What’s Good about that News, Charles?

In this Podcast we talk about rudeness and objectivity in the debate over Calvinism along with whether the gospel = calvinism:  LISTEN HERE

calvinism-gospel-spurgeonIf someone walked up to a perfect stranger and said, “Before creation, God decided that most of humanity will certainly burn for eternity for something they have absolutely no control over.  God has selected to certainly save a relative few, but most have been destined to torment without hope of any recourse or response.”  Do you honestly think any rational person first hearing this news would call it “good?”

Even if this person were to find out that they are among the relative few who are saved from this unthinkable torment, they still are likely to intimately know of others who are not. How can such a thought sit well with anyone? How could they ever, by any standard, deem this news to be good?  And, more significantly, is it the message of Christ?  It this the “NEWS” that He and his followers deemed to be so “GOOD?”

The “good news”(gospel) is the message that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Cor. 5:19)

Well, that sounds better!  God is not counting sin against the world!  Though we all deserve eternal separation due to our sin, God is mercifully NOT COUNTING SIN AGAINST US!  This is sounding much better than that so called “good news” above, don’t you think?  What else does Paul tell us about the true “gospel?”

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:20-21)

So, the “goodness” of this “news” is that God is appealing for ALL PEOPLE in this world to be reconciled, because He sincerely desires that we might all be become righteous through faith in Christ!  There is HOPE for all people everywhere!

There is something truly GOOD about that NEWS!

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” (Ezk. 18:30-31)

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (Jn. 20:31)

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:30-34)

DISCLAIMER: I realize that some Calvinistic believers do not call “Calvinism” the “gospel” (good news), but for those who do this article is to show that the unique claim of Calvinism (that God has predestined to effectually save a relative few and leave most of humanity without any hope whatsoever) is not “good” by any rational standard. It is not even good for those it benefits given they too likely know of many destined to eternal torment without any hope.  So, while you may believe it is true, there is no reason to suggest this unique part of your belief system is itself the “good news” that the scriptures reference as the “appeal to be reconciled” sent to “every man.”  There is a good reason many, from even among the ranks of Calvinism, who believe this discussion is “back room talk” and not for public consumption, whereas the GOSPEL is for all to hear and discuss openly.  There is good reason there are many referred to as “closet calvinists” who realize the lack of “goodness” in the unique part of their difficult to swallow systematic. 

Even John Calvin himself declared, “The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny…” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxiii.7)

ADDED: Dr. Brian Wagner sent me this quote from Dr. Laurence M. Vance’s excellent work entitled, “The Other Side of Calvinism.”  The controversy over Calvinism among the Baptists calls for special attention. Not only has this debate raged among the Baptists for hundreds of years, the greatest exponents of Calvinism today are not the Presbyterian or Reformed but the Baptists. The fact that a Baptist says he is not a Calvinist means nothing, for the Baptists, more than any other Calvinists, when seeking to draw attention away from the name of Calvin, use the phrase “Doctrines of Grace” as a metaphor for Calvinism.105 Another term used by Baptists is “Sovereign Grace.”106 The term “grace” by itself is also used to stand for the doctrines of Calvinism.107 One Calvinistic Baptist even wrote a book calledGrace Not Calvinism.108 But just as was pointed out previously, if Calvinism is the doctrine of grace found in the Bible then this implies that if you disagree with Calvinism then you are denying salvation by grace.” <link>

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75 thoughts on “What’s Good about that News, Charles?

  1. I don’t understand how an Arminian (if he is not an open-theist) can escape that conundrum if God has foreknowledge of all future events. You still will have to acknowledge that under your view also, God knows who is going to be in heaven and who is going to be in hell from eternity.

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    1. This is a worthy question. And many have speculated and philosophized with regard to how One can maintain a biblical view of exhaustive foreknowledge and human responsibility. But what must be noted is that classical theists throughout centuries have held to both truths without necessarily drawing hard conclusions about causality and infinite knowledge. CS Lewis among many others have given philosophical answers to help our mind think beyond the linear but like all theories which go beyond where the text stops, it is mere speculation. We do know that the scripture never concludes that God’s knowledge of all things equals his determination, desire or even his decree of all things. In fact scripture seems to present quite the opposite. God expresses his frustration and regret regularly and without qualification. That doesn’t fit our concept of infinite knowledge yet God has no qualms with presenting himself in that manner. Therefore I see no reason we should have a qualm with believing him in the manner in which he has chosen to reveal himself.

      Our mind typically thinks of the eternal as being a singular timeline that endlessly travels in both directions, but many philosophers reject this linear notion of eternity and especially with regard to divine infinite knowledge. In short, The argument is that God’s knowledge is not like our knowledge. For example how does God think? If he always knows what he will eventually think and how does he ever come to think it? Same question with regard to God’s choices, how does he choose something if he’s always known what will be chosen? These things are beyond full comprehension yet scripture presents God as both thinking and choosing. There must be an appeal to mystery with regard to God’s infinite knowledge and man’s temporal decisions within time and space. I don’t believe determinism gives a biblical response to that problem nor do I believe open theism gives a biblical response… there are other theories of course, but again we must recognize them as mere theories and not authoritative biblical revelation.

      With regard to God’s knowledge being different than how we know things, I believe CS Lewis gives the best of all explanations. He speaks of the “eternal now.” Sometimes we think of God’s knowledge as being like ours in that we know what has happened in the past as a set knowledge of something already determined and we assume that God knows all things in that same manner… as a set determined already determined reality. Yet right now as you read these words you know that I wrote NOW in all caps not because you determined for me to write it in all caps but because you are experiencing it in the now. Likewise God is omnipresent, meaning he is at all places at all times the great “I AM.” Thus, God knows all things because he exists at all times and in all places, not because he has necessarily determined all things at all times and in all places. Again that doesn’t answer the all mysterious quandaries of God’s infinite ways, but it does help us to think beyond the linear, one dimension, in my opinion.

