December 2, 2017
Does Calvinism Present God as Good and Loving? You can also follow along with the transcript below of Will's opening statement...
Matt Slick founder of CARM.org vs. Will Duffy founder of OpenTheism.org
And remember to see the 33 Categories of Open Theism Verses at opentheism.org/verses.
Will Duffy's Opening Statement on Calvinism
Good afternoon and thanks for being with us today.
I am Will Duffy and I’m extremely grateful that Matt Slick is continually willing to debate and discuss these issues.
Last Night’s Historic Debate
As a quick aside, I believe last night’s debate was historic in that a leading Calvinist rejected that God is outside of time and acknowledged that God experiences sequence [and that God has a past]. These are ideas that open theism has been teaching for hundreds of years.
At the outset of today’s debate, I want to clear up any potential misunderstandings right now.
I have very strong emotions against Calvinism and if those come out, they are in no way directed toward Matt Slick.
I may also use phrases like “the God of Calvinism” and that no way implies that I believe Matt is worshipping a false God.
My goal in this debate is quite simple. And that is to shine a light on Calvinism.
Calvinism is largely kept in the dark. It’s a secret.
And I posit that Calvinism is kept a secret because even its own proponents (called Calvinists) are ashamed deep down of what Calvinism actually teaches and stands for. I’ve interacted with numerous Christians who think they understand Calvinism and they simply don’t.
Calvinists consistently become Arminian when they are challenged on the logical and moral conclusions of Calvinist theology. A few people came up to me after the debate last night pointing out that Matt Slick spoke as an Arminian multiple times in the debate.
And again, I strongly believe this stems from how uncomfortable the truth of Calvinism really is to admit. We are living in a time where Calvinists are running away from Calvinism.
Calvinism Presents God as Evil
The resolution we are debating today is “Does Calvinism Present God as Good and Loving?”.
I will be arguing the negative, meaning I believe the answer is no. Calvinism does not present God as good and loving. On the contrary, I will show today that Calvinism presents God as evil and arbitrary.
Now I know this is strong language. And I would not use strong language unless I truly felt it was necessary. And it’s definitely necessary. Calvinism makes God evil.
The Decrees are Deeper than TULIP
Calvinism is often portrayed and explained by an acronym TULIP. TULIP represents five pillars of Calvinism.
But I’ve pointed out for years that the five points of Calvinism are resting on top of the true foundation of Calvinism, which is God’s decree. Everything about Calvinism, including the five points, originates with God’s decree.
Calvinism teaches that before the foundation of the world, God decreed everything that would ever come to pass. And it’s in this decree that I will show today that Calvinism does not present God as good and loving.
You may be wondering what it means that Calvinists believe God decreed whatsoever would come to pass. Let’s start with a simple definition of the word. When you Google the word decree, the definition is listed as “an official order issued by a legal authority”. This is a perfect definition of decree in light of Calvinist theology. God is the authority and everything that would ever happen was ordered by God before He created the heavens and earth.
Matt Slick’s website says God foreordained whatever comes to pass which is a synonym for decree. His website even defines ordain as an order or decree.
To help further explain what this Calvinist doctrine means, I will use an analogy of an author writing a book. And this is a good analogy because even John Calvin uses the word author to describe God’s origination of everything, including our thoughts and actions.
Imagine an author writes a story. He creates every character of the story, he decides what every character will do throughout the story and it’s his decision what will be everyone’s final outcome.
This is a great analogy to describe the decree of the God of Calvinism. Before the foundation of the world, God freely decided who all the characters would be, what they would do and where their eternal fate would lie. And He did this before He ever created a single human being.
And it wasn’t just the characters and their actions which were determined before the foundation of the world, it was everything. Literally everything.
Modern Calvinists Piper and Sproul
John Piper, arguably the most influential Calvinist of our day, says about sin and about dust particles in the air, that every dust particle is where it is, and all of our sins are committed, by God’s appointment.
R.C. Sproul, another very influential Calvinist today, says there is not even one maverick molecule in the universe, meaning God decreed the placement and movement of every single molecule. This is the extent of God’s decree according to Calvinism.
It is exhaustive. Nothing exists or has existed that was not decreed by the God of Calvinism before He created the heavens and the earth.
So God is the author of the entire history of the universe. Everything that has ever happened and will ever happen originated in God’s mind according to Calvinism.
