Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Predestination and Perspicuity

One final stab some protestants make to solve the problem of so many seemingly good Christians coming to believe so many bad doctrines is the idea that God might not make scripture clear to everyone. He just makes it clear to the elect. This is kind of a separate topic but some Calvinists try and explain the plethora of different teachings this way.

Now most Christians would say bad exegesis comes from a lack of faith. They would say many liberal Christians are not first of all lousy interpreters of scripture but that is something that flows from their unwillingness to accept some of the counter-cultural nature of the gospel. So all the scriptures about sin darkening the intellect and God giving wisdom to the simple do explain how people fail to understand scripture. But the people in view are not Christians. The people we are wondering about seem to be Christians. They profess faith in Jesus. They seem serious about studying the bible and doing what it says. They just disagree on important matters of doctrine.

So you get the spectacle of people saying St Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa are in hell. They are forced to go there because everyone who does not arrive at a Calvinist interpretation of the bible is not elect. Dave Armstrong described this kind of thinking as intellectual suicide. You can't make any sense of Christian history with this view.

The problem does not go away. There are so many branches of protestantism that a Calvinist want to agree with most of the time but sees a few areas where they appear to be in error. How does he explain them? They are either elect or they are not. They can't be elect on 80% if the issues and not on the other 20%. So the model does not fit the data.

The only thing that does fit the data is that the bible is not clear unless it has something to keep it in the proper light and focus. That something is missing from many Christian traditions. It does not prove that something is what Catholicism suggests but it does prove that Sola Scriptura is false. It fails on empirical grounds. What it has produced does not have the character of truth but rather has the character of the gradual loss of truth.


  1. Predestination?

    Are there still groups of people that subscribe to Calvin's view of predestination, i thought that school of thought did not exist anymore?

    Doesn't predestination make religion, going to church and faith useless because:
    - the elect does not need church they are already saved
    - church will not help the non-elect?


  2. There certainly are Calvinists out there. I was one for a long time. Predestination does not just make church pointless. It makes all of life pointless. Nothing finite matters against the backdrop of eternity. If we cannot impact eternity for better or worse then every choice we make becomes trivial.

    This true for Calvinists but also for those who believe in universal salvation. That is common as well and really takes meaning out of life.

  3. Don't groups that do not believe in free will and the ability to fall out of grace, fall within that school of thought too?

    meaning that once they believe they become part of the "elect". Where we that believe that we can fall from grace always be on the constant vigilant?



  4. Those who beleive in "once saved always saved" are slightly better. They can say they are here to evangelize others. But only the ministry to the lost matters. If you are among saved people then nobody can lose their salvation and nobody goes to purgatory so you can come back to that same problem. But one can always suppose holy living will result in more people being saved.