There is an excellent exchange between Bob Enyart and Gene Cook. Enyart asks Cook about sin being for the glory of God. Calvinism asserts that whatever comes to past does so to maximize the glory of God. This leads to horrific conclusions:
Enyart: To the Calvinist, God is the one who foreordained that that child would be sodomized on video and that not three times sodomizing him in an hour would be good, but it needed four for God’s glory and His pleasure. And this is applying filth and perversion to God and the reason it is done is because God’s goodness and love are sacrificed for the raw quantitative knowledge and power that we’ve conceded to the Greeks…
Enyart: So Pastor, the child porn video, Calvinism asserts that God has decreed, well can you answer that first…
Cook: I got something much worse than child porn…
Cook: Nailing the son of God to a cross…
Enyart: You assert God has decreed that a five year old boy would be sodomized for how many minutes on what video sold to who. That that was God’s plan… Do you assert that God foreordained how many minutes a five year old boy would be sodomized on a child porn video. What that God’s plan?
Cook: Bob I have already affirmed that whatever comes to past… I am saying every detail of human being…
[Cook then refocuses the conversation to Jesus and the crucifixion]
The Calvinist, and even other flavors of Augustinian Christians, point to Jesus’ death on the cross as a predestined event that was horrific and was planned for the glory of God. Gene Cook, in the above debate, specifically claims multiple times that the crucifixion is worse than child rape. He uses this to attempt to justify God using child rape for God’s glory.
Other Augustinian Christians claim that the crucifixion as a fixed event that was predestined from before the world was created and as proof positive that God must know the future in minute detail. After all, events leading to the cross have countless inputs from the actions of free will creatures. The crucifixion could not be known for 100% certainty if man has free will.
The answer is in the Bible. The crucifixion was not a fixed event. When God has plans, free will actions by His creation often change His plans. In Jonah, God prophesies destruction but then changes His plans based on the people’s repentance. God responds. That is the theme of Jeremiah 18.
Jesus, himself, believed the crucifixion was not a fixed event. Here is Jesus praying:
Mat 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
Mat 26:42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
Jesus did not want to die on the cross and petitioned God to change God’s plan. Jesus sought to find out if God was “willing” to change His plan. Jesus, in this text, both appears to not know exactly God’s overarching plan or if his own request would be granted.
Jesus was under the clear impression that there was a possibility that God would choose a different plan. Jesus was not stuck in a fixed event mindset. Jesus did not believe the crucifixion was predestined in the Calvinist sense of the word. This is even after Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection (Joh 2:19). It seems that Jesus wanted his own prophecy to fail.
We also learn from this that Jesus even believed that God would allow God’s own will to be superseded by Jesus’. This would not be unlike the several times that God chose Moses’ mercy over God’s own plans to destroy Israel. Sometimes although God has other plans, He will adopt the plans of those He loves. Jesus was ensuring that God did not do that in this particular case. God should only change His plans if that is what God wills. That is why he adds: “not as I will, but as You will.”
Jesus earlier stated specifically that he has the free will to chose death:
Joh 10:17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.
Joh 10:18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Elsewhere, Jesus again shows that the event was not fixed:
Mat 26:52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Mat 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?
Mat 26:54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
In Matthew, Jesus is quick to point out that God has the power to deliver Jesus from crucifixion and alter the scriptural fulfillment. Jesus knew that all he had to do was ask for the slightest help and God would change His plans, save Jesus, and Jesus could live. Jesus, when making this statement to his disciples, is pointing out that he is willingly allowing the Roman authorities to capture him. The Roman authorities can only do so, because God did not stop them. Jesus emphasizes this point straight to the faces of the Romans:
Joh 19:10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
Joh 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Jesus, here, is stressing a few points. The Romans only have captured Jesus because God allowed them to do so (this is the same concept as when Jesus stated that he could call on twelve legions of angels). And, the deliverers have the greater sin. Jesus is pointing out culpability. The deliverers could have chosen to not deliver Jesus. The Romans were not particularly knowledgeable or intent on capturing Jesus themselves. The Sadducees orchestrated Roman involvement and Jesus’ arrest. The Sadducees then have the greater guilt. The Romans have the lesser guilt. God forced no person’s actions, they could have done otherwise, and everyone will be judged based on their level of involvement.
So, God allowed Jesus to be captured, tortured, and crucified. God could have saved Jesus, but did not. Does that make God evil? The answer is simple: Jesus chose his suicide mission voluntarily. If a military general asks for volunteers to lead an assault, the general may know they will all die. The general has a purpose (maybe taking a town) and may even have the power to spare those troops (pretend he can just level the city with a nuke). But sometimes there are objectives that would be lost with more forcible avenues (such as nuking a prized factory or bridge). The general can allow the troops to volunteer for the suicide mission (even having the power to stop it), but that does not make the general culpable for the deaths. The enemy is culpable. They are the ones with guns, choosing to fire, and not choosing to surrender. The general has even less culpability if those who chose the suicide mission could ask the general at any time to cancel the mission.
God was not going to force the crucifixion at all costs. We see that from Jesus. Instead, God had a plan. Plenty of evil people willingly played into God’s plan. And Jesus, on his own volition, chose to partake in this plan. The plan could have been modified or canceled by Jesus as any time. And God forced no human to take part. They were all to be judged based on their own levels of involvement.
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Here is W Scott Taylor on what happened in the garden:
And Charles Finney:
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