How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Make the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut

What undermines and is the biggest flaw in Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism is how it makes the problem of evil worse. The sovereignty that many Neo-Calvinists adhere to in the end creates determinism and shares more in common with Sunni Islam. To illustrate how Neo-Calvinism makes the problem of evil worse I am going to look at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting committed by Adam Lanza on December 14, 2012. I will also look at how John Piper responded to it.

“Which means that the murders of Newtown are a warning to me — and you. Not a warning to see our schools as defenseless, but to see our souls as depraved.”

John Piper on how Newtown was a warning by God

“So the answer to the question in the title of this message, “Is God less glorious because he ordained that evil be?” is no, just the opposite. God is more glorious for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil. The effort to absolve him by denying his foreknowledge of sin (as we saw this afternoon) or by denying his control of sin (which we have seen this evening) is fatal, and a great dishonor to his word and his wisdom.”

John Piper on God ordaining evil

Jesus wept

John 11:35 NKJV

 

Adam Lanza

Adam Lanza

How Newtown broke on CNN

9-1-1 calls made during Newtown shooting

Adam Lanza was born on April 22, 1992 to Peter and Nancy Lanza in New Hampshire and in the course of time would be a very troubled individual with a whole host of issues. Early on in life he was diagnosed with sensory-integration disorder when he started elementary school, which made him extremely sensitive to sight, touch and smell. In 2002 Peter and Nancy Lanza separated when Adam was in the fifth grade. At the age of thirteen he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and later on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Adam’s OCD was so severe that he changed socks 20 times a day and his mother did three loads of laundry each day.  Treatment however ended when his mother Nancy objected and had it stopped. It was also suspected by Peter’s father that Adam may have also had schizophrenia.  Adam was taken out of school and home schooled by his mother and father. Adam really did not have any close friends save one. Nancy spent all her time dealing with Adam, and for stress relief liked to go to the shooting range. The support Peter gave her as part of the divorce settlement allowed her to retire and focus on her son Adam.

At home Adam spent most of his time in his room playing violent video games. Black garbage bags covered the windows and people were not allowed inside his room. He communicated with his mother by email. He became obsessed with violence and death and allegedly created a spreadsheet where he researched and tracked the history of mass shootings. He was deeply inspired by the Columbine and the Northern Illinois University mass shooting in 2008 incidents. He refused to have a Christmas tree in the house and was incredibly picky about eating food. In 2010 Adam had a falling out with his father Peter and refused to interact with him, despite Peter’s attempts to do so. He also cut himself off from his brother Ryan Lanza. In June of 2012 Adam Lanza had a falling out with his one and only friend over a movie.

 

December 14, 2012:  Sandy Hook Elementary School

On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza entered his mother’s bedroom. Then while she was sleeping in bed he shot her in the head four times. Investigators don’t know exactly when Adam murdered his mother. That Friday morning he grabbed three guns from the house including a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle and two handguns and got in his mother’s car and drove 5 miles to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he arrived. Earlier that year as fate would have it Sandy Hook had just installed a new security system, and the doors were closed and locked.  At about 9:35 in the morning Adam took his Bushmaster AR-15 and shot his way through a glass panel and opened the door. He was wearing black clothing, yellow ear plugs, sunglasses and carrying magazines for his rifle.  Meanwhile at 9:35 in the morning Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were meeting with other faculty members when they heard the shooting. Concerned, Hochsprung, Sherlach and the lead teacher Natalie Hammond went into the main hallway to investigate. There they ran into Adam Lanza holding his assault rifle. The three women called out “Shooter! Stay put!” and this alerted the other individuals in the meeting. Lanza killed Hochsprung, and Sherlach. Hammond was shot in the leg and then again and laid injured in the hall way and when he Lanza left crawled back into the conference room and leaned against the door to keep him out. Sandy Hook’s janitor Rick Thorne encountered Lanza and yelled at him, “Put the gun down!” The intercom in the office was turned on. As a result teachers and students in the classroom heard the shooting and they started to react. After killing the principal and school psychologist of Sandy Hook Adam Lanza walked into the main office. School nurse Sarah (Sally) Cox hid under a desk and hoped Lanza would not find her. She saw his boots and knew he was 20 feet away. Adam never saw her and walked out of the office. Both Sarah Cox and Barbara Halstead called 9-1-1 and hid in the first aid supply closet for as long as four hours. While this was going on Rick Thorne was running through Sandy Hook alerting people to the situation.

