THE CONFLATION OF THE CALVINIST
In my reading of a book critique (written by Calvinistic scholar Broughton Knox in reply to an Arminian scholar Howard Marshall) I happened upon another prime example of the Calvinistic conflation that we have discussed a number of times. Knox wrote:
“The Pelagian mind is inclined to ascribe, shall we say, 5% to God and 95% to man, the semi-Pelagian 50%-50%, while the evangelical Arminian, such as our writer, 95% to God and 5% to man. Yet, after all, it is this last 5% which makes the difference between heaven and hell, so that man is, in the end, his own saviour.”
I must ask this vital question: What exactly are these percentages representing? We (non-Calvinistic “pelagians”) are ascribing 95% OF WHAT to God?
95% of man’s desires?
95% of man’s sin?
95% of man’s choices?
95% of Christ’s provision of atonement?
95% of salvation?
95% of WHAT!?!
It seems to me that in the well-meant effort of the Calvinist to ascribe all good things to God they have unintentionally also ascribed all bad things to Him. So, while the Calvinist seems most concerned with making sure mankind takes no credit for their salvation, the non-Calvinist seems more concerned with a recognizably good and Holy God. I suspect both men have a noble purpose in their pursuits, but as with most disputes the balance is somewhere in the middle.
But this balance cannot be seen in dividing vaguely defined percentages of what is to be ascribed to God and to man. Salvation is 100% of God. Merely affirming the responsibility of mankind to accept and/or reject God’s appeals for reconciliation does not in any way affect that percentage.
Only when a Calvinist, like Knox in the quote above, conflates man’s choice to humbly repent in faith with God’s choice to save whosoever does so are these types of dilemmas created. In other words, Calvinists have created a dilemma by conflating two choices as if they were one and calling them both “salvation.”
For instance, the prodigal son’s choice to return home is distinct from the father’s choice to redeem him once he arrives. To treat those two distinct choices as if they were one in the same [i.e. under the meticulous control of the father] creates an unnecessary dilemma.
Likewise, a sinner’s choice to repent in response to God’s appeals for reconciliation is distinct from God’s choice to provide those means of reconciliation through Christ’s blood. Thus, God is always the decisive cause of who He saves and the means by which He saves them. And mankind is the decisive cause of his own sin and his choice to repent of it. Only by conflating these two distinct choices is the Calvinistic dilemma really a dilemma at all.
God is 100% responsible for his choices.
Man is 100% responsible for his choices.
There is no dilemma here.