01 November 2010

The Problem for Arminians

by Phil Johnson



f God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined. And if things are predetermined but God did not ordain whatsoever comes to pass, then you have two choices:
  1. A higher sovereignty belongs to some being (or beings) other than God. That is idolatry.
  2. Some impersonal force did the determining. That is fatalism.

Therefore if the thinking Arminian wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry, he or she must deny God's foreknowledge, thereby nullifying God's omnscience—in other words, they essentially undeify God. That is of course blasphemy. But that is precisely the road Open Theism takes.

Phil's signature

168 comments:

Jason Woelm said...

Don't answer, Arminians! *cue Admiral Ackbar* "It's a trap!" :)

Wonderful post, Phil! Praise the good Lord that He had ordained all things, for they will all work for His glory and for the good of those He calls!

Isaac said...

What providence that I was talking about this very thing today.
It took me a while to get the subtle brilliance of this but I get it now.

Well played, my friend. Well played.

William Watson Birch said...

If God foreordains every detail of the future merely by decree, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined. And if things are thus predetermined then God predetermined sin, and the Calvinist has two choices: ascribe sin to the "will" of the creature; that is inconsistent, though it was God who foreordained the will to sin; or ascribe sin to God; that is blasphemy.

Actually, IMO, Calvinists have more in common with Open Theists than do Arminians, for both Calvinists and Open Theists suggest that God cannot foreknow the future (in the Calvinist's mind, God must have foreordained all things -- He could not have simply foreknown all things).

Here's how the Arminian "avoids" both fatalism and idolatry, but I would have thought you would have known this, Phil ; )

1. God's foreknowledge is not causal. You're making it causal by inferring and equating determinism with God's knowledge.

2. There is no higher sovereignty than God's. Granting His creatures a measure of free will does not rob God of His sovereignty. If Adam and Eve experienced free will in the Garden to a much greater degree than do we post-fall, and God still remained sovereign, then your argument against the Arminian position is moot.

God bless, as always.

bossmanham said...

Actually, all that follows from God knowing all things is that He in fact knows all things. Whether those things are done by creatures with libertarian freedom is another story.

naturgesetz said...

WWB makes good points.

Beyond that, you fail to reckon with the fact that God is eternal. With him there is neither future nor past. So it makes no sense to say he has foreknowledge of anything. To speak like that is to falsely make him a temporal being and thus to make him less than eternal. He simply has knowledge of all things.

F Whittenburg said...

God knows the future, which would explain why the Biblical prophets were so perfectly accurate. The human mind is capable of bringing the past into the present, which we call a “memory”. As Jesus taught (John 16:12,13KJV), the Christian's mind when moved by the Holy Spirit can also bring the future into the present, which we call a “prophecy”.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as THEY WERE MOVED by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21KJV).

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: AND HE WILL SHEW YOU THINGS TO COME (John 16:12,13KJV).

Many prophecies that the Old Testement prophets predicted came true in Bible times. How is it possible to see into the future? Was John's experience in Revelation 4:1,2 a fulfillment of Jesus's teaching in JOHN 16:12,13?The Bible says that John was “caught away in the Spirit” and shown the things, WHICH SHALL BE when he wrote Revelation.

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things WHICH MUST BE HEREAFTER. And immediately I was IN THE SPIRIT: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne (Revelation 4:1,2KJV).

For John to be taken somewhere by the Holy Spirit and shown the future means that the future had to already exist somewhere, possibly in another dimension, for him to be taken there and shown it and come back and wrote about the future that he saw. I have three questions that anyone is welcome to take a stab at answering.

1. Where is this future place located where John was brought by the Holy Spirit almost 2000 yrs in the past? According to the command "Come up hither" we know at least that it is "UP".

2. In this election year, can we believe the political promises that "WE CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE" of America with our vote.

And yes I believe it is a citizens duty to vote, so I am NOT advocating not voting.

3. Does God really want the Christian to be able to understand and be able to solidly and simply explain His omniscience or is this a doctrine where we are just suppose to claim it uncomprehendable and just "embrace the mystery" like the emegrent church?

Good Topic Phil.

F Whittenburg

Isaac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac said...

@WWB
I claim the Romans 9 defense.

If God has known in advance all things and there is no possibility of these things deviating from the aforementioned knowledge, then that means that they are determined.

If they aren't determined by God, then by who?

Man?

Andrew Perriman said...

F Whittenburg writes: "For John to be taken somewhere by the Holy Spirit and shown the future means that the future had to already exist somewhere, possibly in another dimension, for him to be taken there and shown it and come back and wrote about the future that he saw."

This seems to me to illustrate a fundamental misunderstanding of prophecy and, at least from the point of view of biblical interpretation, the basic problem with theological determinism.

A prophet does not see future events as though they are out there waiting to be foreknown—a though he has some sort of telescope of omniscience that can see over the horizon of the present into the future. A prophet is told what God will do. The certainty about the future event comes from the faithfulness of God: if he says he will do something (judge Israel, deliver the righteous, overthrow the oppressor, etc.), he will do it. It is an issue of God's character, therefore, not of divine foreknowledge—and that entirely reframes the debate.

Since this is a matter of prophecy, of telling Israel what God is going to do under specific circumstances, the philosophical argument about absolute foreknowledge or determination largely misses the point. God does not promise to make every detail of history and life happen: he chooses to do certain things, usually in response to critical developments in Israel's history; he chooses particular people to fulfil his purposes. It is not a blanket, absolute universalizing doctrine. It describes how God interacts with the particularities of history.

prussic said...

Billy Birch, even if God simply *foresees* every detail, it's still fixed. If God is God at all... that's the end of the "libertarian" view of free will.

Did God ordain the BIGGEST sin in human history? Wasn't the murder of the innocent God-Man the worst sin of all human history?

Acts 4:27-8 - [T]ruly 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 plan had predestined to take place.

If God can ordain and "predestine" the worst sin, certainly all the lesser sins should not be an issue.

naturgesetz said...

@ Isaac — Yes. Man.

Thomas Louw said...

@WWB
God ordained the crucifixion of Christ.
God planned it and placed everything in its place to make it happen
Wasn’t slaughtering the innocent God Man sin?
This however doesn’t make God a sinner because He allowed it.
God re- engineered it to bring something Glorious out of something evil.

Thomas Louw said...

Phil.
You’re good, very good.
You are like a dog owner which needs to give the pups some exercise. So with the least amount of energy spent by the owner he throws the pups one of their favourite play things and watches them play.
Thanks we will enjoy

Sir Brass said...

WWB, Indeed, God's foreknowledge is more than merely passive and the language of the text bears that out.

So, the Arminian is arguing against scripture when he denies this.

Forget arguing with us calvinists. Do you want to keep presenting your same arguments when the Apostle Paul responded to them already back in the first century?

The Arminian who eschews open theism is inconsistent (by the sovereign perseverance of God, in my humble opinion), as his arminianism doesn't consistently allow that. However, the calvinist whose views are balanced with scripture in view has no trouble because he sees what God has said, bows his head in humble acceptance and says, "The Lord of Glory shall do right."

Are you comfortable with that? Or must you demand on the insertion of a libertarian freedom that the text knows nothing about?

Andy said...

"If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined."

This is like saying "if a tree falls in a forest and someone hears it, it makes a sound".

God's knowledge of the future is the same as the knowledge that the tree is falling. The event will still be exactly the same, with or without someone's knowledge of it.

So the question is, like Isaac said, who did the determining?

Bill R. said...

As a former Arminian, I wrestled with the logical arguments like Sproul vs Geisler, but what ultimately convinced me was many, many passages of Scripture like:

John 1:12-13
2 Cor 4:4-6
1 Pet 1:1-2
Rom 8:29

If you believe that EVERY word of Scripture is inspired by God, then how can you believe something that causes certain Scripture to be avoided for fear of interfering with your system of belief? It's the analogy of Scripture, what we believe must conform to the whole counsel of God, not just what fits.

I found some Calvinists to be annoying, but there are many that help me to understand Scripture so much better! John MacArthur helped me so much in his sermon series on 1st Peter, and The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Boetner (sp?) was also very helpful.

It's not about who wins; it's about who agrees with the whole of Scripture. I hope this helps.

Johnny Dialectic said...

If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined.

It's actually your definition that's wrong.

Foreknowledge does not make things happen. That's your error. What makes acts certain are the acts themselves as freely chosen by the actors, which God sees from his perspective of eternity.

The proper philosophical and theological framing is this: certainty is not the same as necessity.

Plus, you have the Bible telling us that we are free and responsible (check with Spurgeon on this). That doggone antinomy bites the Calvinist calf every time, giving these occasional "QED posts" a decided limp.

DJP said...

So far, it appears Arminians don't even grasp what Phil's saying, let alone have an answer.

Brian Roden said...

And once again the intramural fighting begins among those from both sides who are already saved, while untold millions have never never heard a sufficient presentation of the Gospel.

What a waste of talent.

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2010/10/talent.html

Johnny Dialectic said...

Ah yes, the old "they just don't get it" play. Usually run, as above, without explanation, resulting in no yardage gained, and a loss of down.

The refs might be willing to review the call, Dan, if you care to make an actual argument. Just what is it the Arminians aren't grasping?

DJP said...

Simple. Read your own comment. Phil says A, you say "X isn't true! So there!"

Try, Johnny. If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, is the outcome of all things already determined?

naturgesetz said...

@ DJP — In a word: No.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

DJP,

Phil's commentary betrays his fundamental misunderstanding of what free will is. His argument consists of the fallacy of false dichotomy (someone higher than God or an impersonal, fatalistic force), when in fact libertarians explicitly deny both of these. A viable libertarian view is that our actions are, to some extent, self-determined, but we're made by God such that the results of our self-determination are known to Him chronologically prior to their being manifest as temporal choices. Hence one who holds to Arminian theology can consistently believe in both libertarian agency and divine omniscience.

The underlying assumption Phil uses to construct his dichotomy is that something besides the agent himself completely determines his choices, which is a determinist paradigm that assigns external necessity to an agent's choices. In doing so, he's apparently confusing certainty with necessity, and is essentially assuming necessitarianism to disprove libertarianism (also known as begging the question).

Darby Livingston said...

"So it makes no sense to say he has foreknowledge of anything. To speak like that is to falsely make him a temporal being and thus to make him less than eternal."

You do realize you're saying that God in inspiring the Bible, makes no sense and falsely describes his relationship with his creation, don't you? He claims foreknowledge all over the place in Scripture.

naturgesetz said...

