I begin by quoting the statement he used from my article and then note his assessment. My response follows.
You quoted me, “the gospel, according to Calvinism, is that God ‘loves to save some sinners and equally loves to damn most sinners to eternal torment.”
You said that my statement was “patently false” and that I had “wrongly characterized… brothers and sisters and actually obscured the discussion instead elucidating it.”
My response to him was, I use the word “love” in the context of speaking of God’s relationship with the non-elect because this is the word Calvinism uses ubiquitously. Please feel free to look at any major Calvinist’s systematic theology. They work arduously and relentlessly to demonstrate how God loves the non-elect (though differently). There are entire books written by Calvinists seeking to communicate this. Consequently, I use the word love to discuss this point because Calvinists do.
Now, since Calvinists adamantly argue that God loves the non-elect (albeit differently), and He intentionally in this love withholds the very thing that would have inviolably brought them to salvation (compatibilism, unconditional election, selective regeneration) and thereby determined from all eternity that the love He has for them would do everything necessary to preclude the possibility of even one of these loved ones from not going to hell. Thus, that God loves to save “some” sinners and equally loves to damn most is an absolutely accurate portrayal of this love of God for the non-elect, which is a disquieting reality of Calvinism. Either God does not love the non-elect, or the love He has for them lovingly withholds what they eternally need. I think this portrait of God and His love is not reflective of God, the sum of perfect love as portrayed in the Scripture.
Additionally, salvifically speaking, I see no substantive difference between Calvinism’s view of God’s love for the non-elect and if He actually hated them. What would be the difference, eternally and salvifically speaking?
You said, “I’m not sure I would agree with Calvin, seeing that I am an infralapsarian and see election only up to heaven and never down to hell.”
The position one holds concerning decrees has no bearing on my point, but merely continues the obfuscation. I was an infralapsarian as well. However, regardless of one’s view on the decrees, it does nothing to palliate the predetermination of God for the vast majority of His humanity to be so designed and deprived that God’s pleasure is that they spend eternity in torment.
Actually, whether God chose to damn prior to creation, or created and then chose to actively save and actively reprobate, or actively save and looked the other way (passive reprobation), makes no eternal or substantive difference because God always knew whom and how He would create and save; hence, every Calvinist believes in double-predestination—it is inescapable. To say that one only thinks of predestination to heaven is to maintain an inchoate view of soteriology. Whether God actively, passively, or consequently did not bother with the non-elect, He did make a conscious choice to predetermine their fate in hell.
Therefore, this speculative theology does nothing to assuage the reality that God willingly brought forth creation and, according to Calvinism, is pleased and glorified by designing and desiring that most of His humanity suffer in eternal torment.
You said, “The Gospel to us is: Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
You say I “mischaracterize” the Calvinist gospel. No, I simply want everyone to know what the words Calvinists say actually mean. They may appear to mean what non-Calvinists mean, to Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike, but they emphatically do not mean that. This is exactly the kind of double talk to which I refer.
You say that Calvinism’s gospel is, “Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Actually that is only trivially true. Of course, Calvinists believe this statement, but they equally and vociferously aver that the only sinners who can call on the name of the Lord are those who have been unconditionally elected and selectively regenerated. The rest, according to this secret plan of God, have not one wit of a chance to believe. The difference between the gospel and its entailments in the New Testament and the good news according to Calvinism is evidenced by the whole concept of the “good faith offer” and very guarded language.
Here is what Calvinists’ believe: Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that every sinner whom God has unconditionally elected and will selectively regenerate not only can, but must, call on the name of the Lord and will thereby be saved. If a person is not so chosen and regenerated, he not only will not believe but as predetermined by God, he cannot, and this pleased God. My point here is that if you are certain that you are correct then please make these entailments clear and obvious to all. To think they are “mischaracterizations” or extraneous to Calvinism is to not understand Calvinism. Actually, the gospel according to Calvinism is the most horrible, ghoulish news one could ever imagine unless of course you are one of the unconditionally elect. Please, make this clear when you speak.
You say, “On the issue of double-talk, I hope you call out the non-Calvinists as well, who utilize double-talk in claiming that God is sovereign (God is sovereign but leaves it up to mankind) and that salvation is by grace alone (just utilize your naturally-endowed self-determination to receive that grace). Can’t wait for the next post!!”
Possibly your misunderstanding comes from defining “sovereignty” from a Calvinist perspective, which demands that man be strapped with a compatibilist nature (very causal in nature). Sovereign simply means that God is above and over everything. I believe that God freely chose to create beings in His image with otherwise choice. He, without any external or internal coercion, freely chose to do this. He knew man would choose to sin, but he was not so designed as in compatibilism. Thus, God sovereignly chose to create man, knowing that He would freely misuse his freedom, but God would overcome such misuse by coextensively creating and providing redemption in order to accomplish what no one else could. That is to say, He is absolutely sovereign over beings with otherwise choice.
God had also freely chosen to graciously provide man the ability and opportunity to trust Him again after the fall. Actually, Calvinists seem to minimize the power of God in that they can only see Him being sovereign over beings who can only freely choose what He programmed them to choose—salvifically speaking. In non-Calvinism, man’s salvation is due to God’s perfect love and grace of sovereignly endowing man with otherwise choice and then working graciously to restore such a choice after the fall. Hence, man’s future is dependent upon God’s choice and provision to give man a choice. This is only against Calvinism’s narrow definition of sovereignty but not against the word or biblical portrayal.
See full article and discussion on SBC Today, http://sbctoday.com/2013/04/04/one-mans-suggestions-for-calvinists-and-non-calvinists/