“The same God who brings the storm to your life is the same One who will rebuke it.”
Said the quaint little old man. Sounding rather like a shaman more than a pastor. Well…no, not really. He sounded rather like a neo-Reformed mystic, which is the way the church is sounding in general these days. Christianity stripped of its Jewish philosophical foundations and pressed, mashed, hashed and crushed into the square hole of Greco-Roman gnosticism; with a little flavoring of the hyper-conservative political middle finger thrown in for good measure, to give it the illusion of solidarity with Libertarianism (or, rather, Enlightenment liberalism, which is what this Republic was founded upon).
In the end it is merely one thing really. Destructive evil. I have often said it and I will continue to say it: The greatest strategic move of the Enemy was to remove the Jewish roots of Christianity and replace them with European paradoxical mythology-as-philosophy instead. This move has removed man from himself, made God a hypocrite, and Jesus irrelevant. And at the same time, having found really cohesive and heavily bound damed-if-you-don’t form in Calvin’s Institutes (as well as a little help from the fear-mongering, authoritarianism, and stake-burning of his friends Luther, Knox, Edwards, the Puritans, and so on and so forth) it is so hard to see.
You remember the story, right? From Matthew. The Disciples, a boat, a hearty storm, fear, and a pleading for a rescue. An asking of the Son of Man, “Do you not care if we perish?” And something tells me that they weren’t being facetious or rhetorical. That was a real question, born out of real fear from a real storm that they knew and understood posed a real danger to their lives. They saw the danger and they were afraid. Cause and effect, nature and man doing what they do, according to their ability to act…according to their ability to exist, which means that they cannot in fact BE God, they must be themselves. If they are themselves, then they act according to themselves, not according to God’s control, nor according to God’s predestination, nor His foreknowledge. But wholly and utterly of themselves alone. Because a Creation that is controlled by God is determined by God, and that makes Creation redundant. For God cannot create a thing to do something He can do better Himself, which is everything, by definition, because He is everything that HE needs to be. And thus if Creation exists it exists for itself, not FOR God, meaning that God created Creation in order that it DO and BE apart from God, not under his direct control, and it must have its own purpose, and its own ways of achieving that purpose, that involves a relationship with the Creator, but not a possession by Him. Because if it was necessary that God control Creation, then Creation becomes merely an extension of God, which is redundant, and metaphysically contradictory, and this is impossible.
But, though they like to think they use reason and logic to argue their reformed points, they could not be further from the truth. For contradiction can never be equated with “reason”; I don’t care how smart R.C. Sproul thinks he sounds. When you argue that Creation must be possessed by God in order to exist, you are in fact basing your “logic” on metaphysical mutual exclusiveness. God is God and Creation is Creation. If one becomes the other in any way, then neither can exist according to reason.
Along with Sproul, the sweet little guest preacher (at my “non-Calvinist” church) didn’t understand this either. And, well…I suppose that when you are as overly-certain as the neo-Reformed group is, your tend to check your reason at the bathroom sink in the morning, every morning. You begin to confuse the theoretical and the abstract with concrete reality. And, presto, you have reformed “logic”.
“The same God who brings the storm to your life is the same One who will rebuke it.”
That was the quote with which he started the sermon. The story of the Jesus rebuking the storm on the water was his Scripture passage of choice.
Now, let’s stop being afraid to confront the madness and insanity and call this what it IS: That statement makes no sense at all. It is, by flagrant definition, circular and meaningless. What it effectively says is this:
God rebukes Himself. God does a thing for the sole purpose of UNDOING it. God creates misery in order to assuage the misery, in order to teach man to…what, exactly? Well, really, that he is simply the vessel for both. That man has the string which God pulls to illicit the proper “response” to His capricious ways. That what man does or thinks is irrelevant outside of the appropriate response to the pain or pleasure, for God is the one who is in charge of both the evil and the good in man’s life, and God will do what He does regardless of man’s thoughts, desires, and yes, faith. That man’s only role is to bring forth the appropriately mindless emotional response. Man is to either submit to either pain or pleasure, depending on the circumstances the Lord sovereignly brings. And that to resist the proper response is, in fact, akin to resisting God, as the One who brings both GOOD and EVIL. Man’s mind and will is irrelevant. Submission to the whims of God is all that man can do, which makes man functionally non-existent. The purpose of man then becomes to deny that he IS himself. That he was purposefully created to not exist. And this makes God, thus, the hypocritical worker of meaningless-ness.
