|The Parable of Misrepresenting Calvinism||Making Calvinism’s TULIP More Intellectually Honest|
|Understanding Language To Understand Calvinism||Calvinism - Simple Math – And Voluntary Free Will|
|Peter Van Inwagen's Consequence Argument And Calvinism||Calvnism – And The Bear In The Woods|
|The Uncertain Sound of Calvinist Language||The Tightrope of Calvinism – A Theology of Good-Evil||Angels of Light in Calvinism?|
The parable of Misrepresenting Calvinism
Once upon a time, an automobile manufacture designed a luxury car with expectations of record-breaking sales. But the car was not without controversy. At highway speeds, the hood assembly would flip up and smash into the windshield. Newspapers ran stories, jokingly calling it the “flying hood car”.
Auto dealers found customers asking: “is this the flying hood car?” Salespersons were instructed to say: “You must be thinking of a different car, because this unit doesn’t have a hood. What it has is an upper engine cover.”
One day a potential customer instantly recognized the car. The salesman corrected him saying: “You must be thinking of a different car because this unit doesn’t have a hood, what it has is an upper engine cover.” But the customer insisted he saw the car in the newspapers. The salesman now frustrated insisted: “I’m sorry sir you must be mistaken”. But still the customer would not relent. At that point the unhappy salesman accused him of misrepresenting the car and politely asked him to leave.
The moral of the story:
Yes, it is possible to misrepresent Calvinism. But perhaps it is more truthful to say you are not representing it the way Calvinists want it to be represented?
In 1536 John Calvin revived Augustinian theology, which from its inception has survived under a dark cloud of controversy within Christianity. Decades of unrelenting scrutiny have shaped Calvinism as a society. And nowhere more can this be observed than with Calvinism’s unique language. As you read articles here, you will soon discover that Calvinist language is heavily reliant upon highly evolved talking points, strategically designed to present Calvinism in a certain light. An extremely hyper reliance upon euphemistic and misleading language, sets Calvinism apart from all other forms of Christianity. And most Calvinists are simply not aware of this aspect of their belief system. So please consider what happens in the Calvinist’s mind when he hears you unpackaging Calvinism without using a select library of highly evolved talking points through which he has always heard it, and with which it is always carefully presented.
It’s not a hood, it’s an upper engine cover. When you don’t say it the way Calvinists are taught to say it, in their minds you are misrepresenting the product.
“What does red lipstick say to you? It’s vampish, powerful and aspirational! Just putting it on is empowering!”Cosmetics are therefore applied, in order to maximize a desired appearance. Similarly, in the world of advertising, cosmetic language is marketing language designed to present a product with a certain appearance.
UNDERSTANDING LANGUAGE TO UNDERSTAND CALVINISM
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Let us say there is a fellow who performs inspections at various manufacturing plants. Each plant is given 6 months notification of the scheduled event. Inspections involve looking at every room, including workspace cubicles and personal offices. And for each room, the agent fills out an inspection form divided into three columns: The good - the bad - the ugly.
Company supervisors instruct workers well in advance, warning them to prepare their workspaces. And being prepared simply means maximizing the good, minimizing the bad, and hiding the ugly.
Maximizing the good, minimizing the bad, and hiding the ugly is a very real characteristic of human behavior, and a critical aspect of Calvinism, which one needs to understand. If one does not appreciate its importance, one is doomed to misunderstand Calvinism from the onset.
EUPHAMISTIC EQUIVICAL COSMETIC:
Women wear all kinds of lipstick and facial colorings. And lipsticks come in all different shades, including many shades of red. A woman can be readily seen wearing a lipstick that in no way represents her true color. And the same holds true for eye and facial cosmetics. Most of these products are not designed to represent the wearer’s true attributes – but rather to produce an artificial representation while hiding intrinsic attributes deemed unappealing. One cosmetic advertisement states this: "What does red lipstick say to you? It’s vampish, powerful and aspirational! Just putting it on is empowering!”
What I wish the reader to understand is that in many ways,
Calvinist language facilitates the same ends.
This is a bold statement – but I will tell you that Calvinist language
is not designed to be a truth-telling language.
It is not a language designed to represent its true underlying
attributes - but rather to produce an embellished appearance. Calvinist language is very much euphemistic
in nature. But when you examine it
closely, I’m certain you will eventually agree, it clearly goes beyond simply
When we think of cosmetics, we understand the good, the bad and the ugly. And in Calvinism’s language, there are certain words or phrases one will occasionally find a Calvinist holding in disdain. Take for example the disdain John Calvin expressed for what he calls “mere” permission in regard to the divine will. The term “permit,” derived from the Latin permettere is defined as: To let pass, to let go, to let loose, to give up, to hand over, to allow, or to grant. Calvin’s conception of God has as a unique characteristic – that God does not do any of these things. For Calvin, conceptions of God letting something pass, letting something go, letting something loose, or handing over something, is simply anathema.