The classroom that Adam entered was the first grade. Lauren Rousseau who was a substitute teacher had herded her students into the back of the room and was trying to hide them into a bathroom. Lanza forced his way into the classroom and killed all 15 students. Later on the teachers were found crowded in the bathroom as they were killed also. One six year old girl survived by playing dead in the corner. Later on when she was re-united with her mother she said, “Mommy I’m okay but all my friends are dead.” Another witness also heard a student plead for help saying that he didn’t want to be there. In return allegedly Lanza taunted him.

Lanza then went to another first-grade classroom, the one of Victoria Leigh Soto. Today there are conflicting reports about what happened. According to some reports Victoria Leigh Soto hid some of the students in a closet or bathroom, and others were hiding under their desks. Soto was walking to the door to lock it when Lanza entered the classroom. Lanza supposedly walked to the back of the classroom and shot the children hiding under their desks. Jesse Lewis who was a first-grade student shouted to his classmates to run for safety. Several students did and Lanza fatally shot Lewis as he was looking at him. That is one account, the other account goes like this in regards to what happened in Victoria Leigh Soto’s classroom. Lanza came in and no one said anything and all the students were sitting in the back of the room. Lanza stared at people but didn’t fire at him. The boy got up and bolted out of the classroom and survived. Those who survived in this classroom did so because they ran when Lanza stopped shooting and was re-loading. Victoria Leigh Soto put herself between Landa and some of the students and for that act of incredible bravery Lanza killed her. In another classroom first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig hid 14 students in a bathroom and barricaded the door. She told the students to remain absolutely quiet to be safe. Lanza walked past her room because the door was closed and the window covered and it is believed that he assumed that the room was empty.

At 9:39 a.m. the first police responded and arrived on site at  Sandy Hook Elementary School. At 9:40 Lanza went into one of the classrooms and took a gun and committed suicide. This was the final shot that people heard. The toll was beyond comprehension. In five minutes 20 children were killed along with six adults, plus he had also killed his mother in his sleep earlier.  Connecticut State Police were shortly on the scene. The reaction was stunning and unthinkable, the loss of life staggering. The community of Newtown grieved and it was in the national spot light for this incredible act of evil. Over the next few days there would be a memorial service, talks by President Obama and funerals would start to take place. The nation would mourn and this would be one of the most horrific mass shootings in United States history. On December 14, 2012 President Obama cried on national television in discussing the situation. Later on Adam Lanza’s father gave an interview to the New Yorker in which he said he wished his son was never born.

 

John Piper’s Response to Sandy Hook and his Thoughts on the Problem of Evil

While the President wiped tears from his face on national television and the nation was horrified John Piper issued two articles. Here is the first one for your reference. In this essay I am going to focus on the second one. On December 15, John Piper published, “A Lesson for All from Newtown.” In that essay he makes his claim that we’re all sinful and that the Newtown shooting were a picture of our own corruption.  Maybe its me, but sometimes I read John Piper’s stuff and I scratch my head and ask, “what the hell is he saying?” Yes we are all sinful I am not disputing that at all. While we maybe sinful not all of us are capable of going into an elementary school and committing a massacre like Adam Lanza did. We are all not that depraved. From my vantage point Adam Lanza did what he did because he was dealing with mental health issues. But what really stood out for me is this next and last paragraph which I want to identify.

Which means that the murders of Newtown are a warning to me — and you. Not a warning to see our schools as defenseless, but to see our souls as depraved. To see our need for a Savior. To humble ourselves in repentance for the God-diminishing bitterness of our hearts. To turn to Christ in desperate need, and to treasure his forgiveness, his transforming, and his friendship.

Now let’s stop and think about what John says here. What does he mean when he says that the Newtown murder are a warning to him and me? What does he mean by warning? If the Newtown murders are a warning by God what does that mean? I would suggest that what it means is that if the shootings are a warning that would mean that God orchestrated and planned the event. God had to put Newtown in motion in order to communicate his “warning.” If the Lord ordained evil does it mean that Adam Lanza’s rampage was an act of worship to God? In John Piper’s world I would suggest that yes, it is. But there is more that John Piper writes in regards to evil. In 1998 he gave a talk that was published as “Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be?”  In that talk John Piper explains how the Lord ordains evil. He borrows from Jonathan Edwards (who is vastly over-rated in my opinion…) to discuss how God controls all things, including evil. That includes both moral evil and natural evil. In that talk he calls out Greg Boyd and says that all evil has a plan according to God. In quoting Job so heavily especially in which he implies that it is wrong to question God I would propose that John Piper’s theology has more in common with Sunni Islam. Like the Muslim you submit, no questions asked. In the post he quotes from Charles Spurgeon when asked if all that is being taught is fatalism and determinism. He later says that Jonathan Edwards is correct in that “God decrees all sin.” I would also suggest that John struggles in saying that sin being willed by God is different than God being the author of sin. I think John Piper is dancing on the head of a pin. Its a theological version of how Bill Clinton once said, “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’, is.” However here is the other problem that John has..is he redefining sin?  If God ordains evil is he re-classifying sin to state that evil is good and good is evil?  He then goes on and says that God ordains evil to be.  I would encourage you to read the entire article.