      One thing that has to be noted is that our critique of Calvinism is against their actual claims. Where as this critique is against a philosophical conclusion drawn by an infinite Mystery, not the claims of our systematic or any of our scholars. I hope that makes sense. But often times the “you too” fallacy is employed against our perspective by suggesting that we have the same problem as Calvinists, when we don’t. Our systematic, regardless of if one deems it to be logically inconsistent or not, never claims that God’s knowledge of all things equals his determination, desire, or decree of all things. That is speculative and philosophical, not biblical, and most especially is not a claim of our systematic. I hope that helps.

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      1. I don’t think that any Calvinists would say that they know who the elect is going to be. They too appeal to mystery in this regard. Our job is to proclaim gospel to all nations. Whether or not, those who hear the gospel will have Holy Spirit working on them is something that is beyond our control or knowledge. We leave it to the sovereignty of God and pray for them that they receive the Holy Spirit if it is God’s will about them.

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      2. I agree that Calvinists don’t teach that for the most part. I have family members on the mission field as we speak who are Calvinistic. In fact when I was a Calvinist I was also an evangelist. I fully understand and affirmed that Calvinists are evangelistic and do not claim to know who are and who are not the elect. But when a Calvinist insists that the unique aspects of Calvinism (ie that God from eternity past has selected a particular number of people who will certainly be saved and passed over the rest leaving them in a hopeless condition) is the GOOD NEWS, then I believe they have overstepped and exaggerated the distinction between what truly is good about the Gospel and the more nuanced the logical explanations regarding God’s secret working in salvation. Calvinists and non-Calvinist like affirm the tenets of what is referenced as “the gospel”. So when a Calvinist insists that the uniqueness of his claims is the gospel, then she is pointing to that distinction between our views as being the “good” of the news in the Gospel. But there is nothing good, by even the standards of many Calvinists, about that distinctive quality with in the claims of the Calvinistic systematic. As Calvin himself said it “is a dreadful decree.”

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      3. But we have to proclaim God as we understand from reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. There are only 2 options: we can let Bible define the nature of God or we can define what should be God’s nature, a priori that everyone would like (based on perfect being theology and philosophy) and then exegete scripture based on that presupposition. Those who take the first option hold on to high view of entire scripture while those take the latter option, do not hold to a high view of scripture. But if one hold on to second option, I don’t understand what prevents them to believe in open theism and universalism (with some form of purgatory). That too would be a “Christian” conception of God, but not a Biblical conception of God.

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      4. Also I forgot to add one thing. I did not mean to say that God’s foreknowledge determines our actions. What I meant to say was that, however one wants to evangelize, even in your view, you have to admit, only those whom God foreknows to freely choose Him (from eternity) will eventually end up in heaven (unless one is an open-theist where future is still an open possibility and never actualized). I understand your position. Just wanted to clarify that.

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      5. Having followed the interactions between atheists and Christians in various forums like Reasonable Faith, the unbelievers can still ask, maybe in God’s foreknowledge I will not freely choose Him, that might be the reason why I am an unbeliever, otherwise I would have seen the claims of Christianity to be true and worth following. Same conundrum in another form.

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      6. It’s a similar conundrum, but far from the same. Ours doesn’t have divine culpability issues (i.e. impugning God’s holiness, undermining his genuine desire for man’s salvation, threatening man’s evangelistic fervor—all of which Calvinists have to work hard to keep from taking root bc of the natural outpouring of their system’s claims).

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      7. Personally I find Calvinistic position more robust in that regard. I believe in a God who has the power to save anyone whom He desires to save and makes Christ’s death on the cross as an efficacious one. Man in his natural state of sin cannot come to Christ unless he is drawn to Him by the Holy Spirit so that no one can boast of it as if it is due to his meritorious choice but due to His grace. Everything happens according to God’s plan from the beginning of time. That affirms the sovereignty of God.

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      8. I too believe God has the power to save anyone whom He desires to save and apply the atonement to anyone and everyone He so pleases. Who, according to scripture, does God please to grace?

        James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

        2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”

        2 Chronicles 12:7: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak.

        2 Chronicles 12:12: Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed.

        2 Chronicles 34:27: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord.

        Psalm 18:27: You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

        Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

        Psalm 147:6: The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

        Proverbs 3:34: He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

        Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

        Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

        Luke 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

        Luke 14:11: For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

        Luke 18:14: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

        James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

        1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

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      9. The question is whether man in his natural state can humble themselves before God or whether he need to first be moved by Holy Spirit to do so. I believe that man in his natural state of sin is in rebellion against God and cannot do so on his own choice unless through God’s grace.

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      10. If what you say is true then it makes more sense for these passages to read:

        James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

        Changed to:

        Calvin 4:10: “God will humble you, if you’re elect, before Himself so as to lift you up.”
        —–

        2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”

        Changed to:

        1 Calvinian 22:19: “Because I made your heart responsive and humbled you before me when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because I made you want to tear your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.
        —–

        Psalm 18:27: You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

        Changed to:

        Beza 18:27: You make some humble so as to save them but bring low those eyes who are haughty (which is also by divine decree not free choice).
        —-

        Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

        Changed to:

        Piper 2:3: “I will make some Seek the Lord, and cause them to be the humble of the land, you who do what he commands by his determinative providence. I will make some of you to want to seek righteousness, and seek humility; so that you will certainly be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
        —-

        Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

        Changed to:

        Tulip 23:12: For those who exalt themselves as they have been determined to do by my sovereign decree before they were born will be humbled, and those who I effectually humble will be exalted.
        —-

        Luke 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

        Changed to:

        Sproul 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up those He cause to be humble.

        (why he wouldn’t just humble the rulers instead of ‘bringing them down and destroying them’ while effectually making others who are equally prideful to be humble so as to exalt them…. I cannot see how you feel that is what these text mean?)
        —–
        1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

        Changed to:

        Mohler 5:6: God will humble you, therefore, under His mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
        —-

        The error of Calvinism is PRESUMING that because we can’t earn our own righteousness by working for it that we are equally unable to admit that fact in the face of God’s abundantly clear revelation so as to have God gracious impute the righteousness of Christ on our behalf.

