Richard Coords, “Logic”

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If you’ve ever had a discussion with a Calvinist where you thought you had made a strong argument about the necessary implications of Calvinism (i.e. God being made into a divine tempter and puppet master who is the author of sin and arbitrarily chooses some people for salvation) and why it, therefore, must be rejected, but the Calvinist nonetheless remained totally unconvinced, here is what you need to know: Calvinist soteriology stands on the pillars of two presuppositions, X and Y, representing a sovereignty/responsibility tension, which they hold as fundamental truths, and as truths, all inherent difficulties are in God’s hands to resolve by means of Z. This is why Calvinists often invoke divine mystery to resolve all of their logical difficulties. Developed further:

  • X = God’s decree of an exhaustive, total plan of all things.
  • Y = The uncoerced, voluntary free agency of man.
  • Z = The logic equation which perfectly reconciles X and Y.

Calvinists will declare that they know for a fact that X and Y are both true and therefore Z must necessarily follow, even though Z has yet to be revealed to mankind. So while the non-Calvinist enters the discussion to employ logic to prove that X and Y are incompatible, the Calvinist has no concern on whether they are compatible, so long as both X and Y remain true. So the only way to properly engage a Calvinist is by challenging their presuppositions, rather than the implications since they are taking it on faith that the implications are resolved by Z. So a non-Calvinist might instead wish to challenge the deterministic presupposition, X, while agreeing with Y, by identifying places in Scripture where X is directly contradicted, such as where God claims that He is neither the author of confusion (1st Corinthians 14:33) nor the source of temptation (James 1:13), so that the problem of sin is resolved logically by Z equating to the divine permission of the unnecessitated actions of Y. While some Calvinists concede to the existence of divine permission, it nonetheless amounts to God allowing Himself to do whatsoever He decrees and allowing man to do whatever is unilaterally decided on their behalf, and hence it is no longer a type of permission that is relatable to the human experience. However, once again, this implication is not a concern for a Calvinist, so long as both X and Y remain true. In defense of X, sometimes Calvinists will offer Bible verses proving that God ordains sin, all with the intent of proving presupposition X, though with theoretical Z guaranteeing a perfect solution to the dilemma of God being made into the author of divinely caused sin. Therefore, the ultimate weakness of Calvinism is that it obliges Calvinists to argue that God wills all sin, as being necessary to their presupposition of X. So when focusing your attack on X, expect to encounter a vigorous defense of God ordaining sin by “secondary causes,” which is like a husband defending his hiring of a hitman to kill his estranged wife on the grounds that he carried it about by “secondary causes.” (We also know from the instance of David and Uriah that the Calvinistic approach of “secondary causes” holds no weight with God.)

[This post has been excerpted with permission from Richard Coords, Calvinism Answered Verse by Verse and Subject by Subject, © 2020.]