It was a joy to talk about Calvinism and the new book The Joy of Calvinism with Dr. Greg Forster, a public intellectual who converted to Christianity as an adult. You can watch our conversation below:

00:00 — Introduction
00:21 — Forster’s Background – “I was led to Christ by a man who’s been dead for 300 years.”
03:29 — The theme of God’s love in Calvinism
04:35 — What does Calvinism “taste like?”
06:34 — Calvin’s soteriology
07:21 — TULIP: Our simplification of the “5 points”
09:15 — The value of TULIP in highlighting the trinitarian nature of Calvinism
11:02 — The value of TULIP in negating the views Calvinism does not hold
11:25 — A few problems with TULIP
13:34 — Calvinism from the perspective of God’s love
14:33 — A strange fact: Calvinism is drenched in joy
17:03 — The advantage of a layman’s perspective
19:19 — Greg’s vision for the book in the Church
19:36 — Why you should read this if you’re not a Calvinist
20:40 — Why you should read this if you are a Calvinist
21:54 — Wrap-up: The Joy of Calvinism afresh

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24 thoughts on “An Interview on the Joy of Calvinism”

  1. Part of the interview states: “God loves you personally. God loves you unconditionally. God loves you irresistibly. God loves you unbreakably. …I do want to turn things around and look at things from the perspective of God’s love, and show how Calvinism opens up a new perspective on the way God loves us, and that that’s why Calvinism really provides the unique joy in the Christian life, because it changes the way that we look at God’s love.”

    However, the most important part is omitted: God loves you tangentially. God loves you coincidentally, insomuch that God loves you only as a consequence of God loving Himself so much. Todd Friel of “Wretch Radio” explains that point. Do a youtube search on, “Is God a Megalomaniac” and you will see it. So either the author disagrees with Friel, or the author is sugar-coating Calvinism’s portrayal of the love of God. Which is it?

  2. Greg Forster says:

    Actually, not only have I never heard any Calvinist articulate this view, I have heard quite a few of them offer views that conflict with it. R.C. Sproul has sometimes said that we don’t know why God loves us. Others say that he loves us because it glorifies himself to do so, and I suspect that’s the view this person is responding to. If so, I don’t think it’s a fair portrayal of the position, but the more important point is that there is diversity of opinion among Calvinists on this point, so no particular view on this point should be identified as “the” Calvinist view.

    1. Robert says:

      Hello Greg,

      “I don’t think it’s a fair portrayal of the position, but the more important point is that there is diversity of opinion among Calvinists on this point, so no particular view on this point should be identified as “the” Calvinist view.”

      You made a point of emphases in your interview that you believe that many are opposed to Calvinism because in your opinion they just don’t fully or properly understand it.

      If so, how do you account for those who do understand it and yet nevertheless reject it as both unbiblical and false?

      My initial and immediate response to your claims about the joy of Calvinism is twofold.

      First, I see no way of presenting Calvinism as being loving if you accept the Calvinist conception of reprobation (i.e. God considers all of these possible fully determined worlds that he could create, in each of these worlds God predetermines every detail of its history, he then selects one of these fully determined worlds to be the actual world, this means that God decides both all who will be saved, the elect, as well as all who will be lost, the reprobates, in this particular world before creating it and actualizing its history by means of his direct, continuous and complete control over every aspect of the particular world history that is chosen, this means that he unconditionally chooses to damn most of the human race, and as some forthright and honest consistent Calvinists maintain, this is the most hateful thing that could be done to a person, it is not a case that human persons are damned solely upon the condition that they lived a life of repeated rejection of God, rather, individual damnation is dependent upon which particular possible world God chose to actualize, in one you may be elect, in another reprobate, in any case your election or reprobation is dependent upon which particular possible world God chooses to actualize as the actual world). So it is difficult (some would say impossible) to reconcile God being loving and the Calvinistic conception of reprobation.

      Greg how do you deal with this problem in your book (if you do so)?

      Second, I know Christians from differing theological traditions (primarily due to the nature of my own ministry) including Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox. Those who are saved individuals derive their joy not from allegiance to or knowledge of, or understanding of a particular theological system or tradition, but from ***their own personal relationship with the Lord***. In other words, their joy is knowing Christ. Furthermore, they derive joy from obedience to God’s commands. Evangelism of the lost, seeing others come to faith in Christ. Fellowship with other believers.

