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So I think it’s time that I get on the Calvinist’s case for once – don’t you?
There is a phrase that I hear some of them say that bothers me ever-so-slightly, regarding something good that they did: “It wasn’t me, it was God.” (Okay, I’m assuming that the people who say this are Calvinists. Free-willies wouldn’t say this, would they?)
In any case, it’s a statement generally made in response to a congratulation or a compliment at some job done well done – often in a ministry setting.
Okay, you might be thinking – people who say this are just displaying false modesty. If this is the case – they are trying get people to like them by acting humble – then this is an issue (perhaps sinful) that they need to deal with.*
But let us assume that some who say this are sincere – they really are trying to point people away from themselves and towards God – which, we must admit, it is an admirable goal. But I still have a problem (albeit, like I said, slight) with this.
As a hyper-compatibleist, when I hear a Calvinist say this, I want to say – Yes, God did it, but No you did not not do it. You get some credit. God worked through you. Just like you are responsible for the sins you do, you are also responsible for the good that you do.
Give thanks to God that you were effective in your ministry, or did well at your job, or was a decent parent.
Now you might be thinking – Isn’t there biblical warrant for saying this (“Not me, it was God”)?
And I would respond: Ah! You’re thinking about Joseph telling Pharaoh that it wasn’t he but God who could interpret his dream. I would say that in this case, yes, since he was performing what could be called a miracle – predicting the next 14 years of the future – that this was indeed God and not him – so he is justified in saying this. But most of the time the good that was done didn’t require a miracle.
But now you might be thinking – No, I wasn’t refering to Joseph, but the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, where he said – “But it was not I, but the grace of God that is in me.”
Here I think you have a better case, but I think we should keep in mind that just before this he said “I worked harder than any of them.” I think he left that in there for a purpose. He really believes that some of the Good that happened should be accounted to him, at least on a secondary level.
So go ahead, I say. Give God the Glory and the Thanks. But take part of the credit.
* I’m sorry. Dangling Participle, there. It should have read “an issue with which they need to deal with”.