Thanks for the solidarity. Yes, I wish for firmer answers on the tension between human responsibility and God’s sovereignty, which I know is like wanting humanity to find the cure for cancer and for human poverty and for lying politicians all on the same weekend. I am also afraid that my training and experience aren’t helping me to hear Calvin well on this question. I know, roughly, where I think Calvin should come out and so when he hints at his solutions I go into prosecutor mode: “Aha! I knew Calvin made God the author of evil, really.” Except that then he denies that interpretation of his thought, but I don’t fully understand how he can make that denial, given his arguments. Reading his denial, I hoped I would be able to submit to his reasoning or reject it totally, but I confess I don’t get it. He seems to argue for something that he later rejects.
I also appreciate your point that there is the same tension in Scripture. I fully submit to that. I have come from different angles to engage the tension than Calvin does, but that doesn’t mean he’s somehow creating a problem that isn’t there. Scripture, and our reason applied to Scripture, leave us with no real outs — God is sovereign and we are responsible for our sin. But Scripture also constantly affirms God’s goodness and love, and argues that love is His primary way of relating to His creation. So far, Calvin seems to me to be saying, “Trust me, God is good and loving if you only trust his secret counsel/will.” I’m hoping Book 2 will give me more of the love stuff.
Thanks again for your response. I will work harder to follow your example and give Calvin the benefit of the doubt.