        Admitting you can’t earn your own righteousness doesn’t earn your own righteousness!!!

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      11. John, You’ll have to read some of the earlier posts and discussions! 🙂 Leighton believes the power of the gospel overcomes that natural hardness, but not irresistibly, if I am understanding him right. I believe the Lord provides divine enlightenment and conviction to everyone at least once to overcome that natural hardness when they hear the gospel, but not irresistibly.

        Also, logically, foreknowledge of events in the future as certain must come from God’s determination. God does not watch the future as a video tape produced by someone else. If everything is certain then He must create the video tape. But there is no clear proof in Scripture that just because God is able to determine things ahead of time, and that He has determined some things ahead of time, that He has determined all things ahead of time. Rather it is more natural to interpret Scripture as some things determined and all other things possible, and therefore His foreknowledge is a complete perfect knowledge of all those determinations and possibilities. Nothing else could logically exist to be known.

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      12. I believe in treating the entire Scripture as one unit rather than treating each section individually. My concept of God is based on the character of God as understood from Genesis to Revelation. God who chose Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Judah as the clan where Messiah is to come against Joseph, Moses who was not favored by any Hebrews and no ability to lead to lead Israelites, David to be the king of Israel, Solomon to be the king of Israel, Jeremiah to be His even before he was conceived, showing that it is not due to one’s merits that one gets elected, God who hardened the heart of Pharoah, in Psalm 33 where it says: The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations and God who says in Exodus 33: “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” and verses in prophet where God says that He will elect an remnant for Himself and for His glory. So even if it says only in those verses so, it has to be understood in entire context of the Biblical concept of God and understanding of Original Sin.

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      13. That is what it follows from then. Law was given to Moses only for the Israelites. Why was not the Law given to the Edomites? It shows God did show His preference to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob there so much so that He referred Himself to as God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He extended the grace to ones outside the Israelites after they sinned and create a remnant for Himself. These instances show the character of God from these verses in regards to His election that it was solely due to His grace and not due to meritorious works of those who gets His favor.

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      14. That is at least what Bible tells from what happened after it. God gave His Laws only for Israelites. He sent His prophets only for Israelites. If He were concerned with salvation of Edomites, we would have seen a different account in the Bible. Why was God only speaking to Israelites and not Edomites?

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      15. John, I think you have missed the main point about God’s choosing Israel. It was not because He only wanted to show His love to them, but to the world through them! The blessings for them were available to the world (Gen 12:3). They were to be a light of salvation to the nations (Is 49:6), including Edom. We will see Edomites in heaven (Rev 7:9)! And there will be Israelites in hell in spite of their nation’s corporate election.

        Do a word study of “elect” and “choose” and you will see that these words do not mean “salvation” in every context, nor is it possible for them to mean “before the foundation of the world” in every context.

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      16. Brian, I believe that salvation was extended to the nations from Israel as part of new covenant where God says in the prophetic writings that He will create a new remnant out of Israel which will include also the Gentiles (nations) that is faithful to Him for His glory, where He will change their heart of stone to heart of flesh and Law will be written in their hearts and they no longer have to look into Law to know what they have to obey or not. And this is fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and gift of Holy Spirit to the elect. But what I was stressing was that God did show his preference to Jacob over Esau. That indeed shows the nature of Yahweh, that He choose His elect for His own glory.

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      17. Thank you John for your kind reply. So do you agree that the corporate election of Israel was to provide the opportunity of individuals from every nation and that individuals of elect Israel ended up without partaking of the benefits of the new covenant during OT times? I think that is what you were conceding.

        Where we probably differ is how God used His grace shown through creation, conscience, and the Holy Spirit during OT times, and even today, to draw all people of other nations at some point to an opportunity for salvation and to become one of His elect (e.g. men of Nineveh, Matt. 12:41, or Ruth, Ruth 1:16). And behind that, we probably differ as to whether the Book of Life had no names in it at creation or had a completed list of names.

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      18. I agree that election of Israel was eventually for creation of a new elect faithful to Him. But the issue that I stressed earlier was the nature of Yahweh in regards to His elect was evident from how He dealt with Israelites and those who were not Israelites. Since both you and me both agree that universalism is not an option, it makes more sense to me based on the consistent message from the entire Bible about the nature and conduct of Yahweh that those who are eventually saved are those whom God chose to be His faithful elect. But I also believe that God individually knows each one of His elect when He choose them just as Jesus says that a shepherd knows personally every one of his flock. So the concept that God knows only the corporate group that clings to a belief makes it less personal. But I am not strongly clinging to that one, as I am not very dogmatic about it.

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    2. John Thomas – I agree whole heartedly with your two options! The problem is that both sides of defining eternity as linear or non-linear as part of God’s nature and experience both claim biblical definition for themselves and philosophical definition for the other side. Brother Flowers admits, “Our mind typically thinks of the eternal as being a singular timeline that endlessly travels in both directions, but many philosophers reject this linear notion of eternity and especially with regard to divine infinite knowledge.” But then it appears that both he and you accept the philosophical view of timelessness or above time with only the title “I am” as proof, which I do not think contextually or syntactically is a necessary meaning.

      My view is that God was not bound to limit His foreknowledge to mean a fully determined human history before He got the ball rolling (like Calvinism and Molinism dogmatically must have in their views)! He certainly did pre-determine certain ends, means, laws and boundaries, but I believe the Scripture naturally supports that He determined, if you will, to keep many things undetermined and therefore His foreknowledge knows those things completely as possibilities and it logically would be impossible for them to exist as individual certainties in His foreknowledge. He still has full knowledge of all the free-actions available to Him and mankind. I cannot see how to take the presence of Scriptural commands, subjunctives, and passages like (Jer. 18:1-10) any other way and remain true to the normal reading of Scripture.

