Friday, September 4, 2009

"Objections to Calvinism" By R.S. Foster

[The following is an excerpt from "Objections to Calvinism as it is," published in 1849. This is taken from the conclusion of the second chapter.]

7. I object to the system further as involving, by inevitable consequence, a most dreadful aspersion of the character of God. It gives me no pleasure to prefer such a charge as this against a system, many of whose advocates I dearly love and greatly admire; and I will say, much less does it give me pleasure to find so much evidence that the charge is well founded. But I do so, Doctor, that you may see how other minds view your system, and that you may disabuse them if in error.

(1.) The system holds, as I think has been clearly shown, that God is the sole, original, voluntary author of sin, that he chose its existence when as yet it did not exist, and decreed it when, but for his decree, it never could have been, thus declaring that he preferred some sin to universal holiness--if, indeed, his own decree was his choice--thus insulting the purity and holiness of God, making him not, indeed, the most holy, but the only unholy being in the universe, the cause and source of all impurity as he is the cause of all creatures.

(2.) It asperses the goodness and benevolence of God and invests him with all the attributes of sheer cruelty and maliciousness, because it holds that he made the universe as it is, and, for his own pleasure and glory plunged it himself into all the miseries, temporal and eternal, which it endures or is to endure. It will not do to tell me that these miseries are the just punishments of sins, for you told me he caused the sins; and if he caused them and damns the universe for them, it renders the cruelty more revolting.

(3.) It asperses the justice of God, for it tells me that God will destroy many of his creatures in hell forever with unimaginable torments for not performing absolute impossibilities and for doing acts which were utterly unavoidable--acts which he himself caused. What would be the difference between consigning innumerable beings into hell forever who had never put forth a wrong volition or performed a wrong action, and making them by omnipotent agency first perpetrate these wrongs, and then, upon this pretense, damn them, as supposed in the former case? Can this be just?

(4.) The system asperses the truthfulness and sincerity of God, making him to pretend to be of one mind, when he is precisely of an opposite--clothing him with all the loathsome proofs of trickery, and hypocrisy, and duplicity for the purpose of deceiving his hapless creatures as to his own character and the reasons of his conduct in respect to them. It arrays his secret and his revealed will in unavoidable and open conflict, the one in unmitigated opposition to the other. He commands one thing, and wills precisely another, enjoins upon certain creatures to do those things, which he not only knows they cannot do, but, also, what he does not will they should do---nay, what he wills they should not do. It puts in his mouth the language, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth," when, in fact, they die for his pleasure--makes him to plead and remonstrate with them as if he would dissuade them from their sin and ruin, when in fact he is the very being who urges them irresistibly on to sin and ruin. He commands one thing and decrees precisely the contrary. He commands the sinner to repent, but decrees he shall not.

8. "God, from all eternity, freely and unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass." Now look at this: If true, then God foredetermined, purposed and appointed when as yet there was nothing, and when nothing ever could be without his decree, all the events, acts, volitions, and things of every kind, that ever have been from the foundation of the world or ever will be throughout eternity--all things, great and small, true and false, consistent and absurd, bad and good, pleasant and disgusting. No contradiction, but what he decreed it. He appointed in a way that the event must answer the decree, and so because decreed, that all the contradictory views extant in the world should be entertained just as they are--that there should be Atheists, pantheists, Deists, infidels, Jews, Mohammedans, Pagans, all grades of idolaters and errorists, all varieties of Christians, and sects of philosophy. And these cannot but be, because they were decreed from eternity. One man was to pray, another blaspheme, another lie, another rob, another murder, another steal, another commit arson, incest, adultery--one deceive, another be deceived, and all because it was decreed from eternity. All thoughts, all words, all desires, all purposes, all volitions, all acts from first to last were decreed by God, and in such a way that the event must answer the decree. Now, all this is true, or else Calvinism is false; for Calvinism says, "God, from eternity, freely and unchangeably decreed whatsoever comes to pass." Everything was included in God's plan and brought about by his decree. Doctor, do you believe this?

Amazing book! Very long, and very clear. If these sentiments do not seem to make sense, it is only because I have taken them from the conclusion of a very long chapter which clearly covered the points in much more detail earlier. It does employ some old-fashioned language, but it well worth the read. This guy is a hundred times more logical, precise, and clear than I am. Also, he constantly quotes calvinist books, so that it is plain to see that he does not misrepresent their position, while I haven't read half of what he has.
Objections to Calvinism

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