Calvin described this concept of divine permission as “odious”, which in his vernacular means “revolting.” The concept that God would “merely” permit a person to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, is repulsive to many Calvinists. Calvin would insist – God does not “merely” permit anything, for that would render God feeble, and in some way dependent upon the creature. He would most emphatically insist that God is not dependent upon man in any way or for any thing! God is nothing less than absolutely and totally sovereign!
So for the Calvinist’s conception of the divine will, the standardized and commonly understood meaning of “permit” has no application. Interestingly enough, they are consistently inclined to use this term. And whenever they do, it introduces confusion. John Calvin further compounds the confusion by creating an altered definition. Consequently, within Calvinist language “permission” carries two very radically different meanings.
For Calvin, divine permission means to cause – to bring about – or in Reformed vernacular to “render-certain.” Thus, for the Calvinist, the term “permission” as it pertains to the divine will, always equates to “renders-certain.” Whatever God renders-certain at the foundation of the world, He permits. Whatever He does not render-certain at the foundation of the world, He does not permit.
Take for example, the statement: “The mother permitted her child to swim in the pool.” In the common English language, one would hardly mean to infer “The mother caused her child to swim in the pool.” So for the non-Calvinist, equating permission with causation represents a bizarre and totally unanticipated meaning. Calvin himself assumed ownership of the term, accusing its standardized meaning within the language of being deviant. His altered definition, making permission mean causation, was in his mind an authoritative correction.
We will find this is where Calvinism creates its own separate and distinct culture. We should note also that Calvinism puts a very high premium on ascribing to itself the authority over definitions for words, terms, and phrases within language. And I think we will see, that one of Calvinism’s premier powers is in fact its prowess in the use of language.
The practice of creating altered definitions for terms already having standardized meanings introduces confusion. The Calvinist already has the word “cause” available to him from the common English language. He can state: “God causes every evil” or “God renders-certain every evil” any time he wants, without misleading anyone. Why appeal to “permit” – a word, which for him has the wrong meaning. Appealing to terms, which have duplicitous meanings, only introduces unnecessary equivocation. Why would one do this? Perhaps equivocation is in fact the intended effect. At a minimum we have a clear indicator that Calvinism’s language incorporates equivocal terms. And I hope to show the reader, that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Jesus teaches: “Let your communications be yea yea or nay nay – for anything else comes of evil”. And the Apostle Paul teaches: “If the watchman makes an uncertain sound, who is going to discern what sound the watchman actually made”. Equivocation is a logical fallacy that relies on implicitly alternating between the different meanings a single word can have within different contexts. When the shifting of meaning is made obvious, the result is often humorous, and this is a common practice for comedians. But the comedian has no intent to mislead people. However, when shifted meanings are done quietly, the result becomes a “yea nay” language where so many statements become uncertain sounds. What reason would one have for introducing amphibolies, ambiguities, and equivocations into one’s language?
TOTALLY COMFORTABLE MISLEADING OTHERS:
In presenting the evidence we need to recognize Calvinism’s language as a cosmetic rather than a truth-telling language, we start with its equivocal use of permission.
Calvin is convinced that God, at the foundation of the world, first conceives and then renders-certain every event that will ever occur within the human timeline. Whatever God does not render-certain does not come to pass. Whatever God conceives and renders-certain, will infallibly come to pass exactly as He conceived it. So, there is no such thing as God allowing, granting, letting go, or handing over anything. So for example, the statement; “God permits one to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation,” is language the Calvinist will strictly avoid, because it might be misconstrued as God passively handing over (i.e., deferring) this choice to a human. For Calvin, God actively conceives and renders-certain every choice every human will ever make before He brings humanity into existence. So “mere” permission in Calvinism represents an insult to divine sovereignty.
Now if the Calvinist’s language were a truth-telling language, he would avoid the statement “God permits evil” the same exact way because it just as readily instantiates “mere” permission, with equal insult to divine sovereignty. And yet Calvinists are fully content to do so. Why does the Calvinist place such a critical importance on avoiding a misrepresentation with one statement, while perennially guaranteeing it with the other? Interestingly, insulting divine sovereignty is unacceptable in one context, but fully acceptable in the other, making it obvious that reverence for divine sovereignty is of secondary concern. In the context of evil events, the Calvinist presents permission statements, readily construed as “mere” permission – allowing a false representation – and yet he is comfortable doing so.
The fact that he could easily use the word “cause” in this context and thereby avoid speaking confusion, but instead continues to use permission language in such an equivocal way, makes it obvious this mode is intentional. The motivation here is simple to understand: maximize the good, minimize the bad, hide the ugly. This is cosmetic language, where - figuratively speaking - a shade of lipstick called “permission” is applied to hide the underlying color with something more appealing. Apparently “mere” permission is both adamantly rejected and yet effectively convenient.
THE POWER OF LANGUAGE:
Linguists often classify this type of language as “insider” language. Insiders within a guild, group, or association, know what is meant by the altered meanings they create for words and phrases within their statements. Meanings are obscured, and sentence framing guarantees the recipient’s focus is diverted from seeing something that would raise an alarm. For group members, misleading people with insider language is a pragmatic effectual way to promote and defend one’s vested interest in a product, guild, or association.
