Corporate Election = Impersonal Election?

Calvinists often accuse those who hold to The Corporate View as promoting an interpretation of election that is “too impersonal.” For example, Dr. James White, a notable Calvinistic apologist states,

“Remember Ephesians 1:4, ‘…just as He us in Him; the direct object of the choosing is us, and that’s personal. I don’t believe there’s any way in Ephesians 1 to make it impersonal, because predestination is unto what? Sonship. And what do you have then…who is the ‘we’ who has been chosen, and predestined? The ‘we’ then in verse 7, ‘we’ have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Now there are people who just want to make this, ‘Well, all it’s just talking about is this group, and God has predestined that there would be this group, that will be in Christ.’ It’s up to you who is in it. He doesn’t choose; it’s an impersonal thing. It’s just a group. It could be a small group, big group; God’s not really in charge of that. He does the best He can, to get as many people in there as possible. But no one really knows. Technically, He could have had just a few. And, once you get in the group, that He predestinates that if you are in the group, then you’re going to be adopted. And then once you’re in the group, you can say that you have forgiveness of sins, and things like that, but you see it’s all meant to de-personalize the knowledge of God in eternity past, and de-personalize the choice that He made. He chose a group; He didn’t choose you.”[1]

 Dr. White argues that The Corporate View of Election is impersonal because God is choosing what will become of a group of individuals versus choosing individuals to be in the group. But, what Dr. White fails to recognize about those of us who hold to The Corporate View is that we also teach individuals are chosen to be in the group. As Ephesians 1:13 clearly states,

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

How does an individual come to be “in him?” Through hearing “the word of truth” and by believing the individual is “marked in him.” So, God chooses to include the individual into the group when they believe the truth. The individual is personally included by God’s gracious choice. God is not obligated to do this; it is purely a gracious action for God to include even repentant believers in Christ.  After all, God is no more obligated to graciously elect someone conditionally than He is unconditionally.

Those who are “in Him” are predestined to “be made holy and blameless” or “conformed to the image of Christ” (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29) and adopted as sons upon the redemption of their bodies at glorification (Eph. 1:5, Rom. 8:23). Even though the group of individuals has been predestined to sanctification and glorification that does not negate the very intimately personal choice of the Father to show grace to whosoever humbles themselves and trusts in Christ (1 Peter 5:6, Eph. 1:13).

So, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that God chooses individuals to be “in Him.” Calvinists believe the individual is unconditionally chosen before he/she is “born or had done anything good or bad,” based on their erroneous interpretation of Romans 9:11. While the non-Calvinist believes God’s choice is intimately personal because God is choosing to save someone who is admitting how bad they really are right in the midst of their shame and guilt (Luke 15:11-32; Acts 3:19; Luke 15:10; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

Calvinists teach that God chooses individuals without regard to their character, behaviors or anything personal about the individual. Non-Calvinists teach that God chooses to save individuals who are humbled and broken by their guilt and shame. Which is really more impersonal?

Is a man who chooses a woman to love out of list of names without regard to anything related to her personality, behaviors, desires or her passions more intimate and personal than a man who chooses to love a woman he fully knows, faults and all? Ask any woman that question, if the answer is not obvious.

This argument reveals a confounding paradox of the Calvinistic claims. On the one hand, they teach God chooses to love an individual without regard to knowing their behaviors (see the Calvinistic interpretation of Rom. 9:11), yet they maintain that God eternally determines all things that come to pass (including those very behaviors). So, do Calvinists believe God is determining to save an individual without regard to His own determinations for how that individual will behave, all the while intimately foreknowing these “elect” individuals from before the foundation of the world? Is God supposedly ignoring his intimate knowledge of everything about an individual, which He Himself providentially determines to come to pass, while choosing (before the foundation of the world) to save that individual?

Does God choose a man without regard to what he knows will certainly come to pass (as Calvinists interpret Romans 9:11 to mean), or does He choose them with full intimate foreknowledge of their very personhood (as they interpret Romans 8:29 to say)? Or, more simply, does God just determine what all men will do, choose to save some men and damn the rest to eternal torment so as to demonstrate His power?

Are you dizzy yet?

Regardless of how the Calvinist attempts to explain this quandary, there clearly is no grounds on which accuse those of us holding to The Corporate View of teaching a more impersonal view of election.

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For more on the Corporate interpretation of Election in Ephesians 1 please CLICK HERE.

[1] http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2015/01/james-white-comments-on-sermon-by-james.html

102 thoughts on “Corporate Election = Impersonal Election?

  1. Another great meditation Brother Leighton on the importance of the Corporate election view as a reasonable and consistent interpretation of Eph 1:4! I think there may be something in Calvinism appealing to our flesh to believe that God chose before creation only me and few others to be in His special group, and that He makes sure that no one else “sneaks” in an messes up our specialness! I think that appeal is of more harm to the gospel ministry than the hypothetical view that those who humbly realize that they do not deserve salvation but cry out for mercy will somehow become proud that because they humbled themselves, they deserved that mercy.

    Being proud that I was one of the limited everlasting chosen from before creation and being convinced that such a group will unfailingly be filled even without my help is of more harm to the gospel ministry! I will not love and pray as fervently for all the lost. Knowing that God reaches out with His mercy to everyone and want everyone to humble themselves and accept that mercy and that he even accepted me after I humbled myself increases my confidence that anyone can be added to the group of the elect if they too will not harden their hearts when they hear His voice!

    On a side note – The “we” of Eph 1:4 could arguably be limited by context in Paul’s mind to himself and all the Ephesian believers. Some of suggested that since Paul points to the Ephesian believers as “you” in verse 13 as different from the “we who first trusted in Christ” in verse 12, would limit the “we” in 1:4 even further. But the context is clear. Paul is not explaining the election as a spiritual blessing, but the spiritual blessing is being elect to be blameless! As you have rightly made clear Leighton – Praise His name, it is not about being chosen before creation to be in Christ, its about now being chosen in Christ to be blameless before God forever in heaven, a promise given individually to the Son before creation, the blessing of which He would offer to all individually to receive or to reject after creation.

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    1. That’s the same thing I always say, Brother Brian.

      I think Calvinism appeals to human pride and ego. God rejected billions, but for some reason He just HAD to have you (assuming you could even know you’re one of “the elect,” which is a whole other problem). They may say their election was “unconditional,” but that’s just false modesty. Deep down they can’t really believe that because it doesn’t make sense, unless you believe God is just mindlessly picking people, which nobody believes. So, if Calvinism is true and you’re one of “the elect,” it HAS to mean you’re special in some way. I think every Calvinist knows this deep down, even if only by an intuitive sense, but very few will admit it.

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  2. P.S. Not only does Calvinism appeal to human pride in that way, but it also appeals to the pride by absolving man of moral responsibility. If Calvinism is true, we may be “blame-able” for the evil we do, but we’re not really “response-able,” At least not in any meaningful sense of the word. Calvinism appeals to human pride by absolving man of moral responsibility and making God the guilty one. I know they choose not to see it for what it is, but, that is naked truth, when you strip away all the flowery language.

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    1. Have you done any more thinking Amyra on the major reasons why a true believer can remain unwilling to face clear explanations that expose the weak and unbiblical inferences of his theology. How much is the personal pride of being “in the know” or “part of the orthodox group” or “tied in with most of the past scholarship” involved, do you think? And are there other causes for their unwillingness to change in the light of normal biblical understanding? I would like to know from Leighton too the answers to these questions and more about the best ways of encouraging those who are unwilling to face their logical fallacies and the biblical refutations of their philosophical position.

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  3. I’ve been pondering it for awhile, Bro. Brian.

    There are lots and LOTS of reasons why people refuse to face scriptural truths. You and I have mentioned some of the blanket reasons having to do with pride. Prof. Flowers mentioned on one of his podcasts that there’s a pride that comes with feeling like you’ve “swallowed the hard pills” of determinism and limited atonement. It’s very similar to the pride I’ve noted in atheists who pat themselves on the back for being able to “swallow the hard pill” of a godless, meaningless universe.

    Prof. Flowers also mentioned the fear of losing your primary support group. Calvinists often feel like they’re in the “in-group.” They’ve got lots of support and a sense of being part of a brotherhood WITHIN the brotherhood. Many have ruined relationships with non-Calvinist friends and family members to become a part of that “in crowd.” To turn around years later and admit they were wrong is a very difficult thing to do, I would imagine. The professor also suggested that Calvinism stems from an unfortunate combination of western individualism and mass Biblical illiteracy in the modern church. Sad, but true.

    Then there are the more idiosyncratic, personal reasons. I’ve watched James White for years and have rarely seen his public mask slip, but once I was watching him in a discussion with a non-Calvy and he said (in a tone I never heard him use before): “I WON’T worship a God who had no purpose for evil!” It wasn’t just what he said, but the WAY he said it, that made me think the idea of “purposeless evil” touches something deep inside him. Maybe so deep that he can’t even tolerate the idea of God not being in meticulous control of everything that happens.

    I’ve also thought about the Calvinist demographic (primarily western males) and have wondered if the New Calvinism isn’t (in part) a reaction to the feminization of western society. I wondered that because it seems they’re preoccupied with promoting (even fiercely guarding) God’s more “masculine” attributes (His power, His authority, etc.) and they tend to despise and even mock the more nurturing aspects of God’s character. If you make too much of a fuss about God’s love, they’ll rebuke you for “emasculating” God (yes, I’ve heard them use that exact word), or for making him too “mushy,” lol.

    And, finally, I’ve wondered if many of the more staunch, hard-core Calvies had really strict, authoritarian father figures. After all, your perception of your father often impacts your perception of God. And, if some of these young men are longing for the approval of a distant, rejecting father, they may project that dynamic into their relationship with God… At least until they get to know Him better (may it please the Lord).

    I know I’ve probably gone in a totally different direction than you were expecting, lol 🙂

    But, anyway, those have been some of my thoughts on this issue.

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    1. Excellent information and insight, Amyra! Now, can you create a diagnostic tool to determine which underlying cause any certain Calvinist is using for blinders and for bolstering his unwillingness to consider the biblical evidence more logically? And also, while you’re at it, make up a unique set of effective counter measures for each one! 🙂 Is that asking too much? lol 🙂

      I have also been wondering if recognizing when in life one was converted makes a difference. Pelagius professed salvation from early youth, whereas Augustine had rejected his Christian upbringing. Perhaps Pelagius saw, as most obedient Christian children, that their personal humble choice to trust God at His Word was all that could confirm for themselves that they were truly saved in the face of their continued battle with the flesh. Whereas those with a dramatic conversion life experience later in life after years of rebellion may be more inclined to reject any personal humility as confirmation of their being saved since they still regret being so rebellious.

      But as you pointed out… ultimately there is an unwillingness to give up strongly held beliefs, or even, many times,to test them against rules of logic and the normal reading and tenor of Scripture because of the humility required to admit being wrong and even to admit leading others astray for years. I am thinking that dialog can only progress if there is an acceptance of the presupposition that clear Scriptures most be used for dogma and unclear Scriptures used with a philosophical backing cannot be used for the gospel or any sound doctrines necessary for spiritual growth and pastoral qualification.

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  4. Ooooh, now that would be fun! What should we call the instrument? The Calvinist Scripture Denial Etiology Scales? LOL! 😛

    That’s a good point you made about the stage of life, Bro. Brian. I grew up in the church, and was baptized at age 10. So, I never had the experience of living for decades outside Christ and then converting, but I know some Calvinists who have. And they felt like the change in their life was so dramatic that it couldn’t have had anything to do with free choice on their part.

    In talking with them, I sensed there might be an element of fear, though. Like, if it really was their choice to say “yes” to God, then maybe they won’t last. Maybe the prospect of being responsible for saying “yes” or “no” is scary for those who have really strong temptation to backslide, or for those who are brand new to faith and fearful of slipping back.. I don’t know.

    Anyway, we’ll keep praying for an increase in that honest dialogue. It sure is rare at the moment.

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  5. “Calvinists teach that God chooses individuals without regard to their character, behaviors or anything personal about the individual. Non-Calvinists teach that God chooses to save individuals who are humbled and broken by their guilt and shame. Which is really more impersonal?”

    Actually, according to the Synod of Dort, the Bible teaches that men in their flesh will never willingly humble themselves before God in brokenness. Therefore, rather than God choosing them without regard to their character, God lovingly chooses to change their character so that they will choose Him. The view you present here is a conflated representation of the teachings of Calvinism.

    “Is a man who chooses a woman to love out of list of names without regard to anything related to her personality, behaviors, desires or her passions more intimate and personal than a man who chooses to love a woman he fully knows, faults and all?”

    The alternative according to the corporate election view is that the man choose all women promiscuously and waits for them to choose to be in his harem. What woman would find that to be more dignified than the scenario you present? Do you really want to go there?

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    1. William,

      Thanks for your comments. You wrote, ” rather than God choosing them without regard to their character, God lovingly chooses to change their character,” yet how is that any different than what I acknowledged in the article. Based on The Cal interpretation of Rom 9:11 Cals teach that God chooses individual unconditionally (without regard to their character) and then irresistibly change them into someone else (gives them a new flawed character but this one is willing to admit it whereas the other one apparently wasn’t)

      Regarding the analogy about loving a woman. You took it WAY beyond the scope of it intent. It was about an intimate choice based on knowing ones true character and not knowing , that is all. It has nothing to do with God having a haram, which I hope would be obvious to readers.

