I have noticed a new tactic from Calvinists—accusing Arminians of “judging God” (cf. Roger Olson’s post about this from January of 2012). But is that a fair accusation? Can we judge God?
First of all, we have to ask what in the world it means to judge God. Let’s first take it in the broadest sense: Do we have the right to make a judgment about whether God is good or bad? Well, clearly we do, since the Bible declares God to be good, and calls us to recognize His goodness. Declaring God to be good is judging Him; judging Him to be good that is. So clearly we are allowed to do this.
Alright, well perhaps our Calvinist friends mean something different when they say judge. So let us consider the most restrictive/literal sense: a judge presiding over a court of law. However, this doesn’t really make sense either since we can’t really pass a verdict on God. At least we can’t enforce one.
Perhaps this is a statement of capacity. After all, God’s ways are above our ways. We cannot see the full spectrum of reality which God does and lack His vantage point. Considering this, it is difficult to argue that we would be capable of ascertaining the appropriateness of something which God does (at least in the particular). However, the tone is accusatory rather than indicative. They are claiming that we are doing something wrong, not something futile.
Fine. Well, perhaps they are accusing us of questioning God. However, isn’t that what David did throughout the book of Psalms? And isn’t the book of Psalms our proper guide to how we conduct ourselves before God?
I’ve got it! They must be thinking of Romans 9:20, where Paul is imagining a hypothetical Hebrew complaining about God saving Gentiles. No, that still doesn’t make sense, because that is not even close to what we are doing. We are not challenging God; we are merely challenging their description of God.
Or maybe that is simply the key. Maybe the only real problem is people confusing their view of God for God Himself. I can empathize, for I believe that Calvinists insult God, as He truly is, whenever they claim that my description of Him makes Him weak, or less than sovereign. However, I would never accuse them of intentionally belittling God for I believe that they act out of ignorance. How much more should the Calvinist appreciate that, given their view, we would not only be speaking out of ignorance, but out of an ignorance which was ordained by God for us to have?
It is important that whenever we enter these conversations about God, we should be humble enough to put some distance between our opinions and God Himself. Remember that God is sovereign and can take care of Himself. If I criticize what you say about God, I am criticizing you, not Him. If it bothers Him, he’ll take care of me. It is not your job to be God’s protector; it is your job to be His herald, and to proclaim truth in love and humility. So proclaim His truth, and let God be in control of what happens with it.
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