13 May 2009

How the Other Half Lives

by Frank Turk

I admit it: yesterday’s post from Dan bothered me because of the frankly-inane meta which followed it.

So we’re going to take a one-week break from Titus to look deeply into the eyes of our non-calvinist friends (in spite of the way they treat us, btw) and give them the opportunity, which they have often and never seem to use very well, to get themselves together and really hand us evil and theologically-wanton Calvinists our head, and to move on past the reformation.

So here’s the deal:

[1] I will only have access to the internet for about an hour around lunch, and around an hour around dinner time, so I’m asking Dan to simply delete any comment to this post which doesn’t abide by the spirit of these rules. If I stop by and find someone fudging, I will delete their comment with no warning.

[2] We get it: you think Calvinism misses the boat. We get it and you don’t have to reiterate it. In fact, I insist: anyone blustering about the failings of Calvinism will be deleted.

[3] Your first task is this: in less than 150 words, define the objective of the Bible as intended by its author, who is God. I can do it in less than 50 words, so I am giving you enough rope to hang yourself. If you do not start there, you will be deleted.

[4] Your second task is this: define the phrase “free will” in less than 150 words in such a way that it underscores the strength of non-Calvinistic theology, and so that an actual Calvinist would deny your definition as biblically sound. If you cannot do this, your comment will be deleted.

[5] Your third task is this: given [3] and [4], explain how these two facts are bound together either narratively or systematically in the Bible. That is, if your [3] answer is, effectively, “The Bible is a book about how God and man relate”, and your [4] answer is, effectively, “’Free Will’ is the image of God in man so that man can actively choose between good and evil and make a decision where either outcome can be rightly selected,” your [5] will be your brief soliloquy explaining how both can be true at the same time. Your word limit is 500 words, more or less. People who abuse the word limit will be deleted.

Here’s my theory: no one who is Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, or Pelagian can answer [3] and [4] and then harmonize them credibly in [5]. The explicit purpose of the Bible, regarding God’s purpose in revelation, decimates the non-reformed position; the biblical definition of the nature of man's will obliterates the non-reformed position. These are key apologetic issues (and not the only ones) which work against all theologies except foundational reformation theology.

So no grandstanding. Answer the two key questions and then provide your thoughts on how these two critical issues relate to each other in brief form. If you’re not one of these people who have so many harsh words for the “calvinists”, I’m asking you to resist your urges to fly to the defense of the Gospel and Jesus and all that’s holy and let these people have their say. I promise you: if anyone takes up this challenge, they will do far more harm to their own confession than you ever could by arguing with them. In other words: no rebuttals in the meta. I’ll delete those as well.

Now have at it. And mind your P’s and Q’s.







91 comments:

Rick Frueh said...

1. The Scriptures are God's communication on man's level concerning Who He is, who man is, and and God's only way to redemption.

2. Adam was created with a free will, a will of his own, and that free will remained with Adam and all men. That free will was given by God and although it is not omnipotent, it is a God given arbiter concerning his own life. It is not a work and it cannot save, however the gift of faith exercised through this personal will can make effectual God's offer of eternal redemption.

3. Without exhausting the mystery, God created a race who had His very imprint, and through disobedience mankind fell from their exalted status. God Himself pays the eternal sentence of death and offers it to every sinner.

I wll admit there are Scriptures in the Word that can only fit in either an Arminain or a Calvinist perspective by manipulation and not the clear meaning. (Perhaps God operates within both perspectives or within a different perspective altogether and both theologies will one day be exposed as limited.)

ezekiel said...

1)The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to His people, exposing their sin, calling them to repentance and laying out the consequences of not repenting.

2)Free will is man's ability to engage in idolatry. Every group of God's called out people have had going all the way back to Adam.

3)The Bible records the deliverance of His people and the subsequent turning to idolatry over and over, lays out God's efforts to get them to turn and repent and records the consequences of not doing so.

Looking forward from the coming of Jesus, His message is the same as that of the OT prophets. The Apostles preach the same message. Then the end comes. Revelation is to the church (after the gentiles are grafted in), more or less the same consequences and the same language that we see used when Jerusalem was wiped out. Just a lot bigger scale. Today, the commandments and statutes are written on our hearts. That doesn't mean that we don't continue to disobey them.

The painted lady claiming to be no widow in Rev 17-18 is a sister of Samaria and Judah. Destined to the same fate.

Praise God for the remnant!

Frank Turk said...

Rick - I didn't realize that you're not a calvinist. However, your (2) is not a definition: it is merely an assertion.
______________________

Ezek:

I see you are a Calvinist. No need for Calvinists to play this game.

Rick Frueh said...

Free will - a God given attribute that allows each man to either reject the gospel or believe the gospel. This does not discount the ministry of the Holy Spirit which is essential in gospel illumination.

(Yes, Frank, I am a "red meat" Arminian who rejects the prostituted representations of many preachers of today.)

Frank Turk said...

My original title for this post was 'Red Meat Arminians', but I thought that was too harsh.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

I'll give it a shot:

[3] Your first task is this: in less than 150 words, define the objective of the Bible as intended by its author, who is God.

The One Triune God of the universe created the world wherein he is to be known and loved. In creation he reveals his majesty and through his relationship with created agents he reveals his holy and good character. He intended to create a people for himself that would walk with him in a good creation, and he fulfills this intention through the highs and lows of redemptive history. [4] Your second task is this: define the phrase “free will” in less than 150 words in such a way that it underscores the strength of non-Calvinistic theology, and so that an actual Calvinist would deny your definition as biblically sound.

The will that God gave humankind in the Garden of Eden was a liberty of indifference, one that was libertarian in nature, that was undetermined by a causal chain either internally or externally. Actions may certainly be influenced by strong desires, but they are not necessarily determined by them. Though one is strongly inclined to choose what one desires, it is not impossible to resist them and do otherwise.

[5] Your third task is this: given [3] and [4], explain how these two facts are bound together either narratively or systematically in the Bible. That is, if your [3] answer is, effectively, “The Bible is a book about how God and man relate”, and your [4] answer is, effectively, “’Free Will’ is the image of God in man so that man can actively choose between good and evil and make a decision where either outcome can be rightly selected,” your [5] will be your brief soliloquy explaining how both can be true at the same time. Your word limit is 500 words, more or less. People who abuse the word limit will be deleted.

Libertarian freedom is an inference to the best explanation of the biblical data particularly found in the events of Creation and the Fall.

God was not compelled to create the universe; he could have done otherwise. There is was no desire in God’s character to bring creation about in a deterministic fashion. He was sufficient in his triune relations to experience all the glory and splendor available to him.

The cause of the fall of both Satan and the first humans was found in their wills, not in God. If compatibilism or determinism is true, then God necessarily causes everything to happen including sin. However, a robust doctrine of God’s holiness, moral goodness, and love cannot have God causing evil, because that would be contrary to his character.

If God caused evil his holy and good character would be blemished and could not be known as holy and good, something he intended. However, it is known by both his acts of mercy and judgment. Our wills, which are persistently and mysteriously set against his, are commanded, implored, influenced (or “drawn”), and sometimes determined to come in line with his own. However, if the will is determined, we are not free in the libertarian sense. He does not owe us freedom because he is sovereign. But he allows us freedom in order to relate in love, worship, and prayer the means he ordained to know his holy and good character.