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    2. Can I jump in on the fun with analogies that’s going on here? 🙂 One could argue that both sides end up with polygamy if each individual that is saved is an individual bride of Christ, which I am sure both of you don’t believe! Both of you believe in a corporate view of the biblical analogy of the Bride, I am sure.

      But for the sake of following the reasoning of this analogy further of how to become an individual in the Bride, I still like engagements where the potential bride willingly accepts the proposal of the groom more than I like a groom forcing the potential bride, by going against her will, manipulating it so she has to accept his proposal. I see the Scripture teaching the contra-causal freedom in that potential bride!

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      1. Brian, I would prefer that the bride willingly accept a proposal as well. Call it the romantic in me. However according the Bible none seek Him, not even one. We have all gone astray, and we are all children of mercy. Nobody willingly chooses God. Our wills by nature are in bondage to sin, so the natural man hates Him. What’s the most loving thing for God to do then? Let man choose? No.

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      2. Thank you William for responding. I sure hope I didn’t manipulate my wife into agreeing to marry me! 🙂 You and I actually agree on the bondage of the will. And I think we do agree that the Bible does clearly speak about some beginning to seek after the invitation of God to do so and some sort of enabling by Him to do so. Where we disagree is whether the Bible says God gives such an invitation and enabling to everyone as sometime (John 1:9, 16:7-8, 12:32) that can still be resisted or does He only give such an invitation and enabling to only a few that cannot be resisted (no biblical support) and then damn the rest who He never invites or enables to seek (no biblical support).

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      3. Brian,
        The verses you cite in support of your arguments require a universalist definition of terms, a definition of those terms that cannot be applied consistently in Scripture without arriving at universal salvation. In fact, if those definitions are applied solely in just their immediate contexts, those verses could then be used to flatly contradict the arguments in which they reside. For instance, John 1:9-13 reads:

        “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (NASB).

        If the “every man” mentioned in vs. 9 were every man without exception and the enlightenment spoken of is some prevenient grace enabling them to choose God of their own free will, what does John mean when he says they are not born of the will of man? It seems clear that John is arguing that this birth, this becoming children of God, has nothing to do with contra-causal free will on the part of man.

        In John 16, the result of the Holy Spirit’s convicting of the world of sin is that they believe in Christ (vs. 9). This works only if you understand that Jesus is talking about conviction of the world without distinction (not just Jews, but every tribe, tongue, and nation), not the world without exception (every individual man everywhere). Otherwise, you are forced to say that every man everywhere believes in Christ.

        In John 12, Jesus says He will draw all men to Himself. What happens to people when they are drawn to Christ. Do they choose whether or not to come? Is that Jesus’ teaching in the book of John?

        “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44; NASB).

        If you are drawn to Christ, not only will you come to Him but you will be raised up on the last day (Irresistible Grace). Jesus is not talking about all men without exception in John 12. He is talking about all men without distinction. Nicodemus would have understood that the serpent was only lifted up by Moses for the healing of the Jews who had been bitten in the wilderness. Thus, both in John 3 and in John 12, Jesus makes it clear that He is lifted up not only for the Jews but for all men, for the world, for all of His elect in every tribe, tongue, and nation.

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      4. Thank you Robert for your reply! I am especially grateful that you want to discuss specific Scriptures. You are correct that I chose verses that use universal pronouns, and I think you would agree that the inclusive meaning is more normal than the distributive meaning for these. And I hope you can understand how everyone being enabled for the choice of salvation does not require the universal salvation of everyone in the end.

        Calvin himself understood the universal meaning of every man in John 1:9 (especially since ανθροπος – “man” is in this phrase), but he did not think that the enlightenment was enabling, which I think would also be the normal meaning of that word. In fact, Calvin regularly used the word “enlighten” to equal “regenerate.”

        I also hope you would agree that John 1:12 at least infers that the receiving of Christ precedes being given the right to then become born again. So to answer your question based on 1:13, after man, enabled by God’s enlightenment and conviction (but not irresistibly), receives and does not reject Christ to be his Savior, God gives him the new birth. God is not forced to give the new birth as if the primary cause was man’s actions, whether born into a covenant home, or his personal decision, or another man’s so-called sacramental act (blood, flesh, man). But God is “forced” to give the new birth to those who believe by the primary cause of His own nature, which faithfully brings about the fulfillment of all His promises.

        As far as John 12:32 and John 6:44 and the connecting of coming and drawing, though Jesus interprets “coming” as equaling salvation (never hunger, vs 35, and be raised up, vs 44) He does not say “drawing” by itself guarantees salvation. The Father must draw for salvation, and will draw everyone using enlightenment and conviction, at least through His individual personal active use of creation and conscience (Rom 1, 2, 10:18). But drawing does not equal regeneration, but is a pre-salvation gracious work of God that enables people to seek.

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      5. Yeah. It seems that, to take John 1:12-13 as a sort of order of salvation is to ignore what John says about the will in John 1:13. He flat out rejects any notion that man’s choice (his will) is in any way prerequisite to the new birth.

        Regarding John 12 and John 6, I don’t believe you have adequately addressed my argument. I wasn’t arguing for drawing = regeneration, though I do think they are intrinsically linked. What I was pointing out was that those who are drawn are necessarily raised up on the last day. No one who is drawn is not raised up. The whole of the group drawn is raised up. That’s a huge problem for those who deny irresistible grace.

        I am still interested to hear your response to my remarks on John 16. Thanks for your patience. I can tell you are a gracious brother.

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      6. Thank you for your kind words William about my tact. Please feel free to confront me when it does not reflect what it should be (2Tim 2:22-26). I appreciate your demeanor in your answers to me also!

        Would you agree that a prerequisite is not ultimately important if it is not the primary cause? Personal active faith may be a prerequisite, the same as God’s enablement through His active enlightenment and conviction may be prerequisites. But the ultimate primary source and cause of the new birth (Greek εκ) is God. Of course, I know you might see the new birth as not being equal to receiving the actual life of God, but as only an altering of one’s will. And we can talk about that view which I believe is not biblically substantiated. For once regeneration is seen as equal to all the other benefits of salvation received from God at the same moment, multiple Scriptures clarify all the prerequisites that God is looking for, and working to bring about, before causing the moment of salvation.

        John 6:44 says – “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” According to rules of logic what can be said with certainty from this verse is – Some who will be raised by Christ on the last day will first be both drawn and will come to Christ. There are no rules of logic that make this statement to mean that everyone drawn must come to Christ. For that to be true, the verse would have to read, “No one is able NOT to come to Me WHEN the Father draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” Wouldn’t a Calvinist really be happy if it said that!

        I am sorry that I did not address directly your comments on John 16. My answer was found in the last paragraph. I do believe Rom 1, 2, and 10:18, plus other Scriptures (Job 33:14-29 is interesting), show that God does give sufficient enlightenment and conviction to everyone in the world, though not irresistibly, but sufficient so that they are without excuse, and I believe even enabled to call out to God for mercy.

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      7. I see what you are saying about the prerequisite thing, but I don’t think John means for us to read that much into his words: “By not ‘out of’ the will of the flesh or the will of man, I mean that it is required for but does not cause the new birth.” That’s quite a stretch it seems, and I’m not willing to read that into the text.

        Regarding John 6, I don’t simply get irresistible grace from that verse, but I believe Christ is making an argument throughout that section of John 6 about election, irresistible grace, and the sovereignty of God in salvation. When taken with Christ’s other statements in John 6 about the Father giving specific people to Him, whom He will not lose but will raise up on the last day, it is clear that Jesus is talking about the Father’s sovereign work in saving individuals.

        But we could go back and forth on this all day. I’ll give you the last word, brother.

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  6. The point is that you misconstrue the Calvinist position when you frame it as though God somehow blindfolds Himself and plays Pin the Tail on the Donkey when He chooses people. He knows who He’s choosing. He knows the depths of their depravity, and yet He chooses them anyway. There is nothing impersonal about that. However, it would be highly impersonal for Him to choose everyone, if they only choose Him. In fact, it would allow them to take some credit for their own salvation, something that lies at the back of all non-Calvinist and anti-Calvinist views of election. “There was something in me all along! Praise be to me!”

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    1. “Before the Twins had done anything good or bad” – what does that mean to you?

      And the pin the tail comment was yours not mine.

      And on the saving yourself by admitting you can’t save yourself accusation I’ll refer you to a blog titled “Why did you choose Christ?”

      Thx. And have a great day!

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      1. It means that He choose one and not the other before they had done good or bad. It does not mean that He was clueless about the bad they would do. Calvinism does not present God as a dumb being.

        The pin the tail on the donkey analogy was meant to be a picture of your misrepresentation of Calvinism in which God “chooses a woman to love out of list of names.” As if Calvinists believe God holds his hands over His eyes, holds out a finger, and blindly says, “That one!” This is not the teaching of Calvinism.

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      2. My terminology: “without regard to their behavior” and “without regard to his knowledge…”

        Your terminology of my representation: “He was clueless about the bad they would do” “god as a dumb being” and “pin the tail on the donkey”

        It’s difficult to engage with this kind of rewording of my terminology, so I’ll leave you with the last word. Thanks for your time.

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      3. A better sampling of your terminology in comparison to the terminology I chose would have been:

        “[God] chooses. . . .out of list of names” (your representation of Calvinism)

        vs.

        “[a God who] fully knows, faults and all” (your representation of ‘not’ Calvinism)

        Thus, you present the God of Calvinism as a dumb god who picks at random. I don’t think I’m mistaken. Thanks for the last word.

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      4. Sorry, but I have to correct you’re gross misreading of my intention.

        The analogy once again was taken too far. You had to include [God] into my words when the analogy wasn’t meant to be a one to one comparison of a man who loves a woman to God who loves a lost person, as if God becomes as limited as the man, or as if God is choosing a haram. You are over reading that analogy to draw absurd conclusions.

        The ONLY point of that analogy was to reflect the personal nature of a choice where the chosen individual’s character is not taken into account verses the choice to love someone despite their flawed character.

        My article on misrepresentation may help as we seek to understand before the dialogue continues. Thx again!

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    2. William, I have found it is important to think through the logic of your statements – “He knows who He’s choosing. He knows the depths of their depravity, and yet He chooses them anyway. There is nothing impersonal about that.” It goes to the lapsarian controversy that exists among Calvinists. I have wondered if logically individuals could only be known in two ways before creation, either as complete lives based on a predetermination of a complete human history forever including all of God’s own interactions with it, or, as an innumerable number of potential non-determined lives (except for the predeterminations that none are preplanned to perish but are all preplanned to come to the opportunity of repentance, 2Pet 3:9).

      There really can be no choice “after” knowing their depravity in the first scenario, for the choice is actually much like an author choosing characters to create in a book He is writing, characters who have no real contra-causal freedom since their lives will never deviate from the Script created for them. Then the choice of individuals in the second scenario can not happen until those individuals actually come into existence or at least not until after God determines that they should come into existence, which could not have to happen before creation unless you want the first scenario again. I haven’t been able to logically come up with a third scenario for human history that fits with God’s omnipotence and omniscience.

      The Son was the only true individual that could be chosen before creation, unless you want to hold the philosophical, non biblically proven, view that everything was predetermined before creation. And the Scripture supports election of individuals for salvation after their individual calling (Matt 22:14, 2Pet 1:10).

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      1. This is a mere comment section, so I can’t expect you to give me all of your premises prior to offering all of your conclusions. However, you have offered many conclusions that would require much more than the space allowed here to answer, assuming I am to answer with well-formed responses and not just my own conclusions.

        That said, in regard to your two scenarios, the choice really is between a mankind that is free to choose vs. a God who is free to choose. Given that man is fallen, depraved, evil, and untrustworthy, and God is holy, righteous, loving, and trustworthy, I’d rather God has the choice. And I fully disagree with you about how the Bible presents these things. So I guess all I have to offer in response to your conclusions is my own conclusions after all.

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      2. I also find it very interesting that contra-causal free will is a presupposition in your arguments. Do you believe God has contra-causal free will in determining the universe He creates? If so, how is this reflected in your understanding of election and “possible worlds”? Is this a characteristic that must necessarily be translated from Creator to creature in your theology? Why or why not?

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      3. William, I do believe God had contra-causal freedom before creation and that He did not limit Himself so that He would not have any contra-causal freedom after it. The evidence in Scripture given by the numerous commands, invitations, conditional statements, and clear statements of God still making decisions (e.g. Jer 18:1-11) proves God did not predetermine all human history forever before creation but determined some things, including counter-causal freedom in those that bear His image and for Himself. This freedom is limited, of course by His nature, and the ends and laws for human history that He did predetermine before creation or has predetermined since it. I hope this helps – Brian

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      4. Brian,

        You present two options here it appears to me. One option is that God chooses individuals with full knowledge of them and predetermining every aspect of their lives (which I take to be calvinism) or the other option is that God chooses them as “potential non-determined lives” (which I do not know how to take! 🙂 ).

