Sunday, November 20, 2011

Self Made Theology

Roger Olsen has come out with a book entitled "Against Calvinism".  In it he claims to be saving God's reputation from the New Calvinists who believe that God is sovereign to the point that he has determined even calamity to happen such as 9/11.  Evidently one can be sovereign and yet not control all things.  One of the most disturbing things he states in his book is that a God who would deliberately chose to let some go to Hell and cause calamity in the world would be hard to distinguish from Satan!  One wonders how he can come to such a conclusion but eventually in the book he shows his hand as to why he thinks God's reputation needs to be salvaged.

When asked by one of his students if God should come down to him and tell him that the Calvinist position is correct concerning election and predestination would he be able to worship this kind of God, Olsen says no!  In other words he is saying that it doesn't really matter what the Bible says; I already have my mind made up as to what God should be like and I will not worship any other kind of God even if I am wrong.

Well I know that the few people who read this blog are as appalled at such a stance as I am.  It would be easy for me write about how unbiblical such a presupposition is and I think a case could be made that no actual Christian could say such a thing.  If fact I am somewhat surprised that some Calvinists have called this a scholarly work when he makes no real attempt to support his arguments from the exegesis of Scripture, argues primarily from his own preferences (see above) and refuses to enter into dialogue or debate publicly to defend his positions.  But my concern is not what he believes but what we as Christians believe.

I think sometimes we do something akin to what Olsen does when it comes to believing the Bible.  In our hearts we know that if the Bible says something it is true and wouldn't dare say that we believe something so strongly that even if God himself said we were wrong we wouldn't give it up.  He tells us that we can give ourselves totally to his care, take up our cross and follow him, forsake family and security for something far better and we can do so because he is sovereign over all things not just over what we let him rule over.  We say we believe this but when push comes to shove and we have to stand for Christ or bow to this world or say no to a loved one we balk.  Our sin is the same, if not worse than Olsen's.  We refuse to worship the God we believe in.  He at least refuses to worship the God he doesn't believe in.  He might be wrong but he is at least consistent.

At the end of the day we either believe what we read in the Bible or we decide that the presuppositions that we have come to through the experiences of our lives and the influence of others will rule what we believe and more importantly will rule how we live out our lives.  What I find disturbing when I saw what Olsen was saying is not that someone can say that and still claim to be a Christian but how close we can come sometimes in doing the same thing and perhaps not even realizing it.  May the Lord grant us power and wisdom to live in light of his divine sovereignty and wisdom, not to deny it by either our words or our lives.


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