I Think I’ve Seen This Before Somewhere

I know that Doug and I had another interesting conversation about baptism where Doug said that I was outside the bounds of the confession. It seems to be happening again. Here is my response.

I think that Doug is still assuming that I am holding to some kind of strict merit schema in the Covenant of Works. To issue a counter example, in our present situation, has not God promised rewards for what we do over and above salvation? One thinks of the parable of the talents, as well as 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. How can we call that a reward either, if God’s predestination eliminates man’s responsibility? (Obviously, Doug is not explicitly doing this. I’m just throwing it out there.) If God crowns His own works there, then how can it be called a reward? And yet it is a reward. God’s predestination and man’s responsibility operate on different levels. That’s why we use the very terms “first cause” and “second cause.” God rewards the second cause. That’s what would have happened in Adam’s case, as well. And just because Adam’s second cause of his obedience is not the first cause, does not make it worthless with regard to reward. Doug is implicitly holding that because Adam is not the primary cause, that therefore it cannot be rewarded. Of course, we both agree that ultimately speaking, from the point of view of God’s decree, Adam could not have done anything other than what he did do. God decreed that. However, on Adam’s level he did face the choice. And his character was innocent. Therefore, on Adam’s secondary causation level, he could have chosen to obey God. Therein lies the difference between my predestinarian schema that allows for man’s will to choose whatever is in his character to choose (and since Adam was innocent, he had it in his character to choose the right), versus the Arminian scheme, which says that man always has the power of contrary choice.

I am still wondering if Frame’s analogy holds, but in the Doctrine of God book, he uses the analogy of Shakespeare and his plays. Obviously, on the level of the author, the characters in Shakespeare’s plays cannot do anything other than what Shakespeare directs them to do. However, on the level of the play, the characters are faced with tough decisions that often could go either way. So far, I have found the analogy to be helpful. I’m sure that there is some place where the analogy falls, though I am not aware of it yet. By Doug’s argument, however, nothing could ever be called a reward for anything that we do, since God is the cause of it. Is there not the reward “Well done, good and faithful servant?” Do we have any right to expect such rewards? Or is God going to say to us, “I know that you were expecting a reward. However, since I’m the real cause of what you did, I’m not going to give you anything.” I’m sure that Doug would recoil from this way of thinking. Nevertheless, I think it is the logical outcome of his system. I hope this clears up the “accusation” that I am inadvertently abandoning Calvinism.