We can, and often do, resist his overtures of grace, though we cannot make a choice towards God without it. Grace from God is necessary, but not sufficient for conversion. Grace is necessary because we do not even have the necessary cognitive faculties to make a choice to follow or yield to God, but we do have sufficient cognitive faculties to retain the Imago Dei. Our election is conditioned upon God’s foreknowledge of our faith, and in foreseeing a people who would accept his overtures of grace he created the world knowing his character would be known, loved and revealed.

philness said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rick Frueh said...

Yea, what Adam said. :)

The Squirrel said...

Huh... Not a lot of takers...

~Squirrel

Rick Frueh said...

Squirrel - Arminians are lovers not fighters. :)

donsands said...

"Arminians are lovers not fighters."

Hmmm.

ezekiel said...

Frank,

Sure glad I can be a Calvinist and still believe the historical record of Israel shows God's grace can in fact be resisted and was on numerous occasions.
(Jer 11:9-10)

When did God's grace become irresistable?

Mike Jones said...

Is it ok if I try?

3) The Bible is intended to reveal God, in all that this entails, including His character and purpose, to mankind. Chiefly, the Bible intends to reveal the work of the love of God for mankind, so that God would be glorified in the establishment of relationship with mankind.

4) Free will is the capacity or ability of the individual to, all things equal, choose otherwise. (e.g. A man is free to choose whether believe in Jesus, meaning that, all things equal, he could have chosen not to believe in Jesus if he did believe, and vice versa).

5) God has endowed man with free will so that man, being free to reject God, may also freely choose Him and participate in genuine relationship with God, therefore bringing God glory by choosing freely for all that He is. This free choice, with the real possibility available to the individual to choose to reject God, constitutes genuine love for God, for without the possibility of doing otherwise, it would not be genuine relationship, nor could the man be responsible for choosing God, or rejecting God. Since the intention of redemptive history is to establish genuine, free (see 4-5) relationship (see 3) between God and creature, for the glory of God, in His being chosen for His worth, free will (4) is necessary to the attaining of this purpose.

How’d I do?

Rick Frueh said...

Don - I love you. :)

Sir Aaron said...

Your first task is this: in less than 150 words, define the objective of the Bible as intended by its author, who is God. I can do it in less than 50 words, so I am giving you enough rope to hang yourself.

Frank, perhaps in another meta, maybe your own blog, would you mind laying this out for me? I, for one, would just like to see it. My request is unrelated to the topic at hand and I am asking in a genuine spirit of wanting to learn. I respect you, Dan, and Phil, and my intention in asking is not to debate but only to learn how to better articulate this point to others.

Frank Turk said...

Sir Aaron:

My answer to the first question is this --

God’s purpose in authoring the Bible is to reveal Himself in a completely-sufficient way, as ultimately demonstrated in history by Jesus Christ, calling those who will believe to Himself, equipping the same for all good works, and hardening those who will not believe to eternal condemnation.

46 words.

I can put in the Scripture references if necessary.

Frank Turk said...

And think about this: that defines the Bible as a book about God and therefore not a book about man, so pointing to the Bible to say something as lofty about man as "he has free will which God either cannot or will not overcome for the sake of God's purpose" becomes a task far more doubtful and unlikely in the larger, systematic picture.

Frank Turk said...

FWIW, as I said, my internet access today does not lend itself to extended fisking of the various responses to the challenge laid out. However, I find it glaringly, um, puzzling that the floodwaters of anti-calvinism don't rise up to what I think should be a rather fundamental and necessary starting place like this.

If the Bible is about something which requires "free will" as an essential explanation, you'd think that one could sum up the Bible in a brief and serious way which points out the necessity of "free will".

But I think the larger problem for the anti-Calvinist clans is that they can't actually define "free will" in a way that Calvinists would deny. A few here have tried, and I'll come back to this stuff eventually, but the lack of responders here should indicate that these essential questions are under-considered by our friends who are in many ways wandering off the reformational reservation.

DJP said...

It's the "under-800-words" thingie.

It's hard to explain why the Bible doesn't actually mean what it says in under 800 words.

JK said...

Dan...that has to be the hardest I have laughed in weeks. Doesn't mean what it says...oh my stomach hurts.

JDJ said...

Dan,

FYI, the image under the post title for "How the Other Half Lives" has a mis-referenced Scripture quote.

It says ..."Is not My word like a fire? says the Lord" (Jeremiah 26:23)...

It should be Jeremiah 23:29, which I know you all know, but thought I would bring to your attention.

William Watson Birch said...

Oh, I don't know, perhaps the reason why you didn't get more takers had nothing to do with the "under 800 words thingy" or it being difficult to "explain why the Bible doesn't actually mean [such and such]. . ."

Maybe it had everything to do with the manner in which you godly men go about your dialogue with other Christians on this site. Oh wait, no, that's exactly why you didn't get more responses. I've dealt with friendlier atheists than with you fellows. And by "you" I mean Dan Phillips, Frank Turk, and whoever "Squirrel" is.

Now, go ahead and delete this because it had nothing to do with the original post. But at least now you know. And yes, this was the overall consensus of the Arminians with whom I was in contact today.

God bless,
"longscreennameguy"

DJP said...

You forgot to close your tag. Here:

< /pout >

William Watson Birch said...

D,

Thanks for proving my point. Aren't you old enough to know better?

DJP said...

Actually, I guess I'm young enough still to have some fun, occasionally.

Try it!

William Watson Birch said...

I have lots of fun, but not in mocking my theological opponent. Something I learned a while back while growing up.

Rick Frueh said...

WWB - The name is Pyromaniacs, you must wear your asbestos suit sometimes. Let me say that in many if not most Arminian sites the ambiance would be the same in deference to Calvinists.

It's no big deal.

Sir Aaron said...

Thanks Frank. Regarding your 1:10 post that was very helpful. I think I have the Scripture references to God. I was mostly looking at trying to formulate quick, yet accurate responses based on those Scripture verses that I can use during evangelism. Sometimes you get an opportunity to talk in snippets of only a few seconds. So I just like to think about answers that I can give in that timeframe.

As to your 1:13 post, I'm completely in the Calvinist camp so my reason for asking really wasn't related to the ongoing argument with the Arminians/pelagians/whatever crossbreed they call themselves today. But your point is good and I'll definately commit it to memory.

Thanks again.

Sir Aaron said...

Dan, you big meanie! ;)

Rick Frueh said...

"Arminians/pelagians/whatever crossbreed they call themselves today."

Christians, primarily.

Reformant said...

Are pelagians Christians? I thought that was a condemned heresy

Strong Tower said...

For him, through him, by him...

six words and it explains why free-will isn't and never can be and what means saved.

donsands said...

"Christians, primarily."

That biblical word (Acts 11:26)used to have tons of meaning, but it has lost most of what it once meant. Sad.

The Squirrel said...

longscreennameguy:

"and whoever "Squirrel" is"

I'm not anonymous, my name's on my profile...

~SquirrelA Squirrel in Babylon

Matt said...

StrongTower - thanks for the punch of those six words. Have to remember that next time I'm discussing this topic.

