Reblogged From: Arminian Perspectives
An Arminian Response to C. Michael Patton’s “The Irrationality of Calvinism”
Part 1: The Set Up
Posted on January 16, 2013 by kangaroodort
C.Michael Patton is the President of Credo House. He has now written two separate and similar posts defending the “irrationality” of Calvinism as actually being a strength of the system, specifically over and above Arminianism. In this newest post, Mr. Patton levels many unfair and unfounded criticisms against Arminian theology and “Arminians” in general, betraying a basic lack of understanding concerning what Arminians believe and why they believe it. For this reason, an Arminian response seemed appropriate in order to set the record straight. This response will interact with the entirety of C. Michael Patton’s post, which would make for a very long interaction as a single post. For that reason, the response will be broken into parts.
Part 1: The Set Up
Patton: I am a child of Western thought. Therefore I like to figure things out. If possible, I like to figure it all out. It causes some problems sometimes with me and God and I need to deal with it better. Sometimes I only really follow or engage with God when I get it. When things make sense to me, it eases my intellectual anxiety and engages my will. Who?, What?, Where?, How?, and, especially,
Honestly, I don’t like the way this starts out. It makes it seem like logic and wanting to figure things out is just a “western” thing. That is not the case at all. It’s pretty basic to human nature and our desire to understand and make sense of reality and the world we live in. This desire goes far beyond just questions of theology, and it is not limited to “western thought” in the least.
. . .
The reason for all of Mr. Patton’s set up now seems rather clear. It is to create the idea that it is unreasonable to reject contradictions and irrationality in a theological system, namely (and only) Calvinism, of course. That’s right, Mr. Patton has just introduced a new so called “tension” into the mix, the wild claim that it is irrational to have a problem with irrationality. Of course, this is circular and self-defeating, just as the main thrust of Mr. Patton’s entire post. Not only that, we see another slam on “western thought.” Why does Mr. Patton keep going back to that? The answer seems to be that if he can convince his readers that their problems with irrationalities in Calvinism are just an unfortunate and invalid symptom of less sophisticated “western thought”, his readers will be more likely to feel OK about embracing such irrational “tensions” in Calvinism.
. . .
So the argument is now framed to be more of an issue of Calvinism versus flawed Western or American thinking, rather than Biblical truth. Indeed, Mr. Patton will eventually spin things to such an extent as to potentially convince his readers that those who embrace such irrationalities (“tensions”) are nobler and just more honest with the Bible than those who do not (namely Arminians, of course).
Patton: I am a Calvinist. It is funny. I often hear people talk about Calvinism as a closed box system that forces everything to fall in line, even when we have to sacrifice biblical integrity to do so. I often hear the accusation that Calvinism is a system that makes rationality its primary goal. And this is often true. Sometimes Calvinists do attempt to fit things into a system and engage in questionable logic driven hermeneutics to do so.
An admission that should not be soon forgotten. It is important to note here what Mr. Patton apparently means, though it is not very “apparent” from what he says here. Mr. Patton speaks about Calvinism being a “closed system” because Calvinists often pride themselves on the logic of that “system.” Indeed, many people seem to embrace Calvinism because the logic or coherence of the “system” appeals to them, or seems compelling. Patton finds this ironic since he embraces Calvinism because it has the same “tensions” (“apparent” inconsistencies, or irrationalities) that he sees in the Bible. So it is not coherence that attracts Mr. Patton to Calvinism, but “apparent” incoherence.
If Mr. Patton’s post were simply about explaining why he personally holds to Calvinism and finds it attractive, or how he finds it ironic that people are drawn to Calvinism based on the supposed logic of the system when he embraces it for its “irrationality”, that would all be well and good, but Mr. Patton does more than that. He attacks Arminianism in the process, and unfairly so. That is why this response seemed necessary.