Recently I read a blog post that claimed Calvinism is untrue because it’s impossible. His argument was something like this. Calvinism, along with all biblical Christians, says God is good. But Calvinism also says God foreordained all things which includes that some people go to hell. If any human did something like this, we would say they are not good. Therefore Calvinism is impossible because though it teaches God is good, it also teaches that God does something that is evil.
But what if the Bible itself teaches both that God is good and that predestination is true? In regards to Romans chapter 9 (a passage that clearly seems to teach some form of predestination), the blogger says he agrees with John Wesley, “that whatever it means, it cannot mean what Calvinists say it means” because of the argument he outlined above. In other words, before even approaching the text, before even asking what does it say, he has already decided what it can and cannot mean. It is no wonder he takes this approach to this passage because in verses 14-24, Paul anticipates and answers the very objections that the opponents of Calvinism make to it. Paul’s theology therefore must be something very similar to Calvinism for the same objections are made to both. (In fact, in Romans 9:14 Paul anticipates the very argument this man’s blog post raises against Calvinism: “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!”)
Thus back to my original question, what if the Bible itself teaches both that God is good and that predestination is true? Is it possible that because God is infinite and our minds are finite, there might be some things about God that we cannot understand? These things seem contradictory to our minds, yet they are both true because the Bible teaches they are both true. Therefore good theology does not try to explain either teaching away, but makes room for both.
I have read many criticisms of Calvinism saying, “It you follow it to its logical conclusions.” But this is setting up a straw man. Biblical Calvinists do not do this. They believe whatever God’s Word teaches regardless of human logic. Good theology doesn’t take one biblical truth and follow it out to its logical conclusions so that it contradicts other biblical truths. The Bible itself reigns over human logic and reigns in human logic by its revelation of what is true. If human logic contradicts God’s self revelation in Scripture, it is human logic that is wrong. Part of good theology is holding together all God’s truths so that they have their fullest meaning without crossing the line to negate one another. Human reason should serve this task, not be the judge of what God’s Word can or should say.
Because God is infinite and our minds are finite, good theology must make room for mystery. In fact, any theology that makes perfect sense to finite human reason would by definition be a false theology for it is impossible for us to fully understand an infinite God. Any theology that strips God down to fit in the box of human logic has by definition created a false god. Calvinism holds things together things that our minds say can’t go together because Calvinism believes whatever Scripture says is true even if that does not make sense to us. This is not a sign that Calvinism is untrue. In fact, it’s a point in Calvinism’s favor. The author of the blog said “Calvinism is impossible logically.” This Calvinist says, “you are right, but that does not make it untrue.” The big question is, “what does Scripture say”, not “what makes sense to the finite human mind.” If Calvinism is not true, it must be because Scripture does not teach it, not that it contradicts human reason.
So yes, I believe divine sovereignty and human free will are both true. God is so mighty, that he was able to create a universe in which both of these things are true at the same time even though my mind can’t explain how. Yes, I believe God is infinitely good even though as part of his eternal plan he foreordained to allow some sinful beings to follow their evil inclinations to eternal destruction. God is so great, that are some things about him that I don’t understand. But I know he is just and loving because he revealed himself to be so in cross of Christ
I would add that Calvinism is much, much more than the doctrine of predestination and healthy Calvinism does not make it the central focus of the faith. It is a secondary doctrine that supports central truths like salvation by grace alone, assurance of salvation, the sovereignty of God, etc. Partly because of its mysterious nature, it should not be a central focus. Instead the doctrine of God’s grace in Christ and his dying love for us upon the cross, should be the heartbeat of biblical spirituality. But I felt called to respond to this blogger for he seemed to think theology’s most important task to not to be faithful to Scripture but too satisfy human reason.
Also, I would not want people to think that I am anti-human reason. I hope the careful reasoning in this post shows that I believe human reason is a valuable tool given to us by God. I just think it is the most reasonable position to believe there are limits to human reason.