Let us compare these two statements: (1) God rendered-certain Adam’s choice. (2) God permitted Adam’s choice; It should be easy to see which of these two statements would raise an alarm in the mind of the average Christian. But for the Calvinist, statement (2) functions as “insider” language, because for him “permission” and “rendered-certain” carry the same meaning. So, for the Calvinist, statement (2) is just another way of communicating statement (1). But the “outsider” who is unaware of an altered meaning, is led to assume “mere” permission is what is meant. This language avoids raising an alarm the Calvinist would prefer not to raise. It is a pragmatic use of language. But it results in a “yea nay” and an “uncertain sound,” of which both Jesus and Paul would disapprove.
What I wish the reader to see is this slight of words tactic is a repeating pattern within Calvinist language. Calvinist statements regarding God knowing, permitting, altering, or restraining future events - as well as statements regarding God responding with mercy or wrath; are all designed to produce the same equivocal, cosmetic, misleading effect. They function as lipstick, mascara, and rouge, in the form of highly scripted talking points. They mislead because the focus is on producing an acceptable appearance. Using language that is strategically misleading becomes a necessary evil, because the first and foremost rule is to maximize the good, minimize the bad, and hide the ugly.
This model of language is as normal to the Calvinist as any form of gentle euphemistic language you or I would ever enunciate. And Calvinists do not perceive themselves as purposefully misleading others. They’ve simply evolved a library of strategically scripted talking points, which have become highly effectual in promoting and defending the doctrine. And the empowerment one derives from reciting highly refined – and often braggadocios - talking points, becomes a cherished part of the system. On an occasion when the misleading nature of the language becomes visible, an unflinching patriotism disallows its recognition, even when Jesus and scripture teach otherwise. Words have power. And everyone knows the power of cosmetics. So power increases with one’s skill in the use of cosmetic language.
If you’ve ever heard a Christian admit he doesn’t understand Calvinism, or a Calvinist claim the doctrine is misrepresented, let me assure you, this aspect of the language is a predominant underlying reason.
GOD KNOWS ADAM WILL DISOBEY:
Appeals to “divine knowledge” will follow the same pattern as “permission” language - where foreknowledge also has a duplicitous meaning, and therefore becomes equivocal. As it was with the term “permit” Calvin has a similar disdain for ascribing foreknowledge to God where the meaning carried is “knowledge by observation.” To say that God looks into the future and observes Adam will disobey, and God thereby “knows” Adam will disobey can again be revolting. God does not simply look into the future, and thereby learn Adam will disobey. Such a meaning of divine knowledge would again compromise God’s sovereignty, and Calvin himself would harshly reprimand it.
Again, just as “permission” language carries Calvinism’s hidden “insider” meaning of “rendered-certain,” so does divine knowledge. Every proposition that God knows as true – is true because God renders-certain that proposition as true. Every proposition that God knows as false - is false because God rendered-certain that proposition as false. Whatever proposition God does not render-certain as true – is therefore false.
Similarly, whatever event God foreknows will have existence – has existence because God rendered-certain that event have existence. Whatever event God foreknows will not have existence – does not have existence because God did not render-certain that event’s existence.
Thus, divine knowledge, just like divine permission, equates to rendered-certain. Therefore, in Calvinism statement (1) God knows what Adam will choose - is equivalent to statement (2) God rendered-certain what Adam would choose. But you will have to wait long and hard to ever hear a Calvinist state: “God rendered-certain Adam’s choice to disobey,” even though that is exactly what the doctrine stipulates.
The statements I have just enunciated concerning the meaning of divine knowledge within Calvinism are “truth-telling” statements for the Calvinist. Yet he will invariably not be comfortable making many of those statements. Instead he will say: “God knew Adam would disobey.” And again, he does so knowing the recipient is guaranteed to misconstrue divine knowledge as via observation. The statement portrays a misleading depiction of a God standing next to Adam merely observing Adam’s disobedience. When the truth-telling depiction is a God who determines what choice Adam will be allowed to make, and thereby renders-certain his disobedience. Making it the case that Adam’s choice was fated and determined by factors outside of Adam’s control.
And again, this model of misleading language is not only perfectly normal to the Calvinist, it is fully expected of him, and becomes an integral part of his personal efficacy in promoting and defending the doctrine. It also serves as a sign of his loyalty and commitment.
So we see the Calvinist will refrain from enunciating a truth-telling statement, which would minimize misconstrual – and opt instead to enunciate a statement he knows is guaranteed to mislead. He avoids presenting the true color of divine knowledge consistent with the doctrine. He instead applies a false color masking the underlying color, even though doing so abrogates truth-telling in favor of appearance. So we observe the Calvinist totally comfortable making statements guaranteed to mislead. And again, the motivation is simple to understand: maximize the good, minimize the bad, hide the ugly.
