22 December 2008

The Arminian Problem in Simple Terms

by Phil Johnson

f God knows the future with certainty, then the future is (by definition) already predetermined. If tomorrow is predetermined and you don't want to acknowledge that the plan was decreed by God, you have only two choices:

  1. Some being other than God determines the future and is therefore more sovereign than He. That is a kind of idolatry.
  2. Some impersonal force does the determining without reason or coherence. That is a kind of fatalism.

So anyone who denies that God preordained whatsoever comes to pass but wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry is logically compelled to deny God's omnscience.

That of course, is precisely the rationale that has led so many to embrace Open Theism.

The more sensible option—and the biblical one—would be to abandon Arminian presuppositions and acknowledge that God declared the end from the beginning, and that He works all things according to the counsel of His own will.

Phil's signature

244 comments:

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Philip@ReformedVoices said...

Amen!

Ian Hall said...

Roll up now all ye arminians. Let's be hearing from you. No skulking in the corners with your copy of Wesley's sermons.

Pete said...

I know this is pedantic... but technically you're not talking about Arminianism.

The Arminian is absolutely fine with saying that God knows the future, but has a problem with the idea that God decides the future.

Actually, it was divine foreknowledge of what people who do in every instance, that allowed Arminius to side step all the Biblical material on predestination.

The problem you're addressing is hyper-Arminianism... more sort of Open Theism than anything else.

I realise that you were using the terms loosely... but I couldn't help myself :)

Vaughan Smith said...

Hi Pete,
I think the original post deals with all forms of theology that view God as a passive receiver of knowledge about the future, Arminianism, hyper-Arminianism or Open Theism etc.

Pastor B. said...

Excellent post!

Boerseuntjie said...

1 Corinthians 2:1-5
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, DID NOT come with excellence of speech OR OF WISDOM declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you EXCEPT Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching WERE NOT WITH persuasive words of HUMAN WISDOM, but in DEMONSTRATION OF the Spirit AND OF POWER, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men BUT IN THE POWER OF God."

1 Corinthians 1:26-31
"For you see YOUR CALLING, brethren, that NOT many wise according to the flesh, NOT many mighty, NOT many noble, ARE CALLED. But God HAS CHOSEN the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has CHOSEN the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God HAS CHOSEN, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY in His presence. But OF Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”"

2 Peter 1:10-11
"Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your CALL AND ELECTION sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Soli Deo Gloria.

I have been MADE ALIVE (Ephesians 2) by Christ through the POWER of His Spirit of truth and grace alone, I have nothing to boast in EXCEPT Christ's Person and Work in my behalf as a weak and feeble sinner before the Infinate Just and Perfect Holy Hudge of all mankind.

I am thankful that the glory is from and UNTO God alone.

Let us preach the simplicity of the Cross, trust the Spirit of the LORD by prayer and seek to bring sinners to repentance and to put on the LORD Jesus Christ as their only Righteousness, Redeemer and Remitter of sins.

Luke 24:46-48
"Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and THAT REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And YOU ARE WITNESSES of these things."

Seen as a vile and owly creature as sinful as I am now saved and redeemed from my own personal sins and trespasses of the Holy Law of YAH, that indeed IS THE BEST GOOD NEWS! ANYONE can be saved by the Power of the Spirit of God... Let us go and tell it to all the world and to every creature, that God may receive His due glory, honor, worship and praise from His creation.

trogdor said...

Pete, this is most definitely an Arminian problem. Logically there is no difference between God knowing the future and God determining the future if God is also sovereign and active. Perfect knowledge of the future (including our choices) coupled with his "intervention" leads to essentially the same conclusion as Calvinism. This is especially true if God knows not only the future but also contingencies - if He knows what conditions will certainly bring about each choice and chooses to create them (or not), the Arminian view then necessarily becomes Calvinism.

If God is both omniscient and sovereign, you have Calvinism. Arminianism tries to skirt this by limiting God's sovereignty (to exclude human choice), but this attempt fails if God is at all active in His creation. Unless they retreat to a mechanistic deism - God just wound the universe up, sits back and watches what happens - their view upon examination leads necessarily to Calvinisim.

Hence the formulation of Openness. The modern Openistas freely admit they see how total foreknowledge leads to a Calvinist view. Rather than embrace the Biblical teaching on this matter, of course, they just deny God's foreknowledge. This view wasn't formulated because of scriptural evidence, but in open defiance of it, because they know the Arminian position is logically untenable. Of course, so is Openness, as long as scripture is true - an assumption I don't presume they make.

Pete said...

Trogdor, and Vaughan,

Hey guys! :)

The original post is just broadly dealing with stuff in the sphere of semi-pelagianism, yep. I was - indeed - being pedantic.

But, while Open Theism is a simple logical deduction from Arminianism, there is a difference between them.

The Arminian would be happy to talk about God's foreknowledge... but as you say the crucial thing is that God's knowledge is dependent on others (actually that's a point Phil's making in the post). Often, today, I hear people sliding into this while thinking they're Calvinists, by trying to explain that God - being outside of time - sees all of time in an instant, like laying out a poster in front of yourself.

While Open Theism is simply pushing the logic onwards, there is a "step" in between the Open Theist and the Arminian, which some people with Arminian views are at least reigned in by. That step is that assertion that "Knowing the future is synonymous with determining the future." The Arminian gets around this with the illustration above.

Obviously, as a Calvinist, I think that God's foreknowledge is intimately bound up with his decreeing the future. However, there are people in the Bible who know the future, but who aren't sovereign over it (e.g. Moses knows - through revelation - how Pharaoh is going to react at every turn.)

So, at least I can understand - from an Arminian's perspective - why they might feel that they're safe from the Open Theist error, even if they aren't.

Having said all that - I was just being pedantic, and would like to explicitly affirm that Phil is absolutely right in his 2 criticisms of Arminianism. It really does lead to either idolatry, or fatalism, or both.

;)

Chris Roberts said...

There is a difference between knowledge and determination. I really don't see legitimacy to the argument that knowing the future is the same as predetermining the future. I believe God predetermines the future. However, I do not believe knowing the future necessitates predetermination. God exists outside of time. He sees it all. It is logically possible for him to see all of time, know everything that happens - past, present, and future - and yet never once intervene to determine everything, leaving the determination to human beings who make free decisions when it is time to make those decisions. For those humans the events unfold over time. For God the events are seen all at once. I do not believe that is how it works, but it is logically possible.

The Bible, not logic, has to tell us what the answer is here since logic leaves open both options of predetermination or simple knowledge. What the Bible reveals is predetermination.

Matt said...

Chris - even Clark Pinnock acknowledges that he couldn't shake the Calvinist argument that the infallible foreknowledge of God implies the 'fixity' of the future.

If God knows it with infallible, omniscient certainty, how could it be anything other than what it is?

I'm glad that you see God predetermining all things, but I think your separation of foreknowledge and predetermination only works for non-sovereign beings.

danny2 said...

phil,

perhaps you have before (so just point me to the link), but i'd love to see someone try to chase where the great elevation of man's free will comes from.

how has it come about that so many people just assume God must grant man free will?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Yea! My least favorite Pyro post, the Arminian slap-happy smackdown!

Sigh.

I really would rather make common cause on other issues. We agree on so much, from inerrancy to things emergent. This "in house" debate ought not cause such contention. I'd love to see more the spirit of Whitfield here.

But I'll respond to the points only because they're out on the table now.

First, no Calvinist (or anyone else, for that matter) has ever provided a proof that God cannot foresee future contingent events. It's what the Bible teaches, and what our Open Theism brothers have given up on (and I'll gladly make common cause there, too).

But all this post does is say, "It can't be done, so there."

Sez who? The Sovereign God you extol so much cannot do this? Just who is limiting God here? It can be done, because Scripture says God does it.

Second, any time a Calvinist indulges in this "see, your logic forces you to X" game, I simply point out that the logic of Calvinistic presups sends you either to hyper-Calvinism or "antinomy." There is no other choice. The latter is simply the "two tracks" of Spurgeon, and Calvinists who try to wiggle out of using the word "antinomy" because they don't like it are simply deluded. Using the term "apparently parallel" is just another phrase that means exactly the same thing.

As Spurgeon said, "If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true."

So it's okay to say you can't wrap your brain around the totality of what God does. In fact, a very fine blogger and a very fine pastor did this on the radio a few years ago when talking about election. It went like this:

Phil Johnson: That stretches my brain.

John MacArthur: I can understand somebody listening saying this is difficult. I have the same problem. But I'm content to say that's not a problem for God. I cannot harmonize it all!

That's honest. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is someone claiming all encompassing certainty only when it's used to slap Arminian brothers.

I have no desire to slap back, or spend more time debating issues that have been bounced around for centuries without any "knock out" blow. One must simply and prayerfully go to the Word and make a decision (it's even a free decision!)

But there is one thing above all. What one DOES with one's theology, in the real world of sin and sinners, is the main issue. All others are secondary IMO.

That main thing is this: the preaching of the Word to fallen man. So long as a Calvinist can sincerely preach the message of salvation to any person and any crowd, I'll be in prayerful support right alongside.

Joel said...

I have to agree with Jonny Dialectic here. Really for me, this is one of those issues that the things revealed belong to us and our children forever, but the secret things belong to God.

The reason that there is so much debate about this is because Scripture is pretty much Crystal Clear that God is omniscient and in sovereign control of the universe AND that man is personal responsible for his or her choices in relationship to the Gospel.

To human wisdom, the wisdom God has seen fit to cast down, and to make worthless this makes no sense. But the wisdom of God is greater than the foolishness of men, and I am willing to accept that and move on.

Let me throw out another human logicians trick...

1. God has already thrown down human wisdom to show it to be worthless.

2. Yet, men try to use human wisdom to understand how it is that God is both omniscient and sovereign and Man responsible.

Doesn't the first suggest that the use of Human Wisdom to understand the second is a flawed endeavor???

Mx5 said...

**laughing** Everyone seen "Smells Like Heresy" over at Sacred Sandwich?

http://sacredsandwich.com/archives/1759

Terry Rayburn said...

There is another side of Phil's coin, in the form of a question that no Arminian has ever answered satisfactorily:

#1 Q. If you chose of your own free will to accept Christ or believe in Christ...

...and John Doe chose NOT to...

...what made the difference between you and Joe?

Clarification follow-up question:

#2 Q. Would the above scenario not make you BETTER than Joe in some way?

You may answer, "No, I'm no better than Joe," just to win your silly Arminian argument, whereupon I would simply repeat #1 Question.

If you answer, "The reason I(!) received Christ and Joe didn't is simply because I(!) did!", then you haven't answered it at all.

But you have to admit, Arminian, that it makes you LOOK better than Joe. Eh?

Sidenote: This is the hidden agenda in free-willism, that one might grasp ahold on at least some tiny sliver of self-righteousness.

Not a pretty thing.

NoLongerBlind said...

As an aside, I love the horse graphic Phil!

It's saying, "Just in case you thought we'd beaten this dead horse enough.....he's baaack!"

Any way that you could add a cartoon-like balloon with the words "I'm not dead yet!" ?

chrish said...

I don't really identify myself as Calvinist or Arminian; I may be one or the other, but I don't know which.

I find myself compelled by both "sides" in different ways. I agree with Johnny Dialectic that total knowledge does not necessarily mean ordination; I see the whole painting, not each stroke as it occurred, though I do see each stroke's consequence. I see moments where it appears God changes His mind.

The language of ordination resonates with me as well. The whole package makes just as much sense to me as the other.

Yes, I find myself tugged in either direction pretty equally. Perhaps that makes me double-minded, but I'm still willing to pick a side if one can out-pull the other.

Mark B. Hanson said...

As one who spent 20+ years as a Calvinist in an Arminian church, I know that most Arminians drive a solid wedge between God's complete foreknowledge (which they believe) and his predetermining everything.

I have also sat through a horrifying district conference where several of the "Arminians" in the crowd admitted that they thought Armininanism and Open Theism were the same thing (it horrified me and most of the other Arminians present).

But I think the issue that really strikes the nail is the one Phil alludes to: If God completely knows the future, then everything that will happen is in some sense predetermined (i.e. it can't happen any differently than God knows it). So how is it predetermined? And who determines it?

Yes, all time is one to God. But who causes the future that He sees? And if God knows for certain I will act in a certain way, what does that do to my free will?

It's easy to see why this drives some folks to open theism.

donsands said...

"..He works all things according to the counsel of His own will."

Amen.

"From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny."

From life's first cry, yes, and even before that; before the world was form, God foreknew His loved ones, and was determined to become the second Adam to seek and save evry single lost child; rebellious child; child under His wrath.

Good post, because it encourages us to ponder God's sovereignty, which in turn brings us great peace.

ajlin said...

I think that this is the problem Dr. Richard Land was attempting to deal with at the John 3:16 Conference with his "eternal now perspective."

Tim Nixon said...

Psalm 139:16: Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all [my]days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. (HCSB)

Mike B. said...

Your two points both assume that someone or something HAS to be determining the future. Your argument assumes some kind of determinism in every case, when the whole point of Arminianism is to avoid precisely that.

This is what the Arminian would say, I think. God is sovereign and God is omniscient. God definitely knows what will happen, but he sovereignly chooses not to force his will upon human beings. That this allows created beings to decide certain things about what happens to them within a limited sphere does not constitute a being or force that is more sovereign than God. God is perfectly sovereign, he just chooses to exercise that sovereignty that allows for a certain degree of freedom of choice.

I'm not saying that this doesn't create philosophical problems of its own, or conflict with certain passages of scripture, I'm just saying that your argument sets up a false dichotomy and doesn't really address the Arminian viewpoint.

Jerry said...

"...i'd love to see someone try to chase where the great elevation of man's free will comes from.

how has it come about that so many people just assume God must grant man free will?"


Just guessing here, but could it be "sin"?

donsands said...

I was pondering the truth of Peter denying the Lord three times.

Did the Lord see what would happen, and then tell Peter?

Could Peter had not listened to these three people, and said, "I do know Jesus, and love Him."?

Could the three people who came to Peter and charged him, not done so, or perhaps these same people may have been late, or sick?

I see this whole situation ordained by God from before the foundation of the world, just as the All-knowing Sovereign Lord purposed it to happen. And at the same time all these persons are responsible for their remarks, and Simon Peter for his sin. And even Peter's weeping bitterly is God's gracious hand of providence.

We can take great solace in knowing God is for us, and will sovereignly be with our every step, because He loves us that much.

David Milton said...

Two quick thoughts:

Arminians rarely admit to being Arminians. Se John 3:16 speakers and Theology profs/dean at Southwestern Bapt seminary.

John Hannah disagrees with Luther in Justification by Faith Alone being the article on which the church stands or falls. Hannah believes it to be the understanding of sin. If one understands - which Arminians do not - the utter depth of how Fallen we are, then a Calvinistic soteriology becomes a treasure beyond treasure to be received with gratitude.

Other than that, it's a futile attempt to convince God is not unfair by choosing some over others. That is the nuclear center of resistance to Calvinism.

JOYce ♥ said...

Amen!

God predetermined to breathe His Word through instruments of holy men as moved by the Holy Spirit and private interpretations and wars over words abound. A touch of truth with a touch of Yule Brenner's "written/be"(or some wording from The King and I movie?) and what a tangled mess we have when first it's practiced...hath God said?

Am thinking on Daniel 4, Romans 9 ~ Genesis through Revelation. Arminian presuppositions = preconceived notions. I like that Phil's post didn't take us to Paul or mere man but leaves us accountable to God and what He says and means ~ which we are.

