Application 2: God ordains means as well as ends. God is the Author. This is his story. We are his characters. Therefore, Be a faithful character in God’s story.*
Taken from a sermon by Joe Rigney defending the purpose of prayer in a world exhaustively pre-determined by eternal divine decree [you can find a link to it here].
Interesting that he calls on us to “be a faithful character in God’s story” as if we had any choice about what kind of character we will have or be in “God’s story”. Oh wait, I’ll bet that his saying “Be a faithful character in God’s story” is the ordained “means” for causing those God ordained to be “faithful character[s]” to be “faithful character[s]”. But what of those God ordained to be unfaithful? Is this message not for them? If not, shouldn’t we make that clear? If so, how can he call on those God ordained to be unfaithful to “be faithful” based, somehow, on the fact that this is God’s story and He is the author and we should “Therefore [???], Be a faithful character in God’s story”? If God has written that they be unfaithful, then who is he to tell them to act or “be” contrary to what the author has written for them to act or “be”?
Ahhh, but God has ordained him to say such seemingly nonsensical things because that is what God wrote him to say. And when I pray that God will help people see the absurdities of Calvinism and reject it, why would God write me to pray such things? I’m so confused. But hey, God wrote me to be confused. He ordained my confusion from eternity in such a way that I cannot possibly not be confused. He wrote that confusion for me. In fact, God wrote all of the confusion in this world and all of the contradictory opinions and all of the debates and disagreements between Christians on issues like these (despite Scripture saying that God is not the author of confusion, which is further confusing since God authored that He is not the author of confusion and also authored confusion of every kind). He authored our every thought, desire, and action, whether holy or wicked. He ordained our evil thoughts as well as the desire behind the evil thought, as well as any other “means” to our evil thoughts.
No doubt some Calvinists will have something to say about this and get a little mad at me, just as God authors them to do. But I hope that God will author them to remember that He authored me to say all of this and to find Calvinist prayer and explanations of Calvinist prayer, like this one, to be absurd and self-defeating. And I can’t help but wonder why God would cause one of His children to reject Calvinism and to reject explanations like the one by this good pastor as absurd. Why didn’t God write me to understand Calvinism and embrace it if it is true and the purest form of Christianity? No doubt Calvinists wonder such things as well. Maybe that is why they can so easily take the step that non-Calvinists are probably not regenerated or at the most sub-Christians. But then again, God wrote them to think such things just as He wrote me to think that Calvinism is unbiblical. Maybe I should just say “God ordains the means as well as the ends” and leave it at that. Yeah, that should answer things well enough.
In the comments section of Justin Taylor’s post “Arminian” gave the following appropriate response: “While God knowing everything is consistent with prayer, God planning everything in the Calvinistic sense of unconditionally decreeing it is not. Calvinism cannot account for the Bible’s portrayal of prayer as a cause of God’s answers to prayer because it holds that God unconditionally decides all that he wants to happen and then irresistibly causes it to come to pass, including the prayer that supposedly causes him to respond to it with action that grants the request. It would be like saying that with putting a sock puppet on your hand and having the puppet ask you to do something, that the request made by the sock puppet is a cause of you doing what you had the sock puppet ask you to do.”