God Does Not Have a Peculiar Divine Logic
Recently I wrote a chapter about Calvinism for an edited book (to be published sometime this year). I was invited to write it by the editors and for that I thank them.
In the chapter I noted that Calvinist pastor, theologian and author Edwin H. Palmer admitted in his little classic The Five Points of Calvinism that at least some of what Calvinism teaches is “illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” (85) “The Calvinist,” he writes, “holds to two apparently contradictory positions.” They are that 1) “God has made certain all that ever happens, and yet …that 2) man is responsible for what he does.” (numerals and parentheses added)
Now, remember that Palmer admitted this is “illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.”
Then, in a footnote, Palmer says “It should be emphasized that the contradiction is only apparent and not real. Man cannot harmonize the two apparently contradictory positions, but God can.” (85)
In my chapter I do not mention the footnote because it does not help; it only adds insult to logic to injury to logic. One cannot say: “What I believe is illogical” and then hope to qualify it or lessen its absurdity by adding “But its not illogical to God.”
Yes, of course there are things that are mysteries to us but not to God. That is not the issue here. The issue here is what a person is permitted to say if he or she expects to be taken seriously.
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Logic is logic and if something is truly illogical here—objectively so in our world—it cannot be logical to God. There are not two logics—one human and one divine. Or if there are, that there is a divine logic does not help us when we are attempting to persuade others to believe us.
The most basic rule of all communication and persuasion is the law of non-contradiction.
Now, notice that Palmer said that what he believes as a Calvinist is a contradiction. Oh, wait. He said it is an “apparent contradiction.” (85) But he also said it is “illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” And he said that “God cannot foreordain the theft [of a thief] and then blame the thief.” (85)
This is all the height and depth of muddled, incoherent, meaningless mumbling. Palmer might as well be talking (or writing) gibberish. Adding in a footnote that “the contradiction is only apparent and not real” because even though “man cannot harmonize the two apparently contradictory positions…God can” does not help clear things up.
I chose not to mention Palmer’s strange footnote in my chapter as a benefit to him! I wanted to save him more embarrassment than he already should have. With that footnote he handed to all kinds of cultists the license to utter and teach whatever absurdities they want to so long as they can cherry pick two or more passages of scripture that seem to contradict each other and make no attempt to harmonize them. They can and most often do say “These two beliefs are contradictory to us but not to God.” Or something like that. With that statement and footnote Palmer dived into the murky depths of unreason. No wonder so many Christians are so confused and so easily seduced into believing nonsense.
Also, I can’t help but mention that once Palmer or any Calvinist does this he (or she) gives up any right to accuse others of falling into contradiction and therefore be wrong. And yet in this very book and in most anti-Arminian Calvinist writings (much of this book by Palmer engages in polemics against Arminianism!) the authors attempt to undermine Arminianism using logic! But by writing these things on page 85 Palmer completely gives up that right. The Arminian is now allowed to say (although I would never say it) “What we believe as Arminians is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, foolish” but nevertheless not really self-contradictory because in God the contradiction does not exist. There goes communication and persuasion.
The plain fact is that appealing to some special logic in God does not help anyone’s case insofar as he or she admits to believing what is illogical. Two truth claims that truly, objectively contradict each other here cannot be believed at the same time because God instilled logic in us as part of the imago dei and because departing from logic means sacrificing any claim to truth.
Frankly, I do not even know what Palmer meant by his footnotes. To me it is utterly meaningless—given what he says about Calvinist beliefs being “illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” I saved him the embarrassment (wherever he is) of mentioning the footnote which just adds insult to logic to injury to logic.
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