Is Roger Olson a Tea Party Conservative?

Is Roger Olson a Tea Party Conservative? May 8, 2015

The reason for asking is that he doesn’t seem to be all that impressed with power, in this case divine power. But if you don’t like an all powerful God as Calvinists portray him, then you might also like your national government to be appropriately small and limited.

Here’s one of the points that Olson made against Calvinism:

I ask the Calvinist “Why do you worship God?” The typical informed answer is “Because God is glorious.” “But what does ‘glorious’ mean?” I ask. Usually they either seem never to have considered that question or they respond “powerful” (or the same in other words). “But what makes power worshipful?” I ask again. Some will then revert to something like “God is the summum bonum and esse—the ultimate good and reality.” Then I ask “And how is he different from the devil other than he has more power and being?” The only answer is goodness. But what does “goodness” mean? Then it pops out: “Whatever God does is good just because God does it.” No help. Lewis’s objection is the only response.

Olson seems to think that God’s power contradicts his goodness if he created a world where some people suffer eternal damnation. I will admit that running around giving high-fives to fellow Calvinists about people going to hell is not my idea of a good time (even if you threw in a good IPA). But sometimes you, as a critter, have to take the good with the bad. Can a Christian, any Christian in any meaningful sense, have Christianity without hell? Isn’t Roger Olson’s Arminianism going to have a few aw shucks moments about people condemned for ever? Even if they wind up with the eschatological goats after judgment day because of their own free choice, won’t someone who objects to hell say to Roger, “but do you really want to believe in a religion where some people suffer eternal torments?” If Roger is a universalist, he may be clear. He will also be in the land of heterodoxy.

(In another post he says that hell is in the shadow of the gospel but not the gospel itself. But why did Christ have to die on the cross and descend into hell if the gospel doesn’t include not simply salvation but salvation from hell?)

I haven’t read all of Roger’s objections to Calvinism. How could anyone? But on this point of mocking Calvinism’s powerful and sovereign God, Roger doesn’t seem to consider its upside. If nothing a human can do will save him or her from the consequences of sin (both original and ongoing), then doesn’t it look fairly appealing to have a powerful God who will save you from your predicament? If God is so powerful that he can overcome the powers of sin and death, isn’t that pretty important and might that not lead a believer to worship him — and with gusto? Again, high fives may not be the best way to embody such praise. But it sure does sure does prevent a few sleepless nights knowing that God sovereignly saves sinners from all their sins and will not let them go.

For those nights when haunts about hell persist, Ambien washed down by an IPA may help.


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