@ DJP — The thing is, time and eternity are not the same thing. What is eternally known is not necessarily determined in time.

naturgesetz said...

@ Darby — I'm saying he has knowledge, eternal knowledge. But since he is not in time, and has no before and after even with respect to what happens in time, it is not foreknowledge, although from our limited, human perspective it seems to be foreknowledge. Most of the time, calling it foreknowledge is harmless imprecision, but when we start trying to use it to support a determinism which makes nonsense of every Biblical exhortation, we are misusing the word.

DJP said...

Oh well. I'll leave it back to Phil to explain and defend what Phil means; he's better at that than I.

Gov98 said...

Isn't there an unstated premise in Phil's argument that is necessary to accept in order to accept Phil's argument?

What if I would neither count myself calvinst nor arminian but would argue against accepting the unstated premise.

The unstated premise is "God cannot choose to grant sovereignty to any being other than himself."

I think this unstated premise is unsupported. In Daniel 4:25 we see that God can and does give sovereignty to whomever he wishes. If God can give sovereignty then there is a third choice.

God grants a degree of sovereignty to men as a result of his (God's) own predetermined will. That is Biblical.

(Let me state that man does not have capability to freely choose God.)

Jesse said...

Something should be awarded to Johnny Dialectics for being the first to use the "God doesn't ordain the future, he just looks down the tunnel of time and sees what would happen without his intervention, then ordains that" line.

mikeb said...

You would think Romans 9:19-24 would put this whole issue to rest. But alas, the free will to sin continues to deny God's true sovereignty.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Jesse, I must decline the award, which rightly goes to Paul (Ro 8.29) and Peter (1 Pet. 1.2), who preceded me. Come to think of it, Jeremiah preceded them (Jer. 18.7 ff.; 26.13)

David said...

Great post. Rebuttal anyone - Allen? Land? Vines? Patterson? Caner?

Poppe said...

Not sure who to address this question to, but when Phil says "the outcome of all things is already determined" does he just mean that the outcome cannot be other than God knows it will be? And then, if the outcome cannot be other than He knows it to be, than either God ordained (or fixed or determined or whatever word best fits your philosophical bent) it, or someone/something else did.

Robert said...

To the Arminians in the crowd...

Let's just say we go back to before God spoke everything into existence. Are you saying that God didn't know what would happen if he created beings with some degree of free will? He didn't know they would choose to sin? Or He just did it blindly and there were no paramters?

And do you really think God is "reacting" to what we do? Then you are saying He is omniscient and that all of the Scripture saying God knows our thoughts before we do or that He chose Paul before he was born to be an apostle or that He planned our good works before the beginning of time are all wrong? I don't see how that all works out.

And then there is this...

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The gift there is our faith. We don't even have the faith of our own accord...it is a gift from God. And we don't choose Jesus as Lord and Savior without that faith. So by that means, even our choosing to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior is a gift from God given by no merit of our own, but His predetermined choice of His elect. Somebody mentioned Spurgeon, but I think they must have missed where Spurgeon said that if God looked ahead to Spurgeon's life (before Spurgeon was born), He would have found no reason to grant him salvation.

Sir Aaron said...

i love the grasping at straws and the creation of all kinds of weird premises.

The only underlying premise to Phil's post is that if God says an event will happen in the future, then it will occur exactly as He says it will.

For example, if God says that you will eat beans for dinner tomorrow, then it will happen. There is absolutely nothing you can do to change it. No matter what choices you make, what actions you take, what your will is, you will have beans for dinner tomorrow. So now the question is, did God ordain that you have beans or is that simply your fate.

Gov98 said...

For example, if God says that you will eat beans for dinner tomorrow, then it will happen.

So when God said:
Deuteronomy 13: 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

that "Happened?" Or did I miss something in Second Hananiah.

Seems like there might (just possibly) be a difference between God's commanded will and God's decreed will.

All that God decrees happens, but all that God desires he does not compel.

How can it be then that something God actively desires does not happen? What could be the Biblical answer?

Brad Williams said...

Johnny D.,

I know that this is hardly the environment to ask you a question, but I am curious for real. Do you believe that the Bible teaches that God decreed things after He omnisciently looked through the "tunnel of time" to see how things would happen without his intervention and then ordained that particular scenario?

Pooka said...

It appears some Arminians here are fastening God down to time.

It's not a model railroad where the creator knows where the locomotive is gonna stop along the track.

Another thing: Free Will? If we're dead in our trespasses, slaves to sin, where is free will in that?

Romans 6:6, 6:16

Paul's pretty explicit about this. We didn't emancipate ourselves but were SET FREE from sin. Purchased.

Brad Williams said...

And just for fun, I love the word "antinomy" when it starts flying about. I always want to say that I simply like my antinomy better than your antinomy. Like this one, for example:

Certainty is not the same as necessity. That's nice right there. When it is applied to God's foreknowledge, it gives me a brain cramp.

The Seeking Disciple said...

God knows all things. We Arminians have no problem with this. Could not a sovereign, all-knowing and loving God create a world in which He allowed people to make free will decisions that He foreknows but does not cause them to make? I believe He could and did.

blip said...

As an ex-Arminian and admittedly non-theologian, here's the two perspectives that I would use to describe this.

1) If a good pool player strikes a ball, he will know where his ball will go. A really good player will know the interactions of all the other balls it strikes.
God created this entire world, spiritual and physical, and set it in 'motion' in all relevant spheres, and he's the best 'pool player' that's ever been. He knows exactly how everything will interact with everything else.


2) There are 'two' vector forces in this world. There is God's pleasure (debatable term, go with me), and everything that opposes God's pleasure. It is necessarily true (within the framework of this analogy) that everything that opposes God's pleasure always acts to directly oppose God. It is also necessarily true that this force will never even budge God's pleasure from being accomplished when he chooses to act.

In conclusion, then, God has knowledge of what will happen when he chooses to act. He also knows exactly how the opposition will respond if he restrains his power.

Therefore God knows all that will happen, either because he directly caused it or because he knows exactly which direction the opposition will run when left to their own devices (away from him).

Adam Omelianchuk said...

If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, is the outcome of all things already determined?

Not necessarily. Consider the following:

Necessarily, God foreknows X

Therefore, X will happen necessarily.

The conclusion does not follow the premise, and commits the modal fallacy. There is nothing in the first premise that guarantees the outcome happens by necessity.

The proper form is this:

Necessarily, God foreknows X

Therefore, X will happen.

If Y were to happen rather than X, then God would have foreknown Y instead. Foreknowledge of events is of necessity, not the events themselves.

Phil said...

Adam,
This is not hypothetical. If God does not change and He laid down a plan before the universe was created then He can only know what is real.
Therefore God foreknows all things because He created and set all things into motion by His will.
If then He sets the universe on its course by His secret and revealed will it is beyond question that it will happen just exactly as He made it to, or He is not God.

Dave said...

So am I wrong in thinking the basic argument for the Arminian understanding of "foreknowledge" is that God sees what will happen, but that's all? Hands off? Because the implication then is that He is looking at a series of events that happen *independently of His influence.* Kind of a Deistic proposition, ya?

OTOH, if our Arminian brethren assert, "No no, indeed God is active and interactive in and among His creatures on a daily basis," then it stands to reason that God is thus actively affecting the series of events He foresaw... Taking a part in the process... Influencing (dare I say determining?) the outcomes... Maybe?

I guess my point is, passive foreknowledge is bunk, logically.
I mean, it's not as if the Almighty Sovreign Creator of the Universe is standing on the other side of the glass in a zoo. Any series of events is impacted by His hand, one way or another. Anything other understanding of reality seems to make God a spectator at best.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Phil,

The point of the example is to show that necessarily God foreknows what will happen. It does not follow that necessity is conferred upon the process that brings about what is foreknown. That requires a different argument that asserts determinism (in this version, God causing all things) is a necessary condition for having foreknowledge. Therefore, it goes about things backwards to argue from foreknowledge for determinism, because the argument cannot get off the ground if determinism is not presupposed.

joel said...

Hum,
I am pretty sure that Total Foreknowledge does require Total Predetermination it might even require omniscience, and omnipresence all of which are incommunicable attributes of Yahweh, that is, He can not share them with another - not even Prophets. That said, I am pretty sure that Arminians are choosing to forget something that they already know, which may be why the first half of their sentences make sense but the second half devolves into something impossibly counter intuitive (as they remember to forget what it was that they just remembered that they should be forgetting).

joel said...

The Seeking Disciple seems to be the only Arminian here who actually knows how what Arminianism teaches, or in least the most logically relevant form of Arminianism. He believes that the Sovereign God yields his sovereignty to the free will of the creatures he created, that is, he makes the human freewill the ultimate determining factor. But God subjecting His Sovereign power to anything is a highly questionable view that I have yet to see any scriptural support for. In short that form of Arminianism may have explanatory power but lacks substantive scriptural support.

Sir Aaron said...

Gov98:

Are you part of the same conversation? Your Duet reference is a command not a prophecy. Surely, you understand the difference between God telling somebody what to do and God telling somebody what's going to happen.

joel said...

Adam, in his example, has done an admirable job of defining Open Theism (Thanks Adam). Now just admit to believing it and we can label you a heretic and move on.

Phil said...

Joel-
Exactly right. Glib, but right.

Sir Aaron said...

Adam:

The modal fallacy is a clever sleight of hand that Arminians have been using for some time now to argue for the existence of free will.

The Calvinist at least has an explanation at to why God has foreknowledge. That is because God foreordained it. The Arminian has no explanation. After all, crying "modal fallacy" is not an explanation of God's foreknowledge but merely intentional confusion of temporal and logical outcomes to embrace the desired outcome of man's free will.

The Bible says God not only knows what the future is, but also directs it.

"I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it."

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Ha! I will only do that until someone proves to me that foreknowledge can only be had in that way. :) That is a tall order, especially in the face of a robust defense of Ockham's way out.

http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/phil3600/plantinga-ockham.pdf

Adam Omelianchuk said...

"The modal fallacy is a clever sleight of hand that Arminians have been using for some time now to argue for the existence of free will."

No, that is wrong. The use of it is limited to the context of Dan's question, that God's certainty of foreknown events entails their happening by necessity.

Gov98 said...

Are you part of the same conversation? Your Duet reference is a command not a prophecy. Surely, you understand the difference between God telling somebody what to do and God telling somebody what's going to happen.