      I have been accused of open theism, whatever that means. But as you point out, the more important issue is to get our definition of God’s nature from Scripture and not from the extrapolations of theology or philosophy. That is what I claim to be attempting to do with honesty and integrity. If you have verses that explain God’s eternal nature as timeless and/or above time, I would love to consider them. Psalm 90:2 would have to be explained in the light of them. And one further conundrum… if all is present for God, then all human history already actually exists, which also counters the natural reading of the Scripture in a big way, and philosophically makes human history both integral and necessary to God’s nature, in my view!

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      1. Brian,

        Good response. While I would have the same concerns that most typically have against a view like this I still find it leaps and bounds better than a deterministic alternative. It baffles me that the label heretic is thrown around so freely when it comes to speculation regarding how such infinite matters work out with in a temporal world. But I am honestly fine with the mystery it all entails.

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  2. Another excellent post, Leighton! Just a note that Calvinist Charles Spurgeon felt the elect have to outnumber the non-elect in the end so that Christ will have the pre-eminence with greater numbers than those followers of the devil ending up in hell. Spurgeon felt that either a great future revival or because of the multitudes that have died in infancy the numbers in heave will be more.

    It still doesn’t seem like good news, however, that God chose mostly infants or people at the end of the age, and that He decided to reject most of those in most of human history.

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    1. Pastor Flowers writes, “Even John Calvin himself declared, “The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny…” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxiii.7)”

      Adding more to the quote, we read–

      “The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him,…”

      Who, of us would deny that “God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him.”

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “…we don’t believe foreknowledge demands determinism as does Calvin.”

        I think Calvin’s argument was that sovereignty demands determinism (but does not require that God cause those things He has determined).

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      2. Things God caused: The flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom, the impregnation of Mary, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

        Things God determined but did not cause (normally described as God allowing): The sale of Joseph by his brothers; the crucifixion of Christ by the Romans; the stoning of Stephan; the taking of Daniel and his friends to Babylon.

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      3. Because God is sovereign and He always has the final decision whether to intervene to bring about the outcome He wants (i.e., the impregnation of Mary) or not to intervene allowing evil people to carry out their evil deeds – but this also is to bring about the outcome God wants. Because God exercises complete control over all events, it is His decisions that determine how those events play out.

        And as we both agree, God had worked out all of history before He created the world (God is omniscient). When God created the world, He set in motion everything he had determined would occur, just like dominoes falling.

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      4. rhutchin said, “And as we both agree, God had worked out all of history before He created the world (God is omniscient). When God created the world, He set in motion everything he had determined would occur, just like dominoes falling.”

        I would not agree to this conclusion as it is much too linear and does not allow for any dynamic. Had I not already pod-casted and written extensively on this I would go into it more here, but I encourage you too read others perspectives on this topic (CS Lewis for example takes on this concept). In short, I don’t believe God’s infinite knowledge of what we choose in the temporal world is contingent upon His determination of our choosing it, but on our actual contra-causal choice. He knows what we will choose because we choose it, not because he determined we choose it. Much more can be said, but I wanted you to know I do not accept the very flat, linear logic you’ve assumed here.

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      5. Another thought on the use of “determine” versus “allow.” Because God is sovereign (in the ultimate sense), He cannot be viewed as passive in His sovereign rule and must be viewed as actively involved in everything that happens. Nothing escapes God’s notice and attention. God is never involved in some things such that He cannot be attentive to all other things. God is always aware, always involved in any and all activities that take place in His creation. Because of this active interest, God personally makes a decision on everything that happens. God makes active decisions to intervene to cause an event (e.g., the impregnation of Mary) or to prevent natural events from running their natural course (e.g., speaking to Abimelech in a dream so that he would not touch Abraham’s wife) or not to intervene and allow naturally occurring events to run their course (e.g,. the sale of Joseph by his brothers).

        Thus, God “determines” everything that happens because He decides actively everything that happens. To say that God “allows” certain events is not wrong, but this can be taken erroneously to mean that God might be passive in His rule over His creation.

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      6. Why do you assume “He cannot be passive in His sovereign rule?” God is not free to be passive? Is God bound by his own attributes? Could Nolan Ryan at the height of his career when his son was just 5 years old only pitch him 100 mph fast balls when playing in the back yard? Are people able to limit their attributes, while God isn’t?

        I’m not asking if God can stop being God. I’m not asking if God can create a rock too big for him to move. I’m asking if He could create a rock that he CHOOSES NOT to move. Can he create creatures who can choose to refrain or not refrain from any given moral actions? Yes or no? If no, you deny his creativity and omnipotence. If yes, you affirm LFW and the mystery it entails.

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      7. Rhutchin – I appreciate your willingness to see that “allows” is part of God’s Sovereignty. But have you noticed that you are not being consistent with the dogmatism of your position that all was pre-determined before creation. In your examples you said – “God personally makes a decision on everything that happens. God makes active decisions to intervene to cause an event….or not to intervene and allow naturally occurring events to run their course….Thus, God ‘determines’ everything that happens because He decides actively everything that happens.” You should not use biblical language like that, because you believe all things were pre-determined.

        You should always say, to be consistent with Calvinism and not with the Bible – “God personally MADE a decision on everything that happens. God MADE AN active DECISION to intervene…. or not to intervene….Thus God ‘DETERMINED’ everything that happens because He DECIDED….” Please be consistent and stop sounding more like an open theist… I mean, more like a Biblicist! 🙂

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      8. Pastor Flowers writes, ‘Why do you assume “He cannot be passive in His sovereign rule?””

        God has the final say on everything that happens. Your examples illustrate this. God knows all that is happening. God has power to intervene and change anything that is happening. Thus, by necessity, God is always deciding what He will do – whether to throw 95 or 100mph fastballs or not to move a rock He created. These are active decisions. A “passive” decision amounts to God actively deciding not to intervene to change what is happening. To use the example often used: What about the case of rape? When a rape occurs, God is present during the act observing everything that is happening. God cannot just do nothing; God must decide to do nothing and that decision is to ordain the rape (should God decide not to intervene). Same with Adam/Eve in the garden. God was standing there (so to speak) as Satan interacted with Adam and Eve. God could have decided to intervene to prevent their disobedience. God decided not to intervene thereby ordaining that disobedience.

