Olson on Calvinistic Permission

“[Calvinists] sometimes fall back on permission language when talking about God’s sovereignty over sin and evil, but a close examination of what they mean reveals that their idea of God’s permission is different than ordinary permission.  It is willing and even determining permission. Remember that God permits the fall of Adam but also renders it certain, because it is in his will and purpose, by withholding or withdrawing the moral power Adam would have needed not to sin.

This is an odd kind of permission indeed.  Who would believe that a teacher who withholds the information students need to pass a course merely permitted them to fail? What if that teacher, when called on the carpet by parents and school officials, said, ‘I didn’t cause them to fail.  They did it on their own’?  Would anyone accept that explanation or would they accuse the teacher of not merely permitting the students to fail but also of actually causing them to fail?  And what if the teacher argued that he or she actually planned and rendered the students’ failure certain for a good reason – to uphold academic standards and show what a great teacher he or she is by demonstrating how necessary his or her information is for students to pass?  Would not these admissions only deepen everyone’s conviction that the teacher is morally and professionally wrong?”

– Olson, R., Against Calvinism (2011: Zondervan), p. 85

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