GOD CHOSE NOT TO RESTRAIN ADAM FROM SINNING:
At this point, I hope the reader is starting to see a repeating pattern. Calvinism’s use of “restraining” language again follows the same template – it is designed to mislead by presenting a false appearance.
Per Calvin’s doctrine of the decree - which is again rendered-certain – it is said to be immutable. In other words, at the foundation of the world, once an event has been rendered-certain, God knows that event will come to pass because He rendered-certain that event come to pass. Consequently, anything that would alter or prevent that event from coming to pass would therefore falsify or negate what God knows. And this result is unacceptable because it would falsify divine omniscience. Suffice to say, not even God himself can at any point in the human timeline, falsify or negate what He at the foundation of the world knows to be true concerning a future event He rendered-certain.
Therefore, in Calvinism we can see two categories of future events. Those that are rendered-certain, and those that are not. Those events that are rendered-certain are events, which God knows will come to pass exactly as He rendered-certain – and nothing can alter or prevent them from doing so without compromising divine knowledge and falsifying divine omniscience. Therefore, in Calvinism it is logically impossible for God to alter or prevent events, which are rendered-certain. Even if He wanted to prevent or alter such an event, He couldn’t. And thus, in Calvinism, the idea that God would seek to restrain events - borders on the edge of laughable absurdity.
If God – at the foundation of the world - wants an event in the future to come to pass in a specific way, manner or sequence, He has only to render-certain it do so. What rational reason would He have, after having rendered-certain a very specific way, specific manner, and specific sequence of a given event – to then restrain it? A perfect being like God would not be like the unfortunate man who unwittingly takes a chainsaw to a tree only to watch it fall down on his house. Everything a perfect being renders-certain would be rendered-certain perfectly.
Now this leaves us with events not rendered-certain. And these are events, which according to Calvin, by their very nature, are not going to come to pass anyway, simply because they were not rendered-certain. So, what divine rational would there be for a perfect being like God to seek to restrain an event He knows is not going to come to pass? Is God silly enough to want to restrain something – when He knows there is nothing to restrain? We should be able to see why this line of reasoning is farcical.
In Calvinism, the only rational reason we are left with for God wanting to restrain an event is that He desired to choreograph Himself interacting with man, in such a way as to present a false appearance of having not rendered-certain every microsecond. What rational reason would God want to lead humans to believe He had not already rendered-certain all of their thoughts and choices - when He knows that is false? The answer is simple. Again, the Calvinist wants to present a cosmetic presentation of God restraining man from some sin or evil, producing a cosmetic color designed to hide the underlying true color – that God did in fact render-certain every twist and turn of every minute aspect of every part of every event. It’s no wonder then that non-Calvinists look at this picture, and readily see a theater or a puppet show. So, we can see how “restraining” language serves the same cosmetic purpose.
THEOLOGICAL DETERMINISM OR NATURAL DETERMINISM:
In the Greek New Testament, the word for “God” is THEOS. Theological Determinism is the thesis that a THEOS determines everything, which comes to pass, everything that has existence, and everything that does not have existence. Natural Determinism is a similar thesis – except Nature is the determiner rather than a THEOS.
Again, in Calvinism, we will find the same pattern with “Determinism” language we’ve seen with the others. When it comes to good events such as salvation – the Calvinist has an urgency to ensure his statements are not misconstrued. He will go out of his way to insist clearly and unambiguously – God is the determiner of one’s salvation – not man. However, when it comes to sinful or evil events, where the same exact truth-telling should be at play – he will invariably appeal to Natural Determinism and omit all references to the THEOS as the controlling determiner of nature. His statements will exclude any reference to nature being explicitly and exclusively determined in every part by the THEOS. These statements are crafted to attribute events to nature, giving the cosmetic appearance of nature being the sole determiner – which the Calvinist knows is false. Again, he is comfortable applying a false color over the true underlying color.
When you reject this language, he will insist that Calvinism holds both the THEOS and nature accountable. But he knows that nature doesn’t have the power to render-certain anything, or make any event come to pass infalliby. He knows that nature doesn’t have the power to determine what it will be or what it will do – only the THEOS has such power. And he knows that Natural Determinism and Theological Determinism mutually exclude one another - if one is true, the other is false. And yet he presents a cosmetic representation where the true determiner -the THEOS – is conspicuously hidden behind the eye shadow of Natural Determinism. And nature is thus presented as the sole determiner of the event. This is nothing more than a deflection strategy. And the motivation is again the same: maximize the good, minimize the bad, hide the ugly.
And when you see through the ruse, don’t be surprised if he interprets this as your inability to understand or represent his theology. What you are not accurately representing is the euphemistic, equivocal, cosmetic language with which he enunciates it. Again, I remind the reader that this cosmetic language is for the Calvinist, a highly empowering and cherished part of the whole system. It is a critical part of the tradition. When you don’t enunciate his doctrine using the same misleading semantics and language patterns – in his mind you are misrepresenting the doctrine. The truth is you simply refuse to accept a library of self-contradicting talking points.
