Calvinism and the arbitrary camp director
I have been arguing that on Calvinism God’s bestowal of special, electing love on some creatures and not others is wholly arbitrary. And this is a problem.
Tom offers the following Calvinist response: “Why does God choose me and not the other guy? Because through a fool like me, he can bring glory to Himself.”
Unfortunately this begs the question since any elected fool could bring glory to God. So why Tom rather than, say, Gene Simmons or Sadam Hussein?
I don’t think that people like Tom understand how this picture of God arbitrarily deciding to bestow electing love on some and not others undermines a conception of the divine love. So here’s an illustration of the problem. Imagine that there is a camp for troubled youth. The camp director has a rather unorthodox method of dealing with the campers. Some of them are beaten severely with whips in a wholly punitive or retributive (i.e. not restorative) manner while others are chosen by the director to receive care, love and nurture in a way that restores them.
You are contemplating sending your child to the camp but you want your child to be lovingly restored, not viciously beaten, even if the beatings are just. So you enquire: what is it that makes the director decide to beat the children rather than nurture them? Is it the nature of their crimes? Their race? Gender? What?
The answer comes back. There is absolutely nothing that differentiates the two groups. The bottom line is that for some inexplicable reason the director arbitrarily selects some children to be beaten and others to be nurtured.
Now imagine that somebody came up to you with a positive testimonial. “The director loved our child! He nurtured her. She’s much better now. He is very loving to those he chooses.” Wouldn’t you want to scream back “But what about the children he opts to beat? How can you call that loving? How can you focus only on those he nurtures and completely ignore those he beats? Doesn’t it bother you that his choice to nurture your child was wholly arbitrary?”
And now for a footnote.
Tom then attempts to paint me into a dilemma by characterizing the Arminian as protesting: “It’s not fair because they [the reprobate] didn’t get the chance to choose!” And he then asserts:
“Following this line of logic, then what can be said for the man who lives in the isolated hut in china? He’s never heard the gospel, he’s never had a chance to get saved, how is it that he should go to hell?
“Would you be so heretical to say that he doesn’t go to hell? For if that is the case then we should not preach the gospel for it becomes bad news. The Apostles should’ve never spread the Good News, they should’ve died with such news if such is the case.”
Tom, your first problem here is your assumption that inclusivism, the position that a person can be saved apart from hearing the gospel, is a heresy. It isn’t. Inclusivism is not only the official position of the Catholic Church, but also is held by millions of evangelicals. Further, I am indeed an inclusivist and have defended the view on multiple occasions in my blog. Finally, the whole discussion of inclusivism is irrelevant anyways since many Arminians are exclusivists who argue that God secures a gospel hearing for anyone who would have responded favorably to such a hearing.