        Is that the only two options?

        What if God chooses the plan of salvation in eternity (i.e. it will be through the atonement of Christ, for example through union with Christ, the corporate election that Leighton is speaking about): and then IN TIME chooses to save those who put their trust in Him for salvation (OT saints by their proper response to the revelation they are given, direct revelation like Abraham or living out the law for those under the law; NT saints through their faith in Christ and subsequent union with Him, being “in Christ” cf. Ephesians). If something like this were the case it would not mean that God predetermines their lives (option 1) nor would it be “potential non-determined lives” (option 2). They are not merely “potential” as God having exhaustive foreknowledge of each individual would know every detail of their lives though not having predetermined their lives as with option 1.

        This is similar to Arminians who bring up the antecedent and consequent wills of God. The antecedent will is God’s will in eternity (where he desires for all to be saved and designs a way of salvation in which all could be saved). The consequent will is God’s will in time, those who respond properly to God are saved while those who do not are eternally separated from God.

        Note in this kind of scenario, God foreknows all events and yet libertarian free will is part of the scenario. While God knows what every person will do, their actions are not predetermined, nor are they merely potential persons. They are actual persons who will be saved or lost depending on their responses to God in time. This means that God is operating in time with individuals as genuine persons (this is not calvinism with God as the puppet master and humans as the puppets). This is also not open theism where God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events. This view maintains that the plan of salvation was made in eternity; God’s exhaustive foreknowledge; libertarian free will, genuine relating and responding between God and human persons, and denies exhaustive determinism. Seems to me that such a third alternative would be preferable to the two options mentioned: it avoids the errors of both calvinism and open theism while having their strengths.

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      5. Robert, Thank you for your input. You can probably find my discussion of this in more detail elsewhere, but I agree with William that if God’s foreknowledge of the future is all settled events, if true, then has to be so because God predetermined it to be. Let me try to put it another way, which may or may not help. God’s omniscience of which His foreknowledge is a part can only include what really exists!

        I think you would agree that God does not know any event of the past that never took place, like He does not know that I became a Calvinist yesterday, because it did not happen. 🙂 Also God does not know any event of the present that doesn’t truly exist, like I am now a true Calvinist, because that is not true. So God can only know the events of the future as they truly exist. If some of the events of the future have been predetermined as being completed and some of the events of the future have not been predetermined, then He knows them all perfectly as they perfectly exist at this moment. He cannot know them in any other way (e.g. as all completed) because they don’t exist that way in His plan.

        I think you need to reconsider the major weakness of the Arminian view of foreknowledge, and that is, that is was separated from God’s omniscience as the source for it. The Arminian view is almost like God received in the mail a video of the future which did not contain any of His involvement, watched it, and then decided how He would be involved so that He would now know from that point forward all the outcomes. Such a view ends up with the same predetermination of all human history as the Calvinist and Molinist.

        I believe the Scriptures present a future that is partly predetermined and partly undetermined and it can only be known in God’s omniscience as it truly exists. I hope this helps.

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  7. Did God choose in His contra-causal freedom to create a world in which He knew what each man would choose to do? If so, is He free to act contrary to that foreknowledge in His interactions with men? Are men free to act contrary to that foreknowledge God had before He created, or are their actions set before creation in the knowledge of God and His free choice?

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    1. Great questions William and very important to this discussion concerning individual or corporate election before creation!

      For your first question, the “yes” answer is possible in God’s omnipotence, but so is the “no” answer (just like 6 day creation or theistic evolution are both possible because of God’s omnipotence, but only one is biblical). I choose the “no” answer because I believe in His contra-causal freedom God created a world where He would know perfectly all the possible choices that He and man could make within the limits of the laws and ends God predetermined. God was not forced to give up His contra-causal freedom by being forced to predetermine all of His choices and all of man’s choices for all of human history forever into future.

      The answer is “no” also for your second question. But just like Calvinism has God limiting His foreknowledge from including all possible worlds that he could create to one that has everything predetermined in it, I believe the Scripture indicates that God’s foreknowledge can only include any and all of the predeterminations and possibilities of the future that actually exist according to what He sovereignly wants for the future.

      The answer is “no” also for your third question. But man acts within the bounds of all predeterminations and possibilities left to him, which God has always known fully before and after creation, though the content of that knowledge changes as events predetermined move from being future facts to past facts and possible events move from past possible facts to future settled facts. So no, their actions were not set before creation, though fully known in all their predetermined or possible outcomes.

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    2. “God has always known fully before and after creation, though the content of that knowledge changes as events predetermined move from being future facts to past facts and possible events move from past possible facts to future settled facts.”

      Forgive me for reducing down your argument, but I don’t regularly operate in philosophical spheres, though I am not completely inexperienced in it. The above statement seems to be saying that God knows what might happen, but cannot know what surely will happen. Is this a correct summary of what I quoted from your comment? If not, why not?

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      1. Asking forgiveness for reducing or restating what you think my argument is, is not necessary. I welcome such desire for clarification, for I have a well documented history of not being clear! 🙂

        First, we should clarify whether we both agree that the future does not yet exist. (Ps 90:2) My view is that God “knows what might happen” as far as His knowledge encompasses all the possibilities that He pre-ordained to be able to exist within human history AND God knows “what surely will happen” as far as His knowledge encompasses all the predeterminations He has already made, which limits the possibilities that still exist. So it is not an either/or, but a both/and situation in trying to define God’s omniscience as it exists concerning the future.

        I don’t think God’s knowledge of the future can exist except as the future itself actually exists, which, at this point, the future only exists as He has predetermined it to be, either with or without true possibilities. The Scripture reveals information about the future as truly possessing possibilities.

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      2. Brian,

        How does this view of God and of time not make God a god of possibility rather than a God of promise? In other words, for millennia, theologians have agreed that God is the only Being who can make promises He knows for sure He can keep. He can make the promises He makes in Scripture and not be a liar precisely because He sees, determines, and directs the events of the future (Ps. 22). I don’t see how, in your understanding of God’s relationship with time, God’s promises aren’t reduced to a glorified calculation of chance happenings. Unless I have misunderstood you, which I really hope I have, this kind of makes God out to be a divine Rain Man counting cards at the casino.

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      3. Good Morning William. My position, though not dogmatic, for we do not know anything as we ought to know (1Cor. 8:2), is that God is BOTH a God or promise and possibility. Most, I think, believe God made choices before creation based on possibilities for the determinations of man’s future human history. I believe the Scripture indicates clearly through commands, invitations, conditional statements, etc, that He did not choose to predetermine all things, even man’s choices. And I don’t think His nature forced Him to have predetermine all things before creation. So whatever was predetermined before or after creation is truly a promise, and whatever in His sovereignty He leaves undetermined are possibilities of which He knows fully as if each were an outcome. Hope this helps.

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    3. William,

      I want to take a stab at your questions here (based upon the third option that I shared with Brian).

      Question 1 = Yes, God chose to create a world in which free will as ordinarily understood exists (i.e. technically called libertarian free wil) and as he has exhaustive foreknowledge he knows how in fact each person will choose in every situation in which they find themselves.

      Question 2 = No, God cannot act contrary to his foreknowledge. This is not due to any limitation in God, rather it is due to the nature of foreknowledge. Foreknowledge is concerned with God knowing what we will in fact choose to do. It is not about what we might do, or could do, but what we will in fact choose to do. God cannot act against what he foreknows will occur: to do so he would invalidate his own foreknowledge which is not possible. What he foreknows will occur also includes both what people will freely choose to do in a situation as well as what God will choose to do in that situation.

      Question 3 = This is a complex question as it consists of multiple questions not just one direct question. It starts by asking are men free to act contrary to God’s foreknowledge? No, because if they chose differenty than God would have foreknown what they choose to do differently. Again, foreknowledge concerns what we will in fact choose to do. Simple example, if I choose to go to the mexican restaurant, then that is what God foreknows I would do. If I had instead chosen to go to the BQ restaurant, then that is what God foreknows I would do. Again foreknowledge concerns what I will in fact choose to do. Can I choose to do differently than I will in fact choose to do? No, and God’s foreknowledge is in reference to what I will in fact choose to do.

      But the question continues and asks whether or not their actions are set in the knowledge of God before creation. The word “set” here is ambiguous. If it means set as in predetermined by God, causally brought about by God, i.e. determinism, then No if we are acting with libertarian free will. If set means that God knows via his foreknowledge how we will freely choose, then Yes. God foreknows all of our choices, so in this sense the future is set. But this is not the same as saying that the entire future is set because God predetermined the entire future. Put simply is everythiing in the future foreknown? yes. Is everything in the future predetermined? No. The third question then becomes an instance of complex question fallacy as within the question it appears that determinism is assumed (cf. have you stopped beating your wife? presupposes that in the past you did abuse your wife).

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      1. Thank you for the well-thought-out response, Robert. I have more questions, though, because I see some possible inconsistency. First, do you believe the Bible teaches that God is intimately, immanently involved in every action in the universe, guiding and directing and holding all things together, counting hairs, providing for birds, dressing the fields with flowers, etc.? Second, do you believe that God is intimately, immanently involved in the lives of individuals knitting them together in their mother’s wombs, caring for them when they are at their mothers’ breasts, visiting both blessing and calamity on both the just and the wicked, etc.?

        If you do affirm these two things, how do you factor God’s intricate, detailed involvement in time and creation into the equation of God creating with perfect, absolute foreknowledge? You see, it’s not only the free choices of people He foreknows. It’s also how they will respond to Him when He interferes with the natural order of things. Thus, the moment God steps in and does one act to influence and shape the events of history, He is interfering with your notion of free will, because He knows that His actions will certainly bring about what He purposes. He knows, because He has foreseen it. And knowing that He is causing things to happen, which He has foreseen will certainly come to pass in the event of His interference, when He decides in eternity past to act, He is in fact predestining the result.

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  8. Brother Leighton,

    Regarding both schools of thought on election (unconditional election and corporate, or conditional, election), I’ve often wondered if there might not be a more viable (and biblical) understanding of election? I am not implying that both notions are wrong, but only that another option might be possible.

    In your article regarding the Corporate (conditional) view you write….

    “Election refers to God choosing ‘in Christ’ a people whom he destines to be holy and blameless in his sight” and “election of humans occurs only in union with Jesus Christ”.

    How do you harmonize the above with the following…..?

    Romans 11:28 (KJV)…..
    “As concerning the gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection), they (the Jews) are enemies for your (the Gentiles) sakes: but as touching the election, they (the Jews) are beloved for the father’s sakes.”

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    1. Phillip,

      Is it possible that the election Leighton is speaking of refers to the election pertaining to salvation while the election that you bring up refers to the election of the nation of Israel as the chosen nation of God?

      While all Jews were part of the chosen nation of Israel, not all were saved, a point Paul makes strongly in the book of Romans chapter 9. While all Jews were part of the nation of Israel, Paul lamented the fact that many were rejecting Jesus in the first century. He further explains in Romans 9-11 that while God had not rejected the chosen nation Israel, nevertheless individual Jews (and Gentiles) would only be saved through faith in Christ.

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  9. “How does an individual come to be “in him?” Through hearing “the word of truth” and by believing the individual is “marked in him.” So, God chooses to include the individual into the group when they believe the truth.”

    how does scripture say one comes to believe the truth? why does one believe while the other does not while hearing the same gospel message?

    ” God is not obligated to do this; it is purely a gracious action for God to include even repentant believers in Christ. After all, God is no more obligated to graciously elect someone conditionally than He is unconditionally.”

    actually God is obligated because he makes promises that he must keep because it is impossible for God to lie(Heb 6:18) and his name and word he exults above all(psalms 138:2). God is not obligated to make promises but once he makes them He is obligated to keep them.

    “Calvinists believe the individual is unconditionally chosen before he/she is “born or had done anything good or bad,” based on their erroneous interpretation of Romans 9:11. While the non-Calvinist believes God’s choice is intimately personal because God is choosing to save someone who is admitting how bad they really are right in the midst of their shame and guilt (Luke 15:11-32; Acts 3:19; Luke 15:10; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).”

    this is a straw-man which includes an accusation about us you have yet to prove. you have not substantiated that we understand romans 9:11 wrongly. no one seeks God(psalm 14) which means no one is going to “admit how bad they really are” apart from a change of heart that comes from God(eze 11:19-20, jer 31:33).

    “Calvinists teach that God chooses individuals without regard to their character, behaviors or anything personal about the individual. Non-Calvinists teach that God chooses to save individuals who are humbled and broken by their guilt and shame. Which is really more impersonal?”

    this is basically what the issue with arminism is. it’s basically humanism covered over. God can’t be sovereign over his creatures in taking a human being that hates him and changing(NOT forcing! this is also a straw-man) the heart, mind and will of the sinful hell deserving creature and making him into a holy vessel to be conformed to the image of Christ. you want the credit. you want it to be you. God needs to see something good in you before he acts. there’s NOTHING good in you and never will be because your nature is broken(romans 5). so He should never act unless it’s to give you what you rightly deserve which is eternal hell. its why i always say that you should never ask God for what you deserve.

    God chooses individuals based His own Holy counsel for the purpose of His own glory. God didnt create for us, He created for His own glory.

