Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The God That Is Not!

Arminian theology leads to a variety of different views of God. There is one view of God however, that Arminian theology says, just won't do: it is Calvinism's view of God. God cannot possibly be the absolute sovereign that controls every detail of everything that has ever happened. Certain Arminian theologians have brazenly stated they would NEVER serve a completely absolute sovereign God. Roger Olson commented in his book, Against Calvinism,
One day, at the end of a class session on Calvinism’s doctrine of God’s sovereignty, a student asked me a question I had put off considering. He asked: “If it was revealed to you in a way you couldn’t question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms, would you still worship him?” I knew the only possible answer without a moment’s thought, even though I knew it would shock many people. I said no, that I would not because I could not. Such a God would be a moral monster.[p 85]
In Roger Olson's mind, and the mind of many fellow Arminian Christians, the God of Calvinism is a moral monster.

In my view, Arminian theology believes in a God who sent His Son to die on the cross without actually accomplishing anything. God could not promise Christ even one person as His reward because, well, everyone is free to reject the atonement and since the atonement depends on cooperation, it actually didn't atone anyone for anything. All it did was to make it possible. That God is not so very impressive to me.

Arminian theology believes in a God who loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved, but He can't always get them the gospel and so they end up lost even though we really loved them, and His Son really died for them. They just didn't know it. What a waste! He God were just more powerful, He could have got them the gospel.

Arminian theology believes in a God who loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved, but He can't always figure out just how to get everyone the gospel. He is really, really, smart. He just isn't smart enough to get preachers to go preach to these people who have never heard of Christ. And even though Christ died for them, really and truly, they perish and suffer eternal torment all because God wasn't quite smart enough to get them the gospel. How regrettable! If God were just a little smarter, more people might decide to follow Christ and go to heaven because at least they would have heard the gospel and had a chance.

Arminian theology believes in a God that sent His Son Jesus to die for every one's sins so that the whole world could be saved. And because people deserve to hear the gospel, God has a moral obligation to get it to them. If people live good lives and follow the God they think created the universe, and then they die without hearing the gospel, God has to ignore the work of faith and the power of gospel, not to mention the exclusive claims of His Son and let them into heaven anyway. God did not really mean it when He said that conscious faith in Jesus Christ was necessary for salvation. He was just trying to let everyone know that He was really, really serious about the message of His Son, but not too serious.

Arminian theology believes in a God that sent His Son Jesus to die for the sins of everyone in the world and they are going to heaven whether they hear about Jesus or not. In fact, they are going to heaven regardless of how they live in this world. Deep inside, they are good people and God understands their problems and He only wants them to be happy and live eternally with Him.

Arminian theology believes in a God that reacts and responds to man and makes changes in His plan and learns from man's decisions as we all go along.

Arminian theology believes in a God that does not know the future perfectly. Some things genuinely catch God off guard. But He is so powerful He knows how to remain in control even though He does not know exactly what tomorrow brings.

Is this the God of Scripture? Is God not smart enough to get everyone the gospel? Is God not powerful enough to get everyone the gospel? Are men born into sinful states or not? Do men really deserve a chance to hear the gospel? Do they? What is grace? Isn't hearing the gospel an act of grace? These views of God are the logical outworking of Arminian theology. Of course, not all Arminians believe these views about God. That is not my point. My point is that these views are the logical outworking of Arminian theology in search of coherence. Arminian theology gets pushed into a corner and answers with open-theism in some cases. In other cases, it retreats to process theology. At other times, it tends toward universalism. Today, it is advocating more and more for salvation apart from conscious faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Well, their attacks against the kind of God Calvinism posits leaves them without much of defense when their own smoking guns are turned on them. Rather than retreat into a high view of God, Calvinism's view, they run in the other direction, in defense of man. God has to give everyone a chance to be fair. God does not know the future. God is not immutable. Conscious faith in Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation.

I can see it now, the Great White Throne Judgment for all those who never heard the gospel. God has a list of people He tried to convince to hit the mission field. So God says to one people group, I am so sorry. If Jim had just responded to his call to go to your part of the jungle, some of you would no doubt have been saved. I feel just terrible sending you to hell because you at least deserved a chance.

Perhaps the other Arminians have it right. God says to this people group, I know you thought I was a giant beetle that lived on the other side of the moon and you worhsipped me with a sincere heart because you thought the great magic beetle was actually me. Come on in. Don't worry about the cross of your sinful nature and all the times you knowingly violated the moral law within. No worries! My bad. I should have sent you the gospel.

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