A MODERATELY CALVINISTIC MODEL
In describing the substantive actions of God as they relate to will and intent toward free expression, Calvinism as a philosophical means of interpreting Scripture usually advances into the arena of discussion. As such, the prevailing tenants of Calvinistic thought must be examined for dialogue to occur. Predestination, foreknowledge, and total depravity: all fall under the umbrella of Calvinistic theological presentations. The decrees of God become foundational points of truth from this perspective. What God has decreed to be His pre-determinative plan functions as the maintaining force of God’s sovereign rule. Scripture accepts the advancement of an ideological thought that views God as acting consistently within the maintenance perspective of His eternal objectives.
A paradoxical conundrum evolves out of this radical view of complete control. This is seen in the governance of God over the universe as standing in tension with the freedom factor of morally enabled intelligences. Humanity typically understands the need of freedom. To be morally accountable, man must be morally free.
Freedom is not efficacious when those who are deemed to be free are forced to perform through externally imposed acts of coercion. This conflict of reality is not simply an existential exercise of mental gyrations. The issue of freedom directly relates to the existence of evil. If mankind is devoid of freedom of choice, how did evil and sin come into existence? When restrictions of freedom are accepted as viable alternatives theologically, the natural outcome becomes problematic to many in the ongoing discussion of God.
If man is not truly a fee-acting creature, God must, by necessity, be the author of evil. Erickson alludes to the extreme Calvinist camps that hold to this form of radical sovereignty. This is observed in an eloquent fashion when Leibniz’ Theodicy is discussed (p.385). Leibniz advances a summary belief in God as the author of evil, advancing the concept of the fall existing as a preordained function through a process of creating individuals who would act within the constraints of activities that in turn are actualized through the function of knowing what will be performed amongst all of the infinite possibilities.
Providential direction extends into the selection of individuals who will be known to act in a particular fashion according to the predetermined constraints of God’s plan. Erickson’s view of providence fits within this theological perspective, with modification. This is observed in Erickson’s statement that: “What we are saying is that God renders it certain that a person who could act (or could have acted) differently does, in fact, act in a particular way (the way God wills)” (p. 383). The difference in these two theological assumptions is viewed in the initiation of action. Leibniz accepts God as the manipulator of possibilities through a process of selective creation of agents who will act freely in a disposed fashion. Erickson views the manipulative mannerisms of God within the circumstance of activity. Environment, interactions, external stimulation: all combine to create an intricate composite, molding the free agent into a predetermined course that directs the activities in such a way that no other possibilities are enforceable through a process of selective creation of agents who will act freely in a disposed fashion. Erickson views the manipulative mannerisms of God within the circumstance of activity. Environment, interactions, external stimulation: all combine o create an intricate composite, molding the free agent into a predetermined course that directs the activities in such a way that no other possibilities of existence exist.
The means of understanding Erickson’s view is found in how the function of foreknowledge is performed within the constraints of the plan of God. Erickson allows for limited freedom, postulating that humans freely choose within a predetermined plan. As such, Erickson identifies with B.B. Warfield (p. 385), as a moderate when accepting Calvinistic views of predestination.
Although this seems to be a modification of standard Armenian views, true Armenians would sharply disagree with this novel presentation that attempts to placate the distinctions that exist amongst Calvinists and Armenians. Armenianism would advance: “predestination since the Scripture writers do, but it understands that this pre-decision on God’s part is to save the ones who repent and believe” (Evangelical Dictionary, p. 79). Predestination becomes a conditional clause that rests upon the individual activity of rejection or acceptance of the vehicle of salvation. Sovereignty exists, but so does human freedom. God has sovereignly created human freedom and accepts the consequences of possibilities many variations, as they manifest through the expansive plan of God.