Strong Tower said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Turk said...

You know: in three days of posts on this topic, and nobody had a problem chucking up an unguarded and unguided opinion without regard to how they will be treated.

The thread turns to a focussed examination of one of the key issues in question, and we get painted as unfair and inhospitable.

Shocking. Downright stunning.

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KM said...

I know there are rules here and this does not follow any of them so if you want to delete it I won't be offended. But, I really wanted to comment on someone else's comment and I don't have time to ask before hand as I have something else to do so it's up to you guys.

Mike,

Re: “God has endowed man with free will so that man, being free to reject God, may also freely choose Him and participate in genuine relationship with God, therefore bringing God glory by choosing freely for all that He is.”

Jesus said that no one has seen the Father except for the one who came from Him. Only He has seen Him. This being the case, how could one choose God “freely for all that He is.”? If no one has seen Him except Jesus, how could one know who He is exactly, much less all that He is? One could look to the scripture for descriptions of His character and nature. But, one could not choose Him for who He is based on these descriptions. One could only choose what one imagines Him to be through the descriptions provided. Therefore, one is not really choosing Him “for who He is” as would bring God glory. One would only be choosing something one imagined Him to be.

On the other hand, if one were chosen by Him that person would come to a realization of God, a God that that person did not know of before hand. This is the real relationship, that of discovering there is a God that I do not know yet because my eyes have been opened to Him, because He chose to reveal Himself to me, I long to know. Only here can His glory be revealed. Anywhere else it is just imagined.

William Watson Birch said...

Frank,

Have you yet dealt with Adam Omelianchuk's comments? I haven't seen such in any of these comments.

Paricularly, my reason for not engaging in answering you is because of the snide comments from Dan Phillips. Can these issues not be discussed objectively here? Must there be childish antics? That is why you did not get the response you were looking for today.

Now, if you would like to dialogue about this or any other issue objectively, solely without resorting to petty remarks, I for one am all up for it.

God bless, and good night.
Billy

DJP said...

Turk goes right through the smoke and wahhs, and hits the bulls-eye yet again.

Mark said...

Looks like all but about 5 or so posts need to be deleted (including this one).
I thought i just say that reading through the majority of these posts reminds me of my 2 teen daughters bickering over nothing, just because they like to bicker with each other.
Now hug each other and go to your rooms, no tv or computer for 2 weeks

sigh

Reformant said...

Hmmm....

To William Watson Birch ,
You are going to throw away an opportunity to discuss this MAJOR topic, because one mans sarcasm is too much for you?

That seems childish to me...

Because if you have a true biblical argument, then isn't it your biblical duty to shy away from the comments and "bear your cross" and witness?

Just a thought

William Watson Birch said...

The point remains that I should not have to "bear my cross" with other Christian brothers.

God bless.

Reformant said...

I agree, and disagree.
We all need to treat each other with respect and dignity as brothers/sisters in Christ, but we also need not wear our hearts on our sleeves, and not get caught up on sarcasm, we all use it, even you.

"The point remains that I should not have to "bear my cross" with other Christian brothers."

You say that yet you yourself have/or participate in a blog entitled "Calvinism's wall of shame"....

You accuse the Pyros of being biased and having a rude "manner", yet it seems (because the blog is invite only so i can only speculate) you yourself participate in the same type of criticism.

So lead by example, their "manner" does not absolve you of your duty of witness.

Why come on here and play a game?

If you have an argument, a Christian exposition, then use the available platform, because if you are right, then no amount of sarcasm will destroy your argument.

god bless

Nathan Williams said...

[3]define the objective of the Bible as intended by its author, who is God.

The Bible shows us how to become men of God and equips us for service to Him. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. It's the story of God's plan to restore man's relationship with his Creator, a.k.a. “reconciliation” (Col. 1:13, 19-23 – some rockin’ verses, by the way).

[4] define the phrase “free will”

“Free Will” is man’s ability to choose obedience or disobedience. If he reads the Bible, he will see God’s plan for him. He will see God wants him to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus. God gave every man the ability to choose to believe and repent. It is God’s WISH (desire) that ALL men come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus’ death was for the world (John 3:16) so that WHOEVER believes on Him should not die, but have eternal life. God extends His saving hand to His creation…any may accept it…any may reject it. You have the choice.

[5] given [3] and [4], explain how these two facts are bound together

God has given the UNBELIEVER the freedom to choose or reject Him. This is GRACE! God is calling ALL people to repent (Acts 17:30-31), so, by inference, all men have the ability to repent (choose God). We might ask: Why did Paul REASON from the Scriptures to PROVE that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 9:22; 17:2-3)? Because the Gospel is logical. It can be understood by unbelievers. There is nothing mystical about it. It can make believers out of unbelievers. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The Gospel is a simple choice to either accept or reject the Anointed One.

Also, the BELIEVER has a choice to reject God even after he becomes a disciple. Jews were broken off the “tree of the faithful” because of their unbelief. Gentiles were grafted in because of belief, but were warned they, too, could be cut off. And the Jews could be grafted back in if they believed (Rom. 11:11-24). We are not responsible for the sins of our fathers (including Adam) – Ezekiel 18 – meaning there is no such thing as “original sin.” I’ll stand in judgment for my own choices – no one else’s. I have the ability to reject God’s plan of salvation and trample on the blood of the Son (Heb. 10:26-29). When it says, “There no longer remains a sacrifice for our sins,” it implies there ONCE WAS a sacrifice for our sins. The power of the sacrifice no longer cleanses us of our sins as it once did.

So, let us accept the call of God. His hand of grace is extended to those in the pit of sin. Who will take His hand? It is extended to all.

KM said...

William, Really? Then why does Paul say that each man shall carry his own load?

What we should have to do has no bearing on what we are expected to do. There are many things that I believe I should not have to do. But, that doesn't change the fact that I do have to do them in order for them to be done.

Your response, for all intents and purposes, is not really I should not have to X because of Y. Your response is really I will or can not, period. And that is DJP's point.

The thing is that no one will convince anyone of anything on a comment thread tonight. But, if you really feel like you have an honest cross to bear for the Arminian doctrine you will offer something that convicts someone though the Holy Spirit of their err in theology.

Yet, if you say I will not or can not then your response indicates that it is not your cross to bear at all. So why say you should not have to bear your cross with other Christian brothers? Either it's yours to bear or it isn't.

Nathan, I liked what you had to say. It gave me a couple of things to think about. A question:

Re: "God gave every man the ability to choose to believe and repent." Did God give Judas the ability to choose whether the Devil would enter him?

Roberto G said...

If I were an Arminian:
I would succinctly say that the objective/intention/purpose of the Bible is to reveal God's identity, His works, man's purpose, man's problem, and God's solution.
Free-will would be man's faculty to choose in such a way as to always have the equal ability to have chosen otherwise. This view would seem to be the basis of human responsibility and further apply to underscoring a divine defense or theodicy for evil.
As to the third task, if I were an arminian, I would make the initial observation that no explicit inconsistency exists between my arminian position regarding the objective of the Bible and my position on free-will. Thus, unless another premise is introduced, these two points can reasonably be considered "bound together". However, I would proceed to adduce the evidence of passages which seem to indicate that man's will is neither determined by his sinful nature to the extent that calvinistic total depravity teaches nor by a divine a divine decree.

