Calvinist D.A. Carson Fails to Acquit God of Causing Evil

D.A. Carson says of his position regarding moral freedom, In the realm of philosophical theology, this position is sometimes called compatibilism. It simply means that God’s unconditioned sovereignty and the responsibility of human beings are mutually compatible.[1] Commenting on Carson’s practice of improperly defining compatibilism (as he has done here), philosopher Paul Gould says, Notice, what Carson means by compatibilism’s is just that freedom is compatible with divine sovereignty (not determinism). In other words, he is restating the fact that Scripture upholds both divine sovereignty and human responsibility (and freedom). But, importantly, his compatibilism’s isn’t compatibilism.[2] That is to say, Carson defines compatibilism improperly–inaccurately. Continue reading →

The Word “Permit” In Calvinism Is As Micro-determined As Everything Else

When Calvinists use phrases like God does not desire man to sin, but he does permit sin, it is easy to misconstrue their meaning of the word permit and understand it in the libertarian sense. [1] The libertarian understanding, which is the normal way the word is used and understood, would simply mean God created Adam and Eve so that they could choose not to sin, and that is what God actually desired for them to do even though He permitted (allowed) them to sin if they so chose; the same is true with people today.

However, in Calvinism, God endowed man with compatible moral freedom, thereby predetermining that man would freely choose to sin. Compatibilism means that man is considered to make a free choice when he chooses according to his greatest desire. What often goes unstated is that while the choice is free, the desire from which it flows is determined by his past or nature; thus, it is precisely accurate to say, according to Calvinism, man makes a predetermined free choice. Continue reading →

Does God Love All or Some? Comparing Biblical Extensivism and Calvinism’s Exclusivism

Does God Love All book coverMy most recent book “Does God Love All or Some?” includes thirty-four chapters that address Calvinist arguments such as libertarian freedom undermines God’s sovereignty, rejecting Calvinism requires a weak view of depravity, what about those who never hear the gospel? I show how we know God’s salvific love is Extensive, extends to every person, rather than limited to Calvinism’s exclusive group, the unconditionally elected. I establish how we know God gives every person an opportunity to be saved, and how human acts like prayer really can affect a person’s salvation, something which true Calvinism precludes.buy-now-icon

I demonstrate true Calvinism is internally and biblically inconsistent by exploring such things as how the good faith offer is a really a bad deception, God is inescapably the ultimate cause of all sin, Calvinism’s commitment to compatible moral freedom means every prayer, act, or proclamation that even hints at being able to change outcomes or involve a choice between accessible options contradicts true Calvinism, faith does not precede regeneration in Scripture and the analogy of human death cannot be used to demonstrate it does, reprobation is not necessary to demonstrate God’s holiness, God does not have two wills, and the doctrines of grace do seriously affect evangelism.

Endorsements

“From the pen of a seasoned pastor and thoughtful former Calvinist this book peels back the layers of obfuscation that often encrust the hard realities of what is entailed in Calvinistic theology. This is probably the most penetrating summary critique of the biblical, theological, logical, and prac­tical incongruences inherent in Calvinistic theology I have read. Rogers goes beyond the surface level of criticism to the deeper layers of contradictions, exposing the soft underbelly of much of Reformed theology. Irenic, respectful, yet thoroughly probing, this is a must read for all who want to understand the issues more deeply.”

David L. Allen
Dean, School of Preaching, Distinguished Professor of Preaching
Director of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching and George W. Truett Chair of Ministry, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Does God Love All or Some?” should be required reading for all students preparing for ministry. Ronnie Rogers covers an array of topics that, unfortunately, are all-too-often neglected in theological education and personal conversations. From persuasively correcting the mythical narrative that one must be either an Arminian or a Calvinist to tackling the illogical fallacy of compatibilism, the author, with wit and balance, shares his personal theological journey and works through the maze of biblical complexities. I wish such a volume was available when I attended seminary years ago.

Emir Caner
President, Truett McConnell University, Professor of History and Christian Studies

I highly recommend this latest work by Ronnie Rogers to you. His treatment of the extensive nature of the atonement also deserves attention because he has written it as a person formerly ensconced in the doctrines of grace. His familiarity with the issues relevant to those who really are trying to work their way through Scripture, theology, and ministry is apparent in individual chapters dealing with so many of the nuances involved in addressing the question.

Barry Creamer
President, Criswell College, Professor of Humanities

From the Foreword

Rogers work reflects careful thought, precise language, and a gentle tone. He appeals to those who affirm Calvinistic theology to consider whether their presuppositions and definitions provide clarity to their reading of Scripture or reinforce their theological framework into which they place and through which they interpret Scripture. From this position of theological inquiry, Rogers deftly probes key issues such as the nature of God, providence, the human condition, compatibilism, God’s desire for lost humanity, the order of salvation, grace, the gospel, and the dilemmas faced by Calvinists and Extensivists. Readers who desire to examine the distinctions between Christianity with Calvinism and Christianity without Calvinism will find this book to be a storehouse of perceptive theological inquiry and faithful exegetical analysis.

