Thursday, 12 September 2013

The error of Calvinistic predestination, and its origin

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(Ref: This is explained by Boethius in The Consolation of Philosophy  
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14328/14328-h/14328-h.htm#Page_229 )

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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?

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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...

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