RT Misconception #10: God an evil puppet master

Very few believers in their right minds would ever accuse God of being sadistic and vengeful, waiting gleefully to punish the wicked. So why do Reformed believers get accused of believing this about God? More often than not, it is simply because they disagree with the system of Reformed Theology, rather than what is actually believed. They then take their own prejudices and pass them along to their congregations and eventually it becomes an all out war against those who don't hold to their own ideas of who God is supposed to be. This, my friends, is not just a mere "disagreement". It goes beyond differing on conclusions about the nature of God. Those who accuse us of having a cosmic puppet master for a God are most times the very ones that affirm the Reformation movement of Protestantism that broke away from the Roman Catholic church. And while they heartily agree that these men (Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingle) were pious men of God, somehow those who still pattern their beliefs about God after them are accused of having a makeshift God; A God who is not of the Bible. If this is the case, they themselves ought to stop praising the men of the Reformation, for what these men believed and taught about God have become the basis of Reformed Theology. What ought to be considered then, is just what these men believed and taught about the nature of God. If they believed God was somehow sadistic in His decrees then Reformed Theology should undergo a complete make over. But if their view of God was that He was good, kind, willing to receive anyone who repents, it is those opponents of Reformed Theology that should go back to the drawing board and at the least, come up with a new set of reasons why Calvinism is unbiblical and should cease its teachings. The thrust of Reformed teaching was indeed the sovereignty of God. But more, it was His hand in all things good and bad. Their reason? To honor God in life! The Roman Catholic church had made the gospel a man-made, non-effectual thing. Selling indulgences, making the Word only available to the "elite," and abusing authority caused these Reformers to re focus their attention and energies upon a God who desired genuine worship from His people. This shift suddenly began to focus on God's part in the role of salvation rather than man's part. With God at the focal point, man no longer could boast about his performance and the priests and bishops could no longer rely on their penances and damn people to Hell because they were excommunicated from the church for their "sins." The inability of man to spirituality reform himself, God's faithfulness to those who were truly His, and man's responsibility to repent became the prevailing doctrines of these preachers. But then, just as now, there were those men whose faithfulness to the prevailing church caused them to condemn these preachers. Many men of the "church" opposed these teachings and their counterparts continue to do thus today. The situation that remains, then, is just what these men taught about the nature of God. Did they themselves see God as somehow sadistically pulling man's strings? Did they view God as one who kept

people from coming in sincere repentance to Him? Hardly! These proclaimers of truth simply allowed the text of Scripture to speak for itself and be their guide for discovering the nature God. They were the masters of the original languages and very few today, even with the amount of resources, can rival their competencies in exegeting the Scriptures. Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, and a score of others learned til the time of their deaths. Their studies led them to believe and teach the complete sovereignty of God in everything—including salvation. But let the Reformers speak for themselves, for it is they that must be allowed to speak rather than some seminary professor who has never taken time to read, nevertheless, sought to earnestly understand these doctrines. Moreover, such is the proneness of the human mind to indulge in vain subtleties, that it becomes almost impossible for those who do not see the sound and proper use of this doctrine, to avoid entangling themselves in perplexing difficulties. It will, therefore, be proper here to advert to the end which Scripture has in view in teaching that all things are divinely ordained. And it is to be observed, first, that the Providence of God is to be considered with reference both to the past and the future; and, secondly, that in overruling all things, it works at one time with means, at another without means, and at another against means. Lastly, the design of God is to show that He takes care of the whole human race, but is especially vigilant in governing the Church, which he favours with a closer inspection. Moreover, we must add, that although the paternal favour and beneficence, as well as the judicial severity of God, is often conspicuous in the whole course of his Providence, yet occasionally as the causes of events are concealed, the thought is apt to rise, that human affairs are whirled about by the blind impulse of Fortune, or our carnal nature inclines us to speak as if God were amusing himself by tossing men up and down like balls. It is true, indeed, that if with sedate and quiet minds we were disposed to learn, the issue would at length make it manifest, that the counsel of God was in accordance with the highest reason, that his purpose was either to train his people to patience, correct their depraved affections, tame their wantonness, inure them to self-denial, and arouse them from torpor; or, on the other hand, to cast down the proud, defeat the craftiness of the ungodly, and frustrate all their schemes. How much soever causes may escape our notice, we must feel assured that they are deposited with him, and accordingly exclaim with David, “Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered,” (Ps. 40:5). For while our adversities ought always to remind us of our sins, that the punishment may incline us to repentance, we see, moreover, how Christ declares there is something more in the secret counsel of his Father than to chastise every one as he deserves. For he says of the man who was born blind, “Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” (John 9:3). [Calvin—Institutes 1.17.1] In this quote alone (and there are many more) we see that Calvin affirmed God's sovereignty, even taking on those who claimed that God was some kind of evil God waiting to squash sinners. But let us continue our examination of the Reformers.