GOD MUST MANIFEST HIS WRATH TO FULLY DISPLAY HIS MERCY:
Statements like this are common within Calvinist language. But again, when we examine the underlying construct, we find the common understanding of mercy and wrath within the English language are understood to be responses. And for Calvin, God does not “merely” permit man to do something and then respond to it. For Calvin, God “causes” – “renders-certain” man to do this or that. So what is God in this case actually responding to? In Calvin’s system, things which men and angels do are exactly what God Himself conceived and choreographed them to do. Nothing more, and nothing less than what is rendered-certain is permitted or made available to the creature.
John Calvin makes this clear, in the Institutes:
The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly....can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as He... commands...they are not only bound by His fetters but are even forced to do Him service.
“[The] wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.”
“The hand of God rules the interior affections….[they can do nothing] unless he worked in their hearts to make them will before they acted.”
“Men can deliberately do nothing unless He inspire it”
It is obvious here that whatever men or angels do is first conceived and then rendered-certain at the foundation of the world before men and angels exist. Since men and angels don’t exist at that point, they obviously have no say in the matter of what they will be or do. Therefore, it is God Himself who first conceives and establishes what things they will be and do. It logically follows, any response God would have in this case, would be a response to the very things He himself conceived and rendered-certain. If His response is mercy, then He is simply applying mercy to what He conceived and rendered-certain. If His response is wrath, then He is simply applying wrath to what He himself conceived and rendered-certain. So divine mercy and wrath in this case is simply God responding to Himself.
And yet Calvinist appeals to divine mercy and divine wrath consistently paint a picture of creaturely autonomy that doesn’t exist in Calvin’s world. So again, any appeals to divine mercy and divine wrath simply constitute cosmetic language designed to present an appearance that for the Calvinist is false yet deemed acceptable, while hiding the underlying true color. In this case, a lipstick called mercy, and an eye shadow called wrath.
WHAT IS ALTRUISTIC DISHONESTY:
Dr. Bella Depaulo Social Scientist, in her book: The Hows and Whys of Lies writes:
“Altruistic dishonesty occurs when a person is working to protect a ‘target’. A high percentage of people who rationalize the use of dishonest language, experience some sub-level degree of discomfort, but which is effectively outweighed by rationalizations. And they generally do not regard their lies as lies. And this is especially true with people who are working to protect a ‘target’.”
These are called “other-oriented” or “altruistic” dishonesties. Protecting the ‘target’ allows them to perceive themselves as honest rather than dishonest. For the sake of protecting the ‘target,’ a high percentage report they would have felt worse if they had been honest, because honesty would have revealed things about the “target” they do not want people to see.”
I think Dr. Depaulo is helping us connect some critical dots. Altruism is in fact an excellent way to understand Calvinism’s euphemistic, equivocal, and cosmetic language. A battered wife may choose to restrain herself from communicating anything that may paint her husband in a bad light – even if she knows what she is communicating is false rather than truth-telling. She is simply protecting the ‘target.’ How much more would a Calvinist refrain from communicating anything that would in any way reflect badly on God or the Gospel. He would feel worse if his language were truth-telling - because it would reveal things about the ‘target’ he doesn’t want people to see.
WHAT IS AS-IF THINKING AND AS-IF LANGUAGE:
Peter Van Inwagen in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will
“Determinism may now be defined: it is the thesis that there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.”
John Calvin in the Institutes (Vol. i. p.193) writes:
“All future things being uncertain to us, we hold them in suspense, AS THOUGH they might happen either one way or another.”
John Calvin in Concerning the eternal predestination of God writes:
“Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, each ought to so to apply himself to his office, AS THOUGH nothing were determined about any part.”
Firstly, we understand absolutely and unambiguously that for Calvin absolutely nothing comes to pass or comes into existence without being rendered-certain.
Calvinist R.C. Sproul in Chosen by God writes:
“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, God is not God.”
Calvinist Paul Helm’s in The Providence of God writes:
“Not only is every atom and molecule, every thought and desire, kept in being by God, but every twist and turn of each of these is under the direct control of God.”
Since we know that Calvin holds it as absolutely true, that the THEOS determines everything in every part – why is Calvin instructing his disciples to apply themselves to their office as though that is false? We assume Calvin, in accordance to his scheme, is logical enough to deduce that a predestined event can only resolve to one physically possible future. Why then is he compelled to instruct his disciples to treat this “divine truth” AS-IF it were false?
In my examination of Calvinist thinking, I have come to see this also as a consistent pattern. From Calvin’s very wording, I call this pattern AS-IF thinking. The THEOS determines everything, about everything, and in every part, AS-IF He doesn’t. And the proposition that every event represents one physically possible future is true AS-IF it is false.
With this thinking pattern, what we end up with is: Theological Determinism AS-IF Natural Determinism. Humans have absolutely no autonomy AS-IF they do. Every twist and turn of every human thought and action is under the direct control of God AS-IF they aren’t. Libertarian freewill does not exist AS-IF it does. Mere permission does not exist AS-IF it does. Adam’s choice to obey was not permitted AS-IF it was. Divine knowledge of Adam’s disobedience is AS-IF by observation. And the Calvinist has no real certainty of his election AS-IF he does. Thus, we have as a consistent language pattern: True AS-IF false, and false AS-IF true.