My point is fairly simple, it is apparent from Scripture that God does not compel all that he commands. So the fact that he says "You will have no other Gods before Me." Does not in fact mean that the Israelites will have in fact no idolatry in their midst.

It means God has given them a command, somewhere in there something is happening...is it free will is it determinism, Did God harden Pharoah's Heart or Did Pharoah harden his own heart? Was it both? Scripturally my recollection is that it was both.

But God subjecting His Sovereign power to anything is a highly questionable view that I have yet to see any scriptural support for

How then do you deal with Daniel 4 Which in various places says that God bestows "it" upon whomever he wishes, that "sovereignty" has departed from Nebuchadnezzer.

DaveS said...

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. – Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III, Section 1

The classics are always the best. Great post Phil. I for one am thankful that God foreordained all things and will work them all for His glory, and our good who love him. How could you live without despair in this crazy world otherwise?

donsands said...

Greg Boyd, the premiere Open Theist, says God is all knowing. But God doesn't ordain everything.

I always am comforted by knowing my Lord and God knows everything that will happen in the future. Where every bullet that is fired will hit; where every cancer cell forms; and where every sparrow will fall. For the sparrow can not die unless the Father "wills" it to.

All that to say there is a peace that passaes all understanding knowing our heavenly Father knows every detail that is going to happen in our lives, because He is sovereign over every second of time in this universe.
And also, even though God knows and ordains all things in His sovereignty, He is grieved with His children as well, and rejoices when sinners come to repentance, and is pleased when we obey His Word.

Open Theism is a false teaching for sure. And there are those who are embracing it, because of teachers like Boyd.

joel said...

Gov98 said - 'How then do you deal with Daniel 4 Which in various places says that God bestows "it" upon whomever he wishes, that "sovereignty" has departed from Nebuchadnezzer.'

I think it is clear in the context, and experience bears witness, that the ruling of earthly kings is substantially different than the Sovereign ruling of Yahweh. In other words it is implied that whatever Yahweh decrees can and will be accomplished. On the other hand, an earthly ruler may will to do something but clearly does not have the power to accomplished everything he decrees. An earthly ruler will be as successful in what he purposes to do as is allowed by Yahweh's sovereign will.

Daryl said...

Adam,

You missed the point I think. If that anyone foreknows anything, then it must have been determined somewhere in order to be knowable.

We're not talking about possible things but real things.

So the question is, determined by whom?

If not God, then God cannot be sovereign, for someone else is calling the shots.

If nothing is pre-determined, then it's all up in the air until it happens, making nothing truly foreknowable.

Even if you move God out of time (something I don't grant), then He is still foreknowing something that someone determined.

If not Him, then how is He God? And, how can He be said to know the end from the beginning. In the old "corridors of time" example, He knows the end...from the end. He just cheats a little.

Sir Aaron said...

@Gov98:

My point is fairly simple, it is apparent from Scripture that God does not compel all that he commands. So the fact that he says "You will have no other Gods before Me." Does not in fact mean that the Israelites will have in fact no idolatry in their midst

- scratches head - I'll ask you again. Do you understand the difference between a command and a prophecy? Obviously, just beause God tells somebody to do something doesn't mean said somebody will do it. However, if God issues a prophecy that says said somebody will do such a thing, then it will happen.



It means God has given them a command, somewhere in there something is happening...is it free will is it determinism, Did God harden Pharoah's Heart or Did Pharoah harden his own heart? Was it both? Scripturally my recollection is that it was both.

- scratches his head again - God has given them a command, and? How does that bring us to Pharoah?

But God subjecting His Sovereign power to anything is a highly questionable view that I have yet to see any scriptural support for

Then why do you bring it up?

How then do you deal with Daniel 4 Which in various places says that God bestows "it" upon whomever he wishes, that "sovereignty" has departed from Nebuchadnezzer.

And which verse is that? Daniel 4:25 says, "...Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes." (emphasis mine).

bossmanham said...

Daryl,

If that anyone foreknows anything, then it must have been determined somewhere in order to be knowable.

How do you figure that? Do you think God can't know hypotheticals about, say, what I would do if I were born in 1854 unless He actually creates and predetermines everything about that situation? I'm not seeing any arguments from the necessitarians here for this assertion.

Adam is correct about the modal fallacy being employed here.

We're not talking about possible things but real things.

What does this have to do with anything?

If not God, then God cannot be sovereign, for someone else is calling the shots.

Unless one of the shots happens to be that he'll allow free creatures to call some shots.

If nothing is pre-determined, then it's all up in the air until it happens, making nothing truly foreknowable.

Again, argue for that. Why couldn't God know what we will do if He doesn't explicitly causally predetermine it? It seems to me God can know everything simply because He is all knowing. He can even know what free creatures will choose to do apart from His direct causation. Don't you think God would be a little impotent if He had to cause things to happen to know about them?

Gov98 said...

Do you understand the difference between a command and a prophecy? Obviously, just beause God tells somebody to do something doesn't mean said somebody will do it. However, if God issues a prophecy that says said somebody will do such a thing, then it will happen.

I do understand the difference between a prophecy, and yes what God prophecies as a certainty to occur WILL occur either because he sovereignly brings about the result, he omnipotently aware of the result discloses the result or he sovereignly chooses some combination of the two.

If God commands something that he does not compel what then is the explanation, when God tells us that his Word will accomplish the purpose unto which he sends it.

Daniel 4:31 states in the NASB 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.'

Sovereignty in regards to human kingdoms is something that Scripturally it is comprehended that God can and does give to man. If God gives sovereignty to man in that area why would we hold it impossible for man to receive sovereignty in other areas (even if in some areas there was no capability.)

Regarding another comment-
sovereignty in relationship to kingdoms as compared to God is yes different in degree and kind, but sovereignty is still a reflection of an attribute of God, JUST AS omniscience is an attribute of God that is different in degree and kind to 'knowledge' but God's omniscience does not mean that I cannot gain knowledge.

Daryl said...

bossmanham,

Of course you'd have to show where the Bible talks about God knowing all potential circumstances, rather than real, yet to happen, circumstances.

While it's a logical conclusions that God knows all possible happenings, where does the Bible ever credit God's knowledge of future events to that?
Where does Scripture tell us that God foreknows something that doesn't then happen?

Gov98 said...

While it's a logical conclusions that God knows all possible happenings, where does the Bible ever credit God's knowledge of future events to that?
Where does Scripture tell us that God foreknows something that doesn't then happen?


Actually Scripture (not that I agree with Open Theism I'm just responding in regards to your question) does tell us that God knows what would have happened if God had chosen to do something differently.

Luke 10:13:
Woe to you Bethsaida and Chorazin for if they miracles done were done in Tyre and Sido they would have long ago repented.

Sir Aaron said...

Yes, it's a clever feint. Your argument is basically "God knows what a man will freely choose. If the man chooses X, God knows that the man will choose X. But if the man would have chosen Y, then God would have known that the man chose Y instead. Therefore, the man’s choice is still free and self-determined, despite the fact that God knows what it will be."

Of course, this makes a couple serious logical problems. First it assumes that God's knowledge is incomplete. Second, it requires another explanation for God's foreknowledge. And this explanation is usually that God is outside time and knew what choices we'd make (i.e, God didn't know what we'd do until after we made our choice).

The other classical argument is that God knows by our nature. Just like I know that my daughter will choose a bowl of ice cream over a bowl of broccoli. The problem is that this explanation also assumes an imperfect knowledge because there is still a chance, no matter how slight, of being wrong.

Which wrings us back to the beginning. If God has perfect, complete knowledge of the future, then said future must occur. If said future must occur, then the outcome is predetermined. If the outcome is predetermined then some force determined it. That force is either God or something else.

Daryl said...

To argue that God relies on knowing all possibly eventualities, in order to know the future, is to argue that God doesn't actually know the future.

Unless he infallibly knows what I will eat tomorrow, he can't infallibly know if I will get food poisoning from that food.

So then how does knowing all possible eventualities differ significantly from knowing nothing at all?

Middle knowledge, which is what you guys are arguing for, solves nothing.

It's also kind of interesting, then, how Eve became pregnant because Adam was aware of her...

Gov98 said...

"God knows what a man will freely choose. If the man chooses X, God knows that the man will choose X. But if the man would have chosen Y, then God would have known that the man chose Y instead. Therefore, the man’s choice is still free and self-determined, despite the fact that God knows what it will be."

So when Joseph's brothers went from Shechem to Dothan, and this mystery man found Joseph looking for his brothers who happened to hear that they went to Dothan, which ultimately resulted in Joseph's being sold into slavery by his brothers...

Did God
a.) Compel the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery overriding their own will which would have been to kill Joseph

b.) Bring about a result that would place Joseph into peril by bringing this seemingly random person into Joseph's path

c.) Use this to save many lives, despite the fact that the brothers meant to do evil to Joseph

d.) And yet was it the brothers who "sold me here."

or some combination all of the above or something else?

Of course, this makes a couple serious logical problems. First it assumes that God's knowledge is incomplete. Second, it requires another explanation for God's foreknowledge.

I don't see a need to be completely logical when it comes to divine mystery, but I in no way assume that God's knowledge is incomplete. It is not, and I don't see the need for another explanation of God's foreknowledge other than the fact that he is God and he has foreknowledge.

bossmanham said...

Daryl,

Of course you'd have to show where the Bible talks about God knowing all potential circumstances, rather than real, yet to happen, circumstances.

Ok. Jeremiah 38:17-18: God, through Jeremiah, gives Zedekiah two potential outcomes of a situation based on what he does,

Matthew 11:23: Jesus seems to know what the people of Sodom would have done if He had appeared to them. That's a completely potential circumstance.

1 Corinthians 2:8: Paul seems to know what people would have done if they had known something. A purely potential situation.

Jesus, in passages such as Matthew 17:27, seems to know what would happen if His deciples do as He says.

Not to mention that it seems intuitive. We use this kind of language all the time. It seems to be something that we just know is the case. We postulate many times on what may have happened if some other set of circumstances were the case. What would have happened if Hitler won the war? I think God knows that. Why don't you think He would. Even if there were no scriptural examples of this, it would still seem that a God that knows all true propositons would know these conditional ones as well.

Where does Scripture tell us that God foreknows something that doesn't then happen?

I never said that. Rather I am saying that God knows what would happen if any state of affairs were true. That isn't foreknowledge, that's middle knowledge. Foreknowledge comes in (in the logical progression mind you, there's obviously no temporal progression) when God decides what state of affairs to instantiate after consulting His middle knowledge.

