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While describing the difference between Catholic and Calvinist soteriology, Peter Kreeft has said: “It is the Godfather, not God the Father, who makes you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Kudos to Matt O’Reilly for finding this quote.
Calvin was a theocrat. It is not simply Catholic vs.Calvinist. Calvin was not a reformer. He was a supplantist who wanted his opinions to replace traditional Christianity. He fought Protestantism/Lutheranism as much as he fought the RC establishment.
His goal: Control of secular government.
Surprisingly (to me) I find myself agreeing with Nonc, above. I don’t find it odd that Calvin’s theology ended with Geneva; I do find it odd that any Christian would consider that experiment a good thing. It should certainly make one go back and question Calvin’s theology.
Peter Kreeft’s arguments for Roman Catholicism are very weak; he should stick with just “mere” Christianity and he does fine. As far as the Godfather comment goes, it is just another cheap shot and failure on the side of Arminians to understand Luther, Calvin, or Biblical Theology for that matter.
Bill I think we understand the Augustinian and Calvinistic notions about God’s sovereignty well enough. We simply don’t think they comport with what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty. It’s not an accident that absolutely no early Jewish interpreters of the OT, including interpreters of Isaiah understood the sovereignty of God the way that Augustine, Luther and Calvin did. This includes the early Jewish Christian interpreters who are responsible for writing most of the NT. BW3
How many lay Christians really know why Calvin explained election in his Institutes for example? I bet there are very few. Calvin taught his parishioners about election because they were not understanding why some became Christians while others didn’t who were exposed to the same gospel message. As I have been taught, he told them that those who didn’t respond, didn’t do so not because they were more wicked but because of God’s electing grace. Because the moment you presume Prevenient Grace, then one can say that the one who does respond are better than the ones who don’t. Well we know that there is no one who can boast on “that day” for why they are in God’s kingdom, but if we all have been enabled to exercise faith or not, then one can say that those who exercise faith did so by their own awakened will which can be attributed as a good of their own. I’m not saying that we in the reformed church don’t believe in exercising a choose in coming to faith in Christ; it’s how one explains the nature of the choosing that differentiates us in the Church.
Also if the will that is enabled to believe does in fact believe, then that is amazing how just an enabled will in a fallen state can trust in the Word of God when in our original pristine state in the garden with no proclivities to sin we didn’t believe God at his Word.
Bill I am well aware of this sort of reasoning. I’ve read Calvin’s Institutes, and Jonathan Edwards, and Martin Luther, and Augustine, and Berkoff, and the Hodges, and Warfield, and Van Til, and I could go on. The problem with this whole line of reasoning is that it assumes that there must be one single rational explanation, in every case, for why some people accept the Gospel and some do not. But frankly, that’s not true. There are many different explanations for why some accept the Gospel, and others do not, and in no case does it have anything to do with one person being ‘better’ or ‘more meritorious’ than another. Some people accept Christ because they have become convinced of the truth of the Gospel. Others accept Christ because they have fallen in love with Jesus. Still others have accepted Christ because they desperately want to avoid hell. Still others have accepted Christ because they were tired of resisting the arguments of their friends….. and I could tell you a hundred other stories, all true. Some people even accept Christ on a bet, and discover after the fact that they have accidentally done something incredible. The most serious problem with the whole notion that prevenient grace means predetermination is of course that love doesn’t work that way. Love must woo, but it sure doesn’t manipulate behind the scenes. If something is predetermined, it is not love, because love must be freely given and freely received. Wesleyans believe whole-heartedly in universal pre-venient grace. It enables a person to either accept or reject the Gospel freely. Why is the accepting not meritorious? Let me leave you with one example. Suppose you couldn’t breathe without an iron lung. Now the lung doesn’t give you life, nor does it determine what you will do with your life, but it provides you with the necessary presupposition to go on breathing and living. You certainly wouldn’t claim that the iron lung did the living for you or made the decisions for you. But without it, you would be dead!! Blessings, BW3
In the question of why some accept the gospel and some do not, I find it interesting aside from scriptural rationale that Calvinists find it comforting that God elects some and not others as the safe alternative. A simplification to be sure, but if there are questions on why some, why not some, why would some feel more comfortable about a God acting capriciously towards individuals rather than individuals reacting capriciously toward God?
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