Adam Harwood, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology, McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry, Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Calvinism Fails to Absolve God from Causing the Fall

Genesis two seems to clearly present Adam with a choice between obedience and blessing (Gen 2:16) and disobedience and judgment (Gen 2:17). Then, when Adam and Eve did eat (Gen 3:6), God rightly judged them, and they died. Consequently, they lost all the blessings God had granted them while living in the garden because he held them responsible for their actions (Gen 3:11-13, 16-19, 22-24). Continue reading →

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, https://www.amazon.com/author/ronniewrogers.
[3] See my article, Can Man Endowed with Libertarian Free Will Live Righteously Forever in Heaven? https://ronniewrogers.com/2013/09/23/can-man-endowed-with-libertarian-free-will-live-righteously-forever-in-heaven/.
[4] For more about grace enablements, see https://ronniewrogers.com/2016/07/05/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.

Calvinism’s Determinism Is Not Biblically or Practically Viable

Calvinism rejects libertarian free will and believes in compatible moral freedom, which means everything and everyone is micro-determined. The following are the definitions of the two perspectives.[1]

Compatibilism
Determinism and moral responsibility are compatible; hence, the name. This compatibility is not achieved by compatibilism being less deterministic than hard determinism. Rather, it is achieved by defining free choice to mean as long as a person chooses according to his greatest desire, he can be considered to have made a free choice for which he is morally responsible; even though given the same past, he cannot choose differently in the moral moment of decision.

Consequently, the difference between compatibilism (soft determinism) and hard determinism is not to be found in the levels of the deterministic nature of each because they are the same. Rather, the difference is compatibilism contends people are morally responsible for their choices if they are made according to their greatest desire, and hard determinism says they are not. Continue reading →

Why Calvinism’s View of Free Will and Scripture are Irreconcilable

Calvinism rejects libertarian free will and believes in compatible moral freedom, which means everything and everyone is micro-determined. For that to be the biblically reflective approach to understanding Scripture (what the Bible actually portrays and teaches), Calvinists would have to explain why the Bible, from Genesis two through Revelation twenty-two, is absolutely permeated with verses, events, challenges, commands, offers, and judgments that clearly reflect that people have libertarian free will. That is to say; they can choose to act one way or differently in a myriad of passages.

Continue reading →

Answering Calvinism’s Claim That We Are All Determinists

Some Calvinists argue that Extensivists (non-Calvinists) belief in libertarian freedom, and God’s foreknowledge of what such beings will choose still results in determinism, and therefore, we are all determinists;[1] thus, we have the same deterministic problem as Calvinists.[2] Calvinists believe this argument assuages the significant problems that are unique to Calvinism because of its commitment to decretal theology and compatible moral freedom, a commitment that results in Calvinism’s micro-determinism of everything; there are no exceptions.

Calvinism’s view of free choice and moral responsibility is called compatibilism.[3] Compatibilism contends that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible; hence, the name. This compatibility is achieved by defining a free moral choice to exist so long as one chooses according to his greatest desire. But compatibilism entails that the desire from which one freely chooses is determined; thus, humans can only make micro-predetermined free choices. Therefore, given the same past, no one can choose differently in the moral moment of decision. So, is the argument legitimate that Extensivists are all ultimately determinists? Well No! Continue reading →

Why Some Theological Non-Calvinists Identify as Calvinists

While many don the designation Calvinist because they have endeavored to learn all aspects of Calvinism and are thereby convinced that it provides the most cogent, comprehensive, and consistent grid through which to understand Scripture, others adopt the label less nobly. Of this latter kind, it seems to me many assume the title Calvinist because they like certain components of Calvinism, which they are led to believe are unique to Calvinism. Such conclusions may arise from their exposure to the claims of some Calvinists, the inadequate explanations or responses of those they are familiar with who reject Calvinism, or even from their own subjective assumptions. Such aspects are exampled by God’s sovereignty, the preeminence of God’s glory, or the total depravity of fallen man. Continue reading →

God’s Essential Omniscience Does Not Require Calvinism’s Determinism

In both Calvinism and Extensivism, God knows all that could happen, and all that will happen.[1] The difference is in how he knows. According to Calvinism, his knowledge of what could and will happen is based upon his micro-determination.[2] Another way of saying God knows what could happen is God knows what he could determine to happen. Similarly, another way of saying God knows what will happen is God knows, out of the possibilities of what he could determine to happen, what he will determine to happen. This determinism is not merely God determining to create the universe because we all believe that if God did not determine to create, creation would not exist. Continue reading →