I would wager that almost everyone coming across this lonely old blog post out on my very tiny corner of the windswept desolation of the Internet has some idea of what Calvinism is. Whether they are right or not is the topic I seek to address. Of course, being right isn’t everything, but it ain’t nothin’. As for non sequiturs, few have ever heard of it, let alone know what it means. The reason is the woeful state of education in America. Classes in formal logic are rare, and as a public-school kid, I certainly never learned it. The term is a basic logical fallacy, and the first two Brave search results were:

  1. An inference or conclusion that does not follow from the premises or evidence.
  2. A statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it.

The phrase is a Latin term for “nonsequential,” or literally “does not sequentially follow.” It is a fallacy committed when a conclusion does not follow logically from its given premise. Thus a non sequitur entails reasonings or premises that are irrelevant to a conclusion.

All sinners are given to logical fallacies, which would include all of us. They come naturally like sin itself, often knee-jerk reactions and thoughtlessly easy. Non sequiturs are especially easy and common fallacies. What have they to do with Calvinism, you may ask. Good question.

When I was first introduced to the theology of John Calvin, the great 16th century Reformer, at the tender age of 24, I instantly went into non sequitur overdrive, knee-jerk like. My first reaction was that if God choose me and I had nothing to do with it, then my choosing didn’t matter. I was, it seemed, no more than a robot. Why would I think such a thing? Well, because I instinctively assumed God’s choosing made my choosing irrelevant. Sure, it seemed like I chose, but if it wasn’t only my choice, then it wasn’t really a choice. Who says? I don’t know. I just . . . . assumed it. That is a non-sequitur.

Or take the gospel. We are saved by unmerited grace apart from the works of the law. All Christians believe that, Christianity 101, right? Yet, the Apostle Paul had to deal with gospel non sequiturs. Both Jews and pagans had a difficult time believing what we did had absolutely and completely nothing to do with our justification and acceptance by God. Paul directly addresses the non sequitur in Romans 6:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

In other words, it doesn’t follow, logically, that because we’re saved by grace (and not in obedience to the law) that we can do whatever the hell we want. No! And Paul gives the very logical reasons why.

The biblical and other examples of this logical fallacy are manifold and common. Once you understand what it is, you become aware of how common it is, like when you’re shopping for a new car and decide on a model, suddenly you see them everywhere.

This sinful human tendency is especially common when it comes to Calvinism. The reason is because of the Calvinist focus on God’s sovereign grace. I remember listening to a lecture by the late great R.C. Sproul, and he said all Christians believe God is sovereign, except when it comes to his grace. Early on in my Reformed (a synonym for Calvinism) journey I realized how illogical this was. When Moses asks Yahweh to show him his glory, he doesn’t get fireworks, but instead the Lord replies:

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

The glory of this God in whom we believe, his very essence, is to grant his sovereign kingly pardon to whomever he pleases. Full stop. It has absolutely nothing to do with the person being pardoned, a la the thief on the cross. Unlike an earthly king, however, our heavenly king then raises us spiritually from the dead (those born-again have as much say in their spiritual birth as any baby has in their physical birth), and transforms our heart of spiritual stone, to a heart of flesh.

When Calvinists assert this is all of God, completely and totally monergistic, our natural non sequitur response is, what about me? Don’t I have to do something? I mean, I have to believe, right? Of course we do, but does it follow that because we do believe, we have to power to do that? This would be a classic non sequitur, and one Calvinists are faced with all the time. Dead people don’t have the power to do anything. The blind don’t have the power to make themselves see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, or the dead come back to life. Jesus’ healing ministry is a spiritual metaphor for our spiritual helplessness and dependence on him for the double cure for sin.

The most prevalent non-sequitur is determinism: If God is sovereign and in control off all things, then human freedom is an illusion, we can’t be accountable, and we are no more than robots. This, however, isn’t Calvinism. The testimony of Scripture from beginning to end portrays God as sovereign and in control of all things, and man as free to choose. These are not mutually exclusive, nor do they contradict one another. How does this work? Who knows. If God and his ways were comprehensible to us, he wouldn’t be God. And most critics of Calvin and Calvinism have never actually read his works. There is nothing deterministic in them, but rather the thoughts of a man with an incredible heart for God and love for his people.

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