“Some ministers love to soar aloft, like the eagle, and fly above the people’s capacities, endeavoring rather to be admired than understood. Ministers should be stars to give light, not clouds to obscure truth. It is cruelty to souls when we go about to make easy things hard; this many are guilty of in our age, who go into the pulpit only to tie knots” (Thomas Watson, Gleanings from Thomas Watson, p. 91).
Most Calvinists are the especially egregious offenders here. Some of them would say the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ is easy to understand; so easy a child can understand it (Gresham Machen said as much in What Is Faith? on page 144). The efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ is the heart of the gospel. It is the very core of what constitutes the gospel message.
Most Calvinists eke out a weak surface-level concession that the message of Christ and Him crucified is exceedingly clear….that is, UNTIL a true Christian presses them about the spiritual state of those counting the cross as foolishness. Then, all of a sudden, things start to get a bit fuzzy:
[Typical Calvinist:] This doctrine is far more remote and more complex, and requires long prayerful study.
[Christian:] The doctrine of the atonement is at the very heart of the gospel. It is the very basic of the gospel. It is just as basic as the doctrine of the deity of Christ. It is not hard to understand. Even a child can understand it. The work of Jesus Christ saves. If one believes in universal atonement, one does not believe that the work of Jesus Christ saves. The universal atonement advocate does not believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. It is very simple. Every regenerate person, at the moment of regeneration, believes in the saving work of Jesus Christ. A Christian doesn’t at first believe a false gospel and then arrive at the true gospel after “long prayerful study.” Of course, this God-hater thinks that he has some “higher knowledge” than his Arminian brethren, because he has engaged in “long prayerful study” while his Arminian brethren haven’t. It’s just the dung of spiritual pride.
So there we see the typical tolerant Calvinist attempting to tie gospel atonement truth into knots.
Another very common clouding done by your typical — and don’t forget, fashionable — Calvinist is the insidiously impious attempt to immure the Godhood of God in incoherence. Here is John Piper tying knots, or claiming rather, that the “inscrutable knots” in Scripture are already there:
“I do not have an answer to why God would permit Lucifer, an angel, to fall. In other words, how can a perfectly pure being with no evil inclinations, suddenly have an evil inclination? And the answer is: I don’t know. The most ultimate mystery to me is the origin of sin in created beings. I will say God oversaw it and ultimately ordained it, without Himself culpably causing it. Culpably. And how you could cause it any other way I’m not sure – and yet God reigns and ordains from before the fall that there would be a crucified Savior for sinners and therefore it was all in the plan” (John Piper, [this is my transcription of an online video–CD]).
How “can a perfectly pure being with no evil inclinations, suddenly have an evil inclination?” This has to be one of the EASIEST THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS IN EXISTENCE. The simple and easy to understand answer is that God CAUSED Lucifer to become evil; God actively caused him to have an evil inclination. Will the objection be “Why does God find fault with Lucifer, for who resists His will?”?
The origin of sin in created beings is NOT a mystery AT ALL, contrary to the antichristian, pseudo-pious-pontificating of John Piper. Piper says that God ordained sin without “culpably causing it.” According to Piper, any kind of sin-causing on God’s part makes Him morally culpable. Piper blasphemously denies God’s sovereignty and righteousness.
This mutiny is par for the Calvinistic course. This audacious attempt to obscure God’s absolute sovereignty is the Calvinistic and Reformed consensus. Piper cloaks his rejection of God’s revelation on this simple and basic matter with false humility and piety. He resists and suppresses the truth in unrighteousness:
“Because knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful. But they became vain in their reasonings, and their undiscerning heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became foolish and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of an image of corruptible man” (Romans 1:21-23).