The House Fire

The House Fire (Arminian version):
Once upon a time there was a house on fire. Inside were three children. The dad was outside, and went in to rescue his children. He helped one child get out, but the other two refused to come. They died in the fire. Afterwords, forensics determined that the fire was lit by the children inside the house. They were playing with matches.

The House Fire (Calvinist version):
Once upon a time there was a house on fire. Inside were three children. The dad was outside, and went in to rescue one child. He took one child out, and left the other two to burn. They died in the fire. Afterwords, forensics determined that the fire was deliberately lit by the dad. The dad admitted that he planned the whole thing because he wanted to be a hero. He also claimed that he started the fire, but not in such a way that it was his fault.

Which dad do you think was a hero? Which dad has better motives? Which dad is double minded?

These analogies are not perfect, but they get the point across. Calvinists claim that their theological system glorifies God. The reverse is true. Calvinism calls into question the very motives of God, and diminishes His glory by undermining his character. Any dad who deliberately starts a fire to burn his children is not worthy of being called a hero.

Update 3/31/09: This post is now available in Chinese, thanks to the efforts of Wesley Wong. Thanks Wesley!

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12 Comments

Filed under Arminianism, Calvinism

12 responses to “The House Fire

  1. My thing is, it seems to me a presupposition that God requires any kind of “glory,” or that He has to prove this glory somehow. Pardon my colloquialism, but God doesn’t have to prove diddly squat about His glory. His glory simply is. The mere fact He is our Creator and that “all things through Him came into being” (as Saint John the Theologian writes) gives Him all the glory he needs.I know some Calvinists argue that the other side presents a God Who is weak, but I don’t believe this. God isn’t any weaker than the landowner whose wicked vine dressers abused and killed his messengers and then abused and killed his son – in fact, the landowner planned to make them pay a hundredfold for their deeds, as the wicked will receive upon Christ’s return. Nor do I think God is any weaker than the rich father who gave both sons the plea to enter his home, but only the prodigal (as far as we know from the parable) entered. Nor do I think He is any weaker than the rich man who invited all his friends to his mansion but, upon receiving all rejections, instead invited the poor.There is no glory in making individuals who say “yes” when the time comes. As Fulton Sheen once said, “The greatest thing about saying yes is that you could have said no.”

  2. Good points Tony. Thanks for the thoughts.

  3. Thanks Keith and Wesley, glad you enjoyed it.

  4. (Lutheran View) Once upon a time there was a house on fire. Inside were three children. The dad was outside, and went in to rescue his children. All three children were playing with the fire. He carried one child out of the house and the other two continued in the fire. They died in the fire. Afterwords, forensics determined that the fire was lit by the children inside the house. They were playing with matches.

  5. New Wineskins,Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like the Lutheran view has some commonality with the Arminian one. As a point of clarification, what was the dad’s intention towards the two children that were left?

  6. Glad you enjoyed the post. His intention is to save all of the children. You are correct that there is some commonality with the Arminian view. What is not common between the Lutheran and Armininan view?

  7. Hi New Wineskins, thanks.I’m not real familiar with Lutheran thought, but it’s my impression that Lutherans are monergistic, yet do not affirm the Calvinistic concept of Limited Atonement. Is this correct? So Lutheranism is perhaps less systematic than Calvinism, but for good scriptural reasons. Not affirming Limit Atonement is a very good thing in my book. :)

  8. My apologies for this late posting. Many hesitate to use the term monergism in Lutheran circles as the term is so closely related to irresistable grace and limited atonement, as you mentioned. Instead, Lutherans stop pushing the issue when scripture no longer provides a satisfactory answer for our limited intellect: God alone works aspects of spiritual regeneration, yet we get the blame. We are responsible for our own spiritual ruin, but all power to believe is God’s work. This of course, is quite a paradox, and different from both the Wesleyan and Calvinist understandings. I’d love to see more entries showing differences between Lutheranism and Wesleyanism. Please pray for guidance as you consider my request. Thanks.

  9. Thanks New Wineskins, I appreciate the response. Regarding your request – no doubt there are some differences between W and L, however, they are things that I can agree to disagree on. In other words, they are not the sort of differences that alarm me.

  10. A smile ran across my face when I read your response Pizza Man, because your words were exactly mine about 6 years ago. Let me simply suggest that while the differences may appear non-essential perhaps (not to put words in your mouth), there is a difference in Lutheran theology that brings a powerful peace in all circumstances and sheds a beautiful light on the God-to-Christian relationship. Thanks for your time, thoughts and prayers.

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