A friend pointed me to this article by Roger Olson on the monster God of Calvinism, which, if logical demonstration were a verdant jungle in the Amazon, would be as bare as hell’s back yard. There are enough non sequiturs here to roll out to an appropriate thickness, in order to cut them up to use for awnings. But it is important to note at the outset that I would rather dip a right hand covered with paper cuts into a basin of verjuice than to overheat my rhetoric on a point such as this. This issue is far too important to distract the reader with a verbal tapioca that has three eggs too many in it. So to speak.
Okay, so if I had a gizzard, this line of argument would be down in it. But I don’t have a gizzard and so I can say all this in a spirit of mild composure, and am gazing over the terrain of this argument with the equanimity and serenity of a somnambulant Buddha.
The argument! What’s the argument? There are a bunch of things here that I will likely address in a few additional installments, so let me begin with just one, the one with a “kick me” sign taped on its back. Actually, there is more than one like that, so let me be more specific. Let me start with a brief, but very pointed observation about divine foreknowledge.
Now that I have gotten all that out of my system, let us turn to the question at hand. Enough with my squirreling around. I am sure that Roger Olson is a very nice man, and we puppets of fate have very little opportunity for normal humor. Being oppressed as we are by the immense weight of divine sovereignty, sometimes the humor just squirts out sideways, much like the way it goes when you drop a cinder block on a chocolate eclair.
Seriously, people, time to be serious. In an afterthought, Olson attempts to head off a Calvinistic comeback that says that Arminianism has the same problem, just not acknowledged. He says that “this is not the place for it.”
Furthermore, in support of this dismissal, he says, “Divine foreknowledge is no more causative than human foreknowledge.”
This misunderstands the objection entirely. If we could isolate divine foreknowledge, detaching it from God’s other attributes and actions, then this could be a reasonable point. If God’s foreknowledge were just like mine, only vast, then what is true of my foreknowledge at a given instant would be true of God’s foreknowledge at all those other instants. Fair enough. If I see a bicyclist hurtling toward a tree, I can have certain foreknowledge that he will hit that tree, and yet, because I am fifty feet away, my knowledge is in no way responsible for the collision. Why would this be different just because God can see ten bicyclists, or a thousand of them?
The answer is that He is the Creator of these bicyclists, and His foreknowledge includes all contingent foreknowledge. Contingent upon what? Upon His decision to create. That means that He knows what will happen on Planet Xtar if He decides to create it. The decision to create is therefore causative. The decision to create is causative of all the things that the Creator knows will follow from that particular creation.
This means that divine foreknowledge is not — as mine is — the knowledge of a mere observer. You cannot grapple with the implications of this point unless you combine two points together. God knows exhaustively what will happen in this world if He creates, and because He created it, that act of creation was a decision that willed everything contained within the bundle.
God knows what will happen if He creates the tree and if He creates the bicyclist, and therefore the decision to create is nothing more nor less than predestination in a cheap tux.
And this is why Roger Olson has promised us that he will convert to atheism, which we will address in our next segment.