21 August 2008

A Question for Our Arminian Readers

by Phil Johnson

ow is it that God inspired the Scriptures in such a way that every word—indeed, every jot and tittle—was what He determined?

Every standard evangelical definition of inspiration would emphatically insist that God used the personalities, vocabularies, intellects, and learning of the individual authors—and we completely agree. Let's also stipulate that He did not employ dictation (except in a few cases where this is expressly stated).

Yet the product was still determined sovereignly by God. The words are avowedly His words (2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13).

So how did this miracle occur?

I say you cannot answer that question without embracing the very essence of the Calvinist position regarding God's sovereignty and human free will.

Phil's signature

138 comments:

Puritan said...

Excellent!

Nathan W. Bingham said...

Good challenge Phil - I look forward to reading the comments...

trogdor said...

Ah, yes. I remember first seeing this argument in Beyond the Bounds, where it was argued that the Openness rejection of compatibilistic freedom also must be a rejection of inspiration. I'm not sure how you'd even begin to respond to it - all the arguments I can think of involve God 'suspending' their freedom/autonomy to get it written, which is beyond lame but the best I can do. I'd really love to hear an actual Arminian/Open answer.

I'm not sure if it was in there too, but I've also heard the same question applied to heaven. That is, is it possible for people to sin in heaven? If not, why not? Do we lose our "freedom" when we get there and become puppets/robots without the ability to truly love God (because for it to be love it must be from freedom, so I hear)? How is it possible that we maintain our "freedom" yet will always forevermore do God's will?

Frank Turk said...

You're just mean, Phil. Everyone was having a peaceful week until just now.

Frank Turk said...

Ah. and Trogdor has an appropriate avatar. I am pleased.

Doulos Christos said...

Ah, the canard of the Arminian theology challenging God's sovereignty. At what point does this occur? Contra your conclusion, the Arminian worships in the light of God's sovereign lordship.

Those of the Salvation by Decree family see His sovereignty in the light of the supralapsarian decree. Sovereignty however, means that God is/was free to establish his chain of salvation in any method that he chose. The scriptural requirement that humankind exercise faith in order to receive that salvation in no way challenges that sovereignty.

kisanri said...

Molinism!

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/menmoved.html

DJP said...

"Doulos Christos"

1. Do you know your name means "Slave-Christ," or "Christ is a slave," or something like that? Calvinists will see some irony in your choice of screen name.

2. Do you know you didn't come near actually answering Phil's question?

3. Would you like to?

Chris Roberts said...

God's sovereignty is not a challenge to non-Calvinists. It isn't believed that he loves man's free will greater than his own sovereignty. He is still sovereign and overrides human free will as he chooses. But the non-Calvinist realizes that a sovereign God is free to do as he please, even giving man a degree of free will. Is he sovereign if our theology does not allow him to do something?

donsands said...

"Is he sovereign if our theology does not allow him to do something?"

He surely allows man to freely decide to hate God, and rebel. If God gives man a free will, that can save itself, then the free will is sovereign, and not God. I would think.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"So how did this miracle occur?"

The Bible is silent on the mode of inspiration. The answer you seek is not given to us in Scripture, and thus the "debater's challenge" you offer is inapposite. IOW, the Arminian can ask you the exact same question, and leave you in the exactly the same position.

Thanks for posting this on a day I have meetings. I look forward to reading 500 posts later this afternoon.

DJP said...

Let's not get off track (one man's opinion.)

How is that an answer to the question, Chris Roberts? God is sovereign in terms of man's will if He wants to write a Bible, but not if He wants to save a man? Or does He not equally want to save all?

We need some Arminians actually to try to answer Phil's question. If that can be done. Or admit they can't. Or something. But not just say, "Oh! This is something about Arminianism and Calvinism, isn't it? Here's what I always say about that subject: ____."

eastendjim said...

The scriptural requirement that humankind exercise faith in order to receive that salvation in no way challenges that sovereignty.

doulos christos

Where specifically is the "scriptural requirement that humankind exercise faith" found within scripture?

Our small groups at church have been doing a study on evangelism. This week we are looking at the human part in the evangelistic process vs. God's part in it. All the verses we've been studying clearly show that humans are incapable of excercising faith and that faith is granted by God alone.

Any scripture that you can provide that supports this requirement would be appreciated.

Also, thanks for supralapsarian. I've learned a new word today.

Doulos Christos said...

DJP, poor discussion form to attempt to belittle the opposing response by trying to make me look ill informed. Perhaps you can argue through the Pauline corpus (using your GNT) where it is most often translated as Servant (as in servant of Christ). Try Rom 1:1 for starters.

As to answering the question. It is a false dilemma posed simply to arouse further argument within the body. No Arminian theology argues against the source of the Scriptures. Perhaps you or Phil can provide the citation that initiates the question?

Fred Butler said...

Perhaps you can argue through the Pauline corpus (using your GNT) where it is most often translated as Servant (as in servant of Christ). Try Rom 1:1 for starters.

(Fred) But it is an inaccurate translation meant to safeguard sympathies of those are guilt ridden over the idea of human slavery.

Murray Harris has written a rather compelling book studying this word, and pretty much every major lexicon on the Greek language will also confirm the fact that doulos means slave, not servant.

Hence, djp's point is still well made. At some point God had to mess with your autonomic free will to make you His slave.

Pastor Rod said...

Phil,

Your question presupposes the Calvinistic view of divine sovereignty.

In fact, the idea that every word of Scripture is exactly what God predetermined is really just a variation on dictation. The dictation is simply accomplished in an indirect manner.

I understand that your view of inspiration requires this exhaustive control (just as your view of divine sovereignty does), but the Bible doesn't require this.

Anyone starting with your presuppositions who is intellectually honest will take the Calvinist position. The argument is over as soon as it is framed.

Of course, there are other presuppositions that are God-centered and biblically consistent.

Rod

Chris Roberts said...

Dan,

Now I'm confused. How did my response fail to address the question? The question had to do with how could the non-Calvinist (and let's not pretend all non-Calvinists are Arminian) believe in the sovereign inspiration of Scripture? My response is that God is sovereign over all things but gives man free will. He overrides that free will at his own pleasure.

This should not really even be an argument. The question is flawed, as noted by doulos, but for a different reason. In Calvinist theology salvation is not a complete work of God simply because God is sovereign. The primary reason is because man is completely unable to respond to the gift of the gospel. Being dead in our sins we cannot move toward Christ. We remain free to choose - God does give mankind free will - but that free will is always exercised to reject Christ. Only when God transforms a person are they able to respond - and they will, in fact, respond. Who God transforms is the matter of his sovereign choice, but it isn't a matter of God's choice vs man's choice, per se. Man is already given choice and for most people God leaves them to that choice - the choice to reject him. Only for some does God override their free willed rejection of him, transforming them so that they will instead accept him by faith.

Either way, free will is preserved but in such a way that we see that God has the final say and can always override human will. So the authors of Scripture, if left completely to themselves, might have said one thing, but God ensured they said something else. Where is the dilemma?

DJP said...

Well, maybe we've reached the root very quickly, "Doulos Christos." I can tell you're new to this blog, and you're very welcome.

Actually, in 35 years of reading the NT in Greek, I've read Romans 1:1 many, many times.

But your intense offense at my pointing this out, and blaming me for your oversight (because I, knowing something you didn't, pointed out your unarguable error), suggests a more basic question.

If you were in error, would you want to know? Or do you just want to protect your ignorance?

I'm asking this, because of the depth of offense and "Foul play!" you cry over something that is really beyond argument. I mean, anyone who's studied Greek for a month (let alone 35 years) could have pointed it out. Yet, rather than saying, "Yikes! That's what I get for using Strong's instead of learning Greek! Thanks for pointing it out," you accuse me of foul play.

If you're so easily offended in something so basic and simple... what's the chance of you rethinking your understanding of the Biblical portrait of God and His Godhood?

So there's your question. If you're wrong about something, do you even want to know it? Or is anyone who tries to help you just going to end up in a Proverbs 9:8a situation?

Frank Turk said...

Pastor Rod:

name one. I would usually ask someone in this circumstances who says there are more than one to "name 3" but I think you'll be hard pressed to name one.

IMO. Show me I'm wrong.

Frank Turk said...

Team Pyro Dog Pile!

DJP said...

< shrug >

Chris, it's Phil's question and thread, so I'll let him judge and respond as able. But I read and re-read, and just don't see what your first response has to do with his question. Maybe he'll see something I missed.

Jugulum said...

doulos,
"No Arminian theology argues against the source of the Scriptures."

Hmm... I'd like to offer up a quick comment on what Phil seems to be asking. I think you might be misunderstanding his post.

It's something like this:

If you are an Arminian, and you believe that:
1.) Every word of Scripture was what God determined it should be, and
2.) God worked through the personalities, intellects, etc. of the authors--worked through their wills, in other words, without violating their wills--then

isn't it also possible for God to "effectually call" someone to salvation, also without violating their wills?

Jugulum said...

Chris,

Check out the comment I just posted to doulos. In your comments, are you saying that you don't believe #2? That you believe God did violate the wills of the authors of Scripture?

Chris said...

It just so happpens that when the Biblical writers were moved along by the Holy Spirit to pen certain particular words they responded, "Wow! That's just the exact word I was thinking of! That's exactly how I was going to phrase it (syntax)" This happened consistently. Men "allowed" God to make use of their personality, vocabulary, writng style etc. otherwise man's will would have been violated. They cooperated.

I am just kidding. I really don't know how an arminian would respond. I am a calvinist.

stratagem said...

These two got it right:
The Bible is silent on the mode of inspiration. The answer you seek is not given to us in Scripture, and thus the "debater's challenge" you offer is inapposite.
and In fact, the idea that every word of Scripture is exactly what God predetermined is really just a variation on dictation. The dictation is simply accomplished in an indirect manner.

Some things are a mystery. Some people think everything about Christianity is a mystery, some others think nothing is a mystery and that they know it all (i.e., they don't know that they don't know). It's a mystery to me why that is.

VcdeChagn said...

I'm not an Arminian but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night...

My question in response would be this:

From a Calvinist point of view, does God's sovereignty REQUIRE His intervention in every situation?

If not, then it's fairly easy to point to the Scriptures and say that God chose "sovereignly" to intervene there, and does not choose "sovereignly" to intervene in other places (including, from an Arminian point of view..our salvation..which I do NOT agree with).

However, you can have a high view of God's sovereignty and not be a Calvinist...there is no contradiction.

Besides, my favorite question to an Arminian is this:

How on earth, if you aren't saved by works...can you regain your salvation if you've lost it?

That's the one I've never seen a satisfactory answer to.

Rick Frueh said...

Anyone who portends to understand that mystery has not considered the infinite enormity of God's sovereignty. It cannot be fully understood much less fully defined.

The exact mix of sovereignty and free will is 88.55% sovereingty and 10.45% free will.

The other 1% vacillates between the two. :)

DJP said...

What I'm getting, then, is that faced with the choice of in any way reconsidering their notions of libertarian free-will on the one hand, and impugning or feigning agnosticism regarding the inerrancy of Scripture, some would much rather do the latter?

bossmanham said...