Brian Roden said...

So instead of "The Devil made me do it" the argument becomes "God made me do it."

Joshua said "Choose you this day whom you will serve" not "Reveal this day whom is has been predetermined that you will serve."

Daniel said...

So instead of "The Devil made me do it" the argument becomes "God made me do it."

Ummm. Only for one whose wooden theology cannot permit any other notion of God's sovereignty than that of utter puppetry.

God's sovereignty, rightly beheld, does not operate contrary to man's will, but transcends it nonetheless.

GeneMBridges said...

So instead of "The Devil made me do it" the argument becomes "God made me do it."

Joshua said "Choose you this day whom you will serve" not "Reveal this day whom is has been predetermined that you will serve."


Ok, I'll play.

I take you believe in libertarian freedom.

Where does Scripture - chapter and verse - teach libertarian freedom of the will? I've been dying for Arminians and others committeed to LFW to provide this text.

The best I've seen them do is say it's an assumption of the text. Well, if that's the case, it's not exegetically derived.

So where's the supporting argument for LFW = "real" choice?

2. God's decree speaks only to certainty, not causality. Like all good libertarians, you seem to confuse them. God decreeing all things does not mean God causes all things in a direct sense.

3. How does God know, before they are instantiated, the outcomes of indeterminate objects of knowledge. Most Arminians point to God's timelessness - but that's not answer. The reason it's not an answer is that God's infallible foreknowledge, on that view, still depends on the instantiation of the object of knowledge - at that point it is no longer indeterminate, it is determinate in nature - the agent has completed it already.

4. And if you want to say that God knows all possible outcomes, you're still left with the problem that this and only this universe actually obtains. Did God instantiate this and only this universe? If so, then how does this get you past the very same objection you raised?

Jugulum said...

"If tomorrow is predetermined and you don't want to acknowledge that the plan was decreed by God, you have only two choices:"

Phil,

Eh?

I'm sure that you're perfectly aware of the choice that most Arminians make. They argue that God's foreknowledge is related to him being outside time--that he can watch us make decisions without determining those decisions. That from God's perspective in the "eternal now", our decisions are not fore-determined--they are determined by us, in the moment we make them.

You know all this. So why write a blog entry that doesn't anticipate or interact with their view? This entry could have been written by someone who'd never even spoken to (or read) an Arminian. What's the point?

Officer said...

Maybe I'm splitting hairs but I thought the Arminian Problem was neglecting the scriptures, not consequences thereby.

Jmv7000 said...

One of my professors say, "Embrace Tension."

1 Cor. 1:2, you "who have been sanctified."

You have been set aside, you, the believer did not do this. The Lord set you aside (sanctify means set aside).

Ephesians 1:4, "He chose us."

Who chose? Me, no, God the Father.

Ephesians 1:5, "He predestined us to adoption."

Both words are important. The child does not adopt itself out, it is done by the governing authority. God called us.

We are chosen by God so that the boast of this good work would be in Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:26-31). If I chose, I receive the glory.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not be a stumbling block. . . Cast away your transgressions. . . Therefore repent and live."

The pure use of the command indicates that we are to do this. We repent. Granted 2 Tim. 2:25 says God gives us repentance, but in Ezekiel the Lord indicates that we are responsible for this action. The Lord is not accountable for a man's unwillingness to repent.

Eze. 33:11, "The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked."

Rom. 2:4, The Lord is patient and kind toward all individuals in order to bring them to repentance.

What's the point? You cannot say, God elects a man to hell, nor can you go to the other end and say man controls his destiny and salvation. There is tension here.

Man is responsible for repentance.
God grants repentance.
God receives all glory for salvation
Man is culpable and responsible for his actions
Everybody in hell is there based on their own responsibility.
All in heaven, are there by God's grace and mercy and give Him complete honor and glory by ascribing to Him the work.

We need to be careful when we starting taking theology "to the logical conclusion." If Scripture does not allow us to reason this way, then we need to set up fences in our thinking. Fully ascribe to what Scripture says, not what Calvin or Arminius wrote.

Phil Johnson said...

Jugulum: "I'm sure that you're perfectly aware of the choice that most Arminians make. They argue that God's foreknowledge is related to him being outside time--that he can watch us make decisions without determining those decisions."

1. I don't think it's accurate to say that's the "choice that most Arminians make." In my experience, more Arminians opt for Molinism (or a rudimentary form thereof) rather than merely punting to timelessness--because as Gene Bridges noted just before your comment, the timelessness argument solves nothing.

2. In fact, the argument as you have set it forth is simply a form of the first option I gave in the main post: it makes someone other than God the true determiner of the future, thereby diminishing (or eliminating altogether) the sovereignty of God.

Steve Scott said...

There's a problem here that even Calvinists fall into. God neither knows nor determines THE future. God only knows and determines OUR future. There is no future with God. He does not sit at one point in time and look down the corridors of time, to peer into the future. God did not reveal Himself to Moses as the great I AM RIGHT NOW, but as the I AM. Right now at this point in time God is existing ten years from now.

The five words so often repeated in the bible tell a good story of how it is. "And it [already existing] came to pass."

Steve Scott said...

Brian Roden said:

Joshua said "Choose you this day whom you will serve" not "Reveal this day whom is has been predetermined that you will serve."

Brian, if you go back and read the passage where Joshua gave them a choice, you should notice two things: 1) He gave them a list from which to choose, and 2) Yahweh wasn't one of the choices.

Phil Johnson said...

Johnny Dialectic: "First, no Calvinist (or anyone else, for that matter) has ever provided a proof that God cannot foresee future contingent events. . . all this post does is say, 'It can't be done, so there.'"

See? Molinism rears its ugly head.

Actually, the post above says nothing about future contingent events. The post is concerned solely with the question of who actually determines what does or does not happen.

More later on this. I don't have time to write much at the moment.

Stan McCullars said...

A book I have found very helpful in gaining a better understanding of Arminian Theology is Arminian Theology: Myths And Realities by Roger E. Olson. It cleared up some misconceptions I previously held regarding Arminian Theology. For instance, the following quote from Arminius:

In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent and weakened (attenuatum); but it is also imprisoned (captivatum), destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.

Commenting on that quote Olson writes:

This Arminian statement alone should put to rest the all-too-common misconception that Arminius and Arminians believe human free will survived the Fall intact.

Phil Johnson said...

See Steve Hays on the "timelessness" dodge.

All that aside, I fail to see how divine timelessness could possibly be construed as an answer to the question I raised in the post.

Steve Scott: "Right now at this point in time God is existing ten years from now."

. . . sounds patently nonsensical to me, but even given what I think this means, the question still must be answered: unless now and future are eternal, someone or something had to determine what they would be. Who or what determined that?

. . . and if you're saying now and future are indeed eternal, you've got a bigger theological problem than I can help you with in this comment-thread.

Stefan said...

All good comments, but I think David Milton make a couple of key points.

I suspect that some Arminians object to Calvinism not so much out of a sense of self-righteousness (in practical, day-to-day terms, a Calvinist can be every bit as self-righteous as an Arminian—not that that's a good thing), but out of a sense that it would be "unjust" of God to sovereignly elect to save some and not others. This, I suspect, is the root of the intellectual opposition to Calvinism.

And on another of his points, if we have any kind of innate capacity to make a conscious decision to choose Christ—utterly free and independent of the stirrings of the Holy Spirit within us—then the all-encompassingness of sovereign grace is not quite so all-encompassing, the totality of our sinfulness not quite so total, and our utter need for a perfect Saviour not quite so utter. If we are not totally depraved and wholly dependent upon the sovereign mercy of God, then it would be conceivable for a perfect man to come along and be right in God's eyes. Scripture, however, makes it abundantly clear that there has never been such a man—not Abraham, nor Moses, nor David, nor Solomon, nor Peter, nor Paul, nor even Hezekiah or Isaiah—except for the One who is both fully God and fully Man, God incarnate, wrapped in human flesh, who took on our likeness to perfectly fulfill God's law and to bear God's wrath for our sins.

Daryl said...

Steve,
It's also interesting to note that when Moses delivered the law in Deuteronomy, God says, you'll go your own way and I'll do this to you, you go again and I'll do this. If I recall, he says these things immediately after the people say "We will do these things."
God knew.

Chris Roberts, while its true that knowing the future doesn't equal determining the future, it does equal a determined future, by someone. Question is, if not God, then who?
I suspect that most Arminians would eventually come down on people being the determining factor. They certainly do when salvation is in view.

Daryl said...

How does Molinism answer anything? Any one of us, given some time to think, could come up with most possible outcomes of a situation. All that does is makes God a bigger brain than ours.

And even with that, he STILL wouldn't know the future. He still wouldn't "Foreknow us" (Arminian definition of foreknow intended), he would just know that one possible outcome is our salvation, another possible outcome is our damnation. How hard is that?

So either he knows one future, or he doesn't. So that honest options still seem to me to be Open Theism or Calvinism.

Everyday Mommy said...

Arminianism...wanting to have our cake & eat it, too.

Stefan said...

Daryl wrote:

"If I recall, he says these things immediately after the people say 'We will do these things.'"

Seeing as it was 3500 years ago, you have a pretty good recollection of it.

Yeah, of course what you wrote was unambiguous, but this thread needs a little injection of humour (or lame attempts thereat).

Daryl said...

Stefan,

My memory ain't what it used to be, ever since Moses mistook me for a rock and cracked his staff upside my head...

Mesa Mike said...

What's with the dozens of "LINKS TO THIS POST" underneath the comments?

Is the new and improved way of drive-by link spamming?

Did an Arminian use his free will to put those there, or did The Sovereign predestinate the spamming of the Pyros blog?

Brad Williams said...

In the word of my redneck friend:

Hey, so what? God ordained everything. Yer just mad about it because you ain't God.

DJP said...

MMike, it's like Blogger (or Google) has completely lost its mind. It's the same over at my blog — links that have nothing whatever to do with the post.

Daryl said...

Question:

If you and I watched a truck slide through a slippery intersection and into the front window of a restaurant, and I said to you, "I know that could happen."
Would you say "Hey, I didn't know you knew the future!!"

So much for the value of knowing contingencies...

Strong Tower said...

We agree on so much, from inerrancy to things emergent.

Where in is inerrency in the contingent free-will actions of man? Seems to me that error is only found there.

Just guessing here, but could it be "sin"?

Well let's see if it fits the definition: The freedom to do what opposes the will of God. Yep, I would say that free-will is the very essence of sin.

God exists outside of time. He sees it all.

This is really not a biblical concept. Scripture declares that God is transcendent. He is both, not the creation and immanent in it. In a decreedal sense time is within God, that is all of history is known to him as immediate, descrete, and complete. In creation, the past does not exist, nor does the future, and they do not exist in God except in his omniscience. What many forget is that God is not merely ominicient, but all present, immanent. Nothing occurs except that God is there. Beside that, people forget that God is omnipotent. Nothing happens except by the immediate power of God. By stating that God is outside of time it presents a deistical view of God, not a biblical one. He does not veiw it as a poster, scroll, or time line as C.S. Lewis might describe his foreknowledge. He knows it as immediate not as perspective. That immediate knowledge is not without his eternality. So that there was never a time when God did not know all that would be. This rules out contingency in the creature. The four-fold nature of God eliminates any contingence to him, and in him alone is anything contingent. Contingence is that thing which has no other cause. Then, what ever becomes is God creating ex nihilo whether he is doing so as the primary agent, or he is doing so through secondary causation.

God is omniscient and in sovereign control of the universe AND that man is personal responsible for his or her choices in relationship to the Gospel.

It is a category error to equate responsibility with choice. God is responsible, but not because of choice, and certainly not because he could make a choice contrary to his nature. God is responsible and sovereign. His responsibility is an attribute of his essential nature. He is not amoral becoming moral as a result of choices made, but a moral being without the ability to choose to do evil. Responsibility in man does not inhere in his choices, either. Man is responsible by virtue of being created in the image of God. God is the Good Caretaker of his creation and created man to be that also. Adam did not merely name the animals but God shows us that Adam acted responsibly in doing it, by giving them the names by which God had already called them into being. It was not that Adam could have called a cow a cat, or that there were alternatives to the names he chose. Instead, there was one choice, the proper name, and God in demonstrating his creation good, displays for us what that means. In the fall, God did not apply responsibility to the action, but assigned responsibility before the action occured, "In the day you eat." Man in the image of God was responsible. Nor does God remove the responsibility because Eve ate under deception. Deception by its very nature denies alternative choice, she "saw the fruit was good." Yet God does not suspend the nature of man who was created responsible even though man was deceived. Responsibility then is demonstrated as not the thing that eventuates but the very character that makes man what man is, created in the image of God.

Choice likewise is not a reality because of some supposed contrary objects of it. Like the names that Adam named, choice is an attribute that is natural to man as essential to one created in the image of God as good. And by God's chosing to create man in his image, we see demonstrated that choice is governed by the same thing in man, his nature. In that image, choice was not predicated upon contrary choices outside because that does not exist in God. God did not create man neutral with the ability to become good by the choices he makes in response to external stimuli, or to become bad, similarly. Man was created good and the choices that he made he made out of that nature which was not created in the image with both potentials within, good and evil. For God is not both good and evil, Yin Yang, the Light and Dark side of the Force, he is good. And man in that image was created to responsibly make good choices only. As explained, the fall happened in deception. It was not presented to Eve as contrary choice, either good or evil, but only as good. Then choice, or will, is natural man acting in accordance with his nature. And what he seeks is his own highest good. Will has no power in its self to determine choice. Nature does, as well as the mind which, though it is now corrupted was not created in that way. Moral choice, or that is to say choosing holiness, is beyond the fallen man by those two attributes now corrupted which in God makes it impossible that he should lie, that he has promised (responible) and He is God and by nature Holy. Man though, being corrupted in all faculties, cannot do morally responsible choosing concerning things that glorify the holiness of God. However, neither choice nor responsibility have been removed; we all experience them as truth. Both are active and both require us to act. Whether we choose good or evil, we retain the responsibility for moral choices prior to and after the act of choosing.

God gave man two great gifts by which to glorify God, responsibility and choice. The antinomian denies this by saying the law is not binding, man has been set free, and makes only the Spirit in him to be responsible for the choosing. The Arminian denies this by saying that if man does not have freedom, he cannot be responsible. In doing so he denies the purpose for the image into which man was created: to glorify God by bearing the responibility for the creation as the servant of God. It is not choice which makes us responsible, but God who has given us responsibility to choose the good. Regardless of the state of man choice and responsibility remain as inherent in man bearing the image of God, irrespective of the sovereignty of God which includes at all times his omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence.

What I have labored here to do is expose the fallacy of confusing choice with responsibility. Responsibility is prior to choice and not dependent upon the outcome of the choice. It encompasses choice as the reason for it. The free will of God into which man was created, into which he is recreated, is that image of God who does no evil. If one is to say that God created man in His image able to choose good or evil, what depths of blasphemy he has descended into. No, quite the contrary, God created man in his image able only to choose the good, ergo the deception that the fruit of the tree of good and evil was good. The free will to choose evil is displayed in that act as the very essence of evil. It denies the image of God into which man was created to bring him glory and presents God as a God both good and evil.


Right now at this point in time God is existing ten years from now.

I am not sure what this is supposed to mean. Ten years from now does not exist, so God cannot be there now. Gene said an interesting thing about instantiation. Let me add, in Molinism, or middle knowledge which proposes an eternal now, God's foreknowledge of Himself in a future event cannot be in alternative universes. God, being truth, can only know himself in that singular future which he has determined. Though God is fully capable of "imagining" a googolplex of alternative universes he only knows himself as Truth in truth in only one of them. We agree that God is omniscient, but if he only is as seeing those thing that will be as one watching them come to be, and therefore has foreknowledge of them, then we have fallen from from the biblical understanding of God and slipped in to some form of open theism.