Scott Bailey said...

Hmmmmm.... I wonder why everyone is ignoring Adam O and pretending he didn't write anything?

Sir Brass said...

scott, probably because he ignored the part in scripture where God says directly that it is He who is in control over both good and evil. God does NOT try and get Himself "off the hook" if you will. He takes direct responsibility for it.

What psalm is it, where the psalmist says, "Our God is in the heavens, and He does whatever He pleases."

Frank Turk said...

My apologies to Adam for not doing this yesterday; my only access to the internet during the day was through my cell phone. You may try typing a detailed response to anything on a cell phone.

And my apologies to everyone else who I will not get to today. I’m on vacation, and I’m not taking time away from my family to blog. I have about 40 minutes here, and I’m going to spend it in the best possible use of the time.

|| The One Triune God of the
|| universe created the world
|| wherein he is to be known and
|| loved. In creation he reveals his
|| majesty and through his
|| relationship with created agents
|| he reveals his holy and good
|| character. He intended to create
|| a people for himself that would
|| walk with him in a good
|| creation, and he fulfills this
|| intention through the highs and
|| lows of redemptive history.

Since the clamoring is for a response to Adam’s [3] here, here’s my response:

There’s no question that this statement is true, and that the Bible does teach us this. The problem is that this is God’s intention in creation, not God’s intention in revelation vis the Bible. [3] explicitly asked, and Adam even cited it, “in less than 150 words, define the objective of the Bible as intended by its author, who is God.”

Creation was not the intention of the Bible: explaining creation is in the intention of the Bible. History is not the intention of the Bible: explaining history is. In that, while Adam’s [3] here is true, it’s not relevant to the question.

The Bible is God’s revelation of something – an explicit exposition of something which Paul (and in some ways, Adam here) needs to tell us because you can’t get what’s in the Bible from Nature.

That being true, there is an intention for writing the Bible, and that intention spells out something about the author and the reader.

So that’s my first response: Adam (unintentionally, I think) missed the boat and forgot what he was trying to define.

|| The will that God gave
|| humankind in the Garden of
|| Eden was a liberty of
|| indifference, one that was
|| libertarian in nature, that was
|| undetermined by a causal chain
|| either internally or externally.

I have heard this before, and I think it’s completely untenable. Nothing caused Adam or Eve to choose? Not the beauty of the fruit, or the reasoning of the serpent, or hunger, or self-interest, or fear of loss, or envy?

Nothing internal or external? Really?

Well, go on ...

|| Actions may certainly be
|| influenced by strong desires, but
|| they are not necessarily
|| determined by them. Though
|| one is strongly inclined to
|| choose what one desires, it is
|| not impossible to resist them
|| and do otherwise.

Now, even if my first objection to Adam’s [4] here is simply whining, here’s where the wheels come off the cart: even in the second half is true for Adam and Eve, it simply cannot be true for us. The plain statement of the Bible is that we are all sinners like Adam, and that Adam’s sin has left its permanent mark on us.

When Adam O says, “Though one is strongly inclined to choose what one desires, it is not impossible to resist them and do otherwise,” I cannot think of a single verse of Scripture to substantiate this. I’d love for someone to offer me one or two to help me believe that.

However, I must confess: Adam O has in fact offered a definition of “free will” which any Calvinist will plainly deny as Biblical. In that, he has answered [4].

|| Libertarian freedom is an
|| inference to the best
|| explanation of the biblical data
|| particularly found in the events
|| of Creation and the Fall.

Note: I think we don’t have to read any further (but we will). If “free will” is an “inference”, it’s at best something that the text implies or without which cannot be understood.

I think that this is a stretch at best.

But go on ...

|| God was not compelled to create
|| the universe; he could have
|| done otherwise.

I think that’s debatable. If God had never created the Universe, in what way would He receive the Glory due to Him because of who He is? Because God is certain things, God does certain things.

But I take your point: God chose to create. That doesn’t really have anything to do with man’s choosing power. Man chooses in radically different circumstances than God does.

|| There is was no
|| desire in God’s character to
|| bring creation about in a
|| deterministic fashion.

You need to consider this: you’re saying that God brought the universe into being only hoping that things would turn out OK, and not (as the Bible says) “knowing the end from the beginning”.

At some point the anti-calvinistic points of view have to grasp the biblical case that God’s knowledge of the future is in some sense prescriptive because He is creator and sustainer and not merely descriptive, as if he is watching a movie of the future and merely comprehending what will be done by all players – including Himself.

|| He was
|| sufficient in his triune relations
|| to experience all the glory and
|| splendor available to him.

I disagree – not merely for argumentative reasons, but for specifically-biblical reasons. We could haggle over the use of the word “glory” in Exodus and the rest of the books of the Law if we were of a mind to, but I am not of a mind to do that.

I want you to consider this passage from Job:

Then YHVH answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
"Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
"Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
and tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
bind their faces in the world below.
Then will I also acknowledge to you
that your own right hand can save you
.

Now, the overtones and explicit statement about Job’s ability to save himself aside, it seems rather obvious here that God is saying, “unless you can do what I do, you are not as glorious as I am, and you are no match for me.” That is, God says that He gets Glory by the actually doing and not by the wonderfulness of being God “on the inside”.

There are other places this is plainly stated – particularly about the work of Christ, which would be meaningless in a universe consisting of the Trinity alone. God is Glorious because He does glorious things.

Whether that refutes you or not I leave to you to decide.

|| The cause of the fall of both
|| Satan and the first humans was
|| found in their wills, not in God.
|| If compatibilism or determinism
|| is true, then God necessarily
|| causes everything to happen
|| including sin. However, a robust
|| doctrine of God’s holiness, moral
|| goodness, and love cannot have
|| God causing evil, because that
|| would be contrary to his
|| character.

That’s an interesting assumption, especially in light of explicit statements like Joseph in Gen 50, or Peter in Acts 2, where we are told explicitly that the evil done was a sin for men but an intentional part of what God wanted to happen.

|| If God caused evil his holy and
|| good character would be
|| blemished and could not be
|| known as holy and good,
|| something he intended.
|| However, it is known by both his
|| acts of mercy and judgment. Our
|| wills, which are persistently and
|| mysteriously set against his, are
|| commanded, implored,
|| influenced (or “drawn”), and
|| sometimes determined to come
|| in line with his own. However, if
|| the will is determined, we are
|| not free in the libertarian sense.
|| He does not owe us freedom
|| because he is sovereign. But he
|| allows us freedom in order to
|| relate in love, worship, and
|| prayer the means he ordained to
|| know his holy and good
|| character.

Then how do you make sense out of, for example, verses like Heb 12:6 or God’s repeated statement in Exodus that He will harden the heart of Pharaoh?

In your view, there is no scope of God’s creatorship – He is merely a moral actor like we are. But in all truth, God is demonstrating something far greater than what we are even able to conceive of without His explicit guidance.

Here’s the acid test: re-read Gen 50, and make sense out of Joseph’s statement using the logic you have just spread out. It simply cannot be done without denying that Joseph actually said (Turk paraphrase), “God intended you to do those evil acts in order that He may save many people through me.”

|| We can, and often do, resist his
|| overtures of grace, though we
|| cannot make a choice towards
|| God without it.

