Friday, 16 November 2007

A three-year-old's Calvinism

My three-year-old daughter had a little tantrum the other day, which led to this brief conversation between me and her:

—“Could you please stop that tantrum!”
—“No, I can’t stop!”
—“Would you please try to stop, then.”
—“Noooo Dad, I CAN’T try!”

So there you have it: the whole classical Calvinist system in a nutshell. To which Jonathan Edwards added his own cunning twist (a twist which both betrayed and perfected the old Calvinist system): “I really could do it if I tried; but I can’t try, so I can’t do it!”

10 Comments:

::aaron g:: said...

The tantrum reminds me of the ancient prayer:

O my God I do not love Thee,
O my God I do not want to love Thee,
But O my God I do want to want to love Thee.

(popularly attributed to Theresa of Avila)

Adrian Woods said...

Got to love kids.

Theodora said...

My Catholic upbringing:
Me: "But I AM trying!"
My mother: "Yes. You're very trying."

kim fabricius said...

The whole of classical Calvinism? Not quite. Unless you sent Anna to her room eternally. :)

Patrick said...

Actually, the whole of classical Calvinism would be for you to graciously make her able to try. ;-)

dan said...

Really? I thought that the whole of classical Calvinism would be for you to throw your daughter in jail for failing to try!

tortoise said...

No, no - surely the whole of classical Calvinism would have her jailed not for her failure to try, but rather for her predetermined inability to try. This would be a source of rejoicing to Ben's other kids, who would see their sister's plight and give thanks to their dad for graciously enabling them to try to stop their own tantrums.

Presumably then Ben, your questions to your daughter were Calvinistically rhetorical.

voxstefani said...

Frankly, I find your exceedingly young daughter's Edwardsean intuitions quite distressing indeed. ;-)

Charles Twombly said...

When my daughter was four, she said to her two-year-old brother, "Ian, if you don't stop messing with my toys, Jesus is going to take away your sins!" Not sure I can peg that with any known theologian or theological tradition!

Charles Twombly said...

One of my most brilliant students came up with an interesting way of contrasting imputed righteousness and infused righteousness. The former, she said, is like a man who has to run a race but can't since he has a broken leg. Jesus runs the race for him and gives him the prize. As for the latter, a man about to race has a broken leg and Jesus comes and heals it. Now the man has to run the race himself--but not really himself since he didn't heal himself (and Jesus empowers him to finish). Grossly oversimplified? Absolutely--but nevertheless interesting, at least for me. (What does this have to do with Calvinism? Not much perhaps, at least directly. It doesn't address how or why Jesus showed up at the scene in other case.)

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