First of all, I found your write-up very intriguing, Stef. I have a very limited knowledge of Calvinism and it sparked quite a bit of thought and reading. Rather than just comment I thought I would post a response. Why? – like my son says --- because I caaayun!
Actually, I didn’t have any other comments other than the fact that I enjoyed the post --- Rather, I just have questions. You stated that you might not be able to defend the entire stance, specifically the concept of not being elected but my response is purely one of inquiry and free-flowing thought on the subject. In other words, I do not write in an attempt to stump you. Is it pointless for those who do not believe? No way!!11
Let’s get the obvious question of limited atonement out of the way. The glaring problem here is this picture of a god that intentionally created me as a ‘non-elected’ man – preordained me for hell, did not equip me with the ability to believe, made me unable to repent, holds me accountable for this inability and THEN damns me to eternal torment.
Am I missing something here? How utterly evil. The egregiousness of this concept is mind-boggling. I’ll cross the aisle and offer up a quote from C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed that expresses my real fear:
“The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So, there’s no God after all,’ but, ‘So, this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’
I’m sure these are typical questions for those just stumbling upon Calvinism but I will pose them for further discussion anyway:
Do we have the ability to choose between doing good and evil? If so, is that not our own freewill?
Do you believe that without god one is morally/ethically void/without purpose? If so, did god create some without morality/purpose?
What scriptural basis exists for predestination? I saw a couple verses in the 6th chapter of John but can the basis be explained by textual translations/errors?
It appears that even the guy in the 34th row of Texas Stadium could effectively refute Calvinism with his multi-colored wig and John 3:16 sign. No? I’m being glib here but it would seem that many, many biblical verses point to ALL men having the potential for this eternal life. Is there something biblically that makes you think differently?
How do you know that you are elected? Could you lead your entire life as a Christian under this doctrine and find out that you’ve been ‘left behind’?
Do you see god as compassionate and just?
How do you feel knowing that you have absolutely no way of making an eternal impact? especially on the lives of your loved ones?
You frequently use the word ‘believe’…why? Does belief matter in the face of predestination?
Why do you need faith?
Can the "elect" lose their salvation?
The phrase “causing them to willingly obey the Gospel…” is so foreign to me yet I guess I can understand the importance to Calvinism. It appears to be the oxymoron of the doctrine, though. How does one reconcile this rather mechanical (?) existence with his or her own freethinking abilities?
I’ll stop there even though I have many more. Maybe you can also point us to some of your favorite Calvinistic resources?
As an aside – I AM normally the first to joke here about assigning human characteristics to god…to me it’s an absurd way to parody how most Christians anthropomorphize a god that, [to hear them speak] --- is so mysterious that his ways are inconceivable, we cannot know his plan or possibly know the magnitude of him -- yet most will use symbolic metaphors (he: is loving, is angry, is compassionate, sits on a throne, has desires, has appendages, goes on vacation, hang glides, etc) to help them create a god in THEIR own image. But that’s OK, my comedy is lost on believers and nonbelievers alike.
Thanks again for the ideas. Keep ‘em comin!
What bliss will fill the ransomed souls,
When they in glory dwell,
To see the sinner as he rolls,
In quenchless flames of hell.
[ I must give full- credit to my co-author for the
photo. I just asked for a Calvin picture, Stef!]