Paul's Passing Thoughts

Like Atheists, Like Calvinists: What’s the Difference?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 28, 2014

Very little, and arguably no applicable difference at all. Every now and then I read a post written by Dr. Jay Adams. He had a very interesting one today that examined the intent behind atheism:

The wicked arrogantly thinks “There is no accountability since God does not exist.” Psalm 10:4 (HCSB).

No doubt, no accountability is a strong motive and incentive for conveniently dismissing the existence of a just God, but are Calvinists any different? They are in regard to believing strongly in the existence of a just God, but what about accountability? In both cases, there is no accountability for sin.

The atheistic side is easy in regard to zero sum accountability, but on the Calvinist side it is a little more complicated. There is a just God who holds people accountable, and “people” would be other than Calvinist. Calvin believed law-keeping is futile because the standard is perfection; so, if you break one law, you might as well break all of it—same difference (he cited James 2:10 in order to make his case [Calvin Institutes 3.14.9,10,11]). Of course, James was talking about an attempt to keep the law for justification and not a general rule for life.

Calvin also believed new sins we commit cause us to fall from grace, so we supposedly need daily forgiveness, and that absolution can only be found in the institutional church, and baptism is efficacious for church membership. “No, no, we are not saved by baptism” Calvin would say while stating from the other side of his mouth that absolution can only be found in formal church membership…which can only be obtained by baptism (Calvin Institutes 4.15.1,3).

“To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).

“Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place” (Ibid).

“…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

So, not unlike Catholicism as well, do whatever you want during the week and then obtain absolution on Sunday. Whether Protestant, Catholic, or atheist, there is no accountability.


2 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on October 28, 2014 at 1:55 PM


    Well stated, and I agree. let’s face it, Al Mohler is far more arrogant than most atheists. What about Paul David Tripp who thinks you are evil for interpreting the Scriptures grammatically? Arrogant much?


  2. Andy said, on October 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    You said:
    “The reason so many people are atheists is because Christians definition of faith requires one to check his reason at the door. In short, Christians offer no compelling argument. It’s all fear and force.”

    I echo Paul’s sentiment, very well stated, indeed! I would say that this reflects a rejection not necessarily of God, but rather “religion” or the “god” created by religion. Atheists of the strain that you describe I think would intelligently assent to the acknowledgment of some “higher power”.


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