So in the case of Newtown God willed it according to John Piper’s theology. In the end Adam Lanza was just an extension of God who was doing the Lord’s will. In the world of John Piper when evil acts are committed they are a form of worship to God. Its the opposite of saying “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” In the case of John Piper’s theology since the Lord ordains evil you go out and commit evil. In the process you have no free will. But if we’re ordained to practice evil I wonder if that is why John Piper stands by and supports C.J. Mahaney. Did the Lord ordain C.J. Mahaney’s corruption and his allegations of covering up child sex abuse? If the Lord did that is that why John Piper defends C.J. Mahnaey? If the Lord has willed that the Mahaney allegedly cover up child sex abuse, can one say that C.J. is worshiping God by allegedly covering up child sex abuse? There is a process to illustrating how Reformed  Theology/Neo-Calvinism makes the problem of evil worse.  I want to illustrate that in the next section.

 

How Neo-Calvinism Makes the Problem of Evil Worse in a Step by Step Process

Many of the Neo-Calvinists under John Piper’s spell and Kool Aid have bought into a form of sovereignty that is deeply flawed. In this view of sovereignty God ordains and knows all things in advance. In many instances he wills them to be. Many Calvinists take comfort in these answers but there is a very dark side that exists. While it can be comforting to know that the Lord ordained your job, provided you a wife or more, the tricky part is what do you do with the problem of evil in that frame of mind? If God ordains and creates all things that must mean that he ordains evil as well. Correct?

What happens is that the Neo-Calvinist is forced on a slippery slope to defend the indefensible. In order to create a God who ordains all things that must mean that this God also ordains evil as well. You can not divorce the two. Here is how the problem of evil is made worse. There is a process that one has to follow:

  1. God ordains things and is in control of everything. His sovereignty is in control of everything. As R.C. Sproul has said God is in control of every molecule. So you have a sovereignty that that now allows for determinism and fatalism. Here is how the process works.
  2. Since God is in control of everything he thus wills evil to happen. So in the case of Newtown God willed it to be, and desired it to happen. Free will is eliminated in this form of theology. He must out evil in motion.
  3. Since God desires evil to happen that means that God is not just and that he lies. It also means that when in Titus where it says God does not lie, that God is in conflict with scripture. God doesn’t desire good in the end God desires evil.
  4. The instruments of the evil which God ordains now come into play. Since God wills evil and orders it the actors become crucial. They are now doing God’s will. In the case of Newtown what it would mean in the fatalist world view  of John Piper is that Adam Lanza was doing the Lord’s will. Since God ordained evil, Adam become the actor that carried it out. Since Adam Lanza went on a shooting spree in an elementary school in the end that shooting spree is a form of worship to the Lord. Since the Lord wills evil, Adam honored the Lord by carrying out his act.
  5. Evil and Good in this scenario can be twisted. For example good can become “evil” and evil now becomes “good.” In this scenario words are redefined. Since the Lord redefines evil that is what honors him.
  6. In the end you have a twisted and corrupted God. A God who is a monster. A God who delights in people’s suffering and pain. A God who enjoys other peoples’ pain.
  7. Here is the other problem that needs to be raised…if the Lord ordains everything can people be held accountable for their actions? Will people like Adolf Hitler, Mohammed Atta, or others be held responsible for their action?  If the Lord ordained that C.J. Mahaney would engage in alleged criminal activity and cover up child sex abuse should he face punishment by God?

Its a step by step process and you have to follow the steps. I would suggest that John Piper is in the final step. His God is a monster, and its why when disasters occur he issues the idiotic statements he does. In the end John Piper is nothing but the Neo-Calvinist Pat Robertson. I would further suggest that the theology of John Piper has much more in common with Sunni Islam than with historic Christianity. Like the Muslim in Lahore, Pakistan or Jetta, Saudi Arabia you willingly submit to what the Lord desires. This is often referred to as the Islamization of Christianity. But what does it mean in the Neo-Calvinist movement? Glad you asked! That is the next segment I want to explore.

