Friday, November 11, 2011

Refuting Against Calvinism (Part 4)

Here continues the review of Olson's book Against Calvinism:

Chapter 3 — Mere Calvinism

Olson decides to parade the varieties within the confessional Calvinist tradition here. The Amyraldians are put forward as an alternative, disregarding the fact that Amyraldism was censored by the Formula Consensus Helvetica. The supralapsarianism/ infralapsarianism issue was raised, but since both sides affirm TULIP, there is no issue here. The different slant on the minutiae of TULIP among various theologians is highlighted, but what this has to do with the topic at hand is puzzling. The issue of the well-meant offer is brought up on pages 60-61, an issue which we will look at later in more detail.

As a foretaste of the next section, Olson makes a statement about God's sovereignty that illumines for us the basis behind the Arminians' profession of belief in the sovereignty of God. Olson claims that alternate theologies of God's sovereignty and salvation believe that God sovereignly self-limits his own sovereignty (p. 66). Let us think over that statement for a moment. Is that even a valid statement to make? Analogously, can we say that God who is all-powerful powerfully cripples Himself so as to self-limits His own power? Or to put it in a simpler form, can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot carry? Such paradoxes are nonsensical, for they are not real paradoxes but contradictions!.God can never sovereignly self-limits His own sovereignty, in the same way that God cannot create a stone so heavy that He cannot carry. It is not a limit on God's part, for God cannot do what is illogical. God cannot make square circles, for the simple fact is that something that anything with edges cannot even resemble a circle (we are speaking of 2-D Euclidian geometry here). God cannot make Himself to not exist, neither could God make a non-burning fire nor a air-filled vacuum. All of these are irrational and invalid concepts, and God cannot do such nonsense.

Olson's idea of God's sovereignty therefore is manifestly irrational. The phrase God "sovereignly self-limits his own sovereignty," can either be taken in two different senses— to mean that He refuses to exercise sovereignty in choosing to do or not do something, or taken in the literal sense that He cannot therefore exercise sovereignty at all on such matters. If the latter where God is unable to exercise sovereignty, then He is not sovereign at all. If the former where God refuses to exercise sovereignty, then God is not self-limiting His sovereignty but exercising it in basically leaving the events and consequences to chance. God has abdicated His kingship so to speak. Is such a God worthy of worship, that in the nature of allowing us free will, He decides to look on while His creatures rebel against Him? If as Olson says, God is doing all He can to save us, then either He is not able and thus not sovereign, or He is unwilling and thus that statement is a lie and God is not doing all He can to save us. Whichever of the options chosen, the implications is most decidedly not friendly to the Arminian cause. Either God is not sovereign after all, or God is not doing all He can to save people. And to the Arminian who thinks that the latter is a good thing because God needs to respect our free will in order for Him to be good, one wonders if the Arminian really believes what he claims to believe. Analogously, what will one think of a person who knows that a certain fruit is poisonous yet allow person Y to eat it since person Y insists on eating it and he needed to respect his free will? Should not love compel him to use all possible means to prevent person Y from eating the fruit, up to and including physically overpowering and restraining person Y? Yet the synergists somehow think that God not doing all He can to save people is actually a good thing. To parrot their pet phase: "What love is this?"

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