I'm pretty new to this blog. I take an essentially reformed(classical) Arminian point of view. I think the fact that God allows us a free will while not giving up His soverignty doesn't detract from God, but actually shows a God that is more soverign than the Calvinist asserts.

DJP said...

bossmanham — welcome, and thanks for sharing that.

Care to take a whack at answering Phil's question?

David Milton said...

Just a quick point of greek and translation: "Doulos" throughout Scripture can only mean "slave", not servant. With the exception of only a few (count on one hand), all translations - beginning with Geneva in the 14th century - render it "servant" to avoid the social implications. Yet, it's inescapable.

Really, it's not complicated. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ. Our 'free will' has never been free save for one man in the Garden a long time ago. And look what he did with it.

MacArthur fully discusses the "doulos" mistranslation in recent messages. They're worth grabbing a copy on MP3.

Chris Roberts said...

jugulum:

You use the word violate, I use the word override. God does override man's will and he does so frequently. The Calvinist must believe this to be the case - for the call to be effectual God must transform the sinful individual who wants nothing to do with God. That very work is against human will. Once they have been transformed/regenerated/born again/pick your term, then they have wills that can - and will - respond to God. But having that transformed will means God had to do to the person something the person in his sinful state did not want to have done.

As far as Scripture goes, I'm sure the writers wanted to faithfully present God's truth but God still had to work in them through the Holy Spirit to ensure what they wrote was what he wanted, not what they wanted. I don't believe in dictation, every word is not an inspired word, but I do believe God had to override the human will at least to ensure that what came through was the word of God rather than the word of man. I am not being altogether precise, but this is a comment and not a post. :)

danny2 said...

djp,

am i missing something? or was your concern not "slave v servant" but that it should say δοῦλος Χριστοῦ? sorry to steal the surprise, if you were waiting for him to discover it. i guess i'm just kind of thick and was thrown off if the conversation is really about slave v servant.

chris roberts,

when does this end?

could the Calvinist not argue:

But the Calvinist realizes that a sovereign God is free to do as he please, even not giving man a degree of free will. Is he sovereign if our theology does not allow him to not do something?

Pastor Bob said...

Good Post... The issue at heart is Compatiblism God not mearly determined but Sovereignly used every situation leading up to the moment of writing to shape and mold these men to be able to write scripture in every way as he intended as much as if he had written it directly himself (boyce catechism). This makes little sense for a constant arminian or semi-peligaian....

DJP said...

Danny2 — the point about doulos meaning slave, not servant, is correct. But it wasn't my point; mine was just the syntax. And my remark was meant as a light little obvious thing-in-passing, about on the level of, "Oh, you've got something on your shirt." His overblown reaction (with me) made it an issue.

Others handled the lexical point just fine, no need for further input from me.

And as another interesting in-passing point, the CSB very pointedly adopted "slave" as consistent rendering for doulos.

Matt said...

Chris Roberts: He overrides that free will at his own pleasure.

Only for some does God override their free willed rejection of him, transforming them so that they will instead accept him by faith.

Either way, free will is preserved but in such a way that we see that God has the final say and can always override human will. So the authors of Scripture, if left completely to themselves, might have said one thing, but God ensured they said something else. Where is the dilemma?

Chris, you sound like I did about a year ago. What you've said is thoroughly Calvinistic. I just think your heart hasn't caught up with your head yet.

The problem with using the word "free will" to describe what you just did is that it's not free. At least not in an absolute, libertarian sense. What you've essentially described is compatibilism, which says that we act and choose according to our basic nature and strongest desires. Compatibilism also recognizes that those desires happen to us. We don't select desires, we merely react to them. Guess where the desire to be saved or the desire to write what the Holy Spirit commands comes from.

Compatibilism allows us to make self-determined choices, but leaves God absolutely sovereign over our desires, and therefore our choices.

Free will says we can act and choose against our desires and nature. Of course, this makes our choices meaningless, as they don't relate to us as people. Our choices are merely free-floating, abstract, dispassionate decisions. That's not what you're advocating.

As to Phil's question, which no Arminian has attempted to answer yet, I first came across this challenge about half a year ago. Thankfully I was Reformed at that point already! The thing is, if God allowed us to be absolutely free (ie - libertarian free will) then He cannot over-ride that freedom to ensure the Bible is a product of His choosing. If the apostles were fallible humans (they were) with free will that couldn't be overridden, then it's a practical certainty that the Bible would contain man-made errors.

I think we all realize that there are good, conservative, inerrantist Arminians out there. The problem is that their Arminianism doesn't provide them with any basis to cling to inerrancy.

Blessings.

stratagem said...

Oh, for the days when Christians were just Christians. They could focus on helping and proclaiming, rather than on manmade arguments about how they got there.

Matt said...

rather than on manmade arguments about how they got there.

What about if it's the desire of some to give Christ ALL the credit for our salvation, instead of making the determining factor MY intelligence, piety, holiness, goodness, etc.?

Jason Alligood said...

Stratagem,

When exactly were those days?

stratagem said...

Jason: I would guess they were a long time ago, indeed. When the lot of Christians was spears and no heads, etc.

It's not my place to put words in the Lord's mouth, and I'm not going to. But I have a hard time envisioning Him being pleased with the encouragement of a divisive and highly abstract argument such as this challenge presents.

Especially when not a one of us really knows the answers to the questions we are bashing each other with.

Tom Chantry said...

Dan,

I think you made your case about Greek quite well. It's a case of poor syntax, plain and simple. And just in case anyone is still missing the point, it's a case of stating one's case as clearly as possible.

Barbara said...

Jugulum wrote, isn't it also possible for God to "effectually call" someone to salvation, also without violating their wills?

If I may toss in an anecdotal note, what many folks call a "testimony":

That's what He did with me. I was raised in the church, I had gotten away from it, I was "saved" and baptized (by immersion, no less) when I was around 5. I was brought to a point one day, driving from one job to the next, exhausted from the vicious cycle that the need for independence and its resulting pride/stubbornness in independence creates in the life of a divorced nurse and mom who had to support her family even when married. I had been raised "right", I had done everything "right", but everything went completely wrong. In the belief system I was raised in, the New life wasn't a new creation, or the new creation was just a "figure of speech" for the new life that you would lead by "believing, behaving, reading your Bible, and praying." The concept of Grace didn't exist...and the less grace I received from the world, the less I had to give. Everyone let me down, so I had to take care of everything myself. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Everything hung in a delicate balance - as it will when you have the weight of your entire world solidly on your own shoulders, and you carry it there because you don't think you can trust God to carry it either, you need something Tangible. Here. And. NOW.

So, years after leaving the church and church people, and trying to maintain a "relationship with my creator" on my own (see how far the theology fell over the years), I had reached a point where everything that could go wrong did. Murphy's Law ruled my life for most of my life, actually. And I was beyond sick and tired of Murphy.

I say all that to lead you back to the night I was driving from one job to the next, so angry at God, numbed and broken and at the point of giving up on this whole "God-thing." I didn't care anymore. I had no will left.

And as I drove that night, exhausted, tired, broken, and at the bottom point of my faith (which is really saying something, two years of homelessness and hopelessness didn't bring it this low), somehow I spoke the last words I had had it in my mind to speak:

"I don't have it, God, I'm done. I'm just done. It's your call."

A peace came over me that night, one I had been unfamiliar with. And after following His very blatant and obvious lead to a tiny country church near my home, the floodgates opened.

That was six months ago. I work one job now instead of two and I live by faith day by day. I am active in that tiny country church and I continue to consume everything I can get my hands on when it comes to the knowledge and understanding of who God is and who Jesus is, within the confines of what God would have me to know. He led me, from the very beginning, to pray to be molded to His will. He led me to pray for many things that would not have come from the previous version of me, and they were (and are) all about better submitting to His will and to understand more of Him and for wisdom and courage, as well as for the salvation and peace of certain individuals (including a former enemy or two). I now know what Godly sorrow is, I know what true repentance is, that nauseating, wrenching realization of one's utter wretchedness in the light of His glory and grace, I know what it means for the things of earth to grow strangely dim in that same light, I know what it is to be held in His arms through it all and to receive Scriptural assurance as led, I know what it is to have the Scriptures come to life and to fall in love with them and with Him. I know what it is to have that light turned on. I know what it is to meet Christ on His terms and in His way, and to live every day in utter gratitude for His Grace.

And I know that I didn't do it.

Sooo....whatever means Christ uses to bring us to Him...that may vary. I think if we fuss too much about our own "free will", (our own will? is that where we're to focus our efforts?)then we run the risk of finding ourselves mired in Pride. We can sit and debate all day long about how He brings us to Him, and how much of our will is affected in the process but in the end, all that matters is that He does.

And I SO praise God for that.

Willem Bronkhorst said...

Phil,

When I read your post just now, I thought: "Stumped" (the Arminians, I mean). Then I read the 39 comments so far, and I still think: "stumped".

Kent Brandenburg said...

God is sovereign in salvation. We get this from Scripture, so we believe it. This is in the London Baptist Confession. Every man still sins and sins, but we still believe this; God is sovereign.

God is sovereign in verbal, plenary inspiration. We get this from Scripture, so we believe it. This is in the London Baptist Confession. Men don't possess the original manuscripts, but we still believe this; God is sovereign.

God is sovereign in verbal, plenary preservation. We get this from Scripture, so we believe it. This is in the London Baptist Confession. Men have made errors in copying, but we still believe this; God is sovereign.

Who believes in sovereignty?

Lee Shelton IV said...

I'm not an Arminian, but I think I've conversed with enough of them to take a crack at it, so here goes...

<arminian mode>
At some point in eternity past, God looked down the corridors of time and saw who would be willing to write down his divinely inspired word. His choice of authors was based on his foreknowledge.
</arminian mode>

Solameanie said...

This short video is an apt visual picture for what Phil has just done with today's post.

This will get very interesting before the day is out.

Solameanie said...

And for the record, I don't think the post is a bad idea. In fact, I think it's a good idea. But the reaction depicted in the video . . . descriptive, isn't it?

Penn Tomassetti said...

Oh, that is simple to answer: they let God use them to do His will.

That's the way I hear most sermons where I live. "Let God do what He wants to do in your life." "God wants to do something, are you going to let Him?" I have to travel far or listen to the internet to hear anything different. Thank God for the internet Calvinists!

Barbara said...

solameanie,

Descriptive, yes. And the comments section on the video page are a very nice demonstration of total depravity. Yikes!

Michelle said...

One vehemently anti-Calvinist fundy Baptist pastor in this area (a good man nonetheless), in dealing with the first few verses of Ephesians, taught us several years ago that God chose us because He knew that we would choose Him. Yep, a God who simply has fantastic foresight.

Employing that logic, God determined the product of Scripture only in so far as He knew that is what the authors were going to write anyway.

We all know that is nonsense. Perhaps, for many, conceding His sovereignty over scripture simply doesn't offend their (sinful) sense of self-determination the way conceding His sovereignty over salvation would.

Thanks for raising the connection. I hadn't thought of it before.

Chris Roberts said...

danny,

Yes, a Calvinist could say that God sovereignly determines that people have no free will at all.

Matt,

Please spare me the, "I was there once too but I'm more mature now and I know you will eventually be where I am" type of argument, it is nothing but arrogance.

