Monday, August 21, 2006

If exclusivism then Calvinism

The folks over at Triablogue have provided an argument that if Christian exclusivism is true, the Calvinism must also be true.
Makes sense; if the only people who are saved are born-again Christians, then some people certainly, as it were, have been "shut up into disobedience" through God's choice.

But before declaring victory for this argument, the Triabloggers need to take on a lion, none other than William Lane Craig, who argues for Christian exclusivism using a Molinist perspective.

Of course, my inclination is to say

If exclusivism then Calvinism.
Not Calvinism.
Therefore not exclusivism.

But then that's just me.


Anonymous said...

There was some discussion over at Pyromaniacs regarding Lane's interpretation of Romans 1-2, in relation to the Meacham interview.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Here is the original blog entry

Patrick Chan said...

I'd be interested in hearing the T-bloggers on this topic as well; I've rarely failed to benefit from their writings in some way. In the meantime, this article (PDF) offers a critique of Molinism from the Reformed position.

Jason Pratt said...

Then there are those of us who are inclined to argue: not exclusivism, therefore neither Calvinism nor Arminianism. {g}

But then, I think (on the larger scale) the exclusivism/inclusivism debate has been the victim of a false dichotomy, which helps explain in passing why camps within exclusivism (Calv vs. Armin for instance) _both_ sometimes seem to be making good arguments (as well as fallacious ones) on mutually exclusive points.

Jason Pratt

Mike Darus said...

I suspect the Calvinist would complain that you are confusing two meanings of the word "will" between (1) and (2). In (1), the meaning is "decree". In (2), the more likely meaing is "desire". The Calvinist would say that God does not decree everything that he desires. This is sometimes refreed to as the difference between the "decretive will of God" and the "permissive will of God."

Jason Pratt said...

Actually, the Calvinist would probably start paying attention to contexts here (if not elsewhere {wry g}), and reply first that based on the surrounding discussion in 2 Peter 3, what is being reassured is that God won't let the Church be altogether destroyed by the persecutors, but instead will allow it to continue functioning until the end (one way or another {nodding to the pre-millenial rapturists}{g}) in order that all _of us_ (as the Greek pantas there can be read) may come to repentence. A Calvinist could fit that easily into meaning the predetermined number whom God intends to save.

The Calv will be even more likely to go this route, once he realizes the Greek verb for 'intention' or 'purposing' there, is used for active resolve. (Otherwise, they'd be denying the infallibility of God in regard to salvation.)

(I may not agree with certain portions of Calv theology, but I'm fair enough to call a verse in their favor if that's the direction it points. {s})

Jason Pratt said...

The Cavinist is going to have a harder time with 1 Tim 2:4 (and contexts), though. The whole gist of that section is that we should be praying for the sake of everyone, including for all those in high command (which in Paul's day would be a very daring thing to say, since he's talking about high Roman officials up to and including Nero)--specifically on the ground first that God wills (thelei) all men (including them) to be saved, itself (also) grounded on the affirmation of the Shema (God is one) and on the affirmation of one Mediator between men and God, the man Christ Jesus. (Note the presence of a primitive creedal form here.)

Now, the distinction between the decretive and permissive will of God doesn't help the Calvinist here, since either way God is either decreeing or permitting all men to be saved; which Paul is using as a ground for why _we_ should be praying for all men. (Compare and contrast with the sort of theology represented by John Piper, for instance, where the only reason _we_ are supposed to try our best to hope for everyone is because, not being omniscience ourselves, we don't know whom God has pre-damned.)

I do distinguish somewhat, between the permissive will and the desiring will (ex. God permits sin, but cannot be desiring sin per se); but I think this will not help the Calvinist either here, unless he goes the route of open theism, which (aside from he and I both agreeing that to be a heretical position) is going to directly contradict one of the main Calvinist points: that whomever God intends to save, He succeeds in saving. (Irresistible grace, etc.)

This is because there is no distinction made by Paul in his reference to all mankind here (panto_n anthro_po_n). If God desires everyone (including the 'elect') to be saved, yet His desire in this is _ultimately_ frustrated (per Calvinism--and per Arminianism, too, by the way {g}), then technically it would be possible for His desire concerning the salvation of the 'elect' to be ultimately frustrated, too.

It gets back to whether we should be agreeing with Satan that he has in fact won (even if his victory is only pyhrric, so to speak. {s}) If we claim that he has and shall always certainly continue to frustrate the desire of God, then in effect Satan _has_ become "like the most high"; a creature has become an independent fact, creating a cosmological dualism situation by force of his own will, and has forced God to give up hope.

I say this is impossible at several levels, and that we shouldn't be agreeing with Satan that he has in fact won his rebellion. It is one thing to go against the will of God due to God's permission (thus abusing the grace of God); it is another thing to _make_ God give us up for lost. The first may always be rectified so long as God continues to act in hope toward the rebel, even if the rebel continues for 'the eons of the eons' beyond the sight of what has been revealed. The second, though, involves accepting at least one technical heresy (and I would say several such).

Jason Pratt