 

Neo-Calvinism and the Problem of Evil

What undermines the Neo-Calvinist movement is the problem of evil. The Neo-Calvinist theology makes the problem of evil worse and there are a number of articles or sermons that I can pull from to help illustrate my point. This is but a sampling.

Tabor Laughlin wrote a post at Desiring God called “The Day I Dug my Daughter’s Grave.” In that post he writes that while he and his wife planned to have a child the Lord had other plans. In this case the Lord planned for his wife to have a miscarriage and to lose their child at 5 months. The tone of the article left me with the impression that the author praised God for the loss of his child. If so, that is how someone in Reformed Theology/Neo Calvinism should react. They are responding to God’s will. The Gospel Coalition had another humdinger called “Miscarriage and the Confusion of Sinful Grief.” In that article it asks the question if its okay to deal with your sin while you are grieving. In that article it also refers to a miscarriage. I am not going to dive into that article as its been talked about already at The Wartburg Watch in this post here.

Then there was this audio at The Gospel Coalition that featured Matt Chandler, John Piper and David Platt. The title of the talk is called “Why ‘God Didn’t Ordain That Tragedy’ Is Terrible News.” In that talk Piper and Chandler speak how God even ordains our suffering. My question which I would love to ask Matt Chandler one day is this…if the Lord ordained his brain tumor can one say that he sinned in seeking medical treatment and having it removed. If the Lord really did ordain that Matt Chandler was to have a brain tumor shouldn’t Matt just have submitted to the will of God and let the brain tumor take his life? This blog writes about issues in the Evangelical Free Church of America. There was a fascinating situation in California where the largest infrastructure project is going on in the United States. A strong Calvinist church under the influence of John MacArthur was all about God’s sovereignty until the state of California wanted to build a high speed railroad through the church. You can read that post which is called, “The Church of the Canyons, The California High Speed Rail Project and my Question to Senior Pastor Bob Childress: Is the Lord Still Sovereign?

Since the Lord ordains everything in the end you have a faith system which is nothing but determinism and fatalism. So what does that mean if you are into Neo-Calvinism or Reformed Theology?

  1. The fall of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was ordained b the Lord. If you had a relative who was employed at Cantor Fitzgerald God ordained an Al Qaeda terrorist to fly a 767 into a skyscraper.
  2. The mass shootings in the Navy Yard, or San Bernardino were ordained by the Lord and orchestrated for a purpose.
  3. Your rape or child molestation was ordained by the Lord for his will. Hey John Piper even said that your molestation will be wasted if you don’t use if for God’s glory.  Don’t believe me read this article on The Wartburg Watch called, “John Piper Explains God’s Will in Scrabble and Child Molestation and We Pick Up the Pieces.”
  4. Lose your daughter to a drunk driver, well it was ordained by the Lord.

I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point. I firmly reject this theology as in the end you have a system in place that is nothing but a Calvinist version of fundamentalism. I say that knowing that fundamentalism comes in all different shapes and sizes. There is a good blog post a while back called “John Piper and Divine Command” which explores this issue at an atheist blog. One of the greatest tragedies of this theology is that for many atheists and those of the secular camp this determinist theology gives them reasons to reject the Christian faith. As for me I reject this view, I realized during my faith crisis that the theology I was being exposed to was not just fundamentalism but determinism. As to how one should process pain and suffering I wrote a post that explores that topic which you can read. Its called “Thoughts on Pain and Suffering: Differing Perspectives from Scott Hamilton, Ben Petrick, and Derek and David Carr.” The Lord I believe is with us in the pain, and weeps when we weep. He suffers with us. It a hard topic and one of the greatest and legitimate challenges that Christianity faces. With that I will leave you with two vides to consider. The first one deals with a perspective from Sandy Hook by the family who lost a loved one. Then I will leave you with Natalie Grant. If you agree feel free to state and if you disagree feel free to speak your mind. Take care guys and know that I love you.

25 thoughts on “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Make the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut

  1. Eagle – a brave thing to try to tackle. This is not unique to the States, only a month ago here there was the dreadful attack in Munich which was endlessly reported ‘live’ on the TV. Makes your heart sink, especially at the age of the victims (mostly 14 to 20).

    One thing that struck me in your piece was the easy availability of guns. Please don’t misunderstand that as yet another dig at (gun crazed) America from a (feminized) European (I know the stereotypes). This does though place the responsibility for their misuse firmly on men rather than God.