I am very much leaning in a Calvinistic direction in my thinking, but many of the arguments people make for Calvinism and against non-Calvinism are flawed in various ways. Among them is trying to use arguments based on the requirements of God's sovereignty. Either he is sovereign or he isn't. If he is sovereign then he can do as he pleases, including give man free will. Yes, this is along the lines of compatibilism, that doesn't mean the term free will has no value. Its meaning remains unchanged even in light of God's sovereignty. Free will does not say we can choose against our nature. It says we are free to choose whatever we want - but all a fallen person wants to choose is sin. He is free to choose to do good, but he is not willing to choose to do good.

As an aside - once again let me say that Calvinists need to stop pretending there are only two sides - Calvinists and Arminians. Why not, in these discussions, refer to Calvinists and non-Calvinists? Most non-Calvinists I know are also non-Arminians. There is a lot of room between the two positions. I still can't figure out why Calvinists try to force everyone else into the other camp. It's as bad as those who think all Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists.

Penn,

Human cooperation with God is not contrary to Calvinist theology. We are called to obedience, that means following God wherever he commands. I don't like the language of "let God do such and such" but it is not entirely wrong. Yield to him, obey him, following him - different ways of saying more or less the same thing. In the end God will have his way whether we "let" him or not, but that doesn't mean we have no responsibility to yield, obey, etc.

Shannon said...

If we're saved, God did it. He gives us the faith necessary to believe.

If we're not saved, then our own sins keep us from having faith and trusting Christ as our Savior.

It's that simple and that complex at the same time.

Solameanie said...

Barbara,

Yes, I often try to ignore the comments sections on Youtube. At least here, our hornets don't turn the air blue.

As to the subject at hand, what I am going to say now will probably sound like it's on the edge of a cop out, but it's the best way I've found to deal with this issue in a nutshell with those who inquire on the fly.

There is a mystery as to how the will of God and the will of man interact. We know that both are involved. But God is sovereign over all His creation, and we must give the preeminence to His will both in salvation and in world events. Scripture is plain enough about it. Not having man's will as the determining factor hurts human pride, but too bad.

The last non-divine figure that said "I will" ended up getting into a whole world of hurt.

Strong Tower said...

"I understand that your view of inspiration requires this exhaustive control (just as your view of divine sovereignty does), but the Bible doesn't require this."

Cent asked: "how the Holy Spirit works in the church"

Oh wrong thread, let me wiggle forward a bit...

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit...All Scripture is breathed out by God...

Or one might consider Isaiah was in the Spirit as a man of unclean lips until the hot coal was applied...

Or, that Isaiah says: I create the fruit of the lips..., or another translation: Creating the praise of the lips...

This last concerns the repentance and salvation of the depraved mention in the preceeding verses. How is it that the depraved lips (words) of Isaiah and the nation or people he figuratively represents are suddenly changed to praise?

The interesting thing about the terminology of praise is how it is rendered in the NT as doxa, from which we get doxology, perfected praise, such as God has perfected praise in the mouths of babes. The Isaiah idea is not discriminatory and inclusive of good or bad fruit, for that is what the Hebrew word means, but the import of the passage is the good confession, or the praise of his glory and grace.

Now from above, all Scripture, doxa, that is teaching, is the produce, the fruit, of the breath of God spoken by men carried along.

I don't care how one wants to look at dictation, man is an instrument, a vessel, created to glorify God. Arminians tend to hate the idea that they might just be made for a specific purpose that they cannot void.

Both didache, and doxa, connote something given by a will outside the one who receives it. It does not derive from within man to issue the word of God. Indeed the idea is of commandments.

I mentioned Frank's post yesterday because the vast majority of continualists are Arminian and all that I know hold that the manifestations are within them to control, but that violates the fact that it is the Spirit and not man that gives and operates all in all just as Peter said of Scripture's origin and Paul concludes as it being the very breath of God. Or as one might say, "(He) alone has the words of life."

Sorry to drone on but I am trying to clean up the worm tracts from my key board that resulted when Phil kicked over the worm can.

The end of the matter is that man is made to will, Phillipians 2:13. It is not that God suspends the will, or forces it against its natural inclination (it has none of its own) rather it is the Spirit's good pleasure to carry man along according to his working. The will, as our confession holds has no internal necessity but is either slave to the depraved nature or to the renewed nature so that we do not do as we will, Galatians 5:17. And thank God for that, for if it were left to us, hell would get another mouth full. Our confession does not make the will an agent, it is the result, it is that which is always free according to its nature: God has endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil." The confession is correct, the will is what man does, not an entity as if it were autonomously self existing. Will, as Edwards says is the mind choosing. Will goes where the mind does, which in fallen man is corrupt and influenced by a depraved nature and always overlaid with the unrighteousness of it. Except that God gives the mind of Christ and a new nature, the will will always follow the corruption and depravity of the mind and nature.

It is the Arminian's corrupt view of the will as an instrument independent of mind and nature that creates their confusion. Calvinists have always held to the native freedom of the will. Luther's formula as well as Calvin's does not include the will as ever being free from the influences of mind and nature. They are the prison keepers of the will, which is why the Scripture concludes that we are either slaves to the depraved nature of sin, or to Christ whose nature is righteousness, the righteous word that thinks rightly.

Phil is right, absolutely, because the Arminian paradigm never allows the will to be captive, ever, it is always contingent, free from any precusory influences and could not write anything that it first does not approve contrary to the Scripture which begs us to answer who it is from whom God has ever sought counsel. It is their misunderstanding of will. Again, as Edwards would say, the will never chooses anything and cannot incline itself without the mind. It then would not be the will of man even if he were pure and undefiled in mind or nature. God's word, in adding to that, comes from God and his thoughts are not the thoughts of man. What man knows is what has been given to him. God's word is perfect and undefiled needing no intercessor but intercedes for all others. It is an outside influence, outside the mind of man and thus outside his will. Add to this the fact that man's natural mind, guided by the nature of man cannot produce the highest praise, the doxology requred to make the good confession, bound as it is by sin. Even at that, God sent his Word into the world because none of the works of man, even Adam's prefall works were an acceptable praise. We understand that our best praise offered still falls one step short from the source from which it came and because of that our confession does not save us, but his confession for us before the Father.

The Arminian then is stuck with proposing that there is some 'island of good' in man from which he can make the righteous plea. That as RC Sproul would say is none other than the island of Pelagius; no matter how semi, or semi-semi, his children all speak the language of their native tongue.

Thus God, the creator of mind and nature moves the will of man to speak and write exactly what He has determined will be written, regardless of how one states it.

Chad V. said...

Michelle The whole concept that God chose us because he knew we would choose him cannot honestly be called election, what they have described is actually ratification. Oddly enough Eph 1 mentions nothing at all about God's foreknowledge. What Eph 1 does say is that God chose us according to the counsel of his own will. It says absolutely nothing at all about choosing us because he knew that we would choose him. In point of fact this Fundy pastor might do well to notice that the whole first 2 chapters of Epehesians says nothing at all about anything that we do but rather speaks exclusively about what God has done independently of us and in point of fact in spite of us. i.e. we who were by nature children of wrath....

In the passages that do say things like "elect according to the foreknowledge of God" they would rather have it read; "ratified according the foreknowledge of God". Either that or they will have to undertake a mass campaign to change all the lexicons and dictionaries in the world and redefine the word "elect" to suit their own purposes.

Pastor James said...

In the original "I say you cannot answer that question without embracing the very essence of the Calvinist position regarding God's sovereignty and human free will."

I'm guessing that the essence of the Calvinist position is this: since the Bible teaches both God's sovereignty and human responsibility, we embrace both although an antinomy exists in our minds. We let the mystery leave us in a state of wonder and not confusion.

It is the same with inspiration. There is what seems to be a paradox because the bible teaches that God wrote the Bible while also affirming that men wrote the bible.

The problem that I see with the Arminians is that they try to explain away the antinomy in the Bible's teaching on salvation by embracing one aspect (namely human responsibility) while re-defining the other (God's sovereignty) (i.e. God didn't really choose you, He simply knew that you'll choose Him) while they do not do so with inspiration.

So the right answer that an Arminian must give to Phil's question is, "I don't know, but the Bible teaches it happened." Why then, can they not say this with God's sovereignty in salvation? Let the two wings of the airplane remain, and let it fly.

Does my comment help at all?
Stay strong and God bless!

Alexander M. Jordan said...

What I find challenging intellectually about the Calvinist position (despite the fact that I agree with it because it seems to be what Scripture teaches), is that God clearly holds men responsible for their choice of either choosing or rejecting Christ (John 3:36), yet at the same time we see that unless God intervenes, man will not come to Christ (John 6:65).

Admittedly, it is hard to understand how we can be held responsible for something it seems it is not in our power to do.

But I think Phil's illustration reveals an important principle: that God moves men while somehow preserving their freedom, in some sense.

"... no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1: 20-21)"

Here man acts, but God accomplishes His will precisely-- the degree of God's control involved in inspiration I believe is incredibly strong, since Scripture, though written down by men, is the very word of God (1 Thess 2:13, Hebrews 13:7).

Perhaps the problem we might have in embracing these truths is the concern to preserve man's freedom because, as the Arminian seems to believe, we think that such freedom is necessary for man to be truly genuine in response to God. Can love be coerced? Yet the record of Scripture just doesn't seem to care whether or not men are acting freely. It is much more concerned with what God does. Fortunately our God is good in all that He does.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Ok Phil, I will try to respond, but you might see this as a dodge.

First, I think it is impossible to explain HOW a miracle occurs. Miracles, by definition, have no explanation in terms of secondary causation. That does not mean that they cannot happen, but that we do not have the resources to account for them. If we could, they would not be miracles. So I think the project you assign here is impossible to complete.

Second, following from this first point, not even the Calvinist opinion of compatiblistic freedom can explain the miracle of inspiration. Why? Because we know that divinely determined agents act fallibly. What ensures an infallible word from the writers of Scripture also ensures fallible actions in a life in need of redemption. Therefore, because divine determinism is not sufficient to ensure there are no errors outside the Bible, it is not sufficient to ensure there are no errors inside the Bible. So how can we know that what the writers said is infallible? We believe on the matters of faith that that both Calvinists and Arminians can draw upon.

Third, it is important to note that Arminians do not think of God being metaphysically bound to the freedom of his creatures. He can supersede it any time he likes and use the kind of deterministic process to ensure what is written is infallible. However, we would say that the writers of Scripture are not responsible in any way for the infallible product they produced. They cannot take credit for it. It may be the case that the deterministic process involved their personalities and linguistic capacities, but that does not mean they were responsible for giving it its "God-Breathed" nature.

Compatiblism is a theory of human freedom that reconciles with determinism and attempts to RETAIN the notion of responsibility. The libertarian denies that responsibility can be retained if one is so determined. So an Arminian, or libertarian, can agree along with a Calvinist that at least some of our actions can be determined, but would disagree that we are directly responsible for them. But that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand, since all that is needed to affirm is that God is author of Scripture through human means.

What do you think?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "What I'm getting, then, is that faced with the choice of in any way reconsidering their notions of libertarian free-will on the one hand, and impugning or feigning agnosticism regarding the inerrancy of Scripture, some would much rather do the latter?"

