Traditionalism vs. Calvinism: Neither is “Better”

The Traditionalist quips, “The Calvinist God chose to unconditionally elect some, saving them, and leaving the rest to burn in Hell for all eternity. That’s not a loving Father.”

To which, the Calvinist responds, “The Traditionalist God foresaw the free-choices of everyone, and he still chose to create the people who he foreknew would never ever repent and believe, people who he foreknew would suffer His wrath in Hell forevermore. Based on your logic, that’s not a loving Father either.”

If God is all-knowing, if God foreknew me, every free choice I would ever make, and He foreknew that I would never repent and believe, and He still chose to create me, for what purpose did He create me? In the Traditionalist system of theology, would a “loving Father” create children he foreknew that he would send to burn in Hell for all eternity? I literally cannot choose other than God foreknew I would choose when He created me. Thus, since God foreknew every person who would never repent and believe, and still chose to create them, He did not create them to save them, because He foreknew that they would never be saved. Rather, he made them to show His glory in pouring out His wrath on them for all eternity. Therefore, the Traditionalist system of theology does no better than the Calvinist system of theology in answering the difficult doctrine of God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility.

After all, since Traditionalists believe that God foresaw every human’s free-will decisions, God could have chosen to only create those who would freely repent and believe. Or, God could have caused those who would never repent and believe to die in infancy, therefore, sending them straight to Heaven due to His grace in Christ.

Or, “better” yet (I say “better” in quotation marks because whatever God ordains is right; who is the creature to correct the Creator?), God could have given Adam, Christ’s human nature in the Garden of Eden. Just as our loved ones in Heaven are incapable of sinning due to union with Christ, the Holy Spirit, and their new human nature, Adam could have been united to Christ from the beginning. If God can give our loved ones new natures in Heaven in the likeness of Christ’s human nature, and they are incapable of sin but still free, then God could have done this in the Garden of Eden prior to Adam’s sin. God was not forced to give Adam or the angels natures capable of sin in order for them to be free. After all, the elect angels and our loved ones in Heaven cannot sin. If you believe otherwise, then the New Heavens and New Earth will fall like the old one.

In conclusion, getting to the title of the article, neither Traditionalism nor Calvinism provide satisfactory answers to the difficult realities presented by Scripture concerning God’s sovereignty vs. Man’s responsibility. Rather than fight over which of us really believes that God is a loving Father, it’s best to just embrace what the Bible teaches, instead of using self-defeating rhetoric to bolster one’s position. God, not man, not Traditionalism, not Calvinism, determines the definition of a “loving Father.” And the undeniable reality in both positions is that God has chosen to create this world He foreknew, this humanity He foreknew, lost and saved, and no other.

Only the repentant will be saved in both positions.

Only the repentant will experience God as loving Father for all eternity. On this, we agree.

Let’s embrace this reality instead of quipping over our rhetoric and logic.

My site. I’m married with 4 children, an SBC pastor, a TA for Dr. Kyle Claunch & a PhD candidate at SBTS. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Udemy. I host 2 podcasts: All Truth is God’s Truth (iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Tune In) & Pop Culture Coram Deo (iTunes, Stitcher, acast, Player.FM).