But, this is a tad beside the case. I'd like to know why you think that God can't have foreknowledge unless He causally predetermines something.

DaveS said...

Sir Aaron said, "Which WRINGS us back to the beginning..."

That may be the best possible description of this conversation. Not that I'm arguing with him of course.

Gov98 said...

To argue that God relies on knowing all possibly eventualities, in order to know the future, is to argue that God doesn't actually know the future.

God does not rely on knowing all possible eventualities. God actually knows all possible eventualites and actually knows which eventualities will occur and knows how to bring about the eventualities he desires, and is capable of bringing about all eventualities he desires.

He does infallibly know what you will eat tomorrow and whether or not you would of gotten sick, he also knows what would happen tomorrow if you ate something else. He also knows not just what you might eat but also what you will eat, he also sovereignly knows what you will eat if he providentially hindered you from eating what you would have initially eaten.

chalee said...

@gov98 "Did God harden Pharoah's heart or Did Pharoah harden his own heart?"

Arminians are always telling me that God doesn't "want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" so I'm surprised if you agree that God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

But I suppose you believe that in spite of God's hardening and prophecy to Moses (Exod3:19-20), Pharaoh could have freely and sovereignly chosen to obey God and set them all free at any point...messing up the whole Passover/Lord's supper thing? God was just lucky?

God commanded Pharaoh to let the people go. God raised Pharaoh up and hardened him such that God was in a position to display His power against Pharaoh. Which outcome did God desire more?

Rom9:17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?


"Actually Scripture...does tell us that God knows what would have happened if God had chosen to do something differently.

Luke 10:13:
Woe to you Bethsaida and Chorazin for if they miracles done were done in Tyre and Sido they would have long ago repented."

Again, arminians are always telling me that God doesn't "want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" - now you say that God could have brought Tyre and Sidon to repentance (like He did with Ninevah (Matt12:41) but chose not to? Next you'll be telling me that God really wanted Eli's sons not to repent so they would perish...

1Sam2:25(Eli's) sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke (telling them to repent), for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death.

untilhecome said...

Phil...outstanding, outstanding and outstanding!

bossmanham said...

Sir Aaron,

Of course, this makes a couple serious logical problems. First it assumes that God's knowledge is incomplete.

How would this mean God's knowledge is incomplete? God knows what's actually going to happen, ergo it's complete. But if a free creature will have chosen something else, then since God knows everything, He wouldn't have know the former, because the former would have been false.

Second, it requires another explanation for God's foreknowledge

Another explanation other than He must exhaustively predetermine events to know them? Well yeah, it would, but you can't use this to argue against our position, because that would assume that determinism is necessary, which is what is up for debate.

And this explanation is usually that God is outside time and knew what choices we'd make (i.e, God didn't know what we'd do until after we made our choice).

This isn't a necessary condition of our position, though many take this route.

Which wrings us back to the beginning. If God has perfect, complete knowledge of the future, then said future must occur.

None of what you said shows that this follows, as you have set up your own false dichotomy.

If said future must occur, then the outcome is predetermined.

This doesn't follow either. It could be that the future must happen and yet isn't predetermined. Of course I don't believe there's any argument that would show this to be true, so I guess I'm digressing.

Gov98 said...

Arminians don't tell you God does not "want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance"

God tells you that.

I don't count myself as an Arminian, what I do say is that God tells us he is sovereign. That is a fundamental attribute of God.

God also speaks in way that demonstrates man has responsibility towards God for man's actions. That is a truth in Scripture, see Ezekiel 18

I'm comfortable here, thank you very much.

Sir Aaron said...

Gov98:

I'm having trouble following. God gives man dominion over the whole earth. That doesn't mean God hasn't foreordained the future. Daniel and Exodus are actually examples of that. God gave them authority but quite emphatically says that he foreordained that they would have those positions and what actions they'd take in those positions.

Gov98 said...

God gives man dominion over the whole earth. That doesn't mean God hasn't foreordained the future. Daniel and Exodus are actually examples of that. God gave them authority but quite emphatically says that he foreordained that they would have those positions and what actions they'd take in those positions.

Well, you would agree that God is capable of returning and establishing dominion over the Earth in the time of his choosing correct?

So God has the power to be in dominion, and yet God allows men to be in rebellion to him, and for Satan and Man to have dominion over this Earth for a period of time correct?

Why when it comes to a degree of Sovereignty that which we see easily in nature is something that is then rejected? Why can God not in his sovereignty choose to give a portion of that sovereignty to man, much as he has given a portion of his dominion to man "for a time?"

bossmanham said...

Sovereignty simply refers to having independent power and authority. At one time, the King of England was called sovereign, but that doesn't mean he predetermined how all his subjects would act. There's a bit of redefining of words going on here.

Sir Aaron said...

Calvinist: God knows the future because he foreordained it.

Bossman: That doesn't necessarily follow. You are committing a fallacy.

Calvinist: Then what's your explanation?

Bossman: I don't have one.

Calvinist: So God knows perfectly what will happen yet doesn't cause it nor does the action happen before he knows it?

Bossman: Umm...well, the second part is a possible explanation but I really don't know.

Calvinist: Well, good thing we don't have to wait for you to figure it out because the Bible says God foreordained the future. Romans 9 specifically answers the question as to how God can hold us responsible if he foreordained the outcome.

Bossman: I don't believe that.

Sir Aaron said...

@Gov98:

What I think you are trying to say is described in the doctrine of compatibilism, which is the doctrine held by most Calvinists. You may want to read Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology for a good explanation of this.

bossmanham said...

Sir Aaron,

It seems to me you're either being purposely dishonest or purposely callous. I'm not sure why, since it seemed to me we were having a perfectly amiable discussion. Doesn't seem very Christ-like of you to ridicule a brother in Christ.

Where did you ask for an explanation and I fail to give one? I asked you for an argument for why God shouldn't know the things I claim He does. You never gave one. I gave scripture and an argument from the very definition of omniscience. Could you please answer my questions without resorting to ridicule? It makes it look as if you just don't know what to do with what I said.

Romans 9 says nothing about God exhaustively determining anything. I notice that the scriptural references I cited have not been dealt with.

Cathy M. said...

Is there some sort of "sweeps period" in bloggerland? I'm on to you, Phil.

Gov98 said...

What I think you are trying to say is described in the doctrine of compatibilism, which is the doctrine held by most Calvinists.

I generally agree more with Calvinists than Arminians, but why I am writing here is for the following statement by Phil:

If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined. And if things are predetermined but God did not ordain whatsoever comes to pass, then you have two choices

My response is that in fact there are not just two choices, there are more, one of which is that God in his sovereignty has given a portion of that to man.

Adam Omelianchuk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac said...

@bossman "It could be that the future must happen and yet isn't predetermined." -- sounds like having your cake and eating it too to me.

If the future cannot deviate from God's knowledge of it, then it is determined (= fixed), if it is determined then someone did the determining.

Who, save God alone, has the power to do this?

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Daryl: If that anyone foreknows anything, then it must have been determined somewhere in order to be knowable.

Adam: If that were true, then no one, including God, could have counter-factual knowledge. Check out 1 Samuel 9:13. In this passage David inquires about what the citizens of Keilah WOULD do if they discovered David in their midst. David then took action to avoid that possible outcome. This shows that God did not have to ordain that outcome in order to know it.

Phil said...

Bossman-
Which wrings us back to the beginning. If God has perfect, complete knowledge of the future, then said future must occur.

None of what you said shows that this follows, as you have set up your own false dichotomy.


As it turns out Aaron is quite right. Let's go through this again.

1. God has perfect, complete knowledge of all events because He set them in motion before the foundation of the universe.

2. There is only one reality, this one.

3. God is sovereign over all things and nothing can thwart His plans.

4. Conclusion: the future (from our point of view) will certainly come to pass as God declared in His council chambers, because God laid them down and knows them all. It's His will they come to pass and He cannot be challenged.

therefore Aaron is right: said future must occur if God saw it because God created it, and cannot be wrong or defeated.

This is really elementary stuff, do you not understand, or are you refusing to be persuaded?

bossmanham said...

Isaac,

@bossman "It could be that the future must happen and yet isn't predetermined." -- sounds like having your cake and eating it too to me.

I said this wasn't my position. I'm simply showing the logical fallacy being employed.

Bill R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bossmanham said...

As it turns out Aaron is quite right. Let's go through this again.

Ok, I'm game.

First of all, Phil, your syllogism isn't logically valid. The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. Actually, nothing really follows from those premises except what they are asserting.

Furthermore, you're premises are simply assuming your position, which would be begging the question.

1. God has perfect, complete knowledge of all events because He set them in motion before the foundation of the universe.

This is exactly what is being debated. Does God HAVE to causally set something in motion to know about it? That seems to diminish God's knowledge. He actually wouldn't have omniscience in that case, because all He would know is what He causes. He wouldn't know any counterfactual propositions, which throws out the whole knowing all true propositions.

2. There is only one reality, this one.

I'm not even sure why this is brought up, since no one is arguing for the existence of other realities here.

3. God is sovereign over all things and nothing can thwart His plans.

No one is arguing against this. What I am arguing is that God's sovereignty can include free creatures that can act against His perfect will (which is distinct from what He has determined and what He permits).

4. Conclusion: the future (from our point of view) will certainly come to pass as God declared in His council chambers, because God laid them down and knows them all. It's His will they come to pass and He cannot be challenged.

This doesn't follow, by any rules of logic, from premises 1, 2, or 3 and is simply stating what you believe.

bossmanham said...

Bill, what about that verse is a problem for free will? I deal with it just fine.

Bill R. said...

So far I see a lot of...

So and so, you fail to see the logic of blah blah blah...

I still have not seen a BIBLICAL answer to:

How does free will deal with 2 Cor 4:4?

Bonus question:
What's more important, free will or grace?

You may continue your arguments of reason...

Isaac said...

@bossman - indeed, my apologies.

You still seem to be saying though that God can exhaustively know the future without the future having been "predetermined", am I right?

If the future is fixed in the mind of God is it not determined by definition, though? (As per Phil's post).

Phil said...

Does God HAVE to causally set something in motion to know about it? That seems to diminish God's knowledge. He actually wouldn't have omniscience in that case, because all He would know is what He causes. He wouldn't know any counterfactual propositions, which throws out the whole knowing all true propositions.
Yes God does indeed have to causally set all things in motion because He does set all things in motion and without His pleasure nothing would have motion.
It's not to say He doesn't also know His machine so well that He doesn't know all outputs for a given set of inputs, but it is to say He knows exactly what He has created by divine decree. Because He is God what He decrees comes to pass. Therefore He sees what is certain, because He sees His eternal purposes being carried out. This is intuitive and no syllogism needs exists.

