Thursday, January 15, 2015

Randy Alcorn the "Calvinist"

Over on TGC, Trevin Wax decided to interview Randy Alcorn on his new book hand in Hand: The Beauty of God's Sovereignty and Meaningful Human Choice, that supposedly seeks out some sort of "middle position" between Calvinism and Arminianism. Mark Jones has already taken Wax to task it seems, but the whole interview reveals many more problems than what Jones had covered.

I am sure this book would make interesting reading, but still the entire premise that there can be a "middle ground" between Calvinism and Arminianism is amusing. Others have tried, in vain, so it would be interesting to read what Alcorn brings to the conversation. What I find interesting, at least from the interview, is that there does not seem to be any presentation of what the two systems actually teach. Both the terms "Calvinism" and "Arminianism" are not well-defined, and it almost seems like Alcorn defines them according to what self-identified "Calvinists" and "Arminians" claim to believe in. In other words, on the surface, I do not see any indication that Alcorn has actually done his homework in defining what "Calvinisim" and "Arminianism" actually are.

It is interesting to me how Alcorn can be so dogmatic that those who think their system has no problems are "kidding themselves" and "need a dose of humility." If Alcorn thinks there are problems, let him bring them out, instead of poisoning the well. Why is he the only one that can be dogmatically certain of the "weaknesses" of theological systems? Whence the double-standards? What gives him the right to take the moral high ground even when he's shooting at others, accusing them of basically eisegeting Scripture? If Alcorn actually thinks he has arguments, let him bring them forth. All the name-calling is unwarranted, and seems to me to be hot air to hide the fact that he cannot deliver on what he claims to be able to prove.

Alcorn trots out Matthew 23:37 as if it proves that, in that instance, the fallen creatures had their way and God's will was frustrated. Now, I do not think it necessary that everyone reads James White's The Potter's Freedom, but surely if Alcorn thinks that this text is actually a problem for Calvinism, then he should at least address White's exegesis of the text, which claims the opposite of what Alcorn thinks it meant. But we have already seen seeming vagueness in Alcorn's definition of "Calvinism" and "Arminianism," and the continuation of this type of seeming sloppiness does not give me the impression that Alcorn's book is any better than the many other volumes discussing the topic, like for example the rather recent books For Calvinism and Against Calvinism, but rather that it is worse than those.

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