I believe when you’ve analyzed Calvinist language long enough, you will clearly see AS-IF thinking is ubiquitous. What does Calvin use to justify AS-IF thinking? He justifies it based on the fact that the Calvinist doesn’t have foreknowledge and therefore doesn’t know what his next thought will be.
What kind of emotional or psychological state will he be left with, when he considers that his very next thought is determined by factors outside his control, his every neurological impulse rendered-certain before he is born, and everything he knows about himself may not be a real reflection of himself. Will he not get the sense that he was designed to function like a puppet or a robot?
Jesus said: “I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
And yet vast populations of people think and believe falsehoods. Obviously for the Calvinist, vast populations of people are rendered-certain to have false thoughts and false beliefs. How then can the disciple of Calvin know what is truth, if his every neurological impulse is rendered-certain before he is born, each appearing in his brain occurring outside of his control? He can’t believe the gospel is true by weighing the evidence and coming to his own conclusion, because that would require a degree of mental autonomy that doesn’t exist for him. His thoughts and beliefs were never his to determine but were fully predestined before he was born. Is it true that he is elect, standing on the side of truth with Jesus? He doesn’t know, because that knowledge is held behind the veil of the secret council of God.
The bottom line here becomes evident. No one can live out this type of belief system with rational coherence. Every determinist who believes he has no degree of autonomy has to live AS-IF he does. Every determinist has to at some level make-believe he can think for himself. Every determinist has to at some level make-believe when he approaches a fork in the garden path; the ability to go in either direction is truly available to him. Every determinist Christian has to at some level make-believe that when God commanded Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit, God in fact made choosing obedience an available option to Adam – and not simply present it as an illusion that didn’t really exist, because whatever is not rendered-certain does not exist.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BURDEN OF DETERMINISM COMPATIBILISM:
Immanuel Kant in Critique of Practical Reason writes:
“Compatibilism is a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved lives problems with petty word-jugglery.”
Dr. William James in The Dilemma of Determinism writes:
“Compatibilism is a quagmire of evasion. The Compatibilists strategy relies upon stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism. They make a pretense of restoring the caged bird to liberty with one hand, while with the other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.”
Dr. Ravi Zacharias, in one of his talks, relates a story of a presentation given by Stephen Hawking, which Ravi attended. Hawking, a staunch determinist, was asked what he concluded and how he resolved believing in determinism. He decided after looking at the matter for many years that he still believed. But he then proceeded to shock his audience by stating that he had resolved his need to live AS-IF determinism were false.
So, we ought to be able to see why Calvin instructs his disciples to make-believe nothing is determined in any part. It’s a matter of psychology and maintaining a daily semblance of mental normalcy. This may be fine for an Atheist, but the burden it puts on anyone who believes in God is compounded, because it requires a state of double-mindedness. And it presents a reflection of a God who is the author of evil.
In order to avoid this consequence, the unfortunate solution for the Calvinist has become AS-IF thinking. And the outward expression of AS-IF thinking is a “yea nay” language in which things are explicitly asserted as true one minute and presented AS-IF false the next. Or things explicitly asserted as false one minute are the next minute presented AS-IF true. It is language, which communicates an “uncertain sound”. What Immanuel Kant and William James would call “word- jugglery,” and a “quagmire of evasion.”
WHAT IS DOUBLE-SPEAK:
William Lutz, an American linguist, in an interview on CSPAN concerning his book DoubleSpeak states:
“Doublespeak is language designed to evade.....to make the unpleasant appear pleasant, the unattractive appear attractive, or at least tolerable. Basically, it’s language that pretends to communicate, but really doesn't. It is language designed to mislead, while pretending not to. Doublespeak is not a slip of the tongue or a mistake in use of language. It’s exactly the opposite. It is language used by people who are very intelligent, and very sophisticated in the use of language. And know that you can do an awful lot with language.
Doublespeak is not a matter of subjects and verbs agreeing; it is a matter of words and facts agreeing. Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said or left unsaid, and what really is. It is the incongruity between the word and the referent, between seem and be, between the essential function of language—communication — and what doublespeak does — mislead, distort, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.
Double-speak works by taking advantage of the inherent implicitness of meaning conveyed through everyday language.
It takes advantage of the fact that normal everyday language use is fundamentally cooperative. Doublespeak exploits these principles to do just the opposite: to appear like honest communication while actually hiding incriminating facts. “
MISLEADING - UNINTENTIONAL - AND YET OBVIOUS:
Dr. Depaulo in her book The Many Faces of Lies writes:
“We define deception as a deliberate attempt to mislead others. Falsehoods communicated by people who are mistaken or self-deceived are not lies, but for the deceived person they are literal truths. However, literal truths that are designed to mislead others are in fact lies.”