    “Is a man who chooses a woman to love out of list of names without regard to anything related to her personality, behaviors, desires or her passions more intimate and personal than a man who chooses to love a woman he fully knows, faults and all? Ask any woman that question, if the answer is not obvious.”

    actually, God does save based on character which is why he told abraham to walk before him blameless and why Jesus said that we are to be perfect as the Father is perfect. the difference is instead of waiting around for that person to show up( because they never will ps 51:5, ps58:3, psalm 14) he supernaturally changes someone into that person.

    ” On the one hand, they teach God chooses to love an individual without regard to knowing their behaviors ”

    i don’t get what you mean here. who doesn’t know? God? us?

    ” yet they maintain that God eternally determines all things that come to pass (including those very behaviors). So, do Calvinists believe God is determining to save an individual without regard to His own determinations for how that individual will behave, all the while intimately foreknowing these “elect” individuals from before the foundation of the world? Is God supposedly ignoring his intimate knowledge of everything about an individual, which He Himself providentially determines to come to pass, while choosing (before the foundation of the world) to save that individual?

    Does God choose a man without regard to what he knows will certainly come to pass (as Calvinists interpret Romans 9:11 to mean), or does He choose them with full intimate foreknowledge of their very personhood (as they interpret Romans 8:29 to say)?”

    yeah, i’m dizzy as i don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    ” Or, more simply, does God just determine what all men will do, choose to save some men and damn the rest to eternal torment so as to demonstrate His power?”

    well, how else would you understand romans 9:19-23?

    i fail to see how God taking a broken sinful, hell deserving human being(originally made upright(ecc 7:29) and in His image and likeness BTW) and turn them into vessels apt to glorify and enjoy God and be in loving relationship with him is not personal? it’s as personal as it gets. the real problem is God gets all the glory and credit for it and we get none. the synergist seems not to like that.

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    1. Yudo,

      While you engage in typical calvinistic arguments and misrepresent non-calvinists badly in your post. I have a greater concern regarding your post. You appear to be denying the biblical doctrine of justification through faith. Paul in Romans, in particular argues that we are saved through faith, that we need to have faith like Abraham in order to be saved. You in contrast claimed: “actually, God does save based on character.” You then tried to use Abraham’s character to prove your claim. This is not at all what Paul argued, he argued that we are saved through faith and he used Abraham not as an example of character but as an example of faith. I believer rather than arguing for calvinism you need to take a step back and reexamine your mistaken claim that we are saved based on character. This is a denial of justification by faith, a doctrine that Reformers like Luther and Calvin strongly advocated.

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      1. now ask yourself this question. where does this Faith come from? ephesians 2:8-9 tells us.

        the Word of God said that abraham’s faith was credited to Him as righteousness. should abraham boast in the fact that he had faith that other people did not contrary to eph2:8-9 or do we recognize that this faith he had was given to him by God?

        also, feel free to point out my misrepresentation whenever you like.

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      2. Paul teaches that Faith comes by hearing. And we are response able for our choice to either trade the truth in for lies, or except the truth in faith. We are held responsible because we are able to respond. That’s what separates us from animals.

        So, yes faith comes from God in that we cannot even begin to believe unless he enables, or enlightens, or reveals to us His truth. But we are responsible for what we do with that truth. Which means we are able to respond to that truth.

        It makes little sense for Jesus to rebuke people for their lack of faith if that is God responsibility. He should rebuke God for not giving faith, not man for their lack of it.

        Even John Calvin admits that Ephesians 2 is about salvation as a whole and not faith specifically. Either way we both admit faith is a gift, but the difference is that we believe a gift can be resisted or refused and thus bring condemnation on the individual response able for that choice.

        As Paul states we only perish if we refuse to except the truth so as to be saved.

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  10. i appreciate your response sir. i know you’re a busy man.

    “It makes little sense for Jesus to rebuke people for their lack of faith if that is God responsibility. He should rebuke God for not giving faith, not man for their lack of it.”

    this statement right here is what i’m talking about… “God can’t do that, it’s not fair”

    God is not able to do as He will with what He created and belongs to Him. says who?? His creatures? such great arrogance and hubris on the part of created beings! romans 9:14-23 says exactly that. God can do what he pleases with what he made. you’re basically the pot yelling at your potter “what in blazes are you doing!” i’m not even trying to be facetious here, this is really what the synergistic position boils down to. God’s prescriptive will to His creatures is to repent and believe the gospel as well what is contained in His law. His decreed will has determined all actions and events in time including whether or not His creatures will respond positively or negatively to the message of truth and follow His law.

    “Paul teaches that Faith comes by hearing”

    i bring up the same question i have brought up a few time here. why does one person who hears the gospel message reject it while the other believes unto salvation, both having heard the same gospel message? did God give one more faith while giving the other less? do they have the same faith but one exercised their faith more effectively than the other? wouldnt’ the ladder be cause for boasting contrary to ephesians 2:8-9? doesn’t the former conclude that God has more or less chosen that one would have enough faith to believe unto salvation while the other would not thus not making that one “response able”?

    no one can put their faith in something they don’t know about which is why the gospel needs to be preached in order for people to know the object of their faith. to say that people will be saved when they hear the message is simply not true. peter would not have been thrown in jail and paul and steven would not have been stoned if this were the case.

    “As Paul states we only perish if we refuse to except the truth so as to be saved.”

    of course, what else would he say? just because paul was an apostle doesn’t mean he knew God’s decreed will. paul didnt know the identity and number of the elect either which is why paul went out and preached the good news to everyone everywhere hoping to save some.

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    1. Yudo,

      You ask… “why does one person who hears the gospel message reject it while the other believes unto salvation, both having heard the same gospel message?”

      Let me ask you….

      Why does one Christian believe that “regeneration precedes faith” and the other Christian doesn’t, both reading the same word of God? Was it grace? Or was it something else?

      Next you ask….. “wouldn’t the ladder be cause for boasting contrary to ephesians 2:8-9?”

      Not according to Paul (Romans 3:27)…..
      “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.”

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      1. i suppose i don’t see what the relation is between my question and yours. i’m speaking about salvation and you’re talking about different levels of understanding.

        my comment on abraham and mentioning ephesians is to explain where that faith abraham had came from and if he has reason for boasting or not.

        if faith came from abraham independent of God then he indeed has reason to boast.

        if God equally equipped every single person with faith to respond positively and Abraham did while others didn’t Abraham, again, has reason to boast.

        if God gave salvific faith to abraham and not another person then there is no place for abraham to boast but for him to humbly thank the LORD for His mercy.

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      2. Good Morning Yudo, I hope you don’t mind my jumping in here. I just wanted to mention upon personal reflection for what is may be worth, that I find it easier to believe (not that I think I am forced too 🙂 ) that there is no merit in accepting God’s gracious initiatives for salvation which He offers to everyone (John 1:9, 16:7-8, 12:32) than it is to believe that He never enables most of those who bear His image to accept His mercy. I personally do not boast in my acceptance of the mercy that I did not deserve, but I think there may be more of a chance (freewill, if you will) for pride in those who see themselves as the chosen few, even if it that choosing was against their will initially.

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      3. Yudo,

        You asked …. “I suppose I don’t see what the relation is between my question and yours. I’m speaking about salvation and you’re talking about different levels of understanding.”

        Doesn’t matter. All spiritual understanding comes from the word of God. In fact, the Bible tells us that the gospel is so simple a child can understand it (2 Timothy 3:15).

        The reason for my comparison was simple. People can believe what they want to believe (be it the gospel or the order of salvation). When you find the answer for my question, you will find the answer for yours.

        As far as Abraham…..

        Romans 4:2….
        “For if Abraham was justified by works (which he wasn’t), he has something to boast about, but not before God.”

        Regardless why one believes and one doesn’t, boasting is excluded according to scripture. Just as Grace and works are at different ends of the spectrum, so is faith and boasting. Neither should be mixed with the other.

        God bless.

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  11. William,

    I don’t appreciate what I call “set up” questions (i.e. they are set ups in the sense that the question itself may contain an assumption/idea/etc. that I do not accept, e.g. the famous example “Have you stopped beating your wife?” which assumes that in fact you did so in the past, if you answer Yes then you admit that you did in the past but have stopped for now; if you answer No, then you admit you are doing so now, either way you look bad especially if in fact you have never abused your wife!).

    I doubt you appreciate this kind of question either.

    That being said your questions appear to include some ideas that I reject, so I cannot accept the questions.

    “First, do you believe the Bible teaches that God is intimately, immanently involved in every action in the universe, guiding and directing and holding all things together, counting hairs, providing for birds, dressing the fields with flowers, etc.?”

    Does God maintain the world in existence? Yes, scripture says as much. Does God provide for the creatures of the world? Yes, again the scripture says so.

    Is God *immanently* involved when people commit sin? Not so sure about that. God says he hates sin, that he is holy, that he has nothing to do with sin. Seems that angels and men are the ones who sin and God is not involved in bringing about our sin (especially if libertarian free will is involved when we freely choose to sin).

    “Second, do you believe that God is intimately, immanently involved in the lives of individuals knitting them together in their mother’s wombs, caring for them when they are at their mothers’ breasts, visiting both blessing and calamity on both the just and the wicked, etc.?”

    Again, some of this is clearly stated in scripture. On the other hand, God speaks of bringing “blessing and calamity” upon the nation of Israel (which is in line with the blessings and cursings promised in the law). But you cannot take that fact and extrapolate it to all situations of “blessing and calamity” as that scripture was in reference to Israel not all nations. If you further assume that God purposes every evil and sin, again I disagree (because God purposing every evil and sin is determinism, and I reject determinism) and that is adding a premise to your question that I reject (cf. the assumption that you abused your wife, inserted into the question about whether you have stopped doing so).

    “If you do affirm these two things, how do you factor God’s intricate, detailed involvement in time and creation into the equation of God creating with perfect, absolute foreknowledge?”

    Not sure I affirm all these things, if all of these things include deterministic premises that you hold.

    “You see, it’s not only the free choices of people He foreknows. It’s also how they will respond to Him when He interferes with the natural order of things.”

    Agreed, God’s foreknowledge is exhaustive so it includes all future events.

    Before we go any further, I must state I reject calvinistic premises/assumptions including: that whatever God foreknows he intends; that whatever he foreknows he causes; that foreknowledge and LFW are incompatible. If you present these assumptions then of course I will disagree
    .
    “Thus, the moment God steps in and does one act to influence and shape the events of history, He is interfering with your notion of free will, because He knows that His actions will certainly bring about what He purposes.”

    No, this statement assumes that LFW and God’s actions are incompatible.

    If God decided to create a world where humans sometimes experience LFW, then that is the world that would exist. And in that world, God’s foreknowledge and LFW would not be incompatible.

    Allow me to ask a question of you:

    Can God create a world where humans sometimes experience LFW and yet God foreknows every future event that will occur?

    If you deny that God could even do this, then we probably don’t have much to discuss.

    Because if you deny this possibility from the outset, it becomes a major case of the begging the question, as we must all assume determinism to be true (because if God cannot create a world where LFW and foreknowledge are compatible, then he cannot create a world where LFW exists and so He is necessitated to create a world where LFW does not exist, i.e. he must create a world where determinism is true in every event).

    If I grant that to you from the beginning I am giving you the kitchen sink and have no way of presenting my view as my view is automatically excluded from the beginning.

    It is like saying let’s talk about and figure out who was the best basketball player that ever lived, stipulating that whichever player we discuss must be under 6 ft. tall or under (i.e. assuming determinism to be true) which necessarily excludes every player that was over 6 ft. tall (that is winning by definition, if we stipulate that only 6 ft. or under players can be considered then that argument automatically wins.

    Likewise if you assume that foreknowledge and LFW are incompatible from the start, then you necessarily have to hold to determinism (or open theism). That is stipulating determinism to be true, just like the guy stipulating that the greatest basketball player has to be 6 ft tall or shorter! That is winning by definition, not winning by argument and available evidence.

    “He knows, because He has foreseen it. And knowing that He is causing things to happen, which He has foreseen will certainly come to pass in the event of His interference, when He decides in eternity past to act, He is in fact predestining the result.”

    Sorry your statements here yet again assume deterministic premises to be true. You assume that he causes all things to happen (deterministic premise). You assume that if he acts at all then he is in fact predestining the result (deterministic premise). You keep assuming that the greatest player is 6 ft. or under, stipulating that we must discuss things with that assumption being true. That is just an exercise in begging the question. You have not proved your view or disproved my view, you have merely stipulated your view and then said let’s discuss who the greatest basketball player ever was (just as long as we operate by the assumption that they can only be 6 ft. or less! 🙂 ).

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    1. Right. Let’s try a hypothetical scenario and see how this works. Perhaps you can point out specifics about how I am assuming and not proving determinism in my premises rather than simply stating that this is what I am doing.

      Let’s say that God chose to create a world.

      God knows with His perfect knowledge that, with His interference as a factor and only with it as a factor, the people would murder the only perfectly good Man who ever existed.

      He also knows with His perfect knowledge that, with His interference as a factor and only with it as a factor, He would bring about the greatest good ever.

      Furthermore, He knows with His perfect knowledge that, that greatest good would only be brought about through those men’s greatest evil.

