Since there are few things more amusing than the fevered dancing of Calvinists in their attempts to evade the obvious readings of various Bible passages, I’m interested in hearing how they will attempt explain away what is merely one of many, many examples that contradict their assertions of perfect and complete divine foreknowledge and predestination:
Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”
He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
1. The Lord clearly states that He does not know if what Sodom and Gomorrah has done is as bad as the outcry that has reached Him. Is He a) lying about His lack of knowledge, or b) telling the truth about it.
2. Does “if not, I will know” indicate that He does not know at the time He is speaking?
3. Do “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it” and “If I find forty-five there, I will not destroy it” mean exactly the same thing?
4. Did did God change His mind in response to Abraham’s requests to reduce the number of righteous men required to save the city from 50 to 10?
5. Did God already know how many righteous men there were in Sodom when He said “if I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake”?
My expectation, of course, is that the Calvinists will resort to their usual intellectual contortions and deceitful word substitutions instead of accepting God’s Word at face value. The ironic thing is that in attempting to shore up their futile case for their concept of comprehensive Divine perfection, they transform the Biblical God into a shifty, unreliable deceiver in their own image.
Some have theorized that my contempt for Calvinist Churchianity is because I have some arrogant psychological need to justify my own autonomy. This is precisely backwards. I have no need to justify the readily observable. It is because a) I know I am autonomous, ala Descartes, b) I know my will is not in perfect accordance with God’s, and c) I know I will be held responsible for my sins that I reject the convoluted, responsibility-evading dogma of Calvinism.
The contradictions between Calvinist Churchianity and Biblical Christianity are vast in number. But the key one is this: if God genuinely wills salvation for everyone and yet everyone is not saved, then it cannot be reasonably denied that God’s will can be thwarted by His autonomous creations. I strongly suspect the core problem with Calvinism is similar to a problem that atheists often manifest with regards to Christian theology; neither group understands the significance of the difference between potential and action.
A Creator God no more has to permit His creations to thwart him than the NFL has to make a touchdown worth six points. And yet, we readily observe both. Calvinists arguing God’s will cannot be thwarted due to divine sovereignty are presenting an argument that is every bit as ridiculous as trying to argue that a touchdown cannot be worth six points because the NFL has the power to arbitrarily make a touchdown worth any number of points it prefers.
The Responsible Puppet emailed me to remind me of our previous discussion, so I’ll address one of his points now. I asked him the following question:
Exodus 3:7-10. In verse 9, God’s statement that “now the cry of the Israelites has reached me” clearly implies that it had not reached Him prior to that moment. I ask TRP, did God previously know about their suffering prior to hearing that cry?
To which he responded:
I would say that God knew before creation the exact amount of suffering the Israelites would experience. He had concern for it throughout their suffering and this quote from God states that this is the time that he is going to do something about it.
Now that’s a lot, but I suspect that you are thinking that there was some suffering that God was unaware of it until this point (if not, just correct me). If you need proof that this is not the case I’ll go back to the same psalm –
Psalm 139:4 – Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
This says that God knows what we are going to say, before we say it. Assuming that any Israelite vocalized his dissatisfaction of his treatment at the hands of the Egyptians, God knew it at that point at the latest.
This is very typical of the Calvinist attempt to claim that X is not-X. As TRP has previously done, he is simply answering with another variant of “we read X to mean the opposite of X”. It is simply false to claim that a statement that something that “is happening now” means that it happened before the time specified. He then compounds this error with another substitution of the general for the specific. David is only stating that God knows what he, David, is going to say before he says it, which is presumably the result of God having searched him and knowing him, however, this knowledge is not necessarily the case for anyone else less beloved of God than the Psalmist, particularly since David specifically mentions those who are wicked, hate God, and are in rebellion against Him.