Stefan said...

Okay, I think Brad Williams' comment takes the cake.

Jmv7000 said...

My respect for clear concise writing is growing exponentially.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"See? Molinism rears its ugly head."

Gotta love the name calling and dismissiveness. "Ugly" heads come in many varieties...

Where is the Phil Johnson who once wrote:

"Calvinism is virile; it's relentless when it comes to truth; and it's not always easy to swallow. But it is full of truths that should humble us and fill us with compassion rather than swagger and conceit."

Something for the cheering section to take into account as well.

Strong Tower said...

Some mens' sins precede them, others follow.

Strong Tower said...

Molinism, who said Molinism?

But truly, if the concepts are alike, that being some kind of progressive knowledge in God...

I could have said Thomism, for I used to teach a type of OT to my daughter.

Oh the bane of labels, shall we ever just be able to call a spade a spade without having to denegrate shovels?

GeneMBridges said...

All that aside, I fail to see how divine timelessness could possibly be construed as an answer to the question I raised in the post.

It can't...Steve and I have both, as you noted, Phil, discussed this. To help those who don't quite "get it." (Eg. for Steve Scott and others):

Divine timelessness can't answer the question, "How does God know (the outcome) of INDETERMINATE objects of knowledge?" I put that in bold for a reason.

It can only help us with DETERMINATE objects of knowledge. Put another way, God knows the outcomes because the outcomes are instantiated outcomes. That's a DETERMINATE object of knowledge. It is NOT an INDETERMINATE object of knowledge.

That's not the issue. Nobody denies that God knows the outcomes of determinate objects of knowledge. The question actually relates to indeterminate objects of knowledge.

The libertarian can't answer the question, because the object of knowledge is known in no mind whatsoever, not even the mind of the agent, where it exists as only one of many possibilities. So, how does God know, WITHOUT THE AGENT INSTANTIATING AN OUTCOME, which one will obtain. He only knows which one DOES obtain, and the the only reason that is so, is because the agent instantiates an outcome - the object of knowledge at that point is no longer, however, indeterminate in nature, it is DETERMINATE in nature. Ergo, "Divine timelessness" does not answer the question at hand.

This also extends to Molinism. Nobody is questioning the existence of counterfactuals. The question isn't related to that, rather the question relates to how God knows the outcomes of those counterfactuals if the counterfactuals are indeterminate objects of knowledge. In Calvinism, God's knowledge of the future is a species of His self-knowledge. God knows it, because, like the author of a book, He knows what He has written, eg. decreed. Likewise, He can answer questions about counterfactuals, because He knows what He chose not to decree.

I might also add here, that, by making God's foreknowledge of the future dependent on agent action - the agents being human beings, the libertarian is attacking the independence of God. That is, God is rendered dependent on the outcomes of human agents' decisions for the obtaining of His own knowledge. That's a species of idolatry.

David Floyd said...

I am reading Boettner, and suddenly I wonder if I should soldier on...

Daryl said...

Mr. Dialectic,


Insisting that Arminians be able to answer certain questions if they are to be consistent in their belief, and then challenging the answers provided and hardlly be labelled as name-calling and dismissive.

So far, an adequate answer has not been provided, to many of the questions raised here. Is it so harsh to continue to press the unanswered point?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Idolatry now?

The hits just keep on coming.

Who is limiting God here? Who is the one who does not accept even the "parallel tracks" and consigns any explication of the "free will" track to...idolatry?

Nice.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Daryl, that's another fine move. My first answer dealt with the post specifically and directly, and your comeback is now the "failed to deal with" gambit.

Sheesh. It's getting positively arctic around here for a brother in arms.

John said...

My two cents:
try rephrasing it as personal autonomy vs God's sovereignty, and see where that takes you.

donsands said...

"That is, God is rendered dependent on the outcomes of human agents' decisions for the obtaining of His own knowledge."-Gene

And that is Greg Boyd's answer. God's sovereign working in this universe includes us, and that's the god of Greg Boyd, and all the Openness Theologians.

I know traditional Christians who have been listening to teachers like Boyd, and are persuaded by this false teaching, because it seems to be a more compassionate god, a more caring god.

So, this is a good post and comment thread to expose this fals teaching which is a leaven that has not be cut out as it should have been.

Daryl said...

Johnny,

Not sure what the problem is. You mentioned contingencies as your solution to the problem. I merely pointed out that knowing what could happen is within the realm of any thinking person to figure out and asked is knowing that something could happen can really be called knowing the future.

So what's the answer?

I know you could answer me. Does that mean I know the future if you do? No.
So...if God only knows all possible outcomes, then it's plainly incorrect to say that he knows the future. And we're back at Open Theism.

And "Sheesh" is not the answer.

Daryl said...

Incidentally, it's not the OpenTheists who have abandoned the idea of God knowing all possible outcomes. They haven't. They've simply said that, in order for it to even matter that God knows all possible outcomes, he can't know WHICH outcome will win the day.

Is that what you're arguing for Johnny? Because if it is, while the volume of information that God knows would outweight the volume of information that he doesn't know, still its the information that he doesn't know that really matters.
Who cares if God knows I could eat fish for supper, if I actually don't eat fish for supper?

All of a sudden most of what God knows is trivia. And the little he doesn't know trumps all that.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Well, Daryl, it seems you assume I'm a Molnist (as Phil did, inaccurately). I have never argued for any "middle knowledge" (perhaps you got tripped up by the word "contingent" which was not used in that fashion by me).

So a "Sheesh" at the too-quick labeling today is at least understandable, I think.

Daryl said...

Johnny,

"Contingent" generally means "if this happens I'll do this, but it that happens I'll do the other".

What do you mean by it?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Look, folks, what I ascribe to is classic, Reformation Arminianism.

Am I a heretic? I'd love a direct answer.

If not, I look forward to future discussions upon which we agree wholeheartedly.

If I am, ban me.

Michelle said...

The wonderful doctrines of grace acknowledge and ascribe fully the greatness and glory due His name. To say that He is ultimately not in control is to me a most unenviable place to stand.

This may be a dead horse to some, but we non-Arminians feel so strongly about this subject because it is the very heart of what we know to be true of our amazing, sovereign, gracious God; and the very heart of what we know to be true of our utterly depraved selves.

Thanks be to God!

beowulf2k8 said...

Genesis chapter 18, from verse 17 on presents the LORD discussing the destruction of Sodom with Abraham who tries to haggle with God. Abraham asks if God finds 50 righteous people will he still destroy the city? It would be wrong for God to destroy the righteous with the wicked, Abraham says, and "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" God promises "IF I FIND in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." The negotiation continues three times and Abraham haggles God down from 50 to 30 to 10! Why doesn't God just say "Look, Abraham, I already know how many righteous people are in the stupid city, man! In fact, I micromanagerially control who is righteous and who is not, and I already know that I elected less than 10 people in the city, so SHUT UP!"? That's what God ought to have done if Open Theism is the most putrid heresy ever believed on earth as you great geniuses claim.

GeneMBridges said...

The hits just keep on coming.

Who is limiting God here?


Those who make God dependent on the instantiation of determinate objects of knowledge. How does God know the future with respect to INDETERMINATE objects of knowledge. Appealing to timelessness doesn't get you where you want to go. It only speaks to DETERMINATE objects of knowledge - that's not the issue.

Who is the one who does not accept even the "parallel tracks"

Nobody questions the existence of counterfactuals of knowledge. Try to keep up, Johnny.

and consigns any explication of the "free will" track to...idolatry?


Well, let's see, now, Johnny...where's the exegetical argument for LFW. If you're going to invoke LFW, then you need to justify LFW from Scripture. C'mon give it a whirl.

Respectabiggle said...

"The word 'Presbyterians' is an anagram for 'Britney Spears'. Good Presbyterians, of course, will point out that God sovereignly predestined this coincidence from before the dawn of time."

- David Crowder, "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die."

GeneMBridges said...

Look, folks, what I ascribe to is classic, Reformation Arminianism.

Yet you said Well, Daryl, it seems you assume I'm a Molnist (as Phil did, inaccurately). I have never argued for any "middle knowledge" (perhaps you got tripped up by the word "contingent" which was not used in that fashion by me).

I guess you need to bone up on your historical theology there, Johnny. "Classic Reformational Armininianism" traditionally opts for the Molinist version of foreknowledge, but if you prefer the simple foreknowledge view, go for it.

Still waiting on the exegetical foundation for LFW...

beowulf2k8 said...

Interestingly enough, in you guys's view, God has by micromanagerial control made the Open Theists into Open Theists, and the Molinists into Molinists, and the Arminians into Arminians, and the Calvinists into Calvinists. So when you say being an Open Theist or a Molinist = idolatry, you are saying that God ordained idolatry, which turns idolatry on its head making it obedience to his command. This is why Calvinism's view of God is unacceptable -- it takes away the ability of sin to actual be sin in any real sense. Molinism makes a LOT more sense, Scripturally and logically.

Daryl said...

Beowulf,

So are you saying that God didn't know how many righteous people were in Sodom at the time? Because that's where your comment was heading.

Ever think that maybe God was stringing Abraham along for Abraham's benefit?

Johnny,

No, Arminianism isn't heresy, it's just wrong-headed. It still can't answer why you're a Christian and your neighbour isn't, without giving you credit for something that it doesn't give your neighbour. Even with "prevenient grace" it allows you to say "What a great decision I made." and that's a problem.

More in line with this discussion, it allows for the theoretical possibility that no one gets to heaven, making Jesus a colossal failure as a wannabe Saviour. Or at the least, it means that he can't know if he succeeded until judgement day.

So again, what do you mean by "Contingent"?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Gene, I commend pp. 195-197 of Olson's "Arminian Theology" to you on whether classic Arminianism is Molinist or not (hint: not).

Tell me if you agree or disagree with this statement:

"That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not."

Johnny Dialectic said...

"No, Arminianism isn't heresy, it's just wrong-headed."

Thanks, Daryl. I feel the same way about Calvinists, and know that we can link arms on most other things.

"It still can't answer why you're a Christian and your neighbour isn't, without giving you credit for something that it doesn't give your neighbour. Even with "prevenient grace" it allows you to say "What a great decision I made." and that's a problem."

This mystifies me. I've never, ever thought this way. Ever. I don't know where this idea even comes from.

Solameanie said...

I have heard some Arminians (in personal discussions) equate Calvinism with fatalism. That could be part of the problem.

donsands said...

Open Theism is heresy, beowulf, plain and simple. It claims God doesn't know the future, and so this is a false god.

The Bible teaches God knows the begining from the end.

He is the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world.

donsands said...

I mean end from the begining. Boy!

Daryl said...

"That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not."

Johnny. That is classic Calvinism...

And, to your second comment, perhaps you haven't thought that way, but you need to. That is, you need, we all need, to be able to answer the question "Why me and not the next guy."

For my money there are only two possible answers to that question: 1. Because I made a good decision and he didn't.
2. Because, for reasons known only to Him, God chose me and not my neighbour.

How do you answer the question?

Daryl said...

And to pull it back to the post...

Did God know that you would be saved? If so, on what basis?

Johnny Dialectic said...

"Johnny. That is classic Calvinism..."

And if you go back to my very first comment, you'll see that I agree that this is an honest position. Just wish I'd get the same consideration.

"1. Because I made a good decision and he didn't."

That word "good" is ambiguous here. It implies merit. It implies a value judgment. I reject both of those.

So I don't see your alternatives as exhaustive.

Daryl said...

OK, so it's not a good decision. So by extension, your neighbour's rejection of Christ is also not a bad decision.
It must be because you have rejected the idea of a "value judgement".

So, fine, it's neither good or bad, it just is. You're still avoiding the question, why you and not the other guy?

What are your alternatives. And did God know what you would decide?

Jmv7000 said...

Johnny, are you saying embrace the tension?

beowulf2k8 said...

"Open Theism is heresy, beowulf, plain and simple. It claims God doesn't know the future, and so this is a false god." (donsands)

If it is heresy, why did God present himself in an Open Theist type way to Abraham. You simply don't have a leg to stand on. Is God Himself a heretic? Then why is he teaching Abraham "heretical" theology????

"Beowulf, So are you saying that God didn't know how many righteous people were in Sodom at the time? Because that's where your comment was heading. Ever think that maybe God was stringing Abraham along for Abraham's benefit?" (daryl)

Ever think that if this is the case, then being a rabid Calvinist is bad for people. Why would God misrepresent himself to Abraham as not knowing when he knew (according to your view), if this was not needful for Abraham? And if Abraham needed a God who didn't know everything, don't people today? Calvinism results is so much fomenting rage, for the Calvinists themselves and for their opponents. Don't we need to be "strung along" just like Abraham if that is what God was doing? Why can't Calvinists just misrepresent God the way they think God misrepresented himself to Abraham? Or better yet, why don't we toss Calvinism in the garbage where it belongs, and believe in the Scriptures which represent to us a God who isn't a liar telling Abraham he's going to search for facts when he already knows everything, because he clearly is telling the truth when he says he doesn't know. The only way to establish exhaustive foreknowledge of everything is by a gross misreading of Romans 9, seeing the rest of Scripture does not teach it.

"The Bible teaches God knows the begining from the end. He is the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world." (donsands)

Certain events, not every thing. God also plainly says that the Israelites sacrificing their children to Moloch was something that he never imagined they would do, Jeremiah 32:35

Johnny Dialectic said...

Because the other guy (freely) didn't.

And God knew he (freely) wouldn't.

And God can (sovereignly) do that.

And I, to earn a living, must leave the discussion now. (God knew this would happen, too).

I do thank you for some iron sharpening, and can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to TOMORROW'S Pyro post!

Daryl said...

Johnny,

Thanks for the answer. On what basis did God know that?

Beowulf,

Where does God tell Abraham that he doesn't know how many righteous people are in Sodom?
Here's what happened, God said he'd destroy the city, Abe says "but if there are 50 righteous you won't, right?" God says "Sure Abe, for 50 I won't. Abe says "But for 45? Surely you won't destroy 45 righteous?" God says "All right fine, for 45 I won't." etc.

So tell me again how God presented himself in an Openly Theistic way?

Picture this. I tell my son "I'm burning down that shed." And he says "But if there are 50 cats in there you won't, right?" I say, "Sure son, for 50 cats I won't" etc...What my son doesn't realize is that I KNOW that all the cats left he shed yesterday.

So tell me, did my son convince me of anything? Or did I let him talk with me so he could see that I really merciful to the cats and it wasn't just a coincedence that no cats died?

I'll opt for the non-convincing option.

Mesa Mike said...

> God also plainly says that the
> Israelites sacrificing their
> children to Moloch was something
> that he never imagined they would
> do, Jeremiah 32:35

I think you're misreading the verse.
It says that it never entered His mind that they should do it, not that they would do it.

beowulf2k8 said...

"Where does God tell Abraham that he doesn't know how many righteous people are in Sodom?" (daryl)

You conveniently on purpose missed the verse a few verses up where he says something like "I will go down and see if they have done altogether according to the cry against them."