You seem to like the opposite view having started from the wrong (creaturely) end, namely that since God knows all things there can be no one plan of His.
If you don't grasp it it's because you don't like the conclusion that follows from it.

bp said...

Let's look at all the possibilities. If God knows the future, then the known future will obviously come to pass (ie: it's fixed). So, it naturally follows that either:

1) Man fixes the future and God merely knows about it, but doesn't interfere with mankind's free-will choices.

2) Man fixes the future, but God intervenes periodically and sovereignly over-rules some of man's free-will choices to accomplish some of His greater goals.

3) Fate fixes the future and God merely knows about it, but doesn't interfere with fate.

4) Fate fixes the future, but God periodically interferes and sovereignly over-rules fate to accomplish some of His greater goals.

5) Man and fate fix the future and God doesn't interfere with either.

6) Man and fate fix the future and God periodically interferes with both to accompish His greater goals.

7) God fixes the future, and works through man's "non" free-will choices to accomplish all of His plans and purposes.

Is there really any way to Biblically counter #7? Is it man/fate or God that causes one to be born into a Muslim family in the Middle-East where one lived and died never hearing the gospel and another to be born into a Christian family where the gospel was heard every day? Is it man/fate or God that causes a Corrie TenBoom to be thrown into a concentration camp where she sees her sister and father die at the hands of wicked men? What a very sad picture of God, indeed, sitting on the side-lines watching life play out, knowing the outcome and either a) placing fate/ man’s will as more important than what is happening in the world or b) Intervening only in the things that He deems more important. Sorry, Corrie or anyone else suffering at the hands of man, but God thinks Hitler’s free choice was more important than your comfort.

Yet how much greater is the truth that God is always in control, and for His own glory and our own good He is bringing about His perfect plan and purposes in every single detail of our lives (yes, even through suffering, which He ordained that His own Son would go through for His Son’s ultimate good and His glory).

Sir Aaron said...

@Bossman:

Yeah, I'm being intentionally callous. Your position deserves ridicule because you do not offer explanation only nebulous arguments about logic. And now you and Adam are bringing up the heresy of middle knowledge (better known as Molinism).

@Adam: You should better study your talking points. The reference is I Sam. 23:1-13.

@Gov98: Dude, there is nothing in the Bible that says God gives up part of His sovereignty. God puts us in charge of things. That has zero effect on whether he foreordained our actions. The two are not related. Your argument is that because God put us in charge, he let us make choices. So that puts you into the camp that God knows the future because he knew what we would choose. That makes you an Arminian.

Sir Aaron said...

@Gov98: And I don't mean that to be insulting...just to clarify what the end result of your viewpoint is.

Sir Aaron said...

For those who want a devestating refutation of Molinism start here.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Sir Aaron: That's it? You don't have anything to offer but cheap shots and hostility? Molinism is no heresy. Call it such does not make it so.

Gov98 said...

And I don't mean that to be insulting...just to clarify what the end result of your viewpoint is.

None taken, look I don't mean to be silly, but frankly I don't see any need to take a viewpoint related to soteriology and go to the end result. Scripture doesn't force me into a "logical" end result. I don't feel compelled to take it either.

Dude, there is nothing in the Bible that says God gives up part of His sovereignty. God puts us in charge of things.

God doesn't give up any of his sovereignty in the sense that he becomes less sovereign, but only in the sense that he allows lesser "sovereigns" to exist. But if God puts us in charge of things we necessarily are in charge of something, that means some sort of authority in regards to it. Authority necessitates some degree of choosing something, my car alarm doesn't have authority...it either works or it doesn't. My son has authority over the car to the degree I give him such authority.

Sir Aaron said...

Adam:

Molinists confess pagan ideas that oppose orthodox Christianity. That's why its heresy.

bossmanham said...

Isaac,

You still seem to be saying though that God can exhaustively know the future without the future having been "predetermined", am I right?

Yes.

If the future is fixed in the mind of God is it not determined by definition, though? (As per Phil's post).

All that follows from God knowing the future is that it will happen, not that it must happen necessarily. Sure, if GOd knows that X will happen, then it will happen, but it doesn't have to be because God made it happen.

Phil,

Yes God does indeed have to causally set all things in motion because He does set all things in motion and without His pleasure nothing would have motion.

You're arguing in a circle, Phil. This is like if I said Arminians are right because God did in fact create us with libertarian freedom and has not causally determined all things,

Therefore He sees what is certain, because He sees His eternal purposes being carried out. This is intuitive and no syllogism needs exists.

It's not intuitive for me. What's intuitive for me is that if God creates us so that we do what He already decided we'd do such that we can't not do it, then we are not morally responsible for what we do.

Sir Aaron,

Yeah, I'm being intentionally callous. Your position deserves ridicule because you do not offer explanation only nebulous arguments about logic. And now you and Adam are bringing up the heresy of middle knowledge (better known as Molinism).

Well, I suppose we can let the reader decide who is being unreasonable and who isn't offering support for their assertions.

How about you succinctly describe the argument that is offered in the post you linked to?

bossmanham said...

Sir Aaron,

Which pagan idea that contradicts orthodoxy have I offered? The virgin birth? No, nothing said about that. The deity of Christ? No, that hasn't come up. The omniscience of God? Seems like we're the only ones affirming that. That evil is not from God. Well the necessitarians are the only ones who say that is the case...so who denies orthodoxy? Hmm...

Sir Aaron said...

Gov98: Calvinism doesn't deny choice. It, in fact, affirms liberty (that one can choose as one wants). What calvinism denies is that there is the power of contrary choice (the ability to act contrary to how one will). The problem, of course, is that choice is caused by how one wills which is determined by one's nature. For example, if you are totally depraved, your will be be against Christ and you will choose to reject him. If God elects to regenerate you, then your will is changed and you will choose Christ.

thomastwitchell said...

Word verification: bapyra

flesh-eating aquatic sheep, sheep flambé, fire-breathing ruminants...

or,

You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations... O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way...

Which one would you instantiate?

Toss out some more chum whilst I go get some popcorn.

Sir Aaron said...

Bossman: You do understand that Molina was a Jesuit and molinism is a counter reformational doctrine, right? That alone should make one suspicious.

The fact of the matter is that is was concocted to get away from the Protestant belief in the total sovereignty of God and to some extent, sola fide. Molinism rejects the Bible for some form of twisted logic (as you and Adam have so graciously demonstrated) Molinism simply rejects the biblical data of God’s eternal decrees, His omniscience and His omnipotent power.

bossmanham said...

Sir Aaron,

You do understand that Molina was a Jesuit and molinism is a counter reformational doctrine, right? That alone should make one suspicious.

Genetic fallacy.

Furthermore, I disagree with the reformers on the issue of determinism, so it shouldn't surprise you that I agree with a counter-reformer on one issue. Just because I agree with the reformers on soteriology doesn't mean that will extend to everything. Some other things I disagree with the reformers on: baptism, sacraments, killing the anabaptists.

The fact of the matter is that is was concocted to get away from the Protestant belief in the total sovereignty of God and to some extent, sola fide.

No, it was to combat the exhaustive determinism of the reformers.

Molinism rejects the Bible for some form of twisted logic

That's funny, because I cited Bible verses to support my view. And if you can show where the logic is "twisted" then I'll be forced to drop the view. Can you show me where it's twisted?

Molinism simply rejects the biblical data of God’s eternal decrees, His omniscience and His omnipotent power.

Surely you can back that assertion up with arguments and examples. Can't you?

bp said...

Bossman, if it's true, as you say, that God does not sovereignly determine the future, this means that man (or else fate) is what determines everything. Which do you believe? Or do you believe both?

j said...

"Unless one of the shots happens to be that he'll allow free creatures to call some shots."

@bossmanham do you see? You've just answered the question that we Calvinists ask. You've answered in the way we were inferring it would be answered.

You said that the way God has decided to let things play out is by allowing free creatures to call "some shots"... which ones of those shots? And how do I know Scripturally which shots you and I have the ability to call? Plus, in saying that Sovereign God has, basically, deemed sovereignty over some events to his "free creatures" then doesn't that defeat His Sovereignty? It certainly would seem that way.

Let's look at this from the stand point of salvation... if there are some things I can choose (namely the ability to choose to repent and trust God) then is that choosing of God a good act? I would say so...

So how do I, a sin cursed being, have the ability to choose ANYTHING good... to 'do' anything good? If I can do even one good thing then I wasn't totally separated from God at the fall because Jesus said that only God is good... if only God is truly good but I chose a good thing before receiving His Holy Spirit (through the forgiving of my sins and regenerating of my Spirit)then the amendment to that verse would have to be that only God is good, with the exception of man's ability to do one good thing and that is to choose (or not to choose) God.

Ephesians 2, we WERE dead. I've never seen a dead anything do anything...

If God chooses to save us based on the fact that He knew we would choose Him then that act of choosing would have to be labeled as a merit that God saw in us that made us worthy of His saving... but Ephesians 2 (and many other places) teach that it was by GRACE that we have been saved... through faith... and that not of ourselves...

God's grace, giving us what we don't merit (redemption) through His own merciful act...

Voddie Baucham said it well I think... (paraphrase) It isn't that Arminians (and the like) can't come to terms with God's Sovereign predestination and election... it is that they can't truly come to terms with Total Depravity...

Everything in man (including myself) wants to say that God's sovereign choice isn't fair... but what is fair? Who decides the use for the clay, the clay... or the potter?

Just my two cents...

Soli deo Gloria
j

bp said...

Bossman, you said: It's not intuitive for me. What's intuitive for me is that if God creates us so that we do what He already decided we'd do such that we can't not do it, then we are not morally responsible for what we do.

Have you ever tried to keep all of the 10 commandments all of the time? Do you think it's possible? I'm assuming you'll say "no". If not, then why did God expect the Israelites to keep His commandments? It might seem intuitive to you that if you can't do (or can't not do something that this means you're not liable, but it's not the case, in Scripture. And not in real life either. If you go to Las Vegas (or Las Wages, as my husband calls it), and you lose a so much money that you can't ever repay it, does that mean you're not liable? Nope.

Phil said...

looks like bp finished my argument for me Bossman. Your cavil can be summarized thus:
If God created us with a purpose in mind He wanted effected then we cannot be free agents.

