DB writes: You’re my boy and all, but I have to take issue with you on sort of deriding Calvinism in your Christian perspective. I understand you aren’t a theologian and none of us will understand that the push-pull between free will/election, but even Spurgeon (a Calvinist) said that he would not break the handshake of two friends. I just think you are looking at the story from a completely Arminian/Wesleyian standpoint, even though there were some tremendous minds that are thoroughly convinced in a Calvinist theology, i.e., Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, and John Piper. Obviously we can’t know for sure b/c “our ways are not his ways and our understanding is not His understanding”, but completely writing off the notion of God’s sovereignty in all things seems a bit silly to me, or at least not giving your readers the full extent of the nature of God, by always talking about Free Will. That is like saying that everyone who is alive has the choice to become a Christian or not, but this is in complete contradiction to Romans 9, in which Paul tells us that God has prepared vessels for wrath. I’m not saying I understand the tug of war between Free Will and Election, but the two stand and you sort of ignore one and give credence to the other on numerous occassions.
I hope that Christians can be on good terms with each other while disgreeing on something that we cannot possibly know the answer to anyhow. There’s no ill-will on my part – my little brother is a quasi-Calvinist and he attends Greg Boyd’s church without any massive cognitive dysfunction – but I do find the God as Control Freak to be a ludicrous notion. The fact of the matter is that if God is in control of all things, he not only chooses a winner of every football games, but also determines how many interceptions the starting quarterback will throw. I don’t buy that for a second, nor do I buy the notion that God has a specific plan for each one of us, regardless of whether our path runs us through love or tragedy.
I find that most anti-free will concepts show a profound lack of imagination. Sovereignty does not require or even imply day-to-day management. Among other things, they tend to completely ignore the book of Job as well as the many suggestions that, far from being under the control of God, this fallen world is under the dominion of the one that Jesus called the prince of this world. Jesus said that being had no hold on him, nor on us through him, but the implication is quite strong that everything else is under that being’s control, not God’s. CS Lewis obviously felt this way to some extent, otherwise his concept of the Divine Invasion makes no sense.
My father once was encouraged to leave a church over the outrage that occurred when, after being asked to pray for a friend dying of cancer, he did not pray that everyone would have a nice peaceful happy feeling about the man’s painful death, but instead prayed that the man would be healed. What kind of faith is demonstrated by those Christians who will not even ASK for what Jesus tells us to DO? I haven’t seen much positive fruit coming out of that particular intellectual camp.
I have no doubt that many good, solid Christians do not believe in free will. That is certainly their right and has no bearing on the genuine nature of their faith – I don’t question that. I simply find the concept of God as total control freak to be both illogical and generally unBiblical. If God is already in complete and active control, then why on Earth does Jesus Christ even need to come back? For that matter, why did he have to come in the first place?