"I think you're misreading the verse. It says that it never entered His mind that they should do it, not that they would do it." (Mesa Mike)

I should be negligent if I did not point out that I think you're confusing British English in which "should" means "would" with American English were "should" means "ought." Yet even in American English we often use "should" to mean "would" and this is clearly being done by our modern translations. In fact, it seems altogether more natural to use the term "should" in instances where the tense is future rather than past or present. "I would not think so" is more an expression of the present, whereas "I should think not" is an expression of the future. So the phrase "It entered not into my mind that they should do this" means that at that time it did not enter my mind what they should end up doing in the future.

R.A. Servin said...

Wholehearted agree with you! Thankfully we can rest in His sovereignty knowing that He has a purpose in everything He does even if we don't fully understand what He is doing.

Aaron Snell said...

Hi Johnny,

Sorry to press the point if this conversation is wearing on you, but when you responded to Daryl with

Because the other guy (freely) didn't.

you just pushed the question back a step, and never really answered. The question is, why didn't the other guy, and you did? Certainly you're not saying that a free decision is an arbitrary one? What enabled you to see your need for a savior, while he did not?

Pastor Steve said...

While I whole-heartedly believe in Calvinism, I have struggled trying to figure out what the extent of our free will is, especially as it applies to the sanctification process.

Does God determine whether I choose vanilla or chocolate ice cream? Does God determine how sanctified I will become or is that my choice?

Desia said...

Ps. 65:4a
Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.

Aaron Snell said...

beowulf2k8,

You cannot make your argument based on the English usage of a word that doesn't even appear in the Hebrew. The pertinent section reads, "ashr la-tzuithi'm u'la olthe ol-lbi l'oshuth e'thuobe e'zath." Should is just not there, neither in the sense you are arguing, nor Mesa Mike's. The English word has been inserted by translators to help render it more readable. Literally, it's "which I did not instruct them and not came upon my heart to do this abhorence" which, lexically and grammatically, is perfectly compatible with either position...so you can't use it as evidence for yours. Sorry.

donsands said...

"You simply don't have a leg to stand on."

Here's a leg to stand on.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"

I suppose God had no idea where Adam was?

The Lord uses language as this for our benefit, as he does in His discussion with Abraham.

As Jesus does with Peter when He asks Peter, "Peter, do you love Me?"

The Bible teaches thoroughly that God is All-knowing, All-present, & All-powerful.

To deny these three attributes--and that's what Openness does--is to fall into heresy, and so you shall be declaring a false god, instead of the true Triune God of Scripture.

Michelle said...

Donsands: Good one. Spot on.

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all."
Psalm 139: 1-4

Omniscient indeed.

Patrick said...

Phil -

Would you agree that the biggest problem with Open Theism is the foreseen and fulfilled birth, life, and death of Christ? Isn't that a really big problem?

Strong Tower said...

Thanks Aaron, that's right. The passage seems to form a parallelism typical of emphasis. To interpret, "it is not my heart so I commanded them to not." In fact my Jewish Bible renders it: -when I had never commanded, or even thought [of commanding]...

B2K, might you answer, how many righteous were in Sodom?

I have to agree with the query mode. Abraham was the one presenting the questions and the Lord was responding as to a child. It may take on this edge: "Sure Abraham, if any one was righteous." Again repetition is a way a emphasis, and what we know of Abraham's unrighteousness is that he needed to be repeatedly taught the same message.

That God didn't destroy the entire population of the village is remarkable, also. What we know of Lot was that he was as sinful as the men that were there, yet God declares him righteous and vexed in his soul. His wife wasn't righteous. And God destroyed her in a scenario that is forward looking to the Exodus rebels. And Lot's daughters, well it goes without saying what they were like their parents. Yet God brought out of one of them the Moabitess out of whom the heir of promise would come, just as out of Abraham he brought the Seed.

I think the text stops short for the very reason that Abraham like all of us believe there is some good in men. And God's answer is, "hey Ab, if it were not for my promise to you, you would burn too." This is like a father responding to an ignorant child. It is quite appropriate seeing that Abraham repeatedly acts the part of a child whose foolishness of understanding is the tagline of his life.

After reading what you've said, B2k, it is safe to say, you're no different than Abraham nor any of the rest of us whose pride is the one idol that is impossible for us to demolish. If it were not for God's sovereignty, you would not let him do anything.

I could ask it this way: Who do you see yourself as in this story? The selfish, self-preserving nephew who would have sacrificed his own daughters? The two incestous daughters? The wife who thought the lifestyles of Sodom something to turn back to? Or, the adulterous old man who would have protituted his own wife to save his skin? Or, do you think that if God found you in Sodom, he would have spared it for one righteous person found there?

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Phil,

You said:

If God knows the future with certainty, then the future is (by definition) already predetermined.

Is there a reason why you believe this? Perhaps you have some assumptions about God's knowledge, time or the future that I don't share, but I must say I don't agree with that statement and can't think of any reason why I should.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Terry,

You asked:

#1 Q. If you chose of your own free will to accept Christ or believe in Christ...

...and John Doe chose NOT to...

...what made the difference between you and Joe?

Clarification follow-up question:

#2 Q. Would the above scenario not make you BETTER than Joe in some way?


In response to Q1, the choice itself made the difference.

In response to Q2, no I am not better than Joe, because faith itself is worthless. God chooses to save believers, but that's due only to His grace, not due to the "merit" of faith.

God be with you,
Dan

philness said...

I think it comes down to an unwitting disbelief of original sin if one holds that one can make a choice of truth. As long as original sin is in the equation whether in the regenerate or the non-regenerate any and all counterfactuals are tainted against truth and thus needs a supreme being to led the way to truth.

But lean on your own counterfactuals if you must. Besides, where counterfactuals abound grace abounds all the more, right?

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Gene,

Still waiting on the exegetical foundation for LFW...

About a year ago I asked if you were interested in formally debating the subject. If you are interested now, I just wanted to let you know that I am still game.

God be with you,
Dan

Mike Riccardi said...

Pastor Steve: Does God determine whether I choose vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Ultimately, where that discussion ends is: God is indeed the ultimate cause of everything comes to pass, weighty and (seemingly) meaningless, salvation and ice cream flavor, and -- yes -- good and evil. Yet He is not the efficient cause of evil, and perhaps many other things.

What I mean is, God doesn't -- in the kind active way we think about when talking like this -- force me to choose vanilla. But to say that He just leaves that choice up to me is to say He "sovereignly" chooses to give up His sovereignty, which is nonsense. Speaking of which, this particular corner of the discussion can get pretty ridiculous really fast if we're not thinking maturely about things.

In any case, I think Phil has written some awesome stuff on the ultimate vs. efficient cause discussion. I don't have links saved or anything, but you could google "Phil Johnson, efficient cause of evil," and probably find some good stuff. Or just ask him.

Does God determine how sanctified I will become or is that my choice?

I think that question is one place where the theological rubber meets the road. And to be honest with you, I believe the answer lies in the method of God's sanctifying His people. How does He do it? I believe the simple, straightforward, Biblical answer is: He sanctifies His people by presenting Himself to us. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Broken down into a more simple sentence: We are transformed into the image of Christ (i.e., sanctified) by beholding the glory of the Lord.

DJP said...

Mike Riccardi"Phil Johnson, efficient cause of evil"

Whoa.








(c;

Mike Riccardi said...

LOL!

I love it!

Michelle said...

Godismyjudge:

Phil said "If God knows the future with certainty, then the future is (by definition) already predetermined."

Maybe I'm missing something, but that's just logical.

We wouldn't say "God knows he will get married ten years from now, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will get married."

Strong Tower said...

Perhaps you have some assumptions about God's knowledge

Prolly, like what is the nature of knowledge.

because faith itself is worthless. WHAT!

"...so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Faith is pure and God glorifying. It always believes. It is not worthless but the very precious vessel that receives the Lord. We are men of faith. To the contradiction of the Arminian, the grace given us is faith, a new life, and all the precious treasures that it contains, like the very Word of God. That is why those graced with faith are without resistance saved. For who would reject so great a salvation except him who is without faith? Faith is the present possession of the thing trusted in and we thank God that he has seen fit to place that gift in these vessels of earth.

All things being equal, why don't both obstinately reject reject God?

beowulf2k8 said...

You can say that God was using language to his advantage or answering Abraham as a child or put it however you like. The point in the end is that God does not feel the need as Calvinism does to rabidly insist on his omniscience nor sovereignty to the destruction of souls. He doesn't call Abraham a moron for not believing in his omniscience, nor does he belittle him or call him a heretic. He doesn't tell him that he is an idolater or an atheist. But Calvinists, if you don't speak exactly with perfect exactitude as their putrid confessions written by men do, will call you every name under the sun.

"While I whole-heartedly believe in Calvinism, I have struggled trying to figure out what the extent of our free will is...Does God determine whether I choose vanilla or chocolate ice cream?"

Seriously, I think this is the mark of a mental disorder. The big picture is totally missed with all this aimless philosophizing. The big picture being that God wants us to believe in his Son and to obey his commandments. But Calvinists would rather overblow God's sovereignty, turning it from his Imperial majesty to puppetmasterism, and thus confuse everyone into hell, than speak as God does to Abraham in a pastoral and compassionate way.

Mesa Mike said...

> ...Calvinists, ...
> ... their putrid confessions...
> ... this is the mark of a mental disorder.

> will call you every name under the sun.


Now I understand.
Thanks for clearing that up.

Strong Tower said...

The point in the end is that God does not feel the need as Calvinism does to rabidly insist on his omniscience nor sovereignty to the destruction of souls.

What a caricature. Having been demonstrated to be wrong the fallback position ad hominen. As to God's insistence about the knowledge of his nature and our attaining to it, I'll just take it that you have never read the Scripture.

Mike Riccardi said...

Mike,

Don't forget that we're also agents of the devil, who want to "confuse everyone into hell."

Strong Tower said...

And I agree, DJP is efficient, if not the effective cause of evil... as least in the sense of a provocateur... in a good way I mean... it's like this blog, post anything and its like a bug lamp...

How does a guy get out of this?

Uh...bye

DJP said...

AGAIN with the mixing up Phil and me.


No no no, not me. I'm a very inefficient cause.

Strong Tower said...

Well, the only reason that Phil attracts such as we is who he is associated with...

beowulf2k8 said...

What do you think the effect would have been on Abraham (whom you yourselves represent as a simpleton child unable to comprehend the omniscience of God) if God said to him "You are just a puppet. I control everything you do..And everything everyone else does." Abraham to Calvin's god, "El Shaddai, do you mean that all those Pagan back home who offer their children to Moloch do that because you make them do so?" Calvin's god to Abraham: "Yes, Abraham...you moron, of course I do. Haven't you ever read Calvin's Institutes? Oh yeah...you aren't timeless seeing all times as present like me." Abraham to Calvin's god: "Adonai, do you mean that my father, who died a Pagan...you caused that?" Calvin's god to Abraham: "Yes, Abraham, you dolt, I elected your father to damnation for my greater glory." Perhaps Abraham would have killed himself rather than trying to sacrifice Isaac to God. He was just a child after all--you said so. God had to speak real delicate like to him. But to us, the Calvinists can speak the real gritty "truth" since we moderns can handle it. Yea, you guys are real geniuses. Talk about children, and on top of that, children calling to each other in the market place "we have taught an immoral god to you and you have not worshiped him, but the Arminians have taught a moral God to you and you have not hated him!"

Steve Scott said...

Phil Johnson:

Steve Scott: "Right now at this point in time God is existing ten years from now."

. . . sounds patently nonsensical to me...


Patently nonsensical? I certainly don't want that. Is it as bad as it sounds? As for pantently, no I don't have a patent on it, as I only thought of this last week as a way to look it. If the theology is really off, then maybe I should patent it so that nobody else will use it!

Clumsy language combined with a bad head cold maybe. I was trying to say in a round about way that God isn't confined to a certain point in time (present) like we are.

Strong Tower:

Ten years from now does not exist, so God cannot be there now.

It doesn't exist for us, yet. But it exists at least in the mind of God if he determined the end from the beginning.

Strong Tower said...

YB2K- I suppose, if you reject Jesus Christ who said: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

But then, you present yourself as one of these: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains."

Strong Tower said...

"But it exists at least in the mind of God if he determined the end from the beginning."

That I can accept if wht you mean by exists is knowledge and not an instantiated reality.

donsands said...

"The point in the end is that God does not feel the need as Calvinism does to rabidly insist on his omniscience nor sovereignty to the destruction of souls." Bewulf

I'm a Calvinist. I believe God is all-knowing and sovereign. I believe He is more merciful then any of us could ever imagine, even though God has crystal clearly shown us His incredible love in Jesus Christ his Son on the Cross of Calvary, and we mock Him still.

What could be more loving, and full of truth and compassion? And yet we mock, and defy the Cross of our Savior.

Why?

Because He shows mercy to whom He will. He owes none His mercy. He owes us His wrath and condemnation.

Do you believe that?

Ian Hall said...

"I think this is the mark of a mental disorder"

Having comprehensively lost the argument Beowulf resorts to personal insult. Sad but predictable.

ezekiel said...

GeneMbridges,

I am not sure I understand the way you use "LFW" but it seems that we have a choice to make. From a scriptural point of view, chapter and verse, where exactly do you find that we don't? That may be a shorter list of scriptures going that way.

Deut 29:18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; 19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:

Jer 3: 7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.

Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

See also Eze 3:20, 18:24, Zep 1:6, Mt 12:43-45, 13:21,
2Pe 2:19-22, 1Jo 2:19,

It seems to me that there is an extensive history of God sending messenger after messenger, prophet after prophet and eventually His own Son to preach repentance and call folk to turn back to Him. Israel has a pretty long history of limping pretty badly.( 1 Kings 18:21).

Is this what you are calling LFW? if so, are these the scriptures you were looking for?

ezekiel said...

While we are on the topic of calvinism, can anyone explain the L in tulip as it relates to Romans 5?

Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Why is it that "all" means all when we talk about original sin but "all" doesn't mean all when we talk about the free gift?

Daniel said...

Amen, Johnny Dialectic, to all and for all you've done to respond to this Phil Johnson posting.

See also Dave Hunt's "What Love Is This" for the best (but definitely not the last!) word on this subject.

Rita Martinez said...

"If one understands - which Arminians do not - the utter depth of how Fallen we are, then a Calvinistic soteriology becomes a treasure beyond treasure to be received with gratitude.

Other than that, it's a futile attempt to convince God is not unfair by choosing some over others. That is the nuclear center of resistance to Calvinism."
David Milton
that's the key right there, that's what I want my arminian friends to understand so badly!!
That is the problem, until people have a right understanding of our wretched sinfulness, how undeserving we are of God's grace, they'll continue to think that its unfair for God to choose some for salvation and others for damnation.(it's not enough that Romans already says it)
That's why a calvinist can say that God is still good and kind and loving and merciful and just even if He had not chosen him or her, while an arminian would think it is unfair.

herewestand said...

"See also Dave Hunt's "What Love Is This" for the best (but definitely not the last!) word on this subject."

Daniel, you're joking, right?

He's embarrassing to Arminians. At least read Olson.

In the words of McEnroe: "You CANNOT be serious."

Solameanie said...

Rita,

One answer to your question is that we can't accuse God of being "unfair" because no one deserves salvation. Those who do not believe are condemned already, according to Scripture. God owes mankind NOTHING but justice, which I don't think any of us really want. Scripture also asks, "who is man to offer complaint in view of his sins?"

I am not amazed that God elects some but not others. I am amazed that God elects anyone. Do I understand the purpose of election in entirety and how it interacts with human will? No. But I do know that whatever God does is entirely just. I am just thankful that He saved me. And amazed.

Rita Martinez said...