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      9. We simply see things differently my brother. Almost as if God allowed it, huh? 😉

        I believe God made the active decision to create free moral creatures and on occasion may actively persuade or curtail man’s will to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose. I do not believe God has meticulously sat down at some point in history prior to creation (as if he existed on some eternal linear time line) and actively decided if he would allow Dahmer to desire to molest or not, for example. I don’t think it works like that. I think its a bit more complex that the divine computer programmer model in the sky who sat down at his computer and programmed what would or wouldn’t happen. I realize its an oversimplification but that is the point of my argument, not meant to be an insult. The deterministic model concedes to a simplified and “explainable model” of creation and I find it hard to believe that with all the mysteries of our universe (that we can’t begin to explain) that theologians have God’s ways all figured out… especially when what they have figured out seems to fly in the face of so much of what the text says about God. Just my view on it, but who knows, maybe God programmed me to be wrong about this. 🙂

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      10. brianwagner writes, “You should always say, to be consistent with Calvinism and not with the Bible – “God personally MADE a decision on everything that happens.”

        For purposes of illustrating God’s power, it is useful to speak in the present tense because people readily identify with the present. People can picture a person standing next to Adam/Eve in the garden listening to their conversation and being able to jump in at any point to prevent A/E making a very bad decision. People can picture a person in a burning house with the ability to wake up the person asleep in his bed in order to save his life. We pray and interact with God in the present and visualize God responding to our prayers in real time while all the time knowing that God is omniscient and the decisions we picture God making in response to our prayers were made before God created the world. So, I see nothing wrong with speaking of God operating in the present as it helps people understand God’s omnipresence and His omnipotence.

        Two things to remember. That which God knows today, God knew before He created the world – all the decisions God makes in the course of human time were made before any human came to be. God’s knowledge of actions in the future is not derived by looking into the future to learn what is to happen.

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      11. Pastor Flowers writes, “I do not believe God has meticulously sat down at some point in history prior to creation (as if he existed on some eternal linear time line) and actively decided if he would allow Dahmer to desire to molest or not, for example.”

        OK, so long as you understand that this position denies omniscience.

        I think Molinism is a good vehicle for illustrating this. Molinism explains that God could have created a world in which Dahmer was a choir boy and one in which he did great evil or any number of other possibilities. God decided to create that world in which Dahmer did great evil, Obama was elected presented, David numbered Israel, and we engaged in this conversation. When God created our world, He knew these events would come about, as well as all other events, and by creating this world, God set all this in motion – thereby ordaining all that came to be.

        The only failure of Molinism is that it does not explain how all the different worlds God could consider for creation could come about – Molinism attributes this to free will decisions by people but does not deal with the problems of this position.

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      12. No, it does not deny Omniscience, it simply refuses to explain or define omniscience as linear or temporal in nature. Again, there are thousands of theistic scholars who have held to my view who explain this so much better than my peon brain could ever hope to accomplish so I’ll refer you to them… CS Lewis, Aquinas, Boethius…etc

        I’m primarily a theologian not a philosopher. I dabble in philosophy out of necessity, as Lewis states, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”

        I think divine determinism of moral evil is based on BAD PHILOSOPHY. I really don’t wish to get into weeds on all this again because what can be said has already been said by much smarter people than I am on the topic.

        The mystery of LFW is mysterious because it rejects determinism, which is very simple, flat and one dimensional. Insisting it cannot be because it doesn’t make sense to you is just question begging…and self defeating given that mystery as never been the right grounds on which to reject a truth revealed by a God whose very existence is mysterious and must be accepted on the basis of faith.

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      13. Pastor Flowers writes, “Can he create creatures who can choose to refrain or not refrain from any given moral actions? Yes or no? If no, you deny his creativity and omnipotence. If yes, you affirm LFW and the mystery it entails.”

        God can certainly create people who make decisions. This does not deny anything about God. As RC Sproul might say, “Man’s freedom stops where God’s sovereignty begins. It is God who decides how and where to exercise His power either allowing people to act according to their depraved natures or intervening to bring about His desire (think Saul of Tarsus).

        The problem with LFW is that few people seem able to exercise it. This is so if a person is a slave to his depraved nature, as Paul encourages believers, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” or “…walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

        It should be obvious that anyone with LFW readily chooses salvation if free actually means free. Otherwise, it would just be a Libertarian Will.

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      14. This is why I’ve avoided the term “free will.” I prefer RESPONSE-ABLE. We are able to respond to God’s revelations. If a man chooses to trade the clearly revealed truth in for a lie, don’t blame it on the truth teller, blame it on the one who chose to trade the truth in… (i.e. God didn’t grant them the grace they needed to believe the truth)

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      15. Pastor Flowers writes, “No, it does not deny Omniscience…”

        The issue is not linear or temporal time. Omniscience requires that God know everything (including the actions of Dahmer) about this world before He created the world and to have this knowledge without having to learn something He did not know.

        The position you are forced to take is to say that omniscience is a mystery that we cannot define and certainly cannot describe in the manner I have. It is basically to plead mystery in God’s knowledge in order to avoid dealing with God’s knowledge.

        If that is what you need to do to maintain sanity, have at it.

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      16. Before? When is that?

        When does God think a thought? Make a choice? When did he come to create? Before he thought of it or after? When did he choose to save you? Before he created the world, after he thought of creating the world, or before he thought of creating? Does He need you to exist? Could he have not thought about you? Could he have not created you? If not, then is God really all self sufficient?

        We can’t even explain how God thinks and chooses, yet we know he is revealed in scripture as doing so…

        “His ways are higher than our ways.” Stop trying to draw hard and fast conclusions about things we cannot possible begin to grasp.

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      17. Pastor Flowers writes, “This is why I’ve avoided the term “free will.” I prefer RESPONSE-ABLE.”

        Jesus said, “If you study the Scriptures, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (In context, He said this to believers.) No one who knows the truth will trade it for a lie. People believe lies because they do not know the truth.

