Extreme Calvinism and Blaming God for Evil

“Not only does extreme Calvinism tend to undermine personal responsibility, it also logically lays the blame squarely on God for the origin of evil.  Many years ago, when the late John Gerstner and I taught together at the same institution, I invited him into one of my classes to discuss free will.  Being what I have called an extreme Calvinist, he defended Jonathan Edwards’ view that the human will is moved by the strongest desire.

I will never forget how he responded when I pushed the logic all the way back to Lucifer. An otherwise very rational man responded to my question ‘Who gave Lucifer the desire to rebel against God?’ by throwing up his hands and crying, ‘Mystery, mystery, a great mystery!’  I answered, ‘No, it is not a great mystery; it is a grave contradiction.’  And this is because on the premises of extreme Calvinism, only God could have given Lucifer the desire to rebel, since there is no self-determined free choice and Lucifer had no evil nature.  But if this is so, then logically it must have been God who gave him the desire to sin.  In short, God caused a rebellion against God. Perish the thought!

Another time, a well-known conference speaker was explaining how he was unable to come to grips with the tragic death of his son.  Leaning on his strong Calvinistic background, he gradually came to the conclusion: ‘God killed my son!’  He triumphantly informed us that ‘then, and only then, did I get peace about the matter.’  A sovereign God killed his son, and therein he found ground for a great spiritual victory, he assured us.  I thought to myself, I wonder what he would say if his daughter had been raped?  Would he not be able to come to grips with the matter until he concluded victoriously that God raped his daughter?  God forbid!  Some views do not need to be refuted; they simply need to be stated.”

– Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free (2010: Bethany House Publishers), pp. 162-3.

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