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The Five Conundrums of Calvinism

The Five Conundrums of Calvinism December 26, 2011

Roger Olson sketches five conundrums — something between contradiction and mystery — in Calvinism, and these conundrums Olson thinks call into question the good name of God. I shall present them as questions.

How can God have absolute divine sovereignty and humans be genuinely responsible?

How can God determine everything and anything be evil? That is, if everything is God’s will, and God is good, everything is good or at least nothing is evil. This includes rape, child abuse and hell.

How can anything injure God’s glory if God wills everything? Even unbelief, even heresy, even sin.

How can God’s saving some and passing over others and be good and loving and gracious? [Olson thinks God chooses on the basis of foreknowledge.]

How can God be good and ordain evil actions in this world?

There are often better, non-Calvinist explanations, and the Calvinist appeal to conundrum, or antinomy, masks the illogic and fails to deal with the more adequate rational, logical answer of others. Divine determinism and meticulous providence create more problems for God’s character than they solve problems. Divine self-limitation and human free will are better, more rational explanations.

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