      Also, He knows with His perfect knowledge that, even though He purposed it to bring about His greatest good, He would still hold them accountable for their evil.

      Would that God not be determining said outcomes while still holding human beings culpable for the actions they committed which He foreordained?

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      1. William,

        I asked a question of you which you did not answer. In contrast to your questions which committed the complex question fallacy, my question does not and is both simple and direct. It is a very important question so I ask it again.

        Can God create a world where humans sometimes experience LFW and yet God foreknows every future event that will occur?

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      2. The only answer I can offer you that I believe can be consistent with the testimony of Scripture is this:

        God does whatever He purposes in accordance with His eternal will and His unchanging character and cannot do otherwise.

        Regarding whether or not the conclusions embedded in your question (begging the question) are within God’s power, I leave it to you to prove from Scripture that they are in accordance with His eternal will and unchanging character. In response, I may counter with Scriptures that I believe prove the contrary and exegesis that proves you have interpreted your proof texts incorrectly. If you observe my interactions with Brian, you will see that this is my modus operandi.

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      3. I will say that I am curious as to whether you will ever have the grace to answer any of my questions or if you will simply keep finding ways to dodge them. There are many things you say and assume in your questions that I could argue are fallacious, but I still try to answer your questions. To be honest, I didn’t respond to your “simple question” post because it seemed so overly bogged down with illustration and things I felt were irrelevant. I didn’t know which parts most needed response, so I attempted to respond to what I thought might be the main point of the comment: that God does not foreordain evil.

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      4. Furthermore, you seem to take real issue with the idea that I would already have a position and want to defend that position, as though you are coming from a position of neutrality. Let’s be fair here. Neither of us come from a position of neutrality here. If we did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Further, if you required neutrality of everyone with whom you disagreed, you would not be able to sustain very many conversations of substance.

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  12. Brian,

    “I agree with William that if God’s foreknowledge of the future is all settled events, if true, then has to be so because God predetermined it to be.”

    It is interesting that in regards to the incompatibility of divine exhaustive foreknowledge and libertarian free will, calvinists and open theists make strange bed fellows and agree on this. They agree with regards to the incompatibility and then each takes one element and discards the other (calvinists take foreknowledge but discard LFW while open theists take LFW and discard foreknowledge). The majority view in the church in contrast has been they are compatible so most believers believe in both LFW and foreknowledge.

    “Let me try to put it another way, which may or may not help. God’s omniscience of which His foreknowledge is a part can only include what really exists!”

    This is merely your presupposition/assumption stated without qualification and without argument.
    “I think you would agree that God does not know any event of the past that never took place, like He does not know that I became a Calvinist yesterday, because it did not happen. :-)”

    Don’t confuse God not knowing an event that did not occur (God’s knowledge of non-actualities, non-actualized possibilities) with an event that will in fact occur (i.e. foreknowledge)

    “Also God does not know any event of the present that doesn’t truly exist, like I am now a true Calvinist, because that is not true.”

    Not quite, take the example of me considering two options that I will choose and require actions. God knows what I will in fact do, he also knows what I would have done had I chosen otherwise. But this non-actualized possibility though it was never actualized as a choice, was nevertheless known by God(he knows both actualities and possibilities).

    “So God can only know the events of the future as they truly exist.”

    Another presupposition/assumption stated without qualification and without argument (future events will in fact take place and God foreknows them, though these events do not exist now: e.g. God knows there will be a final judgment, and even knows who will be goats and who will be sheep though these events do not exist now, in fact some who may be there may not even exist yet in history). In the OT God often spoke of future events that would take place that had not yet taken place and also did not yet exist.

    “If some of the events of the future have been predetermined as being completed and some of the events of the future have not been predetermined, then He knows them all perfectly as they perfectly exist at this moment.”

    Again, you are merely stating your own presupposition here. Because you deny the compatibility of foreknowledge and LFW you posit a future that is partly settled and partly open. But if God foreknows all future events all future events are settled. They will in fact occur and whatever will in fact occur is what God foreknows will occur. You believe that that is incompatible with LFW, so you retain LFW and jettison foreknowledge (as ordinarily and traditionally defined, you redefine it to fit your open theist presuppositions).

    “He cannot know them in any other way (e.g. as all completed) because they don’t exist that way in His plan.”

    Again, you are merely assuming that if it does not exist now then God cannot know it. That is just a common open theist presupposition (one I might add denied by calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, Okhamists, etc.)

    “I think you need to reconsider the major weakness of the Arminian view of foreknowledge, and that is, that is was separated from God’s omniscience as the source for it.”

    Not sure what you mean here perhaps you could explain further.

    “The Arminian view is almost like God received in the mail a video of the future which did not contain any of His involvement, watched it, and then decided how He would be involved so that He would now know from that point forward all the outcomes.”

    No this is a misrepresentation (“which did not contain any of His involvement”), God’s foreknowledge of the future will include all events that make up that future including his actions, our actions, the cause/effect relations of inanimate objects, angelic activity, everything.

    “Such a view ends up with the same predetermination of all human history as the Calvinist and Molinist.”

    No, again you are simply agreeing with the calvinist/determinist here, they also believe that if all is foreknown then all must be predetermined. Most Christians have rejected this premise/assumption/presupposition. Primarily because examination of scripture presents both foreknowledge (God declares that he knows the future, He engages in prophecy) and LFW (the scripture contains clear exhortations to choose one thing over another, to avoid certain choices, regret at having made the wrong choices, situations where the person appeared to be able to make either choice, etc.). Thus on the basis of scripture the majority of Christians have affirmed both the reality of foreknowledge and LFW.
    “I believe the Scriptures present a future that is partly predetermined and partly undetermined and it can only be known in God’s omniscience as it truly exists.”
    And I believe the Scriptures present that God knows the future exhaustively AND that sometimes people experience LFW, the conclusion of seeing this evidence is that they are compatible, both existing in the reality/history which God has made.

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    1. Hi Robert, First, let me ask you a procedural question. Did you reply to each statement in my post in consecutive order as you were reading them, or did you read the whole post and then decided that the most helpful way to respond would be by replying to each statement in order? I personally believe it is better, after reading the whole post, if you look for one or two major helpful things to which to respond. I also think it makes your responses appear impulsive and not as thoughtful or cohesive when each statement is responded to as if they were in their own unique context. This is just my opinion, and you won’t hurt my feelings if your stay with the other way. 🙂

      I really struggled, Robert, with trying to discern how the Lord wanted me to reply to your input. I have written and erased a lot! 🙂 But I think at this point I just want to say that you and I agree on two main things. 1. Everything was not preordained before creation. 2. There is still true contra-causal freedom in the world today.

      And I think there is just one main disagreement. I believe contra-causal freedom can not exist without true possibilities existing (which you may agree with) but more importantly that true possibilities cannot exist if all future things are truly settled in God’s mind, which is the only place the future now exists.

      And there is one thing I wonder if you would be willing to concede. Do you think that predictions in Scripture of the future only proves that some of the future, those specific details about the future, are truly settled details, but it does not necessarily prove that all of the future that exists in God’s mind, exists as settled details? Even though that may be a reasonable hypothesis, it logically is not a necessary inference. Do you agree?

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      1. Brian,

        I replied in consecutive order as I read it, sorry if that bothered you. I guess I agree with you that not everything is predestined (I am not a calivnist you know! :-)) and that LFW or as you call it “contra-causal freedom” is sometimes experienced in the world today. As it was sometimes experienced in the past and will be sometimes experienced in the future. We disgree on whether exhaustive divine foreknowledge and LFW/contra causal freedom are compatible (I take the standard view that has traditionally been held by Christians across all Christian traditions including Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Independents; you appear to hold some version of what is popularly called “open theism”).

        “if all future things are truly settled in God’s mind, which is the only place the future now exists.”

        This is an intriguing statement as I believe the future is settled in the sense that God knows what will in fact happen. But those events known by God only exist in God’s mind presently.

        Not sure what your last question was. I believe that God is able to give prophecies in scripture because he has exhaustive knowledge of all events (both what will in fact occur/actualities, and what could have occurred but did not occur/possibilities). I believe there are statements in scripture where God indicates that he knows whatever the future will be. He doesn’t present these foreknown events as something that may or may not happen, but as things that will in fact happen. Not sure what you are asking me if I concede? Perhaps you could clarify your question or perhaps my claim that God does in fact have exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events answers your question?

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      2. I am glad that we agree on the two must important and I think most influential ideas in this discussion, 1. not all things are predetermined and 2. LFW/contra-causal freedom. Rejecting these ideas, I strongly believe, harms our love and prayer for the lost!

        It looks like you agree that the future only exists in God’s mind, though maybe you are still thinking about that one. If you do agree, do you think the settled future is the only future that existed in God’s mind from all eternity past or did He choose that settled future from a number of possible futures He was able to create and “knew” within His omniscience?

        As far as the misunderstanding that I caused about Bible prophecies in this discussion, let me try to clarify further. I think we both agree that there is not verse that says – The future is a full set of settled outcomes which God knows completely (plus all counter-factuals, things that could logically have happened by God’s power but not able to be known as happening). Since we do not have such a verse we need evidence that at least points in that direction if we are going to hold to that meaning of such a verse/premise. I believed that you were pointing to the evidence of biblical prophecy to point to the truth of such a statement. I was just saying that such evidence only points, but does not prove a fully settled future, but that those prophecies are a set of things truly known as settled in the future. Would you agree with that assessment?

        You cannot logically say, because God knows the future as settled, He therefore is able make such prophecies, without first confirming on what authority you know that God knows the future as settled. And there is no verse that I have found. I hope this helps clarify my request for your agreement on this.

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  13. William,
    I asked you whether or not God could create a world where people sometimes experience libertarian free will AND at the same time God foreknows every event in that world? Now your “answer” is that God does everything in line with His will and His unchanging character. I agree that whenever God does something it is in line with His will and character. But that still does not answer my question. Now I am wondering why you cannot answer this question directly and forthrightly. Instead you answer with a vague evasion. You then argue that I have the burden of proof and that I need to prove my point. NOw it is true that he who asserts must prove, bears the burden of proof. But I did not make a declaration I asked you a question. Now if you had answered my question then perhaps I would make a claim and provide evidence and you would do likewise. But you didn’t answer my question so you made no claim and neither did I so to speak of me having a burden of proof is irrelevant.

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  14. William,

    In your second post you said: “I will say that I am curious as to whether you will ever have the grace to answer any of my questions or if you will simply keep finding ways to dodge them.” Hmm, so according to you if I answer your questions I exhibit “grace” and if I do not I am “dodging” your questions. I do not appreciate this at all William. I explained my reasons for not answering your questions. It was not a question of “dodging” innocent inquisitive questions: I usually make time for sincere questions that people have. No, your questions all committed the fallacy called complex question. I will not repeat everything that I have already said about this fallacy. A famous illustration that most have heard is the complex question: “Have you stopped beating your wife? (which assumes that you did so in the past, and say that in fact you never have abused your wife, presently or in the past, if you answer Yes to this set up question, then you admit that in the past you did abuse her even though you never did; if you answer No, then you are admitting that presently you are abusing your wife, in both cases by the structure of the question you commit yourself to something that is false, that you did or are abusing your wife). When you are asked such a question, a question that involves a complex question, to refuse to answer is it not to “dodge” the quetion but is to recognize it for what it is an unfair question that is commiting a logical fallacy.

    Now I explained clearly why your questions commit the complex fallacy and why they ought to be rejected. It is not dodging to refuse to answer such a question, it is actually not being foolish. So no William it is not a case of not having the grace to answer your questions that commit the fallacy of complex question: actually it would not be helpful for me to answer such questions, just as it would be helpful to answer the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

    Incidentally for other readers of this post if you want biblical examples of the complex question fallacy, check out Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees, how they tried to set him up with questions intended to make him look bad. In his case being God he came up with some great responses to these set up questions. Of course that got them so made they wanted to kill him, which they eventually were able to do. I do not have the intelligence or knowledge of Jesus so for me it is better to avoid questions that commit the complex question fallacy.

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    1. “When you are asked such a question, a question that involves a complex question, to refuse to answer is it not to “dodge” the quetion but is to recognize it for what it is an unfair question that is commiting a logical fallacy.”

      Nope. It’s a dodge. I have recognized several fallacies and traps (instances of begging the question) in your comments. However, rather than refusing to answer and stunting conversation, I have tried to answer them the best I can within the soteriological construct in which I operate. Your question about whether God CAN create a world I don’t believe He DID create was answered. As a Calvinist, I obviously don’t believe He created such a world as you described. My answer makes clear that I don’t believe He CAN do that which He WILL NOT do. If you think this a non-answer, please excuse me for having wasted your time. It’s more than you’ve done for me. Besides, the essence of the answer for that question can be found in the comment where you claim I commit the complex question fallacy (You claim I committed this fallacy and others but never attempt to prove I have, arguing the conclusion as a premise, a form of begging the question). If all of those things are true about the crucifixion of Christ, God’s role in it, the murderers’ roles in it, God’s foreordaining of it, the murderers’ culpability, and God’s having brought about the ultimate good from the ultimate evil, I would argue you have a clear case of men being fully culpable for committing sins that God foreordained they would commit before the foundation of the world. And I don’t see how you can squeeze your notion of libertarian free will into that.

