Yesterday I wrote an article critiquing Justin Schieber’s tweeted declaration “I refuse to repent to a god who, if real, has far more to repent about than I.” It turns out that by “god” Justin was referring to a morally monstrous deity which lacks the moral perfection of God as defined in classical theism and the orthodox confession. And every Christian should likewise refuse to submit to this being who bears no relation to their beliefs.
But many others insist that they would not repent should the God of Christian theology exists. Yesterday in the comment section to the above-mentioned article Zeno wrote:
“God, as described by many contemporary Christians, is a disgusting figure indeed. God is described by many as inflicting both antemortem and postmortem horrors on humans that only those who are both clever and obtuse could defend. Such a god would have a lot to repent of.”
Walter followed up Zeno’s comment by adding:
“The God of Calvinism is about as monstrous as they come. And Calvinism appears to be on the rise in evangelical circles.”
So let’s consider the possibility that “The God of Calvinism” (aka, God as described within Calvinistic theology) exists. If it turns out that this theology describes God, should we repent to (and worship) him? Zeno and Walter presumably say no. Such a god is a “disgusting figure” and “about as monstrous as they come”. Are they right?
Long time readers of this blog might expect me to say “yes”. After all, in the past I’ve often been a critic of Calvinist theology. However, “critic” means that I’ve raised objections to the likelihood that Calvinist theology provides an accurate description of God. In this scenario, we’re assuming that Calvinist theology does provide an accurate description of God. And with that concession, everything changes.
Consider an analogy. Imagine that you are absolutely persuaded that your brother-in-law murdered one of his two kids. Despite the weight of evidence against him, he has always maintained his innocence and insisted that a mysterious figure broke into their house at night and murdered the child. He could be innocent, but he sure doesn’t appear to be. But if it turns out that he is innocent, your entire attitude toward him should change. And if you still refuse to change your attitude even on the premise of his innocence, then you are behaving in an irrational manner.
Now consider the God of Calvinism. On the one hand, this being is understood to be perfectly good, maximally loving, and absolutely wise. On the other hand, this being is understood to elect a subset of the human population for redemption whilst electing (or “passing over”) others in what constitutes a decree of reprobation which results in damnation in hell.
This decree of reprobation provides the putative evidence (or at least much of the evidence) that the God of Calvinism is evil and not worthy of repentance and worship. In other words, it provide the evidence that the God of Calvinism is not perfectly good, maximally loving, and absolutely wise.
But now let’s consider the scenario. Just as one could misread the evidence that suggested your brother-in-law’s guilt, so one could misread the evidence that suggests the “disgusting” and “monstrous” moral status of the Calvinist God. And our hypothetical scenario asks us to consider precisely that possibility. What if God is the Calvinist God? What if God both has the attributes of perfect goodness, maximal love, and absolute wisdom and God elected (or passed over) a subset of the human population in a decree of reprobation?
In that case, God is not disgusting or monstrous. Rather, the problem lies with our human moral intuitions and human reason. And in that case, a continued refusal to worship and repent is as irrational as the refusal to embrace the brother-in-law who has been vindicated by the evidence.