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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mike Horton "Dialogues" with Roger Olson on God's Sovereignty and the Problem of Evil

I fail to see how God can foresee what will happen if it is not certain to happen. If it is certain, then God must have determined it.


Part 1


Part 2



Unfortunately, Mike Horton makes a major gaff at around the 41 second mark of Part 2.  Like most neo-Calvinists Horton is too willing to bend over backwards so as not to offend atheists and Arminians and semi-pelagians.  The gaff is when Horton says that God does not "cause" reprobation and the evil choices of men but that God does "cause" the salvation of the elect.  According to Horton, God merely "permits" the damnation of the reprobate.  But this is not the Calvinist position, the position of Scripture, or the position of the Canons of Dort!  Horton's view is illogical, unbiblical, and unconfessional.  Although Scripture teaches free moral agency, it does not teach free will (Romans 9:11-13; John 8:34-44) or "bare permission".  Since Scripture teaches that God does all that He pleases (Psalms 115:3; Daniel 4:35), it follows that even reprobation is God's will.  He works "all things" according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11). 

And the Westminster Confession Chapter 3 says that God is not the author of evil but that God is in complete control of even the evil acts of men:
Chapter 3: Of God's Eternal Decree
1. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass:(1) yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,(2) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.(3)

1 Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:33; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15,18.
2 James 1:13,17; 1 John 1:5.
3 Acts 2:23; Matthew 17:12; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Proverbs 16:33.


Furthermore, the third section of Chapter 3 clearly says that God foreordains reprobation:

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels(1) are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.(2)

1 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:41.
2 Romans 9:22, 23; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Proverbs 16:4.
Be that as it may, Horton overlooks the fact that the Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article 6 does speak of reprobation as a decree of God:

Article 6
God's Eternal Decree

That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree, "For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world," (Acts 15:18)."Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will," (Ephesians 1:11).  According to which decree, he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while he leaves the non-elect in his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, and merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.
Clearly Horton misrepresents what the Canons of Dort teach since Article 6 of the First Head of Doctrine teaches, like the Westminster Confession of Faith, that God decrees both election and reprobation and that this double decree is "revealed in the Word of God."  Horton's tolerant view makes him look silly in the face of Olson's unapologetic and malicious attack against God's justice.  Olson wants to say that God is unloving if He does not give everyone an equal chance to be saved; but anyone observing the problem of evil in the world knows that everyone does not have an equal opportunity since many are born in poverty or in wealth and have not even heard the Gospel.  But what Olson is missing is that God is not obligated to answer the objections of the wicked nor is God obligated to love the wicked and the unlovable.  In fact, the Christian is not obligated to defend God against the calumnious objections of atheists and Arminians.

At this point it seems to me that Martin Luther offers a better answer to Olson's false accusations that a sovereign God must be "a monster" because He is in control of evil in nature and in the moral actions of men and does nothing about it.  The Arminian wants to allow God to permit evil, acknowledging thereby that God foreknows what He can do nothing to change.  In that case, God must not be omnipotent.  And in fact, foreknowledge implies that God has determined the future:

Sect. 9.—THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. But, however, before I establish this point by any arguments of my own, and by the authority of Scripture, I will first set it forth in your words.


Are you not then the person, friend Erasmus, who just now asserted, that God is by nature just, and by nature most merciful? If this be true, does it not follow that He is immutably just and merciful? That, as His nature is not changed to all eternity, so neither His justice nor His mercy? And what is said concerning His justice and His mercy, must be said also concerning His knowledge, His wisdom, His goodness, His will, and His other Attributes. If therefore these things are asserted religiously, piously, and wholesomely concerning God, as you say yourself, what has come to you, that, contrary to your own self, you now assert, that it is irreligious, curious, and vain, to say, that God foreknows of necessity? You openly declare that the immutable will of God is to be known, but you forbid the knowledge of His immutable prescience. Do you believe that He foreknows against His will, or that He wills in ignorance? If then, He foreknows, willing, His will is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so: and, if He wills, foreknowing, His knowledge is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so.


