Piper on Chesterton

Some brief comments interspersed below.

How A Roman Catholic Anti-Calvinist Can Serve Today’s Poet-Calvinists

May 28, 2008 | by John Piper | topic: The Sovereignty of God

May 29 is G. K. Chesterton’s 134th birthday. He was a British journalist and brilliant writer. Nobody exploits the power of paradox like Chesterton.

I celebrate his birthday by recommending his book Orthodoxy.

The title gives no clue as to what you will find inside.

“The title gives no clue as to what you will find inside.” You got that right.

It had a huge influence on me forty years ago in ways that would have exasperated Chesterton. He did all he could to keep me from becoming a Calvinist, and instead made me a romantic one—a happy one.

If I thought his broadsides against predestination really hit home and undid true biblical doctrine, I would keep my mouth shut or change my worldview. But his celebration of poetry and paradox undermines his own abomination of the greatest truth-and-mystery-lovers around today, the happy Calvinists.

Nothing in this Calvinism-abominating book came close to keeping me from embracing the glorious sovereignty of God. On the contrary, the poetic brightness of the book, along with the works of C.S. Lewis, awakened in me an exuberance about the strangeness of all things — which in the end made me able to embrace the imponderable paradoxes of God’s decisive control of all things and the total justice of his holding us accountable.

Yes, Piper. You are quite content and happy to reject the truth of what God has clearly revealed in His word concerning His sovereignty. And you insult and show a mutinous contempt for God by calling His lucidly logical truth an “imponderable paradox.” The reason you think accountability and sovereignty are “imponderable paradoxes” is because you are the audacious objector in Romans 9:19.

Ironically Piper and Chesterton both reject the Sovereign God of Scripture. Although Piper and G.K. Contradiction arrive at different conclusions concerning the Godhood of God, they BOTH reason from the SAME premise. And what is that premise? The premise is that God cannot justly hold us accountable if He decisively and actively controls what we do.

One of the reasons that Calvinism is stirring today is that it takes both truth and mystery seriously. It’s a singing, poetry-writing, run-through-the-fields Calvinism.

Popular Calvinism sure is a-stirring. It is a stirring up of the sea of mutiny. It is a song sung to the freedom of man to do evil apart from God’s controlling sovereignty. It is a poem written that says,

“If You actively cause the good then glory to You from me;

But if you actively cause the bad then You will be judged by my human autonomy.”

This is a running-through-the-fields-of-sorrow-at-the-fact-that-God-is-God Calvinism (Romans 9:19).

Piper continues:

It’s the Arminians that are the rationalists. Arminianism trumps biblical sentences with metaphysics: God can’t control all things and hold us responsible. God can’t choose some and love all.” Why? Metaphysics. Out with mystery! It just can’t be!

Biblical metaphysics teaches that in Him we live and move and have our being and that He has much greater control over us than a sawyer has over a saw, than a woodsman has over an axe (Isaiah 10:5-15 ; Acts 17:28). But why use the word “rationalists” as a pejorative against your brethren, Piper? Both you and the Arminian have the same premise as Paul’s objector in Romans 9:19.

So Chesterton’s anti-Calvinist shotgun sprays all around today’s poet-Calvinist and misses the mark.

Read Orthodoxy.

A few of you may be swept away into the folly of Roman Catholic sacramentalism. A few others may be confirmed in your tiff with joyless Calvinists. But for many readers, especially the Bible-saturated ones, this book will awaken such a sense of wonder in you that you will not feel at home again until you enter the new world of the wide-eyed children called the happy-Reformed.

Actually, for those who are truly “Bible-saturated” they will reject as damnable heresy, much of what these “wide-eyed children called the happy-Reformed” profess to believe: