Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Does God Ordain Everything that Occurs? Sure He Does!

Someone has recently posted a long list of quotations from various Calvinists (and one or two hypers) in order to "prove" that Calvinists believe God ordains all events, including evil ones. He also expresses his strong disapproval of this theology. The list of quotations, found here, is actually a great resource for Calvinists (assuming they can bear with the author's misleading comments, which are interspersed throughout).

Here is the response I posted:
Thank you for sharing this great collection of quotes and your thoughts on them. 
I can certainly understand not liking what you believe to be the unavoidable logical implications of Calvinistic theology. Fair enough. I hope you won’t mind my asking a few follow up questions. 
1. So, you deny that all events are ordained by God, correct? And your primary reason is that certain objectionable events have occurred, and you cannot conceive of a good God ordaining those events, correct? I want to be sure I am accurately understanding your position. 
2. Okay, assuming I have understood you correctly, what are the alternatives? 
  • Does God ordain any events? Which ones?
  • What are the primary differences between “ordained” and “non-ordained” events?
  • Is God aware of “non-ordained” events before they occur? Or does He learn about them as they happen?
  • Can anything outside of God (i.e., creation) exist without His initial creative action to “ordain” its existence? If not, how do we separate this initial “ordaining” action on God’s part from the creature’s subsequent actions, so as to say that God in no sense “caused” or “ordained” some of the creature’s actions? At what point do a creature’s actions begin to be “non-ordained”?
  • What is the relationship between “ordained” and “non-ordained” events? Do some “ordained” events depend on “non-ordained” events (e.g., does the “ordained” event, forgiveness, depend on the “non-ordained” event, sin)? How does God “ordain” the good events without “ordaining” the evil ones that must occur in advance?
  • Does God have the power and authority to prevent “non-ordained” events?
  • If God foresees and allows an event, is He not in some sense “ordaining” its occurrence?
  • Do “non-ordained” events happen in such a way that God cannot be said to maintain any control over them, i.e. to cause, allow, or prevent them?
  • If these events cannot be caused, allowed, or prevented by God, what is His relationship to them? Does He have any authority or power over them?
  • In what sense can any event occur outside of God’s ultimate oversight and authority? Does He maintain any sovereignty over these events, and in what sense? 
I don’t expect you to answer all of these questions. My intent is simply to show that it is easier to object to Reformed theology’s answers than it is to propose a well thought out and Biblically grounded alternative. 
Thanks again, and have great weekend. 
Derek Ashton

Anyone who thinks deeply about these matters will quickly run into paradoxes. Is there a better solution than a Biblically faithful, Calvinistic compatibilism?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to respond to anything written in the posts, or to the comments left by others. All comments are reviewed before they are published.

Please be charitable. If you disagree, do so with grace. Keep your words positive, focused, and on-topic. We don't expect everyone to agree, but we do expect everyone to treat everyone else with respect and grace, speaking the truth in love.