On The Calvinism Debate In Chicago Last Week

Image by OldOnliner via Flickr

Image by OldOnliner via Flickr

For those of you who were unaware of it, there was a debate in Chicago last week on New Calvinism that was sponsored by Sojourn Network. Our friend T. C. Moore did an outstanding job of covering it. You can read his impressions over on his blog by clicking here. He also has embedded video of the debate if you’d like to check it out for yourself.

Just to whet your whistle and encourage you to check out T. C.’s article, we want to feature a point of the debate that we’re pretty passionate about. One of the metaphors that Austin Fischer presented to highlight the problem with New Calvinism was the image of a “firefighting arsonist”. T. C. expounds on it here:

The first killer metaphor was employed by Fischer. He wanted those who would watch this debate to know that despite the New Calvinists’ clever attempts to disguise it, the reality is that whatever condition they claim God is saving humanity from, their theology necessitates that God caused it. If it is true, like the Calvinists claim, that God rescues a group of preselected people from the tortures of their conception of hell, it is only because God “ordained” that humanity would be damned in the first place.

Fischer’s metaphor of God wanting the world to “burn down” conjures the image of the firefighter who has a narcissistic pathology which tempts him or her to start the very fires he or she is charged to rescue citizens from. This firefighter puts lives in danger only for the “glory” of being the one who swoops in to the rescue.

The reason this metaphor is so damning (pun intended), is because the New Calvinist routinely use the idea of God “saving some” from hell as the pinnacle of their argument for God’s redemptive glory. “Everyone should go to hell for their sins” Calvinists routinely shout. But, this is only just if human beings are responsible for their sin. In New Calvinism’s conception of why people go to hell, it isn’t because they have sinned and must suffer the consequences. No, it is because God “ordained” that they would sin and suffer the consequences before God brought creation into being. If any theology “robs God of glory,” it is the one that makes God out to be a psychopathic firefighting arsonist.

Related Reading

Confronting Divine Determinism

Part of the fallen human condition inclines us to shirk our moral responsibility and accept that everything is predetermined, whether by God, the gods, fate, or blind chance. Various forms of determinism have been prevalent in most primitive religions, in much ancient philosophy, in most forms of Islam and even, most surprisingly, in much traditional…

Free Will: What is a free agent?

What does it really mean to be a free agent? In this reflection, Greg offers some thoughts on free agents and how it can be that they are not exhaustively determined.

A Calvinist and an Arminian walk into a bar…

Toby Bradbury via Compfight Roger Olson posted A Conversation between a Calvinist and an Arminian about God’s Sovereignty that we thought was dead on. In fact, we kind of wonder if Roger is bugging some of the conversations we’ve had. Déjà vu much? And since Roger has argued that Open Theism should be included under the broader umbrella of…

Theo Graff Podcast: Featuring Jessica Kelley

We have a special treat for you today. T. C. Moore is a great friend of ReKnew and he’s recently started a “Jesus-centered, hip hop flavored, geeky, theological, kingdom exploration” called the THEO GRAFF PODCAST. He’s published four podcasts so far and you’ll want to listen to them all when you get a chance, but we wanted…

When Did You Let Go of Your Calvinist Beliefs? (Podcast)

Greg talks about his unusual transformation out of Calvinism. Episode 471 The Interview: http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0471.mp3 Photo by Paola Franco on Unsplash.com

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled…”

“…was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” ~Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects Roger Olson reflected a few days ago on the curious absence of any discussion of Satan in modern theology. He even speculated: I suspect that one reason Greg Boyd, a brilliant theologian, is not taken as seriously as he should be by many…