Yes, that one little statement says all that.
Think I’m reaching? Think I’m exaggerating? Ah…I know. I’m full of it. What I just said makes no sense. How did I get that from that?
You think you’ve got the answer, don’t you?
But I’ve already anticipated what you are thinking. How did I do that? Because I WAS you, Calvinist, for fifteen years. I begin every post with what I know YOU will say. What YOU will declare not true about what I post is precisely how I organize my argument. I’m not as obtuse as you assume, and that will always be your weakness when entering the arena of ideas. You never prepare because you assume that your superficial arguments are, in fact, full of depth and readily apparent reason. Which they are not. Reason is merely wrapping. What is underneath is decidedly insane.
You are saying that this is not true. That God is bringing pain in order to teach faith in the midst of adversity. That He will reel in the pain when your faith reaches the appropriately lofty realm of ether. That you will be strengthened the next time a painful circumstance arrives that is NOT God’s doing. That God teaches you so that at that time, you’ll be prepared.
Prepared to do what? Prepared to weather the storm that God may not relieve me of next time? Prepared to concede that the storm which God did not bring is under no obligation to relent regardless of my faith? Yes, that, really, and more as well.
That God is not in a position to answer prayers or faith in either case, because in the first instance it is God doing and God relieving and thus, by definition my faith can have nothing to do with it (for if God brought the storm He is under no obligation to relieve it except at his arbitrary good pleasure, in which case, my faith is irrelevant…for if rebuking his own perfect work is contradictory and irrational, how much more then is God rebuking His own perfect work as a function of MAN’S imperfect “faith”, which is even more subjective, if that were possible?). And in the second instance the pain is brought by blind nature who cannot by definition respond to man’s faith.
In both cases man’s faith, his mind, is irrelevant. HE is irrelevant.
And then you might be tempted to say that God brings the storm so that next time, when it is not Him bringing the storm, you’ll have built up your faith to the point that He can intervene.
But think about what you are saying. God can somehow intervene according to my faith, but if not for my faith He could not intervene. And yet He can bring a storm of His own power and freely rebuke it in order to teach me faith. By purposely ignoring my faith and rebuking Himself apart from me somehow is supposed to teach me that my faith will be efficacious for circumstances which have nothing to do with God. That God will intervene on behalf of a faith that was never relevant to the equation that God used to teach me faith in the first place (remember God brought the storm, and God rebuked it…there is no mention of man’s faith having anything to do with it). That irrelevant faith is supposed to magically become relevant when the circumstance is not of God; and if my faith is not “real”, then I will be left to the mercy of the circumstance because God cannot intervene. Why? Because of my lack of faith. Which I was supposed to learn from a situation where faith could not possibly matter at all.
And further, I would argue of faith: It is a faith that God can rebuke the storm…but you have only learned faith by watching God both bring and rebuke storms that HE is generating. But how can one build faith for what is not being shown; what is not being made evident. Your faith that God can rebuke storms that HE controls cannot be logically and rationally translated into faith that God can rebuke storms that He is NOT in control of. It is, in fact, BLIND faith, that is, faith based on no evidence whatsoever. Not only that, but based on no reason, no rational meaning. How can a faith based on one thing be applicable to something entirely different and yet MEAN anything rational? It cannot. The only way you build faith in God being able to thwart the storms in your life is to see Him do it consistently knowing that the pain (storm) is NOT of God. That nothing outside of God can subvert His will. But if your faith is based purely on seeing God create something in order to rebuke it (call it evil, needing to be UNDONE), and you acknowledge that God is perfect, then not only will any faith you “learn” from such a scenario be false (that is, blind and arbitrary…for, again, what does your faith have to do with what God has already decided to do and does in spite of YOU and CREATION, by design) but it will be blasphemous as well. For how is it possible to call faith righteous when it is based upon trusting that a perfect God will purposefully subvert His own perfect will? The very concept is nonsensical.
