Monday, September 1, 2008

Is this Calvinism?

Let’s say I choose to build a house for my 8 children. It is going to be a beautiful, perfect house that has all the facilities needed for my children to live in to make them happy and completely fulfilled. However, the house is only going to be beautiful and perfect on the condition that my children behave themselves, and if they don’t behave, I am going to put snakes in there which will bite them and eventually be the source of their painful destruction. Now, before I put them in there, I am aware they are going to misbehave, in fact I want them to misbehave, for reasons which I will explain later. So I put my 8 children in there, and lo and behold, they start misbehaving. “You naughty children” I say, “because of your misbehaving I am going to put these snakes in your house that you cannot escape from, that will cause all of you to die”. So that’s what I do, and they suffer incredibly. However, I am a loving Father. Before I put all my children in the house, before I had even made the house for them, I had a plan. That plan was I would go in there to save 2 of them, and take on the snakebites for them so that they might not have to anymore. I did that, because I am a loving father. Why these 2 children? No reason, they were just the ones I had chosen. Why did I leave out the other 6? It is because it is for my glory, and because they misbehaved. Aren’t I a loving Father?

Well to me the Father in that analogy isn’t loving at all. So what’s wrong with my analogy?

10 comments:

DanielS said...

Good question. Maybe one problem with the analogy is sin?

When I think of 'misbehaving' I think of something 'small', something that I do everyday, like j-walking, downloading MP3s or talking in class. Misbehaving like that surely doesn't deserve something as horrid as life in a snake pit.

Do you think an understanding of the depths of human wretchedness helps, or is there something else that you think is lacking in the analogy?

geoffc said...

There are a million things lacking in the analogy. I wrote it a while ago after hearing a sermon about the compassion Jesus has on those who are suffering, and my immediate response was "Why? you wanted it to happen that way". I posted it on a forum to generate a little discussion

I think you're right about how sin is portrayed in the analogy. It's as though sin is trivial (very unbiblical) and that God is responsible for it (also unbiblical, but seemingly logic if you hold to a Calvanistic framework).

It also represents limited atonement, which I am so far undecided about. That Christ didn't die for the sins of the whole world is a little unnerving.

reuben// said...

Interesting analogy and interesting response to the sermon that you heard. I wouldn't have thought of that!!

I think in part, the scenario is too antropocentric (hence dan's objection) and also separates and elevates god's plan to create over his plan to save in Christ.

most significantly it presumes that god is primarily concerned to be a 'loving father'. I don't think that God creates us in order to be father as though he is lonely and needs relationship. the doctrine of the trinity would prevent such an understanding.

I'd say that he is primarily concerned to elect some sinners to salvation in christ. in the course of this he 'builds a house' and everything else.

of course you really want to ask 'is god good'? to decide this you need to work out if sin (and suffering? is that what the snakes are?) is chargeable to God and if not, how/why.

A related question: do you think that this is the best world that God could have created?

Dannii said...

"in fact I want them to misbehave"

This is what's wrong.

I'm guessing this has come from an understanding that the second person of the trinity's ultimate goal and purpose is to save humanity. I am not sure this is correct. It's commonly said and believed that through sin and redemption the world to come will be far better than anything before, including Eden. But I do not believe this is correct. Before he was saviour, he was the creating word of God, and I think that in doing so he fulfilled all he needed to. Eden was as good as it will ever get, including heaven, and Adam seriously screwed over God's plans by sinning. (But of course God knew he would, and the word of God would always do the will of God including saving humanity.)

But my understanding isn't fully formed yet, and isn't tied to too many specific scriptures yet...

Dave Miers said...

It also represents limited atonement, which I am so far undecided about. That Christ didn't die for the sins of the whole world is a little unnerving

you need to read page 84-90 of carson's 'difficult doctrine of the love of God'!

Eden was as good as it will ever get, including heaven, and Adam seriously screwed over God's plans by sinning.

hey dannii - i can't reconcile what you're saying with genesis 3 and the picture in revelation 21:3-4... would be interested to hear more of your thinking.

Dannii said...

Dave, I meant only the pre-fall Eden... and I think you proved my point entirely. The new heaven is Eden all over again, but I'm not sure it's better than Eden. I guess it's a question of whether our gratitude to God for his righteousness and salvation outweighs our regrets and memories of our sin. I'd be most happy to say they are equally awesome and neither is better than the other.

geoffc said...

"I'm guessing this has come from an understanding that the second person of the trinity's ultimate goal and purpose is to save humanity"

Actually, it wasn't. I can see how the analogy does present that, but it wasn't where I was coming from. Romans 8 says God subject his creation to futility. And it also seems a logical conclusion that if God is sovereign, he planned for Adam and Even to sin. I am aware that 'planned for Adam and Eve' to sin has some very unbiblical connotations, but to say God was taken by suprise by their sin, or that he never intended for sin to come about, I think is wrong.

For something to happen against God's intended will is impossible. Therefore it was God's intended will that Adam and Eve Sin. Thus, he wanted it to happen, and thus it was his plan.

mark said...

nice post geoff!

i've got 2 lots of 2 cents:

first lot) yep, carson's difficult doctrine of the love of God is great. really helped me to see the multiple facets of God's love and that even though the intent of the cross was to save the elect, that by no means diminishes his love for all creatures and the creation he has made!

second lot) dannii, the main reason I reckon that heaven's is going to be better than eden is that it will be everlasting because there will be no possibility of sin! so, both eden and heaven are perfect by virtue of God's design, but heaven is greater than eden since it is the everlasting terminus (ha, what a random word!) of God's plan. (ie, it really boils down to what the consequences of existence without the possibility of sin will entail!)

anyone got any dollars of wisdom to add to my cents?

andrewE said...

This might be some form of Calvinism, but it's not the truth.

geoffc said...

yeah I always knew that.

It was more just how I was feeling at the time I think, and me trying to work through it.