From which it follows unalterably, that all things which we do, although they may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, and even may be done thus contingently by us, are yet, in reality, done necessarily and immutably, with respect to the will of God. For the will of God is effective and cannot be hindered; because the very power of God is natural to Him, and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. And as His will cannot be hindered, the work itself cannot be hindered from being done in the place, at the time, in the measure, and by whom He foresees and wills. If the will of God were such, that, when the work was done, the work remained but the will ceased, (as is the case with the will of men, which, when the house is built which they wished to build, ceases to will, as though it ended by death) then, indeed, it might be said, that things are done by contingency and mutability. But here, the case is the contrary; the work ceases, and the will remains. So far is it from possibility, that the doing of the work or its remaining, can be said to be from contingency or mutability. But, (that we may not be deceived in terms) being done by contingency, does not, in the Latin language, signify that the work itself which is done is contingent, but that it is done according to a contingent and mutable will—such a will as is not to be found in God! Moreover, a work cannot be called contingent, unless it be done by us unawares, by contingency, and, as it were, by chance; that is, by our will or hand catching at it, as presented by chance, we thinking nothing of it, nor willing any thing about it before.
Arminianism actually has more in common with deism or with open theism or process theology than with biblical Christianity since for Olson God is not ultimately able to do anything to prevent evil.  Instead evil is a sovereign entity that exists despite the fact that God has unfulfilled wishes to save every person from their own self destruction but is unable to do so.  For Olson a God who is in control of wars and natural disasters is a "monster" since He can prevent such catastrophes but refuses to do so.  So Olson must create of a god of his own imagination who is "loving"  but impotent in the face of natural evils like famines, diseases, earthquakes, tsunamis, meteorites, storms, and other events whereby nature wreaks havoc (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6).  Olson's god is effeminate and cannot do anything to stop evil men from doing evil things to each other and so Olson's answer to the problem of evil is an emasculated god who is no god at all.  Olson's god is merely a god made in man's image.  What good is a "loving" god who is unable to change anything or to intervene supernaturally in order to prevent evil in the first place?

Calvinism, on the other hand, is able to take Scripture at face value and say that God owes no man an answer.  God is sovereign over even the evil actions of men (Daniel 4:34-35; Proverbs 16:4; Proverbs 21:1).  It seems silly for a mere man to accuse God of injustice or of being unloving.  Perhaps Roger Olson needs to read the book of Job one more time? 
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said: 2 "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it." 3 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 4 "Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further." 6 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 7 "Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me: 8 "Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? 9 Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? 10 Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and array yourself with glory and beauty. 11 Disperse the rage of your wrath; Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. 12 Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low; Tread down the wicked in their place. 13 Hide them in the dust together, Bind their faces in hidden darkness. 14 Then I will also confess to you That your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:1-14 NKJ)

For all practical purposes for Olson to say that he is not accusing God of injustice but only of not being a "loving" God is the same thing.  Either way Olson is maliciously attacking the God revealed in Holy Scripture.  Olson's view of God can only be justified by editing out huge portions of Scripture or by outright ignoring the passages which teach that God is an angry and wrathful God who executes judgment upon the wicked (John 3:36) and disciplines His elect children (Proverbs 3:11).  Scripture over and over again says that His creatures must answer to Him.  God does not answer to mankind!  (Romans 3:3-8; Romans 9:20; Isaiah 10:15; Isaiah 45:9; Job 33:13).


Addendum:  See also Article Seventeen of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the confession of faith of the English Reformation.  Article Seventeen teaches double predestination as a decree of God:


Article XVII


Of Predestination and Election

Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation or into wretchlessness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.  [Acts 2:23; Acts 4:26-28].

Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.

4 comments:

aztexan said...

I sure do hate Roger Olson and those like him. The fires of hell await those SOB's, and you can bet I'm gonna have my popcorn ready come Judgement Day! :-D

Charlie J. Ray said...

Roger Olson is worse than your average Arminian. He's also an advocate of Open Theism. So is Greg Boyd. Pentecostalism seems to naturally gravitate in that direction. Olson comes from a Pentecostal background and Boyd was at one time a Oneness Pentecostal.

Too bad Mike Horton is so naive about the intentions of these deceivers. Boyd should read Gordon H. Clark's book, God and Evil: The Problem Solved. Free will doesn't get God off the hook. Seems to me that Arminians and Open Theists agree more with atheist arguments than the Bible.

aztexan said...

Agreed. Olson is a modern day Servetus, and by all rights should suffer the same fate.

Also, my feelings aren't exactly warm n' fuzzy toward hypocalvinist idiots who spew the "Election, yes; reprobation, no" bull$h*t. No wonder today's "Reformed" universe is so fraught with error, confusion and gutlessness. The fraternity/clique of Big-Name Reformed Academic Country Club Bigshots at some point convened behind closed doors and decreed that Calvinism is actually "hypercalvinism"; that hypocalvinist drivel is actually Gospel truth, and perfectly rational, sane and sound; and that Armidiots, FVers, Chariscostals and other apostate refuse are "our friends and brothers in Christ" with whom we should "dialogue" and "disagree agreeably." Fie! Traitors! God reward them according to their folly.

Charlie J. Ray said...

ROTFL:) You crack me up, Tex! I agree 100%. Odd but the only hyper-Calvinists I have ever encountered were Primitive Baptist types. The Protestant Reformed Church in America is not hyper-Calvinist by a long shot.

Basically, most "Calvinists" today are neo-Kuyperian hypo-Calvinists as you say.

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