      It seems to me that this whole time you have been committing the fallacy fallacy, attempting to derail my arguments by reducing the school of logic down to a rhetorical exercise in which you see fallacies behind every brick and stone. You may “win” arguments this way, but it is no way to win friends and win hearts. It will simply cause those you desire to convince to see you as an evasive rhetorician using the tools of logic to avoid real conversation. See, I have at least attempted to engage your comments, though obviously not to your satisfaction. You refuse to do me such kindness. Therefore, I guess this is where I will have to give you the final word, sir.

      (ALL CAPS used for wont of italics for emphasis, not as a form of yelling in type.)

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      1. William,

        William is now leaving the sand box in an angry rant, taking his toys with him! :-).

        You quoted me as saying:

        “When you are asked such a question, a question that involves a complex question, to refuse to answer is it not to “dodge” the quetion but is to recognize it for what it is an unfair question that is commiting a logical fallacy.”

        And then responded:

        “Nope. It’s a dodge.”

        It was not a dodge. I am writing with other hearers in mind as you appear to be a lost cause in regards to recognizing why it is not good to respond to questions involving the complex question fallacy. I will perhaps cite a few sources in another post to further bolster the point (maybe).

        “I have recognized several fallacies and traps (instances of begging the question) in your comments.”

        Fine then you should have pointed them out.

        “However, rather than refusing to answer and stunting conversation, I have tried to answer them the best I can within the soteriological construct in which I operate.”

        Not answering questions that commit the complex question fallacy may be “stunting conversation” in your view but I don’t play with those who play the game unfairly and do so knowingly. It is one thing if you did not realize exactly what you were doing. But once I explained and exposed your complex questions, now you do so willingly. You come up to me and say “let’s argue who was the greatest basketball player of all time, but WE HAVE TO limit it to those who are 6 ft tall or shorter”. I am not interested as you have set up the rules of the game unfairly and if you do so knowingly that’s just wrong.

        “Your question about whether God CAN create a world I don’t believe He DID create was answered.”

        No it was not, you “answered” that you believe that God does things in line with His will and character, but all bible believing Christians believe THAT: so that is not answering the question at all.

        “As a Calvinist, I obviously don’t believe He created such a world as you described.”

        Then why didn’t you say so? Instead you were evasive and non-responsive. You could have easily answered “No, while I believe he could have done that, he did not choose to do that” (or something similar). But no, instead you chose to be evasive.

        “My answer makes clear that I don’t believe He CAN do that which He WILL NOT do.”

        Well there is a basic and critical difference between us, I believe that God could and did create a world where we sometimes experience libertarian free will. As a theological determinist you exclude that possibility from the get go by defining things so that it is not possible. That is simply winning by stipulation/definition (I stipulate that he cannot do that, so that possibility is off the table). And by what authority do you make that stipulation? Just your own. You are like the kid who when asked why he did something just answers “because.” When they elaborate they say “because I wanted to do.”

        “If you think this a non-answer, please excuse me for having wasted your time.”

        Actually it was not a waste of time for me as your engaging in the complex question fallacy is exposed and out in the open for all to see, that exposes calvinists further. I did not expect to persuade you, but there are those onlookers, others who are watching. It is like when you are witnessing and you engage a skeptic. You may not persuade him, but others are listening as well. For their sake it was no waste of time.

        “It’s more than you’ve done for me.”

        Wasted your time, I am not sorry about exposing your unfair debating methods at all.

        “Besides, the essence of the answer for that question can be found in the comment where you claim I commit the complex question fallacy (You claim I committed this fallacy and others but never attempt to prove I have, arguing the conclusion as a premise, a form of begging the question).”

        I will let others be the judge of whether or not you were exposed or not, as committing the complex question fallacy and the winning by stipulation game.

        “If all of those things are true about the crucifixion of Christ, God’s role in it, the murderers’ roles in it, God’s foreordaining of it, the murderers’ culpability, and God’s having brought about the ultimate good from the ultimate evil, I would argue you have a clear case of men being fully culpable for committing sins that God foreordained they would commit before the foundation of the world. And I don’t see how you can squeeze your notion of libertarian free will into that.”

        Actually that was one of the main problems with your supposed hypothetical, you made all these points about the crucifixion of Jesus but you left out the fact the evil choices made by the men involved libertarian free will choices. They could have and should have done otherwise, but they did not (and God foreknew they would not) so they are responsible for their choices. God effectively used evil choices that he foreknew (scripture explicitly says that it was by the planning and foreknowledge of God) they would choose to do, and used their evil choices to accomplish the good of having Jesus crucified for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD (as scripture explicitly states). God has done this a few times including with the brothers of Joseph in Genesis and the use of the evil choices of the Assyrians to discipline Israel. We libertarians have no problem with those passages as we make a distinction between **God causing sin** (which is true in calvinism/theological determinism) versus **God using the foreknown sinful choices of men to accomplish a good purpose**.

        “It seems to me that this whole time you have been committing the fallacy fallacy, attempting to derail my arguments by reducing the school of logic down to a rhetorical exercise in which you see fallacies behind every brick and stone.”

        Now THAT is really funny!

        The “fallacy, fallacy” fallacy that’s a new one.

        I have some logic books and none of them discuss the “fallacy, fallacy fallacy”! 🙂 I guess you learn something new every day. I gotta use that one in the future, at the appropriate time.

        “You may “win” arguments this way, but it is no way to win friends and win hearts.”

        I didn’t win any arguments I was just exposing your repeated committing of the complex question fallacy. I was also exposing your unfair debating method (you assume your presuppositions and demand that others operate by your presuppositions, like agreeing to that debate on the greatest basketball player agreeing with the stipulation that he has to be 6 ft. tall or shorter, so in my opinion the actual greatest basketball players of all time players like Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, etc. are automatically eliminated from consideration: before the debate has even begun.

        “It will simply cause those you desire to convince to see you as an evasive rhetorician using the tools of logic to avoid real conversation.”

        I don’t use the tools of logic “to avoid real conversation”, I do use them to avoid set ups and unfair stipulation games that apparently you enjoy playing. I am all for “real conversation” and even logical argumentation. I have little tolerance for those who want to play their stipulation games by asking me whether I have stopped beating my wife and if I want to debate the greatest basketball player AS LONG AS we stipulate from the beginning that they have to be 6 ft tall or shorter.

        It would be like someone saying at the dojo: I realize you are a black belt, but let’s spar with me having use of both legs and arms and you having both arms tied behind your back and hopping on one leg! 🙂 That seems like an unfair fight to me, so I won’t get into it. If you want to fight fairly I am open to that, but from your words you want both arms tied behind my back and me hopping on one leg before we even start sparring! 🙂

        “See, I have at least attempted to engage your comments, though obviously not to your satisfaction.”

        No you haven’t and again I will let others judge whether this is true or not.

        “You refuse to do me such kindness.”

        It is not “kindness” for me to agree to your prefight stipulations and tie my hands behind my back and hop on one leg: actually that would be quite foolish on my part and result in a painful beat down! 🙂

        “Therefore, I guess this is where I will have to give you the final word, sir.”

        Thanks for helping others better understand what unfair debating looks like and especially how the complex question fallacy functions. Some may have learned something useful from your good example of these things.

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  15. William,

    In your third post, you said: “you seem to take issue with the idea that I would already have a postion and want to defend that position, as though you are coming from a position of neutrality.”

    I did not take issue with you already having a postion, I expect you as a committed calvinist to have a position (i.e. calvinism). I also fully expect you to want to defend your postion (normally that is what committed calvinists do! 🙂 ). And I never said I was coming “from a position of neutrality.” You are trying to attribute something to me that is not true and not something that I claimed anywhere in anything I posted. My own view is that everybody is biased, that is to be expected, nobody is “neutral”.

    At the same time I don’t appreciate when some people play a game of winning by definition/stipulation. Again, returning to my earlier example, if we said let’s discuss and then argue for who we believe to be the best basketball player ever, but then you stipulated that the person has to be 6 ft tall or shorter. I would say wait a minute that is winning by definition/stipulation. If you define the best player ever as having to be 6 ft tall or shorter, you are stacking the deck unfairly in favor of your position. It would be like saying let’s have a race and see who runs faster, you just HAVE TO give me a 20 yard head start in our 100 yard race. You give someone a 20 yard head start and they could beat Usain Bolt! If you get to set up the debate by having things stipulate, that is just winning by definition, it is not a fair fight at all. So while I realize we are all biased and that does not surprise me at all, at the same I won’t waste my time with someone who is into winning by stipulation or definition. I also believe winning by stipulation is a bit dishonest. It is not a case of make your claim and present you evidence, it is lelt me win by an unfair advantage (player has to be 6 ft. or shorter, give me 20 yard head start, etc.)

    “Let’s be fair here.”

    Which is precisely why I would not answer your questions that committed the complex question fallacy. And precisely why I don’t want to play a game of winning by stipulation/definition.

    “Neither of us come from a position of neutrality here.”

    Yes that is true by the way I knew Greg Bahnsen personally before his untimely death: if that has any meaning for you.

    “Further if you regard neutrality of everyone with whom you disagreed, you would never be able to sustain many conversations of substance.”

    Thanks for the advice, but as I believe everyone is biased, I never seek to talk to people without any biases. At the same time if someone asks me questions like “Have you stopped beating your wife?” that is not an issue of bias, that is a set up question committing the fallacy of complex question. Also in my experience when people are firing a lot of complex questions at you, I know this person is not only biased as we all are, this person is trying to use logical tricks and unfair debating methods “to win.” Also regarding this issue of bias, if someone wants to play the win by stipulation game I really do not want to waste time with such a person. There is a certain dishonesty involved and it does not make for very good and meaningful “conversations of substance.”

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  16. Brother Leighton (or Brian),

    While I was waiting for a direct response from you regarding the use of the term “election” found in Romans 11:28, I noticed you “liked” Robert’s response, so I take that to mean you approve.

    I agree. I believe the use of “election” in Romans 11:28 is referring to a remnant of gospel rejecting Jews/Israelites.

    So here is just one NT example written by the apostle Paul using the term “election” which has nothing to do with being “in Christ” or “in union with Christ”, but rather their election is due to their physical lineage to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    Elsewhere you wrote……

    “At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body (the church) by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:13), thereby becoming one of the elect.”

    Now how do you harmonize that with 2 Timothy 2:10 (NKJV)……?

    “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

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  17. Brian,

    “I am glad that we agree on the two must important and I think most influential ideas in this discussion, 1. not all things are predetermined and 2. LFW/contra-causal freedom. Rejecting these ideas, I strongly believe, harms our love and prayer for the lost!”

    I am not sure they are the two most important ideas, but we do agree on them. And regarding rejecting these ideas harming our love and prayer for the lost that may be true for some, but I also know some theological determinists who do have a strong love for the lost and do pray for them. If may not be consistent with their espoused theology, but better their inconsistency than their consistency in this area!

    “It looks like you agree that the future only exists in God’s mind, though maybe you are still thinking about that one.”

    Yes it seems obvious to me that it only exists in his mind, if for example future people will be doing certain things in the future, I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen any of these future people so I conclude they may exist in His mind but they do not exist in our experience! 🙂

    “If you do agree, do you think the settled future is the only future that existed in God’s mind from all eternity past or did He choose that settled future from a number of possible futures He was able to create and “knew” within His omniscience?”

    I think he chose to actualize a world that has the features that he wants to be present (such things as genuine persons not puppets; people freely choosing to trust and love Him and each other; an orderly word where you cannot actualize contradictions, e.g. We cannot both say something mean and not say something mean to a person in the exact same circumstances, a world where our identity continues through time so we are the same person that we were 10 minutes ago, etc. etc. etc.). Of course in such a world LFW would be a prominent reality, both for good and ill.

    “As far as the misunderstanding that I caused about Bible prophecies in this discussion, let me try to clarify further. I think we both agree that there is no verse that says – The future is a full set of settled outcomes which God knows completely (plus all counter-factuals, things that could logically have happened by God’s power but not able to be known as happening).”

    No, there is no such verse, just as there is no such verse that says God has predetermined all events! 🙂

    “Since we do not have such a verse we need evidence that at least points in that direction if we are going to hold to that meaning of such a verse/premise. I believed that you were pointing to the evidence of biblical prophecy to point to the truth of such a statement.”

    Correct, we don’t have that one verse, but we have many scriptures which appear to present, when properly interpreted, that God does know future events including those involving LFW choices.

    “I was just saying that such evidence only points, but does not prove a fully settled future, but that those prophecies are a set of things truly known as settled in the future.”

    It seems to me that the future being completely “settled” comes from an inference from the reality of God’s foreknowledge (i.e. if God has this ability that is ordinarily referred to as foreknowledge, meaning that God knows future events before they occur in time): then if we combine this ability with omniscience (i.e. that he knows everything, both actualities and possibilities in any given situation, possible world, the actual world, etc. etc.) we conclude that God knows all future events before they occur. That has been the standard understanding of foreknowledge throughout church history.