Solameanie
thanks! although I wasn't asking anything I was agreeing with David Milton, and saying that until people understand how undeserving we are they will continue to say that it's unfair.
I agree completely with what you say and it has been a struggle with my arminian friends whenever the subject comes up.


"I am not amazed that God elects some but not others. I am amazed that God elects anyone. Do I understand the purpose of election in entirety and how it interacts with human will? No. But I do know that whatever God does is entirely just. I am just thankful that He saved me. And amazed."
Amen!

ezekiel said...

"I am not amazed that God elects some but not others. I am amazed that God elects anyone. Do I understand the purpose of election in entirety and how it interacts with human will? No. But I do know that whatever God does is entirely just. I am just thankful that He saved me. And amazed."

Now that, I don't really get. Israel was justified while in Egypt by the blood of the lamb. On each doorpost/lintel. Yet many were not then saved but died in the wilderness because of unbelief.

Heb 3:19 So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out]. [Num. 14:1-35.]

So then why is it so hard to see that all men were justified by the blood of THE LAMB.

1Jn 2:2 And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

Rom 11:15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

Why is it so hard to see that He is doing the same thing He did in the OT in the NT? Just a different set of people. Gentiles rather than Jews.

Rom 11:4 But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
Rom 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.

If He kept 7000 for Himself in the OT, why is it hard to see where He is doing the same thing today? Put another way, if He reserved 7000 in the OT under the LAW and with sacrifices of animals then how much more will HE purpose to keep 7000+ in the NT with the sacrifice of His Son?

Rom 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";
Rom 11:27 "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
Rom 11:28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Rom 11:30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,
Rom 11:31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.
Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Rom 11:34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
Rom 11:35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Jon said...

My first run in with open theism was reading Gregory Boyd's book Letters from a Skeptic. The book seemed fine until he got into his open theism of saying God doesn't know every detail of time/history. I had no knowledge of Calvinism or Arminian theology at the time (I was of the mind of LFW, silly me), but I instantly balked at the idea of God not knowing everything. That has always seemed quite silly to me. If God isn't omniscient then He isn't God.

There will always be this battle between classic Calvinism and Arminianism and both have extremes. Arminianism to Open Theism and Calvinism to Hyper-Calvinism. I'm just grateful to all of the faithful Christian men throughout history who have stood up for sound biblical teaching. We must strive to learn what the Bible is actually teaching and not throw our own little traditions into the texts, which is obviously very hard to do if not impossible. We're still fallen creatures and are prone to sin, but our sanctification should lead us into more truth than error this side of heaven.

In my early twenties I found the creation vs evolution issue to be a very important area for any Christian believer. I've never understood the mindset of how anyone could believe that we all came from nothing and I also understood if God's word wasn't true then you couldn't trust anything. God's sovereignty came through to me when talking creation and when I say creation I mean literal six-day creation, like the Bible plainly states. If there was death before Adam's sin then there is no such thing as original sin and the Earth has always been cursed with bloodshed and thorns.

This all leads to God's sovereignty when it comes to salvation. I instantly fell in love with the idea that it is God who sovereignly chooses who is to saved. I thought it absolutely amazing that God would even consider saving such a wretch as myself. It was by far the most humbling thing I've ever encountered.

This isn't to say I didn't have doubts. I had them big time and really started to question the idea that some people will never be saved because God didn't choose them. The thing I was struggling with was the concept of how sinful we really are, our total depravity. I was ascribing goodness to people who are not good, whether we wish them to be or not. We only have to look inward on ourselves to see that we're inherently wicked to the core. We may not go out and kill, commit adultery or steal, but we have those thoughts constantly on our minds and the only way we ever truly triumph over them is by God's grace and mercy.

My own struggle with sin, especially my sexual lust, has only been quenched when I truly understood that God is the only good and without his sovereign grace I would still be battling to no avail. I still struggle to be what Christ has commanded me to be, but I can see sanctification in my life where I didn't before. My hatred of sin has increased and my ability to resist it has been heightened by rightly understanding God's sovereignty. And that is a true testament to God and his mercy, definitely not by my own will.

I think if Christians who are of the Arminian bent truly realize that our depravity is so extreme, that our wills are so enslaved to sin they will realize that only God can give us the ability to repent and believe. And when we see that light he has given us we run whole heartily toward that light. To run from it would be impossible, since it is God who has shown it to us. It is God who keeps us focused on that light, for if left to ourselves we'd turn instantly from it.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Michelle,

We wouldn't say "God knows he will get married ten years from now, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will get married."

I agree but there is a subtle difference between:

“that doesn't necessarily mean he will get married”

and

“that doesn't mean he will necessarily get married”

Most of the arguments I have seen to justify predeterminism based on foreknowledge make this switch.
But the switch appears invalid.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Strong Tower,

Me: because faith itself is worthless.

Thee:WHAT!

"...so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."


Faith does not merit eternal life; God’s act of saving believers is an act of mercy, not justice. Due to God’s mercy and God’s mercy alone, faith is important to us. The passage you quote (1 Peter 1) starts with “according to his great mercy”.

As an aside, the passage could be translated as the KJV does: “the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire”. So the idea here might be that the trial of our faith purifies us, so the testing is precious. The point would be similar to James saying tribulation works patience or Paul saying it’s a gift to suffer on behalf of Christ. I think the Greek supports the KJV, but it’s not 100% clear to me. But either way, the passage is not saying God had to reward faith.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Stong Tower,

Me: Perhaps you have some assumptions about God's knowledge

Thee: Prolly, like what is the nature of knowledge.

Yes, it could be something about the nature knowledge... but I am not quite sure what. Perhaps he assumes to know something today, it has to be determined today. I think the future will be determined in the future. God knows the future, not because it is determined, but because it will be.

BTW, thanks for the link. I will take a look.

God be with you,
Dan

JOYce ♥ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beowulf2k8 said...

For those who want to take the "I think this is the mark of a mental disorder" comment out of context and use it as an ad hominem, why don't you pay attention to context and see that it was in reference to someone cowering in fear of the puppetmaster god he believes in, spending his lonely days and nights disturbed in mind trying to determine how far his god's micromangement goes and specifically wondering if God chooses his ice cream flavor for him. If you think that's sane, I suggest you seek professional help along with him.

DJP said...

First Rule of Holes:

When you're in one, stop digging.

Solameanie said...

Sorry, Rita..

Looks like I misread your question, which is very likely with me late at night. Advancing age, you know.

I just snagged on "unfair" because I wrestled with that myself in my Arminian youth, and now in Calvinist middle age, I hear it still from time to time with some Arminians.

JOYce ♥ said...

To Ezekiel concerning ~

Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Why is it that "all" means all when we talk about original sin but "all" doesn't mean all when we talk about the free gift?


Do you see that it is because of reading versus 19 ~ and also reading versus 12-19 concerning Adam vs. Jesus Christ yet not in isolation of many...all verses? Similar to 1 Timothy 2:4,6 and 2 Peter 3:9 ~ who the "all" references is a matter of context...sometimes found within a few near verses and sometimes by backing up a chapter or two to see whether "all" is mankind generally not excluding even one individual or is the "all" contextually and specifically a particular people. Sometimes clarification comes through another book as verses must be in harmony with the entire Word of God rather than seemingly in contradiction. Sometimes it comes by digging/mining for God's truth beyond the first impression or preconceived notions or commentaries of men that may or may not agree with Him in order to learn who. Who written to...from and about whom. What. When. Where. Why. How. Grammar didn't save me but still matters to this believer with what is paramountly spiritually discerned in God's perfect timing.

Therefore, is salvation God's choosing or up for the choosing by every person ever born in Adam in sin/total depravity? Galatians 3:26 doesn't speak of human faith that saves, does it? Isn't the word "faith" the same original word used in Ephesians 2:8 and Galatians 5:22 ~ faith being fruit of the Spirit? The natural man wouldn't see or yield in righteousness being dead/unrighteous in Adam, would he/she? Unless God made he/she spiritually alive and enabled/equipped to respond first(John 1 and 3)? Would that spritually aliveness/seeing Biblically be that of temporal for a decision for or against Jesus... or would it be eternal life that God gifts? Hope this helps.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G4102&t=KJV&page=5

Strong Tower said...

JOY-

In Galatians 5:22 pistis in many newer translations is faithfulness, but the older translations and the more literal newer ones it is faith. Thanks for pointing out that the word there is faith, not faithfulness, it goes a long way in dispelling the Arminian error of making faith a common grace given to all men which when exercised yeilds regeneration. Simply, the fruit of the Spirit is only the possession the regenerate who alone are graced by God with faith. It follows then that in regeneration faith is given when the Spirit is wedded to the new man enabling us to hear and understand the Words taught to us by the Spirit: "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God."

a helmet said...

I don't think the reasoning here is alright. I'm going to write a series "On predestination and man's will" on my blog soon. For now, there is an open question to be answered for you guys here: How does guilt fit into your system? Why and on what basis is anyone guilty before God? Note, it is vital not only to present puzzle pieces of the truth here, but to put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly, creating a rational whole picture.

GeneMBridges said...

GeneMbridges,

I am not sure I understand the way you use "LFW" but it seems that we have a choice to make. From a scriptural point of view, chapter and verse, where exactly do you find that we don't? That may be a shorter list of scriptures going that way.

Deut 29:18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; 19 And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:

Jer 3: 7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.

Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

See also Eze 3:20, 18:24, Zep 1:6, Mt 12:43-45, 13:21,
2Pe 2:19-22, 1Jo 2:19,

It seems to me that there is an extensive history of God sending messenger after messenger, prophet after prophet and eventually His own Son to preach repentance and call folk to turn back to Him. Israel has a pretty long history of limping pretty badly.( 1 Kings 18:21).

Is this what you are calling LFW? if so, are these the scriptures you were looking for?


The issue isn't whether or not people resist God's commandments. "Choice" and "LFW" are not convertible. That's the issue at hand here.

LFW is NOT exegetically derived. Indeed on Tblog, we've had more than one commenter admit that it's an assumption they bring to the text - well, if that's the case, then LFW isn't exegetically derived, it's brought to the text, not drawn from it. The issue is why men act in the way that they do, or, put another way, "What lies behind the choices of agents?"

What folks who consider this issue do not seem to understand is this:

"Determinism" does NOT refer simply to God's decrees. When we speak of "determinism" we are speaking not of one agent but TWO. "Determinism" with respect to God refers to two things:

1. Certainty - that's the decree.
2. Causality - the means by which the decree comes to pass. This may involve God's direct action - miracles, creation, regeneration, or it may involve Him allowing things to come to pass by inaction.

BF2k, for example, represents, IMO, a classic example of a person who conflates causality and certainty. Indeed, he seems impervious, at least to me, to correction on this point, as I've watched him on this across several blogs.

All of this would come under the heading of divine providence.

Determinism with respect to the second agent - man, refers to what lies behind the agent's choice. This would, for example, come under the header of "Free Will" in the Second London Baptist Confession and the WCF. Men act as they do because they so desire. They act according to their natures. This is directly supported by Scripture, for example, when He told the Jews that they lied like Satan, because like Satan, when Satan speaks he speaks from his nature. Libertarianism teaches that our choices have no sufficient causes lying behind them. As such, LFW is a philosophical, not an exegetically derived action theory. Therefore, it constitutes a philosophical, not an exegetical, objection to Calvinism.

In relation to this specific issue, then, it is incumbent upon the Libertarians to provide an explanation for how God can know indeterminate objects of knowledge. We've yet to see that explained. Instead we've seen two responses that amount to:

1. Divine timelessness, which I have explained more than once why that is not an answer - it speaks to an altogether different issue - determinate objects of knowledge.

2. He just does. Well, aside from Open Theists, nobody denies this...so, again, that's a nonanswer.

Arminianism opens itself up to these sorts of issues on a philosophical level, because it raises philosophical, not exegetical objections, when it raises the issue of LFW.

GeneMBridges said...

Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Why is it that "all" means all when we talk about original sin but "all" doesn't mean all when we talk about the free gift?M


Because all men are not justified.
How do you differentiate between universal atonement and universal salvation/justification from the text itself?

Scripture does not do that. Yes, we know that people have to believe in order to be justified, but that's not the issue. The issue is how you get from universal atonement to particular salvation, or, as I stated above how you, from the text of Scripture itself, can tell the difference between universal atonement and universalism itself?

In Romans 5, Adam represents all of humanity...when he fell, we all fell with him.

So, if you're going to argue for Christ representing all of humanity as well, then you will wind up with universalism itself - where justification to life is extended to all - in the same way that the fall extends to us all. You don't believe that, do you? I've not interacted with you before, but I think it's safe to say you do not, and that's good and right. But, from the text, how do you avoid universalism?

GeneMBridges said...

Gene, I commend pp. 195-197 of Olson's "Arminian Theology" to you on whether classic Arminianism is Molinist or not (hint: not).


Been there done that. Steve and I have discussed Olson on a couple of blogs, including Tblog. You'll need to do better than that. Olson draws an artificial distinction between "head" and "heart" Arminians. I reject that, and that's just for starters. Olson, if you don't know, expresses sympathy for Open Theism as well. You'll need to do better than refer me to him.

About a year ago I asked if you were interested in formally debating the subject. If you are interested now, I just wanted to let you know that I am still game.

Dan, all you need to do is post an exegetically derived action theory on your blog. Manata, Hays, Pike, and I are still looking for an Arminian who will actually do that.

You see, I already know you can't...and the reason I know that is because you affirm Total Depravity. That's a problem for you. You see, in affirming TD, you affirm determinism. It's by way of UPG that you affirm LFW. So, you've already agreed that LFW does not exist part from UPG. So, you need to provide an exegetical argument for UPG and then an exegetical argument for LFW as a consequence. You know, when I post these little ditties, if folks will pay attention, I actually outline for them what they need to do to argue their position. I don't debate formally, I simply respond to blog articles. TF is the formal debater.

a helmet said...

GeneMBridges,

On what basis is anyone guilty before God? How does guilt fit into the reasoning outlined here?

GeneMBridges said...

A person is guilty because he has transgressed God's Law for his own evil desires. He has failed the test of holiness. That's the point...

Under LFW, our desires are NOT sufficient causes that lie behind our actions.

Under determinism, our desires are sufficient causes behind our actions.

LFW undermines the case for moral blame. If our choices are uncaused, or worse caused by mere chance, then there is no basis for moral blame for our actions. Simply saying "the agent chooses to violate God's commandments" (as Libertarians typically affirm) doesn't say anything about WHY he does so.

GeneMBridges said...

A helmet...there are several articles on LFW (free will) over at Triablogue, written by several of us. You may want to read through some of them as well.

Citizen Grim said...

An earlier commenter alluded to it, but this Spurgeon bit needs to be quoted in full:

"The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that "it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring."
- Spurgeon, Sovereign Grace and Man's Responsibility, 8/1/1858

I don't think this position is a cop-out.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Gene,

The issue isn't whether or not people resist God's commandments. "Choice" and "LFW" are not convertible.

But it is. This is where I think a debate would be helpful.

I don't debate formally

That's too bad. I think we would have found it mutually edifying.

Your representation of my view of the relationship between choice/depravity/grace is inaccurate. Man without grace is able to choose between sinful options. He isn't if Phil's argument based on foreknowledge is correct, but I don't think it is.

If you’re interested in a more detailed explanation, fell free to check out my review of Jonathan Edwards Inquiry into the Will.

God be with you,
Dan

GeneMBridges said...

But it is. This is where I think a debate would be helpful.

This begs the question. When I talk about LFW, I'm taking, as a frame of reference the philsophical literature itself as well as the exegetical material.

The Bible never, not one time, teaches that LFW is required to make choices "real."

