Calvinist Convolutions

Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or [being] his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and [who] instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations [are] as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon [is] not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him [are] as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity” (Isaiah 40:13-17; underlining mine).

“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou [art] God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:24-28; underlining mine).

Please thoughtfully read the Isaiah and Acts passages above, especially the underlined portions.  It was God’s HAND and COUNSEL that determined this VERY SPECIFIC sin to be done — the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Consider for a moment.  With WHOM took He counsel about fulfilling His purpose in such a way that would satisfy mans’ intuitive sensibilities for being held responsible for his sin?  Did anyone instruct Him concerning the creatures’ inalienable rights not to be infringed upon?  Did anyone teach Him the path of pious prudence so as not to intrude into mans’ holy of holies?

There are many professing Christians who hate Isaiah’s God.  To use a form of theological shorthand, some of these God-haters are called “Calvinists.”  Some of these Calvinists have imbibed, invented, or inculcated a customary and fashionable fiction popularly called a “permissive decree.”  There is no such mutinous monstrosity found lurking within the pages of Scripture.  It is a blasphemous and black reverie that agitates the pseudo-pious mind (cf. Romans 9:19).

This “permissive” (or “passive”) decree is dreamt up to supposedly  “distance” and/or “protect” God from the taint of sin.  This fiction reasons that human responsibility presupposes human freedom or liberty from God’s active control; it rejects the Biblical teaching that humans are responsible NOT because they possess “compatibilist freedom” from God, but because God IS THE SOVEREIGN KING who holds them responsible for sins He actively causes them to commit.  The Apostle Paul’s objector objecting in five, four, three, two, one….

“Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” (Romans 9:19)

Here are some relatively brief samples of carnal Calvinist convolutions that sympathize deeply with the Apostolic critic (cf. Romans 9:19).

“The true solution of this difficult question respecting the sovereignty of God and the freedom of man, is not to be found in the denial of either, but rather in such a reconciliation as gives full weight to each, yet which assigns a preeminence to the divine sovereignty corresponding to the infinite exaltation of the Creator above the sinful creature. The same God who has ordained all events has ordained human liberty in the midst of these events, and this liberty is surely fixed as is anything else. Man is no mere automaton or machine. In the Divine plan, which is infinite in variety and complexity, which reaches from everlasting to everlasting, and which includes millions of free agents who act and interact and react upon each other, God has ordained that human beings shall keep their liberty under His sovereignty. He has made no attempt to give us a formal explanation of these things, and our limited human knowledge is not able fully to solve the problem” (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p. 208).

“While the act remains that of the individual, it is nevertheless due more or less to the predisposing agency and efficacy of divine power exerted in lawful ways. This may be illustrated to a certain extent in the case of a man who wishes to construct a building. He decides on his plan. Then he hires the carpenters, masons, plumbers, etc., to do the work. These men are not forced to do the work. No compulsion of any kind is used. The owner simply offers the necessary inducements by way of wages, working conditions, and so on, so that the men work freely and gladly. They do in detail just what he plans for them to do. His is the primary and theirs is the secondary will or cause for the construction of the building. We often direct the actions of our fellow men without infringing on their freedom or responsibility. In a similar way and to an infinitely greater degree God can direct our actions” (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p. 209).

“Yet God’s permissive decree does truly determine the certain futurition of the act; because God knowing certainly that the man in question would in the given circumstances so act, did place that very man in precisely those circumstances that he should so act” (A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, p. 210).

“Does one ask how then a permissive decree can have entire certainty? The answer is, because God knows that men’s natural disposition certainly prompts them to evil; for instance, I know it is the nature of lambs to eat grass. If I intentionally leave open the gate between the fold and the pasture I know that the grass will be eaten, and I intend to allow it just as clearly as if I had myself driven them upon the pasture” (R.L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism, pp. 49-50).

After reading these samples from select Calvinists; after stripping away the convoluted language; and after untying and unwinding the confused and contorted pretzel of a “permissive decree,” consider yet again the following questions.

“Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or [being] his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and [who] instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14)

Is not the candid and forthright answer to these questions, Loraine Boettner, A.A. Hodge, and R.L. Dabney?