In Calvinism, God commands the angels and the devils to do His bidding.4 Calvin explains: “[W]e infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments.”5 Clearly, the Calvinist God is the Author of sin, wickedness and evil. Calvin continues: “Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself devise, God holds the helm, and makes all their efforts contribute to the execution of His judgments.”6 Let us not assume, however, that either mortals or Satan “devise” any notion in and of themselves; God has decreed our thoughts, words, and behaviors.7 (This footnote is quite significant for this topic.) But even our question above is presupposed by the Calvinist — by Calvin himself — and the ready answer is granted: “Satan is also said to blind the minds of those who believe not (2 Cor. 4:4). But how so, unless that a spirit of error is sent from God Himself, making those who refuse to obey the truth [by the irresistible decree of God] to believe a lie?”8 What does this say about the mind of the Calvinist God?
The answer should be obvious. The God of Calvinism can perform or bring into reality any sin, wickedness or perversion that He desires or has willed, and still be considered holy, just, and righteous. Within this hermeneutic the Calvinist interprets the words of the Psalmist: “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” (Ps. 115:3 NRSV) Hence, in Calvinism, God can decree, render certain, and bring to pass the rape of an infant and still be considered holy, just, and righteous. The most lurid perversions known among fallen mortals have been decreed, rendered certain, and brought to pass by the God of Calvinism.9 But does God not forbid that we sin?
Calvin insists that God “makes no pretense of not willing what He wills, but while in Himself the will is one and undivided, to us it appears manifold, because, from the feebleness of our intellect, we cannot comprehend how, though after a different manner, He wills and wills not the very same thing.”10 Behold the conflicted, duplicitous, bipolar mind of the Calvinist God. God “wills” into reality what He forbids people to do: “Nay, when we cannot comprehend how God can will that to be done which He forbids us to do, let us call to mind our imbecility, and remember that the light in which He dwells is not without cause termed inaccessible (1 Tim. 6:16), because shrouded in darkness.”11 This answer is inept, irresponsible, and blasphemes the integrity of God.
In Scripture, metaphorically, darkness refers to sin or any notion that can relate to sin, wickedness, perversion. (cf. Eph. 5:11, 12, 13, 14) St John confesses that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5; cf. 1 John 5:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) What ought to be so painfully obvious for the believer in a holy, just, and righteous God is that He could in no sense whatsoever bring about sin, wickedness, and perversion. But the matter is far worse, deplorable, and theologically dangerous in a Calvinistic context. Consider the following carefully.
In Calvinism, like in Open Theism, God is not capable of foreknowing the future, from eternity past apart from exhaustively decreeing every minutiae of that future, because, so both camps insist, there is, theoretically, nothing for Him to foreknow — the future does not exist. So the Calvinist demands that God has exhaustively and meticulously decreed, from eternity past, and brings to pass whatever happens in the universe and among fallen mortals. Every act of rape, incest, theft, murder, adultery, drug addiction, pedophilia, necromancy, oppression, abuse, and injustice was decreed by God and not merely “foreknown,” from eternity past, brought into reality by His will and people are but the instruments by which God’s will regarding such wickedness is carried out. But the matter is worse than how it appears.
Since God could not foreknow a future that did not exist, in a Calvinistic understanding, then from eternity past God had to dream up all of the most devious, disgusting, and wretched acts imaginable that are part of our reality. Moreover, the God of Calvinism was obliged to assign each despicable, reprehensible and horrifying act to particular persons throughout history. God had to imagine the act, imagine an individual to exist, and then assign said act for that person to perform. This, God allegedly imagined in order to either justify the individual from the act He decreed him to perform, by monergistically granting the person faith in Christ via regeneration; or to condemn and reprobate the individual for the act He decreed him to perform, refusing to grant such a one faith, but consigning him from eternity past to an eternal torment in hell — all for the glory of God. Pedophilia, sex abuse, incest and rape: all for the alleged glory of the Calvinist God.
A Calvinist is shown from the prophet Jeremiah that God has not strictly decreed, rendered certain, and brought to pass wickedness in the actions of mortals. The people of Jeremiah even sacrifice their infants by fire to a false god. The LORD responds, “That is something I never commanded them to do! Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing!” (Jer. 7:31) More to the point, YHWH explicitly rejects Calvinistic ideology by insisting: “which I did not command or decree [דִבַּ֔רְתִּי, to speak, command, counsel], nor did it enter my mind.” (Jer. 19:5, emphases added) Yet they did it! How? By God’s predetermined decree or by their own inherent wickedness and desire to sin? Arminians affirm the latter, biblical response, while Calvinists espouse the former error. The Calvinist responds by suggesting that, at least in some sense, their wickedness did “enter the mind” of God if He foreknew their wickedness, as Arminians insist.
But this answer misses the context of the passage entirely. The only sense in which their free choice to commit the sin “entered the mind” of God was in foreknowing their wickedness, not in decreeing their wickedness, a fact which overtly contradicts Calvinism. As a matter of biblical fact, the Hebrew scriptures even affirm that some of God’s intentions do not come to fruition, despite Calvinism’s promotion to the contrary. The LORD says, “For, I say, just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah tightly to me. I intended for them to be my special people and to bring me fame, honor, and praise. But they would not obey me.” (Jer. 13:11 NET, emphases added) If we are to be consistent within a Calvinist paradigm, Jeremiah is mistaken, and he incorrectly heard the words of God. What God actually (must have) stated, what He truly meant to convey, is the following message to Jeremiah:
For, I say, just as shorts cling tightly to a person’s body, so I bound the whole nation of Israel and the whole nation of Judah tightly to Me. I gave them the impression that I intended for them to be My special people and to bring Me fame, honor, and praise. But I actually decreed, rendered certain, and brought to pass their desires and decisions to disobey Me.
This is a tragic distortion of the words and message of God — to say nothing of the heart, justice, holiness, righteousness, and integrity of our God. When God Himself insists that He had not decreed for those people to sacrifice their children to a false god, nor had such an idea even entered His mind to the decreeing of such heinous wickedness, the Calvinist is obligated not to God but to his hermeneutical interpretation to the contrary notion. “Yes, God, you actually did decree, render certain, and bring about for those people to sacrifice their children to a false god.” I often wonder whether Calvinists think deeply of the implications of their theology regarding the integrity, person, motives and mind of the God they portray in their theology.
1 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), 1.18.1.
7 “That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what He has previously decreed with Himself, and brings to pass by His secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture” — all of which, obviously, are used to support Calvin’s errors; a fact which undermines the reality of hermeneutics, in that, Calvin interprets those “numberless clear passages of Scripture” by a particular method, one which his opponents reject as viable. (Ibid.) He continues in the next section: “[W]hatever we conceive in our minds is directed to its end by the secret inspiration of God. And certainly, did He not work internally in the minds of men, it could not have been properly said that He takes away the lip from the true, and prudence from the aged — takes away the heart from the princes of the earth, that they wander through devious paths.” (1.18.2.) (emphases added) Lest anyone falsely imagine Calvin assumes a measure of free will within the mortals to the performance of wickedness, he assures us, “not that He intends to teach wicked and obstinate man to obey spontaneously, but because He bends them to execute His judgments, just as if they carried their orders engraven on their minds. And hence it appears that they are impelled by the sure appointment of God.” (Ibid.)
9 The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches: “I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin [merely because Calvinists insist as much — though Calvinists R.C. Sproul, Jr. and Vincent Cheung argue, as do hyper-Calvinists, that God actually is the Author of sin], nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established [but even secondary causes are decreed by God, thus undermining this caveat]. II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.” (link) (emphases added)
10 Ibid., 1.18.3.
UPDATE: Jared responded to this post. My response to him is in the post: “The Calvinist God on Trial.” One of the most disturbing elements of Calvinism is its portrayal of the duplicitous mind of God. Calvin insists: “What we formerly quoted from the Psalms [referring to Psalm 115:3], to the effect that He does whatever pleases Him, certainly extends to all the actions of men.”1 In this context, the Calvinist finally means all when he writes “all,” and all the actions of all mortals — not a single act of a single individual exempted — have been strictly decreed by God and God Himself brings such to pass among all mortals.2 Is there not, then, a question begging to be asked? Why does God command obedience when He has secretly decreed3 disobedience in many?