Saturday, April 14, 2018

“It’s Not Fair!”

“It is unspeakably dreadful to find the great majority of those who profess to receive the Scriptures as divinely inspired, gnashing their teeth against its author when informed that He has sovereignly elected a people to be His peculiar treasure, and to hear them charging Him with being a hateful tyrant, a monster of cruelty. Yet such blasphemies only go to show that “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” AW Pink, The Doctrine of Election

One of most common, and perhaps the most vehement objection to the sovereignty of God in salvation is the issue of fairness. The idea goes that if God indeed ordains whom he will save without regard to the actions of men, then he is not being fair since he does not give every person an “even chance” at becoming a believer. Since man is responsible for believing or not, then he must be given the right by God to make up his own mind as to whether he will accept the gift of salvation. If He does not, then He is not fair and He cannot hold man responsible for not believing.

It is obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge of church history, that the argument between the Calvinist and the Arminian has been taking place since the early days of the church in the second century and beyond (although not with such labels). But one thing that just about all on both sides agree to, is the fact that those who are to be saved in the end are known to God before they were born. To the Arminian, this takes place because God foresaw, in a passive knowing something ahead of time way, who was going to believe and only then He ordained that they would be saved upon the basis of that foreseen faith. The Calvinist, on the other hand, points out that God ordained those who would be saved separate and apart from anything he foresaw in them and solely on the basis of His good pleasure. You could say this is akin to the famous question Martin Luther asked Erasmus in the course of their famous debate concerning whether God wills what He foresees or foresees what He wills.

Although the Arminian will hold to a simple foreknowledge position, he will then turn around and tell us that, if the Calvinist position is correct, then that means that God has chosen people before they were even born. But if He foresaw those who would believe and on that basis ordained their salvation, they are saved before they were born regardless. And those who would not believe would be lost before they were born simply because that is what God ordained based on their foreseen unbelief. Thus, the Arminian finds himself in a conundrum since he wants man to have free, meaning autonomous, will but he cannot deny that God ordains salvation before anyone is born. They simply cannot deny what the Bible says in scriptures such as Romans 8:28-29, but then try to make of it a matter of simple foreknowledge rather than God actively ordaining it be so all in their effort to make man the final arbiter as to who is going to be saved.

However, the real sticking point in the whole argument is that the Arminian cannot bring himself to believe that God chooses to pass over anyone for salvation. Although the meaning of grace carries with it the implication that it is something that is given not only free, but unmerited, man still cannot bring himself to accept the idea that the Giver decides who receives what He gives. Thus, you hear the objection that it is not "right" for God to pass over anyone and doom them to an eternity in hell even before they were born. Again, did not the Arminian tell us that God choses those who would be saved before they were even created? And if so, then how is it that man has autonomous will? It just doesn't follow! And if God is simply reacting to what He saw man do then there is some amorphous future out there that is outside of God's control and He is not all knowing since He is taking in knowledge at some point as to what man will do. And not only so, but He then becomes the reactor rather than the actor.

It is unfortunate that man would rather have fate be in charge of salvation than God. And make no mistake, if you're of the mind that some reality out there in the ether caused God to decide who He was going to save that is exactly what you believe. Instead, the God of the Bible shows how he pursues his people. His people, not some faceless, nameless group (Matthew 1:21). In the book of Hosea God proclaims loudly and clearly how unrelenting the love of God is for His people. I would rather a thousand times, that a God who loves like that would decree whom He would save. If it was left to us, the result would be chaos!


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