Can We Judge the Morality of God?: A Response to Roger Olson
This paragraph stopped me dead in my tracks—and such has been the experience of most other Reformed readers. It is amazing that Dr. Olson believes he has plumbed the depths of Reformed theology to a much deeper level than did Calvin or Beza or Zanchius or Turretin or Owen or Edwards or Warfield or Hodge. But more striking was the boldness of Olson's stance. The student's question was clear, and Olson emphasizes his point. The question boils down to whether Olson, faced with the clear revelation that the Calvinists are right, and God exists, and acts (rules) as Calvinists say He does, would worship that "Calvinist God" or not. His answer is plain: He would not. Such "a God would be a moral monster." This is the heart of Olson's rejection of the Reformed position, and it is something he has affirmed in his dialogue with Michael Horton that took place in Southern California following the release of his book. The highest authority for Roger Olson in the matter of determining the nature of God is not the revelation of Scripture, it is his own understanding of what must constitute "goodness."
It is just here that the convinced Reformed believer must part company with Roger Olson. It is a foundational separation that goes to a much deeper level than Olson's "your god is a moral monster" accusation. It goes to whether we, as creatures, have the right to set up standards that determine what is acceptable and unacceptable for God. Does God's revelation of His nature and actions in the universe determine the truth about the God we worship, or do we set the "limits" of what will be "acceptable" to us before we are willing to render worship? Aaron was silent before God when God struck down Aaron's sons (Lev. 10). Job learned that man has no right to question God and set up standards outside of His revelation (Job 40:3-5).
Roger Olson's objections to God's goodness in light of His sovereign decree have been answered, to a much deeper level than he seems to be aware, many times. But it is his fundamental assertion that he will set up a standard by which God must be judged that is most troubling. He should be reminded of the words (from Dan. 4:34-35) of a pagan king who, upon receiving back his rationality and sound mind, uttered these words:
My reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, "What have You done?"