Randal Rauser, associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Canada, can’t fathom God’s sovereignty in election:
According to Calvinists this means that the reason God chooses to damn some people is because his glory shines through more fully as a result, and God’s glory is God’s supreme concern. By choosing to send some creatures to the most horrific eternal punishments, God manifests his wrath, justice, and his undying hatred of sin. And by choosing others for grace God manifests his gentleness, mercy and abiding love.
As always, Arminians like Rauser base their criticism of the Reformed faith on tired, old misconceptions arising out of rejection of Biblical truths because of human wisdomâ€”wisdom that James calls “earthly, unspiritual, demonic”â€”as opposed to “wisdom from above” that produces spiritual fruits of purity and peace (Jas 3:15, 17).
First, he assumes that man has a will that can freely choose, outside of God’s sovereignty, whether to accept or reject the gospel. This is contrary to Scripture (1 Cor 2:14; Rom 6:16-22; John 8:44; Jer 13:23).
Second, Rauser assumes that God’s election of some for salvation and some for damnation is unfair. His human wisdom could not rationalize why God is not a universalist, “Calvinism limits God’s grace, and by doing so it limits his love. Within Calvinism God could save all people but he chooses not to.” Rauser’s God is a God of unlimited grace who savingly loves every single human being equally, but is also a pathetic, piteous, pitiful God who is totally, haplessly dependent on the human will to accomplish his loving purpose. And, of course, his mission is a failure because only a few accept his gracious offer. Thus, being founded on Pelagianism, Rauser’s Arminianism is only the starting point down the bottomless pit of Robert Schuller’s universalism.
Was God unfair when he damned the whole world except for eight people in Noah’s day? Was God unfair when he damned allâ€”men, women, children, and animalsâ€”in Sodom and Gomorrah? What did those infants and cute little kittens ever do?
God already warned Adam in the Garden of Eden of the consequences of disobedience: death. And because of the Fall, all men are reserved for death (Rom 3:10-11, 23; 6:23). It is only because of God’s grace, mercy and love that he chose some, out of all damned humanity, to be saved by sending his beloved, only-begotten Son to die on the cross for them. No, not even one of us wicked people merits any grace, mercy and love from God. But though he is perfectly just even if he destroyed all mankind after the Fall, he does save some, in spite of their undeserving condition.
Third and last, he assumes that God’s purpose in electionâ€”for his gloryâ€”is unfair. But if God does not do everything for his own glory, what do we make ofÂ “to the praise of His glorious grace,” and “to the praise of his glory” in election (Eph 1:6, 12, 14)? And what do we make of all the commands in all of Scripture to glorify God? Even the mountains, trees and rivers glorify God for his judgments and redemption! (Psa 98:8-9; Isa 44:23).
Ultimately, man’s rejection of the doctrine of unconditional election goes back to a high view of the human condition and a low view of God and Scripture. This is evidenced when Rauser concludes his criticism by his personal experience:
Then I engaged in some role playing. What if I was chosen and my daughter was damned, damned in part so that I might find a greater delight in God’s glory? At that moment Calvinism lost me. And with all due respect, I have to say good riddance.
In saying this, would Rauser reject God and refuse to give him glory, if everâ€”God forbidâ€”his daughter turns out to be a reprobate? What if Noah, Abraham and Lot refused to give glory to God for roasting their family and friends as “Christmas turkey”? This is what happens frequently to people whose conception of God is based on human wisdom.
Moreover, Rauser caricatures the Reformed as chosen people who gloat over and are “[satisfied with] the damnation of the lost.” Far from it, we glorify and thank God for choosing wicked people like us out of his mere grace and mercy. To be sure, we rejoice in the destruction of God’s sworn enemies, but we also sorrow over their demise, as we also sorrow when we see our family and friends die in unbelief.
Long ago, after Iâ€”a lifetime Arminianâ€”first learned about the Reformed faith, I did some role-playing. What if my children were not elect? At that moment,Â with the greatest of difficulty, I said to myself,
Not my will, but yours, be done. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! To him be glory forever. Amen.
And what joy to get rid of bondage to my worthless human pride, misguided human wisdom, and totally depraved human will, and to depend instead on “the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:11-12).