    Now one small caveat: to anticipate a possible objection. While I believe that God knows all future events before they occur: I have no idea HOW he knows. I make a distinction between THAT he knows versus HOW he knows. So with regard to foreknowledge I would say THAT he knows the future, but I do not and need not know HOW he knows. This is not problematic for me as I fully understand that I am not going to understand everything about God. I do not know how an incarnation can occur (God coming in the flesh) but I do believe THAT the incarnation occurred. I believe THAT God is eternal, always existing, but I do not understand HOW that works. I think we need to be content with what is revealed and not worry about the HOW questions when it comes to God.

    “Would you agree with that assessment?”

    I guess so, again there is no one verse teaching exhaustive foreknowledge.

    “You cannot logically say, because God knows the future as settled, He therefore is able make such prophecies, without first confirming on what authority you know that God knows the future as settled.”

    Seems to me this is similar to how we establish the reality of the trinity. We have no single verse that says for example: “the trinity is true, God really is one being existing as three persons.” With the trinity if we examine the available evidence we find that the bible reveals there is one God. It also reveals there are three separate persons, Father, Son, Spirit who are all God. From the combination of these verses we deduce that the trinity is real and true. Likewise, we do not have a single verse presenting exhaustive divine foreknowledge, but we have a bunch of verses that have God knowing future events, those events being presented as “settled” not just possibly happening. We have these verses in both testaments. We have God declaring in Isaiah that he is the only God because contrary to other gods he knows what will happen in the future. It is a cumulative case, and again a case that has persuaded most Christians in church history.

    “And there is no verse that I have found. I hope this helps clarify my request for your agreement on this.”

    Yes no single verse, but a cumulative case. But this does not worry or bother me as with other key doctrines it is the same, no single verse, but a cumulative case involving the available evidence.

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    1. Hi Robert, Here we are at the bottom of the page again, disconnected from our previous conversation above, but I guess it doesn’t matter because there probably aren’t that many interested in our discussion! 🙂

      You said – “It seems to me that the future being completely ‘settled’ comes from an inference from the reality of God’s foreknowledge” which you identify as “the standard understanding of foreknowledge throughout church history.” Would you agree that the “standard” understanding of important biblical terms has been often wrong for a long time during periods of Christian history? (e.g. baptism)

      You also described God’s omniscience – “that he knows everything, both actualities and possibilities in any given situation, possible world, the actual world, etc….” Would you agree that in your view of a settled foreknowledge of all human history there can not be a knowledge in God’s mind of possibilities that might happen but only possibilities that could have happened had God chosen a different possible world from this one to create? Or to put it another way, since God chose this possible world to create, then all the other possible worlds became counter-factual at that moment of choice and impossible to exist simultaneously. Does that seem like a reasonable view?

      Finally, would you be disappointed if you found out that there were more members in the Godhead then three, 🙂 and that the dogmatism that there are only three is not as important as our relating correctly to the three that have been revealed to us in Scripture? Similarly, is it not more important to relate to the things that have been determined for us to believe about the future, the things truly revealed ahead of their happening, then to be dogmatic that the entire future is a settled reality in which no true possibilities could exist, except as counterfactuals? Logically, if they end up as counterfactuals sometime in the future, then they must only be known as counterfactuals now in God’s foreknowledge, according to your definition. They can not be called true possibilities even though they might appear as such.

      Ultimately, my view is that dogmatism based on unnecessary inferences or unclear statements from Scripture is not usually helpful and sometimes harmful.

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      1. Brian,

        “Hi Robert, Here we are at the bottom of the page again, disconnected from our previous conversation above, but I guess it doesn’t matter because there probably aren’t that many interested in our discussion! :-)”

        Actually I may be getting less interested in our discussion too. 🙂

        “You said – “It seems to me that the future being completely ‘settled’ comes from an inference from the reality of God’s foreknowledge” which you identify as “the standard understanding of foreknowledge throughout church history.” Would you agree that the “standard” understanding of important biblical terms has been often wrong for a long time during periods of Christian history? (e.g. baptism)”

        “Often” is too strong, occasionally the standard understanding changes or is modified. Regarding baptism there are now two standard understandings (believer baptism and infant baptism). Regarding the standard understanding of foreknowledge, that has stayed pretty much the same for a long time, at least until recent times when open theists such as yourself have claimed this understanding is mistaken.

        “You also described God’s omniscience – “that he knows everything, both actualities and possibilities in any given situation, possible world, the actual world, etc….””

        By that I meant simply that God knows everything, weather you speak of actualities and possibilities, speak of actual/possible worlds as Molinists do, however you want to talk about it: God knows everything including the future.

        “Would you agree that in your view of a settled foreknowledge of all human history there cannot be a knowledge in God’s mind of possibilities that might happen but only possibilities that could have happened had God chosen a different possible world from this one to create?”

        I personally use possible worlds terminology to discuss things with people: it is merely a semantic device to expressing certain things for me.

        I believe that God decided to create a world that would have certain features. So he did not predetermine every event as theological determinists believe. Rather he created a certain kind of world which would allow for the things that he wanted to be possible to be possible. Take free will for example. In order to create human persons with the capacity for free will they need to have things like an individual mind, individual identity, a mind capable of rational thought and considering alternative options, so people can make choices for reasons in light of what is important to them, a body by which thoughts and intentions can be manifested in the world, an external world where actions can be performed, an orderly external world (not a whimsical world where for example the minute you utter a negative word the sound waves are automatically scrambled, or the bat turns into a XX bat when you try to strike someone with it, etc.) etc. So rather than creating a completely prescripted history, again contra theological determinism, even contra Molinism, he creates a world with certain features. One of the reasons science has been so successful is that scientific study conducted properly yields insights about our very rational and orderly world. He creates the stage and instead of everything going by a predecided script it is more like actors come and go on this stage engage in some improvise and there is the interrelationship between Him and them as they appear on the stage. Some things are open (e.g. people’s relating to Him and to each other) and some things are settled (e.g. the orderly operations of the creation).

        Your question here may apply **if I were a Molinist** but I am not.

        One of my issues with Molinism is that it seems too deterministic to me. God creates this possible world so by means of creating that particular possible world he fixes everything.

        Seems to me that if he decided to create a real world where there was genuine libertarian free will/or contra-causal willing your term: then he isn’t going to determine everything whether by decreeing and controlling everything (i.e. calvinism) or determining everything via choosing one possible world rather than another possible world (i.e. Molinism). I believe he foreknows all future events via his foreknowledge. But I don’t think he fixes everything, determines everything, I think history is a result of both the choices of God and the choices of man (though his choices have much greater consequences and importance than ours do). Though he does predetermine some events (e.g. the crucifixion of Jesus) but even those involve people making free choices not determined choices.

        “Or to put it another way, since God chose this possible world to create, then all the other possible worlds became counter-factual at that moment of choice and impossible to exist simultaneously. Does that seem like a reasonable view?”

        It may make for a “reasonable view” for a Molinist! 🙂

        But again I am not a Molinist, I just use their nomenclature to discuss things.

        Now if you would like to talk to a Molinist instead, I could introduce you to some of my Molinist friends like Alvin Plantinga and J. P. Moreland.

        “Finally, would you be disappointed if you found out that there were more members in the Godhead then three, 🙂 and that the dogmatism that there are only three is not as important as our relating correctly to the three that have been revealed to us in Scripture?”

        Not sure that is sort of a trick question, it would seem a bit misleading to me if there were more members in the Godhead then three. He seems to present things as if there are only three. Kinda like a guy gets married and the wife just doesn’t tell him shes married to multiple other husbands! Withholding that kind of thing seems a bit misleading. On the other hand, if “I get in”, that might be sufficient no matter what else I find out! 🙂 I believe that God operates in more dimensions then we do: but more than three members in the Godhead?

        “Similarly, is it not more important to relate to the things that have been determined for us to believe about the future, the things truly revealed ahead of their happening, then to be dogmatic that the entire future is a settled reality in which no true possibilities could exist, except as counterfactuals?”

        Well Yes we should relate to what we know to be true, regarding being “dogmatic that the entire future is a settled reality” I don’t think it is merely being “dogmatic” I believe it is coming to the best explanation of the available data/scripture properly interpreted. You might say that my traditional view is one model and your open theism is another model. I think that one model is superior/more biblical than the other model. And also regarding being “dogmatic” it seems to me that you are just as “dogmatic” in your open theists beliefs as I am in my traditional understanding of foreknowledge beliefs.

        “that the entire future is a settled reality in which no true possibilities could exist, except as counterfactuals?”

        That does not represent my view properly I don’t think. See I view us as going through, experiencing consecutive “presents”. What we refer to as the past is a present that we have already experienced (e.g. I chose what sports program to watch on TV last week, I made that choice, it happened in a present that has already passed so it is irreversible, it appears that God created a world that only goes forwards in time). What we refer to as the future is a present that we have not yet experienced. In the present we experience a reality in which when we have a genuine choice, previous to our making the choice LFW exists with regards to that choice. We can choose either option. However once we make that choice, actualize one option rather than another, that choice becomes a past event. When we speak of God foreknowing an event we are speaking of God knowing what choice we will in fact make. If we do get to that future, to that particular present, facing that particular choice, and choose freely, then we could actualize either option. But the nature of reality is that though we could make either choice, we will in fact choose one option and not the other option. And God’s foreknowledge concerns what we will in fact choose to do. When I say the future is settled I am saying that in the future we will in a fact make certain choices. It is irrational to speak of doing otherwise than we will in fact do. The ability to do otherwise exists in the present before we make our choice. Once we make our choice the ability to do otherwise with respect to that choice is no longer present.

        “Logically, if they end up as counterfactuals sometime in the future, then they must only be known as counterfactuals now in God’s foreknowledge, according to your definition. They cannot be called true possibilities even though they might appear as such.”

        Again that is not how I view things. When we are in a present considering a genuine choice, we can choose either possibility: both possibilities are “true possibilities” (if we are experiencing LFW). Now if our choice is determined then we cannot choose either possibility, the only possibility is what we are determined to do (it is impossible for us to do otherwise). I see God’s foreknowledge as concerned with a future event that will in fact occur, a choice that actually will be made. God’s knowledge of counterfactuals (if counterfactuals are defined as unrealized possibilities, unactualized possibilities, possibilities that were doable, that could have occurred had we chosen to do otherwise than we ended up choosing) would fall under his omniscience/his knowing all things. Keep in mind that I see the future as a present that we have not yet experienced (assuming we are alive in that “future”).

        “Ultimately, my view is that dogmatism based on unnecessary inferences or unclear statements from Scripture is not usually helpful and sometimes harmful.”

        You mean like claims that there are more than three persons in the godhead? Or claims like that God does not know the future (despite the clear statements in scripture that He does know the future)? 🙂

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      2. Hi Robert, It is interesting to me that I find myself dealing with the same inconsistency between those who say everything is predetermined so the future in God’s mind is settled with no true possibilities and those who say not everything is predetermined but because of God’s foreknowledge the future in God’s mind is settled with no true possibilities. Your argument for true possibilities is only from man’s perspective (knowledge if you will) of the present which will never correspond with what was God’s foreknowledge before creation if everything in His foreknowledge was settled back then.

        I am not sure how you came to feel that I was being dogmatic about there being more than three members of the Godhead or that I ever said that God does not know the future. I made that question about the Trinity to illustrate how inferences become dogmatism to the detriment of more important clearly taught truths in Scripture. Plurality in unity is clearly taught about the Godhead. The deity of Christ is clearly taught. The divinity of the Angel of the Lord in the OT is evident. Should we be dogmatic that the Angel of the Lord in the OT was the pre-incarnate Christ, because we want to be dogmatic that Trinity is the right way to describe God’s nature?

        As far as foreknowledge of the future, the Bible has not clearly defined that term. Should we be dogmatic about its definition because of Historical Theology and the popular control of “orthodoxy”? Do you really think the standard definition of infant baptism is not harmful? Your loyalty to a “standard” definition of foreknowledge provides the inconsistent explanation of true possibilities in man’s experience while holding that no true possibilities in God’s foreknowledge before creation could exist. If true possibilities exist in man’s future experience then God’s foreknowledge knows them only as true possibilities, which cannot be known as settled by the very nature of the meanings of possibilities and knowledge. God knows the future as it truly exists, which is only in His mind at the present, and according to His plan of it.

        Even you said – “Rather he created a certain kind of world which would allow for the things that he wanted to be possible to be possible.” His foreknowledge therefore must be described as including some settled things and some possible things, for if all is known as settled, possibilities are not known as true possibilities that could exist, but only as possibilities that might have existed (counterfactuals) had God not chosen a world to create where all His knowledge of the future would be of settled events. Knowledge of the future does not come to God, it comes from God.

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  18. phillip(can’t reply at the post so i gotta go to the back of the line)

    you didn’t answer my initial question at all. you dodged. just answer the question please. why is it when two people who have been given the same ability to respond positively to the gospel message, you have one who fully rejects it and one who fully excepts it?

    as far as your counter question. sanctification is a process, not an event. no one understands all of God’s truth the minute they are converted.

    the context of romans 4:2 is talking about how abraham is not justified by the law(mosaic law/the law of works) and therefore cannot brag about that. this is not what i am addressing at all. i’m talking about his faith and where it came from.

    if his faith is from him apart from God than he can boast about his faith.

    if faith is given to everyone and abraham made better use of it than someone else.then he has something to brag about.

    if God chose to give abraham salvific faith that he would not have obtained otherwise than abraham has nothing to brag about. this is what ephesians 2:8-10 says and thats what happened with abraham.