The philosophical literature is also quite clear that LFW is unnecessary for choices to be "real." Steve and Manata in particular have, in times past, made this very clear.

Indeed, we could refer you here:
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/10/libertarian-dilemma.html

I'd rather deal with the standard literature than the views of one, IMO, rather eccentric Arminian whose views seem to be different than most standard libertarians and other Arminians. You seem, to me, to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to reconcile your particular views than actually explicating the standard views from your side of the aisle. You seem, to me, to be on a mission to justify your particular Arminianism, not Arminianism itself.

So, if you think LFW and choice are convertible, you'll need to demonstrate it. You can do so by showing how, to be "real," our choices must be either/or - or - both/and (a) be uncaused - eg have no antecedent causes, (b) our desires must be necessary but insufficient conditions lying behind our choices. Given the number of articles at TBlog on this subject already, I don't think I need to reinvent the wheel. If you have anything new to say, by all means post it on your blog after the holidays and draw our attention to it.

Man without grace is able to choose between sinful options.

I already know that you think this is sufficient to qualify as LFW. But I disagree, as, I believe does Manata.

The issue is why will he do so? If the man is UNABLE to choose the good, then he doesn't have LFW. Why is he unable? Because he is unable by nature to do so. That's the essence of determinism with respect to TD. That's the standard definition of TD, and Arminians are famous for saying that they affirm TD "just like Calvinists." Now, either you vary with your fellow Arminians or you your fellow Arminnians are wrong. So, you see, I'm merely following the Arminian, and therefore what should be your, position to its logical end....but you seem to have your own peculiar version to defend. I'm under no obligation to chase down an eccentric version of Arminianism.

1. Not every option is a live option.

2. What is the reason he chooses A, and not B, C, or whatever else is a live option?

His choices are determined. You're confusing choosing between two options and the reason that lies behind them.

When you can make an exegetical case for LFW, go ahead. We'll be waiting. Meanwhile, I'll go with Walls and Dongell, who admit that LFW isn't exegetically derived.

Manata, Pike, Steve, and I all went over this multiple times several months ago over at Tblog. I believe TF has been over this many times with you. At this point, I don't think a "debate" with any one of us would be helpful, as you've proven impervious to correction a number of times, resorting to peculiarities I think one is hard pressed to find in the better theologians of your tradition. Sorry, I'm not playing that game. I have other issues, particularly some ethics issues that I'd rather discuss right now, as we're doing more with atheology that anything else at Tblog. I need to make a contribution, and I will do so after the first of the year.

beowulf2k8 said...
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beowulf2k8 said...
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beowulf2k8 said...

"A person is guilty because he has transgressed God's Law for his own evil desires. He has failed the test of holiness. That's the point...Under LFW, our desires are NOT sufficient causes that lie behind our actions." (GeneMBridges)

In other words, according to the great Calvinist wizards of smarts, we can't have evil desires unless god is an evil micromanaging jerk wad who forces us to have evil desires. They say we can't transgress God's law unless he makes us transgress it, and yet they are too stupid to realize that this then makes transgression no longer transgression.

Jugulum said...

Phil,

About my much earlier comment, and your response:

"2. In fact, the argument as you have set it forth is simply a form of the first option I gave in the main post: it makes someone other than God the true determiner of the future, thereby diminishing (or eliminating altogether) the sovereignty of God."

Er...

*blink blink*

Yes, I see that the "some other being" option was talking about what I said. My apologies. I guess I read your post wrong.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Gene,

I'd rather deal with the standard literature than the views of one, IMO, rather eccentric Arminian whose views seem to be different than most standard libertarians and other Arminians.

Different than the standard libertarian? Yes, probably that's true. Different than other Arminians? That's less likely. Granted, I get into some details most don't. Very few Arminian theologians deal with the specific issue you are addressing. Most focus on the broader issue of prevenient grace; but that's a matter of focus, not disagreement. But those that do address the specific issue of man w/o grace, typically address it in the terms I have. Arminius, Watson, Byrd, and Pope do. Walls and Dongell pose the issue to Calvinists in similar terms as I did on page 130 of Why I am not a Calvinist. The only Arminian that I am aware of who takes a different approach (and it's only slightly different) is Whedon. But I suspect the difference you are perceiving (between me and other Arminians) is one of emphasis, rather than substance.

Oh well, it's too bad your unwilling to debate the issue. You are welcome to respond to what I have already written on the subject, but I don't plan on writing more on it at the moment.

God be with you,
Dan

donsands said...

"micromanaging"-beowulf

You really are trying to say something with this word. I just don't get what you're trying to state.

God is sovereign. He is the Potter. We are the clay. He makes ornate vases, and He makes spittoons from the same lump. We are the lump that deserves to be spittoons, but the Lord in His great love and mercy makes us vessels of honor.

God shows mercy to whom He wills. He has compassion on sinners, whom He owes only condemnation. I am so grateful he had mercy on me. I really am.
May He have the same mercy on all the human race, is my prayer.
But God has mercy on whom He wills.

Aaron Snell said...

the great Calvinist wizards of smarts...an evil micromanaging jerk wad...too stupid to realize...

sigh...it looks like beowulf2k8 doesn't know how to converse respectfully. I suggest we not waste any more time here, friends.

ezekiel said...

GeneMBridges,

Thanks very much for your response!

I couldn't find an easy or short way to explain what I was thinking so I posted it over on my blog to avoid offending anyone over here.

"So, if you're going to argue for Christ representing all of humanity as well, then you will wind up with universalism itself - where justification to life is extended to all - in the same way that the fall extends to us all. You don't believe that, do you? I've not interacted with you before, but I think it's safe to say you do not, and that's good and right. But, from the text, how do you avoid universalism?"

Puritan said...

I personally have come to believe the best way of debating the doctrines of Grace (or anything) is to stand on the authority of Scripture, rather than our own logical analogies.

Otherwise the reformed are quoting analogies and standing on the authority of their own (or some other man's) inferences, whilst the Arminians are quoting back Scripture.

Puritan said...

To add to my above comment,


Regarding the comments on this thread, put yourself in the position of a new Christian reading them, who has no idea about either view yet. Sadly he or she would probably come to the conclusion that the arminians are right, because whilst the Calvinists are saying 'defeat our analogy', the Arminians are saying 'the Bible says this' and quoting Scripture.'

Mike Riccardi said...

But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. - Ps. 115:3

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?' -- Dan 4:35

For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.' -- Is. 46:9-10

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. -- Eph 1:11-12

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. -- Acts 4:27-28

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, whoanswers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? - Rom 9:18-21

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. -- Job 42:4

Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it? -- Is. 43:13

For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back? -- Is. 14:27

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. -- Ps 33:10-11

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. -- Acts 16:14

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. -- Acts 13:48

He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.' Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD. -- Ezek. 37:2-6

Puritan said...

I love it brother Mike ;o)

Ian Hall said...

The Scriptures - among other things God's antidote to arminianism.

Michelle said...

I love it too, Mike. Thanks for all those sovereignty-affirming verses that cause our hearts to praise His name, for it is all of Him, nothing in and of ourselves.

Over and over again, God chose, He determined. That the potter should be subject to the whims of the clay is almost comedic.

Those of us who hold to the doctrines of grace don't understand how man's responsibility ties in with God's sovereignty. This is not a problem because we know that His ways are so far above our ways. There is no tension, we are able to rest in the fact that it is so, because He said so.

I would rather err on the side of God's sovereignty than err by attributing His works to another. In both cases, however, His grace covers all. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all in different places in our walk with the Lord. We need to be gracious and loving and kind in our dealings with one another and keep the main thing the main thing.

beowulf2k8 said...

"God is sovereign. He is the Potter. We are the clay." (donsands)

Your usage of this phraseology is totally scripturally illiterate. You are clearly totally ignorant of Jeremiah 18.

Jeremiah 18:1-10 "The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them."

The LORD explains in what way he is like the potter. As the potter reformed the clay that became marred in his hand, so God reforms us--but not capriciously, for he does it in response to the actions of the clay: The nation that turns away from him, he will reform into a worthless vessel although he had intended good for them, and the nation that he had intended bad for He will nevertheless reform into an honorable vessel if they repent. Thus, the potter/clay analogy does not destroy free will, but establishes it!

"He makes ornate vases, and He makes spittoons from the same lump. We are the lump that deserves to be spittoons, but the Lord in His great love and mercy makes us vessels of honor."

What he makes an individual is not arbitrary but based on their response to him, as the passage in Jeremiah 18 shows. Paul also, says in 2nd Timothy 2:21 "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." The man being made into a vessel of honor is not without his input, nor is anyone stuck as a vessel of dishonor so long as they are alive.

'micromanaging'-beowulf / You really are trying to say something with this word. I just don't get what you're trying to state.

Because you are one of the non-elect, perhaps? It is quite obvious, really: Sovereignty does NOT mean micromanagely controlling everything. Calvinists have to invent their own new fangled and stupid definitions for common words, as all heretics do. An EMPEROR (that's what a Sovereign is) does not need to micromanage--it is the vassal who micromanages. And why? Because the Emperor is breathing down his neck ready to take his head at the slightest slip up! Who is going to take the Emperor's head? So why would he micromanage like a little coward? Your god is afraid that unless he controls every spec of dust in the Universe one of them might defeat him somehow! RC Sprawl said a spec of dust could defeat Calvin's god if he didn't control it directly every moment. What a loser god you worship.

Scott Shaffer said...

beowulf2k8,

How about actually dealing with the context of the potter and clay passage as given in Romans?

beowulf2k8 said...

"How about actually dealing with the context of the potter and clay passage as given in Romans?"

Why? The Scriptures can't contradict: Either Paul is using the phraseology consistently with Jeremiah 18, or the book of Romans is not an authentic epistles of Paul.

greglong said...

Just the first few words from beowolf's latest post on his blog:

I've seen a few Calvinist blogs post something about Christmas. But the obvious question is why these devil worshipers even bother? There’s nothing to celebrate if this child was born to save only the lottery winners. Who would care? Only freaks and lunatics. Because a god who determines who to save and who to damn based on a lottery, is a god of feces. Thank God that God is no such God, and that Jesus was born to die for all men, so that whosoever will obey the gospel will be saved. Amen.

That's the way to win friends and influence Calvinists!

The Seeking Disciple said...

Simply put, this is not Arminianism that Phil attacks. Arminius fully agreed that God is sovereign, that He knows all things from beginning to end, and that He controls all things. However, where Arminius differed with Calvin was over Calvin's notion of unconditional election. Arminius rightly saw that while God controls all things and that all things work in accordance to the will of God, this does not mean that He caused all things. God did not cause Adam to fall (although some Calvinists would disagree) but He allowed it. Likewise, God does not cause all things (James 1:12-16) but He does allow freedom in our world.

What Phil argues against is not found in the works of Arminius nor Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Beo said,

"The LORD explains in what way he is like the potter. As the potter reformed the clay that became marred in his hand, so God reforms us--but not capriciously, for he does it in response to the actions of the clay: The nation that turns away from him, he will reform into a worthless vessel although he had intended good for them, and the nation that he had intended bad for He will nevertheless reform into an honorable vessel if they repent. Thus, the potter/clay analogy does not destroy free will, but establishes it!"

Let me see if I got it:

We volutarily make ourselves a beutiful vessel, and then God comes along and makes us a beautiful vessel.

We voluntarily make ourselves into an ugly vessel, and then God comes along and make us an ugly vessel.

Gottcha!

You're no synergist, no, you're worse.

Man does all the work and then God comes along and takes credit for something already done.

God's no synergist, he's a plegarist!

The above conceptual errors are just another spin on the old Arminain conception of predestination.

God "peers into the future" and then "sees who will express faith," and then "predestines" them to do what they did without his predestining.

Occam's razor would call for you to shave off God's actions since they're supfluous.

You have a Milli Vanilli God.

Girl, you know it's true, ooo, ooo, ooo!

ezekiel said...

Deu 29:4 Yet the Lord has not given you a [mind and] heart to understand and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this day.

Deu 30:1 AND WHEN all these things have come upon you, the blessings and the curses which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you,
Deu 30:2 And shall return to the Lord your God and obey His voice according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being,
Deu 30:3 Then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion upon you and will gather you again from all the nations where He has scattered you.

Deu 30:6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being, that you may live.




2Co 3:12 Since we have such [glorious] hope (such joyful and confident expectation), we speak very freely and openly and fearlessly.
2Co 3:13 Nor [do we act] like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze upon the finish of the vanishing [splendor which had been upon it].
2Co 3:14 In fact, their minds were grown hard and calloused [they had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it is made void and done away.


2Co 3:15 Yes, down to this [very] day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.
2Co 3:16 But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). [Isa. 61:1, 2.]
2Co 3:18 And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

1Jn 1:9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

2Th 2:10 And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved.
2Th 2:11 Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false,
2Th 2:12 In order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on] the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.
2Th 2:13 But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought and are obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, because God chose you from the beginning as His firstfruits (first converts) for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth.

Aaron Snell said...

Seeking Disciple,

Please see GeneMBridges' comment above at 11:53 AM, December 23, 2008 to help clear up the notion of God "causing" in Calvinism.

a helmet said...

GeneMBridges,

A person is guilty because he has transgressed God's Law for his own evil desires.

But according to the reformed position, the desires are a matter of predestination just as the actions. The desires have been determined.


He has failed the test of holiness. That's the point...

Also, this test of holiness and its result have been predestined as well. Still no room for human guilt in the reformed system.

Richie said...

First of all, Amen to Puritan. Let's discuss these (and all other) issues with the revealed Word of God as final arbiter, not our own reason or logic.

Secondly, to beowulf2k8's post:

"In other words, according to the great Calvinist wizards of smarts, we can't have evil desires unless god is an evil micromanaging jerk wad who forces us to have evil desires. They say we can't transgress God's law unless he makes us transgress it, and yet they are too stupid to realize that this then makes transgression no longer transgression."

Romans 3:5-8
"But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved."

-Additionally, I would humbly advise that you refrain from referring to Almighty God as an "evil micromanaging jerk wad", even if you are trying to use such language facetiously in an attempt to refute another's position.

And finally, I am unfamiliar with what seems to be a different translation/paraphrasing of Romans 9:21 ("He makes ornate vases, and He makes spittoons from the same lump. We are the lump that deserves to be spittoons, but the Lord in His great love and mercy makes us vessels of honor.") If this is a translation/paraphrasing of Romans 9:21, I would have to say that I (and other translations with which I am familiar) would disagree with this rendering. At any rate, I think the verses immediately following v.21 (vs.22-24) clear up Paul's intended meaning:

"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?"

Grace and Peace

Richie

a helmet said...

Good morning Richie,

So the basis of humani guilt is their evil desires?

Now let me make one thing clear. I do not question that "our unrighteousness
brings out God's righteousness more clearly" neither do I deny that "my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness" and so on.

But according to Calvinism, man's intentions and desires are predestined just as the works that flow from them. So Calvinism must provide a rational response to the origin of guilt if even the ideas, potentials, intentions and desires of man are a matter or predetermination. On what basis then is guilt imputed? Is man guilty by definition? Or why is man guilty anyway? There must be a meaningful answer, don't you think?

Billy Birch said...

I didn't read all 172 comments, so if this has already been stated, then I am sorry for the repetition.

Arminius, commenting on Acts 15:18, "Known to God from eternity are all His works," stated, "For God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from eternity" (Arminius III: 540).

Thus all true, Classical, Reformation Arminians believe in God's Providence, Sovereignty, and Foreordination. Hopefully you're not making a blanket statement of all so-called "Arminians."

