The fluttering of a butterflies wings can start a chain of events leading to a tsunami, this is a parable used in Chaos theory called the butterfly effect. It’s also a parable used in theology, specifically theodicy, to explain how we can never know all the factors of, and effects of, evil. It’s used especially by Calvinists who appeal to the principle found Genesis 50:20, the idea being that God pre-ordains evil because he intends to use it to bring good out of it. The same goes for non-calvinists, arminians and modalists; they will often point to the finitude of human understanding to make the point that God created a world with evil but that it is justified because there is ultimately good that will come out of it, even to the point of saying it would be logically impossible to create a world without evil.
Whenever an American conservative Calvinist decides to preach on politics you can be sure you’re going to get as much shallow and cheap theology as you’ll get when listening to a liberal Episcopalian talking about homosexuality. Jeff Durbin, a few months ago, put out a sermon on the topic of “socialism” and “biblical economics.” Just as expected, it was full of misapplication of scriptures, full of shallow and fallacious theology and really beneath anyone who takes biblical theology seriously.
Most of his argument comes from the commandment not to steal. To make that argument apply to questions of Economic institutions or legal arrangements he tries to derive a defense of private property as foundational from scripture. After reading the story of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5 he says:
39 Καὶ προελθὼν μικρὸν ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ προσευχόμενος καὶ λέγων· πάτερ μου, εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν, παρελθάτω ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο· πλὴν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλ’ ὡς σύ
42 Πάλιν ἐκ δευτέρου ἀπελθὼν προσηύξατο λέγων· πάτερ μου, εἰ οὐ δύναται τοῦτο παρελθεῖν ἐὰν μὴ αὐτὸ πίω, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου.
In Matthew 26, right before the passion of Christ he appeals to God to let this cup pass from him εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν, if it is possible. When we think of the question of pre-destination against open theism, what we are also asking is whether or not Jesus was making a real request in this scripture or not.
In a recent presentation (at least recent for me), David Bentley Hart presented a defence of universalism. In one part of the presentation (from about 25:15 to about 27:10), he makes an argument against Calvinism and the idea of damnation to eternal conscious torment, i.e. Hell. The argument goes something like this:
- Let us imagine the best-case scenario, that there is only unfortunate soul damned to Hell, let’s also presume that this unfortunate soul is bad guy, let’s say he’s Hitler.
- Let us also accept the Calvinistic idea that God damns people in order to show his wrath and that those who are saved or damned (in other words everyone) are preordained by God to be “vessels of mercy” or “vessels of wrath” not through their own will, but rather Gods decree.
- Given that anyone of us could have just as easily been chosen to be a vessel of wrath then this one who is damned ends up becoming nothing less than our ransom, our atonement, who bares the wrath of God on him so that we, through no will of our own can escape it.