(T)ULIP

Post Reply
User avatar
jaydam
Posts: 343
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:29 pm
Location: Portland, OR

(T)ULIP

Post by jaydam » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:56 am

Hey all,

Its been awhile! Life has taken me on quite the journey.

A few quick questions:

Does Calvinism fall apart if Total Depravity is taken away?

IF it requires Total Depravity, then does what does that say for the dynamics of Calvinism before the fall?

Would a Calvinist believe that there was free will before the fall?

Or, if a Calvinist believes their theological paradigm existed before the fall, then it must not hinge on Total Depravity like is seems many Calvinists today make it appear?

MOST Calvinists I talk to say that man's depravity is half the reason God must run the universe in a Calvinistic manner.

In the absence of the need for Total Depravity, would a Calvinist still defend his beliefs not on the need of man to be chosen by God, but on the need of God's glory requiring he micromanage everything to be sovereign? Since it seems Calvinists believe anything less than micromanagement would make God not sovereign...

Finally, if God was entirely sovereign in the Calvinistic sense before the fall, this means he caused the fall and the subsequent damnation of many souls. Do they believe God cannot be fully glorified in a sinless world, so he caused the fall to receive full glory through exercising punishment on man?

And what would this say for the time before the fall? Was God lacking glory in some manner in the interim between man's creation and the fall because he had nobody to punish for a time?

And one more that comes to mind, IF Calvinism had to exist before the fall, then wouldn't this mean ultimately that God punished the undeserving because he forced sinless man into damnation? It would be much like if I took an innocent person, forced them to commit a crime, and then held them responsible, calling it justice.

Hopefully these questions make sense. Thanks for any input any of you can offer.

User avatar
remade
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:53 pm
Location: Idaho
Contact:

Re: (T)ULIP

Post by remade » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:27 pm

Jaydam, I am currently a fence-rider, between Arminianism and Calvinism. So let me answer succinctly, I think, of how most Calvinists I've read might respond.
Does Calvinism fall apart if Total Depravity is taken away?
If Total Depravity is "taken away," that is, if the idea that the mind is hostile to God without the Spirit, and thus cannot submit to the Law of God (Rom 8:7), then I would assume there would be no need for a Savior, period. I guess in my own studies, I don't see the difference between the Arminian view of "Original Sin," and Calvinistic view of "total depravity." What I do see, is a lot of Arminians make worm-theology caricatures that incorrectly reflect Calvinism. (I am not denying here the kind of wacko-calvinist theology of say Westboro Baptist, but I am denying that all Calvinists somehow view total depravity as meaning everyone are devolved mutants incapable of any thing that looks like goodness).

I believe a Calvinist would respond that without total depravity, not only does Calvinism fall apart, but then the Gospel becomes irrelevant. What do we need saving from if we are not dead in our sins (Eph 2:1), or incapable of seeking God (Rom 3:10-11) or the things of God (1 Cor 2:14)?
IF it requires Total Depravity, then does what does that say for the dynamics of Calvinism before the fall?
Would a Calvinist believe that there was free will before the fall?
I believe a Calvinist - and don't quote me on this - might say that Adam and Eve's sin bent towards to do evil only proves total depravity. In a literal world of everything good and one thing bad, why choose the one thing bad? In literally paradise, with one outing of sin, and all of paradise around, why do that one outing of sin?

Let me deduce from a few passages that might reveal Adam and Eve's totally depraved nature and God's plan in their evil. They both come from Peter. Peter, on the day of Pentecost said that God's plan IN Jesus to die on the Cross was foreknown and definitely planned before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23); and also Peter says in one of his epistles in (1 Peter 1:18-21) that Jesus and His Gospel was foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Let me make some logical steps and see if you agree or disagree. If God knew and planned that Jesus was to be given as a sacrifice for sin long before sin was in the world, is it merely out of comfort for our sake to say that He placed Adam in the garden knowing what he'd do but not making him for that purpose.

Let me illustrate it to you this way, do you place an obese kid in a garden where he can exercise, but also place a chest of ice cream in the middle of that garden and say, "I'm not leading him to temptation. If he opens that chest, it wasn't my doing."

Solomon writes in Proverbs 16:4, "The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble." Interesting, and maybe noteworthy too, is that when Amos judges Israel, the KJV says that Amos asks, "shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6b)
Or, if a Calvinist believes their theological paradigm existed before the fall, then it must not hinge on Total Depravity like is seems many Calvinists today make it appear?

MOST Calvinists I talk to say that man's depravity is half the reason God must run the universe in a Calvinistic manner.

In the absence of the need for Total Depravity, would a Calvinist still defend his beliefs not on the need of man to be chosen by God, but on the need of God's glory requiring he micromanage everything to be sovereign? Since it seems Calvinists believe anything less than micromanagement would make God not sovereign...

Finally, if God was entirely sovereign in the Calvinistic sense before the fall, this means he caused the fall and the subsequent damnation of many souls. Do they believe God cannot be fully glorified in a sinless world, so he caused the fall to receive full glory through exercising punishment on man?

And what would this say for the time before the fall? Was God lacking glory in some manner in the interim between man's creation and the fall because he had nobody to punish for a time?
I know many Calvinists, John Piper in particular, who say that TULIP cannot exist without any one of the 5 points. Piper doesn't tout one better or more emphatic than the other. So to say that Calvinists cannot conceive of a God without the (T), I would think most Calvinists would not revere (T), but in fact see the (T) as what we need saving from.

God doesn't need us - either to love or punish, to save or damn - to be glorified. He just is glorious. The existence of sin is a failing of his glory (Rom 3:23).

