Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 12 of 13)
02/16/2009 - Tur8infanThis is part 12 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).
Jay Dyer says:
11) [A consistent Calvinist must be] An agnostic, in that human reason is so damaged by the fall and total depravity, it cannot accurately reason about God and ever attain certainty.
a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)
Scripture has been given so that we may know God and believe on the Son of God (John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.). Through faith we understand the things that Scripture teaches (Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.). The unregenerate man's faculties are hopelessly ruined in the fall (Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) Thus, Jesus spoke of the unregenerate Jewish leaders as "blind guides" (Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.). Indeed Jesus went so far as to say that without regeneration one cannot see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.)
b) The Accusation Disputed
Agnosticism is a lack of belief in the existence of God. No consistent Calvinist can be an agnostic, since faith in Christ is a central tenet of Calvinism.
Calvinism denies that unregenerate man comes to God of his own abilities, rejecting this Pelagian error in favor of the Scriptural teaching that God changes the hearts of men and opens their spiritual minds to see the truth. However, in regeneration, there is a restoration of the spiritual faculties of man: this is variously described as giving site to the blind, making the lame walk, curing the leper, and raising the dead to life. Jesus performed physical miracles in illustration of these principles, and each of these physical miracles Jesus performed pointed to the spiritual work that the Holy Spirit does.
Thus, Calvinism consistently affirms the total depravity of man and denies that unregenerate man can come to know God, even though God can be clearly seen:
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
c) The Accusation Redirected
Of course, Catholicism is not inherently an agnostic religion: it does acknowledge the fact that God exists. Practically speaking, however, Catholicism tries to instill a lack of confidence in people, in their ability to read and understand the Bible (even though, the Bible itself teaches otherwise). They suggest this for one obvious reason: if people weigh each doctrine of Catholicism in the scales of Scripture many doctrines (papal infallibility, the immaculate conception of Mary, Purgatory, etc. etc.) fall short and are seen to be unbiblical and even anti-Biblical.
Furthermore, the teachings of Catholicism, while not formally imbuing agnosticism do lead one to distrust human senses/reasoning (whether or not this related to the fall), not only for the unregenerate but for all men. Thus, the founder of the so-called Society of Jesus, Ignatius Loyola, stated: "I will believe that the white that I see is black if the hierarchical Church so defines it." The only path to certainty is apparently the definition of "the hierarchical Church." But such certainty is not obtained by reasoning, and really cannot be. Thus, if Calvinists were guilty for the reasons Dyer alleges (which, of course, they are not) then those in Catholicism would be similarly guilty, if they followed in the footsteps of Ignatius Loyola.
As you must already know, the difference is that Calvinism places faith in the Bible (the written and unchanging Word of God), whereas Catholicism places faith in Rome (that they allege is the true Church of God, but which has abandoned the true gospel). That may seem harsh because those in Catholicism claim to believe the Bible. On the other hand, they have the order of authority reversed, so that they will simply accept whatever teaching Rome gives (even when it is contrary to the plain sense of Scripture) and understand the Bible in light of that teaching, rather than the other way around - accepting only those teachings that jive with Scripture.
Continue to Part 13