      All realities not dependent upon holding Calvinist theology at all. My point is that for the Christian joy is not derived from a particular theological system but from their personal faith and relationship with God as well as their obediently living the Christian life. Now I know Catholics who are like this. Eastern Orthodox who are like this,

      It seems that the joy they experience does not come from any particular theological system but from something close to what C. S. Lewis famously called “Mere Christianity.” For example they take great joy in knowing that God became flesh and dwelt among us (the incarnation) and one of the purposes of that being to provide atonement for sin (the atonement of Christ). And because it comes from realities like Incarnation and Atonement which transcend particular religious traditions but are affirmed by all orthodox traditions, that we share in common (including our saving and personal relationship with Christ) it would appear that deriving joy from a theological system is superfluous and may in fact even in some cases be divisive.

      Do you deal with this reality in your book?

      Robert

      PS- I have not yet read your book as it is not yet available. Just checked with a local bookstore which gives its release date as being tomorrow.

      1. Greg Forster says:

        Thanks for your constructively challenging questions! Before I answer them, let me first offer two notes for clarification, both of which reflect a disconnect between what you’re asking me to defend and what I am actually defending.

        -I think the language you’re using to describe Calvinism reflects a very 18th century New England, Jonathan Edwards-ish version of Calvinism that not all Calvinists would feel accurately describes their own belief. I could see Calvin himself as well as many other important Calvinist theologians objecting to some of these formulations.

        -As was stated in this interview, in my book I’m clear up front that I’m restricting myself to soteriology proper. Some of the issues you’re bringing in here go afield from that.

        That having been said, I think your first question can be reformulated in a way that steers it more directly to what I’m defending. I’m going to take the liberty of reformulating your question as follows: How can God be loving if he chooses not to save people whom he could have saved?

        I deal with this extensively in the book. Chapter 1 of the book is more or less entirely about this, and it continues to be a running theme throughout. I have always believed in the old adage “hang a lantern on your problem.” I think the fundamental problem people have with Calvinism is that it claims God chooses not to save people whom he could have saved. So I hang a lantern on that in the book.

        Obviously I can’t convey the whole book to you here in a blog comment. For one thing, my publishers at Crossway would object rather strenuously – they want you to buy the book to find out how I deal with this! For another thing, I approach this problem from a number of different angles and I don’t want to give you only one of them and create the impression that my answer is a lot simpler than it really is.

        For now, let me just say this: We must start with the data that God is omnipotent, yet not all people are saved. So we cannot say God wants to save all people but is unable to do so due to some obstacle outside himself, yet we also cannot say that God wants to save all people and he gets what he wants. Therefore there are only two possibilities. Either God values the salvation of some people more than the salvation of other people, or else God values something else (usually “the created system of human nature” or something of that kind) more than he values the salvation of anyone at all. On this second approach, God loves all human beings equally, but his love for human beings is radically diminished in his larger scheme of values. So you can have a God who wants all to be saved equally, but only by saying that God is willing to let an (in principle) unlimited number of people go to hell forever solely in order to preserve the integrity of nature.

        Again, there’s much more to be said, which is why I wrote a whole book about this. If you do read it, I’d love to hear your comments. Drop me a line at greg [underscore] forster [at] hotmail [dot] com.

        As to your second question, I also address that. I challenge the dichotomy between your theology and your personal relationship with Jesus. I think your theology is an important part of your personal relationship with Jesus. And in the book I acknowledge and celebrate that there are many, many things all Christians have in common theologically, and that’s why we can all have the joy of God. But I think Calvinist theology preserves biblical truth better than other traditions, and that’s why I believe people who already know Jesus can get more joy by discovering Calvinist theology. To my mind, if a theology doesn’t produce more joy in the lives of believers that’s evidence it isn’t true.

        1. Robert says:

          Hello Greg,

          Thanks for taking the time to respond. I am separating the two questions into two different responses. Let’s start with the second one. You wrote in response:

          “As to your second question, I also address that. I challenge the dichotomy between your theology and your personal relationship with Jesus. I think your theology is an important part of your personal relationship with Jesus.”

