Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Science-Fiction Story

A Science Fiction Story

John Calvin:

"Those therefore whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them..." (Institutes, III, xxiii, 1)

"...the divine will... is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists ... God, whose pleasure it is to inflict punishment ... no other cause can be adduced... than the secret counsel of God..." (Institutes III, xxiii, 4)

"If we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will." (Institutes, III, xxii, 11)

"I... ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy unless it so seemed meet with God [sic]? ... The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree... God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it." (Institutes, III, xxiii, 7)

"Paul teaches us that the ruin of the wicked is not only foreseen by the Lord, but also ordained by his counsel and his will... not only the destruction of the wicked is foreknown, but that the wicked themselves have been created for this very end -- that they may perish" (Commentaries Romans 9:18)

"... he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction...God ... arranges and disposes of them at his pleasure... all events take place by his sovereign appointment" (Institutes III, xxiii, 6)

"...each has been created for one or other of these ends, [therefore] we say that he has been predestined to life or to death" (Institutes III, xxi, 5)

Imagine a science fiction story in which in a future time an advanced group of scientists learn how to create human-like creatures. Imagine that some of these creatures are created to be tortured for the pleasure of these scientists. Would we not conclude that the scientists in our fictional story were immoral, cruel, and even sadistic for doing such a thing? Has not the Calvinist painted an even worse portrait of God?

"It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the 'elect or chosen ones.' It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case." (R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God, 36)

("Not all that loving toward them" may be one of the greatest theological understatements of all time!)



Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Antonio writes, “Imagine a science fiction story in which in a future time an advanced group of scientists learn how to create human-like creatures. Imagine that some of these creatures are created to be tortured for the pleasure of these scientists. Would we not conclude that the scientists in our fictional story were immoral, cruel, and even sadistic for doing such a thing? Has not the Calvinist painted an even worse portrait of God?”

Moses writes, “And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.”

Antonio, how could God “rejoice” to destroy someone? Is Moses writing “science fiction?”

October 05, 2005 10:56 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Jonathan quotes Moses saying:

“And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.”

Talk about a faulty parallel. The passage Moorehead quotes isn't referring, necessarily, to eternal destruction and damnation--rather temporal destruction (physical death).

Antonio is highlighting, by quoting Calvin, the reality of reprobation and eternal damnation. Two different contexts of theological discussion.

Moorehead's comparison is non-sequiter.

October 30, 2005 1:39 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I am sorry that people are bashing you. It seems like you are just a person who won't go along with a doctrine that is not painting the Bible's picture of our wonderful, merciful God. The mad scientist illustration you have given is great!

November 05, 2005 7:13 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...


Thank you for your comment.

I have been studying Calvinism for some time and, to me, it brings reproach and shame to the God of the Scriptures.

I saw on your blog how you were wondering about the Hunt/White book.

There are several books that I could recommend to you. Give me a jingle on my email:


God bless you!


November 06, 2005 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would we not conclude...

This is the most common arguement I hear as a "criticism" of Calvinism. The only problem is that it places the disciple above the master. To ask "would we not conclude" is to place human rationalism above the Word of God. I ask not, "would we not conclude," but rather, "what does Scripture say?" That is the far superior question.

I don't see how it can be believed that God desires the physical destruction of His enemies but not the eternal and still maintain consistency in argument. This would appear to open even greater doctrinal/theological holes, as we then have a God who delights (yes, that word is used!) in the physical destruction of His enemies, but then at the last moment decides that their eternal state is too important and lets them in to heaven after having lived and died in full rebellion against Him. That would be thoroughly heretical, but is the natural conclussion of such a comment. It also flies in the face of too much Scripture and undermines the doctrine of hell - all for the sake of a palatable God!

Another point is that God's mercy found in the fact that ANY are saved. The more I study and meditate on the dotrine of justification, the more precious it becomes, as I have done nothing to gain favor or merit with God, but yet He has bestowed the righteousness of Christ on an unworthy and condemned sinner. Therein lies God's mercy.

In terms of the overal philosophical argument, Adoniram Judson (missionary to Burma) came up against this in his missionary work. A Buddhist monk said he could not believe in a God who sent His son to die a horrible death. Judson responded (approximate qoute) - "You are not a disciple then. For the disciple does not ask what is pleasant or reasonable, but what is required of him by his master." I do not ask whether God condemning sinners to hell is reasonable or pleasant, but I take it on faith that it is true and demanded by God's very nature, as in condemning those who cursed His name in rebellion, He will be vindicated before all of mankind. Ultimately, God's response must be what He says in Job 38:1-7 -

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?'"

