Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Refuting Against Calvinism (Part 8)

Part 8 of the review of Olson's Against Calvinism:

Chapter 7 — Irresistible Grace/ Monergism

The main objection, which we have previewed in our analysis of the last chapter, is Olson's denial that Arminians desire to boast. As we have said, that is not part of any Calvinist argument against Arminianism. It is the rare Arminian who thinks that he can boasts because he chose Christ. The issue before us is whether Arminians have any ground for boasting at all, not actually whether they do so. Olson utilizes one of his analogies to try to prove his case — that of the kind professor who gives a poor student a check to tide him over the month's expenses. Olson rightly shows that it is ridiculous for the student to claim some credit for having accepted the check, but this is not the same as not taking any credit at all. Olson's analogy breaks down because the type of credit the student Olson made him claim for himself is so disproportionate to the kindness of the professor who gave him the check. Knowing that there are people just like him who reject the check, the type of credit the poor student could claim is that he is smart enough to accept the check compared to the others like him who reject it, and do so not in a overbearing manner but a modest manner befitting his little contribution to the acceptance of the check. The problem with Olson's analogy thus is not that the poor student has no grounds for boasting, but he does so in a disproportionate manner. So likewise, what Olson's analogy only proves is that contributing 0.1% towards one's salvation means that one can only boast in the tiny 0.1% of one's efforts and not 10% of the effort towards one's salvation since one only contributes that 0.1%.

If the ultimate ground of one's salvation is because I make use of my free will better than others just like me, then this decision is grounds for a little boasting, regardless of whether such boasting actually occurs. Olson thus fails to refute this argument but use another failed analogy here.

Finally, Olson attempts to tug at the heartstrings by asking us to imagine if someone were to behave like God in real life (p. 166). The problem with this thought experiment is that Man is not God and as such the thought experiment will not work. Even Arminians believe that God gives and takes life, and this cannot be translated into any sort of thought experiment for Man. The only thing the thought experiment can prove is that Man are monsters if they usurp God's authority, but nothing about God per se. God is sui generis, one of a kind, and Man cannot try to be God and usurp His prerogatives.

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