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12 January 2018

The Theological Implications of Calvinism’s Conception of Doubt

J. D. Gallé | Friday, 12 January 2018

        The weakness of Greg Morse’s article, ‘Does Your Doubt Dishonor God? What No One Says about Weak Faith’ (4 Jan. 2018),[1] is that the author holds many false assumptions, all (or nearly all) of which are Calvinistic in nature. The following declaration, taken from Desiring God’s statement of faith, underlies the theological understanding of Morse’s essay and serves as the foundation of Calvinistic theology in general:

We believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass. (‘God’s Eternal Purpose and Election’, 3.1)[2]
        Taking the above affirmation into account, the basic implications concerning faith and doubt in Calvinistic thought are as follows:
  • whether a person is devoid of faith (i.e. an unbeliever), believing in God, or ever will come to believe in God and the good news of Jesus Christ, is a matter of divine foreordination;
  • at any given moment of time, the relative strength or weakness of a particular believer’s faith in God, God’s promises, and Jesus Christ his Son, is a matter of divine foreordination;
  • if a person fails to persevere in the faith, this merely demonstrates that s/he was a ‘false believer’ all along. One can only fully and finally fall (i.e. apostatise) from a spurious profession of faith.
        In summary, Calvinism maintains that the actual possession of faith and its degree of strength or weakness in the individual believer are attributable solely to God’s eternal decree. If a believer is presently harbouring grave doubts regarding God and his trustworthiness, s/he is doubting in exact accordance with God’s secret, immutable, inscrutable, eternal decree.

Notes
        1. <https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/does-your-doubt-dishonor-god>
        2. See ‘Desiring God: An Affirmation of Faith’ (6 Oct. 2004): <https://www.desiringgod.org/affirmation-of-faith>.


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