I have often noted the fact that most Christian’s theology, as reflected by their prayers, is a lot better than their theology reflected in their words. When one bows in humble worship and focuses upon the Triune Majesty of God, one’s mouth will not, normally, be filled with the praises of the creature.
Calvin well said in the Institutes, III:1.4,
I admit that profane men lay hold of the subject of predestination to carp, or cavil, or snarl, or scoff. But if their petulance frightens us, it will be necessary to conceal all the principal articles of faith, because they and their fellows leave scarcely one of them unassailed with blasphemy. A rebellious spirit will display itself no less insolently when it hears that there are three persons in the divine essence, than when it hears that God when he created man foresaw every thing that was to happen to him. Nor will they abstain from their jeers when told that little more than five thousand years have elapsed since the creation of the world. Of course, this third assertion should not have been classed with the first and second, which respectively concern the Trinity and Gods Omniscience, since it involves a chronological computation assuming no gaps, based on the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, together with several assumptions about the chronology of Genesis 1. (For further reference see notes on Book One, Chapter XIV, section 1.) For they will ask, Why did the power of God slumber so long in idleness? In short, nothing can be stated that they will not assail with derision. To quell their blasphemies, must we say nothing concerning the divinity of the Son and Spirit? Must the creation of the world be passed over in silence? No! The truth of God is too powerful, both here and everywhere, to dread the slanders of the ungodly, as Augustine powerfully maintains in his treatise, De Bono Perseverantiae (cap. 1420). For we see that the false apostles were unable, by defaming and accusing the true doctrine of Paul, to make him ashamed of it. There is nothing in the allegation that the whole subject is fraught with danger to pious minds, as tending to destroy exhortation, shake faith, disturb and dispirit the heart. Augustine disguises not that on these grounds he was often charged with preaching the doctrine of predestination too freely, but, as it was easy for him to do, he abundantly refutes the charge. As a great variety of absurd objections are here stated, we have thought it best to dispose of each of them in its proper place (see chap. 23). Only I wish it to be received as a general rule, that the secret things of God are not to be scrutinized, and that those which he has revealed are not to be overlooked, lest we may, on the one hand, be chargeable with curiosity, and, on the other, with ingratitude. For it has been shrewdly observed by Augustine (de Genesi ad Literam, Lib. 5), that we can safely follow Scripture, which walks softly, as with a mothers step, in accommodation to our weakness. Those, however, who are so cautious and timid, that they would bury all mention of predestination in order that it may not trouble weak minds, with what color, pray, will they cloak their arrogance, when they indirectly charge God with a want of due consideration, in not having foreseen a danger for which they imagine that they prudently provide? Whoever, therefore, throws obloquy on the doctrine of predestination, openly brings a charge against God, as having inconsiderately allowed something to escape from him which is injurious to the Church.
There is something about God’s freedom to give His grace to whom He sees fit, outside of creaturely merit or works, that so crushes the pride of man, that to know this is the biblical teaching cannot but help produce a result. Most live in ignorance of the subject, its power buried under a ton of tradition. But when the light of day shines upon the subject, one of two things happens. Either the heart is broken, and in Job-like acknowledgment of our creatureliness we place our hands upon our mouths and bow before our Maker, never to look at ourselves, or at Him, in the same way again, or, the creature, the pot, will rebel against this divine truth. “I will never worship a God like that!” one woman said to me once, and that hatred of God’s truth has been expressed by many others as well. The more clearly one sees this truth, the more desperately one must suppress it. The results can be sad to observe.
Someone in channel who frequents theologyweb.com posted a statement from “Mr. Holding” that included these words: “When it is used as a rhetorical cover, as White often does, yes. He uses breathless ‘praise’ as a rhetorical device to cover a lack of logical or sufficient response. Piper did too a little bit; not much.” I can honestly say that one thing that has not marked “Mr. Holding’s” writings on Romans 9 has been a sense of awe or worship or reverence or humility. Obviously, pointing out the simple facts of the language is not sufficient for one who is so desperate to avoid the freedom of God in salvation, and even though Paul communicates with compelling clarity, nothing can stop the mind that is intent upon remaining a pot in control of the Potter.
There is, however, something not only very sad, but very dangerous, in knowing the truth about God’s freedom, and remaining in rebellion against it. You cannot be neutral to your status as a pot: you either embrace the Potter, or you move farther and farther away from Him. The results can be devastating, and when we see such a one running hard away from the truth, we should only learn from this to say often each day, “But for the grace of God….”