This is my favorite part of your post, so I am giving it its own white space so that everyone can read what you wrote and savor it.

-
-
-
|| Grace from God
|| is necessary, but not sufficient
|| for conversion.
-
-
-

There’s no need to unpack that statement as it simply encapsulates everything that is wrong with your view here – and it explains why Calvinists are inclined to call this method of reasoning “heresy”.

For the record, Adam, that’s not arminianism: that’s Pelagianism. To be fair, maybe semi-pelagianism. It’s not the same as what the Arminians affirmed in the Remonstrance of 1610.

|| Grace is
|| necessary because we do not
|| even have the necessary
|| cognitive faculties to make a
|| choice to follow or yield to God,
|| but we do have sufficient
|| cognitive faculties to retain the
|| Imago Dei. Our election is
|| conditioned upon God’s
|| foreknowledge of our faith, and
|| in foreseeing a people who
|| would accept his overtures of
|| grace he created the world
|| knowing his character would be
|| known, loved and revealed.

Again, I ask you: does it seem right to say that the Bible somehow implies or actively states that God is watching a movie of history and simply knows the future because he has in some way “seen” it, or does the Bible instead tell us that God has rather “ordained” and in some way “made and sustained” all things to the end ing Christ and then the Final Judgment?

That’s all I have time for, I am sorry to say, but I think it’s enough. Please try not to let this thread run completely out of control. Dan and I have been somewhat lax in enforcing the rules I asked to abide by in this thread, but if I check in by phone today and find people taking liberty with this thread I’ll be clicking the trash can button.

I can do that via phone.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, if it helps anybody, I feel bad for calling Adam O's statement "semi-pelagian". I think I'm right to do so, but I know he was trying to say what he meant inside the word-count, and that probably ham-strung his normal decent thinking.

I'll split the difference and say that he is mistakenly and unintentionally semi-pelagian in his explanation, and refer the reader to the link to the Remonstrance for a better explanation of what actual Arminians believe.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Thanks for the response, Frank. I will get back to you sometime today. I haven't had a good fisking in awhile, so I am thankful for the challenge.

Blessings.

Tim Bushong said...

Frank- You're much quicker on the draw than me! I've been working 12-hr days and didn't get a chance to respond to Adam's post. Adam- you sound like you've thought through this issue (not knee-jerk or whatever), and have reached your conclusions in a not-very haphazard way. My interest was piqued because your line of reasoning reminded me SO MUCH of many discussions that I had with a very good, godly (and very sharp) friend of mine. We would spend literally hours talking about all this (sometimes filling our restaurant place mats with notes, much to the gentle chagrin of our longsuffering wives. After years of this scenario being played out I finally came to the conclusion that there was no way that he was ever going to embrace a reformed soteriology- it collided with his set-in-stone concept of libertarian free will. I was arguing from the Bible alone, and he was arguing from the Bible plus his philosophical presuppositions.

William Watson Birch said...

Reformant,

FYI: the Calvinism's Wall of Shame was an idea blog about how nasty some Calvinists can be. It was not intended to mock Calvinists, and that was my whole point. I really do enjoy objective debate. It sharpens and challenges us. But I enjoy objective debate - not silliness.

Frank,

I think you did a great job in answering Adam. Really. And I also agree with many of the statements you made; not all, but many. That is the kind of response I'm looking for at Pyro.

I have two finals to study for today. But if this is still open tomorrow, I wouldn't mind commenting on a couple of points concerning free will and God's grace. If not, then perhaps some other time.

God bless,
William

sem said...

>>>FYI: the Calvinism's Wall of Shame was an idea blog about how nasty some Calvinists can be.


Seriously? A whole blog about it?Wow.


WV: bless ...Cool.

Mike said...

Frank-

I'm not understanding how Adam's definition of grace is semi-pelagian.

|| Grace from God
|| is necessary, but not sufficient
|| for conversion.

Is he not describing the prevenient grace which drives Arminian soteriology?

Any chance you could unpack that for me?

edwincrozier said...

[3] In less than 150 words, define the objective of the Bible as intended by its author, who is God.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17, ESV).

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, ESV).

“The unfolding of your words give light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130, ESV).

“Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!...Great is your mercy, O LORD; give me life according to your rules….Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love. The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:154, 156, 159-160).




[4] Define the phrase “free will.”


“Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power…” (Psalm 110:3, ESV).

“…choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

When I speak of free will, I refer to the ability to offer myself freely to Jesus, the ability to choose whom I will serve. Free will is not merely the freedom to act in accordance with my internal will and desire, but also the freedom to choose my internal will and desire. God has not elected me to have a certain will and desire. Rather, He has laid the options out before me and I can choose which direction I will to go. If I choose to offer myself to Him, He will then empower me to follow that choice of will that I have made.


[5] Your brief soliloquy explaining how both can be true at the same time.

According to II Timothy 3:16-17, God has given us the Scriptures to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and train us in righteousness so we may competent and equipped for every good work. However, before God will work through His word in my life to accomplish these ends, I must offer myself freely to Him. I must choose whom I will serve.

As Psalm 119:112 says, “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end” (ESV). If I do not incline my heart to perform God’s statutes, then God will not work through His Word in my life to equip me for every good work, to redeem me, to save me.

I look forward to your response because, to be honest, when I read your challenge, I did not think it was much of a challenge at all for those who reject Calvinism. Rather, it seemed much more like a challenge I would pose to you who accepts Calvinism. One of the most puzzling things to me about Calvinism is why if that doctrine were true would we need the Bible at all? Therefore, I thank you for this discussion and look forward to your explanation of God’s explicit purpose for Scripture, man’s state of will, and how those two things go together.

Thank you for letting me share my opinion on your site.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Frank’s criticisms of my capturing what the Bible intended to say is on the mark I think, and I now have a better sense of what he is getting at. With that said, I will stand by what I originally wrote, but will add that, broadly speaking, the Bible is about God’s response to evil in his creation. His intentions to have a people who walk with him were thwarted in Eden, and the whole of biblical history is about what God does to set things to rights. This history climaxes in the death and resurrection of Christ where God defeats evil and begins the “final stage” of history that moves towards the full establishment of the kingdom of God. This is all very helpfully delineated in NT Wright’s book Evil and the Justice of God.

The complaint about agent causation is a fair one. Clarification demands that there are reasons why people choose as they do, and that there are influences that bear upon our choices. Choices can be made up of many factors including fear, self-interest, and biological and genetic dispositions. But this does not mean that these are deterministic, nor is it reasonable to reduce the choice to one cause, something that determinism seems to imply.

