvinism. It is inconsistent. When they say, for example, God is not the author of sin and evil (and all their consequences) but that God “designs, ordains and governs” everything without exception I accuse them of inconsistency. It’s a “felicitous inconsistency” and I choose to focus on the fact that they believe God is not the author of sin and evil. Those who go so far as to say God is the author of sin and evil sully God’s character to the point that I cannot embrace them as brothers or sisters in Christ.

I appreciate Olson's candid admission that he refuses to acknowledge consistent Calvinists as true Christians. Is that a two-way street? Should Calvinists disfellowship Arminians?

Other Calvinists have said so in the past. When they say God created evil and is the author of sin and evil they make God evil. Or else they make evil not evil. Either way, it's damnable heresy IMHO.

Once again, I appreciate his candid admission. Do Calvinists get to return the favor? Is Arminianism a damnable heresy? 


  1. The Arminian conception of God continues to allow the devil and his minions to tempt humans to commit more grievous sins against themselves and others than they would or could have committed apart from the temptations and lies of demons. Why didn't the Arminian God judge and confine fallen angels immediately after their fall so that they couldn't enter the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve and their eventual descendants? God does this knowing that some people will end up demon possessed.

    Unlike humans, the fallen angels have no hope of salvation. So, we can't say that their judgment is being delayed and that they are being allowed to do their thing because God "is patient toward [angels], not willing that any should perish, but that all [the fallen angels] should come to repentance" (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9).

    What purpose(s) do demons then serve? Given Calvinism, they have a place in God's providence to tempt and harass humanity for certain reasons (e.g. to develop the character of the elect and other possible reasons I won't go into). Given some forms of Arminianism, it's inconsistent with God's love to continue to allow demons free range of motion and temptation. They all should be confined to Tartarus to be reserved for final judgment (cf. 2 Pet. 2:4).

    Given some forms of Arminianism, shouldn't God's OMNI-benevolent love, mercy and offers of salvation extend to demons? Why should humans, as a species, be elected for potential redemption whereas angelkind is not?

  2. Olson cuts an amusing figure in his Don Quixote costume.

  3. I see no point on reading anything starting by Perhaps they have something worthwhile there, but I consistently find if a misuse of my time.

  4. //Yet, according to NT Christology, Jesus is Yahweh.//

    Yahweh is the Father. Jesus is the Son. The Son is NOT the Father but they are one. Jesus is NOT Yahweh but they are one. Two distinct persons yet one God.

    Justin Martyr (c. 100 – 165 C.E.) wrote in his First Apology, “For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.”

    I am NOT one bit surprised that you believe in Modalism since you are a Calvinist.

    1. It's one thing to claim that Trinitarianism ultimately boils down to a form of Modalism, but it's historically and theologically inaccurate to claim that Trinitarianism is identical with Modalism. Why are you willing to call Jesus "God" but not willing to call Jesus "Yahweh" (or YHWH/YHVH/Jehovah)? Calling Jesus "Yahweh" doesn't necessarily entail one is identifying the person of Jesus with the person of the Father (i.e. as one and the same person). No more than does calling Jesus "God" necessarily entail one is identifying the person of Jesus with the person of the Father. Though, obviously some Modalists do call Jesus "Yahweh" (or call Jesus "God") because they do identify Jesus and the Father as one and the same person.

      In Trinitarianism what can be said of the being of God can be said of each person of the Trinity. While the same thing doesn't necessarily apply in the other direction (e.g. only the Son was incarnated).

      Trinitarianism can make sense of Matt. 28:19:

      Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

      Notice that it doesn't say "in the names (plural)" of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If it did then it would have lent support for a theology that affirms that the natures of the three persons are different (e.g. Arianism). By the phrase "in the name" might merely mean "in the authority" and consent of the said persons. However, if it does refer to a specific name, what better name than the name "Yahweh/Jehovah" (i.e. the tetragrammaton)?

      Finally, if Jesus isn't Yahweh, why does the New Testament repeated apply Old Testament passages referring to Yahweh to Jesus? If Jesus isn't Yahweh (i.e. shares the name with the Father [and the Spirit, according to Trinitarianism]) then the New Testament is seriously misleading.

      Here are some classic passages that either imply or seem to directly identify Jesus with Yahweh/Jehovah:

      John 12:41 cf. Isa. 6:1;
      Rev. 2:23 cf. Jer. 17:10;
      Rom. 10:13 cf. Joel 2:32;
      Phil. 2:10-11 cf. Isa. 45:23;
      Acts 1:8 cf. Isa. 43:10,12; 44:8;
      Mark 1:3 cf. Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1;
      John 8:58 cf. Exo. 3:14;
      1 Cor. 2:8; Jam. 2:1 cf. Ps. 24:10;
      Heb. 1:10-12 cf. Ps. 102:25-27;
      Zech 14:5 cf.1 Thess. 3:13;
      1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Thess. 5:2; cf. and the many OT passages that refer to the "Day of YHWH";
      Eph. 4:8 cf. Ps. 68:18;
      Heb. 13:8 cf. Mal. 3:6;
      1 Pet. 3:14-15 cf. Isa. 8:12-14;
      Rev. 1:8; 17; 2:8; 22:13 cf. Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12;

      One way Unitarians (of various strips) try to get around these type of passages is by saying Christ is referred to as Jehovah in an agentival representation of Jehovah. But the problem is that some of these passages refer to attributes that one would think apply only to God unoriginate (e.g. Ps. 102:25ff.) yet are applied to Jesus. Isn't that what's implied when God refers to Himself as "first and last" in the OT? Isn't this also what Christ claiming in Rev. 1:17, 2:8; and 22:13? [note: I don't include 1:8 as I did above because it's not as clear that Christ is the subject]

      Then there are passages like Titus 2:13-14 which identify Jesus as the redeemer of the Church in the same way as Yahweh was the redeemer of Israel in the Old Testament. So it's not surprising that verse 13 might in fact (and probably does) call Jesus "the great God and Savior" (that is, if Granville Sharp's Rule applies).

      Sharp Redivivus? - A Reexamination of the Granville Sharp Rule by Daniel B. Wallace

      Granville Sharp's Rule Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 by James White


      I wrote "the great God and Savior" when it's actually "our great God and Savior"

    3. lola Love


"Yahweh is the Father. Jesus is the Son. The Son is NOT the Father but they are one. Jesus is NOT Yahweh but they are one. Two distinct persons yet one God…I am NOT one bit surprised that you believe in Modalism since you are a Calvinist."

      i) You are combining elements of your own position with my position. The resultant modalism is a consequence of your conflation.

      ii) If it's modalistic to say the Son is Yahweh, then it's modalistic to say the Father is Yahweh. So you're hoisted on your own petard.

      iii) I didn't say the Son is the Father.

      iv) It's just a fact of NT Christology that NT writers equate Yahweh with Jesus.

      v) I didn't say Jesus is Yahweh to the exclusion of the Father or the Spirit.

      vi) You didn't begin to demonstrate that Calvinism is modalistic.