          I don’t make as much of a dichotomy between a person’s individual theology and their personal relationship with Jesus as you may think. If theology is defined as the set of beliefs which a person has, then in that sense everyone has a theology! In that sense everyone is a theologian as well (including an atheist)! In the past I knew and worked with Walter Martin so I am very familiar with this concept as well as the fact that not everyone’s set of personal beliefs is orthodox.

          At the same time as I said earlier, I would argue there is a core set of essential beliefs that Christians have believed throughout church history, what C. S. Lewis termed “Mere Christianity”. This core set of beliefs constitutes the theology that genuine believers across all theological traditions seem to hold to (i.e. so a saved Catholic believes this, as well as a saved Protestant and a saved Eastern Orthodox believer). In my previous post I gave the examples of incarnation and atonement. To these could be added the triune nature of God, the inspiration and authority of scripture, etc. What needs to be noted is that these core beliefs, this essential Christianity, does not include particular **systems of theology** such as Calvinism or Arminianism. If it did, then you would have to accept and endorse say one of these particular systems (or some other) in order to be saved, in order to hold to genuine Christian beliefs. We are not saved because we subscribe to a particular system of theology; rather, we are saved because we are in a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ (and may and do hold to differing systems of theology).

          “And in the book I acknowledge and celebrate that there are many, many things all Christians have in common theologically, and that’s why we can all have the joy of God.”

          And these things you refer to here that genuine believers share in common, these doctrinal beliefs are the real basis of unity between believers. Again this is what Lewis meant by “Mere Christianity” and so it is **not** uniquely connected to a particular system of theology (e.g. like Calvinism). To be more precise our joy comes from knowing the Lord, living in obedience to Him, not dependent upon holding a particular system of theology.

          “But I think Calvinist theology preserves biblical truth better than other traditions,”

          Well that is no surprise as you are a Calvinist! :-)

          And yet others could (and do) say the same thing about their own particular theologies as well. I could say a lot here about why I do not believe Calvinist theology preserves biblical truth better. I will only note here that in the first four centuries of church history (prior to Augustine) you don’t find Calvinism. Augustine appears to have first promoted theological determinism in the church. He started the ball rolling and the Reformers then systematized it further. If we view church history as a whole, Calvinism has been a very small minority position rejected by most Christians. In addition to what is suggested by church history, there are also exegetical, theological and philosophical problems with theological determinism/Calvinism as well.

          “and that’s why I believe people who already know Jesus can get more joy by discovering Calvinist theology. To my mind, if a theology doesn’t produce more joy in the lives of believers that’s evidence it isn’t true.””

          I would agree with your last statement here. But then I believe that adherence to “Mere Christianity” yields joy in many different people across many different theological traditions.
          An analogy may help to see why I am very wary of your other claim here (i.e. “people who already know Jesus can get more joy by discovering Calvinist theology”). In the 60-70’s of the prior century, a movement arose in what is called Pentecostalism called “second blessing” theology. The idea was basically that it was great that a person was a Christian, but that was not enough. In order for that person to **fully** experience the Christian life, fully experience the Joy of the Lord, they had to experience the “baptism of the Spirit” as conceived of by Pentecostals. This “baptism of the Spirit” was believed to be a *second* and later experience after conversion in which a person had this *second blessing* and this was shown by the person “speaking in tongues.” So it was not enough to believe “mere Christianity” one had to also have this “second blessing”. If you spoke in tongues you had it and if you did not, your Christian faith was deficient, lacking, incomplete, not full. Well while the advocates of this second blessing theology were sincere and believed they were being biblical. Their teaching had some real negative consequences. It led to a lot of division and confusion and even spiritual pride (“I have spoken in tongues you have not . . .”). It also led to what could simply be called “the haves” and the “have nots”. And it is easy to see who was who in relation to this “second blessing” that supposedly occurred after your conversion.

          Seems to me that this kind of error can occur anytime that someone advocates something beyond “Mere Christianity” as essential to the Christian life. Does not matter if it is “speaking in tongues”, having the **right theology** (which of course varies depending upon whom you are talking to, :-)), having the right eschatology, are you part of the one true church (ours, which again varies) and also where and how you were baptized (unless baptized in our church you are not a saved person).

