One of the blessings of the Internet is having a vast collection of Reformed and Calvinist resources at my fingertips. I have made many online friends over the years who have inspired me in my walk with Christ and whose words of encouragement have helped me in all areas of my life. It's also a comfort to know that so many other people out there, both Calvinist and Arminian, wrestle with difficult issues as they travel on their own spiritual journeys, actively seeking the precious truths found in God's word.
Alas, there is a downside to this virtually unregulated medium. Anyone can get a web site or a blog and say just about anything with an air of authority they wouldn't otherwise have in the "real" world. (Hey, I'm living proof of that.) And that usually means one must sift through tons of dirt and mud (and venom and bile) to find a single nugget of wisdom.
Don't get me wrong. I love controversy as much as the next guy. In fact, I had an hour-long discussion with two Mormon "elders" just the other night who stopped their bikes to try and convert me as I was taking out the trash. (They eventually gave up in frustration and rode off, saying that it was clear I didn't even believe the Bible, and that I was wasting their time!) But much of the controversy found on the World Wide Web comes from Christian bloggers in what can only be described as a misguided (and in many cases, I'm willing to grant, unintentional) attack on some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Like the Remonstrants of old, these bloggers are lashing out in ignorance against certain teachings in scripture because they can't make sense of them from a human perspective. "A God who chooses some people for salvation and not others? That isn't fair! My God is a God of love! And what do you mean that God ordained sin to enter into the world and that he causes bad things to happen? My God is not the author of sin! My God is not evil!" On and on they ramble, never seeming to tire of setting up Calvinist straw men and knocking them down in righteous indignation.
It is the issue of God's sovereignty with which they seem to have the biggest problem. Oh, they will readily agree that God is sovereign over all creation, but they will be just as quick to criticize a brother or sister who talks of a God who turns hearts toward hatred (Psalm 105:25), who means evil for good (Genesis 50:20), or who molds all people for his own purposes (Romans 9:21-23).
Unfortunately, they don't stop at mere criticism. Many go on to make the outrageous claim that we Calvinists believe in an evil God. They would agree with Dr. Roger Olson, professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, who said, "The God of Calvinism scares me; I'm not sure how to distinguish him from the devil."
Which brings us to the issue at hand.
Imagine the following situation: I'm out for an evening stroll when I smell something burning. I look around and notice flames in one of the second floor windows of a neighbor's house. In the other window, I can see a little girl pounding on the glass and can hear her cries for help. I do nothing. I don't even use my cell phone to call 911. I just stand there watching until the entire house is engulfed in flames and the little girls dies. Now, since I was perfectly capable of saving her, but chose not to, how could anyone with a conscience say that I was not responsible for her death?
From a basic human perspective, there wouldn't be any doubt. By standing there and doing nothing as that little girl burned to death, I would be just as culpable as if I had started the fire in the first place. And that's really what we humans care about, isn't it, deciding who's to blame in tragic situations?
So, here's the question I have for you Arminians: If a sovereign, loving, all-powerful God neither ordains nor causes bad things to happen, but simply stands by and allows them to happen, then how does he escape responsibility for the pain and suffering of those involved? (Keep in mind that the "bad things" being talked about here can refer to everything from the stubbing of one's toe to the eternal damnation of one's soul.)
I submit that you cannot answer that question without betraying your own Arminian worldview. You cannot answer it without resorting to the same theological gymnastics you accuse Calvinists of performing. And you certainly cannot answer it if you have a problem conceiving of a truly sovereign God who works all things for his ultimate glory.