Tuesday, May 20, 2008

R.C. Sproul and the "Demons of Fatalism"

Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “Predestination seems to cast a shadow on the very heart of human freedom. If God has decided our destinies from all eternity, that strongly suggests that our free choices are but charades, empty exercises in predetermined playacting. It is as though God wrote the script for us in concrete and we are merely carrying out his scenario.” (Chosen by God, p.51)

Sproul adds: “If He decides to allow something, then in a sense he is foreordaining it. ... If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. Perhaps that one maverick molecule will lay waste all the ground and glorious plans that God has made and promised to us. ... If we reject divine sovereignty then we must embrace atheism.” (Chosen by God, pp.26-27)

Sproul went on to state that in his conversion to Calvinism, he “no longer feared the demons of fatalism or the ugly thought that I was being reduced to a puppet....” (Chosen by God, p.13) The idea that God was more in control than he had previously imagined, allegedly helped Sproul to overcome his preconceived notions about Calvinism. Whether these notions were mere straw-man arguments or legitimate characterizations, seems to have been resolved in Sproul's mind by his insistence that all things must be scripted by God, even down to the last “molecule,” or else there is no assurance that God is really in control at all. Therefore, in wrestling with these difficult philosophical matters, Sproul surrendered to what he felt had made God, in his mind, more “sovereign.”

However, it seems like Calvinists have portrayed a type of God that is difficult to identify with. Imagine if you had a neighbor that said that they intend to have four babies, but that they intend to keep only the second one, and abort the first, third and fourth. Who could identify with such a couple, and how is that any different from the Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Reprobation? Most Calvinists will respond that God’s ways are not our ways, and who are you O Man to question the Potter. However, God also says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) Calvinists have portrayed a type of God who predestines the very things that He hates, and shows anger towards. There is an expression where it is said that we “make the weather, and then complain when it rains,” which is meant to convey the idea that when we create our own problems, we have no one else to blame but ourselves. So if God predestined the rebellion of Jerusalem and the rejection of its Messiah, how would the tears make any sense? How would the anger have any justification? Calvinists seem to parade the idea of God being unfair (i.e. Scandalous Grace), while insisting that He is nevertheless just, and then examples like Luke 12:48 are raised, where God says that with greater responsibility comes greater accountability, such that a person who did not know his master’s will and did deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but a few, while the person who knew his master’s will and did not do it, will receive greater condemnation, on account that such knowledge made him more accountable, but yet if the person had total inability to do his master’s will, then how would greater knowledge make his increased judgment, in any way fair and just? So there are a lot of issues that a person must be willing to swallow in order to embrace Calvinism, namely, the “demons of fatalism,” the ugly thought of being “reduced to a puppet,” unconditional Theistic abortion, puzzling emotions and a contradictory sense of justice.


My Daily Bread said...

Dear Brother:

If you believe that God or a parent has foreknowledge, and knows in advance that one of his children was going to reject him and go to hell, and yet went ahead and brought that child into the world any way, then do you not have to answer your own difficult question about the sovereignty and justice of God?

God bless


Kurt Johnson said...

He talks about that here: http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Complaints/cc_Foreknowledge.html

In Christ


Richard Coords said...

Hello Stephen and Kujotx,

I have update the attached link. I wanted to add some quotes to it.

To address Stephen's question, if God revealed to a parent that by having a certain child, that they would eventually grow up to reject God and ultimately perish in Hell forever, then it would be better for that person if they had never been born, rather than to spend eternity in Hell. Yet, God, in foreknowing multitudes who would ultimately grow up to reject Him,
allowed them to be born anyway. So it's therefore fair to ask why God wouldn't just stop them all from being born, in order to spare them of such a horrible outcome.

To answer, I would like to cite a parable by Jesus, and then offer my thoughts:

The parable of the "Wheat and the Tares" by Jesus at Matthew 13:24-30:

"Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?" And he said to them, "An enemy has done this!" The slaves said to him, "Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?" But he said, "No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.'"'"

God could have put a stop to the line of Adam, but the result would have been "no you and me." This is why I think that God chose to allow Adam and Eve to bear offspring. Therefore, I do not feel that there is any difficulty over sovereignty or justice in the Arminian perspective.

Unknown said...

God could have put a stop to the line of Adam, but the result would have been "no you and me."

So much for libertarian free will...All those who would choose to reject Christ were firmly fixed to their destination of Hell. If God did not predestine some for mercy and pass over the rest, and yet we all agree that their destiny was fixed in eternity past before the creation of the world, is there something greater than God fixing the destiny of His creatures? Fate maybe?

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Wow, I lost count of the non-sequiturs in Kevin's comment.

Unknown said...

Enlighten me. What does not follow? Does God do whatever He pleases (Ps. 135:6) or is there something greater than God and He's just stuck with the facts on the ground?

Isaiah1v18 said...

God does whatever be pleases WITHOUT violating His own Standards of holiness-- this is why it is written in the Scriptures that "It is IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie." Hebrews 6:18, and even His owns desires for blessing mankind may be limited by the Sins of men--
"How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea they turned back and tempted God and LIMITED the Holy One of Israel." Psalm 78:40-41

BA Brightlight said...

No one can come to Christ unless the Father first draws him. John 6:44. Thus Calvinists believe that God's call is infallible--all who are drawn, come but He does not draw all (limited atonement based on Divine whim). Molinists believes He draws all, but only some accept. I prefer the latter. I think both theories need to incorporate a quanta of Open theism to account for quantum indeterminancy built into God's universe. Absolute Foreknowledge does not determine, but it does eliminate free will. If God knows with absolute certainty that at future time t, I will choose B, then the probability of B at time t is 100% and all other options have probability of 0 which mean they do not exist. The variance would be incredibly small, but vitally necessary for man to have free will and be accountable for his actions.