Roger Olson Suggests Calvinists are Bad at Bad Fiction.

13 Oct

Darn you Roger you have exposed our soft underbelly!  Oh the humanity.  Roger Olson suggests here that if we can not express our beliefs in a subpar creative way that makes everyone giddy, then the obvious conclusion is that our beliefs must be false.  In fact, quoth he,  if  we Calvinist did put our beliefs into a subpar artistic expression, you know like a book by Lahaye and Jenkins, a Kincade painting or Ken Silva’s blog, everyone would reject Calvinism,  because clearly,  and I think rather obviously there are two standards for belief that we must abide by:

  1. The popularity of any given position (as obviously that is why they killed Jesus,  he was too darn cool and palatable)
  2. Bad Fiction.

Using Roger’s system of populatiry plus lack of artistic ability I will now be living my life according to Dan Brown novels.  Thank you Rog,  you changed my life!



19 Responses to “Roger Olson Suggests Calvinists are Bad at Bad Fiction.”

  1. kangaroodort October 14, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    It’s Roger Olson with an “o”.

  2. poopemerges October 14, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    oops…apparently Calvinist can’t spell either 🙂 I will fix that.

  3. Randy October 14, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    I am old enough now to be a bit putoff by sarcasm. I am smart enough (I hope) to engage a rational discussion of its merits. Care to propose a defense for how this post, targeted at an (apparently) unknown-to-you personage within Christendom gains merit for the gospel or any other high objective with its sort of smart-aleck sarcasm?

  4. poopemerges October 14, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    Randy, peruse the site I am sure the rest of it will make you madder. Thanks for stopping by. I will pray for your broken sense of humor.


    • Randy October 14, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

      That’s nuts. You have no clue about me, as admittedly I have none about you. You miss my point as perhaps I miss yours. But there is no need for you to be so direct — it is the mess we all so easily fall into in this print-based — as opposed to eye-to-eye relational communication. My sense of humor is not broken. I understand, etc. I just think your sarcasm is unnecessary and that is all I said. Make me madder?? What gives?

  5. poopemerges October 14, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    Randy, it is a site that is all about humor… That is what I do. This is perhaps the most tame post I have ever done…so if this ticked you off the others are sure to.

    Generally speaking we have a disconnect because I think absurd humor is one of the best ways to make a point (see Steven Cobert—symbol-minded) … and I never take it personally.

    Secondly did you read Olsons post, he was rude, I may have been as well but at least I was funny.

    Third, I just found your first comment to be delightfully judgmental so I replied in kind… perhaps I misjudged it.

    Forth, I would totally chill with Roger or yourself, but that does not mean I would not occasionally give you a sarcastic barb…that is how I roll. This site is like a bunch of dudes hanging out, goofing off and going at each other, it is not personal.


  6. Randy October 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    Hey man — thanks for the comeback. I admit(ed) I was perhaps too old to appreciate this anymore. I did not appreciate being labeled as mad nor did I consider myself judgmental, though I (painfully) can see why I came off that way. Oh the humanity! 🙂
    Perspective is so amazing — I simply saw no rudeness in Olson. But I reacted to your piece (did you notice). I am afraid the judgmental thing comes through too much as I think I am merely being rational (aren’t we all) in a too amateurish Socratic attempt when folks like yourself easily see through.
    Be that as it is, I am on the stretch to grow and learn and I still maintain (sorry) that sarcasm has limits too close to home and is overused by those who later learn to appreciate those limits. (was that judgmental?:))
    All that said, my final confession is that if I would have taken time to reflect on your blog title alone I would not have taken your sarcasm quite as seriously as I did. (And btw, this 44 year-old dad of two and husband of one has humor unbroken enough to enjoy your blog title — quite funny — doesn’t even make me mad.)
    Again, thanks for the interaction — that is what I love most about cyberspace when I get the opportunity to indulge.

    PS You didn’t answer my (judgmental) question, though. 🙂

  7. poopemerges October 14, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Randy: in answer to your question: with this post…almost nothing, just being funny and poking fun at some ideas in Olson that I thought were flawed.

    But with the blog in general: This blog was originally anonymous but I started it to help college students in my congregation have an answer to a lot of the false teaching that was being shoved down their throat at the height of the emergent movement. We live in a city where one of the biggest celeb pastors in that movement also dwells and his coolness was sucking their friends in. Our students knew he was wrong, knew they should reply but were not sure how. The original intent and tone of the blog really is related to that, trying to reach a college audience and help them stand firm against something that made them unpopular to stand against…and do it in a language that would communicate to them.

    I actually enjoy the shove back 🙂 it helps to remind me that I am indeed a jerk and why I need Jesus so badly,


  8. Randy October 14, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    A pastor? See, I didn’t/couldn’t know. Changes alot in my perspective. More blessings your way and I will pray for your sense of humor, such as it is! May God use it!

  9. poopemerges October 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    Randy: you are not the only one who finds it shocking. I am up there with Balaam and clay pots 🙂

  10. kangaroodort October 15, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    I dialogue with Arminians quite a bit in the private SEA thread and many of them, who own and have read his book, still spell his name with an “e”. So don’t feel bad. I just kinda feel sorry for the guy that his name so often is mispelled. It would get on my nerves after a while.