    I’ve heard teaching on natural disasters and why God allows them/brings them about. The preacher said God has brought about calamity on people and nations as judgment, there are examples of this in the OT, but he always warns first, and gives an opportunity to repent and avert this. Noah’s flood is a classic example. (Atheists always ignore the long period of grace up to the judgment occurring.)

    I don’t see the evils you describe here as being brought about by the will of God, but I do see them in part as God allowing us to reap what we sow.

    I’ve listened to John MacArthur on the problem of evil and God’s sovereignty. I accept he made a good faith attempt to deal with the subject given his type of theology, and I chose (in my freewill!) to listen to him. But I have to say I just didn’t get what he had to say! It didn’t really help. It went so far but no further on the perplexing nature of so much human suffering.

    You don’t have to believe what Piper or MacArthur have to say on this subject, and they only have the power over your thinking that you choose to give them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment Ken. The problem of evil I would suggest is the single best reason to reject Christianity. Hands down its what drove me away for years. Thanks for your comment.

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      • Well thanks for your thanks. 🙂

        This will never be far from us at some time. My eldest daughter has experienced in the last month or so a fellow student from her floor committing suicide by jumping off the building – heartbroken father having to collect his belongings, an acquaintance from some recent evangelism going missing and being found murdered, and other Christian acquaintences being 2 minutes away from being involved in the Nice massacre.

        The problem of suffering is paradoxical, in that it can both cause Christian believes to fall away as ‘how could a God of love allow such suffering’, and atheists to reconsider their unbelief in that ‘surely there must be more to life than this’, it is so senseless.

        Regarding shootings, British columnist Peter Hitchens, brother of famous atheist Christopher Hitchens, who (Peter) has returned to the Christian faith, has been making the point in the media for a long time now that almost all of the well-known mass shootings and murders over the last 40 of years have something in common. All the perpetrators were either on or had been on mind-alterning medication for psychological problems, or were using illegal drugs, cannabis in particular.

        He has run into a brick wall on this being investigated to see if there is a correlation/cause connection. Big pharma makes money from it, psychologists don’t want to reconsider what they are doing, soceity doesn’t want to reconsider the mess it has made of family life, and the children and grandchildren of the 1968 revolution don’t even want to think about reconsidering the failure to crack down on drugs. (No real attempt has been made to do this in the UK for a very long time, if ever.) My point is our sinful neglect in this regard can have dire and bitter consequences down the road, and we can’t blame God for them.

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  2. Good post, Eagle. Particularly in my college church, I struggled with determinism and fatalism. This was largely due to my leaders telling me that it was “God’s will” that I not serve in the congregation, and that it was supposedly due to my sin — or some obscure generational sin — that I was struggling (when it was actually a human leadership hierarchy system that showed favoritism to some people over others).

    Thank you for tackling this issue! I’ve come to similar conclusions. I am so thankful to believe once again that God is not a cruel, uncaring, evil sadist, like my college church sometimes portrayed God to me. I am so thankful to have a lot more hope now — and a bit more compassion for people (at least sometimes).

    Keep fighting the good fight, Bro. Thank you so much! = )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am inherently distrustful when people claim to have all the answers on questions such as these. Frankly, I think issues such as this are “above our pay grade” as imperfect fallen beings with limited understanding, and I am skeptical of any systematic doctrinal statement which claims to fully explain these questions.

    Which is not to say that we can’t ponder and discuss and try to gain a fuller understanding. I am absolutely not anti-intellectual, far from it. I was a philosophy major and I believe that thoughtfully improving our theological understanding is an important part of growing our faith. Rationally exploring questions such as this are vitally important to that faith growth. It is just that I believe that in so doing we eventually reach the place where we “bump our head on the ceiling” of what we can humanly comprehend.

    In my own case, the way I have come to look at this particular question is that I believe the choice between human freedom and God’s preordination/foreknowledge is a false one. Which do I believe to be true? Both of them. How can both be true at the same time? That I cannot fully understand and cannot completely coherently explain. It is like looking at two sides of a coin. When you look to fully see one side, you can’t see the other side in that moment. To see the other side fully, then you have to turn it to where you can’t see the first side. When we focus solely on preordination/foreknowledge, we cannot see how human freedom can be possible. Then when we focus on human freedom, we cannot see how God’s preordination/foreknowledge can be possible.

    In order to somehow see both at once, you have to hold the two sides in some sort of tension with each other where you simultaneously acknowledge both without being able to fully explain this dynamic. You have to be willing to humbly acknowledge your limitations and inability to completely understand. In the comparison to the coin, it is like setting the coin spinning on a table where you can see both sides at the same time but never very clearly.

