The Exalted View of God in Scripture

The nature and attributes of God are seen not only in His person but in His creation as well. We are reminded, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). The Old Testament declares the same truth in Psalm 19:1.

The heart and desire of Calvinists is to exalt, honor, and glorify God. However, Calvinism’s endeavor to exalt God by emphasizing compatibilism, [1] monergism, unconditional election, passive or active reprobation, and selective regeneration actually results in the antithesis of their desire. [2]

As with God, the glory of a creator is not only seen in His attributes, but also in His creation. If I am shown the work of a person, I can tell a great deal about the person. For the excellence of such things as our creative ability, ethic, and love have a way of being manifested in our work. An example of this is, while we may not have met Bach, Da Vinci, and Aquinas, or we may not have ever read their biographies, if we are introduced to their works, we immediately see their human genius and greatness. To wit, one’s works declare the greatness, talent, creativity, and often even the morality or stableness of someone at a particular time in his life, e.g., Picasso.

While it seems to be true that one can create something less than he is capable of creating, it seems impossible for someone to create something that is measurably beyond his capabilities. I would even argue that is true at any time, since creating something by accident is certainly reflective of the accident, but not necessarily the ability of the creator; in any case, it is clear that one cannot do so with consistent intentionality.

That is to say, one simply cannot diminish the work of the Creator without concomitantly diminishing its Creator, which Calvinism does by strapping man (God’s crowning creation) with compatibilism, whereby man was created to inevitably sin, be micro-determined in every area of life, and be totally passive in regeneration.

For example, what if one looked beneath the majestic mystique of the Mona Lisa only to find that Da Vinci actually painted by the numbers, or we learned that Beethoven’s 5th Symphony was actually composed by an alien being who was micro-determined and could, therefore, do nothing but produce such a masterpiece. Either discovery would tell us more about the creators of such works than the works themselves and would in fact reduce our opinions of their creators. The point is, Calvinism’s reduction of man’s freedom to that of compatibilism tells us more about their, albeit unwitting, diminished view of God, who apparently cannot be sovereign over truly free beings with otherwise choice than it does about Calvinism’s view of man.

Therefore, if any view or system of thought is diminishing or humanizing God, it seems in reality to be Calvinism rather than those who disagree with Calvinism’s assumptions as Calvinists often claim. One can see this in many areas in which we Extensivists (non-Calvinists) disagree with our Calvinist friends. As Extensivists, we believe the Scripture teaches that God created a more sophisticated man in His own image who has the ability to actually choose to not sin (i.e., Adam and Eve chose to sin and were therefore expelled from the garden, but they could have chosen to not sin and remained).

We believe the Scripture teaches that God’s sovereignty is more complex, in that He is capable of being sovereign over truly free beings with otherwise choice; His foreknowledge is exhaustive because He is essentially omniscient, which includes knowing the free acts of libertarian free beings (called contingencies) without necessitating that He micro-determine everything as Calvinism requires.

We believe the Scripture teaches that God’s plan is unique in that it is actually able to accomplish the otherwise plausibly impossible outcome of producing a being with otherwise choice who will one day, like God but not as God, always choose righteousness. He accomplished this through His coextensive creation and redemption plan. [3]

We believe the Scripture teaches that God’s perfect love is more comprehensive in offering every person everything needed to choose freely to come back into fellowship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. This enablement is based on the sufficient sacrifice of Christ (1 John 2:2), working of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11), drawing of the Father (John 6:44) and Son (John 12:32), and the power of the gospel (Rom 1:16-17).[4]

We believe the Scripture teaches that God’s salvation plan is more inclusive in that He does in fact truly desire every individual to be saved (Ezek 18:23, 32, 33:11; 1 Tim 2:4, 4:10; Titus 2:11; 1 Pet 3:8; Rev 22:17); and God’s gospel is more consistent with the authentic meaning of the word gospel “news that makes one happy.”[5]This is the exalted God of Scripture.

[1] The two views of free will are Compatible and Libertarian. With regard to salvation, the Compatible view means that man freely chooses according to his greatest desire that emanates from his nature, and whatever he did, in fact, choose, he could not have chosen otherwise in the moral moment of decision. That is to say, while his choice is considered free as long as it is according to his greatest desire, his greatest desire is determined; therefore, technically, he makes a determined free choice.

The Libertarian view means that man is endowed with otherwise choice, and therefore, whatever he did, in fact, choose, he could have chosen otherwise. Libertarian free will is contrary to Compatibilist’s soft determinism in that Libertarians assert that free will means that man can choose to act or refrain within the range of options he has. Compatibilism (soft determinism) is as deterministic as hard determinism but seeks to differentiate itself by redefining free will to mean a choice is free so long as the person chose according to his greatest desire.

Therefore, compatibility argues that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible. Of course, no one consistently writes, prays, preaches the Bible, or lives life consistent with determinism; they espouse determinism but live libertarianly.
[2] See my book Does God Love All or Some? Comparing Biblical Extensivism and Calvinism’s Exclusivism.
[3] See my article, Can Man Endowed with Libertarian Free Will Live Righteously Forever in Heaven?
[4] For more about grace enablements, see Grace Enablements.
[5] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition, (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 412.

Ronnie W. Rogers