God is NOT a Deity of Deception

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

June 9, 2021

Question

Dr. Tim,

You recently shared a Facebook post high-lightning the Apostle Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians 10:15. It reads: “I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.”

You then added the following:

“Be a FreeThinker. Don’t let something or someone else causally determine your judgments!”

Do you really want to trust your own judgements and not let God cause and determine all of your judgements? Being led by the Spirit means letting God lead your mind and heart and everything. 

The context here has nothing to do with libertarian free will. God causally determines all things all the time. 
 
– Jason

Dr. Tim’s Response

For those who prefer a video response click here

Thanks for the friendly pushback, Jason! 

Yes, I think we are warranted in trusting our own ability to reason — especially when we are being careful — on matters like these. This is the case because if Christianity is true (and we have good reason to believe it is true), then God seems to have created humanity with the supernatural ability to take thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5; Col 2:8), think logically, and use reason (Isaiah 1:18). This grace is what separates humanity from the animal kingdom. 

You seem to hold a view that many Calvinists affirm — exhaustive divine determinism (EDD). On this view (unless one claims infallibility), God seems to be nothing more than a very powerful deity of deception who causally determines all people — including you — to happily affirm false theological beliefs. On this view, major problems arise: for example, a Christian’s “assurance of salvation” goes down the drain. One might verbally assert their subjective “confidence” but this assertion rings hollow. This is the case because if a deity of deception has causally determined you to possess “assurance of salvation,” then how can you have assurance of anything when a known “god of mischief” (like Loki from The Avengers) tells you to trust him?

If God causally determines “all things all the time” (as you affirm), and you are not infallible, then this means that you hold and possess false beliefs. Indeed, unless you claim to have perfect theology, then it logically follows that God causally determines you to happily affirm false theological beliefs. If this is not a “deity of deception” I don’t know what is. 

Of course, God is NOT a “deity of deception.” Thus, your view of EDD-Calvinism is wrong. You should drop this low view and get a new one which logically affirms, allows, and leads to the maximal greatness of God. Do you hold the highest view of God, or the highest view of your favorite and subjective concept of God? The former ought to trump the latter (lest one worship an idol). 

Indeed, if one tacitly affirms 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, it is actually self-defeating and destroys this “blessed assurance.”

You said, “Being led by the Spirit means letting God lead your mind and heart and everything.” What do you mean by “letting”? That seems to imply the libertarian freedom to allow God to lead or not to lead (a range of alternative choice options each seemingly compatible with one’s nature in a given circumstance and at the moment of choice). This is the epitome of libertarian freedom. Be that as it may, do not confuse “being led by the Spirit” with being “causally determined by God.” Those are two different things. 

Indeed, the Spirit has led me to write this response to you, but He is not causally determining me to do so. If you affirm that God is causally determining me to write this response to you, and you assert that my response is false, then, once again, we have a deity of deception on our hands. 

As previously noted, God is NOT a “deity of deception.” Thus, your view of EDD-Calvinism is wrong. You should drop it and get a new one which logically allows the maximal greatness of God. 

You wrote that the context here has “nothing to do with libertarian free will or anything like that.” I beg to differ. For proper context consider the passage in question and examine Paul’s own words from the “Calvinist Bible” (the ESV):

12Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

To see why the context here has everything to do with libertarian freedom, consider the following syllogism:

1- If Christians possess the opportunity to exercise their ability to choose among a range of alternative options each compatible with their regenerated nature at a given moment, then Christians possess libertarian freedom.


2- At the moment of temptation, Christians possess the opportunity to exercise their ability to choose between giving into temptation or to take the way of escape God promises to provide (1 Cor. 10:13).

3- Therefore, Christians possess libertarian freedom.

Moreover, if something or someone other than you causally determines all of “your” judgements, then you cannot “judge for yourself” on any matter. On your view, you are nothing but a passive cog at the mercy of the whims of a deity of deception. On my view, however, I am an active agent who contributes to my overall set of beliefs as I am created in the image and likeness of a supernatural Maximally Great Being (by His grace).

God has revealed truth and desires all people to know truth (1 Tim 2:4). God does not causally determine every human to happily affirm and advance false theological beliefs. You seem to be confusing God revealing truth with God causally determining all of your thoughts, beliefs, evaluations, and judgments. Those two things are radically different.

Bottom line: God is not a DOD (deity of deception) and you are not a passive cog. 

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18) and “judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Cor 10:15),

Dr. Tim Stratton 

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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