How does a Calvinist know when something is a “Revealed Will” or a “Secret Will”?
If God says something that is contrary to Calvinism, it is said to only be a “Revealed Will.” But how does a Calvinist derive the authority to tell us which it is? Is it an extra-biblical authority? Is it special insight? How does on know?
Jeremiah 32:35: “They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”
Zechariah 1:15: “But I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster.”
In both instances, we are told that this was only the “Revealed Will,” and that by a “Secret Will,” God indeed ordained that Israel would do the sin of child sacrifice and that God ordained that Babylon would further the disaster against Israel. (Also notice how the benevolence of a “Revealed Will” is undone by a “Secret Will”?) But how do Calvinists know when God means what He says and when He secretly means the exact opposite?
Calvinist, James White, writes: “The fundamental reason we must reject allegorical interpretation of the biblical text is really quite simple: it is unverifiable. That is, there is no possible way to determine that the results of using allegorical methodology have anything whatsoever to do with the actual meaning of the text. One man’s allegorical understanding can have no compelling force upon the thinking of another, for that person may well see something completely different in the text. Since the means provided by human language to communicate meaning are by-passed in the allegorical method, there are no ‘safety nets’ to keep one from wandering off into the most fanciful of ‘interpretations’ of the text. Hence, the person who says ‘the allegorical meaning of this text is such and so’ cannot claim the actual authority of the text for his interpretation, for the actual source of the interpretation is not the text itself but the mind of the interpreter. This is why we say there can be no compelling force to one’s allegorical interpretation, for it is merely personal, and if anyone else accepts it, it is because they choose to trust the allegorical interpreter rather than the text itself. Allegorical interpretations can have no more authority than the one proclaiming them. When applied to the biblical text this methodology is devastating. The authority of the text is destroyed. No allegorical interpreter can honestly say, ‘The Word of God says,’ for in reality, the Word of God has been replaced with the more or less fanciful thoughts of the interpreter himself. The Christian doctrine of inspiration sets the Christian Scriptures apart from all other claimed divine revelations in that Christians believe the Scriptures are God-breathed. This means the written word communicates to us infallibly the very speaking of God in a miraculously personal manner (Matthew 22:31). The authority of the Word is not based upon the interpreter but upon the inspired text itself. The message of the written Word is the same through the course of time. Without this affirmation, the Word becomes a purely subjective document, incapable of communicating divine truth with certainty. This point cannot be over-emphasized. Allegorical interpretation destroys biblical authority.” (James White vs. Harold Camping on Iron Sharpens Iron!, emphasis mine)
So no Calvinist can say regarding an alleged “Secret Will” that “The Word of God says,” and that claims their claims to insist upon it are actually the destruction of “biblical authority.” So one cannot claim to hold Sola Scriptura, the Scriptures Alone, and simultaneously invoke a “Secret Will” into a given text.