          The common denominator in all of these suggestions is that Jesus and a personal and saving relationship with HIM and commitment to essential Christian beliefs are not enough, not sufficient to live a full Christian life. You have to have some other experience or believe something more. Seems to me that arguing that a Christian may have joy but will have more joy if they embrace Calvinist theology parallels this error and may have some of the same consequences.

          In contrast one of the reasons that I get along with genuine Christians across theological traditions is that I have the opposite mentality. If a person knows and loves Jesus and lives in obedience to Him, is committed to essential Christian beliefs, manifests Christian character and lives in such a way that they honor the Lord with every aspect of their life. I have no problem fellowshipping with such a person. And while we may disagree about things such as modes of baptism and sacraments and particular systematic theologies, we share Jesus and essential beliefs in common and that is what is the basis for our unity as Christians and our joy.

          Robert

          1. steve hays says:

            Robert

            “At the same time as I said earlier, I would argue there is a core set of essential beliefs that Christians have believed throughout church history, what C. S. Lewis termed ‘Mere Christianity’. This core set of beliefs constitutes the theology that genuine believers across all theological traditions seem to hold to (i.e. so a saved Catholic believes this, as well as a saved Protestant and a saved Eastern Orthodox believer). In my previous post I gave the examples of incarnation and atonement. To these could be added the triune nature of God, the inspiration and authority of scripture, etc.”

            The Eastern Orthodox regard Protestants like Robert as heretics.

          2. steve hays says:

            Robert

            “I will only note here that in the first four centuries of church history (prior to Augustine) you don’t find Calvinism. Augustine appears to have first promoted theological determinism in the church. He started the ball rolling and the Reformers then systematized it further. If we view church history as a whole, Calvinism has been a very small minority position rejected by most Christians.”

            I will only note here that in the first four centuries of Jewish history prior to Jesus you don’t find Christianity. Jesus appears to have first promoted Christianity. He started the ball rolling and the Reformers then systematized it further. If we view Jewish history as a whole, Christianity has been a very small minority position rejected by most Jews.

          3. Robert says:

            Hello Greg,

            Now to your first response.

            “I think the language you’re using to describe Calvinism reflects a very 18th century New England, Jonathan Edwards-ish version of Calvinism that not all Calvinists would feel accurately describes their own belief. I could see Calvin himself as well as many other important Calvinist theologians objecting to some of these formulations.”

            I believe that in dealing with a view we ought to challenge the strongest version of it if we are going to effectively and fairly challenge it. The perspective of Edwards and Piper today and I believe Calvin himself involves a simple presupposition/assumption. It is this: that God has decided and preplanned every detail of history before it occurs. God preplans every detail before he creates the world; he then ensures this plan is actualized as what we call world history. Now there are of course differences between Calvinists (e.g. supralapsarians versus infralapsarians) but it seems to me the strongest version of Calvinism is the one most consistent with that fundamental presupposition. This also means that the most consistent form of Calvinism is one which involves theological determinism. The Westminster confession stated it as “He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass.” Once you make that assumption, then it logically follows that God predestines each individual’s eternal destiny as well as every other detail of history (with no exceptions).

            In my earlier post I presented it in possible worlds terminology as this is common today and I believe makes the points well. If you prefer we could use the analogy of an author of a play. The author first conceives every detail of his story, the characters, their thoughts and actions, everything. The actors on the stage then carry out everything that the author had first conceived. So everything is decided beforehand by the author and the story in its every detail is solely up to him. This also means the actors play their roles and they decide nothing about the story on their own.

            “As was stated in this interview, in my book I’m clear up front that I’m restricting myself to soteriology proper. Some of the issues you’re bringing in here go afield from that.”

            No, I brought up Calvinistic reprobation which goes to the heart of soteriology. Reprobation is a major issue of soteriology. Especially in the Calvinistic scheme where God decides beforehand who will be saved and who will be lost.

            “That having been said, I think your first question can be reformulated in a way that steers it more directly to what I’m defending.”

