Trespassing on Trinitarian Territory
Hyper-Calvinism shares with Arminianism (and especially open theism) a rationalistic tendency toward a univocal interpretation of the noun “freedom.” The one begins with the central dogma of omnicausalism and the other with the central dogma of libertarian free will. However, if even freedom is predicated of God and humans analogically, then there is not a single “freedom pie” to be rationed (however unequally) between partners.
As Horton’s “freedom pie” illustration suggests (see below), divine freedom is archetypal and original while human freedom is ectypal and derivative: “Because God is freedom, such a thing as freedom exists and can be communicated to us in a creaturely mode.” In other words, there is not a common univocal pool called “freedom” from which both God and we drink, and neither is our exercise of freedom an infringement upon God’s or an example of trespassing on divine turf. Human freedom exists because God is sovereign and free, and our freedom is uniquely suited to us as creatures made in the image of our Creator.
My aim here is not to dispute, but to nod my head and double-down.
One of Reformed theology’s most important and oft-vocalized objections to the Catholic gospel stems from the fact that we insist on things like (1) our participation in Christ’s redeeming work by means of our Spirit-wrought works of sacrifice and love, (2) the departed saints’ participation in Christ’s priestly work of intercession for believers here on earth, and (3) the Church’s participation in offering up the once-for-all sacrifice of the Eucharist at each Mass. Such ideas are objectionable, the Reformed Christian argues, because they impinge upon divine prerogatives and trespass on Trinitarian territory. To allow for human participation in these divine activities, we are told, is to minimize God’s unique role as Savior and thereby rob him of glory.
But wait! not so fast. . . .
If Horton is correct in arguing that human free-agency does not take away from divine sovereignty but rather stems from it (and I think he is), then why would such an idea not apply here, to the most well-worn argument against the Catholic gospel?
In the same way that the Calvinist insists that God is free in a uniquely divine way while our freedom is a creaturely and derivative freedom, the Catholic insists that God’s saving work, and Christ’s priestly intercession, are uniquely divine, and that our participation in those activities is creaturely and suited to us as human actors.
Therefore if Arminians and Hyper-Calvinists are just rationalists in disguise because they posit a univocal understanding of freedom which fails to distinguish divine and creaturely expressions of it (as Horton charges), then what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. By failing (and often outright refusing) to notice any distinction between Christ’s mediatorship and that of Mary and the saints, or between Jesus’ self-offering at Calvary and the Church’s Eucharistic offering at Mass, our Reformed brethren are exhibiting the very rationalistic and fundamentalist rigidity that they claim to repudiate in other contexts.
And it’s no fair, so I’m crying “Foul.”