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Assertions against the Lord become
Adventures in Asininity when Biblical Truth is Kept True to Model
In Answers in Genesis, recently, one recalls coming across a record, apparently relating to some anti-Christian party who had declared that the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah being the name given, was a thoroughly nasty character, horrid. From memory, this was given in a coverage of various errors and fault planes.
Since some of the more ephemeral teachers in certain churches as well as out of them, do not hesitate to move if not so far, then at least some distance in that direction, as if God had changed or the Testaments were at variance, it is well to correct this misnomer, using in particular the biblical exposition from Three Anzas, One Answer Chapter 6, with all the references given both there and in Chapter 1 above, on the same topic. It is not a question of which person or who said or is saying this. It is a standard type of distortion, and as such it is to be met.
HOW COULD anyone be horrid, or nasty who, being judged by His creations, is so deemed; when there is NOTHING available for them to have, but what He has to give! They would have to have at least limits as bad, and hence their judgments would be ... nasty at least, horrid at a minimum; andnot fair.
This is the case. If someone dies for you, being superior in wealth, comfort and happiness, and experiences in so doing, inordinate torture and humiliation, would you feel justified in calling such a person horrid ?
If horrid, you might.
But in reality for what reason ? Is it because gifts humiliate the self-sufficient ? But even if this were so, and there is no ground for it, since super-abundance is one of the lovely things that can come in music or beauty very readily, what has such a concept to offer in relevance here ? WHO is this self-sufficient item, this man, who being born without consent, is consigned to death without consent (except in suicide in morbidity, but this has not here happened or there could be no voice), and who can be shot in a moment by a stray bullet ? The term is inapplicable.
What then ? The God of the Old Testament, the same as Jesus Christ, the eternal word of God (Isaiah 45, Philippians 2), who ALONE will have all bow the knee to Him, who alone is God, just as this is true of Jesus Christ in Philippians, is He a self-sufficient imposer, composer of manipulated mortals who in dread and fear obey his superficial commands, the erratic impulses of a lordly heart ? Is this the type of concept in view ?
Now some view ALL authority as horrid, since it prevents their illusion of being God; but since this IS illusion, it is not relevant to an answer in truth. Let us then pass on to the concept that authority that is arbitrary is horrid. It has power and uses it, and woe to you if you have other ideas, even good ones.
Is this however the case ? God, to be sure, has ideas about us that are infinitely deeper than our own, since His alone is the privilege of being Creator, so having categorically greater insight, knowledge and understanding that the mere product of His understanding. If then He uses authority to tell His creation, man, what is what, is this unsightly, unseemly or horrid ? Is a car manufacturer horrid because, having engineered the vehicle, he tells you what it requires, and what will happen if you become highhanded about it ? I think not. In fact , one is grateful for the information, since one wants the car to go, and preferably, go reliably, smoothly and without abuse of any kind. You need to know its powers, needs and limits. You need to be responsible.
This then is nothing to the point.
But He tells you authoritatively and speaks of death ?
So do the Police without thereby becoming horrid; and so does a Doctor, warning of disease as DIRE and of need as direct, without doing more than his duty, or becoming ethically base.
Is it then because it is imagined that He simply chooses the good people to go to heaven and consigns the doomed to hell in arbitrary, or at least opaque ways, which show no real concern for His creation ?
If this were so, it would be a horrible thing: and Calvin*1, to be sure, does speak of what, in his own confusion, is called the Horrible Decree, that of predestining assignment.
However as shown in the references in Ch. 1 above, this is as far from the biblical case in BOTH Testaments as you could possibly go. It would represent libel against the Lord, a direct contradiction of His statements concerning His principles, priorities, desires and will. Calvin is in error in this matter as shown often on this site. Moreover, the opposite is true as shown in the above references, to name but a few presented in these volumes.
It is a matter of confusion. It involves specific contradiction of Jesus Christ, of numerous scriptures. It cannot stand as a biblical viewpoint therefore. Interpretation is not repudiation, and that is that.