And again in Job 4:1-2

"And the LORD said to Job:

'Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.'"

My point is not that I am correct because I have a superior argument or believe more passionately, but because the divinely inspired word of God says that God does what He pleases, and no one will question Him, or ask, "what is it that you are doing?" If He says that it is His pleasure to condemn sinners to Hell and save those He has elected from before the foundations of the earth on no merit other than His own free will, then I whole-heartedly accept and rejoice in it. But only because God says it Himself!

November 26, 2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

Rom 9:21 Or has the potter no right over His clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

God is the potter, we are the clay. Whatever He desires to do with us, is His peroggative.

But who are you--anyone who talks back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?"

I think we should be humbled that He desired to make us vessels to show mercy upon, rather than stomping our childish feet and raising our fists at Him, trying to tell Him what He should do with the rest of His 'pottery'.

February 11, 2006 9:43 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Hello Antonio--

Thank you for your blog; I have started to read it from the beginning.

On the quotes from Calvin (of course, in translation -- which one?), I would like to point out that there is a confusion and a resulting jumping to conclusion that has arisen in contemporary English concerning phrases like "God, whose pleasure it is to inflict punishment," ... "just so that it pleases him," ... "because he is pleased to exclude them," ..., and finally, "at his own pleasure arranged it."

The confusion is concerning the older but forgotten meaning of "pleasure," "pleasing," etc. The older but forgotten meaning is that it refers to choice, nothing more, nothing less.

The problems of such an idea about God may still exist without this confusion, i.e., that God inflicts punishment by choice, that the wicked are excluded from heaven by just God's choice, and that God by His own choice arranged this exclusion. However, I think we can see that the argument should not be confused with the "science fiction" of scientists who take "pleasure" from suffering in the modern sense.

December 14, 2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Larry,

thanks for visiting.

I appreciate your comment.

Please correct me if i am wrong.

The institutes were written in latin, and translated by Calvin himself into French.

Are you telling me that the latest translation in English in 1960 used a wrong word for "pleasure"? If what you are saying is that it merely means 'choice' as a nuance, why would the translators opt to use such a word? It no longer would have literal effect.

Furthermore, you would have to direct me to studies where what you are saying is on target.

To me, this is just a way to soften the blow.

In Calvinism, does not God damn for His glory?

Does the bringing of glory 'please' God?

If it does, then God is pleased to damn, for it brings Him glory, so the Calvinism goes.

There are some 4 full translations into English of Instititues. Do they not all use "pleasure"? If they knew that such a word connotes a nuance as we know understand it, they would surely know that it would cause confusion and the misunderstanding of Calvin's words.

Your insistence on this nuance, apart from any substantiation, is not convincing.

I do thank you for visiting my blog.

If you are able to get me some evidence for your contention, that would be great. I am not saying you are wrong. I am only saying that my critically thinking mind is far from persuaded.

Blessings to you brother,

Antonio da Rosa

December 14, 2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Furthermore, substitute "choose" or "choice" or whatever for "pleases". It does not make a wit of sense.

December 14, 2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Hello again Antonio --

On the meanings of the word "pleasure," they are various, evidently, even in modern English. Webster's Third New International Unabridged Dictionary, ad loc, shows the ambiguity in the modern word "pleasure" in even its first definition: "a particular desire or purpose: INCLINATION; WILL."

You see then that even in 1960+ usage the word can also mean simply one's inclination or purpose or will, irrespective of feeling.

So what we cannot foist upon the sentences you quote from Calvin is definition number 2, which is "a state or condition of gratification of the senses or mind: an agreeable sensation or emotion : the excitement, relish, or happiness produced by expectation or enjoyment of something good, delightful, or satisfying."

Whether "Calvinists" actually mean to say that God condemns sinners to eternal doom out of expectation of the enjoyment of it, or not, then, cannot be proved by the use of the word pleasure in those quotes of Calvin, which according to the standard dictionary, even in modern English, may mean only "will."

The word doesn't simply bring that connotation to us anymore, of pleasure as being a synonym for the will, as much as it did in previous times. The dictionary quoted Shakespeare. I'll just cite the King James version of Ephesians 1:5, which is from that same era. You can compare it with The NASB translation, and note the footnote in the NAS.