To say it is to point out how absurd it is. As if God can have no purpose in creating us. As if He doesn't uphold us by His power moment to moment. As if we do good apart from Him.
I'll sign off it now and it looks like Robert Dabney through Phil Johnson carries the day on the Open Theists, Molinists, and rank non-believers.

bossmanham said...

bp,

Bossman, if it's true, as you say, that God does not sovereignly determine the future, this means that man (or else fate) is what determines everything. Which do you believe? Or do you believe both?

No, it actually doesn't mean that man determines everything. God does determine many things. He determines when Christ will return, for instance. Man determines his own actions (most of them at the very least), though those actions are guided by God's middle knowledge such that he providentially forms history and achieves His desired ends. Man acts freely, God sovereignly orders history.

j,

You said that the way God has decided to let things play out is by allowing free creatures to call "some shots"... which ones of those shots?

Their free actions.

And how do I know Scripturally which shots you and I have the ability to call?

The Bible isn't a philosophy book, but it seems to me that it assumes a libertarian free will. Granted that free will is limited; severely limited absent God's grace such that we can't even start to approach Him. That doesn't mean our choices are determined, however.

For instance, we can't choose to fly because it's not able to be chosen due to flying not being a part of the human nature. We can choose within what is in our power to choose.

Plus, in saying that Sovereign God has, basically, deemed sovereignty over some events to his "free creatures" then doesn't that defeat His Sovereignty? It certainly would seem that way.

I never said God has given us some of His sovereignty. All I said is He allows us free will.

So how do I, a sin cursed being, have the ability to choose ANYTHING good... to 'do' anything good?

You don't. Your inherited sin nature makes us spiritually dead and unable and unwilling to do the true good without the grace of God. No one is denying total depravity. But being unable to choose the true good doesn't mean we don't choose. We can choose among different evil things or morally neutral things. But our sin is our own because it is self-determined.

Have you ever tried to keep all of the 10 commandments all of the time? Do you think it's possible? I'm assuming you'll say "no". If not, then why did God expect the Israelites to keep His commandments?

Because He didn't causally determine that they would break them. They chose that on their own. You're also assuming God wasn't giving them the grace to follow them. But it seems to me He gave them a lot of unmerited favor and yet they still chose to rebel.

If you go to Las Vegas (or Las Wages, as my husband calls it), and you lose a so much money that you can't ever repay it, does that mean you're not liable?

The consequences of a decision != the decision. Inability to repay a debt is a consequence of a prior freely chosen decision.

Phil,

Your last comment is a little hard to understand. Could you try to clarify it?

Sir Brass said...

I was wondering how long it would take till someone brought up that stinking mess that is Molinism.

bossmanham said...

Wow sir brass, bad attitude much?

prussic said...

I've posted another angle on the Arminians' problem with divine aseity. Get a look: http://wp.me/pVf8p-f8

Phil said...

Ok Boss, for you one more.
if God creates us so that we do what He already decided we'd do such that we can't not do it, then we are not morally responsible for what we do.
Would you agree God always accomplishes His will? If no then God is weak. If so then you have a problem, for you are then arguing that God could have no goal He wanted effected when creating us.

So God created us without a reason, without a purpose, without an end, without goals, because otherwise we would not be free. I strongly urge you to abandon your current philosophy and adopt a more biblical outlook.

Thomas Louw said...

I wonder what the Armenians will say about this one.
If man chooses to come to Christ does that not give that convert reason to boast?
If man chooses to come to Christ does that give the preacher, who preached to the convert reason to boast?
If mere human words without the Holy Spirits work can convict someone that he needs to be saved, are humans really that lost?
If the Holy Spirit convinces someone of their sin but that person still have the will to decide, did the Holy Spirit really convince them?
So if we decide, can we not override God?

Ex N1hilo said...

It seems to me that none of those taking issue with Phil's argument have addressed his point about idolatry. Yes, in one of the first responses, William Birch denied that the Arminian position reduces to idolatry, but, in my view, he did not really engage the point. And I don't think anyone else even mentioned it.

If I may restate Phil's point (as I understand it):

If the creature's free will choices are logically prior to God's foresight of those choices, this means that aspects of God's knowledge are determined by the creature and conditioned upon those choices.

This would not only make the creature a co-creator, with God, of the world in which we live, but actually give him a part in creating God Himself.

Solameanie said...

I was going to quite Isaiah 46:10, but Aaron beat me to it. I always miss the good metas.

I suppose I could try to Frank this meta, but it's never a good idea to do a Thelma and Louise with a meta on election day.

bp said...

If man is so free to make decisions that determine his future, Bossman, I wonder why God said in Jeremiah 32 that He would “put the fear of Him in their hearts that they may not turn from Him” or why in Ezekiel He said that He would “put His Spirit in the them and cause them to walk in His statutes and obey His rules.” Shouldn't it be, “I will put my fear in their hearts and (hopefully) they won’t depart” and “I’ll put my Spirit in them and (hopefully) they’ll walk in My statutes and obey My rules?”

donsands said...

"...this means that aspects of God's knowledge are determined by the creature and conditioned upon those choices."

Free will is sovereign, not the Lord.

Robert said...

Wow...just wow.

Let me make one simple point. the second that any single atom, molecule, person acts against the predetermined will of God, then God ceases to be God. He is the only One who is omnipotent and omniscient.

And let me pose this question. How do you make sense of Romans 3:10-18, Romans 8:28-29, and Ephesians 2:1-10 if you are an Arminian? Paul doesn't say in Romans 3 that there are some who have the ability to choose what is right...he says that "no one seeks for God...no one does good, not even one...There is no fear of God before their eyes." I covered the Ephesians passage in an earlier comment and the Romans passage has been discussed throughout this thread. When you put these together (which is how we should interpret Scripture...putting it all together), it is clear that God predetermined everything and works it all together for the good of His elect.

And then there is Isaiah 64:6 - "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And all our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (emphasis mine) Even our "righteous deeds" are like menstrual cloths (that is what is being referred to here). That is what our "free will" can choose to do on the good side.

Daryl said...

Here, nearing (maybe) the end of the meta, I'd just like to say this:

To all the Armenians out there...

Turkey rules.


That is all.

Oh, and one other thing.

While it is true, as William Watson Birch has said, to ascribe sin to God is blasphemy...that's a pretty lame statement to make against folks who don't actually ascribe sin to God.

Sin is, by definition, rebellion against God in thought, word or deed, omission and commission etc etc world without end, Amen.

So if God sovereignly chooses to set (or, for argument's sake, allow) the desire and will to rebel against Him within the hearts of His creatures, how exactly is that sin? Is God, in so doing, rebelling against Himself? Not hardly, after all, He evidently agreed with Himself to do that, placing Himself well within His will.

The issue is never "Has God sinned". Never was, never will be.

The issue is, has God allowed/placed/caused/whatever the sin nature, or the desire to sin, within man?
And further, if He has, how can He then hold man responsible?

That's what drives all of these discussions. No one would have a problem with a God who ordains and predestines everything that happens, if everything that ever happened was all sweetness and light or some derivation of same.

Am I right? At least I've never seen the discussion not come down to that.

Which is really quite convenient. Because, thoughtfully, Paul addressed that very question.
"So how can He find fault? For who can resist His will? Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Will what is made, say to the all-powerful bystander 'Why have you allowed me to make myself like this?'"

So there you go, even Paul agrees that we have free will and that God never wills for His creatures to sin.

Except for that whole crucifixion thing (Acts 2:23)...and David's census (2 Sam 24:1)...and Joseph's hiatus in Egypt via some angry brothers and those Ishmaelite slavers (Gen 50:20)...and the Babylonians...and the Assyrians...and any calamity that comes (Amos)...and and and...

Bit I digress from my original point...

Go Turkey.

Daryl said...

OK, in re-reading my last post, I gotta admit, I'm bugged.

Not about the Armenians either.

This whole ascribing sin to God thing is so ludicrous as to be...well...ludicrous.

It's exactly equivalent to saying that my wife and I could have a baby...and yet that baby not be related to either of us.

Seriously, have we so downgraded sin so that we mean "something I don't like" or "something that hurts people" or some other such cockamamy idea?

Sin is, and only is, rebellion against God. So God, by any Christian definition, cannot sin no matter how hard he tries.

Killing me is not sin, except that God has said "Don't do it". Was David wrong to say "Against you and you only have I sinned"?

To accuse someone of ascribing sin to God is to accuse them of making God into a schizophrenic. Really.

Dude, you can't even sin against YOU. How do you do what you don't want to do in a given moment? (I know Paul said that, but still, in the moment of his sin and mine, we're doing exactly what we want.)

So at least drop that silliness from the discussion, when the real issue is this.

Does God have the right to determine everything, or do I have the right to determine something, even if that something is typing and -o- instead of an -e-.
And further, does he always exercise that right?

In all of this discussion that issue always always becomes sin (which I've already addressed) or "don't tell me that I can't do what God doesn't want" vs. "don't tell me that God doesn't always do what He wants"?

But maybe that's just me...

witness said...

Job said this of God Almighty...

But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face. ~Job 23:13-17(ESV)

It's all gold, but notice the part I bolded. You know, I just don't hear Job arguing that "God let's me choose freely and independant of His influence!"

When I read the Bible, God doesn't come across as a "hands-off" kind of God.

Tom said...

I consider myself Arminianish, and while I believe that everything that happens is according to the plan of God, it doesn't follow that the sin in the world comes from a causal, irresistible chain of events that proceed from God.

"In Him there is no darkness at all." Some of comments seem to be coming dangerously close to saying that the desire to do evil proceeds from the heart of God Himself (even if God doesn't act on those desires Himself).

Man determines himself to do evil (though God does manipulate the evil in man's heart for His own purposes). Just because no one can comprehend how God can be completely in control and yet man have some degree of self-determination doesn't mean that it is not true.

The fact that God lives outside the bounds of time, causality and the laws of physics should mean that this is a reasonable mystery to be able to believe.

witness said...

Tom said...

"it doesn't follow that the sin in the world comes from a causal, irresistible chain of events that proceed from God.
"


The moment God spoke the universe into existence a causal irresistable chain of events was set in place.

Note the irrestiable chain of events here from Scripture...

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you ~1 Peter 1:18-20(ESV)

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. ~Revelation 13:8(ESV)

Why would the Lamb be slain before the foundation of the world if there were no sin yet?

witness said...

Answer: Because there would be.

Hmmmmmmmm said...

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (ESV)
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:
27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today,
28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.



