Apologetics Thursday – Joseph Proving Too Much

Calvinists often make the case that Genesis 45 is a solid prooftext for God controlling all things (or engaging in compatibility actions with free will). Here is one such Calvinist which does that. Here is the Genesis text:

Gen 45:4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
Gen 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Gen 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

So God takes credit for Joseph’s journey to Egypt and ascension to the throne although plenty of free will actions were involved in this plan. From this text Calvinists conclude that everything that happens then happens in some sort of compatibilistic sense. But this is not the case. Often God’s plans are thwarted by mankind. God appoints King Saul, but the regrets making Saul the King because Saul has failed Him. God appoints Eli’s sons to serve before Him forever, but God revokes that promise when Eli’s sons turn out wicked. God promises that Israel will conquer the Moabites but Israel retreats (2Ki 3:27).

In the Bible, God has plans and uses people’s actions to accomplish His plans, but this does not lead to any general sense of compatibilitic action. Calvinists cannot just point to one or two examples and then ignore the counterexamples. This is especially true when counterexamples abound everywhere in the Bible. God can use wicked people, but often wicked people thwart God.

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