            Actually I wish you would have directly addressed my question. By reformulating the question you redirect the discussion away from the issue that I brought up and asked you about.

            “I’m going to take the liberty of reformulating your question as follows: How can God be loving if he chooses not to save people whom he could have saved? . . . . I think the fundamental problem people have with Calvinism is that it claims God chooses not to save people whom he could have saved. So I hang a lantern on that in the book.”

            I disagree with you here. The fundamental problem of non-Calvinists when confronted with Calvinism is the controlling presupposition that God ordains everything that occurs. To the non-Calvinist this eliminates free will, personal responsibility, praise and blame, makes God the author of sin, makes God’s character highly questionable and even immoral (i.e. a person who reprobates most of the human race is not good, not loving, but appears to be quite cruel and malicious).

            “For another thing, I approach this problem from a number of different angles and I don’t want to give you only one of them and create the impression that my answer is a lot simpler than it really is.”

            But again you are not answering my question but answering the question you would prefer to answer. It is similar to when a politician is asked a question and then rather than directly answering it. He redirects the question to another issue that he really wants to talk about! :-)

            But for the sake of discussion I will play along and interact with what you have to say:

            “For now, let me just say this: We must start with the data that God is omnipotent, yet not all people are saved.”

            A concern already jumps out here. God’s omnipotence does not take place in a vacuum but is informed by both his nature and his purposes and plans. Omnipotence does not mean that God can just do anything. For example if he created mankind with a certain design in mind (let’s call this the “design plan”). Later on in history he is not going to go against his own design plan. If he created us with a mind, created us to be individual persons with our own minds and wills. Then later on he is not going to change the rules of the game and take away our minds, our individuality or our wills. If he designs us with a capacity for having and making our own choices (i.e. the capacity for free will), he is not going to eliminate that part of his own design plan later on in the game. God will only use his omnipotence in line with his own character and plan of salvation for mankind. If he plans a way of salvation that involves the person having to choose to trust him alone for salvation: then he will not make exceptions down the line where some are saved through works rather than faith.

            “So we cannot say God wants to save all people but is unable to do so due to some obstacle outside himself,”

            Actually we can say that. If God’s plan of salvation is that he will leave the decision as to whether one wants to trust him or not to individuals, then that is the way it is going to be. And in such a scenario he may desire that all be saved, but if they choose to reject Him, they will not be saved and that obstacle of unbelief is outside Himself. But it needs to be carefully noted that that obstacle to Gods’ will only exists due to God’s own design plan and purposes. If he designs us to have free will and designs his plan of salvation so that it involves free will. Then if some choose to reject God and do so freely, their rejection which is an obstacle to Gods’ will could only be possible precisely because of God’s own design plan.

            “yet we also cannot say that God wants to save all people and he gets what he wants.”

            God does not always get what he wants. We know that God does not always get what he wants; we need only look at the example of Israel throughout the Old Testament.

            “Therefore there are only two possibilities. Either God values the salvation of some people more than the salvation of other people,”

            Where does God ever say this in the bible?

            “or else God values something else (usually “the created system of human nature” or something of that kind) more than he values the salvation of anyone at all.”

            Not sure exactly what you mean here, this is unclear. And your comment assumes that God is balancing competing values in his mind and then chooses one as more important than others. Not sure where we see this in the bible either. My understanding is that he achieved exactly the design plan that he wanted which is why he declared the entire creation good upon completion of it.

            “On this second approach, God loves all human beings equally,”

            I am not a Calvinist and I question this claim. God may desire that all be saved (and he explicitly states as much in the bible). But where do you get the notion that he loves everyone equally and treats everybody in exactly the same way? My bible says he loves his own more. My bible also says that He loves those who are obedient to him.

            “but his love for human beings is radically diminished in his larger scheme of values.”

            I do not understand this either. The way I see it God is a perfect being. As such he has no needs and did not need to create the world based upon any need. So his creating the world was to manifest himself to other sentient but created beings. In order for these beings to understand and appreciate God they needed sufficient cognitive ability, self consciousness, personal identity, etc. In a word they needed to be designed in such a way that they could worship God. If they were designed with this capacity to worship God and know God in a personal way: how is his love for human persons diminished? God is the greatest being, and any world that he creates is going to have him as a part of it. So every world he creates is already a good world because He is in it. And it gets even better if he then creates us with the capacity to worship him. In doing this he has given us the greatest possibility (what could be greater than to know personally and worship God?).