As for the objection to the relevance of Adam and Eve’s situation to ours, I must disagree. If determinism holds, which in Calvinism it does, then the issue is severely problematic for explaining the fall. I am interested in understanding the origins of evil and while I can accept a deterministic account of Adam’s sin obtaining a permanent mark on us, I cannot accept one that explains Adam’s sin. Adam was created good in a good creation. Where did he get his evil desires from? Why does God spend so much of his time in Biblical history trying to get people to resist sin and follow him if he knows (on the basis of sovereign design) quite well that people could not master it in the first place (Gen 4:6-7)? Certainly, I can agree that the corrupting nature of sin has spread so deeply into our consciousness that we cannot submit to God and his laws without his help, but I think it is quite important for explaining our inherited guilt with Adam by noting the tragic choice in the Garden was not something that was determined in ways Calvinists traditionally understand human freedom (i.e. in compatiblistic terms)

One fundament area of disagreement Frank and I have is that I do not believe that Bible clearly spells out a doctrine of human freedom. Even Paul Helm has argued this in the book Perspectives On God. The tools of philosophy must be utilized in forming a theoretical explanation of the Biblical data. Helm even considers the possibility of one holding to a Calvinist view of sovereignty and at the same time hold to a libertarian view of human freedom while simply appealing to mystery as to how God controls our choices. Of course, such a view is deeply unsatisfying if not altogether indefensible, so we have appeals to compatiblism—the theory that reconciles human freedom with determinism by modifying the definition of freedom to be doing what one wants. Calvinists routinely buy into this philosophical theory as they think it is able to explain the biblical data. Arminians deny it because they do not think it explains human responsibility. Compatiblism is certainly appealing in explaining certain things (and I am not fully against it), but it does not explain everything, which leads me to comment on this:

Frank said: If God had never created the Universe, in what way would He receive the Glory due to Him because of who He is? Because God is certain things, God does certain things.

[…]

There are other places this is plainly stated – particularly about the work of Christ, which would be meaningless in a universe consisting of the Trinity alone. God is Glorious because He does glorious things.
I am very surprised to read statements that seem to mean that God was not fully glorified within the fellowship of the Trinity. More surprising is that God NEEDED to create the world, with sin and suffering, no less, in order to extract more glory for himself that was not available within the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit. If anything, this falls into error if not outright heresy. I don’t relish saying that at all. But the logical deduction from this is that the creation becomes necessary as God is necessary and his aseity (or self-sufficiency) is totally undermined.

As for God’s foreknowledge, we are headed for the dreaded middle-knowledge debate. But I see no inconsistency in God’s knowing our future decisions (that he responds to) and our creaturely freedom. I believe it is a fallacy to suppose that God’s knowing our actions entails God’s causing our actions.

Space militates against dealing with all of your biblical citations (I could ask you to explain God’s frustration with people’s resistance Is 63:10; Acts 7:51, Heb 3:8; Ex 33:3; Deut 9:6; Judg 2:19; Neh 9:16; Jer 7:26), but I will focus on one. Gen 50 is a case where God does direct the sinful brothers to do what they did. But a few caveats. The text does not indicate that this is how God operates all the time in every circumstance. It only stands for that particular situation for a particular circumstance. Second, it does not imply that this is how God wanted Joseph’s brother’s to behave in the same way he did not want Abel’s brother to behave. It would have been his will that they loved Joseph and treated him in a way that would be kind. Third, we can infer from Joseph’s pleas in Gen 45:5 that because of God’s intervention the brothers should not feel “distressed or angry with themselves” their moral responsibility was mitigated. But it would be wrong to universalize this particular and apply it to rapists and sex traffickers today so that they may not be “distressed” at their immorality because God “intends it for good.”

The overarching point is that God is able to direct people’s affairs in certain instances to accomplish central aspects of his plans to thwart evil, but he does not cause evil so good can result as if the good was dependent on evil, which would be nonsensical.

And for a quick explanation, I read the hardening passages as God’s judgments on stubborn people who have resisted and rejected his overtures of grace.

Looking at the Remonstrance, I am not sure how what I said was semi-Pelagianism. I clearly affirmed prevenient grace—the aid by which we can have the ability to come to Christ. Semi-Pelagianism, in my mind, is that one must at least take one unaided step towards God for God offer his help (“one must take one step towards God and he will then take a thousand towards you.”). The Remonstrance say that this grace is resistible, which I too affirm. Besides, I am not sure what I say is so controversial when I say “grace from God is necessary, but not sufficient for conversion.” Would not a Calvinist believe this too? One must meet the conditions of having faith in either system. If God wants us to respond to his overtures of grace and makes us able to do so why is it heresy to reason that we can and do, and for tragic reasons, do not?

One of the biggest problems I faced in my time being a Calvinist was the idea that conversion was monergistic, but sanctification was synergistic. Wayne Grudem teaches exactly that in his Systematic Theology (refer to it for his biblical argument). A biblical understanding of salvation is made up of both justification and sanctification as far as I can tell. This is entirely puzzling, because on one hand grace is necessary and sufficient but on the other it is necessary though not sufficient. We don’t cooperate in one, but we do in the other. It is very difficult for me to accept that heresy is happening in one but not the other if synergism is happening in both.

My question to Frank is, does God respond to us in any conditional sense? This, I believe, is the crux of the matter when we define what we think the Bible intends to say about God who authored it. I cannot see how God’s acts of mercy and judgment are not responses to our choices.

This comment has gone on too long, but this has been a helpful exchange. In a spirit of generosity I offer you the last word.

Reformant said...

William, I agree one of the dangers of Calvinism is that some allow themselves to become elitists or over critical of other ideologies, but that is whats happening here.

Yes it may be crass and blunt, but they are striving to present the truth and stimulate healthy Christian argument.

The apostle Paul was not the most accommodating of speakers either... nor was our Savior

Strong Tower said...

Rather, He has laid the options out before me and I can choose which direction I will to go. If I choose to offer myself to Him, He will then empower me to follow that choice of will that I have made.


"on the day of your power"

"It is he who works in you both the willing and the doing of his good pleasure."

"And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."

"O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?"

Okay, edwin, you've convinced me that these are redaction errors.

Mike- both R.C Sproul and J.I.Packer understand the Arminian is saying in their definitions of prevenient grace (assistive grace) that they are semi-Pelagian, and as they will tell you, in the end, man makes the final choice from Pelagius' Island.

Eric said...

Adam,

You said: "His intentions to have a people who walk with him were thwarted in Eden"

To use a few words from Webster with respect to the words "intention" (or intent) and "thwarted" (or thwart), one could accurately paraphrase that statement as such: "Adam and Eve effectively opposed or baffled God's design of creation for a specified use or future." Can you really believe this? That doesn't sound like a very powerful God to me. For Adam and Eve to thwart God's intention, must they not have some inherent superiority to God in power or intellect? If not, how could a mere created man thwart the intention of the Creator? I don't believe it would be a satisfactory answer to say that God allowed man the ability to thwart His intentions, because they would hardly be His intentions then. Is this idea consistent with the revelation of God contained in the whole of Scripture, namely that man or spirit can effectively thwart God's intentions? I struggle to see how we can worship and praise an all-powerful God who can have His intentions thwarted by mere man. Did you mean something else by that statement, or are you perhaps assigning a different meaning to the words "intention" and "thwart"?

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Eric, I am not sure I follow you. Are you saying that you could only worship a God who specifically intended for Adam and Eve to sin? I think you are reading your own definitions into what I wrote. God can desire that we not sin, and yet permit us to sin by virtue of the freedom he grants us, and there is nothing in this that undermines his sovereignty.

