Monday, September 18, 2017

A Matter of Perspective?

As someone interested in the Arminianism/Calvinism debate, I run into one particular comment/argument pretty often.

The outside of the gates of heaven reads "Whosoever will may enter here." The inside of the gates of heaven reads, "Chosen from the foundation of the world." It's just a matter of perspective!
 The "perspective" argument is a popular one. Some people break it down into the "divine perspective" and the "human perspective", and this particular iteration of the argument has the advantage of being somewhat snappy and appearing to distill a complicated question into a very simple answer.

Unfortunately, it has the disadvantage of being an absurdly silly answer that completely fails to understand the question at hand. And it's very easy to break down and see why: All we have to do is put it into different words.

From the outside of heaven, it LOOKS like it's a matter of free choice. The "invitation" is given to all, and some people choose it and others don't. However, from the inside, it becomes clear that what REALLY happened is those who "chose" it were, in fact, chosen from the foundation of the world and manipulated into "choosing" it in every aspect of their lives. (And of course, who cares about those poor saps who didn't get that "opportunity.")
See, that's the problem with "perspective" arguments: They all rely on people forgetting that while there may be many perspectives, there is only one reality. And when one of those perspectives is "God's perspective" or "the divine perspective" or the perspective from inside heaven, it's really easy to see which one is the reality.

So in the case of this particular illustration, it's clear that God's eternal choice and election of particular people is the reality: The "perspective" of free choice is merely a temporary illusion. It's not actually real. Even the sensation of choosing was itself eternally predetermined and manipulated by God. This argument equates the mere sensation of choice ("whosoever will") with the reality of God's eternal election, and hopes you won't notice that the "whosoever will" is absolutely 100% subordinate to and dependent on God's election.

Again: While there may be many perspectives, there is only one reality. In the case of two different perspectives, the rightness of one perspective only comes with a corresponding wrongness or incompleteness of the other perspective. Let's do a real quick example:

My friend parks his car at my house, and comes home the next day to find it completely crushed by a giant boulder. I run up and say, "You should have seen it, it was crazy! This huge boulder just came tumbling down the cliff and crushed your car!"
The next day, my neighbor approaches my friend and says, "Hey, I don't know if you know this, but that guy is actually the one who pushed the boulder off the cliff and onto your car."
Two different "perspectives": but only one reality. The mere facts of gravity and inertia are irrelevant because they are subordinate to and dependent on the fact that I was the one who initiated it. There aren't two perspectives: There's just me being a jerk and crushing someone's car with a boulder.

This really is just a silly argument. I wish people would think harder about it instead of being happy at solving centuries of conflict with two sentences.