Bada-Bing! I see the dominoes falling in that direction too.

Q: Do Arminians read their notions of Libertarian Free Will into their reading of Scripture, or does the Arminian notions of Libertarian Free Will come out from their reading of Scripture?

In short, is Libertarian Free Will eisegesis or exegesis?

Daryl said...

TUAD,

I'm not sure that the idea of Libretarian free will can be properly called wither exegesis or eisigesis.
That is, I think I can safely say the exegesis won't lead to it, and I don't recall hearing an Armininian claiming to believe it because they've read it in Scripture. What I mostly hear is Arminians saying "Well since God made us free, this verse must mean..."
I think, as John Piper also says, that LBF is an entirely extra-biblical idea that Arminians bring to the text, without even pretending otherwise.

DJP said...

TUAD, perhaps that explains both of Pinnock's major areas of falling into false teaching.

I recall years ago talking to a friend, who was resisting the Bible's teaching about God's sovereignty. He began to see that absolute foreknowledge (which Christians have always affirmed) undermines the libertarian freewill position.

So where'd he go?

"Well, then, maybe God doesn't foreknow everything."

That was back in the seventies. (He didn't go that way, BTW.) Denying an attribute of God, even if only for a moment, felt better than denying human autonomy.

dac said...

see Frank, this is how you generate action in the meta.

Josh said...

I keep seeing the comment popping up from those who hold to the Arminian perspective that God can supercede the will of man at any time.

How in the world can one defend that as free will?

I would venture to say that there must be no condition attached for free will to exist or else we must do away with the term

In regards to the question no one has attempted to address it beyond the idea that "God took over" then handed the wheel back

Seems very contradictory to me for someone who is a proponent of free will

donsands said...

Paul said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me."

Paul wrote his epistles as the grace of God was upon him, and with him.
He says, "Yet not I." Paul takes no credit for his labour. Yet he worked harder [kopiao] than all the others. There's no doubt of the Apostle's calling, and how great the Lord used this vessel of honour. Acts 9:15-16

I liked the hornet video, BTW. But they looked more like wasps to me.

Strong Tower said...

"The libertarian denies that responsibility can be retained if one is so determined. So an Arminian, or libertarian, can agree along with a Calvinist that at least some of our actions can be determined, but would disagree that we are directly responsible for them."

I am thinking here, what about Jesus? If we say that his actions, and not just some, but all were determined by the Father as Scripture testifies, if we begin to say that diminished his human responsibility, do we not at the same time diminish his humanity? Using Christ then as our hermenuetic for humanness, and he being the most perfect human, then how do we say that to be human is to have libertarian freedom? To the contrary, to be conformed into the image of His dear Son would be the putting to death of such libertarian freedom. At least I hope that the Arminian is concerned that his will be eliminated and that will which was in Christ, the will of the Father, is what he desires.

SLW said...

Since God's word is not something God is giving to choice, it is what is and can be no more or less, why would anyone assume that its inspiration is of the same type or in any way comparable to that which call for choice (faith). I think you're comparing apples to oranges.

Frank Turk said...

KENT BRANDENBURG DRIVE-BY!

Hey Kent: could explain the diversity in the version of the Textus Receptus again? I like the way you tell it.

Frank Turk said...

dac:

Yeah, well -- if this is how the meta was every day, we'd impact the USA GDP. Consider it our gift to your employers that we don't dust it up every day.

Frank Turk said...

Redirect of Phil's question here, BTW:

I'm going to assum that our non-"calvinist" readers have thought about this and have found some thinker, writer or theologian who has the gumption to 'splain this conundrum.

Anyone care to name a book or author who answers Phil's question adequately?

Strong Tower said...

So slw, was Jesus' faith in his Father as expressed in Psalms 22: Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God...But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul...

a matter of libertarian choice such that he could have rejected his Father's will?

It calls into question just what your definition of faith is. Is it sure and certain, or can faith fail?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Chris Roberts: "As an aside - once again let me say that Calvinists need to stop pretending there are only two sides - Calvinists and Arminians. Why not, in these discussions, refer to Calvinists and non-Calvinists? Most non-Calvinists I know are also non-Arminians. There is a lot of room between the two positions. I still can't figure out why Calvinists try to force everyone else into the other camp."

I have heard this sentiment before, but presented in a slightly different way.

I have Lutherans say something like: "I'm neither Calvinist, nor Arminian. I'm Lutheran."

And I have no clue what this Lutheran means. Can anyone, Lutheran or not, explain to me what Lutherans mean when they say they're neither Calvinists or Arminians?

One more thing. Can I just hone in on the issue of monergism versus synergism? There's no third way available there, is there? And to my caveman way of thinking, Calvinism is monergistic and Arminianism is synergistic. So now what does a Lutheran say?

Chris Roberts said...

TUAD,

Well, here's another not - I'm also not Lutheran so I can't speak for them. But I know the majority of Baptists fall somewhere between Calvinism and Arminianism. There is more in the debate than just monergism vs synergism. Most Baptists would be with Arminians on that one - we are regenerated after we respond to Christ in faith. Most Baptists are with Calvinists on the perseverance issue - once saved, always saved.

Other places can be found where people align with one or the other but this demonstrates the point well enough.

mark said...


Trogdor was a man
I mean, he was a dragon man
Or maybe he was just a dragon

But he was still TROGDOR!

sorry, couldn't help it...i'll be in the corner.

TrueHope said...

TUAD,

The theology of many people in the Lutheran Church is closer to Melanchthon than Luther himself.

Moreover, even Luther cannot be considered Calvinist, considering that Luther taught consubstantiation.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

I comment here regularly. And my comment was completely on topic. As much as Phil wonders about the consistency of sovereignty for perfect salvation and perfect inspiration, I would wonder how he then separates sovereignty from perfect preservation. The WC and LBC didn't. It isn't consistent. I'd be happy for you or anyone else to answer that.

Regarding my position on the TR, I quote two people, first, Richard Capel in 1658:

"[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings in any matter which may stumble any. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . As God committed the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to the Jewes, and did and doth move their hearts to keep it untainted to this day: So I dare lay it on the same God, that he in his providence is so with the Church of the Gentiles, that they have and do preserve the Greek Text uncorrupt, and clear: As for some scrapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, than to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scrapes in the printing, and ‘tis certain, that what mistake is in one print, is corrected in another."

And then Samuel Rutherford in 1649:

"[B]ecause the Scripture comes to our hand, by fallible means, which is a great inconsequence, for through Scribes, Translators, Grammarians, Printers, may all erre, it followeth not that an [un]-erring providence of him that hath seven eyes, hath not delivered to the Church, the Scriptures containing the infallible truth of God. Say that Baruch might erre in writing the Prophesie of Jeremiah, it followeth not that the Prophesie of Jeremiah, which we have, is not the infallible word of God; if all the Translatours and Printers did then alone watch over the Church, it were something, and if there were not one with seven eyes to care for the Scripture."

Rick Frueh said...

"Anyone care to name a book or author who answers Phil's question adequately?"

Yes. Rick Frueh says "I do not agree with Phil's position completely and confess I do not as yet have it all figured out.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2008

Dan - I do enjoy a short game of erudite badmintin with you, in honor of the Olympics!

Mesa Mike said...

> And to my caveman way of thinking,

Not to worry.

Jugulum said...

This is a response to Strong Tower, who was talking about how God's sovereignty interacts with prophecy, with application to spiritual gifts.

"I mentioned Frank's post yesterday because the vast majority of continualists are Arminian and all that I know hold that the manifestations are within them to control, but that violates the fact that it is the Spirit and not man that gives and operates all in all just as Peter said of Scripture's origin"

I would point out a couple things that flesh out the biblical picture of both prophecy, and the Spirit's work through spiritual gifts. I suspect that you're oversimplifying.

1.) Paul's regulation of tongues & prophecy seems to assume a certain amount of control on the part of those who were speaking in a tongue or prophesying. (That's the case, whatever we think those gifts were.) Paul tells people not to speak in a tongue in the group unless an interpreter is present--so the individual can control themselves. Paul tells prophets only to go one-at-a-time, and only two or three prophets at most. And if a second gets a revelation while the first is still speaking, the first should stop! Again, that assumes the prophets were able to decide whether or not to speak. (God may sometimes give revelation in a way that makes it impossible for the person not to speak--but apparently Paul didn't assume that was the norm.)

2.) Also, keep in mind that Paul told Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands". Somehow, we have the ability to fan into flames our spiritual gifts--which God works in us. In these matters, the interaction of the Spirit with our will does not seem to be an entirely overriding interaction.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Again, as I posted early on, there is not ANY Scripture explicating the MODE of inspiration.

Further, use of the term "determined" in the original post is a tautology, and fails to distinguish between general providence, special providence, and miracles.

Better than "determined" would be "approved."

Again, if the question is turned back to "the boys," it leaves them in the same position we're all in.

I'm a strict inerrantist. Can't we all just get along?

UinenMaia said...

TUAD,

Truehope is right in that we (and the length of time that it remains "we" before it becomes "they" is getting shorter all the time) should be called Melanchthonians rather than Lutherans. In today's modern context, saying "we are neither Arminian nor Calvinist" really means "we really have no foundation for what we believe, so we can't title it."

Of course, if you listen to most of the sermons/pronouncements from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, you find that we really believe that we are the ones who define and direct God. So no, they are not Arminians, because Arminians are not free-will-y enough for them. And they are not Calvinists because the very assertions of Calvin postulate that God could actually mean what He says in His Word. And agreeing with that would put an end to their party.

Sorry - didn't mean to hijack the thread. This is a great post and set of responses. I'll go back to learning, not talking.

Frank Turk said...

We love you and your cultic interpretations of both the confessions and the preservation of the text of the Bible, Kent.

Play on. May God have mercy on you.

Mr Wizzard said...

jd- I do not think the OP is asking how did this miracle occur? in a sense that the mode of 'God --> parchment' is in question, rather paradoxically, if free will is truly free, how then could scripture be inerrant?

I'm assuming that is what you implied when you asked for the mode of inspiration. I just don't think that is the essence of the question posed.

Strong Tower said...

Jugulum,

No, and I would not say that it is merely overriding. Nowhere do I indicate that the personhood is vacated. I find no conflict with admonitions or commandments and the initiation of obedience by the work of the Spirit. The admonition, "work out your own salvation," is followed by "for it is he who works in you to will and to do".


As to your other point, how does one know he is an interpreter unless someone speaks in tongues?

Susan said...

My initial comment before reading all the comments is this: it never ceases to amaze me that something written so long ago by so many different people over such a long span of time can speak to ME personally--straight to my heart on certain days, regarding specific things on my mind. It must be--it has to be--God's doing. He alone can will who should write the word, what should be written, how it should be written, and what should result from it. And his word never returns to him empty.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:12-13).

"For as the rain and the sow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isa. 55:11).

(And now onto the rest of the comments....)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

I am really interested in how the historic and Scriptural belief on preservation of Scripture is cultic.

Normally cultic positions appear out of thin air, like one that says Scripture doesn't teach its own preservation---something that didn't appear until recently in anything but liberal literature.