Inevitably, we are headed for the "two wills in God" discussion. I affirm two wills, of course, but I don't think they contradict. It was God's will that Adam not sin, and it was his will that he have the freedom to do so. The other option would be to say it was God's will that Adam not sin, but it was his intention that he should sin. That I cannot accept.

Yurie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Adam,

Actually, I wasn't reading my own definitions into what you wrote, but rather I was reading Webster's (a common source for mutual understanding of terms) definitions into what you wrote (and thought I made that somewhat clear).

I am saying that I can and do worship a God who always achieves what He intends, and I find it difficult to comprehend how to worship a Creator whose creatures can thwart His purposes or intentions.

You seem to equate intention with desire. Clearly, the two are not synonymous. I "desire" to go to Alaska next week, but I don't "intend" to. It is not my preferences for meaning that I am assigning to these words, rather commonly understood and accepted meanings.

If, using Webster's definitions of the words "intend" (intent) and "thwart", you disagree with the characterization of my first post, can you explain how? Thanks.

Mike Riccardi said...

Adam: His intentions to have a people who walk with him were thwarted.

Job 42:2 - I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

Psalm 33:11 - The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:35 - 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?'

Adam: Why does God spend so much of his time in Biblical history trying to get people to resist sin and follow him if he knows (on the basis of sovereign design) quite well that people could not master it in the first place (Gen 4:6-7)?To show them their utter insufficiency, thereby leading them to the perfect sufficiency of another, and, being the perfectly sufficient One, glorifying Himself.

Galatians 3:19, 21-24 - Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. ... Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Adam: Certainly, I can agree that the corrupting nature of sin has spread so deeply into our consciousness that we cannot submit to God and his laws without his help...

That undersells it. The corruption of sin is so deeply rooted in our very nature (Eph 2:3) that we need more than God's help. We need Him to work righteousness for us (Is 59:16), to give us an entirely new heart and to cause us to walk in His ways (Ezek 36:25-27).

Adam: I am very surprised to read statements that seem to mean that God was not fully glorified within the fellowship of the Trinity. More surprising is that God NEEDED to create the world, with sin and suffering, no less, in order to extract more glory for himself that was not available within the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

This need is not a need of indigence or emptiness, but of fullness. It's not that God was second rate unless He could get some people to worship Him. Out of the fullness of His goodness that is essential to His very nature, He could do no other than communicate that goodness. True goodness will communicate itself to other beings if it's able; otherwise it's not really good. So God's nature did, in a sense, require Him to create the world, because the very essence of His nature is benevolence.

We wouldn't condemn or look down upon a full fountain and call it empty, if, because of its fullness, it started to overflow into streams.

Yurie said...

Was salvation in Christ Plan B? Plan A being Adam and Eve (and their posterity) sinlessly thriving in the Garden for eternity?

Eric said...

Adam,

Perhaps if I took a different approach, you will better understand what I was getting at. What do all of the following statements have in common?

1. President Obama intended to pass health care reform within his first term, but his intentions were thwarted by Congress.

2. Tommy intended to have a quick snack before supper, but his intentions were thwarted by his mother.

3. The pack of wolves had been without food for weeks, but their intention to feast tonight was thwarted by the fleet-footed deer.

In each example, the necessary inference is that there is a superiority necessary for the one to thwart the other. That superiority may be in degree, in intellect, in authority, in ability, or in any other number of categories. I can see it no other way. Therefore my reaction to your statement that God's intentions were thwarted, obviously by Adam and Eve, by Satan, or a combination of the two. Does that make it any clearer what I was getting at?

Strong Tower said...

It was God's will that Adam not sin, and it was his will that he have the freedom to do so... freely through the act of deception which by definition takes away choice. And Adam chose what he saw to be good, because.... dum dadada... God mad him that way, in His image, righteous, and God created him to eschew evil, which he did, being convinced that what was evil was good and what was good was evil. Surely he did not choose that which he knew would kill him being of sound mind, that is, deny his own nature which was life, not death.

And so God created man in his image, life and good, able only to choose the good and life. Otherwise we have the image, God, whose is able to choose evil- the very definition of sin and of the Devil- such that God could deny himself. (But we should not be surprised that the Devil masuerades as an angel of light showing himself to be God, though his works are evil, as he is a liar and denies he is who he is from the beginning.)

Did I mention that libertarian free-will is strangely like the very definition of evil and the Devil?

Oh, oh, that was a rebuttal. Argh the sword of Adminman dangles, oh the shadow portends ill will, run away, nee, nee...

I wish you to bring me a shrubbery, not a pine, nor an oak, and certainly not a rebuttal. And one of those cute little white picket fenses...

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Eric, it seems clear that what God intends to do is thwarted quite a bit in my view. I am not sure how you can read the Old Testament and not see a God who is frustrated. But this does not mean God can be altogether defeated. He is not. You seem to conflate the two ideas(defeated forever/thwarted in an instant), and the use of your dictionary is evidence of that.

So you believe God specifically intended for Adam and Eve to sin, and that provides reason for you to worship God? Fair enough, if that is the case, but don't count me as convinced.

Rick Frueh said...

If this world, with all its sin and horror, is not a pristine example of God's will being thwarted for a while than I am not sure Who God is. If a child rapists and murderer is acting with God's approved will than I again cannot imagine God. If God is a God of chaos than He has succeeded magnificently.

Sir Brass said...

"So you believe God specifically intended for Adam and Eve to sin"

Yes. And still, He is not the author of sin.

He brought foreign, pagan armies against Israel for their discipline, yet what those pagan armies did was also evil. God hardened Pharoh's heart, yet it was still Pharoh who sinned volitionally. God purposed that Judas would betray Christ, yet Judas still sinned in doing so and received his full reward for doing so.

I do not see how God is ever "thrwarted." He is disobeyed, yes, quite often. But never once in Scripture have I seen Him thwarted. He always accomplishes His good pleasure, and no man can say to Him, "What are you doing?"

And for those who cry "no fair!", to them God says, "Who is this that darkens my council with words without knowledge" or "Who are you oh man, to answer back to God."

A study of the book of Job is quite eye-opening to God's absolute sovereignty and unthwarted purposes.

michelle7299 said...

Hi Adam - Can you clarify one thing for me?

Do you believe that God is sovereign? That He has always existed, knows the end from the beginning, etc.? If so, when we read the passages in the OT where God appears to be "frustrated", how do we square that with His sovereignty? Was He surprised by what the Israelites did? I don't think so - in Deuteronomy, He clearly tells Moses and Joshua that the people would rebel and follow after other gods (Deut. 31:16-18). So, although God was greived by what His people did, I would not say He was "surprised" or even "frustrated"; He knew what would happen.

Please don't misunderstand my question here. I am not trying to attack you, or project a meaning to your words that is not there. I'm just trying to think the argument through to a conclusion, and I really have a hard time grasping how a sovereign God can be thwarted by my choices. If He can so thwarted by me, then He cannot be sovereign...

Pulling out the trusty dictionary, as Eric did, "sovereign" means "supreme; preeminent; indisputable; greatest in degree; utmost or extreme". If I can thwart God, he is not "greatest in degree".

Just a thought.

Sir Aaron said...

Sir Brass:

He brought foreign, pagan armies against Israel for their discipline, yet what those pagan armies did was also evil.

