Calvinism And Supernaturalism

Originally posted at the Calvinist Gadfly.

So, if you’re reading this here at the Calvinist Gadfly you probably already know what Calvinism is. Or else, you are a militant Arminian who refuses to accept what you have been told over and over about what Calvinism is or isn’t, and are simply here looking to take something out of context in order to prove to your buddies that Calvinism is the reason the world is in the shape it is in.
And since this is probably the only post I will be allowed to write for our gracious host, Alan K., I intend to give you Calvinists some meat for your souls, and, for you Arminians, some food for thought.

“Calvinism would not be badly defined, indeed, as the tendency which is determined to do justice to the immediately supernatural, as in the first, so also in the second creation.”-B. B. Warfield, Calvin and Calvinism (1932; New York: Oxford University Press, Reprinted 2003; Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 359.

I can think of no better summary statement as to the Calvinistic mindset than this that is given by Dr. Warfield. Often times we as Calvinists are content to state the purpose of Calvinism as giving God the glory that is due Him. With this purpose of Calvinistic theology I whole-heartedly agree. But we stop short and never go on to state how that we intend to give God the glory that is due Him, because, if you are like me, the phrases ‘God’s glory’, ‘Soli deo Gloria’, and ‘God and God alone’ can very easily become a sort of theological cliché that no longer require us to think about what we are actually saying when we say things like, “Calvinism humbles man and gives glory to God”.

But, again, we must ask the question, “How does Calvinism give God the glory that is due Him?” Clearly the question is answered, “Through those doctrines that have been termed ‘TULIP'”. But going even further we must ask the question, “How do Calvinists intend to give God the glory that is due Him?” The answer is found in Dr. Warfield’s quote. Calvinists are determined to do justice to the immediately supernatural in the new creation, just as in the original six days of creation. It is a mindset that determines that we will see the truth that our God is the giver of light, first of all, in His Creative work, and then equally so, in His Redemptive work. The new creation is just as supernatural a work of God as was the first creation. Just as when God spoke into the blackness of nothingness and said, “Let there be light”, and the light appeared, in the same way He has spoken into the hearts of His elect, “Let light shine out of darkness!”, and has made the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to shine in the face of Christ and turned our hearts to look upon His Son.

So a Calvinist is Christian who has learned that God is the supreme first cause, not only in His initial creative works, but also in His redemption of His creation that has been found to be in rebellion against Him. Just as God has called everything into existence ex nihilo, He has called His elect out to be a kind of firstfruits of His new creation. He has called those whom He foreknew, not based upon their good works, because they are fallen creatures, and incapable of any sort of works that are pleasing to Him, but out of the nothingness of our fallen selves He has created us unto good works.

Add then to this the fact that nothing men could do, no sacrifices (even those that were commanded by God in the first place) could appease His wrath towards His fallen creatures. And when we could not bring His Son down to ourselves, (indeed, we could not, and we would not have done this, even if we had been capable of it, because it is to high a thought for us to think that God should become man and that becoming man that He should then die for a bunch of nothings), then HE took the initiative and sent His Son to us. And even while we were nailing His Son to the cross we were not attempting to fulfill the will of God for our own salvation, but out of our own hatred for God, God created our way of salvation.

Not only is God the supreme first cause in His creative an redemptive works, but He is also the Sustainer of both works. God is not the watchmaker who sets everything in motion and then steps back to watch the show. No, He is a God that is intimately involved in His creations, both old and new. He has not only spun the world and given it all that is necessary to continue, but He is actively spinning the earth on its axis, as He pushes it around the Sun, all the while tracing out the path of the moon as He pushes it in it’s orbit. He gives light and heat to the sun moment by moment and causes it’s light and warmth to fall upon the earth. Even so, He that has begun such a great, supernatural work in us will be faithful to complete that work and bring it to it’s rightful ‘end’, which, interestingly enough, is not an ‘end’, but an eternity. As He is bringing us to this eternal state, He is working in each and everyone of His elect by His Spirit. He sanctifies us, molds us, chastens us, enlightens us, and causes His face to shine upon us in favor day by day. And that, my friends, is a supernatural, awe-inspiring work.

We may express our wonder at the created order, the galaxies and wideness of creation, or the glory of God that is seen in the smallest insect in the minute detail and complex order that exists within it’s small shell. But for the Calvinist the work of redemption is every bit as breathtaking, every bit as glorious, every bit as lovely as any other supernatural work of God. We intend to give God as much glory in this supernatural work of salvation as we give Him for His equally supernatural work of Creation.

And that’s not even touching on the miracles…

Soli Deo Gloria



Filed under calvinism, creation, doxology, Theology, Warfield

2 responses to “Calvinism And Supernaturalism

  1. Jan Weaver

    Amen! Very good and true.

  2. D.J. Cimino

    I never knew you posted at the Gadfly. Can I have your autograph? 🙂

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