Saturday, July 08, 2017

Calvinism and evangelism

I had a discussion on on Calvinism, and one person questioned me on why Calvinists evangelize since God determines who will come to Christ and who won't.  He was under the impression that if God decrees that some guy will come to Christ, then it will happen whether we evangelize or not.  That makes evangelism superfluous under Calvinism.

I made two attempts to explain why evangelism is not superfluous under Calvinism because he didn't understand my explanation the first time.  I was just reading over the conversation, and I thought my second attempt was about as clear as it could possibly be. So I thought I'd share it with you.

Let's suppose God wants X to happen. And lets suppose that divine determinism is true. With that being the case, there is a deterministic causal chain beginning with God and ending with X. Now, let's suppose that one of the links in that causal chain is Y. In that case, Y has everything to do with why X happened since it was part of the causal chain.

To be supfluous is to have no hand in bringing about a result. But if God uses means to accomplish his ends, then those means have everything to do with those ends happening.

Now when you raise hypotheticals like, "What if Y didn't happen," then however I answer that is going to depend on what we stipulate in the scenario. If we stipulate that Y is one of the means God intended to bring about X, then if you remove Y, then X won't happen.

But if we stipulate that X will definitely happen, and if you remove Y from the causal chain leading to X, then X will happen by some other means, it will not have been the case that Y was the means through which God intended X to happen.

So it really just depends on your stipulations. In my view, God successfully saves everybody he intends to save, and he uses the means of evangelism to do it. So evangelism has everything to do with why some people come to Christ. That means it's not superfluous. It would only be superfluous if it were not part of the causal chain leading to salvation.

You can read the whole conversation here:  I'm a crazy Calvinist, AMA

If you're interested, I did one other "Ask me Anything" thread on Calvinism here: Ask a Calvinist

I also addressed this same subject on my blog once here: Does Calvinism render apologetics superfluous?


At 7/11/2017 6:16 AM , Anonymous scbrown(lhrm) said...

Hey Sam,

"...God successfully saves everybody he intends to save..."

I'm curious if you differentiate intent vs. will in God's willing that all men come to salvation?


That was my question, and, I'll offer the following:

A possible counterfactual:

It's apparent that the landscape amid Self/Other is a *singular* landscape. Both terms of Trinity and Love referent that singular ontological landscape. We mean here of course such in wholeness and not in privation or fragmentation.

Therefore, it's plausible that God intends to create said landscape and, if so, well then the Creative Act would be not of just a "Y" but in fact of a singular "Y" with two processions ever in-play. That would be coherent with the two outward facing doors we find inside of Eden and, also, with the fact that the traversal of either door mandates a radical change of ontic-condition.

Given such a Divine Determinism, it would be impossible for it to be otherwise. Hence we would avoid the error (...well...error IMO...) of both Occasionalism and also the metaphysically absurd error of Lucifer in thinking that there is any possible X that can in fact truthfully claim and/or steal glory from God.


At 7/11/2017 6:28 AM , Anonymous scbrown(lhrm) said...


Sorry: The tie-in there is in the plausibility of the irreducible (...cannot be otherwise...) capacity to choose between two real possibilities there amid the two arms of that "Y" or of the relational reality of Self/Other (...and so on...).

At 7/11/2017 9:44 AM , Blogger Sam Harper said...

I'm curious if you differentiate intent vs. will in God's willing that all men come to salvation?

Yes, and it can be characterized in a variety of ways: intent vs. willing, sovereign will vs. moral will, active will vs. passive will, hidden will vs. revealed will, decretive will vs. preceptive will, etc.

At 7/11/2017 12:25 PM , Anonymous scbrown(lhrm) said...

Hey Sam thank you 👍 👍


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