And God punished those nations for what they did to Israel/Judah (as prophesied in Jeremiah).

Sir Brass said...

Aaron, that's my point exactly.

Strong Tower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strong Tower said...

Let me try that again.

"God's approved" (approval?)

Didn't I see this in a movie once where aliens exchanged places with the original to take over the true meaning of the conversation. It was something along the line of The Attack of the Adhomeniac Straverb Snatchers, or something like it.

Shesh, Stefan, now you have me doing it.

Eric said...

Rick,

Please don't resort to the old child rapist canard. My "simplest" or "smallest" sin is every bit as much of a transgression of God's standard of perfection as is the child rapist.

Adam,

My use of the dictionary is evidence of the fact that I recognize that words have established meanings. I have not conflated thwarted with altogether defeated, but I conflate it with being defeated (as does Webster). My point is that God not only wins the war, but He also wins every battle within the war. If not, they He clearly is not sovereign. Being thwarted is a term of defeat, and therefore implies at least momentary inferiority. You still have not addressed my basic premise in addressing your quote. If you intend not to, that is ok. I'll refrain from further derailing Frank's original intent for this meta.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Michelle:

Yes, I believe God is sovereign. I do believe he has exhaustive definite foreknowledge. I do not believe his sovereignty is omni-causality. God acts the way he does because in his sovereign wisdom he gave human beings the will to chose against him. This does not make him "not sovereign" as if he was impotent. God is in authority of all things and has the right to control all things. I understand his sovereignty to include the right and ability to interact and respond with his creatures who have been granted self-determining freedom. Such a thing is possible for God.

Eric:

Dictionaries are not prescriptive, they are descriptive. You have used it to conflate meanings between my use of "thwarted" with what I would consider to mean "defeated" and imposed a superiority/inferiority rubric on my views that is unwarranted. It is clear to me that you believe God's will for us is to sin if we sin, and this is what makes God great. I find this contradictory and instead allow Scripture to depict God has grieved, frustrated with his obstinate people, and having to adjust his plans because of human rebellion. Scripture is clear on that. Of course, I believe God is ultimately victorious, as Scripture teaches. But I do not think that everything that happens is God's will or the result of his willing. Sorry if you are unsatisfied with my position, but I am not sure how to answer any other way.

TBE said...

Adam,

You say that the superiority/inferiority binary doesn't fit with your understanding of "defeat."

Could you explain what exactly you mean by "defeat" then? Can you give an example of one party "defeating" another in which (A) neither superiority nor inferiority is demonstrated, or (B) in which 'inferiority' "triumphs" over 'superiority'?

Thanks--I've appreciated your contributions thus far!

bossmanham said...
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bossmanham said...
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Adam Omelianchuk said...

TBE: Good question. After thinking about this a little more, I can see why Eric and others are frustrated with my language.

In the ultimate sense I don't think God can be defeated, meaning he could not have a people for himself that would know and love him. His foreknowledge and wise providence guarantees this.

But I can't get around God seeing his plans being frustrated. People resisting the Holy Spirit, grieving the Spirit, Israel repeatedly falling into idolatry, Saul disobeying and grieving the heart of God... I think when God commands things and we disobey, we "thwart" God's will. We don't live how he wants us to live. We don't fulfill what he desires us to do. Thus, like in the case of Saul, he has to bring Samuel in to finish the job that Saul was supposed to do. He is "thwarted" but "defeated."

Does that make sense?

michelle7299 said...

Thanks for your response Adam -

This may be off topic - Frank if it is, I'm sorry...but I am still not following.

It could indeed be "possible"...although I still can't see it. But does the Word say that it is so? That is my primary question I guess. In those cases where we read that "God hardened" - as in the case of Pharoah, or even the following:

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,'
and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'"
"And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,'
there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'"
- Romans 9:14-26 ESV

It just doesn't add up for me.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Sorry: "He is "thwarted" but NOT "defeated."

TBE said...

Adam: "thwart" vs. "defeat."

Okay, that helps--as I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), you understand "defeat" in a Big Picture sense, whereas "thwart" refers to smaller frustrations.

Is that a fair appraisal of your view on this?

Reformant said...

I still see a lack of Biblical texts being given that define free will as an attribute of fallen man.

I see a multitude of Biblical texts that point to us not having a said free will, and they have been given by team pyro and others.

Please Adam, Rick... provide these for us, so we may apply Biblical truth to this topic. And thank you for contributing to this discussion.

Rick Frueh said...

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often WOULD I HAVE gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and YOU WOULD NOT!

Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

These verses as well as scores of others have embedded in them an acknowledgement of some spiritual action and responsibility on the part of sinners. How can Jerusalem sinners refuse the call of Christ? And how can a dead man harden his heart? And how can a dead man have anxiety over coming short over entering into His rest, which the next verse states, is the gospel?

Coram Deo said...

I'll begin by apologizing to Cent in advance since the following observation violates his rules of engagement, thus if this comment is deleted - no problem.

One common thread that I typically notice running through our dear Arminian friends' theological tapestry - which thing is also well represented in this combox - is an overarching desire to protect or otherwise defend the One True and Living God of the Holy Bible from being labeled (or libeled) as having any sort of relationship with respect to evil, yet such is not the case Biblically.

God being God by necessity must have decreed from eternity past that evil would play a role in His good and perfect purposes and plans according to His own majestic and inscrutable will, to the eternal praise of His glory alone forever and evermore.

If any Biblically consistent professing Christian would object to this assertion I'd simply ask him, "What is the most spectacular, most overtly and cosmically evil act of injustice ever perpetrated in the history of the universe and who decreed and orchestrated every single minute detail of it?"'nuff said.

In Christ,
CD

olan strickland said...

1. Did God intend for Adam and Eve to sin? No!
2. Did God intend for Adam and Eve not to sin? No!
3. Did God desire for Adam and Eve to sin? No!
4. Did God desire for Adam and Eve not to sin? Yes!
5. Did God intend before He ever created Adam and Eve to save all fallen humanity? No!
6. Did God intend before He ever created Adam and Eve to save some of fallen humanity? Yes!
7. Did God intend before He ever created Adam and Eve to save none of fallen humanity? No! Praise His Name!
8. Does God desire that all fallen humanity be saved? Yes!
9. Does God desire that none of fallen humanity be saved? No!

So God is not the author of sin because He did not intend for Adam and Eve to sin and yet they did. God is not impotent because He did not intend for Adam and Eve not to sin and yet they did. God is not twisted in His desires but is righteous because He doesn’t desire that which is evil by wishing on them that which would cause their harm and destruction but on the contrary He wishes on them that which is good and that which would cause their well-being. God is under no obligation to save anyone much less everyone but He has intended to save some. Therefore when God is right to save none He has done no wrong by saving some and demonstrating His grace to the praise of His glory.

God in His sovereignty and His indescribable power and His inscrutable wisdom causes evil to serve His purposes because omnipotence and omniscience has no lack of servants – not even evil can thwart or frustrate the plans of God but must at His bidding accomplish the same – and that without even being able to touch one iota of the immutable holiness of God. So then God is able to cause evil to cause good without causing the evil itself!

Frank Turk said...

Thread closed. Went completely unmoderated and the Arminians have had way more than their say.

Will pick it up tomorrow.