Thursday, November 12, 2009

Implanted Desires and Subtle Denotation-Changing

So I've been reading Calvinism: A Closer Look by Daniel Gracely (older edition titled Hoodwinked and Happy?). Gracely writes a great deal about how Calvinists subtly flip and flop the meanings of words without intending to or realizing that they are doing it. Basically what goes on is Calvinists will change the denotation (dictionary meaning) of a word when they use it in their sentences, but the connotation (how it sounds) remains the same, so the sentence still sounds like it makes sense. Gracely is one of the smartest authors I have read in a long time. You can read the entire book online at

I would just like to quote a portion of Chapter 13, which talks about the Calvinist idea that God will take away our old desires and implant His desires. While I agree that this is a biblical principle, I do not view us as suddenly being implanted with God's desires in a totally passive way. I view this more as a process (called sanctification usually), where we gradually learn to conform our desires to God's desires. It's not like suddenly God sucks out our old desires and sticks new ones in there in a crude heart-surgery operation.

And in case any Calvinists are going to quote Ezekiel 36:26-27, see Ben Henshaw's article, "Is the New Heart of Ezekiel 36:26-27 a Reference to Regeneration Preceding Faith?"

To understand the implications of this Calvinistic view, consider that I am in a chair writing this page. All of the molecules that make up my being (according to Sproul elsewhere in his book) are in sovereign control by God. According to Sproul and Boettner (who follow Edwards) any faith that I have has been a result of God putting a new desire in me apart from my willingness. Indeed, had God not implanted a new desire in me, I would have remained as I was. But the question arises-If Calvinism says that God has placed His desire in Dan against Dan’s desire, then Dan’s desires have been negated in order to receive the construct of God. That is, without God’s forceful and coercive removal of Dan’s own desires, Dan would simply remain as he is. How then, for example, can Sproul or Edwards say that this new desire is Dan’s desire? For if I now say the sentence, “God has changed my desire” there is an illusion of meaning because there is no more ‘my.’ God has overthrown the ‘my.’ He has negated the ‘my’ and replaced the vacuum with His desire. The only way, then, that ‘Dan’ could say that “God has changed my desire” is if we reduce the ‘my’ to particle physics. Thus, in place of Dan’s essence is now a bio-organic automaton that, in effect, calls up a program that God has put within him to give the illusion that when the automaton speaks saying, “I am Dan, and my desire has been changed,” Dan and his desire are still present, when in fact they are not. In reality ‘Dan’ must only be a bio-computer which God has made out of material creation. So the mass of collective molecules in process that sits in a chair, which we call ‘Dan,’ has been the object of God’s construct. ‘Dan,’ for that matter (as previously noted), could be a laundry basket for all the distinction that Calvinism requires. The ‘my’ enacts no final thinking or willing as a separate entity distinct from God. Thus ‘man’ is a non-predicated being, and the uniqueness that distinguishes him from a laundry basket is lost. For God could just as well sustain the being of a laundry basket, a plant, or an automaton in His presence, and cause it to echo back His constructs as willless computers with no consciousness. Either way it is God’s continuation of an object’s being in His presence-and that is all. We see then that under Calvinism the result is a total annihilation of the person, because to say that “God chooses another person’s choice” is the same type of irrationality that would say that “somebody else is me.”

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