On his blog, Roger Olson recently reflected on the movie Ruby Sparks as an analogy for Calvinism (see his post here). In the movie, the main character, a writer, wishes to have the ideal girlfriend. While thinking and writing about her, she suddenly appears in his house. Amazingly, he discovers that whatever he writes about her becomes reality – he can sovereignly control all of her thoughts, feelings, and actions simply by writing her script. As the movie progresses, both he and the girl find the relationship deeply unsatisfying (though for her this is subtle, below the surface, since she doesn’t have free will). Finally, because he loves her, he decides to write that she is real and free. Once free, she leaves him (but there are hints that she might return).
Olson points us to the movie as an analogy for Calvinism (all but the last bit about setting the puppet free, of course). His point is that a God who controls everything that human beings think, feel, believe, do, and say (analogous to how a puppeteer controls a puppet) cannot truly be said to have personal (i.e., I-Thou) relationships with human beings. Moreover, when we consider things like the Holocaust, such a God cannot be understood in any intelligible way as being truly loving and good.
I have three questions in light of Olson’s post (do read his post if you want to comment):
1. Olson cites Paul Helm as his representative of the Calvinist God-as-Puppeteer position. How common is this view of God amongst Calvinist and Reformed people?
2. If you are a Calvinist, how do you respond to Olson? (Both to his depiction of Calvinism and to his challenge that if the Calvinist view is correct then God cannot truly be loving and good)
3. Many Arminians say things like “God is in control” (or “still on the throne”) or “it’s all part of God’s plan.” What do they mean by this? Are they consistent with their Arminianism?