Friday, February 12, 2010

Holy Blasphemy

I was reading a critique of dispensationalism today when I stumbled across a classic statement of Reformed/Calvinist thinking. I think it deserves to be pointed out. In criticizing Scofield's distinction between a Dispensation as a "method of testing" and a Covenant as "everlasting and unconditional," Joseph Canfield slips in the following parenthetical remark: "The blasphemy of binding God who is Holy to unconditional relationships with sinful man is blithely overlooked." (Canfield, Joseph M. The Incredible Scofield and His Book. Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1988, p. 217.)

Wow. Just as a fried egg illustrates "your brain on drugs," the quote above illustrates "the Gospel on Calvinism." This shows that Reformed-Christian thought cannot conceive of how sinful man can apprehend God's grace with full, objective certainty. It moves God far away from us, it places insatiable conditions on everything that connects Him to us. Because God is "Holy" or, in other words, "Sovereign," every comfort Word & Sacrament can offer - forgiveness, hope of salvation, etc. - must, to a strict Calvinist, be hedged, qualified, contingent on the unknowable and eternal decree of God. And so any Calvinist who hungers for assurance must either be inconsistent in his beliefs or tormented by doubt.

Only Islam places a deeper schism between God and man. God is so holy (according to Islam) that it would be inconceivable for Him to become a man and die for mankind, as Jesus did. Why would He need to do that? What could compel Him to do that? Whatever answer comes to your mind, the Muslim mind is closed to it for the same reason that Canfield's Calvinist mind is closed to the idea of God making unconditional promises to sinners. To them, such an answer would place a limitation on the sovereignty of God. To them, such an answer would be "blasphemy."

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