"Behold, I set before you—a blessing and a curse—If God had not put it in the power of this people either to obey or disobey; if they had not had a free will, over which they had complete authority, to use it either in the way of willing or nilling; could God, with any propriety, have given such precepts as these, sanctioned with such promises and threatenings? If they were not free agents, they could not be punished for disobedience, nor could they, in any sense of the word, have been rewardable for obedience. A STONE is not rewardable because, in obedience to the laws of gravitation, it always tends to the center; nor is it punishable be cause, in being removed from that center, in its tending or falling towards it again it takes away the life of a man.
That God has given man a free, self-determining WILL, which cannot be forced by any power but that which is omnipotent, and which God himself never will force, is declared in the most formal manner through the whole of the sacred writings. No argument can affect this, while the Bible is considered as a Divine revelation; no sophistry can explain away its evidence, as long as the accountableness of man for his conduct is admitted, and as long as the eternal bounds of moral good and evil remain, and the essential distinctions between vice and virtue exist. If ye will obey, (for God is ever ready to assist), ye shall live; if ye will disobey and refuse that help, ye shall die. So hath Jehovah spoken, and man cannot reverse it."

witness said...

The idea that God does not meddle with man's will or desires is absolutely laughable. It holds man much higher than is biblically safe to do so...

The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. ~Psalm 33:15(ESV)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. ~Ezekiel 36:26-28(ESV)

And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs ~Daniel 1:9(ESV)

this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. ~Acts 2:23(ESV)

Daryl said...

"If they were not free agents, they could not be punished for disobedience, nor could they, in any sense of the word, have been rewardable for obedience."

Didn't I tell you?? Didn't I? Huh? Huh?

Romans 9...then how can He find fault, for who can resist His will...who are you O man...can the clay say to the potter why have you made me like this...etc.etc.etc

Now that that's all cleared up...read on, to where Moses tells them they will rebel, and what God will do, and how they will rebel again, and what God will finally do.

And then read the end of Joshua, where the people say "We will serve the Lord" and Joshua says "no you won't".

No where does the Bible call us free agents. Slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness Paul calls us.
Yes, we have real choices and we make real decisions, according to our nature. But we are altogether sinful and so, left to ourselves, we only ever chose sin.
It is God's grace that prevents us from sinning to the max. And it is God's grace that gives us a new heart that loves Him.

David J. Houston said...

On the Molinist view, God has a set of possible worlds that he can actualize that involve his creatures freely (in the libertarian sense) making decisions and he is considered to be 'soveriegn' because he gets to choose which world to actualize. The Molinist will say that this makes the world 'risk-free' while still maintaining libertarian free-will.

However, God might want to actualize a world where everyone freely accepts his offer of salvation but it seems that that possible world does not exist (given the obvious truth that some people do not accept Christ in this world). Analogously, I may want to play a Royal Flush in poker but the best I have is a pair of 3's. The Molinist is saying that I am still completely in control since I get to decide to choose the best option available to me. But that is not the strong understanding of sovereignty that the Calvinist believes in. The Molinist is being sneaky if he doesn't point this out. And they rarely do in comment boxes! :P

Daryl said...

David,

They also won't mention that to say the God is limited in His options is both heretical and ridiculous.

Sir Brass said...

The Molinist view restricts God to a set of possible outcomes, among which He chooses to actualize based on the actions of libertarian-free agents so that the maximum number of people are saved.

Yet, is God sovereign there? How? What if He desires to save some of those whom the possible outcomes says can't be saved? God is thwarted by the possible outcomes because He doesn't determine what occurs, He just chooses to actualize realities which will influence creatures in such a way as to make them act accordingly.

That's not the biblical view. If God wanted to save all men, He could do so. If God desired to not save any man but judge all men based on their works alone (and send them to Hell), He could do so. And no one could say to him, "What are you doing?" or "What have you done?"

The Lord ALONE is in control, not man. The only one with Libertarian free will is NOT man, but the Thrice-holy Triune God. Man has creaturely will, but God has libertarian free will, and He has His decree. And He is right in all He does.

Sir Aaron said...

bossman:

I realize it's part of the debater's handbook to throw out groundless charges of committing various logical fallacies, but it wont work with this audience.

First, molinism is so flawed that it in and of itself, implies an environmental determinism. God knows what Judas would do in every circumstance so God choose to put Judas in the circumstances that would cause him to betray Christ. If I may borrow from Garrigou-
Lagrange, "If it is maintained that before any determining divine decree (positive or permissive), God foresees infallibly such a conditional free act of the future by reason of the virtual priority of truth over goodness, one falls back into fatalism or determinism of the circumstances. For, after all, according to the hypothesis, this free act of the future is determined neither by the divine decree nor in the created will which is free or indifferent. For it to be foreseen infallibly and not merely conjecturally, it must therefore be determined by the circumstances."

Secondly, You've completely denied the overwhelming Scriptural support that God knows the future and that he has foreordained it. God is sovereign over all things (Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:29; Rom. 11:36; Eph. 1:11, etc.) – even human decisions (Prov. 20:24; 21:1). Although God does not entice men to sin (Jam. 1:13), he is still working everything, from individuals to nations, to the end that He has willed (Isa. 46:10-11). God’s purposes do not depend upon man (Acts 17:24-26). Nor does God discover or learn (1 John 3:20; Job 34:21-22; Psa. 50:11; Prov. 15:3). All things are decreed by God’s infinitely wise counsel (Rom. 11:33-36).

Molinism is heresy.

Sir Aaron said...

Tom:

You confuse choice with self-determinism. I can make a choice, that doesn't mean that I can determine the outcome. It also assumes that my choices are free from all pre-existing conditions (like total depravity). Mankind does not have free will. Our will is subject to our nature.

Tom said...

"For it to be foreseen infallibly and not merely conjecturally, it must therefore be determined by the circumstances."

Again, I believe that while that seems intuitive, it isn't necessarily true. I see no problem in God being able to fully predict the course of a will that is at least partially self-determined, just as He is completely sovereign over the processes of quantum physics, which are indeterminate within the physical world.

Even Calvinism asserts that God needs the "help" of sending people to hell in order to fully glorify Himself, thus asserting that Jesus' death wasn't sufficient to glorify God's justice.

bp said...

God choosing to display His glory through both His justice (in sending rebellious sinners to hell) and His mercy (in saving some of them) is very different than Him "needing the help" of sending people to hell in order to be glorified. Tom, your irritation at God being God, per Romans 9, comes through loud and clear here.

mennoknight said...

Not really weighing in here, but I really loved that bizarre picture.

I'm still trying to work out what Arminianism and coffee drinking have in common.

*fighting epic pun temptations*

Whoever does the clipart and design for TeamPyro is amazing.

David J. Houston said...

For those Arminians who have been advocating their doctrine of simple foreknowledge (aka the view that God knows the future not because he has determined it but simply by virtue of being God and without any use of the idea of 'middle knowledge') consider the following dilemma:

Suppose that you shot someone a year ago and are now in prison. You have picked up a few tricks from watching MacGyver so (when the guards aren’t watching) you skillfully craft a time-machine out of your toothbrush, a pillow, and some belly-button lint. Using your brand new time-machine you are transported back in time to a minute before you took the shot that resulted in your incarceration. You could stop your younger self from shooting by knocking the gun out of his hand. You “foreknow” what will happen if you do not act and yet your younger-self remains free to shoot or not. In this way foreknowledge does not entail determinism. However, problems arise when God is the subject. Suppose God’s foreknowledge is not dependent upon his foreordination (aka causally determining a state of affairs) and that God foreknows that he will create you. Now since God is free he could choose not to create you. But then what does this say about his foreknowledge? It seems to say that it can be falsified which entails that it is not really foreknowledge since in order for it to count as knowledge whatever is foreknown must be true. But perhaps God never falsifies his foreknowledge and simply decrees what will happen based on what he foreknows. This would allow God to keep his foreknowledge and his freedom. However, the problem for this option is that it reduces the reason for God’s decision to create and act in the world to his blindly following whatever he foreknows will happen without what Zimmerman calls a “deep” reason for doing so. This is obviously inconsistent with the God of the Bible! In order to have a “deep” reason for his actions then God must have decided without the use of his foreknowledge. But that makes God’s foreknowledge useless! So take your pick - does God use his simple foreknowledge and have no 'deep' reason for any of his actions OR does God not use his simple foreknowledge and is reduced, at least functionally, to the god of Open Theism?

donsands said...

"I see no problem in God being able to fully predict the course of a will that is at least partially self-determined," -Tom

Like when Jesus said to Peter you will deny Me 3 times? Not 4, nor 2, but 3.

It's amazing how God ordained for Simon Peter to deny Christ, 3 times.
Think of that sovereign power upon Peter, whom Jesus loved and the Father had chosen and given to His Son.

Made me think of the hymn "In Christ Alone" where we sing

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

Mike Riccardi said...

In God's providence (hah!) I was reading chapter 16 of Grudem's Systematic Theology last evening, and it fit perfectly with this conversation. If you've got it, crack it open and read those 35 pages. I don't know how you could read both this post and that chapter and come away believing anything other than what Grudem carefully and Scripturally presents.

Johnny Dialectic said...

If you've got it, crack it open and read those 35 pages.

I have. Studied all of Grudem, in fact. You know, the Bible sheds a lot of light on commentaries.

David J. Houston said...

Oh Johnny! Your last comment was kinda cute but you'll have to come out with something better than cheap rhetoric in order to persuade us.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

Again, was the wrath poured on Christ sufficient or insufficient to fully glorify God's justice?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Oh David! If the Bible does not convince you, little JD certainly won't. Cf. Luke 16:31

Tom said...

Sorry if I'm misunderstanding Calvinism, though. My impression is that some strains of it teach that God can only be fully glorified by sending some people to hell.

Sir Aaron said...

That's especially true when the Bible says the opposite of what "little JD" does.

David J. Houston said...

If you have debated Calvinists online as much as you have I don't think that bringing Biblical evidence will do much to persuade you. You need to repent and let God's word set the agenda rather than your qualms with being a creature. As for bringing up Luke 16:31, unless you want to make being on the right side of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate a salvation issue I can't see the application.

Tom, this idea, I think, can be found in scripture (Rom 9:21-23) but it also finds support from the Augustinian tradition all the way up to Jonathan Edwards and beyond. The idea is that God is glorified in his self-revelation. Like a painter incorporating all of his skills into his magnum opus, God is most glorified in showing all of his attributes in his creation and dealings.

