Is Roger Olson a Marcionite?

It may be recalled that Marcion was that early 2nd century fellow who applied an external concept of “good” to the God of the Bible and found Him wanting. In fact, Marcion’s concept of goodness led to him to completely reject the God of the Old Testament and the God of most of the New. God just didn’t measure up.

And so it was with great interest that I found Dr. Roger Olson’s latest post entitled, Why (High) Calvinism is Impossible. Now it’s no secret that Dr. Olson is no fan of Calvinism but what impresses me is his method of attacking Calvinism in general, and double predestination in particular. Because PD is pointed to in several places in the Scriptures, Dr. Olson has to develop his own hermeneutic:

Analysis of the Bible “presupposes belief that God is trustworthy, that God cannot deceive. But this assumes that God has a stable, enduring, eternal character that is “good” in a way analogous to our highest and best intuitions of “goodness”—whatever their source may be.”

That is simply striking to me. Why must God be analogous to man in any way? Now we know that man is analogous to God, that is we are created in His image and likeness, but I’m not sure that analogy is a two way street. And it certainly isn’t if we are to make God subject to our “highest and best intuitions”. And can God deceive? The Apostle Paul certainly believed so:

So God will send great deception upon them, and they will believe all these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for not believing the truth and for enjoying the evil they do. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Not only can God deceive, but He plans to do exactly that, according to Paul! Even Marcion would have known that.

Then Dr. Olson expands his conception of “good” so that it becomes the standard by which we can determine God’s trustworthiness:

Put another way, negatively, if one believes that God’s goodness is nothing like our best intuitions of goodness, that God’s goodness is possibly compatible with anything capable of being put into words (i.e., ultimately and finally mysterious), then there is no good reason to trust him. Trust in a person, even God, necessarily requires belief that the person is good and belief that the person is good necessarily requires some content and not “good” as a cipher for something totally beyond comprehension and unlike anything else we call “good.”

Here we see Marcion writ large. For God has surely told us that His goodness is, in fact, “nothing like our best intuitions of goodness”. Consider Isaiah 55:8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

How could Dr. Olson not know that? The plain fact is that God’s goodness is part of His nature. Therefore, it is not negotiable or subject to human scrutiny. As the Psalmist writes, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (Psalm 136:1)

But all of the evidence I’ve presented is from the Old Testament. If Dr. Olson is not aware or has chosen to disregard the OT, is he a Marcionite?

About Paul Bassett

I'm old enough to remember land-line phones and young enough to have 3 twitter accounts and two blogs. I'm Reformed in my theology, post-millennial in eschatology and therefore optimistic about the future. I'm grateful to be here...and that you are, too!
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One Response to Is Roger Olson a Marcionite?

  1. mcfirefly2 says:

    God cannot lie! He is light, and no darkness in Him. When He “sends” the strong delusion, He sends it providentially, that is, He allows it to come upon those who refuse to _receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved_. For God to deceive is for God to lie. It is slso to tempt man with sin, and God does not tempt anyone. But God does say that He will “choose (their) delusions”. He would have all men be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth. But when man will not receive the love of the truth, God says He will direct traffic and send the delusion of His choice their way. This He can do, by the way, without wsnting them not to wake up and see that they are being deceived, somce that is whst the word of God says is His will. If Calvinists were not so eager to accuse God of tempting the entire human race to sin, that is, decreeing it without any chance of avoiding it, they would be restrained by what the Bible says about God’s righteousness, truth and love. Instead, you treat those as mean things you can toss out without conscience.

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