    This acknowledgement of limitations doesn’t sit well with people who want to say they have all the answers and they know with complete certainty, and so they pick one side or the other and stake everything on that, and oppose the other side, and denounce the other side as heresy.

    But the Christian faith is full of these cases. Jesus is fully human and yet He is fully divine. How can both be the case? God is One and yet He reveals Himself as a Trinity. Huh? The Bible is written by human beings and reflects their styles and approaches and personalities and sometimes their biases, and yet it is the inspired Word of God. How can this be true?! I think God did this just to constantly remind us of our human limitations and our need, in the end, to rest our understanding on our faith in Him and not on ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome Dave and thanks for the comment. I like what you are saying. In many ways it takes more faith to say “I don’t know” and still believe as compared to having an answer and believing. What did Jesus say about “blessed are those who believe and don’t see?” I think that also would apply in the sense of blessed are those who believe who struggle with their faith at times. We are not going to get answers to situations like Newtown, and its wrong of John Piper to try and infer one. But there is a lot of wisdom in your comment.

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  4. Flutterhands Piper was NO different than any other Activist for a Cause.
    Whether that Cause is Calvinism or Gun Control.

    When something like Newtown happens, an Activist’s first (and only) thought is “How can I use this to advance MY Agenda?????”

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  5. This can be a difficult topic, especially if one happens to be going through difficult times at the moment.

    Since the bible tells us that God is love, I like to look at it through that lens. How would you feel if you had a spouse who was simply “predetermined” to be with you? I wouldn’t want someone who simply had to be with me. I want someone who chose freely because of a deep love they felt inside.

    So, if God is love, what if we substitute him for the attributes listed in 1 Corinthians:

    4 God suffers long and is kind; God does not envy; God does not parade himself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek his own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    That doesn’t sound like the kind of God who determined that innocent children and adults should die so that Piper can have his little warning. What a selfish perspective that is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BTDT…I love your perspective. Its my take when the Gospel deviates and becomes anything other than love what you have is something that is not faith. Jesus wept over Lazarus. He suffered in serving and he responded often with love. Too many Neo-Cals I would suggest have their faith rooted in the Old Testament instead of the New Testament. But your insight BTDT is insightful.

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    • How would you feel if you had a spouse who was simply “predetermined” to be with you? I wouldn’t want someone who simply had to be with me.

      Isn’t that called an Arranged Marriage?
      Or Christianese Courtship a la Josh & Anna Duggar?

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  6. Calvinism ends up normalizing evil. Since we are all depraved Adam Lanza’s waiting to murder people but by the grace of God, we don’t.

    Humans are not able to recognize good and evil? We should not call good, evil. That is wrong. Calvinism ends up with sin leveling make all sin the same.

    I think people are angry because God does not stop it. I think God is disappointed in us for not doing more to stop it.

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  7. I have no idea what ‘warning’ was it supposed to ‘send’? If it is that we are sinners and need Jesus Christ, that information is already available and every day persons all over the globe respond to it- without helpless children needing to be murdered.

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  8. I had thought about the problem of good and evil for a while. I believe that Good can only be good if it is out of free will. And Evil can only be evil if it is out of free will.

    1) Firstly natural disasters are neither good or evil. They really has no say in the manner. For example let say I accidentally fall off a cliff and died. Was the cliff evil for killing me? Was gravity evil for killing me? I cannot say that because the cliff and gravity has no free will. In fact that very same cliff could have provide a safe haven to many animals. And gravity is what kept humanity alive on earth (by holding the oxygen onto earth, at least). So in another point of view that cliff and gravity are good.

    There are many things that are natural. For example storms are natural. This might sound crazy since storms kills people. But I can find examples where storms are “good” for certain groups of people at certain times. For example the Spanish Armada was mostly destroyed by storms. The Mongol invasion of Japan failed mostly due to storms. So to the English and the Japanese at that time, storms are good not evil.

    That’s why anything that doesn’t have a free will can neither be good or evil. They can only be neutral.

    2)Now we go to things that might have free will. If there is no free will, a good person cannot be called good. Because he/she has no choice but to act good. And those around has no choice but to cheer him on for acting good.

    It is the same thing for a evil person, if that is the case. He/she has no choice but to act evil. And those around has no choice but to be mad at him on for acting evil.

    3) Worst of all under this theology, even God himself do not have free will. For example God said he cannot lie. Does this mean God is incapable of lying? Or did God, out of love, refused to lie to us? There is a huge difference between the two.

