Monday, August 23

Quiz Answers, Question 1

Friday I posted a little quiz, promising to post answers as well. The best way to do this, I think, is to go through the quiz question by question and explain what I think is the correct answer and why. In the process I hope to respond to the comments from the quibblers on that post. (I love quibblers!) And remember, there are probably going to be Calvinists who disagree with me on some of these, but I do think that the answers I give would be the majority Calvinist postition.

Here's the first question:
1. Calvinists believe people are sent to hell because
  • a. God delights in the death of the wicked.
  • b. God is just.
  • c. God didn't love them.
  • d. God didn't choose them for salvation.
  • e. b, c, and d.
  • f. none of the above.
The correct answer is "b. God is just." Calvinists believe that the cause of people going to hell is their own unbelief and sin taken together with God's just--or absolutely excruciatingly correct--response to that sin. Since "the wages of sin is death," death is what is rightfully earned by sinners and a just God must necessarily dole out what is rightfully earned.

The simplist answer for me to have given for this question would have been that men are condemned "because they sin", but I had used that answer in a previous quiz, and "because God is just" is just a little twist on that same response.

Here's from the Synod of Dort, First Main Point of Doctrine, Article 15, as backup. Speaking of the reprobate--or all those who will never be saved:
God....made the following decision: ...... to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.
As to the wrong answers:

That "a. God delights in the death of the wicked" is directly opposed to the scriptural statement that God doesn't delight in their death, so I'm hoping no one will argue that it would be the correct response. Of course, there is some level on which the expression of his wrath pleases him, because it is the right response to sin. Nevertheless, even in the sense that this statement might be true--that it please God to give sin its due--it wouldn't be the cause of people's damnation, which is always--in scripture, and in the confessions, too--given as their own sin.

I'm trying to think of an example from our life experience that might make this point clearer. My first thought was to use a legal example--like a sentence given for a crime, and pointing out that it is the one who commits the crime who is the direct cause of his own punishment, and while this is true, I think we may have trouble always seeing it that way. So let's go in the opposite direction, and think of a reward given for good work, rather than evil. Consider a mother who tells her children that those who clean their rooms get cookies. Mom is probably happy to give out cookies, but whether she is or not is irrelevant to the cause of the child receiving one. The child who receives a cookie does so because they earn it through the work of tidying, not because their mother is the happy cookie doler.

Let's consider "c. God didn't love them." The majority of Calvinists would agree that the benevolency of God toward both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:44, 45) is rightly called "love". God provides good things for all the inhabitants of the earth from his love. There are a few Calvinists who don't think there is any sense in which God loves those who remain forever in their sin, but even then, they don't think that His lack of love for them is what causes their damnation, but rather that damnation is caused by sin.

The last wrong answer for this question is "d. God didn't choose them for salvation." A few Calvinists do think that God's decision not to choose someone is causative for their damnation, but the majority do not. Most would believe that those who are condemned are simply left "in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves." (Synod of Dort, First Main Point of Doctrine, Article 15)

I'll get to the other questions as I find time. I've got an article on God's immutability that I want to finish up and post tomorrow, and another BlogSwap entry due this week as well, so it'll be here when it's here.

In the meantime, any quibbling is welcome.

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