How many Calvinists understand Reformed theology?
How many Calvinists understand Reformed theology? Not as many as you might think. As I noted this week I had a debate of sorts a couple years ago with Tim Challies in which it became clear that he didn’t understand some of the most fundamental tenets of Calvinism. This is especially strange since he’s set himself up as something of a shepherd for his legions of Reformed Christian followers.
And then there’s that machismo pastor from Seattle, Mark Driscoll. I have heard him appeal to the free will defense / theodicy in the past to help explain the existence of evil. But the free will defense assumes libertarian freedom and Reformed theology denies libertarian freedom. So this leaves me wondering how well this influential spokesman for Calvinism understands the theology he promotes.
In keeping with this trend, a Calvinist named Robert Fisher accused me of misrepresenting Reformed theology in “Calvinism and the ice cream man“:
No, I’m sorry. Predestination to saving faith is only given *in light of* man’s depravity. Despite man’s depravity. You’re using a slanted illustration of an ice cream man being mean to little kiddies.
The standard analogy, which is actually closer to what is being described is: is the governor morally obligated to pardon all prisoners on death row if he pardons one?
Challies is right about you. What you offer is Geisler cartoon caricature of Calvinism.
To repeat, the ‘willing people to accept Him’ is done IN LIGHT of their depravity, you cannot omit that.
I responded as follows:
The ice cream man illustration was intent on illumining one specific point, namely that God acts to maximalize his glory for his creatures and that means damning some to the end of granting those not damned a greater sense of his glory. Are you denying that this is the case in Calvinist theology?
The specific objection you raise is unrelated to the matter of the post, but I will address it nonetheless. I take you to be saying that all are totally depraved so God is just if he saves none (i.e. he is not obliged to save any). But I would simply ask you to address this specific question: who is the primary cause of the fact that human agents will to sin? Who is the primary cause of the fact that they are totally depraved? If you say anything other than God then you are not a Calvinist.
Robert has yet to reply. I don’t know how busy he is, but I think if you can find the time to make fallacious accusations and throw out red herrings then you can probably find the time to respond to the rebuttal to your fallacious accusations and red herrings.
As it stands I often find myself in the curious situation of getting shot at by Calvinists for explaining to them the finer points of Reformed theology. That’s like facing the wrath of an old party communist when you explain that their views are irreconcilable with the free market.