What on earth is a 100% Calvinist, TGC?
January 14, 2015
This interview at a Gospel Coalition website struck me as very odd.
I suspect that the "Calvinism" these two gentlemen are referring to has very little to do with historic Reformed theology, and more to do with the fact that what passes for "Calvinism" today has been watered-down to mean acceptance of predestination and the imputation of Christ's righteousness. If you don't believe me, read this by Richard Muller.
For a while now, I've thought that a lot of so-called "Calvinists" in the broader North American church are, unwittingly, hyper-Calvinists (doctrinally speaking). Though, if Alcorn is correct, who am I to tell them that? After all, in his view, "It's fine to label ourselves, but I think it's wise and kind to avoid labeling others. No one likes being put in a box."
But then its okay to argue that Calvinists can "end up being accomplished logicians rather than pure biblicists. If we're attempting to be card-carrying Calvinists, trying to keep in step with our theological comrades, our real authority is our theological system, or our logic, not the Bible."
Who are these "accomplished logicians," as opposed to "pure biblicists," that Alcorn just - ahem - labeled?
I didn't realize that the Bible actually demanded that we choose between the two (see Matt. 22:32). Christ's logic was devastatingly biblical!
A Lutheran can insist on Christ's human nature possessing ubiquity; and a Reformed theologian can call that illogical (because it is). But the Lutheran gets to say, "don't put Christ in a box" (no pun intended). Invariably, I'll use a little logic with the doctrine of divine simplicity to suggest that if one attribute is communicated to the human nature then necessarily every other attribute must be. Thus: Christ's human nature is also self-existent and eternal, which is illogical and unbiblical.
Theology, thankfully, has never been done in terms of "pure biblicism." When it has, the consequences have always been deleterious. "Pure biblicism" is a Socinian way of theologizing, historically speaking. And biblicism can lead someone to hell.
In addition, Reformed theologians have written extensively on divine permission, free choice, etc. We don't need to "sound like an Arminian" when we speak of divine permission. We also don't need to "sound like an Arminian" when we speak of the free offer of the gospel and the obligation of sinners to respond. Because we've generally tried to speak this way. In fact, the Reformed theologians of the past argued that they did more justice to the freedom of the will than any Arminian (Remonstrant) theologian could.
Finally, the interview gives the impression of a type of reasonableness that sounds and looks nice. And that has great rhetorical power. But on closer reflection, however, it's completely unrealistic. As I see it, there are evangelicals who hold to Socinian, Antinomian, and legalistic views; and I see nothing wrong with telling people who hold to such views that they need to "Stop it!" because their position was already advocated (sometimes more articulately) in the past, but still found wanting. The problem is not telling people their views are wrong or labeling their views as wrong. The problem is that we either do it carelessly or not at all.