Don't mistake my "intention": I don't think I would like to defend the notion of double-predestination myself, and personally, I've always been convinced by the argument that God actively chooses some and by implication passes over others. I think that's better than double-predestination so-called. But I'm open to correction on that. It's just that Calvinism should not be accused, by use of that word alone, of teaching that God takes pleasure in the suffering of the damned; more documentation may indeed show that, but the word by itself should not be loaded up when it is demonstrably broader in meaning both in modern times and in the KJV times.

This of course is a small point, and hopefully, since I want to get on with reading more, I'll reveal ahead of time what I would like to ask you where it is more appropriate. I noticed in a Scripture reading tonight, in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, something that makes me ask how do those who always load up "faith" with a thousand works handle the definition that Paul implicitly gives to it there? The Lord will return, and "be be marveled at among all who have believed -- for our testimony to you was believed" !!

Here Paul, just as an off-the-cuff remark, not intending especially to say anything but what is already commonly known, equates believing (with no object), with believing the testimony that Paul gave them.

To me this is a prima facie case against any attempt to load faith up with a thousand special items and works of all kinds.

December 17, 2006 8:30 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


I appreciate your response. I will look further into your point.

I believe that you have something in 2 Thess 1:10, and I desire to analyze the passage further.

Hey, thanks for reading and the interaction. I enjoy discussing on my blog. Feel free to leave any comments anywhere.

Give me a hint on which post it is in, though. As my email alerts me and gives me the comment, but not the name of the post. I usually have to track it down, the ones in my archive. This one was easy, I could tell by your comment which post it was on.

Blessings to you brother! Thanks for taking the time to drop by!


December 17, 2006 9:27 PM  
Blogger GOD'SACRE said...

Hi Anthony and All!
I'm picking up on your "Science Fiction Story" Blog of oct. 2005. I'm sorry to go back so far, but I have discovered the TULIP articles of A. B. Badger at GES website. I have really been moved by the apparent thoroughness of his discussion. Before I forget: Is there Adult Sunday School Curriculum like this? I have been invited to lead a very small adult Sunday School class at a very small Lutheran Church.

I am very excited at what I read in the chapter on Total Depravity:
Essentially that belief is what one naturally does in response to convincing or convicting information.
Badger says:
"Evangelicalism has asserted
without challenge that the sinner must make a decision for Christ. This might be called “decisionism” and decisionism blurs the message of the gospel. It calls on a person to do something. What? Believe, of course!
But how do you do that, and how is anyone else going to know if you did it? Must one walk the aisle, confess with the mouth, be baptized, ....? Doing something
rather than believing something confuses the whole issue.
It is reported that Lewis Sperry Chafer would tell the men in his
classes during the early days of Dallas Theological Seminary, “Men,
don’t give them something to do, give them something to believe!” He
knew that the message of the gospel, not the decision (will) of men, was
the key. Here is our failure. Evangelicals have confused doing something with believing the historical event of Christ’s crucifixion and the promises
of God as they relate to the one who trusts Christ alone for eternal
life. We have made belief a deed to be done, a decision to be made, and a follow-through to be accomplished. Since when does belief include action? How is it perceived that faith includes works? Dillow asks rhetorically,
“If faith is the opposite of works of obedience (law) and is the
opposite of work, by what mental alchemy can men seriously argue that,
while faith is apart from works of obedience, faith itself includes works of obedience?” Surely, action may result from belief, but that action would be necessarily subsequent."

So I harkin back to my moment of belief. Did I choose to believe because it was the best offer I had ever heard? or did I believe simply as a result of a Christian sharing the correct, concise gospel with me?
My excitement as the light comes on is this: If belief comes in response to a solid gospel message, then when I share the Gospel, my responsibility is to get the message across. Unlike my failed attempts at sales, my job is not to persuade, cajole and guilt my way to a decision. When the person has heard what the true gospel is, they will believe or not. Of course we know that one plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. My point is, that the victim :) need not be pressed for a decision, because it is not a decision we are after, but belief!

I have so much more to say on Tulip and LS but time won't permit.
O.K. I will add just his: I had a sunday school teacher once who argued that the temptation of Christ was not really so, because Jesus Christ was constitutionally incapable of sinning. I'm not sure of that, but Uber-Sovereignty
/Providence proponents seem to argue more from the point of view that Providence is God, rather than God is sovereign.

God Bless You, and God's Gospel,

September 03, 2009 5:34 PM  

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