            This is why I cringe when I hear some people talk about heaven/the eternal state. They talk about asking certain questions about why this and why that. They talk about meeting famous Christians like the apostle Paul or seeing deceased relatives. They miss the boat in my opinion, what will be absolutely incredible is that “now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face”. To see God directly, to experience the greatest good unhindered by sin or misunderstanding or opposition. THAT is the greatest good possible for a created being.

            “So you can have a God who wants all to be saved equally, but only by saying that God is willing to let an (in principle) unlimited number of people go to hell forever solely in order to preserve the integrity of nature.”

            What do you mean here by preserving the integrity of nature?

            If you mean that He will not contradict his own designs and plans. Then Yes he will not contradict the original design plan for humans that included us having free will. Free will makes certain things possible (such as genuine love), but most importantly makes genuine worship of the supreme being possible. In order to be able to worship one being over all others. One must know and recognize the Supreme Being, be able to choose one being over all others, and make other beings lesser in your own set of values. If I don’t have free will then how can I freely choose to worship the Supreme Being over all other beings? In order to worship you have to both prioritize and choose one being over all other beings.

            Robert

            1. steve hays says:

              Robert

              “The fundamental problem of non-Calvinists when confronted with Calvinism is the controlling presupposition that God ordains everything that occurs. To the non-Calvinist this eliminates free will, personal responsibility, praise and blame, makes God the author of sin, makes God’s character highly questionable and even immoral (i.e. a person who reprobates most of the human race is not good, not loving, but appears to be quite cruel and malicious).”

              Of course, Arminians like Roger Olson and Randal Rauser say much the same thing about Yahweh.

          4. steve hays says:

            Robert

            “I will only note here that in the first four centuries of church history (prior to Augustine) you don’t find Calvinism. Augustine appears to have first promoted theological determinism in the church. He started the ball rolling and the Reformers then systematized it further.”

            Actually, predestination was first promoted in Christianity by Jesus and the Apostles. And before them, by prophets like Isaiah.

        2. Kyle says:

          Hi Greg,

          I will download a copy of your book on my kindle. I’m excited to read your perspective. I get the hunch you may see some distinctions between the formulations of Edwards and the Calvinism that could be seen more as Augustinian single predestination. I personally don’t have a problem with the latter view of Calvinism by itself philosophically. I would just disagree with the exegetical decisions on the extent of the atonement. However, I just want to say that I’m excited about your book. I am almost finished with ‘For Calvinism’ and I get the drift your views may be very similar to Horton’s. So, just want to let you know that you have an Arminian-stranger-reader who would be the same kind of Calvinist you are if he were to be a Calvinist at some point although I don’t see that happening soon.

          Cheers in remembrance of Him,

          Kyle

      2. steve hays says:

        First, I see no way of presenting Arminianism as being loving if you accept the Arminian conception of freedom and foreknowledge. God foresaw that if he made certain people, he’d damn them to hell. Yet he made them anyway. Moreover, if libertarian freedom is true, then for every possible world in which someone goes to hell, there’s another possible world in which that same person goes to heaven. Yet God makes the world in which that person goes to hell even though he could create the world where that person goes to heaven–without infringing on that person’s freewill. Indeed, according to Arminianism, God even saves some people knowing ahead of time that they will lose their salvation. Yet as Scripture says, they’d be better off if God never made them in the first place. Isn’t that the most hateful thing that could be done to a person?

        So it is difficult (some would say impossible) to reconcile God being loving with the Arminian conception of freedom and foreknowledge.

      3. steve hays says:

        Robert

        “Second, I know Christians from differing theological traditions (primarily due to the nature of my own ministry) including Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox. Those who are saved individuals derive their joy not from allegiance to or knowledge of, or understanding of a particular theological system or tradition, but from ***their own personal relationship with the Lord***. In other words, their joy is knowing Christ.”

