Recently I had an enlightening conversation with EDD (an exhaustive divine determinist). Calvinists who affirm exhaustive divine determinism believe that God causally determines all things all the time (unless they are discussing 1 Timothy 2:4, these Calvinists do affirm that “all” means “all”). This means that everything about a human — every thought, belief, action, behavior, evaluation, and judgement — is always causally determined by something or someone other than the human.
This exhaustive divine determinist scolded me for holding a view that, from his perspective, does not allow for the blessed assurance of salvation, which he believes is central to the message of the Gospel. I disagreed and informed him that I know that I am in a true love relationship with my Creator (the essence of salvation). He asked how do I know I love God? I responded: “How do you know you love your mom? How do you know you love your wife? How do you know you love your kids? How do you know you love your dog? I just know that I know.”
Be that as it may, if I had to provide justification for my belief, I informed my interlocutor that there is only one thing I want in life. My greatest desire is that once I close my eyes for the last time on earth, I want to open my eyes on the other side of death and be looking into the eyes of Jesus. Anything other than that would be HELL for me! Jesus is the love of my life. He is my everything!
Just as I do not have to doubt the fact that I love my mom, I do not have to doubt the fact that I love Jesus. That is to say, just as I have assurance that my mom loves me and that I love my mom, I have the blessed assurance that God loves me and that I love God. I simply know it via direct acquaintance.
With that in mind, I then turned the tables on my Calvinist friend and challenged him by noting that although he verbally affirms that he possesses the blessed assurance of salvation, his view of God does not allow logically consistent access to said assurance. To support my claim I asked him if he would be willing to partake in a “quiz” of sorts. He obliged. The conversation went as follows:
Tim: On your view, does God causally determine all things all the time?
Tim: Do you hold any false beliefs?
EDD: Yes, I am not infallible.
Tim: Great! Do you hold any false theological beliefs?
EDD: Yes, like I said, I am not infallible.
Tim: Do you advance any false theological beliefs?
EDD: Yes, I’m sure I do. Like I said, I am not infallible.
Tim: Great! So, since God causally determines all things all the time, does this mean that God causally determines you to happily affirm and advance false theological beliefs?
Tim: Wow! I appreciate your honesty and consistency. So, just to be clear, are you telling me that God causally determines you to hold false theological beliefs?
Tim: So, a deity of deception has causally determined you to have assurance of salvation? If so, how can you have assurance of anything when a known deceiver tells you to trust him?
EDD: “. . . [crickets]”
Tim: I think you see the problem. If one affirms (even tacitly) that God is a deity of deception (which seems to be antithetical to the God Jesus revealed), then one has no reason to believe anything the deity of deception provides them so-called “assurance” of — including one’s salvation. So, although many believe that EDD-Calvinism provides assurance of salvation, this low view of God (as A.W. Tozer would say in his book Knowledge of the Holy) is actually self-defeating and destroys this “blessed assurance.” There is a better option: Human Freedom, Divine Knowledge, and Mere Molinism.
Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),
Dr. Tim Stratton