This stirring critique of Calvinism - 5 Reasons Why Calvinism Makes Me Want To Gouge My Eyes Out - opposes Calvinism partly on the basis of the lived out reality of Calvinism as a theological driver for church life and partly on the basis of the terrifying logic of Calvinism's attempt to systematise the theology of Scripture. Excerpt below.
Yet is Calvinism easy to reject completely? Scripture after all has a strong theme of election (think tiny Israel chosen from among the nations), and concern that only a minority are saved is not necessarily ameliorated by promoting Arminianism over Calvinism: whether we subscribe to either "isms", we have a Lord and Saviour who taught that only a few find the way. On one aspect of Calvinism I suggest no simple solution exists: predestination versus free-will can be couched in such a way that predestination seems absurd. Yet I remember from first year philosophy reading a (non-theological) treatise on determinism versus free-will which opened my eyes to how difficult the concept of free-will is!
I am curious about one line within the argument:
'We don’t need a belief system that leaves us wondering as to whether or not we got picked; we need a belief system that assures us we were already picked and that we’re free to enjoy the benefits of being picked.'Is that not Calvinism? If so, then the writer's main objection to Calvinism seems to boil down to understanding the concept called 'limited atonement'. A concept which I see as paradoxical: if Christ died for all, but not all are saved (whether we make the choice, God makes the choice, or both) then the effects of the atonement are limited.
Nevertheless my attraction to this post concerns what the writer says about the toxicity of Calvinism within church culture. Is Calvinism as a theological system good for the church? For example, does it contribute to the flourishing of love within congregational life or does it enhance commitment to world-facing mission? The comments below the post are worth a look if engaging with such questions.
Here is one excerpt from the post:
'One of the key aspects of Calvinism is a concept called “predestination” which essentially means, God picked the people who are going to heaven. Where it gets sick is on the flip side of that same coin (a position held by Calvin), that God also picks the people who go to hell. There are no choices involved– before God even created us, he hand picked who would go to heaven and who he would burn in hell for all of eternity.
Now, we know from the teachings of Jesus that the group of people in history who embrace God is smaller than the group who do not (broad vs. narrow road). If both Calvinists and Jesus are equally correct, the result is purely evil. This would mean that God created a MAJORITY of humanity for the sole purpose of torturing them in hell for all of eternity, and that they never had a choice. God would have created them for the sole purpose of torturing them. I just don’t think I can worship a god who would do something like that.
Case in point: if I get to heaven and find out that my beautiful daughter Johanna is in hell and that she’s in hell because God chose her before the foundations of the world to burn for all eternity, I won’t be able to worship him in good conscience. Perhaps I would bow down out of total fear, but I would NOT worship him because he was holy, beautiful, and “all together wonderful” as Boyd often describes him. Instead, I would bow down because he would be a sick and twisted god who scared the crap out of me.'For myself I wonder if Calvinism is asking the wrong questions of Scripture. Predestination in the hands of Paul in Ephesians, for instance, is a wonderful answer to the question, 'Will God save me?' Or, 'Is God committed to saving me?' Conversely it is a poor answer to questions such as, 'Who will be saved?' 'How can I be saved?' 'Are some people destined not to be saved?'
The very ability of humanity to ask questions such as these is a testimony to the reality of free-will: it would be absurd of God to create people who can ask, 'How can I be saved?' while destining such questioners to an answer, 'Don't bother, you are not going to be saved, you cannot choose to be saved.'
In the paradoxes involved in these matters I suggest it would also be absurd to conclude from human ability to choose that God is only interested in people making choices, disinterested in whether anyone chooses to follow Christ and neutral over the possibility that potentially no one might be saved because all choose to reject Christ. If Scripture teaches anything, from Genesis to Revelation, it is that God is intentionally and intensely committed to having a people of God for eternity.
As an Anglican I find myself a little bit Calvinist and a little bit Arminian and hopefully without toxicity.