Doesn't the following sound cultic? A handful of unbelievers, who deny the inerrancy of Scripture, decide an ever-changing and mutating text by Darwinistic rules of forensic science for the church? Or one man spontaneously and unilaterally informing a church what is the text of Scripture on any given Sunday morning? It does give new meaning to incorruptible. It seems fairly Arminian too.

I brought water, so I won't be drinking your koolaid.

Frank Turk said...

You can find the answer to your question, Kent, by finding out why the various editions of the TR don't all agree on every jot and tittle.

What is the current TR not the same as any of the editions of Erasmus' TR, Kent?

Frank Turk said...

My hint is this: because Erasmus, and Stephanus, and Beza did not drink -your- kool-aid. They were drinking wine, at least.

Stefan said...

Barbara:

I hear you. For me, I grew up an atheist, though with secular Jewish influences.

I knew who Moses was (for example), but not that the Exodus was part of God's overall redemptive plan.

One thing led to another, and all my adult life, I felt as if God were calling me, but to what? A God Whom I had grown up not believing in, was calling me to faith in Jesus Christ, whom I did not believe was the Son of God. I read the Bible, read the Gospels, but thought the Jesus Seminar and Spong were more on the right track than, um, more biblical (as I understand now) interpretations.

It took eighteen years of my adult life, through ups and downs and twists and turns. My wife and I ended up going to a conservative evangelical church...where at first I thought, "What am I doing here?" I'd grown up thinking born-again Christians were...well...weird. And yet the Holy Spirit kept me coming back week after week for these biblical sermons the likes of which I'd never heard.

Then our senior pastor started a sermon series on Romans 9 to 11—which at its core is a grand treatise in God's overall redemptive plan, and on the true nature of the Church, and God sovereignly grafts both Jews and Gentiles into it. But as he began the series, I thought, as someone who is half Jewish (or 100% according to rabinnic law), okay, this is going to get weird. I was ready to walk out of there the moment our senior pastor said something "wrong" (from my self-centered point of view). I'd bought into the secular liberal myth that Christianity is a gentile religion developed by Paul in contradistinction to the teachings of Jesus.

Meanwhile, over the course of several years, God had been bringing me to my knees...my work and marriage were a mess...my life was a mess. I thought I was a basically "good" person (by the world's standards), and yet everything seemed to be a mess.

And then...it happened. I heard the words of Romans 11:24-25 as a promise from God through Paul that I could be regrafted into God's olive tree—into the Church, which is my natural home, were I to become an ethnically Jewish believer in God. And near the end of that sermon, as if to buttress 11:25, our senior pastor—in what must have been a fit of inspiration by the Holy Spirit—quoted the words from Ezekiel 37:5-6, in which God says to the dry bones of the house of Jacob, that he will breathe life into them and they will know that He is the Lord (I paraphrase). I'd been taught "Dem dry bones" as a kid, as a silly little ditty—I had no idea that it alluded to a passage of Scripture that contained a direct promise by God to spiritually dead sinners that He would sovereignly breathe new life into them...and here I was hearing this sermon, and understanding, for little did I know it at the time, but the Holy Spirit regenerated me that day and gave me ears to hear the effectual call of the Gospel.

The penny dropped—although it took a week and a half for everything to percolate. On Thursday evening, January 25th, 2007, I gave my life over to Christ, and I haven't been the same since. I became reborn in Christ...I became one of "those" kinds of Christians!

Did I choose Him of my own free will? Heck, no! I fought and wrestled all my adult life to understand Him on MY terms. On the other hand, did He drag me "kicking and screaming" to Himself? (A canard against Calvinists that one hears occasionally.) No. He melted my heart.

I'd still be a God-rejecting, stiff-necked sinner if it were not for His sovereign grace, applied because Jesus Christ shed His blood on the Cross for His lost sheep.

Stefan said...

By the way, I've had one of the worst days of my life today, but being reminded of God's sovereign grace has made me happy again.

Thanks, everyone.

Isaac said...

I have something on-topic and very important:

I dub Doulos Christos as:

Doulon Christou

as in "[I am] Christ's Slave"
or "[I am] a slave of Christ"

I guess Doulos Christos reads like lexicon entries.

*I have barely 6 weeks of Greek under my belt.

Kent Brandenburg said...

In line with the theme of this post, Frank, I approach my Bibliology like I do my Soteriology. I'm kept by the power of God, holy men of God wrote under the power of God, and Scripture is preserved by the power of God. We should just receive all three by faith, but you stagger in unbelief over textual variants on the third.

Frank Turk Version: "The concepts of the Lord are perfect, converting the soul."

sevenmeditations.com said...

"So how did this miracle occur?"

Not to diminish your point in the least, but shouldn't this be miracles?

Excellent post.

Johnny Broom said...

At the risk of jumping in way over my head here(not to mention drifting too far into second-thread territory), I'd like to take a stab at what Lutherans usually mean when we say we're neither Calvinist nor Arminian.

(As a sidebar, I can't really speak for the ELCA; they seem to be drifting farther away from actual Lutheran teaching daily and probably should not be considered the most reliable source for Lutheran dogmatics.)

First, a little self-ID'ing: I’m a life-long Lutheran who only started checking out different belief systems with any seriousness in college, so I'm quite familiar with the "neither/nor"-type statements we grow up with and the assumptions that lie behind them.

After having followed this blog for a little over a year, I think that many Lutherans assume that most Calvinists are hyper-Calvinist. Therefore, their summary of the Calvinist position on free will (regarding salvation, anyway) is, "It's God's grace if we're saved, and it's God's fault if we're damned." Then we would put Arminian theology on the other end of the spectrum as, "It's man's choice (read: credit or merit) if we're saved, and it's man's fault if we're damned."

Given that dichotomy (and I'm not certain it is a proper dichotomy), Lutherans would say that we are neither/nor. In other words, we would say, "It's God's grace that we're saved, and it's our fault if we're damned."

This seems to reflect much of what has been said here; that is, Scripture speaks both of God's sovreignty and man's responsibility for rejecting God, and we must affirm both.

To uinenmaia: If you're being taught that we are the ones who define and direct God, you're not being taught Lutheran doctrine, regardless of the name on the church door. And I'm not sure which assertions of Calvin you're referring to, but if you're being taught that God doesn't mean what He says in His Word, that's also not Lutheran. (A particular showdown in Marburg over εστιν comes to mind...)

To all: I hope this is helpful in steering away from a caricatured view of us wishy-washy Lutherans, and I look forward to any insight to innoculate me against any caricatures of hyper-fatalistic stonewall Calvinists.

(Apologies if this digresses too far from the thread.)

sevenmeditations.com said...

"First, I think it is impossible to explain HOW a miracle occurs. Miracles, by definition, have no explanation in terms of secondary causation. That does not mean that they cannot happen, but that we do not have the resources to account for them. If we could, they would not be miracles. So I think the project you assign here is impossible to complete."

Adam, this looks compelling until you realize that while one may not be able to provide an explanation in terms of a secondary cause, as it pertains to faith, particularly Christian faith, we cannot say that miracles are causeless. So working it backwards simply and at a high level...

Therefore if a cause, then a determination. If a determination, then a plan.

Stefan said...

Johnny Broom wrote:

"It's God's grace that we're saved, and it's our fault if we're damned."

In a nutshell, that is what most people here would affirm as biblical doctrine.

lawrence said...

so why didn't anyone answer adam? OR did I just miss someone who did answer him? It seems that, although wrong :-), he had a thoughtful argument.

A. Berean said...

I am not good at debate terms but I believe that this arguement fits one of the catagories of logical fallacies.

The people whom God used to write the Scriptures were people who loved God, and as people who love God it was their will that God should use them. God just used them in a way perhaps that was beyond their wildest dreams.

Just because it's true that God used these kinds of people in such a miraculous way that they wrote exactly what He determined, it does not necessarily logicaly follow that, God therefore must make unwilling people willing to love and serve Him.

Phil Johnson said...

A. Berean:

Who, then, does make unwilling people willing to love and serve Him?

To all:

Sorry I was busy all day and couldn't participate in such a lively thread. I'm surprised it stirred so much passion, and equally surprised at some of the suggestions put forth by people who are normally more careful in their thinking.

However, by posing the question I wasn't trying to get anyone angry, and I wasn't suggesting that anyone can fully explain how God's decree works concurrently with human choice to accomplish all God's good pleasure without violating the wills of His creatures.

My point merely is that divine sovereignty and human choice are compatible in precisely that way, and the situation really is no different whether we're talking about the inspiration of Scripture or the salvation of the elect.

CR said...

I think we should help explain to Arminian friends why they cannot answer the question without adopting, understanding, embracing and receiving the biblical sovereignty of God.

There are many ways God's sovereignty is expressed. Focusing on how it is expressed in Scripture: the authority of Scripture is an expression of the sovereignty of God (since all Scripture is God-breathed). That is why Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) and why everything in it will be fulfilled and accomplished (Matt 5:18; Luke 24:44).

It teaches that God is sovereign over the distribution of His grace. The Lord says He will have mercy upon whomever He wants. (Rom 9:15)

Though we are still volitional creatures who make choices and exercise our will, the Bible, which we agree is God-breathed and true and must come to pass, describes the condition of the will as in bondage to sin. The Scriptures teach that the desires of our heart is wicked continuously unless the Spirit quickens and liberates us of this blindness and bondage.

A. Berean said...

"Who, then, does make unwilling people willing to love and serve Him?"

This might be putting us off topic, but hey, it's your blog, right? :)

I would have to say that if we are specificaly speaking of the catagory of people who could be described as "unwilling" and who (or what)might make them willing to love and serve God.

I would suggest it could be the result of the Word of God, empowered and accompanied by the Spirit of God, in answer to a believer's prayer.

Susan said...

1. Barbara, earlier tonight I had a small (but timely and significant) moment that reminded me of your testimony in this meta. I was lamenting over my lack of obedience some years ago over one of God's commands (namely, Lev. 19:17) because it set off a whole series of very unpleasant episodes on top of the pain that I was experiencing. The more I thought about it, the more I ached. I finally reached the point where I confessed silently to the Lord that I just couldn't do it anymore. Immediately inner peace and sweetness (for lack of better descriptions) that were nonexistent the moment before soothed me. Since I have experienced these things before, I recognized them as from the Lord. What a great God we have! Our hearts and minds are indeed open to the Lord's ever watchful eye, and he knows everything!

2. When I read A. Berean's first comment (before Phil replied with another question), I thought, "But who created free will in the first place?" Was it not God? Does man have the ability to choose to come to Christ without having been regenerated first, since he would still be dead in his own trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1)?

(Maybe Solameanie can find a video that shows a can of worms....)

Daniel Kropf said...

I can only speak for myself and perhaps have not thought everything through, but I would say that on the basis of Ephesians 2:10 that God chose those who He would have write His Word. Since He formed them for that call, their personalities were formed to convey what He wanted said even in the words He desired.

Even as God foreordains works for us but we have to be faithful to follow through to become the minister God has already called us to be. If we automatically as if on autopilot completed all the work God had foreordained for us then we would never sin, something I doubt any would argue for.