The only possible purpose to my faith then, in this scenario, “The same God who brings the storm to you life is the same One who will rebuke it”, is to understand that ALL that happens to me is of God and from God, and thus my faith, my thoughts, my self, my consciousness, my feelings, my will are all categorically beside the point.
Please…please, reader, I beg you to see this. Please, please be someone who sees this, for I fear that I will find no one who can grasp this, whose thinking allows them access to the fact that there is no way around it. Those who hold to these mutually exclusive ideas MUST believe them if they proclaim them and yet I have found only one or two that will apprehend it. This kind of thinking is determinism, plain and simple. It is the modus operandi of all of Calvinist theology. The idea that YOU are beside yourself as a self-conscious soul. That your very ability to be aware is WHY you are wicked and hated by God. But more than that–for that is merely the moral point to Calvinism–is the fact that according to their metaphysics you cannot possibly exist at all. You are forever bound to forces that are outside of you, either God or your “sin nature”. That what you think is categorically irrelevant, for your thinking cannot ever equate to a will that is efficacious for bringing about anything at all. That all that happens to you is in spite of you. There is, in fact, NO YOU anywhere. YOU are an illusion. Your very thoughts right this minute are determined actions that have already been pre-ordained for you, and which are inevitable and thus have existed always even before they existed at all; that there is no real cause because the event is categorically, singularly determined to BE what it is ALONE…for that is precisely what determinism is; a denial that any CAUSE is real. Things are singularly determined already events, the only real cause can be whatever has ordained them; and really, not even God can be the cause, for DETERMINED means precisely that it MUST exist, and there is nothing and no one that can ever make it NOT exist. Not even God’s own will can be called the cause of what is wholly, utterly determined. If anything caused it, even God’s free will, then it is not determined, it is an effect, and thus, was never determined. A thing cannot both be inevitable and NOT inevitable at the same time. If it was ever NOT inevitable, then it is NOT determined. When we declare things determined by God then we must proceed to the logical conclusion of that statement and concede that God Himself is determined, and thus, like us, is not Himself either, but is at the mercy of what? Of determinism. God is not God. Determinism is God, and determinism thus itself must then be determined…and on and on we go, a never ending, self-contradictory and eternally self-perpetuating equation that has no rational end in sight. All reality being a black hole of determined events that cannot have really be determined by anything at all. A black hole of universal nothingness…pointlessness.
Welcome to Reformed Theology, my friends. Lawless, pointless, useless God and man and universe. This is the soul-sucking “faith” that has so many otherwise rational people convinced that they are really “alive” in Christ, when their very doctrine demands that the only reason they have for existing is to roll over and play dead.
But, alas…this is hard to grasp. And yet if we are consistent in our logic, then we must concede that things happen because other things freely act. Free acts upon free acts is the very premise of Creation. But very few people will concede that, for it is so very difficult after so many years of rejecting the blatant free will premises of the Old Testament.
At any rate, at best, it cannot matter even if your thoughts and acts were “free” even on some kind of micro, limited level; the idea that anything can be truly free is completely outside of reformed theology when you take the thinking to its logical conclusion. Which is where Calvinists should start, but never do. Because if they started at the conclusions, no one would ever listen to them. They would laugh them out of their loft ivory towers. And the world is laughing, really. The world is rejecting religion in droves and this theology is why.
Remember, the core weakness of Calvinism is that it makes everything an illusion. They can NEVER be right because according to their own theology (and this is true, incidentally, of scientific determinists as well) they cannot KNOW anything.
More to come, hopefully less fragmented. But, we’ll see how I feel like rolling.