We note in the Chapter 6 cited above, as elsewhere, that not only is God concerned to win ALL His people, having NO pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), but that he should turn from his evil ways, not willingly afflicting the children of men, pleading with Israel in terms of endearment, challenging and offering over and over in sequential form, marvels of deliverance (Jeremiah), but His heart churns, as in Hosea, and He wept as in Matthew 23. It is one God who in giving the law, showed the necessities of righteousness to a fallen people, in in giving the Lord showed the enormities of compassion for a sinning race, seeking for ALL and giving ALL, but yet this without being dictatorial or imperious in His summonsing, taking His own and forcing not any, not even people who call Him horrid or something of this kind.
Horrid with such a heart ? with such a desire ? with such a testimony as in Isaiah 52-53, for Jew and Gentile as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6 ? On what ground ? is it that it is weak to be so concerned and witless to be so busy in seeking a free salvation available and adequate for ALL (Isaiah 55:1ff.), and offered with ALL heart, having given ALL life to death to secure it, and presented resurrection of sustained life to demonstrate the power back of this love ? (cf. Hosea 13:14).
Is this the problem ?
Is it then that love is maligned, that someone cannot stand love ?
Is that then to make it horrid ?
Will evil be called good and good evil ?
Is it horrible to deal acutely and surely with those who offer to use atomic bombs on your citiers ? Is this horrible ? Is the dealing with evil horrible, or the evil itself ?
When God dealt with those who would lead the entire nation of Israel, in biblical times, to the ditch and to darkness of shame and misuse, abuse and folly, is it in some way unethical to act in their deliverance ... when they were willingly committed to this same God by their own repeated desires (Joshua 24:14-22) ? Is it horrible to act on Covenant when this is freely received ? Is it horrible to receive a bill, if you destroy your rented property and are called to moral account for it ? and if you are given pardon, is this too horrible, even if the landlord had to build another house ? Is this contemptible ?
Is is then ruthless to wait for CENTURIES of rebelliousness and folly from Israel, before ceasing any more to protect it from invasion as in I Kings 17; or many still in the case of Judah, in the South, before allowing Nebuchadnezzar to take it, and bring in a 70 year exile ? Is it not the case that the Lord MANY times avoided the result of mere application of the Law, and in mercy even to the utmost point of flamboyance with idolatry and inequity on the part of Judah (cf. Hosea 7:14ff., Isaiah 56:9-11, Zephaniah 3:1-7, Jeremiah 2:26-28, 32:33ff.), yes in decisive divine deferments and mercies. Ezekiel 20:9, 14, 17, 22 lists such repeated actions of the Lord over the centuries, with strong efforts and with much deep concern, just as Jeremiah 17 shows the Lord, even in the threshold of judgment, making a simple, direct appeal to them to cease treachery at last, to take a pardon as they would move back to even so much as the day of rest. But they would not!
Indeed, when He brought them back from Babylon AFTER the 70 year exile, in which Daniel forecast the date of the death of Christ (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), and many exploits were wrought as God used the patience of the saints in the midst of an alien nation, that it might be brought nearer, before it should at last ruin itself (as in Jeremiah 50-51), was it not with the sure foreknowledge AS PREDICTED, that the Messiah would at last be slain BY THEM, by that very Israel whom in longsuffering He brought home, with much help! That, it was not love and patience and concern and an ultimate plan of divine patience and suffering so that they might at the last find their lost lives and understand that He loved them, that they had nothing to give Him, that His love is pure! And Babylon, to which He sent them, it was the Jewish saints (those of them who were so) who showed it much of the Lord, so that some might find Him, for as the Lord said,
"We would have healed Babylon, but he is not healed."
So He worked out His mercies, and flooded the land with His opportunities, taken or not. Indeed, in the midst of His many leadings and helps, pities and kindnesses, not only did He act for them, but
"in all their afflictions, He was afflicted" - Isaiah 63:9.
In Isaiah 53, as He foretold His plan for personal coming in order to redeem. and we see that His empathetic involvement is total, as He declares of this coming event, in which He Himself (Isaiah 48:16) would be present as the main Agent, the Messiah, the Father sending the Son to be the Saviour.