With that said, I would like to now point out specific examples that Calvinism attributes to God.
The first is accidents. According to Calvinism, there is no such thing as an accident, a mishap. And that’s because these events, that appear as accidents, were actually decreed by God before the foundation of the world. God is behind them.
I visited Florence Italy this past April. One of the historic buildings we visited made the news a few months later. In October of this year, a piece of decorative stone fell from the ceiling about 66 feet hitting a 52-year-old tourist in the head, killing him. Every news article stated that this was a tragic accident due to the age of the building, but according to Calvinism, this was actually God’s doing.
This past August, and this is a horrific story, a 25-year-old mother had just given birth to her daughter and the hospital was transferring her from the labor and delivery section of the hospital to the maternity section. She was being transported on a gurney and holding her infant and as they were getting off of the elevator, the elevator malfunctioned and crushed her to death in between floors.
The news articles referred to this as simply a freak accident. But if Calvinism is true, this was not a freak accident at all. It was meticulously designed by God before the foundation of the world. He chose that this elevator would malfunction killing a 25-year-old mother, leaving three children motherless, including her tiny newborn baby. The elevator did not really malfunction says Calvinism, God made it do exactly what He wanted it to do.
So that’s accidents. The next category is animals. Remember, [according to Calvinism] God decreed everything. And this includes the actions of every animal. When something goes wrong involving an animal, that is because God makes that animal do what it did. Calvinists don’t usually talk about animals when they are discussing our sinful nature and libertarian free will.
My family loves to go to Disney World. A little over a year ago, a family from Nebraska was visiting Disney World with their 4-year-old daughter and two-year old son. They were on the beach of their resort and their two-year-old son was starting to make a sandcastle when an alligator came out of the water and grabbed him.
His father jumped into the water and grabbed the alligator in an attempt to free his son. But he was unsuccessful and the alligator pulled the young boy into the water, killing him.
Again, the God of Calvinism was behind this horror. He decreed before the foundation of the world that this alligator would kill this two-year old boy and He made the alligator kill him.
And finally this brings us to human actions.
Everything you think, say and do was decreed by the God of Calvinism before the world existed. And this of course, includes sin. All sin originated in the mind of God if Calvinism is true.
The Holocaust was decreed by God from all eternity. Every abortion, rape and murder was designed and ordered by God before creation, and as Calvinists often say, are for His glory and His pleasure.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I believe the God of Calvinism is evil.
Calvinism turns God into Satan.
Satan wants men to sin; the God of Calvinism wants men to sin. Satan wants the world filled with wickedness; the God of Calvinism ordered the world to be filled with wickedness.
Satan wants disunity in the Body of Christ; the God of Calvinism decreed disunity in the Body of Christ. And Satan wants men to go to hell; the God of Calvinism also wants men to go to hell.
I would like to give another analogy to help everyone truly grasp the extent of Calvinist theology.
My wife and I have four children. Our youngest Landon, just turned one. Imagine while she was pregnant, we sat down one night at the kitchen table and wrote out all of the sins that our baby in the womb would commit during his entire life.
And then after he was born, we did everything in our power to influence him in such a way as to get him to commit the exact sins we decreed before he was born.
Wouldn’t that be evil?
That is not much different than what Calvinism purports God does.
Sin and Decrees are Interchangeable
To demonstrate that man’s actions and God’s decrees are interchangeable, I turn to Jesus words in Mark 7. I will read what Jesus says comes from within a man and then I will replace that with God’s decree and the passage still makes complete sense in light of Calvinism
Mark 7:21-23 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
And now with God’s decree inserted in place of man.
Mark 7:21-23 [with decree instead of man’s sinful heart] For from God’s decree, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from God’s decree.”
Reality and Calvin’s Decrees are Synonyms
Reality and God’s decree are synonyms [something that Matt admitted in yesterday’s debate]. Anything that happens is because God wanted it to happen and decreed it before He created the world.
Calvinists, almost like clockwork, attempt to rescue God from the horrific events He ordered, by appealing to man’s sinful nature. They attempt to place the blame on man choosing to be sinful and not on the God of Calvinism.
This fails on many fronts.
First, [horrific] accidents have nothing to do with man or their sinful nature. And as I mentioned, animals do not have a sinful nature. And lastly, when Calvinists claim that men are free to sin, that’s not true.