    And so we go to the classic question: If there is a good God, why is there evil? If we take the stance that evil people do not have free will, then they have no choice but to do evil. So as the topic talked about, can they be held responsible? So why then is God even punishing them with eternal fire? Is this really necessary? Why not, as an act of mercy, just end their existence forever so they no longer exist. Certainly these sinful men will prefer to never exist than eternal fire of hell. In that sense, throwing them into hell is indeed a sadistic God taking pleasure in torturing people.

    Even non-believers will actually agree with this. Yes some people are evil. Certainly they don’t deserve heaven. But do they really deserve eternal fire of hell? Why not just cease their existence forever? That’s why they said God is not good and God is not love.

    But God said he is good and he is indeed love. So here is the biggest problem: Love cannot be real if it punish someone who do not deserve that punishment. Now it is ALREADY HARD enough to punish someone that you love, even if that person 700% deserved that punishment. It probably already breaks your heart doing it. Can you imagine punishing someone you love that doesn’t deserve that punishment? Remember in that theology, a evil man has no free will and has no choice but to do evil! That man is designed since birth to do evil. And God made him to do evil. Where is God’s love in that? In fact isn’t this injustice? How does all these work? They don’t work!

    God put all the punishment of sin on Jesus, for all Christians that believes in Jesus. Here Jesus didn’t deserve any punishment. Yet God clearly loves Jesus. Meanwhile evil sinful Christians goes free. How does this work? Love is the reason this works. All humans were doomed in their sins. Yet God found a way to help Christians escape.

    Was God acting out of free will when he sent Jesus (who is also God) to die for us? Was God acting out of free will when he sent unrepentant sinners to hell? Almost everyone here will agree that the answer is yes God has free will. However if evil humans didn’t have free will, why bother having wrath against them? I mean yes no one is good, not one. Sinning in one “tiny” thing is just as bad as sinning in every way. But then why not just be God over good by creating only goodness, and skipping evil altogether? Under the no free will system, why not just make mindless robots that is always good and cannot sin?

    And the biggest problem with no free will is Jesus. God so loved the world that he sent his only son Jesus to die for the sins of all. But remember that these evil men cannot help but reject Jesus, so it is FAIR to just make them cease to exist. In fact if God loves those evil men without any free will, making them ceasing to exist would be the merciful thing to do. No one will complain, not even those who have faith in Jesus and goes to heaven. Why would someone in heaven even care how those burning in hell is doing? Are those in heaven sadistic too? Remember that those in heaven has no free will but chose Jesus anyways, so they really didn’t do anything. Once again what is the point of God’s wraith in the eternal fire of hell?

    And what is the point of Jesus dying for our sins anyways? Even if Jesus didn’t die on the cross, Christians will still have faith in Jesus because they have no free will! This is absolutely no need to “try to” win anyone’s heart if there is no free will. Why did God bother to try to win Christians over with his great love, mercy and grace he has for sinners? When there is no free will, there is really no need to try to win anyone over.

    That’s why there is free will and choice. Goodness and evil cannot exist without free will. A robot that has no choice but to do good or evil cannot be FAIRLY labeled good or evil (as I mentioned many times). That’s why someone like Hitler will indeed deserve eternal fire (Assuming he didn’t repent of his sins. We really cannot say, even for someone as evil as he was. That’s the power of God’s love). And good men, who loves God and the very least of these, will deserve treasures in heaven.

    4) God is still in 100% control, even when there is also 100% free will.

    Do not take free will meaning that God has no control over good and evil. In fact his control over good and evil is beyond our understanding. Mankind has 100% free will and will 100% deserve either treasures in heaven or eternal fire in hell. So each man must decide if they love God or not. But God is still 100% in control. How does that work? God is beyond our understanding that’s why.

    These Neo-Calvinists are setting up a system to limit who God is, when God is infinite and beyond all understanding. God is beyond just good and evil. He is love. A evil man might run away from God. But the very second that evil man turns around, God the loving father runs to give that evil man a hug. That evil man turned around from his own free will, not because he is a robot programmed to turn around.

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    • I want to add one more thing. It was written in Luke 14:7 that “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” If there is indeed no free will, what is heaven celebrating about? Why do they rejoice when a sinner comes to faith?

      It is almost like you turning on a stove and it heats up your water for you. And you rejoices! What? Why? You expected this to happen already.

      God knows all the future. He knew each of us more than thousands of years before we were even born. He is also in control of all things. However this does not in any way take away our choices to choose between good or evil, between love or hate and fear.