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      18. I am sorry Rhutchin, please reconsider. You can not have it both ways. To say – “For purposes of illustrating God’s power, it is useful to speak in the present tense because people readily identify with the present,” is really saying that the Bible speaks of God making decisions in the present tense, but in reality He is not making any decisions in the present tense for they were all really already made in the distant past. God just says it the other way to be “useful”, to accommodate people’s ignorance, I guess is what you mean, but you really know the truth.

        It is not “useful” to speak in the present tense if what is spoken is a lie! But I know you believe that God cannot lie! If the Bible says God is making decisions (1Cor. 12:11, Jer. 18:1-11) then that is the truth, and it cannot also be true that all decisions were previously made. That would be like saying Jesus rose bodily from the dead, but He really did not rise bodily from the dead! Please reconsider.

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      19. brianwagner writes, “…[something that made no sense to me]…”

        I am the who was describing God’s actions using the present tense. That for purposes of illustration. It still holds that those decisions that God is described in the Bible as making in the course of human history were made before God crated the world else God is not omniscient.

        If you want to make a substantive argument deal with omniscience and explain those events that occur in human history that were not known to God before He created the world.

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      20. Pastor Flowers writes, “Romans 1 says otherwise.”

        Romans 1 is interesting. It says that depraved man should know God by observing the universe He created – “…the invisible things of God…are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;…” Thus, they “knew God” but “…they glorified him not as God…” They “…changed the truth of God into a lie…”

        Jesus said that the study of the Scriptures leads to truth and freedom for believers. So, does the study of the heavens lead to knowledge about God and truth. It should to reasonable men but these are unbelievers and not reasonable men. So, why didn’t the truth these men learned from the heavens free them to believe God? Why did they continue in slavery to sin? Maybe because God must first make them believers. Otherwise, I don’t know. Nonetheless, Romans 1 is interesting – especially as it describes the hopeless condition in which unregenerate people find themselves. Such is the depravity of people. So, the point is yours. Unregenerate people trade the truth about God for a lie.

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      21. Pastor Flowers writes, “We can’t even explain how God thinks and chooses, yet we know he is revealed in scripture as doing so…

        “His ways are higher than our ways.” Stop trying to draw hard and fast conclusions about things we cannot possibly begin to grasp.”

        Despite this, there are things that we know. We know from Isaiah that God is omniscient. We don’t know how God thinks, but we still know He has omniscient knowledge of His creation.

        Who, of us would deny that in His omniscience God knew what the end of man was to be before he made him and all the days of a man’s life were written in His book before one of them came to be.

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      22. Rhutchin – I am not sure why you can not understand my response to your use of the present tense for God’s deciding to cause or allow human events! You responded back – “I am the who was describing God’s actions using the present tense. That for purposes of illustration. It still holds that those decisions that God is described in the Bible as making in the course of human history were made before God crated [sic] the world else God is not omniscient.” So either you are lying “for purposes of illustration” by not reflecting biblical teaching as you see it of all things being pre-determined, or God is lying when He “is described in the Bible as making” decisions, if it is instead true that they all had already been made. What don’t you get?

        I am convinced that your loyalty to your traditional/theological/philosophical definition of omniscience makes you stop your ears and close your eyes to how the Bible describes God’s omniscience and HIs freedom to make choices within human history. The Bible clearly portrays God’s omniscience as knowing all things which includes only those things pre-determined, all things that have happened (and every past counterfactual), and everything else as future possibilities that are still free to be determined. You were partly describing that definition even though you do not believe it. And hiding behind the phrase “for purposes of illustration” is a weak cover for such a contradiction between what you described and what you say you believe is the real truth about God’s pre-determination!

        Please, Rhutchin, let the Bible define for you God’s nature of omniscience and sovereignty! It is amazing how you and other Calvinist’s I know actually use those biblical definitions which counter you theological ones, without consciously realizing those contradictions. I heard Sproul once on the radio ask the question – “What is the need of every lost man?” He answered his own question – “…to be saved.” He was not conscious, I believe, that his biblical premise directly contradicted his theological position. For it is only the need of every elect person, in his professed view, to be saved. It literally is the “need” according to Calvinistic divine pre-determination for all non-elect to remain lost and to glorify God by revealing His wrath by burning in hell forever, even though they never were enabled to have an opportunity to be saved.

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      23. brianwagner writes, “The Bible clearly portrays God’s omniscience as knowing all things which includes only those things pre-determined, all things that have happened (and every past counterfactual), and everything else as future possibilities that are still free to be determined. You were partly describing that definition even though you do not believe it.”

        This is the language of Open Theism despite your refusal to acknowledge it. So, we disagree.

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  3. Pastor Flowers writes, “Does he know it because they freely choose, or do they choose what God knew and determined for them to choose and how in the world would you know?”

    If we say that God knows that which people freely choose to do, then we are saying that God must observe what people do and thereby He gains His knowledge. That is not omniscience as omniscience says that God has knowledge of all things without having to observe and learn what happens. Under this scenario, God reacts to what He observes people to do. If God is limited to reacting to what happens around Him, He cannot be described as sovereign – He is not in control.

    Omniscience requires that people do that which God determined for them to do. God’s knowledge, under omniscience, is based on His actions and not on the action’s of people. In addition, sovereignty requires that God’s control be absolute requiring that He be omniscient.

    In order to get a handle on this, we might picture God as standing beside Adam/Eve in the garden and observing their behavior as they interact with Satan and then deciding whether to intervene to prevent their sin or not intervene and allow natural forces to play out to the end that they sin. That’s kinda the Molinist approach. Under Molinism, God can look at all possible worlds He might create – observing all the free will actions of people – and He finally selects that one, unique world that He wants to create; a world in which Adam/Eve sin, Christ is crucified, etc.

