Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can Calvinists Achieve, Inspire, and Make a Difference?

The popularity if the Achieve, Inspire, Make a Difference idea is not hard to figure out.It taps into a deep desire in every human heart. That desire is the heart of why Calvinism rubs people the wrong way.Can a Calvinist ever achieve anything, inspire anyone, or make any real difference? Only in a limited way. Really Calvin trivializes the consequences of our choices so much that the answer is really No. We can't do any of those things. Now when you point out to Calvinists that God has implanted in every human heart this desire, this conviction, this sense of duty to achieve, inspire and make a difference they will point out that this is an emotional appeal and truth is found in rational exegesis of scripture and not in examining your heart. This much is true. Every kids movie and song seems to encourage children to follow their heart. Certainly a very truncated morality. God's revelation needs to be respected. But there should not be a conflict between our hearts and what God says. We are made in His image. Certainly as I ponder Catholic truths I am amazed again and again  how those truth line up with the deep desires of my heart and really everyone's heart.

When you argue the scripture. When you say the bible exhorts us to achieve, inspire, and make a difference with God's help of course. The answer is Yes we are but that difference is ultimately an illusion. We are to operate under the assumption we are making a difference but still know that it is all God's predestined will we are acting out and that will does not depend on us at all. The saved are still saved and the damned are still damned but you can pretend you did something useful if you want.

You see Calvin has outsmarted scripture. For example if you look at something like 1 Cor 9:19-23:
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings
 Now Paul seems to be talking about doing things that impact the salvation of others.Making it more likely they be saved. But the Calvinist would say he is only talking about the working out of God's predestined will. If Paul does not do these things nobody will miss out on salvation. God would save the exact same people some other way. Now there is no hint of this in what Paul says. In fact, one could try and imagine what Paul would have to say to prevent Calvin from putting this twist on the passage. He would have to start talking in philosophical categories that hadn't been invented yet.

So when it seems like free will, it isn't. When scripture is talking about what seems like free will, it isn't. When you feel like you have made a difference, you haven't. This is all because Calvin can't imagine God could dignify us with real choices that have real consequences. God must keep all the real power for Himself.

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