We do what we believe the Lord has laid before us and by His grace something eternal is accomplished. In the lives of those who wrote His Word there was a work preparing them to not only write but to be what they wrote. Paul could only truthfully write of sufferings shipwrecks, etc. after he had experienced them. Isaiah had his vision to commission him. Moses was prepared for 80 years before his writing. My point is God did not override their will. He did however suppliment it by giving them the desire to write, and having already formed in them what was neccessary to convey guided them to use His Own Words.

A baby bird as it developes will learn to fly because of what God created it to do and these men as they developed were prepared by God to do what they were already called to do.

Rick Frueh said...

The sovereignty of God is universal in time, creation, and eternity. It cannot be fully understood and to define it is to confine it. God not only IS sovereign, He is THE sovereign.

But to fully lay out the equation for the translation of the Word from spirit to ink, we must first understand the incomprehensible. The dilemma begins with some definition of a spirit, and faced with some woefully inadequate grasp of that concept we move on to greater revelations of our intellectual ineptitude.

How does a spirit, namely the Spirit of God, mechanically communicate within the mind of a man? What receptors receive that communication? And we must admit that the communication of the Spirit to the human conduits of Holy Writ must have been significantly different than the common communication of God's Spirit to a believer.

The average believer can receive the Spirit's communication about something, and he is allowed to disobey. But as it pertains to God's Word, they, IT SEEMS, were allowed some stylistic and personality ingredients that did not add to or detract from God's absolute truth, but they were not allowed to disobey and so that must reveal a distinctive communication not given to us.

So now we must explain how that communication is processed in the understandings of these human conduits, because it is usually accepted that for the most part these writers were fairly ignorant of both the overall essence of their writings as well as being a part of a future collection that would come to be accepted as the written Word of God, complete and without error.

And we should contemplate as to why God chose to write through men in the first place. Why did not God just give tablets or scrolls directly from heaven as He had to Moses? Again, the reasons are with the Godhead. But God's direct control over the entire process must have been different than His control over the affairs of men in general since we are afforded actions and writings and teachings that are NOT in accordance with His eternal truth. Such was not the case with the Scriptures.

All of this has at its core a landmark of faith simply because we have no outline of the mechanics of a mystery, if not for anything else. In the end Phil's assumption expressed in the original question may or may not be true, but I still contend that the scenarios of how gave His Word to us are strikingly different than His other operations of the Spirit. Therefore it is entirely possible that God took direct control over each molecule in each writers mind and hand and even the molecules in the ink and paper, but that does not necessarily translate to a mirrored reflection of that same unique operation of the Spirit in all circumstances.

I think...

Frank Turk said...

For those who can't translate Kent's answers into English, he means, "if I explain how the TR got editted and revised over the last 500 years, I'd have to admit that textual criticism is a valid pursuit, and my cultic idea that the KJV is the only legitimate translation in English would fall apart."

Bless his heart.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"My point merely is that divine sovereignty and human choice are compatible in precisely that way, and the situation really is no different whether we're talking about the inspiration of Scripture or the salvation of the elect."

Which you asserted in the original post as "the very essence of the Calvinist position regarding God's sovereignty and human free will."

It's that latter assertion I wouldn't agree with. Arminians certainly believe this view as well.

Hodge captures it:

"The sacred writers were not machines. Their self-consciousness was not suspended; nor were their intellectual powers superseded. Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. It was men, not machines; not unconscious instruments, but living, thinking, willing minds, whom the Spirit used as his organs. Moreover, as inspiration did not involve the suspension or suppression of the human faculties, so neither did it interfere with the free exercise of the distinctive mental characteristics of the individual." [Systematic Theology, Vol. 1]

The mode of this synergism is not explained. But it's a fact. Arminians believe this as well. One might even say it is the "very essence" of our system, too!

DJP said...

Interesting. Proves Phil's point.

What an irony: God can sovereignly confluesce with human will to write an inerrantly-inspired Book, but not to save a soul.

Is it because He wants to do the one, and not the other?

Rob Hughes said...

Phil, thanks, that hits the nail on the head for our Arminian friends. It was inevitable, I think, that this thread would produce some passionate responses. There are those who stand aghast at Calvinism. Yet this is the point... You can fight tooth and nail against Calvinism, however when you correctly exegete Scripture you are ultimately left in the Calvinist camp. Does that make it easier to accept? Not necessarily, however we are duty bound to trust the Word and not our feelings.

Rick Frueh said...

"What an irony: God can sovereignly confluesce with human will to write an inerrantly-inspired Book, but not to save a soul."

Dan - He can do anything He desires, and does. I hold out the possibility that my view is not absolutely correct. The "confluence" you suggest is not confined to any one inflexible view, and the workings and mixture of that spiritual operation can never be extricated from that mystery this side of eternity.

In summation - "we know in part"

Chad V. said...

Phil, DJP, Frank To tell you all the truth I don't think the foundation of this post is a sound premise. I don't think that one can compare the inspiration of scripture with the conversion of a soul from death to life. Let me explain.

In conversion a sinner, one who is by nature an enemy of God and under His wrath is reconciled to God by having his heart of stone removed and being given a heart of flesh. He is changed by the working of the Holy Spirit into a new creature, one moment he is a vile sinner and by nature at enmity with God, the next he is righteous in Christ and God is his friend. Where a sinner once rebelled against God and with all his being fought against and reviled God after his conversion he is made willing to and does in fact love God and serve Him willingly.

Scripture was given as men of God, men who are already willing servants of the living God because they were converted, were moved by the Holy Spirit. The enmity has been overcome, they are now God's willing servants.

Do you guys see where I'm going with that?

Stefan said...

Johnny Broom:

To complete my comment from last night, the dichotomy you set out is between Hypercalvinism (it's ALL God, with no human responsibility whatsoever) and—as I understand it—Arminianism (no doubt the Arminians here will disagree on nuance).

What you are stating to be the classical Lutheran position (God is sovereign in Salvation, but man is responsible for his own condemnation) is also the Calvinist position.

Of course, volumes could (and have) been written about this, and I'm hardly doing justice to the whole argument, but this should suffice for a one-minute summary.

Josh Williamson said...

Brilliant!

arminianperspectives said...

Phil wrote,

My point merely is that divine sovereignty and human choice are compatible in precisely that way, and the situation really is no different whether we're talking about the inspiration of Scripture or the salvation of the elect.

…or the evil deeds of the sinner? Here is an interesting post along those lines:

Double Talk of Compatibilism

Below are a few points that I think were excellent which have sadly been met with silence (unless I missed something).

Adam Omelianchuk wrote,

Second, following from this first point, not even the Calvinist opinion of compatiblistic freedom can explain the miracle of inspiration. Why? Because we know that divinely determined agents act fallibly. What ensures an infallible word from the writers of Scripture also ensures fallible actions in a life in need of redemption. Therefore, because divine determinism is not sufficient to ensure there are no errors outside the Bible, it is not sufficient to ensure there are no errors inside the Bible. So how can we know that what the writers said is infallible? We believe on the matters of faith that that both Calvinists and Arminians can draw upon.

We could even further and ask what makes the Bible differ from any other book in the Calvinistic scheme. If God controls the will and all of our acts are determined without exception, then how is the Bible any more "inspired" by God than Calvin and Hobbes (or worse yet, the Satanic Bible).

Both were written just exactly as God wanted them to be and could not have been written any differently. In both cases God ultimately controlled the thoughts of the writers and the choice of each word, etc. (to say that he didn't would ruin the Calvinist account of sovereignty, would it not?). What then makes the inspiration of Scripture unique? (I have to thank a fellow Arminian for making this observation- not in this thread)

slw wrote,

Since God's word is not something God is giving to choice, it is what is and can be no more or less, why would anyone assume that its inspiration is of the same type or in any way comparable to that which call for choice (faith). I think you're comparing apples to oranges.

Exactly. Arminians posit choice where the word of God posits choice and are fine with God overriding the will in circumstances where the Bible does not speak of the importance of human choice (and the idea of God overriding the will presupposes a will that is at times independent of God, else what sense does “override” make?). As it has been said here by many, Arminians believe that God gives us a measure of free-will. No doctrinally sound Arminian believes that our will is not in anyway or in any situation limited by God. As Adam again pointed out,

Third, it is important to note that Arminians do not think of God being metaphysically bound to the freedom of his creatures. He can supersede it any time he likes and use the kind of deterministic process to ensure what is written is infallible. However, we would say that the writers of Scripture are not responsible in any way for the infallible product they produced. They cannot take credit for it. It may be the case that the deterministic process involved their personalities and linguistic capacities, but that does not mean they were responsible for giving it its "God-Breathed" nature.

The entirety of this post seems to assume a position that the Arminian does not hold. And when Arminians point this out we are told that we are just trying to avoid the supposed Calvinistic “implications” of divine inspiration. Perhaps that was what was insinuated by Phil's comment,

I'm surprised it stirred so much passion, and equally surprised at some of the suggestions put forth by people who are normally more careful in their thinking.

But then again, who knows. He doesn't bother to explain it. He just dangles it there as if to suggest that anyone who tried to meet his challenge quite obviously failed. Perhaps that was not his intention, but then again, who knows?

One does not have to assume compatibilism to affirm divine inspiration. It could simply be that God spoke to those writers and prompted them to write his thoughts and intentions through their own language and according to their own personality in a way that perfectly conveyed God’s intentions. It could be that God guided the process in such a way as to ensure that there were no mistakes and his truth was properly conveyed. This could be a mix of LFW (the power to obey and freely surrender to the message of God and the Spirit’s prompting to record that message) and God’s sovereign guidance (God would intervene at times when the human will began to stray away from God’s will and intentions and into human error or misunderstanding).

I think the challenge has been met and answered quite adequately. It may not be answered to the satisfaction of many Calvinists in this thread, but we didn’t think we would change your view anyway. It has been shown again that Calvinists, if nothing else, do not understand Arminianism and are not really interested in understanding it since it would be very hard (impossible perhaps?) to refute if it were properly understood. Sound familiar Calvinists?

Anyway, thanks for the post and the thought provoking challenge.

God Bless,
Ben

Mitch said...

Let me see if I understand this part written by Ben-

This could be a mix of LFW (the power to obey and freely surrender to the message of God and the Spirit’s prompting to record that message) and God’s sovereign guidance (God would intervene at times when the human will began to stray away from God’s will and intentions and into human error or misunderstanding).

What this means is that if man freely surrender’s to the message of God then God need not do anything further, if on the other hand man does not freely surrender to the message of God then God would intervene and override man’s LFW.

Yet most Arminians would say that if God intervenes by changing a man’s nature or heart while dead in trespasses and sins then God has gone too far. He must wait for man who is dead in trespasses and sins to freely surrender before He can change the heart/nature of man.

We see another example of LFW proponents trying to change the core of the issue by re-directing the difference to choices and/or actions. Man’s fundamental problem is not that he has/has not choices or can/cannot act; no, man’s fundamental problem is his very nature that is at war with God. The problem is that un-regenerate man cannot bear good fruit. Since man’s nature became corrupted by the fall our root/heart is evil and we all know that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Praise be to God for giving us His Word!

Rick Frueh said...

"I think the challenge has been met and answered quite adequately."

Yea, right. Phil asked a question that cannot be adequately answered from any perspective. The answer is a mystery to the glory of God.

donsands said...

"the power to obey and freely surrender to the message of God and the Spirit’s prompting to record that message"

Paul said,""But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me."