I have asked numerous ex-Calvinists whether during the time they were Calvinists they ever had a conscious awareness of using deceptive language. All have insisted never having done so. And it is not their perception that current Calvinists today use language with the intent to deceive. But this does not diminish the fact that the language is in fact misleading. And nothing prevents this aspect of Calvinist language from being regularly noted.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – in its article on Theological Determinism writes this concerning the language used by Calvinist Paul Helm:
“Paul Helm, another staunch theological determinist of the Calvinist variety, simply says that God’s providence is ‘extended to all that He has created’ (1993, p. 39). The problem with such characterizations is that they are subject to multiple interpretations, some of whom would be affirmed by theological indeterminists.”
Dr. William Lane Craig, in his interactions with Calvinist Paul Kjoss Helseth, in the authoring of the book Four Views on Divine Providence writes:
“A A. Hodge's six-point summary of the classical Reformed view of divine providence, quoted by Paul Kjoss Helseth under ‘The True View of Providence Summarized’ falls short of expressing the radical distinctives of the Reformed position that Helseth defends.”
Dr. Jerry Walls, in his presentation What’s wrong with Calvinism states:
"If Calvinists didn’t rely so heavily on misleading rhetoric, their theology would lose all credibility within two years.”
Norman Geisler in his book Chosen but Free writes:
“Some Calvinists use smoke-and-mirror tactics to avoid the harsh implications of their view” (pg 104)
“This is done by redefining terms and Theological Doublespeak” (pg 261)
Laurence M. Vance in The Other Side of Calvinism writes about:
“The confusing labyrinth of Calvinist terminology” (pg 556)
Micah Coate in his book The Cultish side of Calvinism writes:
“Calvinists arguments are buried in theological and grammatical doublespeak.”
Ronnie W. Rogers, in his book Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist writes:
As mentioned in several places throughout this book, within Calvinism there is a problem of what I call doubletalk. But I am not implying immoral or clandestine trickery. Nor am I suggesting conspiratorial deceit. I must admit that upon reflection on my time being a Calvinist, I did the same thing. I did not do this out ill motive or intent to deceive, or because of a lack of desire to be faithful to the scripture. Nor do I ascribe this to my Calvinist brothers. As a matter of fact, I did it because I believed Calvinism and the Scripture; and this brought about conflicts, or at least unconscious responses to the conflicts, which I now see as doubletalk. This doubletalk obscured the harsh realities of Calvinism and the inconsistencies between Scripture and Calvinism. ”
Authors David L. Allen, Eric Hankins, and Adam Harwood in their book Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of "Traditional" Southern Baptist Soteriology write:
“This is a clear example of what I call Calvinism's double-talk. By double-talk, I specifically and only mean thinking....speaking in such a way that obscures the disquieting realities of Calvinism. If a person accepts these realities, then he can be a knowledgeable and consistent Calvinist. But if one is unwilling to face them and accept them, he cannot be a consistent Calvinist. Additionally, I am not calling anyone a double-talker nor is my use of this term intended in any sense to be a pejorative.”
Gilbert VanOrder Jr in his book Calvinism's Conflicts: An Examination of the Problems in Reformed Theology writes:
“Calvinists then have to resort to double-talk in order to explain how human responsibility is still involved even though it isn’t. If a man can do nothing to change his condition, then he cannot be held responsible for changing his condition”.
Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely in his book Calvinism a closer look writes:
"Calvinist and Non-Calvinist do not share the same meaning of words..... Remember, Calvinism is merely the invoking of associative meaning, not real meaning. By ‘not real’ I mean that the meaning is destroyed in the overall thought of the clause or sentence. For, of course, at one level the Calvinist understands the general meaning of words. But when he strings them together in such a way that it forms an idea that is false...
This is what I used to do as a Calvinist. I liken these non-sense statements, or propositions, to the riding of a rocking horse..... Thus, I would go back and forth in seesaw motion, lest on the one hand I find myself accusing God of insufficient sovereignty, or on the other hand find myself accusing God of authoring sin. All the while, there remained an illusion of movement towards truth, when in fact there was no real movement at all. At length I would allow the springs of dialectical tension to rest the rocking horse in the center, and then I would declare as harmonious propositions, which in fact, were totally contradictory to each other. Calvinist riders still ride out this scenario.”
Francis Hodgson in his book The Calvinistic Doctrine of Predestination Examined and Refuted, 1855 writes:
“The apology for this gross misapplication of language…..is found in their distressing emergency.
In no other way can they, with any plausibility, meet their opponents.”
We have a theology, which robs its adherents of “mere” permission, all creaturely autonomy, and divine knowledge via observation. The Calvinist instinctively realizes that genuine responsibility is directly proportional to genuine autonomy. A man cannot be held responsible for how the earth turns or when the moon rises, because these things are utterly out of his control. And the Calvinist internally observes this principle throughout the general narrative of scripture.