Dressed in humility, demeaned as a Prince made commoner to serve in war, God came as man in human format showing the way, causing the day of salvation to appear clearly, and to be completed. No more watching, now, but for His return (Acts 1, Psalm 110). But then, it was God who performed the ultimate service for man, dressed as one, in form as one, suffering as one, but with the sinlessness that made suffering far more acute and sorrow far more profound. This we see in Isaiah 53. This they found on the Cross where a taunted Christ was set at nought, so that man deserving nought, might through that very pity at work, on the part of God, setting Christ at nought, be pardoned, as the Just for the unjust, was exhibited to bring those who would, to God.
The "Prince of Life" was exhibited in death to bring life (Acts 3:14-16); for the resurrection was a work of power, easy for God to accomplish; but the death was a work of pity, an entrainment and an entrammelment in the very low estate of man.
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God and afflicted.
But He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him..."
In the Old Testament God was very busy showing the Messianic intentions of His heart for mankind, and we have often traced these in detail (as in Highway of Holiness Chs. 4, 7, 10, With Heart and Soul ... Chs. 4-7, Joyful Jottings 22-25).
They appear greatly in Isaiah 4, 7, 9, 12, 22, 2 8-29, 32, 35, 40, 42, 48-55, 60, 61 and so on, in the Psalms as in 2, 16, 21-22, 35, 40, 45, 49,55, 68-69, 72, 80, 91, 96, 102, 109, 110, 118, and Jeremiah (cf. The Messiah in Jeremiah), in Zechariah 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12-14 and in Micah 5-7 for example, in Deuteronomy 18, and in Habakkuk, for example. The God of all comfort in such places showed that He would give light in exchange for darkness, sacrifice to remedy the guilt of sin, pardon for returnees and grace to achieve their free release and restoration to a created beauty of relationship with Himself. Indeed, this time it would not be a matter of trial, but of definitive truth received finally, for life eternal. HE ONLY would pay the difference, cover the gap, and bring peace.
Heaven has a cost element, because of its spiritual purity and liberty combined; and Christ the Lord, the Jehovah of the Old Testament as shown, has paid it. It also has a cost in self-discipline as even King David found out; but this is like making a statue, a matter of time once the fundamentals are provided. Love then has its liberty in peace, and life its fulness in function.
This is that Lord Jehovah, this is that same God, whether in the New or the Old Testament one and the same (cf. Matthew 5:17-20), unvarying and without change (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8, John 8:58), before time who came into time, to bring truth to perfection and entry to it into the realms of liberty without cost to enter.
Horrid is this horror, and detestable is this sort of attitude, whoever may show it and whenever which calls horrible the beautiful, or laggard the sacrificial, or wrong the righteous. Is it not the very love of God, the life of God, the beauty of holiness which begets the duty of holiness, which is adverse to such critics!
The revulsion they show, or affect: It is not based on reason, true to the model, and yet with it comes some form of criticism by name the One whose model, whose book is the source of the criticism, and yet portrays what no man even approaches in standard of LIFE and GRACE and PATIENCE to do good, when nothing is required.
What then is it like ? It is like someone speaking about a Singer car and stating his criticisms, but giving it the name, Cadillac. What has a Singer car to do with a Cadillac ? What is the intention ? to ruin Cadillac name by such aspersions, based on another model!
Whatever, therefore the aspersions, they do not relate. As shown in Three Anzas, One Answer and all the references noted to the point in Ch. 1 above and associated references, and exhibited in such works as The Love of God is purer than the Peak ... this, the love of God is not another name for harshness. Nor is the selection made by God another name for caprice; but it is a passionate affair of chasteness and of love, which pays what it takes to redeem. It enslaves none; liberates all who come, and brings light to those who desire it.
This then is the SECOND BOUNTY found in removing what the Bible removes, any 'mystery' about the extent of the love of God towards the lost. He knows what He is doing, and does it! Is this some new complaint ? Alas, complaint and grumbling is a tumbling of old, and anew. God does not change; and the mouths of His 'critics' do not alter or achieve. The truth remains, beyond the rocks and the cliffs of time. God is my Rock, and changeless, He scorns the scorner*2, and protects the truth, till the time comes when those who fall and call, find, while those who being fallen, are above it all, these stay where they are. It is then as in Revelation 22:11: "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let hum be righteous still: he who is holy, let him be holy still."