    However, that’s not what sovereignty and omniscience require. Adam/Eve necessarily sin when tempted by Satan – they will not exercise free will to not sin. Satan does not enter the garden unless God decrees that he should and God does not decree that Satan enter the garden without also knowing that the end result will be that Adam/Eve sin. Satan’s desire to enter the garden to destroy God’s creation cannot form in his mind without God decreeing that it should – God could intervene to prevent it; it is His decision. At this point, I will follow your lead and appeal to mystery on further detail. There always seem to be options as to what can happen, and God exercises complete control over these options.

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    1. Ok… let’s back up then a little Rhutchin. Was God sovereign enough and powerful enough before the creation to be able to leave some things undetermined, even though in your chosen position He didn’t? And why did God say to Abraham “Now I know” (Gen. 22:13) when “I always knew” would have been just as easily understood by Abraham and more consistent with your chosen philosophical definition of omniscience?

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      1. brianwagner writes, “Was God sovereign enough and powerful enough before the creation to be able to leave some things undetermined, even though in your chosen position He didn’t?”

        No. God cannot Not be omniscient. God knows all things past, present, and future and that knowledge cannot be hidden for Him. God cannot NOT be omnipotent but He can choose when and where to exercise His omnipotence. God cannot NOT be sovereign. God is always in complete and perfect control of the entirety of His creation. Nothing is exempt from His control. Thus, nothing can happen unless God first decides that it should happen and ordains/determines that it is to happen.

        Isaiah 46 has, “…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”

        Revelation 20 has, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

        The books which are opened at the end of time had already been written when God created the world in Genesis 1. Psalm 139 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

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      2. brianwagner writes, “why did God say to Abraham “Now I know” (Gen. 22:13) when “I always knew” would have been just as easily understood by Abraham and more consistent with your chosen philosophical definition of omniscience?”

        Calvin writes–

        “12. Now I know that thou fearest God. The exposition of Augustine, ‘I have caused thee to know,’ is forced. But how can any thing become known to God, to whom all things have always been present? Truly, by condescending to the manner of men, God here says that what he has proved by experiment, is now made known to himself. And he speaks thus with us, not according to his own infinite wisdom, but according to our infirmity. Moses, however, simply means that Abraham, by this very act, testified how reverently he feared God. It is however asked, whether he had not already, on former occasions, given many proofs of his piety? I answer that when God had willed him to proceed thus far, he had, at length, completed his true trial; in other persons a much lighter trial might have been sufficient. And as Abraham showed that he feared God, by not sparing his own, and only begotten son; so a common testimony of the same fear is required from all the pious, in acts of self-denial. Now since God enjoins upon us a continual warfare, we must take care that none desires his release before the time.”

        Gill writes–

        “And this is said, not as though he was ignorant before how things would issue; for he knew from all eternity what Abraham would be, and what he would do, having determined to bestow that grace upon him, and work it in him, which would influence and enable him to act the part he did; he knew full well beforehand what would be the consequence of such a trial of him; but this is said after the manner of men, who know things with certainty when they come to pass, and appear plain and evident: or this may be understood of a knowledge of approbation, that the Lord now knew, and approved of the faith, fear, love, and obedience of Abraham, which were so conspicuous in this affair, see Ps 1:6; Saadiah Gaon {i} interprets it, “I have made known”, that is, to others; God by trying Abraham made it manifest to others, to all the world, to all that should hear of or read this account of things, that he was a man that feared God, loved him, believed in him, and obeyed him, of which this instance is a full and convincing proof:”

        Other commentaries may be consulted.

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      3. Rhutchin, I guess you noticed that you did not respond to my question about Gen. 22:13. But you may not have noticed that you have limited God’s sovereignty to make it fit your philosophical definition. If He was able to make determinations of all things before creation, why wouldn’t He be able to make only some of those determinations before and some after, especially since that is what the Bible indicates He has done?
        Is 46 – Declaring the end from the beginning does not have to include pre-determining everything in between. Only the end is predetermined, not how history will unfold to get there in this passage.
        Rev 20 – There is nothing in this passage that indicates things written in books before creation, and the more natural inference is that the things were written in as they occurred.
        Ps 139 – Calvin does not believe it was “days ordained” that was written in a book. And the context does not allow for dogmatism that anything was written before creation.
        Your chosen definitions for sovereignty and omniscience are manmade and not from the plain reading of Scripture!

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      4. Ok… I see I posted just after you had pushed reply, not knowing you were answering the Gen 22:12 question. Doesn’t bother you that Calvin and Gill have to dance around the plain meaning of what God says to Abraham to be able to hold to their philosophical ideas.

        Calvin admits – “God here says that what he has proved by experiment, is now made known to himself. And he speaks thus with us, not according to his own infinite wisdom, but according to our infirmity.” Do you really believe Abraham or Moses or us today would not have understood the words “I always knew…” and that is why God had to say “Now I know”?

        Gill does a little better trying at least to twist the meaning of the Hebrew perfect to “made known”, though saying such a thing to Abraham at that moment would not have made much sense to him, and this construction – “Now I know” is used in other OT historical passages to indicate discovery.

        God certainly knew fully all the possibilities of Abraham’s possible actions and as Abraham freely limited himself from other choices God intervened and determined AT THAT MOMENT not to let Abraham freely sacrifice his son. Then God does not lie but honestly and openly confesses that He “now” came to know is a different way, by experience, (as Calvin says) the extent of Abraham’s fear of Him.

        God’s experiential knowledge is certainly increasing according to the Scripture. He was not incarnate throughout all eternity past. That became a new experience for the Godhead, John 1:14. Divine knowledge must be defined with all the breadth of meaning the Scripture gives to it and not limited to some unbeliever’s idea, like Plato.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “Rhutchin, I guess you noticed that you did not respond to my question about Gen. 22:13.”

        Genesis 22
        13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

        OK. What was the issue with v13?

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      6. brianwagner writes “Rev 20 – There is nothing in this passage that indicates things written in books before creation, and the more natural inference is that the things were written in as they occurred.”

        Revelation 20 refers to the Lamb’s book of life – “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” We know whose names were not written in that book from 17:8, “…whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world,” The question you raise is whether God knew the names excluded from the book of life when He created the world or whether God learned those names over the course of time as history played out (as each person died, God could then look in the book to see if their name was missing) – so your position, “…the more natural inference is that the things were written in as they occurred.”