God bless,

Billy

Strong Tower said...

Arminius, commenting on Acts 15:18, "Known to God from eternity are all His works," stated, "For God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from eternity" (Arminius III: 540).

Not meaning to jump into your asking for Gordan's position, but for me the question is not this, specifically, it is how the decree is made. Did God decree His works as unforseen, or as forseen. That is, were they forseen as the result of decree. Or was the decree, the result of what he foresaw? I am asking this because I am only partially familiar with what Arminius taught, such as what you have quoted. So my question, since you are much more familiar, does Arminius distinquish them as separate, or does he see them as one as the Reformed generally do? I would agree with Arminius as you have quoted him, but I would not, if by decree he sees it in reference to the knowledge of God and not one with it. I know that this is a subtle distinction. But to avoid any sense in which there is temporality in God, the two are not separate. Generally, it is thought of that God decreed and thereby knows the things which will come about. And not, that God knows and thereby decrees that they shall be.

Billy Birch said...

ST,

Such distinctions need to be made. I'm glad you asked. And I know that among Arminians there is some disagreement, even as there is among some Calvinists as to whether or not God caused mankind's fall.

The irony of Arminius's statement is his arguing against a supralapsarian understanding of God's predestinatory decrees (of Beza and Gomarus).

Arminius noted, "God wisely ordains all His actions, wisely carries them through: He decreed to make rational creatures, and made them most wisely, to the glory of His wisdom, goodness, and power; which end He attained by creation itself" (Arminius III: 541).

So far, so good. He is in line with Reformed teaching. But then, maybe closer to answering your question, he states, "If any one say that salvation and damnation are the ends wherefore rational creatures were made, I shall deny it, and shall with good reason require proof, since God's end cannot exist outside Himself.

"But let a careful comparison be instituted between creation and salvation and damnation, and between the decree of creating, saving, and damning; and it will appear that just as creation is prior to salvation and damnation, so the decree of creating is prior to the decree of saving and damning.

"For there is the same order in the decrees as in the execution: nor can God will to save that which is considered as not yet made" (Arminius III: 541).

You stated, "Generally, it is thought of that God decreed and thereby knows the things which will come about. And not, that God knows and thereby decrees that they shall be."

My question for you is, If God first strictly decrees/foreordains/causes what a person shall be or do or act or say, and that only by a decree, without foreknowing anything (which appears impossible for a God who knows everything), then how is God NOT responsible for what He has decreed/foreordained/caused (in the Calvinistic sense)? And how can you escape the charge that your perspective of God is nothing more than a mere Puppet Master?

Certainly, when God had an individual in mind to create, He knew all about that individual (what he would be or do or act or say ~ for God knows everything). Was not that knowledge of the individual present in the mind of God? How could it not be? If God decreed to create an individual, how could God NOT foreknow every detail about him? And if so, could He not decree/foreordain all that He knew?

I foreknow (pun intended) where this discussion will lead us . . .

Billy Birch said...

This discussion reminds me of something I read in Roger Olson's "Arminian Theology."

He wrote, "Of course, when Calvinists say that Arminians do not believe in God's sovereignty, they undoubtedly are working with an a priori notion of sovereignty such that no concept but their own can possibly pass muster" (Olson, Arminian Theology, 116).

It is difficult to engage in fair dialogue when we cannot agree with one another's presuppositions. That makes this debate all the more frustrating, but also all the more juicy! :)

a helmet said...

On God knowing the future with certainty....


The future doesn't exist. It is nothingness in terms of time. It is yet to be created ex nihilo. God lives in the past, presence and future. He is Alpha (the beginning) AND Omega (the end). God lives in the future, that's why he knows the future.

However, an illustration portraying God sitting in eternity past and either looking into a glass ball to see what will happen or making a complete film to be played by His direction, misses the point.

Note, mankind is guilty of sin! Why? Because sin is -by definition- the very opposite of all that pleases God. It is contrary to God's will, in the strongest terms. God doesn't approve of sin to the least degree. That's why a price had to be paid for sin. Phrases like "God wills sin to happen" are a contradiction in terms! There probably can be no more foolish attitude imposed on the scriptures than the idea that "God wills sin to happen"! Indeed, such is an oxymoron, a contradition in itself and an insult to God, the testimony of the scriptures as well as to any common sense.

bossmanham said...

I have an idea. I'll take a ketchup bottle and slap a mustard label on it and then we'll have an amazingly accurate analogy of what some Calvinists do with arminianism, for true arminians hold to God's sovereignty unapologetically. I won't go too deep, because The Seeking Disciple and Billy Birch have already handled it pretty effectively. I hope someday we can show the world a more unified body.

A.M. Mallett said...

bossmanham,
Kudos to you for you have nailed it succinctly. I like the ketchup and mustard analogy for this strawman as it puts the misrepresentation in plain to understand terms. You are right also that Billy and Seeking Disciple are doing a fine job in properly correcting our Calvinist brethren in their misconceptions regarding what most of the body of Christ holds to.

Blessings in Christ.

(I strongly recommend Roger Olson's Arminian Theology:Myths and Realities for those who have trouble understanding what so many Christians believe)

DJP said...

...true arminians hold to God's sovereignty unapologetically

"True Arminians" believe that man is helpless, dead and lost in his sins? That God from eternity elects some (not all) to salvation, leaves the others in their sins, sends Christ perfectly to accomplish and effect the redemption of the elect? That God sovereignly regenerates them and grants them saving faith, so that they are — every one of them — surely saved by His grace alone, and not one of them is lost? That their repentance and faith are responses to the sovereign grace of God? That God is never frustrated nor defeated in His counsels?

Wow, now that is news.

Billy Birch said...

DJP,

Thank you for proving Roger Olson right!

He wrote, "Of course, when Calvinists say that Arminians do not believe in God's sovereignty, they undoubtedly are working with an a priori notion of sovereignty such that no concept but their own can possibly pass muster" (Olson, Arminian Theology, 116).

DJP said...

Any chance of a straight answer?

Billy Birch said...

DJP,

YOU have defined "sovereign" in such terms that only the Calvinist can agree with you. Thus everyone else is off-base.

"'True Arminians' believe that man is helpless, dead and lost in his sins?"

Yes, we do.

"That God from eternity elects some (not all) to salvation, leaves the others in their sins, sends Christ perfectly to accomplish and effect the redemption of the elect?"

We would if the Bible taught such a thing.

"That God sovereignly regenerates them and grants them saving faith, so that they are — every one of them — surely saved by His grace alone, and not one of them is lost?"

We would if the Bible taught such a thing.

"That their repentance and faith are responses to the sovereign grace of God?"

We believe that.

"That God is never frustrated nor defeated in His counsels?"

We believe that also, but not to your liking.

So, where did you find your definition of "sovereign" in the Bible? And here come all of the proof-texts . . .

And thus we're back to arguing over each other's presuppositions. I already noted that this would happen.

B

Billy Birch said...

Now, I promised to watch Mission Impossible III with my parents. So, I'll be away for a couple of hours (just in case you notice my absence).

Billy

DJP said...

Then you're failing to engage in good faith, and blaming everyone for your failure.

Though you, by contrast, may be a Christian (the "may be" is only because I don't know you), in that way you are like Mormons and Roman Catholics. "We believe in grace!" they both say. "We believe in Jesus!" they both say.

But they define those terms differently than the Bible does - yet usually lack the candor simply to admit it.

As you did.

Paul Manata said...

bosmanham,

"for true arminians hold to God's sovereignty unapologetically."

Right, you just limit what God can be sovereign over. So, Arminians believe God is completely sovereign over, say, the tides of the ocean. And you do so "unapologetically." But, you do not believe he is sovereign over, say, the tides of human choice. And you do so "unapologetically."

You then, like the Open Theists are wont to do, speak in generalities and bemoan the fact that the mean Calvinists "misrepresent" you. Oh the horror! But, when we spell out the details, you only hold to a ubiquitous sovereignty by limiting the scope of what God can be sovereign over. This is what the Open Theists do. When it is said that they deny God's exhaustive foreknowledge, they claim that is a misrepresentation because they affirm exhaustive foreknowledge "unapologetically." They do so, though, by limiting the scope of what God can know. They claim future free choices are not proper objects of knowledge, and it is logically impossible to "know" future free actions.

So, once analyzed, we find you little rhetorical misdirection, viz., the analogy of what Calvinists to with Arminian beliefs is like " tak[ing] a ketchup bottle and slap[ping] a mustard label on it," to be nothing but dishonest misdirection. And ironic too. Ironic because it is now you who is seen to do this based on my analysis above.

See, when us Calvinists slap the label of "sovereignty denier" on your Arminians, we specifically mean it in the sense that you deny God's complete, exhaustive sovereignty over the free actions of men. We don't mean to deny that you think God is sovereign over, say, rocks, dirt, and other "stuff." Analogously, the same is meant when we say Open Theists deny God's exhaustive foreknowledge. We don't mean that they don't believe that God knows when, say, a rock will roll down a hill. We mean that they deny God's exhaustive knowledge of the future free actions of men.*

So, either you're playing dumb or you are dumb. Either you're ignorant, or culpably ignorant. In other words, if you were aware of this distinction, you're dishonest. If you're not, then it appears that this Calvinist had to help you take that ketchup label you slapped on the mustard bottle.

* Another possible interpretation is in how we both define sovereignty. So, you may affirm sovereignty, but this is akin, to the Calvinist, to how Mormon's affirm monotheism. Either way, it is clear that you're the label switcher and you've dishonestly or ignorantly applied that crime to the Calvinist. We can debate the term, but don't act as if we're doing any label switching. You should have engaged the definitional dispute rather than jumping to the weak label switching analogy, which is clearly disanalogous.

Rita Martinez said...

It's the unending vicious circle..what does then Ephesians 2 and Romans 9 and 8 say? absolutely nothing apparently...nothing about predestination, nothing about election, nothing about sovereignty over salvation...

Strong Tower said...

Sorry Billy I jumped blogs when I saw your name and thought that you were responding at Reformed Mafia. Small blogosphere, no?

Thanks for that response. I noticed you brought in lapsarianism which is where I thought that you would go. Classical Arminiusism, does appear to be different from the Arminianism that is held by most Malletians. Quite different. Arminius' almost sounds Calvinistic. No wonder he praised Calvin so highly.

Now for me, and many of the Calvinists I know, we don't view the decrees in a supralapsarian way. Most are sublapsarian. And I am panlapsarian, not holding to logical/temporal view of the decrees at all. Rather, that God's decrees and his forknowledge are one and flow from the Pactum Salutis which is hypothetical and only draws its order in theory as a result from speculative theology which has produced the two positions known as supra/sub lapsarianism. The appeal to order generally flows from the Historia Salutis. That is, what Scripture reveals as to the order of the decrees in historic revelation. And in that case I cannot see any supralapsarian position being supported by it. That being the case, your quotes from Arminius would put him in the majority position of the Calvinists, for the most part.

"For God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from eternity"

I didn't say that God has no knowledge. What I did say is that there is no way of separating his decrees and his knowledge. The question for Classical Arminianism and SS arminianisms is still how did God come to that knowledge.

As is emphasized above, casaulity must be ultimately God's doing or it results in a less than sovereign God. Two forms of causality are known in Reformed circles and they take on terms such as remote vs proximate, mediate vs immediate, agent vs circumstance, et cetera.

For the Arminian, even Classical Arminiusism, there tends to be a break down of distinctions and eventually when asked who caused his salvation, the Arminian reverses field from his assertion that Calvinistic sovereignty makes God the cause immediate of evil, to, the one choosing to follow Christ does not make him the efficient cause of it. But, how is that, since the causal agent must be one with the chain of causes according to Arminianism? This is primary, for the Arminian must deny God's omniscience at some point to break the chain of cause and leave the contingence of the chooser in tact.

The question then is appropriate, if God knows eternally and is not subject to change so cannot gain knowledge, then decrees and knowledge are one and the outcome of history as Arminius defines as the works of God are ultimately God caused, though it is not necessary to make God the immediate agent of it. For even the Arminian will say that man does not cause his own salvation even though he is in the causal chain (at least he will claim it is by grace though even that definition breaks down upon examinantion). It does not end there for the Calvinist, but it must for the Arminian, for nothing that does exist can be the product except of one who is in the causal chain. And if one is in the causal chain then he is the one who caused it. For the Calvinist, who believes in secondary causation though, God is not the immediate cause as he must be in the Arminan system, even apparently to Arminius, if it is the case that any causal agent obtains the same definition as the immediate causer. Instead, though God is ultimately the first cause being the determiner of all that is, he brings about his decree by both remote and proximate, immediate agency, and mediate agency and so forth. In no case is God ever without the knowledge of the end from the beginning. That knowledge being non-reducible, it must be that what ever God knows is determined to be just so. That determination is known as decree.

To the Arminian, this leaves them lost in explaining how God does know. And that is the question.

In the end Phil's premise must be answered by the Arminian of any stripe: ...you have only two choices:

Some being other than God determines the future and is therefore more sovereign than He. That is a kind of idolatry.
Some impersonal force does the determining without reason or coherence. That is a kind of fatalism. So anyone who denies that God preordained whatsoever comes to pass but wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry is logically compelled to deny God's omnscience.


Neither camp wants that. But the Calvinist is not willing to let go of God's absolute sovereign omniscience at any point for that very reason. Then the Arminian must decide whether God knows decredally, or not. If not, then he only knows by progessing in the knowledge of the free choices of his creatures before he decrees. In that case, their god is not God at all.

Billy Birch said...

There is one more bit of info concerning God's providence/sovereignty from Arminius that I would like to share. It's short but to the point.

"My sentiments respecting the Providence of God are these: It is present with, and presides over, all things: And all things, according to their essences, quantities, qualities, relations, actions, passions, places, times, stations and habits, are subject to its governance, conservation, and direction.

"I except neither particular, sublunary, vile, nor contingent things, not even the free wills of men or of angels, either good or evil: And, what is still more, I do not take away from the government of the Divine Providence even sins themselves, whether we take into our consideration their Commencement, their Progress, or their Termination."

I am not attempting to make converts at this blog, so do not think that that is my goal. I merely want to separate Classical Arminianism from today's semi-Pelagianism (which either masquerades as Arminianism or is charged as Arminianism by certain Calvinists who should know better, such as MacArthur's comments at the Resurgence Conference this past spring).

'Til tomorrow, God bless,

Billy

Billy Birch said...

Strong Tower & Dan,

I wrote out a nice, cordial comment and it has been lost. I'm too tired to re-write it. I'm heading to bed.

I'll stop by tomorrow afternoon. God bless you guys.

Billy

bossmanham said...

DJP, I think you proved my Ketchup analogy. Thanks!

Johnny Dialectic said...

Billy is quite correct here. Calvinists lock on to a particular definition of "sovereignty" that, to be fair, has textual support. (I only wish Calvinists would grant the same to Arminians).

However, as in all matters theological, how texts are interpreted is the key, and Arminians believe the Calvinists have misapplied the primary texts because their system demands only one view of sovereignty.

That a truly sovereign God can gracefully offer the gospel in a way that retains both his glory and man's freedom, is no problem for Arminians. It seems odd that Calvinists would deny this sovereign choice to God himself. It is ironic that Calvinists are the ones limiting God here.

Indeed, Cottrell (who did his doctoral work at Princeton) contends this is the central error of the Calvinist system, the one that leads to all the others.

I do recommend Billy's blog, which I discovered because of this meta. He is doing fine work in a respectful way, IMO.

Paul Manata said...

bossmanham said...

