Friday, November 4, 2011

Love and Goodness according to Meth Addicts and Arminians

If you've ever watched the show, "Intervention," a show that briefly follows drug addicts and their destructive lifestyles, ending in an intervention that attempts to save their lives, you know that drug addicts often have a skewed view of reality in terms of what they believe constitutes love and good. To the drug addict, love and good is that which conforms to the concept the drug addict has concerning how he should be treated. If the drug addict needs money to go buy drugs, and a family member says, No, the drug addict views him or her as unloving and a cruel person. When the intervention often takes place, the drug addict views it as an act of hatred and a wrong committed against him or her by his or her family. This is because the drug addict has been made so self focused due to the pining after the drug that those who love and do good to him are those who love and do good to him in the way that he wants them to. If people do not, they are viewed as unloving and cruel. The drug addict may even see them as inhuman monsters for not giving him what he wants. If you were to try and communicate that you are doing what is loving and good, he would simply laugh at you in disbelief. Your statement does not accord with his reality (at least in terms of how he views reality within his addiction).

I find the common Arminian claim that the God of Calvinism (which I could easily argue is the God of the Bible) is a moral monster or indistinguishable from the devil because this God, in the Arminian's estimation, is unloving and cruel, rather than loving and good, to be similar to this scenario. The difference here is only that God is being accused as unloving and evil because He doesn't try to save everyone, so His love and goodness are directed primarily at His people.

Let me give you a few examples making their way around the blogosphere from Roger Olson's book, Against Calvinism:

The God of Calvinism scares me; I’m not sure how to distinguish him from the devil. If you’ve come under the influence of Calvinism, think about its ramifications for the character of God. God is great but also good. In light of all the evil and innocent suffering in the world, he must have limited himself.

And when speaking about a question posed by one his students:

'If it was revealed to you in a way you couldn't question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms, would you still worship him?' I knew the only possible answer without a moment's thought, even though I knew it would shock many people. I said no, that I would not because I could not. Such a God would be a moral monster. (p. 85) 

Now, of course, most Arminians I know don't go this far, so my post today is not about most Arminians, but about those specific Arminians who would call what I believe is the God of the Bible, the devil for not conforming to his particular view of love and good, as I've heard this said quite a bit by numerous Arminians.

Here's why I think making claims like this are utterly foolish. According to the Scripture, which we all supposedly affirm, our concepts of love and good have been seriously skewed. We, like the drug addict, are addicted to our own evil desires and seek a god who would validate them rather than judge us for them. We define good and love, therefore, based upon whether God does what we would do, rather than what the Bible tells us He would do. And we would define good and love as the attempt to save everyone without exception, rather than to use the damnation of some to save others. Love has to attempt to save both Israelite and Canaanite, not Israelite by damning the Canaanite. Good can't seek the judgment of criminals. Good has to try and save all of them without exception. We think this way, if we were honest with ourselves, because we don't really think that what anyone has done is really that bad, certainly not bad enough to go to hell for what we've done. Hence, we believe, in our fallen thinking, that we (and most everyone else) deserve to be saved by a loving and good God.

But we are told in Scripture that our concept of good and love are horribly distorted. Jeremiah 17:9 states that our way of thinking (i.e., our "hearts") are "more deceitful than all else" and "desperately sick" to where it cannot give us an understanding of reality. Notice that. It is more deceitful than all else, not just some other things, not just most things, but everything else is less deceitful than our minds/concepts are. This means that the devil is less deceitful than our minds. The world is less deceitful than our minds. The biggest liar you know is not as likely to deceive you as your own mind is. Yet, we're going to judge God with our concepts of love and good?

I, of course, deny that God is unloving and evil even in terms of our understanding of those terms, but my point here is that the Arminian who is spitting out blasphemy toward the God of the Bible because He doesn't conform to his own views of love and good (that are essentially nothing more than God not doing what the Arminian thinks He should do, i.e., try to save everyone) is judging God by the measuring stick of himself. When God does not do this, the Arminian curses Him as a cruel monster and the devil.

Now, I equally tell my Calvinist brethren to stop saying that the God of Arminian theology is weak, not because I think that the Arminian concept of God's work and disposition toward all humanity is true, but because God can do anything He wants to do, and if He wanted to create a universe in which He decided to carry out His plan according to an Arminian scheme of things, He should be as equally praised as God as He is in our universe where He has not done this. God is God and is deserving of our praise and worship no matter what plan He decides to carry out to save people.

The sovereign God is clearly the God of the Bible, and the Arminians who call him an immoral monster and the devil, no doubt, will have much to answer for on the day of judgment. I wouldn't want to even be there for that one, as it just makes me cringe to think about it. And they rightly will answer for it, as they have exalted themselves above God, judged Him according to their own faulty concepts of how love and justice should be displayed in His work of salvation, and cursed Him for not doing what they think He should do. I can only say to such arrogance, "who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?" (Rom 9:20-21).

Who are we to judge God according to our finite and sinfully distorted concepts of good and love? We need to conform ourselves to what God has told us is good and loving within the totality of salvation, rather than attempting to conform the God of the Bible to our own faulty concepts and then rejecting Him when He doesn't oblige us. To do otherwise is simply another example of our radical rejection of God's absolute lordship over all life, and over our lives and thoughts, in favor of our own lordship, one that seeks to subject God to our own skewed ideas.

In reality, love chooses this group over that group. Good only needs some objects of good, not all objects in totality in order to exercise that goodness in totality. Justice is simply doing what is right within the framework/rules that exist and were set up according to God's nature. The God of Calvinism fulfills all of these criteria. Hence, if one wants to disbelieve Calvinism, let them do so, but let them not charge God with blasphemous claims, even if they cannot see it for themselves. To do so is simply to engage in the stupidity of measuring God with a faulty measure. I can think of nothing more unjust and unloving than that.

So ends my Arminian intervention. I hope you choose to take the advice found therein and refrain from the dope of blasphemy that the fallen mind so earnestly desires above all sense and at all expense.

Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. "For My  thoughts  are not your  thoughts , Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My  thoughts  than your  thoughts. (Isa 55:7-9)

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