Twice in the general election campaign of 2012 there have been disastrous political comments made that result from the religious presuppositions of Calvinist thinking. Whether we are talking about legitimate rape or claiming that rapes and the pregnancies that result from them are God’s will, we are talking about statements that seem abhorrent to a wide variety of people but that flow rather directly from Calvinist presuppositions about determinism and predestination. The time may come, in fact, it may already be here, when an honest and consistent Calvinist cannot win high office because their beliefs may simply be too abhorrent to a majority of the voting public. But let us not consider this to be a problem for Republicans in general, or for Christians in general, for this problem reveals one of the deepest divides within Christendom.
Let us not pretend that we can divorce religion from politics. Our political opinions spring from our worldviews, and our worldviews, whatever they are, are religiously based. The Calvinist mindset claims that everything that occurs is determined by God’s sovereign will and that those who are saved are personally predestined by God to be saved while others are predestined to be condemned. This worldview has a lot of consequences, besides the denial of free will. Some of these consequences lead to a belief that any interposition of authorities or institutions to restrain the behavior of those who are supposedly saved is unjust coercion, leading many Calvinists to espouse libertarian beliefs hostile to government protection of the vulnerable from exploitation. Seemingly contradictory, predestination leads to a strict hostility to anything that would show a rejection of God’s will, including any pregnancies that resulted from rape, as that would be a rejection of God’s providence in providing a pregnancy, even through rape.
Of course, one can oppose abortion in cases or rape without any belief that the rape itself was God’s will, but only if one is an Arminian instead of a Calvinist. An Armenian would believe that God allows much that He does not will because He has granted mankind free will, but that God promises to work all things together for the good–including the horrors of rape. So while a Calvinist and an Arminian, if consistent, would come to similar conclusions to the questions that divide our society concerning political worldviews drawn from scripture, they would do so very differently with very different premises. And an Arminian’s beliefs would place the will and responsibility on man, while a Calvinist, if consistent with his beliefs, would consider all events as being the result of God’s sovereign will. This is a vastly more difficult proposition for many people to accept, and might even be considered monstrous by many. This is especially true given that effective regeneration, the way in which consistent Calvinists consider believers to be redeemed to Christ, is often compared to divine rape. This would suggest that there is some connection between the acceptance of Calvinists of coercion from God and a rejection of coercion by mankind because it would seem to be setting mankind up as a rival to God.
Calvinism is popular in many circles of Libertarian and conservative Republican circles, especially those circles that wish to bring America back to its roots. Unfortunately, the presuppositions of Calvinism are deeply unpopular, or even abhorrent, to a substantial base of the American voting population. This would seem to suggest that the political implications of predestination are an element that need to be taken into greater consideration in Republican primaries even in moderately conservative states like Indiana and Missouri. It is also important for people to understand that Calvinism is not the only, or even the best, biblical position among the Christian world. It would be libel to consider all Christians and all Republicans, much less all conservative-leaning individuals, as having the same views as Calvinists. Nonetheless, we must admit that these views exist, are popular in certain segments of our political culture, and have deeply troubling implications. Such is life in a fallen world, though.