The Reformation

The God of Calvinism

by Art Sippo

The real problem with Calvinism is that it seeks to extol the power of God at the expense of his goodness. God is permitted to make purely arbitrary decisions about whom to save and whom to damn just because he is God. And the horrifying thing is that the Calvinists believe that human actions are all predetermined by God to begin with. So God makes us all evil, determines who will persevere in evil (the majority) and who won't (a minority), then he eternally tortures the ones whom he has predestined to be evil as if it were their own fault!

The analogy that I would draw is to a billionaire with unlimited resources who goes into a country of poor people who are starving and decides to feed only one out of 3 people while allowing the other 2/3rds to starve to death. He could easily feed everyone, but he picks the recipients of his gracious gift of food arbitrarily just to prove that he is rich & powerful and thus to glorify himself. There is no special reason why he picks one person and not the other. What would we think about such a monster? Would we think he was gracious or just a self-righteous prig? Yet this is precisely what Calvinism claims for their God. There is another paradox as well. God is supposed to be remote from the evil acts that men do so that even though he ordains them, men actually carry them out spontaneously of their own accord. Consequently, men are responsible for evil and God allegedly is not. But then when it comes to the good that men do, the Calvinist tells you that God is the ultimate source of goodness so that men cannot obtain credit/merit for their good deeds. So God is an arbitrary monster that you cannot please. You can only anger him with what you do.

The Calvinist will also argue that only a God that can do whatever he pleases is worthy of worship because otherwise he cannot bring about what he promises to his followers. They show allegiance to God's raw power, not to his inherent goodness. This disturbs me because it is exactly the apologetic that the Roman Emperors used when opposing Christianity, "I am powerful and can save your life in this world or make it miserable. Your God is impotent and cannot oppose my will." This is naked theological positivism. Some extreme Calvinists like Gordon Clark are literally voluntarists. They believe that whatever God wills is good because he wills it, not because God adheres to any moral standards. Consequently, if God commands you to commit murder, theft, or adultery it is morally permissible because God's will is the supreme authority. God could not be supreme if his will was limited in its scope. In this system all notions of good and evil are arbitrary extensions of the will of God. The Bible teaches that God is all good and that there is no shadow or turning in him. The Calvinist God does not meet these criteria but "transcends" them.

Art Sippo
The Catholic Legate