Thursday, 12 September 2013

The error of Calvinistic predestination, and its origin


The idea that some souls are created and predestined by God to be damned is - or ought to be - an obvious error to a Christian, in that it is refuted by just about every part of the Bible; which is mostly a series of stories about people making choices with every indication that these are real choices with real salvific consequences.

Against this, the evidence of a few decontextualized and ambiguous Scriptural sentences cannot possibly stand.


But from where did this error arise, late in the history of Christianity?

My assumption is that it arose from the attempt to hold-onto God's complete and utterly specific foresight (omniscience - call this version 'strong-omniscience'); while rejecting the Classical philosophy - especially the varieties of Platonism - which allow this to be compatible with Christianity.


The Classical philosophical solution is to have God outside of Time, surveying everything that has happened, is happening and ever will happen - simultaneously.

But inside of Time, where we dwell, Time is linear and choices are real and not pre-determined.


(Ref: This is explained by Boethius in The Consolation of Philosophy )


Now, this philosophical solution is problematic - and indeed it is not really matter-of-factly coherent - but it does-a-job of making omniscience compatible with Christianity.

If, as with Mormons, the Classical philosophical perspective is rejected; and all Time is regarded as linear - then choices are real but there can be no no strong-omniscience; because the reality of human choice stands between the present and the future, and determines salvation.

However the Calvinistic half-way house of linear-time + strong-omniscience = damnation by pre-destination is not-Christian.

Obviously, I'd have thought?


OK - that was c 280 words for me to explain why I believe that Calvinistic predestination is an error - because conflicting with the fundamental basis of Christianity in personal choice; and also how I believe the error arose - by holding onto strong-omniscience while rejecting the Classical Philosophical concept of eternity.

It should not be necessary, but probably is, to emphasize that am not saying that Calvinists are not Christians! - but that the specific philosophical idea of predestination is not Christian. And I greatly respect quite a few Calvinist Christians - Martyn Lloyd Jones, in particular - also Jerram Barrs and my friend the blogger Alistair Roberts.

I would welcome - really I would! - a coherent account of  Calvinistic predetermination that explains how it is 1. coherent and also 2. compatible with Christianity.

I will allow 280 words...