Does the master commend his slave for doing the very thing he commanded him to do? I think not! “ Luke 17:9
Thus, an element of his doctrine which he desperately seeks to escape, is the fact that when taken to its logical conclusions, every aspect of man including his every neurological impulse, are determined by factors outside his control.
So what is this poor soul to do, except craft semantic masquerades of what he finds wanting. Thus, his language serves as a red flag that the Calvinist himself internally recognizes certain things are missing in his theology. It is missing patterns he finds consistently weaved throughout the entire fabric of scripture. He becomes like a barren woman, who speaks AS-IF she is not, in order to manufacture in mental imagery, what she lacks in real life. Credibility and plausible-deniability otherwise lacking, are carefully crafted in the form of semantic illusions.
I hope my readers have found this informative. As has already been stated, I am convinced that at the most fundamental level, one must first understand the nature of Calvinism’s cosmetic language. Understanding its language helps one to understand its psychology. And from there, to understand why Calvinists often complain their system is misunderstood or misrepresented. Misunderstanding a theology should be fully expected when misrepresentation is built into its language.
Calvinists and non-Calvinists attempting to communicate with each other are often speaking two different languages, like two ships attempting to exchange cargo in the dark of night while passing each other. Calvinism is its own unique culture, having its own unique “insider” language, where many words, terms and phrases have duplicitous, illusory, and/or amorphous meanings. When a Calvinist communicates, he often presents by inference, conceptions that are the logical inverse of what he explicitly believes.
Eventually this Doublespeak language becomes his normalcy, and he speaks it without even thinking. Unless the non-Calvinist understands these aspects of the language, and understands the underlying psychology which drives them, he is ill equipped to ever truly understand Calvinism.
CALVINISM - SIMPLE MATH – AND VOLUNTARY FREE WILL
Calvinist student to Math Teacher:
Teacher, I’m having some trouble figuring out percentages, can you help me?
Sure – let’s take an example you will be familiar with.
According to Calvinism, what percentage of whatsoever comes to pass is determined at the foundation of the world before people are created?
100% of whatsoever comes to pass is determined at the foundation of the world exclusively by God before people are created.
Since 100% of whatsoever comes to pass - is exclusively determined before people are created – what percentage does that leave left over for any person to determine?
Well – we would subtract 100% from whatsoever comes to pass.
And that mathematically would leave zero percent left over for any person to determine.
So, in Calvinism - numerically speaking - what percentage of things in life are up to you to determine?
Well – I guess these numbers tell me that zero things are up to me.
So let me also ask you a question.
Is it possible for you to volunteer something that is not up to you to volunteer?
No – I guess not!
So simple math tells you - that you cannot volunteer your will – because 100% of everything having to do with your will – was already determined before you were ever created. Therefore nothing about your will is up to you.
So, learning how to calculate percentages has empowerd you to understand that zero percent of your will - is the amount left over which is up to you to volunteer.
Are you feeling more confident about calculating percentages now?
Yes thank you for helping me figure that out!
Math is very empowering!
PETER VAN INWAGEN'S CONSEQUENCE ARGUMENT AND CALVINISM
If Universal Divine Causal Determinism is true:
1) Our every perception, impulse, choice, desire, and action, are the consequences of divine decrees which occurred at the foundation of the world - having been determined at a point in which we do not yet exist.
2) Additionally, those perceptions, impulses, thoughts, choices, desires and actions, are all framed within the boundaries of nature, which exist at the time in which they are actualized in our lives.
3) But then it is not UP TO US what immutable decrees were established at the foundation of the world before we were born.
4) And neither is it UP TO US what attributes of nature - including our own - were infallibly decreed to exist at any instance in time.
5) Therefore, the consequences of these things are not UP TO US.
CALVINISM – AND THE BEAR IN THE WOODS
Anyone who has taken courses in critical, logical, or rational thinking,
may eventually hear the story about the bear in the woods who loved to debate.
One day he was challenged by the birds, on the question of what creature in the woods could travel the fastest. The birds argued they did because they could fly.
Now the bear happened to be the most subtlest beast in the field. So he couldn’t allow himself to be seen losing a debate. And faced with the bird’s argument, knowing logic was not on his side, he needed to concoct a way to win. So, putting paw on chin, he began to think about an invention that might work.
A-HAH! He said to himself.
Then He climbed up onto a tall rock and announced he would prove that he could fly. He jumped off the rock, and while falling waved his paws in the air mimicking the birds.
There!....He said with satisfaction – I can fly also!
Unfortunately the birds were not savvy enough to see through the ruse.
You see the bear did not present a logical argument – what he presented was a semantic argument.
He altered the meaning of the term “fly” so that it applied to waving the arms while falling.
The birds went away believing they had lost the debate – but the bear had simply tricked them.
The moral of the story:
When you’re engaged with a Calvinist – don’t be like the un-savvy birds. Scrutinize every term the Calvinist uses. More often than not – you will find he doesn’t have logic on his side – and a vast amount of the time he’s simply deploying a semantic maneuver – in which he equivocates on the meaning of a term or two.
In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird!