Sioux Center, IA
Honor student Matthew Van Duyken recently failed a final exam when he refused to answer a third of the questions on the Advanced Studies in Ephesians test. Van Duyken, a junior at Dordt College in Sioux Center, probably lost his opportunity to become the valedictorian of the class of 2018.
“The test wasn’t fair,” Van Duyken said. “We’ve always been taught that man doesn’t have free will, so how can Professor Jacobus expect students to choose between A, B, C, or D?”
Van Duyken was not alone in venting frustrations. James Beza answered the questions but later complained about the professor. “I can’t believe he’s allowed to teach here. As if multiple choice questions weren’t a form of Pelagianism already, at least three of questions didn’t even include ‘God is sovereign’ as an option. What other answer could I give?”
Classmate Amber Allen took her protests to Twitter. “He’s destroying God’s sovereignty by implying that we have free will. #NoSynergism #FireJacobus
School officials said they understood the concerns shared by the students but added that they would not give another opportunity to take the test.
Van Duyken said he is considering legal action against Dordt. “I’m trying to decide whether I should sue the school to give us a test in line with the statement of faith. But I know God must have sovereignly ordained this turn of events, so I should probably just choose to trust in His sovereignty and let it go.”
Here are some tulips to add color to this post. For those who don’t know, TULIP is an acronym summarizing certain Calvinist beliefs.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the above article is a piece of satire. It is intended to be a fun critique of some things I have heard Calvinists say. Of course, Calvinism, as a general term, encompasses a variety of beliefs and proponents may differ on many things, even the question of man’s freedom. That is, some deny man’s freedom, believing that God is “meticulously sovereign” in that He is the instrumental cause behind everything that happens—even something as mundane as the decision of what you will drink with dinner tonight. Others hold to views that allow man to have freedom in most areas of life, but not when it comes to the decision to follow Christ.
I don’t often discuss Calvinism and Arminianism on my blog (see my post on Romans 9:13 for the one article I’ve done addressing certain related issues). I do not consider myself to be either of these. I wanted to have a little fun pointing out a few amusing and sometimes annoying things I’ve heard from some of my Calvinist friends.
A few people have accused me of destroying God’s sovereignty after suggesting that man does indeed have “free will.” As if I, or any other person for that matter, could destroy the sovereignty of the Almighty. He is infinitely more powerful than I am. At most, if man indeed has free will, it would destroy versions of Calvinism that deny any human freedom, such as the position commonly referred to as hyper-Calvinism. I’m certain the vast majority of Calvinists would never say that someone could destroy God’s sovereignty.
I also wanted to call attention to the overuse of the word sovereign, particularly when it is made into an adverb. God is sovereign, so every time He does anything, He “sovereignly” does it. He can never “unsovereignly” do anything. Yet, time and time again, I hear Calvinists say that God “sovereignly” did this or that. Well, obviously. For some Calvinists, it seems as if they have a “sovereignty quota” where the word must be mentioned a certain number of times per paragraph. God is also loving and just, and yet we don’t repeatedly say, “God lovingly did this” or “God justly did that.”
And finally, the main character in the satire, Matthew Van Duyken, believes God is meticulously sovereign. So even though he believes God is the instrumental cause behind everything that ever happens (that God decrees, ordains, and brings to pass every thought and action), Matthew complains about things that God must have “sovereignly” brought to pass—the hiring of Professor Jacobus and the professor’s decision to include multiple choice questions on the exam. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard those who hold this view complain about certain events or warn people about false teachings. Yet if God is meticulously sovereign then He made those events happen, and He made those people teach false ideas. Matthew also pulled the “Pelagius” card by labeling anyone deemed a non-Calvinist as a Pelagian.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of satire. If you have a good idea for an Arminian satire, let me hear it. If you decide to comment, please note that I am not going to debate Calvinism/Arminianism, predestination/free will, or any of the related discussions that I’ve already had countless times. Attempts to draw me into such a debate will probably not be approved for posting.