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    • At the end of the day all suffering can lead back to one event: The sins of Adam and Eve

      One might ask in year 2016: Why did that terrorist attack happen?

      Event #1: Adam and Eve, of their own free will, ate the forbidden fruit.
      Event #2: They were expelled from the garden. Death and suffering are now part of human existance.
      ………………………
      Event #100,793,867 That terrorist attack happened in year 2016

      The above holds true for any terrible events and deaths we see today. Now I do not believe in Karma. But there is such a thing as ancestoral sin, which does effect the children and future generations. Some are short and instantly related, such as David’s son dying right after he murdered Uriah. Other takes a very long time and doesn’t seem related, but they still are. The very fact that all of us today are facing death is proof that there is ancestoral sin, directly related to Adam and Eve. The curse from their sins remains to this day.

      If any of you are suffering greatly and don’t know why, I can confidently tell you it is because of the sins of Adam and Eve. The effects of sinning out of free will must happen. Instead of saying that God caused suffering, I say it is our ancestors that caused our suffering today. In fact I believe God is doing everything he can do REDUCE the suffering that we should deserve.

      But fear not! That’s why Jesus came. He will restore all things for those that believes in him. His very name is Joshua, meaning God saves.

      Even in my own life there were times where life could have gone badly, but it didn’t go that badly. Not all suffering can be avoided, and some are extremely painful. Death of our family and friends for example cannot, ultimately, be avoided. A teenager might have died at the age of 16, which is very sad. However let’s say he didn’t die. He lived a good life. What happens 100 years later when he is 116 years old? He will probably be dead before then. Death and suffering is indeed terrible. But if you look at it at long term, it really doesn’t make a difference if someone dies today or 100 years from today. They will still be dead, if this life is the ONLY life they got. And for most atheists, life really is meaningless. For example Steve Job made all these ipod and iphones. Who would even care 50 years from today? You raised a good family. Once again, who would care 200 years from today?

      In fact since Atheists do not believe in a soul, they literally doesn’t believe there is a person in the body. There is no “me” in there. Everyone is just a body. Their sons and daughters are just bodies and chemicals. And every decision any human or animal made are just chemicals. When a formerly successful and intelligent investor decided to kill himself when he goes bankrupt by a random stock market crush, that was all just chemicals. In fact he has no choice but to kill himself because his chemicals commanded him to to so. But if his friends comes to cheer him up it “positively” effects his chemicals so he no longer wants to kill himself. Of course there is not actually such a thing as “positively” since there is no morality with chemicals. That’s why if they understand what Atheism means, they will realize that life is meaningless. All success and failures, all good and evil, are all meaningless.

      But good news! This life is NOT the only life. There is an eternal life in heaven to follow for anyone who has faith in Jesus. And everything you do today means something and God remembers it. When you suffer and endures, God certainly remembers. Your name will be written in the Book of LIfe and your story recorded for all eternality to see. Your death is not the end but a whole new beginning in heaven, if you believe.

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      • I’m curious where you get your thinking about where atheists find our meaning and purpose in life. Have you ever read or talked to atheists about that? I’d recommend going to ex-christian.net or the patheos atheist channel if you’d like to investigate further into how us atheists think. Dr. Dan Fincke has quite a few articles addressing such things and he makes an excellent starting point. I’ll put a few links below.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2014/04/top-10-tips-for-christian-evangelizing-from-an-atheist/

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2009/08/on-the-meaning-of-meaning/

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      • Hi Blue. Atheists don’t believe in a god or gods. However many don’t understand how disturbing the views of Atheism can be. Of course, this doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of a god or not. I already listed some examples in my previous posts so I won’t repeat myself.

        As for my view, I got them from various sources. But here is a recent one by Andy Stanley on the topic of atheism.

        http://northpoint.org/messages/who-needs-god/atheist-2-0/

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      • Hi CHIPS. I’m quite aware of what atheists believe, seeing that I am a very happy one myself. ^_^ I offered you other sources because your link from Andy Stanley is from a Christian church isn’t from an actual atheist but from someone from a religious faith system. I’d urge you if you are interested in understanding more about what atheists believe and how they find meaning/purpose in life to read them. You wouldn’t recommend that someone learns about Christianity by learning from Islamic or Wiccan sources right? That’d be biased and not a fair take on what makes Christianity as a whole.

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  9. Calvinism has always struck me as the Christian version of nihilism. And I’ve known a few nihilists so I guess I can understand why people like it so much. And if the Christian god is omnipotent and omnipotent, well then sure I can see the reformed view being the logical conclusion.

    Tough article to write Eagle. Interesting read.

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