Ever wondered how much control God has in this Universe? Deism, the view that says God created everything and left it to be from then on appeals to a sizable range of philosophers and laymen. Antony Flew, a vociferous atheist in his time has moved from atheism to deism in the ebbing moments of his life.  In his book, “There is a God“, Flew disowned the worldview he used to espouse in his prime. The reason? This universe appears to be designed.  It was a bold step for Flew, harvesting both cheers and jeers from theists and atheists.  His stand though, at least as we know it before his death, is that  God controls nothing in this Universe.  His only participation is its conception.  That’s Deism.

In the opposite spectrum of man’s view of the Divine Puppeteer comes Calvinism.   In his famous book, Institutes, John Calvin writes, “Hence we maintain that, by his providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” In Calvinism, God is so sovereign that every action or event that takes place within this universe and all others are governed by Him. The only consistent Calvinist is one who claims that free will is illusory.  Thus, the only legitimate Calvinists are fatalists.  These are, people who believe that all of the future is already decided and therefore, is inevitable.  We are not free for we are controlled.   Even the thought to think that we are free is itself controlled by the Divine Puppeteer.

Little known to Calvinists is that the doctrine of predestination did not originate from John Calvin.  Ten centuries prior to Calvin, there lived a man named Muhammad, who, through the Qur’an and the Hadiths, we learn that their version of God is one true sovereign puppeteer.  Consider Surah 14:4, “Allah leads astray whomsoever he will and guides whomsoever he will.” Sahih Muslim 6406 reads:

“Allah’s Messenger, what is your opinion that the people do in the world, and strive for, is something decreed for them, something preordained for them, and (sic) will their fate in the Hereafter be determined by the fact that their prophets brought them teachings which they did not act upon, and thus they became deserving of punishment? Thereupon he said:

“‘Of course, it happens as it is decreed by destiny and preordained for them, and this view is confirmed by this verse of the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious: ‘Consider the soul and Him who made it perfect, then breathed into it its sin and its piety.’”

One cannot help but see how similar the God of the Calvinists and the God of the Muslims are.  Sovereignty, when not tempered by Holiness, leads to a worldview doomed to meaninglessness. A worldview where a falling short of determinism is an attack to the sovereignty of the Puppeteer. One which, a consistent Calvinist or Muslim will never welcome.

Then there is Arminianism, the middle ground. In particular, I’m talking about Open Theism.  James White, in his debates with Arminians, have often repeated that the only consistent Arminians are the Open Theists.  He’s right, but I won’t go into details. One thing to note though is that in Open Theist Arminianism, God has DECREED some events to happen inevitably while LEAVING other events to the free will of sentient beings.

Notice where Arminianism stands.  Deism points out that God has left sentient beings absolutely free to do whatever they want and consistent Calvinists claim that everything is determined and therefore free will is illusory. Arminianism balances both views by taking what seems to be the good side of Deism (God is not the author of evil) and the good side of Calvinism (God is in control of anything He wishes) and putting them together midway, allowing for Holiness (God authored no evil) and Sovereignty (God can control whatever he wants) to coexist without one attribute overstepping its boundaries.

While deists will relegate God’s sovereignty to mystery, Calvinists, when pressed to the logical conclusions of their view, will be forced to relegate God’s holiness to mystery. Only Arminians can juggle between God’s sovereignty and holiness by affirming them both without retreating to mystery.

Truth is the scale by which we filter falsehood. When a worldview is founded on mystery, imagine how shaky the structure will be. A structure is only as sturdy as its foundation. Building a concept of God anchoring His essential attribute, whether it be holiness or sovereignty to mystery is an accident waiting to happen.

Arminians are relieved from that responsibility, because the foundation is built to balance both sovereignty and holiness.

That’s what I am.

 

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