Paul's work for the Lord, which includes his inspired epsitles, was not him, but God's grace upon and with him. And yet it was him writing.

The Crucifixion of Christ was the most outrageously evil act ever committed by mankind. And then are 100% guilty for killing the Messiah. And the Cross was ordained by God before the foundations of the world, and so God determined to give His Son for the sins of His people, to the praise and glory of His grace and name.

Does the Arminian agree with this Ben?
Just a simple answer would do.

Sister Judith Hannah said...

Dear friends, Brothers and Sisters at Pyromaniacs… greetings to you in the name of The LORD JESUS CHRIST… the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen… and thankfully so.

This is a note from Sister Judith Hannah once again.
But before I add my comment, I would like to APOLOGIZE IF I HURT anyone’s feelings in a previous comment.

I only wish to deal with issues and that, in such a way to help us all come into a closer walk with The LORD, with His+ Truth burning brightly in us all. No hurt nor disrespect is ever intended in my comments. As a matter of fact, I APPRECIATE the serious walk of all of you at Pyromaniacs and of the blog comment writers, also. You are doing what you can.

Now, on to the business at hand.

I think the issue separating Christians here is not about GOD’S sovereignty but rather about THE APPLICATION OF IT by our GOD.

Here’s an example: Dad was sovereign in our home when I was a little girl. I didn’t like green beans, so I wouldn’t eat them. We lived on a farm and grew our own food and green beans were a staple on our supper table. Dad wanted me to eat those green beans, so he would fuss at me… but I still refused to eat them.

Now, Dad was BIG enough to sit on me and STRONG enough to shove those green beans down my throat… but he didn’t do that. He was ABLE to remove all my other food and ONLY give me green beans to eat… but he didn’t do that, either. Neither did Daddy send me to my room with no supper at all when I wouldn’t eat the green beans.

Dad just told me again and again what he wanted me to do, pointing out the goodness of the beans… and sighed and let me go on eating the rest of my supper.

Our Heavenly FATHER is like that, is he not?

HE’S BIG and STRONG, too. HE provides the BREAD+ of Life for all of mankind, but HE doesn’t make any of us eat it.

And I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all (men) unto ME+.

Who said this? Is it true?

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;
Who WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:3.4)

Who said this? Is it true also?

It is our Heavenly FATHER’S WILL and Our SAVIOR’S WILL that all will be saved; the True MANNA+ from Heaven is available to all, no matter how rich or poor, educated or uneducated, sick or well… all are invited to His+ Table. It is HIS+ will that ALL COME.

In the matter of invitation, ALL have received HIS marvelous, free, loving, and kind invitation to partake of Eternal Life in HIS+ SON.


We don’t see that ALL come, though, do we?

Neither did The LORD.

That is why HE sent for those UNinvited ones in the highways and byways to come… to have His+ table full… whosoever would could come.

ALL are invited to the Wedding Supper of the LAMB.

If one refuses to don the wedding garment, however, he is tossed out INTO OUTER DARKNESS. Mt. 22:1-14.

Some haven’t come because we the church haven’t gone to invite them in.

Some haven’t come because they don’t want HIM+.

Some haven’t come because they like HIM+ well enough…. but NOT well enough to RULE their own lives.

It is NOT HIS fault; HE has done HIS part to invite, to provide the BREAD+, and even to supply the wedding garment to cover our nakedness.

In spite of HIS Divine Will towards ALL and HIS heart of love towards ALL, not ALL come.

Some have to inspect a field, see about a cow, or marry a wife… Luke 14:16-24,

HE+ doesn’t make us choose HIM+. Luke 14:26-35.

Furthermore....HE DIDN’T EVEN MAKE HIS OWN ANGELS CHOOSE HIM!

But, those who DO choose HIM+, HE elects to keep at the supper table with HIM+!

Those who DO love HIM+ enough to have the rule over their lives, HE+ elects to save.

Those who ACKNOWLEDGE HIM+ before men, HE+ elects to acknowledge them before HIS+ FATHER!

Alas… the opposite is likewise TRUE of the above 3 promises.

The sovereign LORD has foreknowledge; HE knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts… before a word is even on our lips, HE knows it… HE+ knows what is in the heart of man.

Even though Our LORD KNOWS ahead of time what we will say and think, we are still accountable for the usage of our tongues and the lusts of our hearts.

HE is not the author of our evil, even though HE knows in advance what we are going to do.

Nor, does HE stop us from doing evil, if we so will.

The sovereignty issue is really a disagreement of perception:
How do we see GOD apply His+ great power ?

However, we ALL will see HIS sovereignty close at hand, hopefully sooner rather than later. When HE comes the SECOND time to govern this world with a rod of iron, HE will disarm all the armies, throw out all the man-made “---CRACIES”, and establish His Own, Lone, Sovereign THEOCRACY over all the earth. Some will see it as a Great Day of Doom; His+ own will see it as a Day of Great Joy.

And when that happens, there will be food for all and a good life for all who are left.

Even so, after 1,000 years of THEOCRACY, some will rally around the one loosed from the pit and turn against GOD again!

[Rebellion, however, will be short-lived this time, thankfully.]

The sovereign LORD will reign openly and sovereignly forever and ever.
HalleluJah!

Sister Judith Hannah
Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD+
email: srjudhan@yahoo.com

Strong Tower said...

Chad V,

It really doesn't matter, God creates the fruit of the lips, many are the thoughts of a man but every decision is from the Lord, the king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will...

From the first to the last... If a man will be saved then the confession and the belief of the heart is what the Lord has worked in man. With inspiration, also, the thoughts, the words, the fidelity of heart is exactly what the Lord does in man. IOW, they are the works that God has prepared for him to walk in and that is exactly what he walks in. Even our disobedience is what God is working out, or Hebrews 12 is voided. One Arminian responded that God merely allows disobedience, but Paul contradicts that in both Romans and Galatians.

In Galatians Paul is most clear, we do not do what we want and Paul in Romans says that it is sin in him and not he which does it. At the same time Hebrews holds us accontable simply because we are one person. The new man, as John says cannot sin because the Seed which remains in him is the very likeness of Christ. While we are "friends" of God our flesh is not, as Peter's flesh directing him to deny the Gospel prompting Paul's rebuke, so clearly demonstrates. If left to its own, if left alive, the flesh will not go along with the plan. Then what Galatians says is, fits, namely, that as man begins by the Spirit his life in Christ, so too he procedes and the war persists and we put to death the flesh by the Spirit. And Phil is right, the monergistic work of the Spirit in Galatians, not the synergistic, is the means of sanctification yielding the right confessions, just as it was in salvation, creating in man the the mind of Christ, conforming it in thought, that is, knowledge of the Son who is the Word. Contradicting the Arminian perspective, God sovereignly gives and man has no part in that gifting, and no man has anything except that which he has received.

As I intimated to Jugulum's assertion that we have control, tongues is a fruit of the lips, created by God. God knows if there is an interpreter and does not give the fruit except that there is. So also, God does not dump the word of God into man's corrupt mind in hopes that it escapes the viral programming and comes out a most perfect revelation. He directs it from beginning to end. So also is our salvation, for it is he, and not we who is the beginning and finisher of it.

But, as Jesus was a man and not a machine, fully, and he never did anything, nor thought anything other than what was the will of the Father, so too, our new man created in his image cannot sin. It is the new man, renewed in its mind from where the confessions of faith (the Word of truth) issues forth. It cannot issue out of the old man and God will not accept the abomination of a mixed cup, either. The mystery of residual sin in the reformed confession is that sin does persist. But, it cannot be that which is saved because Jesus came to destroy sin. To the contrary, God creates a new man in the likeness of his Son, because sin cannot enter the kingdom into which we have been translated seated with him, now. We remain one person, however. And the mystery that the Arminian struggles with is no mystery at all until they mess with things like Romans 7 so that they can deny that Galatians 5:17 really says that they have no power of contrary choice but are carried along by the Spirit so that they do exactly what the Spirit has determined.

Now someone is going to jump up and down and gag on their self, but Isaiah reveals a very interesting thing: "O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage." His sovereignty is even extended to the superintention of our disobedience such that Joseph's brother were not acting independantly of God's prepurpose, nor were those who killed the Lord. Instead, as Isaiah also says, he blinds the mind and the understanding, and as well, rents the veil of darkness reconciling men to himself in accordance to his will.

That God works through his creation to accomplish his glory, does not dictate synergism in the Arminian sense at all. The Calvinistic view of synergism is not co-operation of God's designed decree. Rather the synergistic work is viewed not as the precusor to a set of given outcomes, it is the outcome itself, God working in man the willing and the doing, or as Paul also said, "Christ is speaking in me...It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Paul knew quite well that any coopting of the monergistic work of God resulted in his own righteousness, something that he vehemently fought against.

As we have just witnessed the Arminian perspective must necessarily deny the full humanity of Christ, in whom there was no LFW. And, the blasphemous notion that God created Adam in his image able to sin, likewise is a misunderstanding of the reality of the fall, which an Arminian must do to preserve LFW. It is a misunderstanding because, deception is the elimination of choice, not the presentation of it, and it was deception which was the cause of the fall. It is a misunderstanding of the purpose of commandments which by definition do not grant free choice but only those choices which are good and faithful to the purposes of God. The Arminian perspective makes the forbiddenness of the tree a temptation, rather than a commandment unto life, and turns God in to the tempter. Our confessions hold that God gave us good commandments, and did not present us with good and evil choices as the Arminian perspective must hold that God did to perserve LFW and the power of contrary choice.

No, God created man good, righteous and in his image to choose the good. And set before him only good choices to be made. It was deception that presented the violation of the good commandment making the free will choice of evil good. The reality is the ability to choose evil is the very essence of evil and the opposite of the image of God.

Chad V. said...

Strongtower

I see what you're saying, that's a great point. It seems the two are more directly linked than I had originally thought and that the comparison is in fact sound. Really my comment was a sort of thinking out loud on the subject. While I was at work I was thinking about how both Balaam and Caiaphas prophesied truth and they could hardly be called willing servants. Truly as the scripture says; a man makes plans in his heart but the Lord directs his steps.

Thanks for the clarification.

Qole Pejorian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitch said...

Qole,

I fear you missed the point of the question, when you write-

Asking any human, no matter how well read or eloquent, to explain the mechanics of a miracle is bizarre. How does spit and dirt heal blindness? How does water become wine? How do the leftovers of a single lunch bag fill 12 baskets?

Let me try to see if I can settle the water a bit. Does any of those miracles that you pointed to require LFW? You see the point was that if one holds to LFW than one cannot offer an explanation for how we have the very words breathed by God without resorting to God overruling man’s LFW in order to bring it about. Yet that is a big taboo in non-Calvinist circles, surely God would not infringe on man’s LFW without being given permission by man. After all, if God does not do that with the most important situation, salvation, than why would he do it at all?

As for the use of specialized, academic vocabulary I must confess that I did not see it in the post, I pray that I’m not smug or arrogant and will ask for forgiveness in advance if my comment had too many “specialized, academic words” in it.

Praise be to God

greglong said...

