John Piper on more than one occasion has had to struggle with how similar his Calvinism is compared to the beliefs of Islam.

In his postings linked below, he comes to the conclusion that YHWH is sovereign but NOT capricious because His justice is not nullified when He shows mercy, as both these attributes are fulfilled in the atoning crucifixion of Jesus (something denied by Islam).

However he doesn’t address an issue he himself raises: In the Calvinism that Piper himself professes, God unconditionally chose who will go to heaven or hell before the foundation of the world, with no regard to any good or evil or faith or rebellion they will do. In fact, whether they are eventually good or evil or faithful or rebellious is solely according to the exhaustive divine determinism of God’s will.

From the first link below, “if God can do anything he wants — meaning if you are standing before him, and he can just flick you off to hell or flick you off to heaven capriciously” and “but he can do with me whatever he wants, and I may go to heaven, or I may go to hell.”

From the second link below, “Therefore, when you come to depend upon the sovereignty of God in your life, you may know it is not capricious. It’s not fickle. It’s not merely unpredictable. “I can forgive you if I want. I can not forgive you if I want.””

These quotes of Piper’s describe Unconditional Election and lapsarianism. These same beliefs (just not given the same labels) are in the screenshot attached from – note that Adam is still in the Garden here, meaning the predestination to heaven/hell is before the Fall, hence supralapsarianism.

The cross of Jesus may solve the tension between God’s justice and mercy – but only for the Elect. The cross is not offered and does not apply to the Reprobate.

And under TULIP, who is Elect or Reprobate is solely up to God – use whatever word you want here, be it sovereign or whimsical or capricious or arbitrary (a characterization which is argued against by RC Sproul: and others: but agreed upon by Jonathan Edwards in his famous sermon:


One of the things that keeps simmering since I got back — and it probably is the most significant theological, missiological insight that I got on the trip, which was like an education for me — came out of a lecture I was giving on the sovereignty of God. I mean, I really stressed God’s absolute sovereignty over all things. He controls all things for the good of his people and the glory of his name. And a questioner raised his hand, and he said, “Now that sounds a lot like the Muslim view of God’s sovereignty.” And you hear, here in the UAE, “If God wills, if God wills, if God wills,” all the time. And in the Muslim view, God can do anything he wants. And they actually use the name “Capricious” for God.

Allah’s Capricious Nature

I was standing in the second biggest mosque in the world in front of the biggest wall of the one hundred names of God under the biggest chandelier of its kind standing on the biggest handwoven carpet (this is all the ways they describe it when you are there). And my friend Mike was there explaining them to me. He was just pointing out name after name written in Arabic. And he said, “That one up there is usually translated capricious, which means God is free; he can do anything he wants.”

Now here is what I realized as I tried to think through it: What is the difference between my view of the biblical sovereignty of God and the Muslim view of God as capricious? Other names of God that they have on that wall are Wise and Just and Kind and Compassionate. And I thought to myself, You know, the name Capricious virtually cancels those out because if God can do anything he wants — meaning if you are standing before him, and he can just flick you off to hell or flick you off to heaven capriciously without reference to his kindness, without reference to his justice, without reference to his compassion — then what good are those names? They are meaningless if there is this overarching sense of capriciousness.

And I think that on the street that really governs a lot of what Muslims feel. They know that God is like that and, therefore, que sera, sera: At the end of the day, I will do the best I can with my five acts of devotion, but he can do with me whatever he wants, and I may go to heaven, or I may go to hell.


Second, I spent two weeks in the Arab Peninsula. One night I was lecturing on the sovereignty of God. I was arguing from the Scriptures that the sovereignty of God is utterly pervasive. It’s utterly unstoppable. It is minute in its application. God rules the roll of the dice in Las Vegas. He rules the rolling of the galaxies at the reaches of the universe. When I was done, a man raised his hand and he said, “Now, what’s the difference between your understanding of God’s sovereignty and Islam? Because what you said just sounds like Islam.” I have thought more about that question over the last eight weeks than about any question in a long time.




Quote from the end of this snippet:


Listen to the Islamic quotes from 2:55 to around 4.20 and tell me what the theology sounds like:



Then did they feel secure from the deception [makr] of Allah? But no one feels secure from the deception [makr] of Allah except the losing people. – Sura (Al-A’raf) 7:99

Allah is the best of deceivers [makr] – Sura (Ali ‘Imran) 3:54

By Allah! I would not rest assured and feel safe from the deception [makr] of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise. – Abu Bakr in Successors of the Messenger, Book One

Whoever Allah guides – he is the guided; and whoever He sends astray – it is those who are the losers. And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. – Sura (Al-A’raf) 7:178-179

And if we had willed, We could have given every soul its guidance, but the word from Me will come into effect “I will surely fill Hell with jinn and people all together.” – Sura (As-Sajdah) 32:13

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, created Adam. Then He stroked his back with His right hand, and progeny issued from it. He said, “I created these for the Garden and they will act with the behaviour of the people of the Garden.” Then He stroked his back again and brought forth progeny from him. He said, “I created these for the Fire and they will act with the behaviour of the people of the Fire.” ‘A man said, ‘Messenger of Allah! Then of what value are deeds?’ – Imam Malik’s Muwatta, Hadith No.2

See also more at The false god of Calvinism and Islam. An uncomfortable affinity.


  1. Huckleberry2012 Says:

    Thank you!, very informative. I had not noticed evenescent grace in Islam as well. I would also add that there is no accountability in Calvinism or islam, “gods will” , and in my frequent debates, I find the exact same intellectual dishonesty and outright lies in both when faced with the logical assuredness of their belief system. Theyll throw Calvin under the bus as the situation requires it. “Taqiyyah”
    Thank you again, blessings!

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