        Your claim is that God is not omniscient with regard to the future. We disagree on this point. You have bought into Open Theism.

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      7. brianwagner writes, “Ps 139 – Calvin does not believe it was “days ordained” that was written in a book. And the context does not allow for dogmatism that anything was written before creation.”

        The NET Bible has this translation–

        “Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.”

        With this footnote: Heb “and on your scroll all of them were written, [the] days [which] were formed, and [there was] not one among them.” This “scroll” may be the “scroll of life” mentioned in Ps 69:28.

        Other translations agree:

        KJV Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
        NASB Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
        NLT You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
        NIV your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
        ASV Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them.
        BBE Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being.

        Other translations agree with Calvin. This would mean that the formation of the body is written in a book before the person is even conceived. So, God has determined who will be conceived, the formation of their body in the womb, and what they look like on their day of birth – birth defects included. If God has this knowledge, it is reasonable to think that God also knows all other things about a person.

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      8. Rhutchin, please look at Rev 17:8 more carefully. John did not say their names were not written in BEFORE the foundation of the world, but they were not written in FROM the foundation of the world. At no point FROM the creation until Rev 17:8 were those individuals’ names added. The plain inference is that the Book of Life was empty at creation and names have been continually added ever since as people trust in God’s mercy and become a part of the elect in Christ. Compare this same idea of “from the creation of the world” found in Luke 11:50, where martyrs are mentioned as continually added to the historical record, and the guilt of their blood altogether is reckoned against the generation that rejected Jesus.

        I have “bought into” letting the Bible describe things for itself without relying on confusions made by former Christian scholars who “bought into” philosophical definitions of Plato and Aristotle.

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      9. Rhutchin, I think you would agree, that if a poetic passage in the OT is unclear, it should not be used to build dogmatic definition. As for the Hebrew “all of them” pointing to “days”, that would be highly unusual, since it would be mentioning a pronoun before mentioning its antecedent. I have not found anything similar yet in the OT. I lean towards “them” pointing to its antecedent “substance” (as Calvin does) which is a Hebrew collective noun meaning embryo.

        David is saying God saw his embryo and wrote all its parts in a book. He does not say that God saw it before creation, and the nature meaning is that He saw it after conception took place. See the context. Days were being fashioned for him also, every before the first one (birth) had come into being. I have no problem with God making plans for the future days of an unborn child. But in no way does this verse prove that those plans were made before the foundation of the world or that they cannot be altered. In fact, the context seems to indicate that the plans start to be made when the embryo is already in existence. The word “fashioned” or “ordained” is the same word used of the Potter in Jer 18:1-11, where He definitely changes His plans in response to the clay’s reaction to them.

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  4. Greetings, little late to the party, enjoyed reading the comments from both ‘sides’ and the courtesies extended to all. 🙂 I have a couple of 600 page books sitting on my bookshelves, by Steven J. Lawson. The first one, ‘Foundations of Grace: 1400 BC – AD 100,’ traces the teaching of the doctrines of grace from Gen. to Rev., 100’s and 100’s of Scriptures are used. The second book, ‘The Pillars of Grace: AD 100 – 1564,’ lists 24 teachers of the doctrines of grace. 20 or so pages are devoted to each of these men, from early church fathers to medieval monastics to the Protestant Reformers. Some of the names, in chronological order, are Clement, Martyr, Athanasius, Augustine, Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Zwingli, Tyndale, and lastly Calvin. Calvin was born about 1,400 years after the earliest teacher mentioned in the book. Calvinism is simply a nickname for the doctrines that were taught by other men for over a millennium before his birth because the book he wrote, ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion,’ did a great job in systemizing them.

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    1. Hi Bill, Welcome to this blog discussion. I love Christian History, but one thing I have discovered is that though many use the same terms, they have very different meanings. You’ll find a good example of that on this site, especially with the definitions – sovereignty, omniscience, and freewill.

      The Roman Catholics, Clement and Augustine, and all the other RC “fathers” have a very different definition of being “saved by grace through faith” though they confess those same words as Zwingli and Tyndale, and even more different than Hubmaier and Spurgeon. Saving grace is not given through baptism as necessary as Augustine affirmed. Saving faith is not found as a proxy expression by god parents or in the church as RC teaches.

      Our definitions have to be affirmed by normal contextual reading of the Scriptures, not based on theological inferences extrapolated from proof texts.

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  5. Thanks for the replies gentleman. Those 2 books by Lawson have been out for a while, published in 2006 and 2011 respectively. When you were on the ‘other’side Leighton did you perchance hear of them? As you might know Lawson is a Baptist preacher from AL. He is going to have follow-up books coming out that trace teachers of the doctrines of grace from the 16th century to he present day. Names listed include Knox, Edwards, Whitefield, Hodge, Warfield, Boyce, Shedd, Carey, Spugeon, Ryle, McCheyne, Pink, Lloyd-Jones, Boice, Sproul, etc. My situation is the opposote of yours Leighton, I was in the Arrminian camp for decades before ‘discovering’ the doctrines of grace. The Reformation Study Bible was an important tool, in particular the theological notes throughout he Bible. The teachers that Lawson has chapters on in the books I have, and the names that I mentioned above, that are going to be in his upcoming books, to be honest were practically every well known teacher that I had ever heard of in my pre-Reformed days. I had no idea that all of these men taught the doctrines of grace. I rarely use the word Calvinist, because to me Calvin was just one teacher in a very long line of teachers, stretching back over a 1,000 years before he was born and continuing to today, that taught/teach the doctrines. This is my little ‘thing,’ sharing this, which I have been doing for a few years, mainly on Facebook. To be honest again 🙂 it’s not easy, the haters are so virulent in their hatred towards anyone who even mentions Calvin that I mostly just keep my nose in my books and truck on! 🙂 Anyway, nice group of people here so just thought I would throw my 2 cents in, have a lovely evening!

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