DJP, I think you proved my Ketchup analogy. Thanks!

11:05 PM, December 26, 2008

I think your Ketchup analogy is pathetically disanalgous.

First, Arminius grew out of the Reformed tradition and many scholars think he didn't quite remove all his Reformed categories and so was inconsistent. And, if he wasn't, that he said he affirmed some of the same things Reformed say they affirm is only to point out agreement at the level of words. But Arminianins should deny nominalism. They should distinguish between concepts and their referents. I saw no attempt to exegete Arminius above. Of course how internet teenagers exegete Arminius to try and escape the cogent criticism of Calvinists is entirely different than his own disciple, Conrad Vorstius, exegeted Arminius (and Olsen's exegesis on this point is problematic and unhelpful since it frequently equivocates between sovereignty and providence) . So, just because Arminius used some of the same words as, say, Paul, doesn't mean much. Jehovah's Witnesses do the same thing.

Second, Arminianism grew and developed. To restrict Arminianism to *only* what Arminius said is problematic in many ways. It simply roots out hundreds of the most famous Arminians from being called Arminians. This is one of the criticisms of Olsen's book, from both sides. He simply ignores much 17th century development of Arminian theology. But this has been the main expression of Arminianism, and the one most Reformed criticisms have taken aim at. J. Matthew Pinson, an Arminian, points this out in his 12/06 review of Olsen's book on JETS.

Third, many contemporary Reformed criticisms of Arminianism are couched in terms of logical implication. That is, we simply think traditional Arminianism cannot logically keep what is says it believes in. Surely they don't think that just because they say they believe in x, y, and z doctrine that that means they can do so with logical consistency. So, many Reformed thinkers simply agree with (what we think are) what consistent Arminians are saying from the Open Theist camp. So, we agree that, logically, the Arminian has to believe in a "God who risks" (Hasker), and that God isn't sovereign...at least not in any traditional, robust sense. So, our "label" swapping may actually be our claiming that Arminians cannot consistently believe in (a traditional, robust view of) sovereignty.

Fourth, once positions are analyzed, differences come out. As Olsen points out in his book, Arminians want to deny any causing or decreeing of God and evil - God simply “permits” it, but not willingly (which is another problem, in my view). And so Arminians think that the Calvinist conception of God’s sovereignty in salvation is evil (or, “unloving”). So, they deny this conception of Sovereignty. But, if we are correct, then the Arminian has, as I argued above, simply maintained his belief in God’s sovereignty by limiting what God can be sovereign over.

So, your little Ketchup point only gains force because of the simplistic level of analysis it operates at. Any of my four points above (and there’s more) serve to show that the only force your argumentum ad condimentum has is in its sophistry.

Paul Manata said...

Johnny Dialectic said...

That a truly sovereign God can gracefully offer the gospel in a way that retains both his glory and man's freedom, is no problem for Arminians. It seems odd that Calvinists would deny this sovereign choice to God himself. It is ironic that Calvinists are the ones limiting God here.

Indeed, Cottrell (who did his doctoral work at Princeton) contends this is the central error of the Calvinist system, the one that leads to all the others.

6:28 AM, December 27, 2008

Of course I'm unsure what throwing out terms like "Princeton" mean (shall I point out the Calvinists who did doctoral work at Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, etc?)

Besices that, the above only has force because it employs equivocations of suppresses relevant evidence.

Of course the Calvinist believes that God "gracefully offer[s] the gospel in a way that retains both his glory and man's freedom." And he so believes "with no problem."

The only way Cottrell's point has force, then, is to mean by "man's freedom" (only one man?), mans' libertarian freedom.

And of course we've just egregiously begged the question in favor of Arminian philsophical categories!

Of course, since I think libertarian freedom is incoherent, I don't think God could have given it to man. I also don't think God can create a square circle. So, I suppose I "limit" omnipotence too. I don't think God can know indexical propositions of the kind "I am typing to Johnny now." Of course he knows that Paul is typing to Johnny now" (leaving aside questions related to "now" and God's relation to time for the time being). But, since I don't think he knows those kind of indexical propositions (as stated, cause he's not me), then I suppose the Arminian will say I "limit" his omniscience too.

Anyway, minus the sarcasm, the honest thinker can see the qucik work just made of Cottrell. With apologies to his piece of paper that says "Princeton" on it...

Johnny Dialectic said...

It is precisely the use of terms like "libertarian freedom" that Arminians find so unconvincing in Calvinist defensiveness. It is merely a rhetorical device to avoid the logical implications (and yes, Calvinists must face the law of logical consequences as well) of determinism. It allows them to write what you did: "Of course the Calvinist believes that God "gracefully offer[s] the gospel in a way that retains both his glory and man's freedom."

Yet such "freedom" is defined in such a way, and with many sonorous terms, that it becomes, inevitably, both incoherent and a contradiction. You cannot simply change terms, rinse and repeat and expect that this has any forensic force.

Indeed, your reply has done absolutely nothing (let alone with "quick work") to the primary contention: an inadequate limitation of sovereignty done in the name of systematics, not logic or text. It's PDV: Premature Declaration of Victory. (Note: phrases like "any honest thinker" are a symptom of PDV).

Sarcasm aside as well, just a note here, since Calvinists constantly throw out the charge that Arminians don't truly understand their system, Cottrell's doctorate was undertaken to avoid that very mistake. That's the only reason I brought up the background.

Oh yes, and one other thing, lest there be any further mistakes. Pinson's criticism of one part of Olson's book was in the midst of a highly positive review, and doesn't in any event add anything to this debate. That Arminianism "developed" is as uncontroversial as "Calvinism developed." Arguing through and from Arminius is no less relevant than arguing through and from Calvin.

That there is variety in theological camps is also irrelevant. As Phil stated recently, Calvinism today is a "veritable rainbow" of viewpoints. Fine. Argue the points themselves, rather than taking false solace in the historical fact of theological development.

And so, too, the condiment analogy (I did like the Latin!) of bossmanham holds for the simple point it was posted for: to demonstrate a definitional contrivance over the concept of sovereignty.

Mike Riccardi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Riccardi said...

Everyone who complains that: "If God is the first cause of everything, man cannot be culpable," does two things.

1. Disregard any distinction between ultimate and efficient causes. God can -- and does -- ordain that sin be without Himself being the author of sin. And, so similarly it doesn't deserve its own point, in terms of the decrees you fail to make any distinction between the decretive will of God and the prescriptive will of God.

Texts. First on the ordination of sin/evil by God, without being the efficient cause of it.

For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion According to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly Or grieve the sons of men. ... Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth? Why should any living mortal, or any man, Offer complaint in view of his sins? Lam 3:32-33, 37-39

So there, good and ill go forth from the mouth of God. He causes grief and affliction, even if not willingly. He does it.

Now, to clearly show the distinction between decretive and prescriptive aspects will, we see one place where God says, "I don't want people to experience everlasting perdition," and another where Scripture says, "God wills people to everlasting perdition."

a) 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!' -- Ezek 33:11

b) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory. -- Rom 9:22-23

Ezekiel 33 cannot mean that Romans 9 is false, and neither vice versa. So how do we harmonize these? Certainly not by emasculating the text of Romans 9. But by affirming that God takes no personal pleasure in the death of the wicked, yet does indeed prepare them beforehand for destruction in order to manifest His greatest glory to those vessels He prepared beforehand for mercy. The Arminian demands us to choose between these two verses, or to shrug our shoulders and say, "Somehow they reconcile." The Calvinist is able to give a thorough explanation of their harmony such that both are fully affirmed.

2. The other thing you do when you complain that: "If God is the first cause of everything, man cannot be culpable," is that you make the exact same argument that Paul refutes earlier in Romans 9.

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

So that's it. Period. Paragraph. God is absolutely sovereign in such a way that "allows Him" (such a silly way of speaking) to actually be absolutely sovereign. He chooses whom He does, and He hardens whom He does. "Though [we] were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls," He decides "to do what He wishes with what is His own."

Then, here is your argument. The very same argument you're making.

You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"

"But if God is the one who causes/decides these things, how is man culpable? How can man be responsible if God is as sovereign as you say He is?" That's the very same argument. And I don't know about you, but I'd feel more than a little weird about repeatedly making the same argument that the Apostle Paul is explicitly refuting.

The answer? You've got no right to demand that from God. It is that way. Why? Because He's God and you're a man. He's holy and you're a sinner. For you to have the slightest inkling of taking God to task on how He's actually just and not evil in doing what He just said He does, is to do exactly what Job did, who ended up saying, "I know that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."

In that Lamentations 3 verse I quoted before, verse 39 says this: "Why should any living mortal, or any man, Offer complaint in view of his sins?" I think that's exactly what Paul's (not-so-) imaginary opponent is doing in Romans 9. He's offering complaint. He's saying, "I'm sinful. We all know that. But if God ultimately made me sinful, then I'm not responsible." And He's rebuked, by calling to his attention his sinfulness. You know your sinfulness. You know the evilness of your desires. And you know how "yours" they are. So learning that God ultimately causes all things is not grounds to forget that intimacy that you have with your sin. And that brokenness that comes from owning your own sin should not disappear when asking these questions. They should cause you, O man, to fear and tremble.

So amend your argument to not include the argument refuted by Paul in Romans 9.

Paul Manata said...

Well, since God didn't plop and inspired definition of "freedom" down from heaven -- and in the process guarantee that in our fallenness it would be equally clear and distinct to all -- then there's no infallibly authoritative definition of "freedom" that has been contradicted. Of course, "freedom" is word and you simply pour meaning into it. But everyone -- who's anyone -- knows the variegated nature of the term. Freedom from sin? Gravity? Oppression? Slavery? Laws of physics?

Based on my analysis of the relevant literature, one of the main things people want to hold on to in these discussions is moral responsibility.That is, frequently, even as staunch libertarian action theorist Robert Kane points out, "freedom" is interchangeable with "moral responsibility."

So, one says one cannot be held responsible if one could not have done otherwise. The other side disagrees. But all sides should agree that "freedom" doesn't automatically smack one upside the head as meaning "genuine ability to instantiate alternative possibilities." Now, I grant that it does if that's what you think freedom means, but I don't. And trying to appeal to what you and your buddies all happen to agree on, or what strikes you as obvious, obviously should carry little weight when trying to persuade the other side.

But, of course, when we claim you deny sovereignty, that's switching condiment bottles. When you claim we deny "freedom"; well, that's just stating it "like it is." You're just "being honest."

Excuse me for not being convinced by such debate tactics.

Indeed, I don't need to rinse and repeat anything. It was you and your Princetonian buddy Cottrell who brought in the term "freedom," yet that term is conspicuous by its absence in the relevant biblical texts. So, I'm fine to leave out the term freedom if you are. See, the argument brings in extra-biblical considerations, viz., man is held responsible if he doesn't believe, therefore he must be able to believe on his own power. Nothing determined it.

But of course all of this is extra-biblical considerations imposed on the text. Now, it may be true that that is the theory of action presupposed by the writers of Scripture, but we'd have to argue that. One just can't assume it. From my perspective, it seems to us Calvinists that we don't even need to get into that because the Bible itself answers the very question of determinism and responsibility elsewhere.

But, we are frequently forced to debate in extra-biblical philosophical categories because this is necessary to the Arminian position - so they take us there. No, I'm fine to debate on those grounds -- actually, I like it -- but let's not pretend that my use of the term "libertarian" to specify what Cottrell is saying is somehow engaging in contradictions and distortions of obvious, common sense truths. All one need do is point to the disparate views on the matter for the past few thousand years and one will see that there's no obvious meaning to "free will" (again, a term the Bible doesn't use in conjunction to these debates) that the Calvinist has to force himself against his common sense to deny. That's simply a dishonest and naive understanding of the situation.

I'm unsure what the blast against "systematics" is supposed to do. It's probably something else that is "self-evident" to you. I have no clue what problems one has with seeing what the entire Bible has to say about x. Indeed, Cottrell wrote systematics books. As did that Arminian hero Norm Geisler.

Bringing up Cottrell's aim to avoid misunderstanding systems wasn't what I got from what you said. Indeed, that could have been said without name dropping Princeton. Anyway, no matter to me, his point rests upon affirming libertarianism. If various arguments against libertarianism are true, then it matters little to me that you think an appropriate rejoinder is to claim that it is true, by definition. Indeed, if that isthe definition of "freedom," then so much the worse for the word "freedom" (again, a word absent from the relevant biblical texts). It's irrelevant because no one has that kind of freedom. So, if that's your approach, you've moved Cottrell's answer from the frying pan and into the fire.

My referencing Pison does add to the debate in the sense I intended it to. As anyone with eyes can see, above some started acting as if Arminius said x, and some Reformed said Arminianism says y, then the Reformed have slapped Ketchup labels on Mustard bottles. I was pointing out that there's much more to Arminianism that just what Arminius said in the 16th century. I pulled in an Arminian, Pison, who agreed with me. So, again, I must point out a reoccurring theme: Just because you say my point had no relevance, doesn't make it so.

Therefore, Bossman's analogy doesn't hold. It doesn't hold because there's not just one Ketchup bottle and one Mustard bottle. Now, when we critique some variety of Heinze 57 (say, 55), to claim number 1, 3, 7, or 56, doesn't affirm that and so that's like slapping the label on a French's mustard or Grey Poupon bottle is so ridiculous that to affirm Bossman's claim is to simply affirm one is blinded by the partisan light.

Mike Riccardi said...

Pardon me, gentlemen. I mixed up some terms.

"Decretive will" should be contrasted with "Preceptive will," not "prescriptive will."

I mixed paradigms.

Decretive is to preceptive as prescriptive is to volitional.

Sorry again.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"Well, since God didn't plop and inspired definition of "freedom" down from heaven -- and in the process guarantee that in our fallenness it would be equally clear and distinct to all -- then there's no infallibly authoritative definition of "freedom" that has been contradicted."

This is incorrect, and once again depends upon the "definitional fallacy" of your apologetic. Definitions inhere not only in terms, but also in imperatives: e.g., the command of God to choose necessarily includes the power of contrary choice.

IOW, you are not simply allowed to "pour" your own meaning into it. In fact, so clear is the imperative in Scripture that the burden of proof to downgrade this in any way is with the Calvinist. "Moral responsibility" is a good inference from genuine freedom, BTW. No argument there. But I disagree that "all sides should agree that "freedom" doesn't automatically smack one upside the head as meaning "genuine ability to instantiate alternative possibilities."

Indeed it does. God intended it to smack you upside the head. He wasn't giving Adam definitional games to play. It is the Calvinist who has taken the obvious, long accepted and clear meaning of "freedom" and turned it inside out, or at least torn a hole in it so it will no longer hold any theological car keys.

"All one need do is point to the disparate views on the matter for the past few thousand years and one will see that there's no obvious meaning to "free will" (again, a term the Bible doesn't use in conjunction to these debates) that the Calvinist has to force himself against his common sense to deny. That's simply a dishonest and naive understanding of the situation."

Naïve and dishonest . . .those terms keep popping up in your discourse. It is of the "protest too much" variety. Suffice to say, they don't move the debate one iota. Further, I deny your claim that for "the past few thousand years" there has been any substantial disagreement on "freedom" (except when handled by determinists).

Indeed, the unanimous view of the Ante-Nicene fathers would be what you have decided to call "libertarian free will." Representative of this is Irenaeus:

"This expression of our Lord, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,” set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment."

And pardon ME if I do not find persuasive such PDV phrases as "As anyone with eyes can see . . ." and " blinded by the partisan light . . ." These, again, add nothing.

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