    God Bless,

    BTW, what did you think of Hays’ response? Personally, I thought it was pretty lame, not even really addressing the point Roger was making. I think I will write a response sometime soon.

  11. kangaroodort October 15, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Oh, and why did you link to the T-blog response rather than link to Roger’s initial post at SEA? Just curious, since you seem to be suggesting that you are linking directly to Olson’s post rather than to a response to Olson’s post.

  12. poopemerges October 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    Kanga: I like your blog name :).

    Here is the deal, regarding Hay’s response, John Piper’s on the Tsunami et al: The problem of pain is exactly that a problem. While it is true that in the human sense that the arminian view might be easier to stomach it is still small consolation, because if God is God he does not have to allow any pain, he does not have to put up with it and in either system he could have stopped it. I am also aware that if I had to go into an election with either point it would be easier to sell the Arm. position. (I am also aware tthat thisis a generalization as there might be a variety f positions amongst armin.) At the end of the day I think we still have the same problem, why would a good God ordain (in Calvinism) or allow (in arm.) pain? I don’t think that question is easy to answer either way. The answer in Calvinism is harder to explain and get too. This does not make it wrong and in my opinion there are several factors which make it a great comfort (such as their being a higher purpose in pain).


  13. kangaroodort October 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm #


    I think it is more than just a problem of pain. It is a problem of evil (which certainly causes pain, but goes beyond just pain). Olson’s example was a victim of rape and not a victim of natural disaster.

    The problem of evil is indeed a problem and Christians acknowledge that it is a question rightly asked by unbelievers because it can be tough to reconcile God’s goodness with the presence of so much evil in the world. That God can (and does) bring good out of evil no one questions. That God can have a purpose for allowing sin and evil no one questions. That is why I say that Steve’s post didn’t really grapple with the non-Calvinist objection to Calvinistic theodicy. He didn’t really defend theodicy in the face of exhaustive determinism. He just defended it as any Christian would (including Arminians).

    But that was not the question. The question was how do Calvinists address such questions in light of their peculiar doctrine of exhaustive determinism? We are not talking about how God might bring good out of evil, but rather how the problem of evil is amplified when we consider that God irresistibly causes every evil thought, desire, and action of his creatures (according to traditional Calvinist accounts of sovereignty, etc.). It is the difference between how and why an all good God can allow evil in His world, and how and why an “all good” God can cause every evil in this world by way of the purposeful enacting of an unchangeable and irresistible eternal decree? More could be said, but I will save it for my formal response (assuming I ever get to it).

    God Bless,

  14. charles October 18, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    “God irresistibly causes every evil thought, desire, and action of his creatures (according to traditional Calvinist accounts of sovereignty, etc.). ”

    can someone quote from the WCF or some other actual calvinist that teaches this?

    i hear this accusation often but never with any documented support.


  15. poopemerges October 18, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    Charles: Some may teach it I suppose, but it is certainly not what I believe. It seems to be a rather un-nuanced way to speak of how God can use men’s own evil for his purposes.

  16. kangaroodort October 19, 2009 at 9:55 am #


    It is rather basic to the Calvinist notion of sovereignty. God controls everything, not just to a certain purpose, but in general. If man can create thoughts apart from God, then God is less than sovereign (according to classical C doctrine). Think about it in the context of exhaustive determinism. If God exhaustively determines everything, then He determines our every thought, desire and action.

    Think about it in the context of an eternal unchangeable all encompassing decree. If God decrees our every thought, desire and action from all eternity, prior to our even being born, and then works to infallibly bring his decree into reality just as He decreed it, then it follows that God must irresistibly cause our every thought, desire and action in order to infallibly enact every detail of His eternal decree.

    Classical Calvinism also asserts that God’s foreknowledge is dependent on His decree. That means that God can only foreknow what He has decreed to happen and will infallibly bring to pass. That would obviously include our every thought, desire, and action. So our every thought, desire and action is the result of irresistible divine causation in accordance with an unchangeable eternal decree. Do you see that? It is basic to the ultimate underlying doctrine of Calvinism: sovereignty = exhaustive determinism. If such things make you uncomfortable, maybe you should re-evaluate your commitment to Calvinism (assuming you are a Calvinist).

    God Bless,

  17. kangaroodort October 19, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Here is a quote from Calvin along these lines:

    “That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture. What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men.” (Institutes 1.18.1).

  18. kangaroodort October 19, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Here is a quote from the WMC:

    The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.” Westminster Confession of Faith, V. 2 & 4.

    You will notice how the first says that God controls everything (including sin) in the context of direct causation (no “permission”), and then the second part simply affirms a contradiction (i.e. though God causes even sin, He does so in such a way that He is somehow “not the author or approver of sin”). Ridiculous, but at least these Calvinists were uncomfortable with calling God the author of sin, though there stated doctrine logically leads to exactly that conclusion.

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