        A false dichotomy inasmuch as knowing Christ involves believing certain theological propositions about Christ.

  3. Dr. Forster, it’s always great to see a glowing testimony of Jesus Christ and the love of God, and based upon the interview, I think that your book will resonate well with many Calvinists because it will speak to the larger picture of why Calvinists fell in love with Calvinism in the first place. However, coming from the Arminian perspective, the whole time I heard the interview, I could sense in the background, a different perspective being articulated by Friel, and of course there is tremendous diversity in “Calvinism,” but I would be interested in hearing more on Friel’s/Piper’s perspective articulated in the clip. Some felt that it was so shocking that it was a parody on Christianity.

  4. Speaking of resonating well, sometimes becoming a Calvinist doesn’t always come down to the X’s and O’s, to borrow a football term (the “exegesis” that you mentioned in the interview). Sometimes there is a broad appeal. As an example, consider the testimony of the following Calvinist, with whom I had been in theological dialogue:

    “Short version, I was raised ‘Arminian’ although I believed myself to be ‘Calvinist’ because I believed in Eternal Security. Later in life – after becoming an adult – someone suggested that ‘regeneration precedes faith’. I knew that to be false, so I went to bat for the truth. Every time I stepped up to knock down these heresies, I got a face full of Scriptures that seemed, for the life of me, to say that Man is depraved at his core, that God chooses who He will save based on His own purposes, not the ones being saved, and that when God moves, no one can stop Him. I kept swinging, but after awhile I realized I had lost the battle. Overcome with Scripture and unable to disagree with the logic, I found myself engulfed by a sense of awe that grace could be so large, and a sense of awe that God could be so sovereign. Never before had these two features loomed so large.” … “I’m sorry. The whole of Arminian theology, in my mind, elevates Man, denigrates God, and leaves me with a mortally wounded sovereign who fell victim to His creation when He surrendered to their wills. In a world where terrorists fly aircraft into buildings, where Christians are divorcing as often as non-Christians, where I live imperfectly myself, I cannot afford a God who is not sovereign, nor can I afford an elevated view of Man. I couldn’t continue the conversation in good conscience because 1) I have been forced by the biblical logic of it, and 2) having arrived here, I like it
    … a lot. You ask me to surrender my mind and my God, and I cannot.”

  5. steve hays says:

    Here’s a corrective to Richard’s misrepresentation:

    http://parablemania.ektopos.com/archives/2010/03/for-zions-sake.html

  6. Lynn Rutledge says:

    Great interview. I applaud Crossway for being willing to publish this much-needed book from a layman’s perspective. Love the title.
    Can’t wait to read it.

  7. Michael Mills says:

    I have often thought that we in the Western World, try too hard to explain everything — even those things that are beyond our ability to understand. Perhaps we have Plato to thank for that? The Trinity would be one example. Which one of us honestly understands how that can be? Yet, we accept it. God’s Sovereignty as it relates to mankind’s free will would be another. My only thought regarding that question is to say, “We live our lives in linier time. God is outside of time. He created time. He is not governed by it, as we are. Therefore…just perhaps…the problems we see regarding sovereignty and will do not exist for Him???

    God does give us some of the answers, but not all. And, if we are honest with Him and one another, there comes a point when we must say: “It’s a mystery…,” and simply leave it at that. That isn’t a copout on our part. It’s merely a way of trusting our Heavenly Father.

    In the end, it’s all God. And yet, he calls us to do our part. After we do, we discover that even our part was God’s doing. I don’t understand it — a paradox to be sure. It’s a mystery.

  8. Kyle says:

    Michael,

    I really appreciate your approach and perspective. Unfortunately, we can get caught up in trying to tie together seemingly loose ends on both sides, myself included.

    I just want to say that it’s ok to work towards reconciliation of the paradigm through what we do know in scripture. It only becomes a problem when we try to “push each other out” of orthodoxy. I believe Classic Arminianism synthesizes scripture’s witness better than Calvinism, but I think Calvinism is a fine example of acceptable orthodoxy. I really only get involved in debate when I hear what I perceive to be fatalism or my own view slandered. That being said, I want to say again that your words about the fact of mystery and our finite nature are good words for all of us to remember.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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