I've read one book by - I'm presuming a Calvinist, since he's Presbyterian, Dallas Willard - who literally believed that God gives us a choice in discerning His will. In other words, suppose you're facing a job opportunity in New York City or LA, and neither job would hinder you spiritually, and both jobs might be beneficial but it's just down to you to decide, Willard suggested that neither are outside of God's will, and both might be an acceptable avenue.

So I would merely express here that your characterizing the general Calvinist wants a God who is meticulous and ultra-micromanager is about as unfair as the Calvinist caricature of Arminians as semi-pelagians, etc. All that is happening in Calvinists who insist on God's sovereignty and providence to a very explicit degree, is belief upon and reaction to verses like Deut 8:3-4; Daniel 4:35; Proverbs 16:33; Matthew 10:29; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11.
And one more that comes to mind, IF Calvinism had to exist before the fall, then wouldn't this mean ultimately that God punished the undeserving because he forced sinless man into damnation? It would be much like if I took an innocent person, forced them to commit a crime, and then held them responsible, calling it justice.
I've told several people that I'm beginning to see that the primary problem, disagreement between Arminians and Calvinists really comes down to "What do about reprobates?" Perhaps reprobate is too much of a Calvinist term, but the question lies on what to do about unsaved people? The Calvinist sees that the Gospel and God's grace as so irresistible that people who resist it only make sense is if they're not truly beholding it or cannot see it for what it is (not unlike the travelers on the road to Emmaus who were given the ability to finally see Jesus after God allowed them). It seems at times Jesus makes reference to His salvation being effectual, He sees it as without a doubt accomplishing what He's set out to do (See John 6:37-40; John 10:28-29).

So the logical presentation is this.

(A) If we believe that God is a good rescuer, accomplishing what He sets out to do, namely save people from their sins
(B) If we believe that Jesus has accomplished this, and that "all that the Father gives me, I will raise on the last day,"

Then why are some not saved and not going to have eternal life?

Arminian answer -> Unsaved folks did not choose Jesus, thus Jesus's effective salvation does cannot apply to them because salvation is contingent on the acceptance of the gift.

Calvinist argument -> Why does Jesus say that He will lose NONE that the Father gave Him? (See John 6:39) Thus, it seems that the Father did not give Jesus any of those who are not saved. Thus it appears that there are some not being drawn to Jesus (John 6:44, compare with 6:64-65).

Question restated:

(A) If we believe that God is a good rescuer, accomplishing what He sets out to do, namely save people from their sins
(B) If we believe that Jesus has accomplished this, and that "all that the Father gives me, I will raise on the last day,"

Then why are some not salved and not going to have eternal life?

Calvinist answer -> God predestined them as objects of wrath (Rom 9:21-23), and they were never given to Jesus by the Father.
Arminian argument -> God desires all to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and wishes that they would turn to God and live (Ezek. 18:23; 33:11). Thus it appears that on their own accord, these sinful folks have chosen to reject God and effectively resist His desire.

I would agree with the Arminian argument, and I think a Calvinist would too. Calvinists just differentiate between God's desire and His WILL.

Now, the mystery is haunting, even Calvin shied away from the logical unvoiced reality that an all-sovereign God who seems to predestine effectually and actively sinners to become saints, just not all sinners. Calvin himself shied away from the apparent reason, or statement of what it means that not all are saved (in other words, the opposite might be true, that God predestined some for reprobation). Simply because you and I are aghast at that prospect doesn't mean it might not be true.

The Calvinist would move on from that horrifying prospect, to the overwhelming reality that all deserve hell, and no one should be in heaven. That God should for anyone send to or save for heaven is a scandalous prospect, but He does, because He is loving and gracious.

To answer your last question though, is Adam and Eve responsible for their sin under the lens of a Calvinist God - or is God Himself really to blame? I can't speak for all Calvinists, but it seems that Jesus allows in places like Mark 14:21, for both God's sovereign plan and decree (in ref. to Mark's passage, that the Son of Man would be betrayed), simultaneously allows moral responsibility on part of the betrayer - for Jesus wishes that Judas were never born. Does that not express the heart/desire of God - that Judas would turn from his sin and trust in God, but the will of God as well? Namely the will of God is that Judas will play the part of the betrayer because He was predestined to do so?

I would think Adam falls in the same category, caught between the desire and heart of God - that Adam would not sin - that God's heart. But simultaneously as well as the will and decree of God - he's going to play that part. It is in fact a product of Western Thinking that bothers the modern mind, this tension between God's Sovereignty and Human Will. The ancient times weren't so bothered, but could see, understand and be content with that God's sovereignly plans and does all things, even creating and using the will of man for his purposes.

We don't have God's throne, nor His mind - for who can understand His ways (Isaiah 55:8). We never can fathom what we would do with eternal omniscience and eternal power. Our slightest musings would be tainted with sin and imperfections. God knew before the foundations of the world who Adam would be, what he would do, who Judas would be, what he would do, who Adolf Hitler would be and what they would do. Is it not equally disturbing, if we say that upon knowing what these men would do, he let them freely exist and do their desired outcomes, then it would be to say that this is what He made them for to begin with? Paul seems to express that He did make them for these very things, when Paul talks about another infamous fiend, one Pharaoh that enslaved the Hebrews (Rom 9:17-22) Both the Arminian and the Calvinist at the end of the day believe in God's redemptive providence, that He's able to take Adam and redeem by Jesus, or He's able to take Judas and use Him to further the plan of Jesus.. The Calvinist, I would argue, I guess just might idiotically (an Arminian might assert) ascribes God's sovereign decree not only over the redemptive outcome, but the derelict God must redeem from in the first place.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- II CORINTHIANS 5:21 ESV

Post Reply

Return to “Calvinism, Arminianism & Open Theism”