In the end, there is an end, and for those who come home, there is no end to the new beginning (II Corinthians 5:;17ff., I John 5:11ff.)
In the end, nothing can begin to compare with this. Even at that, even past Revelation 22:11, the God of both Testaments has this final call as found in 22:17:
"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'
And let him who thirsts come! Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."
See for example,
1) Christ's Ineffable Peace ... Ch. 2,
2) To Know God ... Ch. 1,
3) Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Chs. 7, and 9, and
4) KH 4;
5) Celestial Harmony ... Ch. 2 (including Calvin on Romans!).
When one has read item 1) above, the following may prove useful.
It was formulated in reply to a question one received, and is little changed. It is inset to set it apart.
Updrafts and Downdrafts in Calvinism
Actually, to the point you make, I agree with ALL 5 of the 5 principles of Calvin: this needs to be clear. However I do not accept the setting in which he places them, since it is contrary to the Bible. His 5 points are usually, but not always, taken in an unscriptural fashion; but they need not be, and when read in the light of the Bible, they are just fine. The Presbyterian Church of Australia, as first constituted, did not take them amiss, but just right as you find by reading its Declaratory Statement, the impact of which has since been oppressed.
The five are these:
TULIP is the acronym.
T is for total depravity as in Ephesians 4:17-19, Romans 7.
U is for unconditional election, as God has mercy on whom He will, and man is not born of the flesh or the will or the blood (John 1). HOW He derives these sovereign decisions in one thing; that they ARE sovereignly arrived at, is another. This is the point here. There are no conditions. It is founded on divine foreknowledge (NOT of their works – Romans 9), but of them as in Romans 8:29ff. not on what we do.
L is the limited atonement, for all whom Christ is delivered up, ‘inherit all things’; but those who are in the majority, do not do so.
Thus, once saved, always saved (I John 3:9, John 5:24, Ephesians 1:11-2:8 for example), for you are saved from perishing, which is then ousted. Then once saved by His being delivered up for you, you inherit all things (Romans 8:32), and that of course includes heaven.
That is WHY it is right. So says Paul in Romans. Yet all must be seen together. For ALL He is genuinely offered (as were the sacrifices in Israel – I John 2:1-2), but not all receive them by faith, so there is the cut out (John 3:19). Calvin errs in this, elsewhere; but the principle is fine. The atonement is fine, it is limited, but this is a resultant contrary to the divine amplitude of love, and the limit is not an imposition that is alien, but relevant to John 3:19, as the Lord knows, in knowing ALL. Love is chaste, not dictatorial.
I is for irresistible grace, which means that whom He foreknew, those He predestined, and whom He predestined, those He called, and whom He called, these He justified, and whom justified, those He glorified (Romans 8:29ff., cf. 8:17). It is often misapplied, but by itself, it is quite correct (John 6:65, Acts 11:16).
P is for necessary perseverance, meaning, so very rightly, that if saved, you will be granted the saving grace that goes with it, to stand, and having entered through Him, becoming His sheep, will not perish.
The point where Calvin errs is this. He acts as if it were an orphanage and Christ is going through, electing, selecting, in the Father’s will, whom He wants. The others are left out in what Calvin shockingly calls the HORRIBLE DECREE, in predestination, as if this were just a mystery and a horrible one, why it is so. There is nothing HORRIBLE about our Lord! His decrees are IN NO POINT contrary to the essence of love (I John 4:7ff.). Even purging saves some, and many would find heaven hell, since it is not to their taste to the point that they abhor these things, or decide against them with sufficient force that the loss is not comparable with the gain of liberty, autonomy or whatever else is the idol. Not always wrong in themselves, such things become wrong when put in the place of God.
The real mystery is how Calvin could in such nonsense make so light of so much in the Bible. Thus in Colossians 1:19ff., we learn that it pleased the Father that in Christ should dwell all the fullness of the Godhead (cf. Colossians 2:9), and that having made peace through the blood of the Cross, HE would have ALL men, yes ALL whether in heaven or on earth, to be saved… just as in Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., as Christ exhibited the point directly when on earth.
