Friday, November 04, 2011

Roger Olson, Calvinism and Worshipping God

One day, at the end of a class session on Calvinism's doctrine of God's sovereignty, a student asked me a question I had put off considering. He asked:"If it was revealed to you in a way you couldn't question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms, would you still worship him?" I knew the only possible answer without a moment's thought, even though I knew it would shock many people. I said no, that I would not because I could not. Such a God would be a moral monster.

— Roger Olson, Against Calvinism, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), p. 85

Thus says Roger Olson in his latest book published together with Mike Horton's companion For Calvinism. I am in the process of reading the book when this section was highlighted by Dr. James White on part 1 of his Dividing Line podcast reviewing Olson's book here. It was truly an illuminating moment.

As Dr. White noted, Olson is saying that he would not worship God if God reveals Himself to be someone who Olsen thinks is a monster. In other words, what is primary in Olson's mind is his idea of "love" and "moral goodness," not God.

The characteristic of someone who really loves God and treasures His Word is that he will worship God regardless of who God is. Certainly of course, God's attributes is co-extensive with His being, thus in that sense we cannot say that we worship God if He does not possess certain divine attributes because He would then not be God, but that is not what we are dealing with here.

What we are dealing with is whether we will worship God IF God turns out to different from what we subjectively think He is. That is the entire point of the question asked by the unnamed student in Olson's class. IF God reveals Himself to be something other than what we perceive Him to be, will we still worship God? The Christian who loves God will answer yes. For example, if God reveals Himself as not triune (just to use an extreme example), Christians ought to still worship Him. Of course, we orthodox Christians will say that that is impossible since it violates God's express revelation in His Word.

Therefore, an evangelical Arminian who loves God would not answer that question the way Olson does. If a convinced evangelical Arminian truly loves God, he would say yes, but then add the caveat that he thinks that such a revelation is not possible. This is the correct response for someone who truly loves God.

Olson's answer is sadly positively un-Christian. May we worship God not our ideas of what God must be like.

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