Qole,

I think you're missing the point. It's not that Phil is asserting that he completely understands how divine sovereignty and human responsibility work together. He is not asserting that he completely understands how God can superintend the writings of Scripture so that they are without any error and yet at the same time allow human personality to shine through so that the Bible is not understood to be dictated.

What he's saying is that if an Arminian argues for the traditional understanding of the inspiration of Scripture, he is arguing against his own reasoning on salvation.

Paul Wilkinson said...

I have never considered the difference between believing in plenary inspiration vs. verbal inspiration to be a matter of Calvinist vs. Arminian debate.

I think the premise of the question is flawed if it purports to be a generalization that speaks for all Arminian Christ-followers.

Isaac said...

I guess this is the point in a thread's life where people post without having actually read anything except, perhaps, the first and last posts.

Phil probably wants to scream right now about how many people have picked up on the word "miracle" and have decided that he was asking the impossible. Namely explaining the unexplainable when that couldn't be further from the original question.

One supposes that an arminian would be forced to say that the Holy Spirit verbally inspired the scriptures including the distinctives of each writer...

Otherwise their autonomy would be compromise... and we wouldn't want that.

Really well thought out question, Phil.

Qole Pejorian said...
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Qole Pejorian said...
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Strong Tower said...

"Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth."

Most sane folk would simply shrug and say, "I say that I can't answer that question at all, how about you?"

The question was directed to the foolish souls who would claim to understand God's workings enough to claim that they can answer the question.


Nice shadow tackle qp, now care to takle the object?

In the above quote we do have the mechanics displayed, and the ruse you raise to avoid what the Scripture declares is the same one used to avoid directly answering clear predestinarian passages that disallow the LFW of Arminians.

Jeremiah was recorded by Baruch, but he records not only God's spoken Word but his Word spoken through Jerimiah, and more than that, Baruch's own words become Scripture. Jeremiah is one of those cases of whom it is recorded that he was conscecrated before birth a prophet. So we have in Jeremiah a man who was made for the express purpose of speaking Scripture through inspiration and having his actions and words recorded, but not only that, his auditory senses were used as well. Even Baruch receives a verbal reprimand from the Lord. Hardly what you say is no knowledge of the mechanics, we get alot.

The face of the Arminian challenge is a mask; it is not mechanics that you are challenging, it is the nature of God and how it is he who he is. You see, we do know how someone is saved, that is the means by which God brings it about, that is crystal clear except to an Arminian, but we cannot know the hidden things of God, that is how it is that he does what he says he does with the means he uses. But we know the means. What you, and other Arminians do is cop out so that you do not have to face the obvious in Scripture. "Well, no one knows how God..." is not an answer and Scripture tells us that the Word comes from him, including all the actions and all the wills recorded therein in such a way that it is determined before one comes to be just what it will be. As Jeremiah's Word says, you simply reject obedience to the words of God, and that too, as Isaiah says, is the working out of the Word of God.

UinenMaia said...

Johnny Broom,

Thanks for pointing that out. I know that what I'm being told isn't Lutheran. It's thanks to Pyromaniacs and others who have given me the tools to refute these assertions logically instead of just sputtering, "that's quite possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

We never actually talk about which assertions of Calvin. He's just the bogeyman under the bed. ("...and then there are those Calvinists out there...") To be fair, the ELCA Lutheran branch is to Lutheranism what no-fat, no-sugar ice cream is to real ice cream. However, the other kinds of Lutherans are in short supply where I live.

The church my grandparents attended gave me a great foundation in the faith, albeit one that was far more Arminian than I am now. It has just drifted farther and farther towards the world and now that drift has percolated down to the individual "parish" level. No caricature, just an inevitable result of playing with too much bad theology.

At least I can thank Phil, Dan, and Frank for pulling me over to the dark side about God's sovereignty before it was too late. (Just kidding - it is much lighter over here and the conversations are much more energetic!)

BJ Irvin said...

Been on vacation so couldn't post before now.

Phil:

Just want to say thanks for a succinct and pertinent post. Clear thinking, challenging, and to the point. Including your response.

Much appreciated!

Qole Pejorian said...

I'm sincerely sorry for posting here. I wasn't paying attention and I fell down the wrong rabbit hole. My previous comments have been deleted; feel free to delete your responses to me also. I don't speak Calvinism well enough to carry on a conversation in it.

James said...

I'm sorry: Where did you get the idea that God determined every single word in the Scriptures? First of all, which Scriptures--the copies we have or the original autographs? Do the Scriptures include what we call the Apocrypha, given that most Christians in the world consider those books to be the Scriptures too? Would God's sovereign election of verbiage include Paul's crack about Cretans? How about the discrepancies in various accounts of the same event, like the Resurrection? Or do you just wish all this stuff away because your presupposition is that the Scriptures--however you choose to define them--must be inerrant in every jot and tittle, so therefore they are, lest your faith crumble. After all, if there is any room for error in science or geography (and of course we know the sun revolves around the earth--which is a disc, circular but flat) due to the limitations of ancient peoples, then Jesus must not be the Son of God, because how could we trust anything in the Bible?!

I can't believe educated people are still insisting on this simple-minded approach to Scripture in 2008 and cannot see how implausible and rife with contradictions it is.
Is it just possible to have a more sophisticated view of inspiration that does not demand six-day creation, where there is light before the creation of the sun, and that can argue for the historicity of the Resurrection, which by itself would validate the Church's claims for Jesus, even if we do not possess his ipsissima verba? Must we all be fundamentalist Calvinists--who believe that salvation is not by faith alone but by chance alone (what else is double predestination but a whirl of the election dice: he's in, she's out, or vice-versa--all hail to the glory of God!)--to be Christians? Do you really not understand why such ignorance produces a reaction like the emerging churches with all their silliness? People who are forced to repeat 2+2=5 long enough either forsake reason altogether or run screaming from the mindset and worldview that indoctrinated them in the first place. The result: raving atheists or Christian kitsch-mongers.

I'm not a Catholic, never have been, have no intention of ever becoming one, but there is much we could learn from Catholics' approach to Scripture, which does not tie Christians to a Ptolemaic universe and an incredible belief that every preposition and mixed metaphor is the work of God Almighty, and yet demands orthodoxy on major doctrines.

The Seeking Disciple said...

As an Arminian I don't see the argument here. Reformation Arminians embrace God's sovereignty. In fact, William Lane Craig has an excellent article found here on middle knowledge and the inspiration of Scripture:
http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/menmoved.html

Phil Johnson said...

James "Where did you get the idea that God determined every single word in the Scriptures?"

From Jesus. Matthew 4:4; 5:18; 24:35. And from the consistent claim Scripture makes about its own inspiration and authority, e.g. Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21, etc.

If you don't believe those claims, then you are free to believe whatever you choose and reject whatever you choose in Scripture; you have in effect set your own intellect up as an authority over God's revelation--and that's not faith at all, but arrogance.

Ignorant arrogance, too, it appears. Your remarks about a Ptolemaic universe and flat earth suggest either that you don't really know what the Bible actually says, or you're not interested in dealing with it honestly.

In any case, this thread isn't an invitation to debate about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I suspect even the vast majority of Pyro regulars who have Arminian leanings would disagree with your low view of Scripture, so that stuff is really off topic and a waste of everyone's time in this thread.

Perhaps we'll take up some of the subjects you raised in a future thread. Until then, you'll find our friends over at Triablogue more than willing to engage those topics with you at any time. Answering the skepticism of people who automatically label faith ignorance is what they live for.

I think you'll enjoy them, and I know they'll enjoy you.

Susan said...
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Susan said...

Arminianperspectives wrote: "If God controls the will and all of our acts are determined without exception, then how is the Bible any more "inspired" by God than Calvin and Hobbes (or worse yet, the Satanic Bible). Both were written just exactly as God wanted them to be and could not have been written any differently. In both cases God ultimately controlled the thoughts of the writers and the choice of each word, etc. (to say that he didn't would ruin the Calvinist account of sovereignty, would it not?). What then makes the inspiration of Scripture unique?"

AP, your comment made me think about God's perceptive will and sovereign will. God's perceptive will for Adam was that he'd obey God's commandment about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam disobeyed out of his own free will. Yet it was within God's sovereign will that Adam sinned--not that God created evil, but that he allowed evil to come to pass because it was part of his plan to redeem sinners through Christ. We see this in Gen. 3, where God promises that Eve's seed will one day defeat Satan (3:15). Further into Scripture we see God’s choosing Israel, Israel's sinning repeatedly despite God’s rescues and prophetic warnings, God's judging Israel, and God's promising a Savior. This theme of salvation/redemption occurs over and over again, and even when Christ's life, death, and resurrection mark the defeat of Satan, the theme doesn't end there. The ultimate fulfillment of complete redemption is still yet to come, when not only believers’ souls are redeemed but their bodies as well (1 Co. 15:50-57).

What makes the Bible unique among all other writings, then, is that it is a comprehensive work in which a just and merciful God unfolds his redemption plan for sinners throughout the ages. There is no other book like it under the sun.

Rey said...

Okay assuming your interpretation is dead on (that what those passages are saying means that every word and syllable of everything in the Bible was sovereignly determined)

Option 1: Freedom of will does not necessitate freedom to do the impossible or freedom to operate outside of what already transpires.

So for instance if you decide to bite in an apple, and do, you can't decide to have Not bit into the apple. It's an accomplished fact.

None of the writers in Scripture were unwilling in being used by God, that was their bite into and apple and therefore were reliant on His guidance in all things. God used them in that aspect and thus freedom is maintained.

Option 2: God chose from multiple possible worlds where there was texts of Scripture written that said sort of what He wanted said and settled on the one that the text says what He wants said which also happens to be the best possible word for His other purposes.

Two answers, both denying the essence of the Calvinist position and allowing an Arminian to go happily on his way. (of course, there's an unwritten third option: that your premise might be wrong).

Rey said...

Oh before I get slammed (since I just read another commenter: I believe Scripture is inspired and inerrant. I'm just saying that its a logical option that can be easily offered).

TrueHope said...

I'm still a bit confused. What does inspiration have to do with the C/A debate?

Is this argument similar to one where because the sky is blue, and since God doesn't ask people with free will for permission to make the sky blue, that it demonstrates the very essence of the Calvinist position regarding God's sovereignty and human free will?

Strong Tower said...

No Truehope, it is like knowing that the sky is really black, the reflective light obscures the reality making it appear blue. Gives a whole new meaning to sky blue, huh.

The revelation of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of prophecy. One cannot know the revelation externally, it is given in truth; we know him because he is in us and we can never know him except that he is for no on can say that Jesus is Lord except that they have the Spirit. Just as the inspiration of Scripture, so too is our saving knowledge of Christ. It is given as revelation, we are made one with it, being such that we do not know it as mere knowledge but the very knowledge of the Son in us. As Corinthians says, we have been given the mind of Christ, just as those who wrote the Scripture were, so that we are not told "know God" but instead all who are his know him just as they are known. Which is why the Arminian is going to have to explain just how they came to be saved, because it is the same operation; the mechanic that worked the word in those who God chose to proclaim it to the world is the same mechanic which works in man the knowledge which saves forming it in man a new heart.

So the real question is how did you come to know Christ? The answer is, if you are a believer, that you have believed and confessed as one carried along by the Spirit just as men of old were.