Saturday, June 18, 2011

Roger Olson on God-Centered Theology

Roger Olson comments on what he believes constitutes a truly, "God-Centered" theology. Click on his photo and that will direct you to the sermon on youtube. I thought it was well done. I thought that the eruption by some Calvinists made little sense. "Why didn't the eruption occur sooner?", I thought to myself. Basically, he set up the Deterministic scenario, and only when he put 1 & 1 together and spelled it out in black & white, did the eruption finally occur. I didn't get that. In other words, if there is no such thing as independent thought, and that all thoughts and deeds are scripted, and that all evil is decreed by God, and that there is only 1 free will in the universe, and that God needs sin in order to accomplish his purpose and to give Him the "most" amount of glory, and the devil does only and precisely what he is directed to do, being under the complete sovereign control of God, then what does that result in? Roger Olson spells the answer out in black & white, and kaboom! Oh well.

Two points that I thought interesting were the following:

1) There are two ways to look at the reality of sin in our universe. Either God’s plan will succeed despite the existence of sin, and that sin contributes nothing positive to the cosmos, or according to Calvinism (or at least Determinism), God’s plans will succeed through the utilitarian necessity of purpose-based, God-ordained sin, insomuch that the success of God’s plan required the existence of sin, which sin, Determinism holds was immutably scripted by God, in which there exists no form of independent thought, outside of God’s own predeterminations. However, I operate under the assumption that God doesn't need sin, and never did, in order to obtain the most amount of glory. I think that God uses sin, but I don't think that He needs it for any reason, and I agree with Roger Olson that sin contributes nothing positive to the cosmos. God will be perfectly glorified throughout eternity future, without the existence of a single sin. It is completely unnecessary to God's goodness and glory. Sin was born in the angelic realm through the rebellion of Satan and his fallen angels and born in the earthly realm through the rebellion of Adam and Eve. God didn't create it, never needed it, never wanted it, but will use it, proving that He can still achieve success despite it. When Calvinists differ, Arminians accuse them of diminishing God's goodness and ultimately making God and the devil indistinguishable, and then kaboom!, Calvinists erupt. It's an odd thing to me, but it was kind of a humorous moment in the youtube clip. "Read my book," says Olson, "and I'll see you back here."

2) The prevailing Calvinist view is that in order for a particular theology to be considered truly "God-centered," human decision must play no role in salvation, whatsoever. But if you suppose that God possessed the power and sovereign freedom to select either the Calvinist or Arminian plan of salvation, then it seems to follow that either hypothetical plan of salvation would be "God-centered," simply by virtue of the fact that He chose it, and is getting the most out of it, as opposed to whatever alternative option that He could have chosen instead. So even if human decision played a role in salvation, that is, for a person to either accept or reject God's offer and provision of grace at Calvary, I gather that it would still have to be considered, "God-centered," and I think that the argument works both ways. You can look at it from a bunch of different angles, and claim one alternative as superior to another (in terms of God-centeredness), but ultimately, it seems that the mere fact of God's choice guarantees that the plan selected (whichever it may be) has be God-centered by definition. I think this also applies to the sovereignty arguments. For instance, if you suppose that God could have preferred and chosen the Arminian plan of salvation over the Calvinist plan of salvation, then if the former was in fact what God had selected, it could not detract from His sovereignty if that's what He had chosen from His sovereign prerogative to choose it. A non-Calvinist Baptist pastor once stated from the pulpit, "I believe that God is so sovereign that free will presents no problem to His sovereignty." That's why I think that it's silly to suppose that God could have chosen the less-sovereign plan of salvation, since either one would be THE sovereign plan if it results from His sovereign right to choose it. In other words, the whole argument on God-centeredness and sovereignty is fundamentally silly.


Richard Coords said...

At around the 4:00 minute point, Roger Olson acknowledges that the Determistic model may be "God- centered," but the God at its center is "morally ambiguous and hardly worthy of worship." Olson adds that it makes such a God "morally ambiguous at best and and a monster at worst," and still there was barely a peep from the Calvinists present. He even adds that such a deterministic model sucks the goodness out of God, and that although the deterministic model may place God at its center, the God at its center is unworthy of being at the center. Still, not a peep. But as soon as he adds that such a model makes God "barely distinguishable from the devil," well that's when the Calvinists had enough. So that's what pushes the button! Ok. I can't help but laugh, because I cannot figure out how the final statement crossed a line that the preceding statements did not also cross. Anyway, my next question is why do Calvinists feel the need to bow the knee to Determinism? Aren't there any Calvinists willing to declare the Westminster Confession a load of hogwash? Even if some ditched exhaustive determinism, the Calvinist would still have their doctrine of unconditional Election, and for that matter, its associated five points, since meticulous determinsm is a concept which goes beyond TULIP. (But then again, I cannot understand why 5-pointers treat their 4-point brothers with such contempt, as you could still have the "U" in TULIP without the "L" of Limited Atonement.)

mike said...

God has blessed us with the reformed doctrine. Pharoah was elected to destruction (a type of the devil). Moreover God is in control(or not worthy of worship...seems since Jesus came we forgot who God is and/or what it means to be The Son of God). I did nothing to be saved/believe (and how could I do something to not be saved or unbelievers). God bless us.

mike said...

God has blessed us with the reformed doctrine. Pharoah was elected to destruction (a type of the devil). Moreover God is in control(or not worthy of worship...seems since Jesus came we forgot who God is and/or what it means to be The Son of God). I did nothing to be saved/believe (and how could I do something to not be saved or unbelieve). God bless us.