Naked Calvinism: the secret will of God

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All Calvinists who try to be consistent face a  formidable challenge.

On the one hand, they believe that God forbids us to commit sins such as adultery, thief, murder, homosexual lifestyle and so on and so forth.
On the other hand, they also believe that God predetermined and ultimately caused people to carry out all these wicked sins.

To alleviate this tension, they resort to the notion of the secret will of God.

A Calvinist website gives us a nice illustration of how this plays out in practice:

Jan-Massys-Bathsheba-Observed-by-King-David

“Think of David on the roof of his palace looking down and seeing beautiful Bathsheba washing. What was he to do? What was God’s will for him? Surely the Bible makes it plain. The Seventh Commandment states clearly: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. God’s revealed will tells him what God wants him to do. God hates sin and desires His people to obey His commandments. But is there not another will in God? What about predestination and the decrees of God? God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. His plan includes everything and nothing is left to chance. God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph.1 :11). He is not the author of sin and yet, since everything is included in His decrees, sin must be there too. This means that in a certain sense it was God’s will that David commit adultery. Nothing can happen but what God wills and David did commit adultery. The implication of this is that there are two “wills” in God…

…Surely it is impossible to have two “wills” in one individual. From the case of David we see that the two “wills” in God appear to be contradictory. The secret will determines that David should sin while the revealed will tells him that he must not sin. Of course there is no conflict in the mind of God. We find it impossible to understand how God can will that an individual sin and yet not be the author of that sin. What we often forget is that God’s mind is infinitely great. We are grasshoppers in comparison to the One who sits on the circle of the earth. We cannot comprehend God fully and even after an eternity of studying Him He will still be mysterious to us.”

Following my methodology, I won’t really go into the favorite prooftexts that Calvanists use to defend this blasphemous non-sense profound truth, since if I can only show that only one text is hugely at odds with reformed theology, I would have refuted the whole system since it cannot exist without an inerrant Bible.

That said, I cannot help but notice that divine determinism is not the only plausible interpretation of most of the texts they use. It is worth noting that the text explicitely speaking of two wills, namely Leviticus 29.29

 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law”

does not say that these secret things contradict the revealed will of God and it is a stretch to think this is what the author of Leviticus thought.

There are other Biblical texts which make clear that God cannot lie (according to the authors):

Titus 1:2: “[I]n hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”

Hebrews 6:18: “[I]t is impossible for God to lie.”

Calvinists are obliged to considerably water down the meaning of the texts and pretend they just mean that God cannot directly lie but can order men not to rape while predetermining them to commit this very sin.

Jeremiah 32:35 is extremely embarassing for all divine determinists holding fast to Biblical inerrancy.

35 They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commandednor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.”

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I think it is already very hard to reconcile the non-deceptive character of God with the blue text due to the same reasons I mentioned about David and Bathsheba. But the red text seems to be a fatal blow to all kinds of Calvinist claims.
Reformed apologists do the only thing they can and try to argue that the red phrase has to be considered as an allegory or hyperbole, or that “mind” could be translated as “heart”.
But try a moment to think about what that means.
God predetermined the Israelites to commit these very atrocities. He could have given them other desires but He decided they would sacrifice their children, He is the ultimate cause of their horrible behavior.

And then, while speaking to them, he told them that He never wanted them to commit these horrendous acts, without giving them any indication this was just a figure of speech.

If Calvinism is true and God really spoke at that time, I see only two possibilities: this was either an odious and detestable act of deception or God suffered under a split-brain or multiple personality disorder back then.

Now I know what many Calvinists are going to quote:

““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55.8)

But there is a big irony here. Reading the verse in its immediate context shows it is all about reconciliation, that God invites all evildoers to give up their wicked ways and come back to Him. This verse seems rather to indicate that God is much more loving, much more forgiving than any man can be and even than any man could ever imagine to be.
For reformed theologians, this verse means than God is probably more vicious than the worst criminal who has ever lived.

 

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3 responses to “”

  1. labreuer says :

    I do find the Jeremiah 32:35 bit intriguing, but you run into much more mundane problems by interpreting it your way: it means that God doesn’t know the future. Whenever I find a single verse which seems killer to Calvinism, I find that there really are somewhat-plausible ways to get around it. It is my experience that a fuller approach is needed, one which leverages not just one or a few verses, but larger thrusts of the entire Bible.

    Personally, I think it is more profitable to ask how exactly we can be made in the image of God, and what exactly it means for us to “be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect” and to “imitate me (Paul) as I imitate Christ”, and to “only do what I (Jesus) see my father doing”, if indeed God does things which we never ought to do and has properties we are never to get close to—such as the genocidal ones [which some claim he has].

    God is infinitely c for all characteristics he has, C = { c }. We are finitely c. Becoming more like God means our C approaches God’s C. But how can I be finitely sovereign and God be infinitely sovereign? Parents know the obvious answer: they let their child make choices they don’t want their children to make, in the hope that the bad choices won’t be that bad, and will sufficiently teach. Does God do this? I think so. The Calvinist says otherwise.

    • Doug Gibson says :

      The theory of 2 opposite wills of God in Calvinism is man’s humanistic attempt to explain why there is evil in the universe without taking either God’s character or the whole of Scripture into account. Calvinism is also based on the view that the future is entirely fixed in every detail. It is this dubious premise that conditions their definition of omniscience.

  2. jesuswithoutbaggage says :

    I consider myself fortunate in that I was never a Calvinist. Calvinist systematic theology is impressive in its scope, but I have never been impressed by it in substance.

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