Calvin’s ludicrous muddle is seen in his trying to maintain that in Matthew 23:37, Christ is on one wave, showing this concept that He not only did seek His chickens to bring them under His wing, but did so OFTEN, whilst the Father is doing nothing of the kind. There is no concurrence here. In this, He creates a sovereignty special, in which even his Christology errs (John 5:19-23). That is not to say this is a generic fault; but in this case, it is an implication of no small horror, to employ his terminology where it belongs.
For all that, Calvin is one of the greatest theologians who ever lived, and has brought massive blessing to the Church – as well, in this point, a wholly needless division which brought an incandescent letter, quite justifiably, from Wesley on this point, to Calvinist Whitefield, a great and remarkable evangelical preacher of the time.
I have material in which I deplore a number of such needless muddles in the Church, which have divided it again and again, on this point and on that, and characterise it as a BAY of ISLANDS. The islands should come back to the mainland, and careful exegesis remove the extremes in BOTH directions which again and again have marred the church and split its unity. It is at
The point where you make it re Calvin, is readily dealt with; for Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever, as in Hebrews, being GOD. HENCE in the functionality of predestination, HE in all His CHANGELESS love and grace and attitudes of spirit, and heart, was THERE and OPERATIVE. God is not divided. Hence whatever He showed in spirit (precisely as in general terms expressed in Colossians 1:19ff., II Peter 3:9, I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11 and so forth) on earth, is true always of God, true in the predestinative event, and in the foreknowing one. Calvin is PRECISELY wrong here; but his 5 points are not wrong, merely often READ WITH this error, without understanding.
That is one reason why it is good to obey the dictum of the apostle Paul, not to say I of Apollos or EVEN I of Paul. That is, the man as a unit is not to be followed; nor is any one of us. The Bible stands and you take it with all its impacts and follow them. You cannot rightly say, even if you agreed with him, “I am a Calvinist” You cannot even say “I am a Paulinist”. PAUL forbids it.
His work as an apostle was given not in a PAULINIST truth, but in divine inspiration, and this is of course as always as in I Peter 1:10ff., II Peter 1:19ff., II Timothy 3:16ff., Matthew 5:17ff., I Thessalonians 2:13, given both in understanding and in word. It is shown in its divine inspiration in I Corinthians 2:9ff..
Such factions only tend to lead to pride and fighting cock fidgets, limits of understanding to ONE (however remarkably gifted) teacher, and the ONLY teacher who binds is Christ (Matthew 23:8-10). This of course leads to all His sanctioned words and those of the Old Testament and the New to come, through those appointed to sanction and whose word finished in Revelation 22, where the THINGS given (topical) cannot be extended, nor the words removed. So we learn from I John 2:19.
Reference may be made to the six volumes on this whole area, the first my Honours MA thesis at Melbourne University., and the other 5 written much later:
ON PREDESTINATION and FOREKNOWLEDGE,
LIBERTY and NECESSITY,
RESPONSIBILITY, DUTY and CREATIVITY
I will here give some Chapters, not I think from those 6 volumes only, with parts in which you may be interested.
Predestination and Freewill Part 2 ,
To Know God, the Fellowship of His Sufferings and the Power of His Resurrection Ch. 1, *2,
Repent or Perish Ch. 1, *1 ,
The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, esp. pp. 124ff.,
NFF 4 (News 112),
Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Ch. 9,
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 1, Ch. 3 (and regeneration, the love of God, Calvinism, Wesley and the nether options, with special attention to John 3), to
Great Expectations Chs. 7, and 9, and
Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4;
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2 (and his word on Romans!),
Outrageous Outages … Ch. 9;
Three Anzas, One Answer Ch. 6;
Christ’s Ineffable Peace and Grace … Ch. 2 (extensive, covers decretum horribile);
Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable EPILOGUE*
Light of Dawn Ch. 1,
TRUST God, Mate! … Ch. 6,
Tender Times … Ch. 2, End-note 1,
Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will Ch. 6,
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Chs. 8, 9;
Glory, Vainglory and Goodness Ch. 7
The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 8,
Lord of Life Ch. 7
Proverbs 3:34 shows this ricochet:
"Surely He scorns the scornful,
But gives grace to the humble.
The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."