Tyndales's reply to Thomas Moore's book explains the nature and benevolence of God to His own children. In context, Tyndale is distinguishing the Catholic Churches abuse of the people of God. Tyndale, therefore, uses a parable of sorts to debunk Moore's idea of church: Another is this: God giveth not the promises that are in Christ for bodily service, but of his mercy only, unto his own glory. Yea, and of the Father's goodness to all natural children receive. Ask a little boy who gave him his gay coat. He answereth, his father. Ask him why and he answereth, because he is his father and loveth him. Ask him whether his father loveth him and he saith, "Yea." Ask him how he knoweth it and he saith, "Because he gaveth me this or that." Ask him whether he love his father and he saith, "Yea." Ask him why, he saith his father loveth him and give him all things. Ask him why he worketh, he answerth his father will so have it. Ask him why his father not giveth such and such boys coats, too. Now saith he, they be not his sons. Their fathers must give them as my father doeth me. Go now ye Popish bond servants and receive your reward for your false works and rob your brethern and reign over them with violence and cruel tyranny and make them worship your pillars, polyaxes images and hattes. And we will receive of the merciful kindness of our Father and will serve our brethern freely of very love, and will be their servants and so, for their sake. [William Tyndale, An Answer Unto Sir Thomas Moore, pp.81-82] This was my own translation of the old English. A couple of words, I was not too sure of. Here is the link to the book so that you may read it for yourself: Tyndale book So we see Tyndale's passion for a church of true worship and service before God. He expounds God to be the merciful giver of all things to His true children. Hardly a the Fatalistic God that He is often made out to be. Jonathan Edwards, the great Puritan preacher of the 18th century, expresses God's concern for sinners to repent in his sermon titled, Sinners in Zion Tenderly Warned. Now, God is pleased again to pour out his Spirit upon us; and he is doing great things amongst us. God is indeed come again, the same great God who so wonderfully appeared among us some years ago, and who hath since, for our sins, departed from us, left us so long in so dull and dead a state, and hath let sinners alone in their sins; so that there have been scarcely any signs to be seen of any such work as conversion. That same God is now come again; he is really come in like manner, and begins, as he did before, gloriously to manifest his mighty power, and the riches of his grace. He brings sinners out of darkness into marvellous light. He rescues poor captive souls out of the hands of Satan; he saves persons from the devouring fire; he plucks one and another as brands out of the burnings; he opens the prison-doors, and knocks off their chains, and brings out poor prisoners; he is now working salvation among us from this very destruction of which you have now heard. Now, now, then, is the time, now is the blessed opportunity to escape those everlasting burnings. Now God hath again set open the same fountain among us, and gives one more happy opportunity for souls to escape. Now he hath set open a wide door, and he stands in the door-way, calling and begging with a loud voice to

the sinners of Zion: Come, saith he, come, fly from the wrath to come; here is a refuge for you; fly hither for refuge; lay hold on the hope set before you.[Courtesy of CCEL] We will at two more quotes before I close this post. These last two will conclude Reformers' teachings of the love and nature of God from the pre-Reformation to modern times. The two will come from Charles Spurgeon and R.C. Sproul To-night, we have to talk about the love of God: "God so loved the world." That love of God is a very wonderful thing, especially when we see it set upon a lost, ruined, guilty world. What was there in the world that God should love it? There was nothing lovable in it. No fragrant flower grew in that arid desert. Enmity to him, hatred to his truth, disregard of his law, rebellion against his commandments; those were the thorns and briars which covered the waste land; but no desirable thing blossomed there. Yet, "God loved the world," says the text; "so" loved it, that even the writer of the book of John could not tell us how much; but so greatly, so divinely, did he love it that he gave his Son, his only Son, to redeem the world from perishing, and to gather out of it a people to his praise.[Immeasurable Love, courtesy of Spurgeon Archive] Jesus' radical demand to love extend beyond the love of God and the love of neighbor to include within its bounds the love one's enemies. This mandate is expressed in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-48. . .With this command Jesus gave content to what it means to love one's enemy. It includes blessing those who curse us, doing good to those who hate us, and praying for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. Jesus grounded this demand of agape love on the prior example of the Gather's agape love for us. We are to behave in this manner in order to show that we are sons of our heavenly Father. He reminded His hearers of the benevolent and beneficient lov of God for His own enemies.[Loved By God, R.C. Sproul, pp.162-163] In closing, I would simply point out that the Reformers were consistent all the way through in their views on God. Though they primarily focused on God's sovereign rule they never failed to show forth the incredible love of God in Christ Jesus and continually in their ministries called sinners to repentance.

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