“When in Rome” and Irresistible Grace

, posted by Kevin Jackson

I recently saw the movie When In Rome. What’s fascinating about the movie is that the plot bears a lot of similarity to the Calvinistic concept of irresistible grace. [Warning, spoilers ahead]

In the movie, the female lead (Beth) picks some coins from out of a wishing fountain in Rome. What she doesn’t realize is that the fountain is magical. When she took the coins from the pool it put a spell over the men who threw the coins in, and they are all now passionately in love with her. The problem is that there is a guy that she really does like, and he is also smitten with her. He is trying to convince her that he really loves her, but she thinks his love is not genuine because of the magical fountain. But the thing is, he never threw a coin into the fountain. He really does love her.

What makes the plot interesting is that the men under the spell all really do love Beth in the Calvinistic sense. In other words, the magic fountain worked in such a way upon the men that it changed their desires, so that they freely chose to love Beth.

So we have 1) Unconditional election — Beth picked the coins out of the pool based on her own motives; and 2) Irresistible grace — the men whom she picked now love her because their desires have been irresistibly changed.

Lucky for us, Beth is smarter than the average Reformed theologian. She understood that love is not genuine if it is not freely chosen. She recognized that if her suitor’s desires were irresistibly changed, then he didn’t really love her at all. And Beth wanted to be truly loved for who she was, not because of a magical spell. Fortunately this is a sappy chick flick and all ends well.

Therein lies the problem with the Calvinistic concept of irresistible grace. If we love God because he has irresistibly changed our desires, then we don’t really love God at all.

Perhaps God also wants to be truly loved for who he is and not because of a magical spell.

[Comments to original post may be made here.]