If the notion of universal Divine causal determinism is to be believed to the extent that God causally determines “the moving of a finger, the beating of a heart, the laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist – even sin”, indeed, “every thought, word, and deed in all of history”, as Palmer says, can it be rationally affirmed that the Scriptures are any more inspired than the works of Arminius, or Calvin’s Institutes? Wouldn’t this very question be just as ‘inspired’ as the Scriptures? If God has indeed causally determined “every thought, word, and deed in all of history”, wouldn’t that reduce the inspiration of Scripture to a redundant doctrine?
10 More Questions for Calvinists
1. If it is true that before a person can respond to God, God must irresistibly cause that person’s regeneration, why is God long-suffering, not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9)? What’s He waiting for? Is God long-suffering with Himself, as He waits for Himself to irresistibly and unfailingly bend the human will to faith and conversion? Isn’t it incoherent to believe that God would actively withhold the grace that man needs in order to respond the Gospel, while at the same time be long-suffering toward mankind, not willing that any should perish? As an aside, the verse in question states that God is long-suffering “to us-ward”. Doesn’t this imply that salvation is tied at least in some measure to our response?
2. Is there any discernible difference between God “powerfully and unfailingly bend[ing] the human will to faith and conversion”, as the Canons of Dort teach, and God forcing someone to be saved?
3. Is Calvinism essential for salvation? Does one need to believe Calvinism in order to be saved? If not, was Spurgeon wrong when he said that “Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else”? Was Engelsma wrong when he said that “Calvinism is the Gospel. Its outstanding doctrines are simply the truths that make up the Gospel. Departure from Calvinism, therefore, is apostasy from the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ”?
4. Is there anything that the reprobate can do to avoid eternal punishment? If not, would it be accurate to say that the reprobate do not have a Saviour to save them from their sins? Would it be accurate to say that Christ did nothing to save the reprobate? Would it be accurate to say that the Gospel is for the elect alone, and that the reprobate therefore have no Gospel to believe, even if they could believe? Further, would it be just to condemn them for rejecting the Saviour, when they had no Saviour to save them from their sins?
5. If Christ did nothing to save the reprobate, are the reprobate to be commended for their unbelief? For example, if a reprobate flat-out denies that Christ died for him, isn’t he simply believing the truth that Christ’s death was not for him? Suppose that the reprobate were to say, “I don’t believe that Christ did anything to save me.” If Christ did not die for the reprobate who said this, then what he said is accurate, and should he not be commended for his unbelief, insofar as what he believes is the truth?
6. Regarding Jesus’ dealing with the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23), is the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistible Grace compatible with Jesus’ statement that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (v.25)? If Irresistible Grace is true, isn’t it just as true that man’s will would immediately and unfailingly be bent to faith and conversion upon hearing God’s effectual call? Why would it be harder for a rich person to be saved by God’s unfailingly irresistible calling than what it would be for any other sinner? Doesn’t this imply that salvation is tied at least in some measure to our response?
7. God specifically states that “he himself tempts no one” (James. 1:13). If God has indeed causally determined and decreed all that comes to pass to such a meticulous extent that “the ungodly, are, in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how much soever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless insofar as he permits, no, unless insofar as he commands; that they are not only bound by his fetters, but are even forced to do him service”, as Calvin said, isn’t it incoherent to believe that He has causally determined and decreed absolutely everything to that extent, yet somehow does not cause temptation? As an aside, does the fact that temptation occurs without God causing it mean that the temptation is not under God’s sovereign rule?
8. If regeneration precedes faith, is faith necessary for salvation? Even Calvinist Charles Spurgeon argued that once a man is regenerate, he is saved, and that it is therefore “unnecessary”, “ridiculous”, and “absurd” to preach Christ to him and bid him to believe in order to be saved. Assuming that a regenerate man is a saved man, and vice versa, doesn’t this “axiom of Reformed Theology”, as R.C. Sproul put it, undermine the necessity of faith? Further, is there any discernible difference between saying ‘regeneration precedes faith’, and ‘salvation precedes faith’?
9. Is belief in the doctrine of Limited Atonement more of a deduction from the T, U, I, and P of the TULIP, rather than a clear truth of Scriptural revelation? Is Limited Atonement embraced because of clear Scriptural reasons, or is it embraced because the logic of the Calvinistic worldview requires it and the thought that the Scriptures allow it?
