Saturday, January 2, 2010

Do Calvinists Yern for a Deeper Understanding of Responsibility?

I recently listened to a lecture by Ronald Nash where he recounts a conversation he had with J.I. Packer. They are both Calvinsts. Nash brings up the subject of Middle Knowledge. Packer says it's Arminian. Nash says, no, this could be used by Reformers to maintain God's total sovereign control and still preserve responsibility. Packer says you may have a point there. Here's a link to the clip. (link) The conversation is about 11 minutes in.

That got me wondering if Calvinists wish for a better explanation of responsibility. Our moral instincts are kinda like animal instincts. They can erode over time; especially for those who experience the opposite from a young age. Thus pigeons may overcome their natural fear of man. (No offence intended by the analogy, I think of Calvinists like Nash and Packer as brilliant rather than birdbrains.) I doubt mature Calvinists feel a pull of their moral intuitions against their doctrine, but I bet more recent Calvinists still do. Still, Packer and Nash's conversation makes me wonder if perhaps even experienced Calvinists have flashbacks from time to time. I have heard Calvinists say they don't trust their moral intuitions due to the fall and subject them to the word of God (which I can admire). Has anyone else (Calvinists or Arminian) come across cases like this or have a explanation on how moral intuitions work for Calvinists?

4 comments:

The Seeking Disciple said...

I think that Calvinist theologians obviously struggle with how do we ignore our inner feelings versus obeying the Word but the average Calvinist is just as Arminian in their following their flesh. Our free will is intact though the Calvinist theologian doesn't agree with Calvinists such as Dr. Sam Storms saying that free will is a myth. Most average Calvinists acknowledge that free will is real though they might not be able to explain it in reference to their view of God's determinism of all things.

A.M. Mallett said...

I believe the thinking Calvinist absolutely struggles with how to maintain man's responsibility for sin while at the same time demanding a dictatorial understanding of God's sovereign control. It is a very untenable position to be in.

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks Roy. Good point about a lot of Calvinists actually holding to freewill (inconsistently). You are probably right about neo-Calvinists.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

That's right trav. It seems like it would be an uncomfortable possition to be in.

God be with you,
Dan