Of course God is free in choosing which possible world he can actualize and could even have chosen not to create. Calvinists do not believe that the world is necessarily as it is.

Mike Riccardi said...

Of course God is free in choosing which possible world he can actualize and could even have chosen not to create. Calvinists do not believe that the world is necessarily as it is.

Well, some certainly do. And the language of "actualizing possible worlds" borrows from middle knowledge more than makes this Calvinist comfortable.

Tom,

I wouldn't phrase it that way. It's not like God sits in eternity past, thinks about it, and finds out that the only way He's going to get His maximum amount of glory is if He sends some to hell, so He reluctantly chooses that option. God is not bound by some principle or force outside of Himself. In eternity, when the decree was executed, no principle even existed outside of God.

Rather, we should think about it the way Scripture actually presents it. (1) God always (a) pursues and (b) succeeds in manifesting His glory to the utmost (Is 42:8; 46:10; 48:11; Ps 115:3; Eph 1:11). (2) Many human beings go to hell (e.g., Mt 7:13-14).

The conclusion is, as David mentioned, in Romans 9:22-23: that God endured with great patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to (1) demonstrate His wrath and make His power known on the one hand, and in order to (2) make known the riches of His glory upon the vessels of mercy.

Usama Al-Taher said...

my mom doesn't believe in Jesus. She was born in the south in a christian home. She went to church until she was about 18. She married a muslim and is 57 now ( sorry for giving your age mom if you read this) We've had conversations that are logical, archeological, historical, miraculous,etc.. and still not convinced that Jesus is God & she needs to repent & trust in Him.

So, my question is should I pray to God if He is incapable of doing anything to give her faith?
Or do I need better books & dvds to show her?
Maybe I can get that Osteen fellow he seems popular.

Sir Aaron said...

Usama:

As the saying goes, "Everyone is a Calvinist when they get on their knees." You should do as all good Calvinists believe. Continue to pray for her, share Scripture, and if God has elected her, then one day He will regenerate her heart and call her to Him.

Grant said...

J.C. Thibodaux, just saying that Phil has a "fundamental misunderstanding of what free will is" and that "his argument consists of the fallacy of false dichotomy" does not really show that his understanding of free will, or his understanding of the logical result of Arminian claims is really fallacious.

Men do have a limited self-determination, but that is bound by their nature. The sinner is thus bound to their sin and unable to choose God (John 6:44; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 14; Ephesians 2:1-3).

We see this in the crowd in John 6. They have the glory of Jesus Christ blazing before them in the miracle, and they can't see who He really is because they can't see past the desires of their flesh, and how that's mis-shaped their understanding of who the Christ is. As Jesus said to them: "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves...I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe." (John 6:26, 35-36).

Their free will did nothing for them except to eventually cause them to turn away from Christ. All they could think of was how Jesus would improve their lives, they could not SEE that He IS life, and that they needed to be raised to life in Him (Ephesians 2:1-5).

David J. Houston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David J. Houston said...

I think I see what you're getting at, Mike. However, many non-Molinists use the idea of possible worlds. Even those who could care less about theology! It's just an easy way to ground our talk concerning necessity and possibility.

Jason said...

Phil,

This is a false dichotomy. While the future is fixed in the sense that it will happen exactly as God knows it will, that does not mean God has determined the future to be that way, eliminating human freedom in the process. As William Lane Craig notes, while God's knowledge of the future is temporally prior to our free choices, our free choices are logically prior to God's foreknowledge.

Boglord said...

This of course assumes that we can talk of God’s being univocally. Bit of a modern idea........

boomer79 said...

Alright, if God does know everything with 100% certainty, then how does God make decisions? To make a decision the decider must have options, but if God already knows what He is going to choose (and cannot choose otherwise because He would then no longer be omniscient) then He is also trapped into fatalism. Calvinism (philosophically speaking of course) does not emphasize God's sovereignty, but in reality makes Him completely impotent.

Ex N1hilo said...

Jason wrote:

As William Lane Craig notes, while God's knowledge of the future is temporally prior to our free choices, our free choices are logically prior to God's foreknowledge.

If our choices are logically prior to God's knowledge of them, then God is not the necessary being we have imagined Him to be.

His aseity or self-existance is overturned, for there are then "parts" of God that are contingent upon the creature. Aspects of His knowledge depend on us for their existance. God may have created us, but we returned the favor by helping to make God all He is.

The view that our choices are logically prior to God's knowledge of them is idolatry.

sunnyjim said...

Many good posts here, and also much naivete concerning a Biblical view of human depravity and a non-Biblical view of "free will."

Many here fail to see how God uses secondary causes to bring to pass all that he ordains. There is indeed that mystery concerning God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. God has chosen to not reveal this in His Revelation to us. It is our own sinfulness that attempts to "go beyond what is written" to declare the autonomy of the creature.

To Boomer79: There are no such things as "options" for God. There are no such things as "decisions" for God to make. God has, in eternity past, by the counsel of His own will, ordained ALL that will come to pass. You have confused the Creator with the created order.

boomer79 said...

@sunnyjim
You say for God there are no options or decisions, but then you go on to say that He ordained. All you did was change the verb, you didn't answer the claim at all. He would have had to have decided what He wanted to ordain. My objection stands.

sunnyjim said...

Boomer 79, You said, "then how does God make decisions? To make a decision the decider must have options..."
As I said, any "decisions" God made (in eternity past), or any "options" He may have had (in eternity past), were purely after the counsel of His own will (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He took absolutely nothing else into account (whether or not it might satisfy either you or me).

As Isaiah 40:12-14 says, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?"

Likewise, Romans 11:12-14 which says, "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"

naturgesetz said...

@ sunnyjim — "As I said, any "decisions" God made (in eternity past), or any "options" He may have had (in eternity past), were purely after the counsel of His own will (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He took absolutely nothing else into account (whether or not it might satisfy either you or me)."

This sows that you have now idea what eternity means. There cannot possibly be "eternity past." The phrase is a contradiction in terms.

People go astray when they talk about things they don't understand.

Ex N1hilo said...

Usama,

Pray that the Lord Jesus will raise your mother from the dead. Only He can do so.

If you have given the law and the gospel to her, you have done your part. Her conversion is the work of God.

John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

boomer79 said...

Let me try and restate things here. If man's future is settled and God knows the future, then (according to Phil Johnson) you have four options, idolatry, fatalism, blasphemy (Open Theism), or Calvinism (Because Phil aimed his argument at Arminians I am going to use the word Calvinism as short hand, while the topic at hand and Calvinism overlap significantly, they are not 100% equivalent, still most of the people on this board are Calvinists and see God's knowledge of the future as essential to their theology). These are the options that Phil Johnson believes that you have.
1. Idolatry
2. Fatalism
3. Blasphemy (Open Theism)
4. Calvinism
The problem is that Calvinism is not a fourth option. Mr. Johnson believes that God has extensive knowledge of all future events which means that all human actions are already settled, and if they were settled by some impersonal force, then that would mean that humans were trapped in fatalism.

But, Phil believes that we are not trapped in fatalism because the one doing the determining is God and not some impersonal force. The problem is, who is doing the determining for God? If God knows the future exhaustively, then He knows the content of His own future decisions. So God's future is settled just like our future is settled, with no possibility of changing it. Also, since God is omniscient and has always existed, He has always had complete knowledge of all of His future decisions and for each decision He has had only one option, the one He already knows He is going to choose, and only one option is no option at all. So, God cannot change His mind, or choose between two options, His future is settled and always has been, and it was not settled by Him. This would subject God to fatalism, and since humanities future was settled by God, whose future was settled by some impersonal force, then we are also trapped in fatalism.

@sunnyjim
Even decisions that God would make after the counsel of His own will would be decisions. The decision to create for instance is still a decision that God would need to make. The problem is that God never had the option to not create (according to Phil Johnson's "Biblical" logic).

David J. Houston said...

Hey Boomer,

I think that you are mistaken. If you hold to the view that God exists timelessly you can say that God has eternally (timeless sense) chosen and decreed that all 'future' events (from a human perspective, of course) will take place. You might also argue this on the presupposition that God exists in time but it might be more difficult for reasons I don't want to bother getting into!

In either case, I think that Calvinism is the right way to go since all opposing views can be rationally defeated and find no warrant in Scripture whereas God's Word provides ample warrant for believing in a 'no-risk' view of providence.

In all sincerity, I think that, as a Christian, you should take more seriously what the Bible teaches than what Craig, or Plantinga, or Swinburne has said. Helpful as they are in many areas, they do not speak with God's authority and are sometimes lead astray despite their powerful intellects. To put it bluntly, the Devil would be an excellent philosopher. (This coming from a guy who studies philosophy!)

You may miss out on a far deeper understanding of God because you refuse, in your philosophical pursuits, to bow your mind to Christ. Why not follow St. Augustine's advice and "believe so that you may understand'?

boomer79 said...

@Houston
It does not matter if God is timeless or not. This is like the order of decrees in lapsarianism, time does not matter, just like the logical order of decrees. Similarly, here it is not when God made decisions, but how, logically, can God make decisions if He already knows what He must choose and can do no other? It is fatalism.
You say that all other views can be rationally defeated, therefore Calvinism is the way to go, the problem is that this argument rationally defeats Calvinism. Calvinism is dead if we are going to use rationality!
I do take what the Bible says seriously. There are many passages in the Bible that show that God does not know the future exhaustively, it is the Calvinists who do not take the Bible seriously and classify these passages as "anthropomorphisms"!
I did not get this argument from Craig, Plantinga, or Swinburne. This is my objection, not theirs, in fact Craig is having serious problems dealing with the issue of God's ability to make decisions in light of his Molinist views.

naturgesetz said...

I think the problem is that people are trying to tease answers out of Scripture for questions it wasn't written to answer.

How God can be eternal and free is something we can't understand because our minds are limited by how we experience time, so we fall into the trap of talking about God as if there were a before and after with him. And how an omnipotent God who knows everything can create beings who are free is similarly beyond our finite intellects.

But to me, it seems that every command and every exhortation of Scripture is complete nonsense if they are not addressed to people who have an ability to decide whether or not to obey. So to me, when someone suggests that Scripture proves that we do not decide whether or not to commit sinful acts, it seems obvious that they are setting aside the clear meaning of scripture as a whole in order to sustain their doctrines, and it is a powerful indication that the doctrine which they can only sustain by their absurd approach is itself false.

rockstarkp said...

I want the mug in the picture. That'd look great on my destk at work.