Men are Not Free to Sin Under Calvinism
There is no freedom to sin if God decreed your sins and you have no choice but to sin exactly as He decreed. You must sin the exact sin He chose for you to commit and you must sin at the exact same time and in the exact same way He chose for you to. [In cross examination, Matt admitted that by Calvinism, Eve could not even have selected a different piece of fruit with which to rebel, other than the exact piece that God had eternally decreed that she would eat from.]
So when a Calvinist says we are limited by our nature, they really mean we are limited by God’s decree. Appealing to a sinful nature is not an answer. It’s obfuscation.
No Mere Permission
The other attempt to rescue God from the ramifications of His wicked decree is when they claim that God merely permits or allows sin. This makes John Calvin roll over in his grave. God does not allow or permit sin [by Calvinism], He decreed it. He ordered it.
In John Calvin’s Institutes, which I’m here asking Matt Slick to repudiate Calvin’s entire chapter 18 of Book One which says that God is the author of sin.
The first section of chapter 18 is titled, No mere ‘permission’. Calvin says that the wicked sins that men commit are not merely permitted by God, but that He is the Author of those sins. He capitalizes Author [even though Luther did not, as German writing generally did, capitalize all nouns]. Calvin gets mad at critics who disagree with this, saying they “babble” and talk “absurdly”. He writes, quote, “that God is called the Author”, that’s with a capital A; and that God impels man to do, quote, “what he ought not to do”; and that even Satan, quote, “performs his part by God’s impulsion”, so by God impelling him.
Even of man’s wicked thoughts, as John Calvin wrote in chapter 18, quote, “Whatever we conceive of in our minds is directed... by God’s secret inspiration.”
Matt, Will You Repudiate Calvin’s Chapter 18?
So Matt, I’m asking you today to repudiate John Calvin’s chapter 18, and his, “No mere “permission”, but that God is the Author of every thought and action, including, as he says, even the evil ones. [Matt never did repudiate Calvin’s chapter 18. If ever before he gets to heaven he repudiates Calvin’s wicked chapter, we will post that update here.]
If Matt Slick today claims God only permits or allows sin, that’s actually what open theism teaches and repudiates what John Calvin insisted on.
If Calvinism is true, it’s impossible that God merely permits or allows sin.
Salvation Under Calvinism
Lastly, I want to discuss salvation. According to Calvinism, God does not desire all men to be saved. Not only does He not want all men to be saved, the God of Calvinism actually prevents men from being saved. According to Calvinism, certain babies are doomed to hell from the very moment of conception.
John Calvin says babies are “doomed from the womb”. Calvinists love to quote Romans 9, which says “for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil... Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” [This is a Hebrew idiom as when Jesus says to hate your father and mother.]
And they actually argue that God hated baby Esau while he was in the womb, BEFORE he did anything good or evil! Instead of realizing in the context that Jacob and Esau represent two nations (Genesis 25:23), Matt Slick, like John Piper, insists on his website [and today in cross examination] that God hated baby Esau and not because of anything he ever did.
So Calvinism makes God the hater of babies in the womb.
And He actually prevents these babies from ever having the ability to become saved and go to heaven. Calvinism teaches that God designed the world in such a way that men are conceived without the ability to pursue God. From birth to death, they don’t even have the ability to ever accept the gospel, repent of their sins or love God.
How is this recognizably good and loving?
If a person has the ability to save more than he does, is that good or loving? [By Calvinism] God has the ability to eternally save more by simply decreeing it, but He doesn’t. How is that good or loving?
How Does One Treat His Enemies?
Calvinists will argue that God is loving because of those He does save. But we never judge whether or not someone is good and loving based on simply who they love. If Adolf Hitler loved his family, no one in their right mind would argue that Hitler was good and loving.
Rather, he is judged by the people he hated. In the same vein, the God of Calvinism needs to be looked at in light of how He treats those He hates and sends to hell.
In what way is God good and loving toward them? He has the ability to save them and He doesn’t. He created them for the sole purpose of showing His wrath and sending them to hell. He punishes them for sins that He decided they would commit. He punishes them for sins that He ensures they do. How is this a picture of a good and loving God?
It’s Not Good and Loving to Decree All Wickedness
There is no possible way that the God of Calvinism is either good or loving in light of the decree which is the foundation of Calvinism and the origin of every terrible thing that has ever happened.