10. If God wanted to convey in the Scriptures the idea that Christ died for the elect and no one else, is there anything He could have done to make the message clearer, and if so, what? Conversely, if God wanted to convey the idea that Christ died provisionally for the whole world, is there anything He could have done to make the message clearer, and if so, what?
Related: 10 Questions for Calvinists
Here is Dr. Michael L. Brown’s debate with Pastor Bruce Bennett on the subject of Who Makes the Final Choice in Salvation – God or Man?
Here is Dr. Michael L. Brown’s debate with Dr. James White on the subject of Predestination, Election, and the Will of God:
When Reformed Christians are questioned on whether God is the “author of sin,” they are too quick to say, “No, God is not the author of sin.” And then they twist and turn and writhe on the floor, trying to give man some power of “self-determination,” and some kind of freedom that in their minds would render man culpable, and yet still leave God with total sovereignty. On the other hand, when someone alleges that my view of divine sovereignty makes God the author of sin, my reaction is “So what?” Those who oppose me stupidly chant, “But he makes God the author of sin, he makes God the author of sin.” However, a description does not amount to an argument or objection, and I have never come across a decent explanation as to what is wrong with God being the author of sin in any theological or philosophical work written by anybody from any perspective. The truth is that, whether or not God is the author of sin, there is no biblical or rational problem with him being the author of sin. (p.4)
Although God must actively cause evil thoughts and inclinations in the creature, and then he must actively cause the corresponding evil actions, he does not create new material or substance when he does this, since he is controlling what he has already created. It is true that a person sins according to his evil nature, but as Luther writes, it is God who “creates” this evil nature in each newly conceived person after the pattern of fallen Adam, whose fall God also caused. And then, God must actively cause this evil nature to function and the person to act according to it. Luther writes that God never allows this evil nature to be idle in Satan and in ungodly people, but he continuously causes it to function by his power… As for God’s purpose for sin and evil, first, as we acknowledge the biblical teaching that God is the sovereign and righteous “author of sin,” even if we cannot say why he causes sin and evil, it would not undermine what I have said. Even if we do not know the reason, our view does not contradict Scripture or itself. It would only be a matter of incomplete information. (p.10)
My position is a consistent application of divine sovereignty over everything. It is a denial of any form of dualism or deism. I affirm that God controls everything about everything that is anything, including every aspect of every detail of every human decision and action, in such a way that man has no freedom in any meaningful or relevant sense. (p.14)
Things are more determined in divine determinism than in any other scheme. Under “fatalism,” an event is predetermined in such a way that the same outcome results “no matter what you do,” that is, regardless of means. However, under divine determinism, although it “matters” what you do, “what you do” is also predetermined. And it “matters” because there is a definite relationship between “what you do” and the outcome, although this relationship is also determined and controlled by God. So I affirm divine determinism and not fatalism, but not for the reason that people often shun fatalism. I affirm divine determinism not because things are less controlled in this scheme – they are more controlled – but I affirm it because it is the revealed and rational truth. I cannot be charged with teaching fatalism, because the term means something different from what I teach, and also because I consider fatalism far too weak to describe God’s control. (p.25)
The Bible teaches that God’s will determines everything. Nothing exists or happens without God, not merely permitting, but actively willing it and causing it to exist or happen… God controls not only natural events, but he also decides and causes all human affairs and decisions… If God indeed designs and causes all natural events and human affairs, then it follows that he also designs and causes evil. (pp.58-60)
God controls everything that exists and everything that happens. There is not one thing that exists or that happens that he has not decreed and caused – not even a single thought in the mind of man. Since this is true, it follows that God has decreed and caused the existence of evil. He has not merely permitted it, because nothing can originate or happen apart from his will and power. Since no creature can make free or independent decisions, evil could never have started unless God decreed and caused it, and it cannot continue for one moment longer without God’s will for it to continue or without God’s power actively causing it to continue. Those who see that it is impossible to disassociate God from the origination and continuation of evil still attempt to distance God from evil by suggesting that God merely “permits” evil, and that he does not cause it. However, since the Bible itself states that God actively decrees and causes everything, and that nothing can exist or happen apart from his will and power, it makes no sense to say that he merely permits something – nothing happens by God’s mere permission. In fact, when it comes to ontology, “God’s permission” is an unintelligible term. (p.61)
– Vincent Cheung, The Author of Sin (2014)