    Like

    1. Yudo,

      Respectfully, I disagree.

      Paul makes it abundantly clear that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). All spiritual truth/understanding comes from the word of God. You said my question is in regards to sanctification. I could accuse you of “dodging the question” as well, but I won’t.

      Why does one Christian believe “regeneration precedes faith” and the other Christian doesn’t? Both share the exact same word of God. Is God doing something for the one and not the other?

      Grace.

      Like

      1. if you think what i’m saying is wrong then prove it. saying you disagree isn’t an argument. maybe you’re not interested in arguing the issue but stating your view. that’s fine too.

        i’m fully aware of what paul said. the fact still remains that everyone who hears the gospel does not respond positively. the question is why? there are plenty of atheists who know the scriptures better than most evangelicals and still reject every single bit of it.

        i didn’t dodge your question. i answered it. understanding God’s truth right is part of growing in holiness which what sanctification is. two christians who are indeed converted, one will be further along in that path than the other. this has nothing to do with the event of salvation which took place fully in both christians.

        Like

      2. Yudo,

        First, I want to apologize if I have come across as hateful or mean-spirited. It was not my intent. Sometimes having discussions in this format things can be taken in the wrong way. So, again, if I have said something that comes across as “arguing” then I am sorry.

        Second, I want to say that I honestly have empathy for your position.

        My hope was you would find the answer to your inquiry by finding the answer to mine.

        Look at Ephesians 2:8-9…

        “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

        I know Calvinists insist that “it” is referring to faith, but that only hurts their position. What can be obtained by grace and not by works? Faith? No. Salvation? Yep. Boasting is always associated with works, not faith (Romans 3:27, Romans 4:2). You want to read it as…

        “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; faith is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”, which I believe makes little to no sense.

        However, I see it as…

        “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; salvation is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”, which I believe harmonizes perfectly with the whole of scripture.

        Now look again at what you said previously….

        “If God chose to give Abraham salvific faith that he would not have obtained otherwise than Abraham has nothing to brag about. This is what Ephesians 2:8-10 says and that’s what happened with Abraham.”

        Now that is your interpretation and you can believe what you want to believe, which, ironically, only proves my point.

        Why does one believe the gospel and the other doesn’t?

        For the same reason one believes “faith” is the gift of God and the other believes “salvation” is the gift of God.

        For the same reason one believes Christ died only for a select few, while the other believes Christ died for all.

        For the same reason one believes “regeneration precedes faith” while the other believes “faith precedes regeneration”.

        People can believe what they want to believe.

        God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Brian,

    “It is interesting to me that I find myself dealing with the same inconsistency between those who say everything is predetermined so the future in God’s mind is settled with no true possibilities and those who say not everything is predetermined but because of God’s foreknowledge the future in God’s mind is settled with no true possibilities.”

    You speak of what appears to be two different “those who says” (one is calvinistic = “those who say everything is predetermined”, and non-Calvinists who hold the traditional view on foreknowledge = “those who say not everything is predetermined but because of God’s foreknowledge [as traditionally defined]). You appear to distance yourself from both of those views.

    Straight out question:

    Brian are you what is commonly called an “open theist”?

    “Your argument for true possibilities is only from man’s perspective (knowledge if you will) of the present which will never correspond with what was God’s foreknowledge before creation if everything in His foreknowledge was settled back then.”

    Not sure this is saying much as undoubtedly my perspective will not correspond perfectly with God’s knowledge as his is much higher than mine according to scripture. But this is true of all of us.

    “I am not sure how you came to feel that I was being dogmatic about there being more than three members of the Godhead or that I ever said that God does not know the future.”

    Two separate things here. To the first, I was joking in my comment. To the second “or that I ever said that God does not know the future.” My understanding judging by previous comments that you have made is that you are neither a calvinist nor a traditionalist when it comes to the subject of God’s foreknowledge, rather you are what is commonly referred to as an open theist.

    “As far as foreknowledge of the future, the Bible has not clearly defined that term.”

    You are correct, there is no single Bible verse where it states: “This is the biblical definition of foreknowledge . . ..” No such animal. But there are Greek words for foreknowledge that according to standard usage in that language mean “to know before.” Do a Greek study of the word proginosko and it means “to know before”. Considering that scripture is filled with prophecies where things are declared to occur before they occur and then occur as they were declared: most believers have concluded that this means these events were foreknown.

    “Should we be dogmatic about its definition because of Historical Theology and the popular control of “orthodoxy”?”

    I just said we hold the definition of the word that is used in the original language. Now it is true that in church history virtually all believers have held the same understanding of foreknowledge (i.e. to know before). Historical Theology merely confirms what has been the church practice across all Christian traditions (whether they be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, or Independent) to take foreknowledge to mean “to know before”.

    Now you speak of “the popular control of ‘orthodoxy’” as if it has been a bad thing to hold this standard definition of foreknowledge. You sound like some sort of revolutionary who wants to buck the system, 🙂 which again suggests that you are an open theist unhappy with the common view held by virtually all Christians on foreknowledge. And it makes sense; you believe your open theism understanding to be superior to the common understanding.

    “Your loyalty to a “standard” definition of foreknowledge provides the inconsistent explanation of true possibilities in man’s experience while holding that no true possibilities in God’s foreknowledge before creation could exist.”

    Two things here, first you speak of my “loyalty” to the common view as if it is a bad thing: it is a bad thing only if your open theism is true. If your open theism is false then my loyalty is to the truth on this matter.

    Second, let’s talk about this supposed inconsistency that you bring up.

    You speak of “true possibilities”:

    “If true possibilities exist in man’s future experience then God’s foreknowledge knows them only as true possibilities, which cannot be known as settled by the very nature of the meanings of possibilities and knowledge. God knows the future as it truly exists, which is only in His mind at the present, and according to His plan of it.”

    Allow me to use your terminology of “true possibilities” to speak of what I believe and then you can disagree or challenge it, or even agree with it! 🙂

    Let’s use a simple example of choosing to illustrate this. We both believe that we sometimes experience LFW so I will assume that LFW exists. Let’s talk about my upcoming choice that will occur in the future (say a month from today). Say that this choice will occur at my favorite Mexican restaurants, Café Coyote. So a month from now I will face this choice of what to order at Café Coyote. If I have LFW in regards to this choice then I will have at least two options, I could choose either one, but I will not choose both. If I choose one then I do not choose the other (and vice versa). I make a distinction between HAVING a choice (the time frame when you can choose either of the options) and MAKING a choice (the moment when I select one of the two options, once I make the choice one possibility is actualized and the other is not actualized). So here I am a month from now at Café Coyote looking at the menu. Now say I have a favorite that I often choose (call it true possibility A, or TP-A) but say I notice a note in the menu that says all burritos are ½ off today (call it true possibility B, or TP-B). When I have the choice before I make the choice, both TP-A and TP-B are true possibilities, I really can choose either possibility (though again I will not choose both simultaneously). In the time frame of making a choice both TP-A and TP-B are true possibilities: however once I make my choice, one of them becomes an actual outcome while the other becomes a non-actualized outcome. Most Christians when they speak of God foreknowing an event mean that God has the ability (and none of us know how) to know what we will in fact choose to do in the future. We are usually talking about what people will in fact choose to do (if an LFW choice is involved). If God has foreknowledge as commonly understood to foreknow all future events, we believe that means he knows what choices we will make before we make them. Does that mean that he does not know what choices we will have before we make our choices? No, we believe that since God is omniscient that he knows both what we will in fact choose to do as well as what choice we faced and what other true possibilities that we could have chosen instead. Had we chosen the other true possibility as our actual choice, God would foreknow that as well. He foreknows both the choices we will have (that at Café Coyote a month from now, I could chose TP-A or TP-B) and the actual outcome, the choice that we will make (say it is TP-A). So God foreknows all true possibilities as well as all actual choices that we will make in the future. I believe that philosophers use the term “counterfactuals” to refer to these true possibilities that we could choose but will in fact not choose when we face that future choice. And this makes sense to me as I believe that in the future we will in fact have some choices and when we face those choices we will choose one true possibility (thereby making it an actual outcome) and other true possibilities that while we could choose them we won’t in fact choose them are unactualized true possibilities.

    God foreknew that Judas would betray Christ. Did Judas have to betray Christ? No, not if it involved a LFW choice. Could Judas have chosen another true possibility besides betraying Christ? Yes. But God knew via his foreknowledge how Judas would in fact choose, which true possibility he would choose to actualize. So he is responsible for his choice, he could have and should have done otherwise, and yet God foreknew exactly what he would do.

    “Even you said – “Rather he created a certain kind of world which would allow for the things that he wanted to be possible to be possible.”

    Right my point is that he created a world where, contrary to the Calvinist, not everything is predetermined. He wanted genuine persons, genuine worship, genuine love, genuine free will/LFW, etc. things that would not exist, could not exist in a completely predetermined world.

    “His foreknowledge therefore must be described as including some settled things and some possible things, for if all is known as settled, possibilities are not known as true possibilities that could exist, but only as possibilities that might have existed (counterfactuals) had God not chosen a world to create where all His knowledge of the future would be of settled events.”

    Ok, I believe that what you say here fits what I said my view is above (i.e. that God knows both what choices we will have in the future and the choices that we will in fact make in the future. He foreknows all of it: though most people when they speak of God knowing the future are referring to events that will in fact take place (not the true possibilities that will exist but will not be actualized as actual outcomes, true possibilities that we could choose in the future but in fact will not choose). We may be closer in our views than you realize Brian, or I could be wrong about that! 🙂

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    1. Hi Robert, I guess my definitions for omniscience and foreknowledge must sound a lot like what some people call the position of Open Theism, since a number have asked me if I self-identify as an Open Theist. I don’t, but if you give me what you think the definition of that position is, like the TULIP of Calvinism, I will affirm, deny or explain which parts I agree with. I don’t think using labels helps much in this discussion which really is about how all things are not predetermined can still be known as settled (in your view) or not all settled (in my view) before creation. I think we agree that all knowledge of the future has to originate from God Himself. It doesn’t come to Him, it comes from Him.

      I have been looking at the various views of God’s prescience, or foreknowledge, through out Christian History and have been making copies of those opinions. There is a pretty interesting variety of opinions. But in my view, anything that is called the Traditional view needs to be tested with Scripture anyway. It can still be found lacking, since most who have controlled tradition so far have made some big blunders in defining things. Baptism is interpreted by most Christian Tradition as being defined as including infants. Do you believe that their traditional definition of baptism is Scriptural? I believe it is not Scriptural and even harmful.

      We are close, Robert, on the things that really matter – that all things were not predetermined, and that there is true contra-causal freedom. We are not yet close on the meaning of “true possibilities” for the future since in my definition they would have to both be true for God, and for man, and can not be defined as a combination of one settled event, with all others as counter-factuals in God’s mind from before creation (though He was truly able to ordain the future to be that way… He just didn’t). I don’t really mind if we agree to disagree on this matter. 🙂 I think we are probably at an impasse unless there are specific Scriptures on this subject you would like to discuss.

      Foreknowledge – to know before, requires one to define what kind of “knowing” is meant in this compound word. Is it information knowledge (which I think you are saying), or relational knowledge (which many Calvinists choose for its meaning), or is it understanding knowledge (which is what I believe, cf. Ps 147:5)? Then there is also recognition knowledge, skill knowledge, and experiential knowledge. The Scriptures uses the word “know” in all these ways, so I think the definition of “foreknow” is not as cut and dried as traditionalists may think it should be. 🙂

      Keep up the good work of encouraging others to seek the truth on this site, my brother! I appreciate you!

      Like

      1. Brian,

        I asked you directly if you were an open theist. You are a New Testament professor and you know what an open theist is. Instead of answering Yes or No, you mention that others have also wondered about whether or not you are an open theist and ask me to offer some defintion of open theism and then you will see if you fit that definition. I am not going to play that game as you will simply disagree with my defintion no matter what it is. You also say that you don’t like labels. Again this is a bit surprising coming from a professor of New Testament. As an academic you know that certain labels are used not to attack the person but merely to have a term by which to designate a person’s position. This is not at all like the way some attempt to use labels in a hostile and even pejorative way.

        I presented my view in the previous post and I believe I did so clealry. You say that my postion is wrong but you do not explain how my view is wrong. I would appreciate if I am wrong that you would show me in my Cafe Coyote analogy how I am wrong. If I am wrong as you claim then you should be able to show where the error(s) are.

        You speak of how we ought to test the traditional view with scripture. No problem with that we are supposed to test everything with scripture. The tradtional understanding of foreknowledge as “knowing before” is based again on the texts in their original languages and upon multiple instances of things that God knows before they occur in time (i.e. what believers simply refer to as prophecies).

        You say that you have been surveying views of prescience in church history and there are various opinions. Not sure what church history sources you have checked. When I examined the meaning of foreknowledge in church history it seemed as if there was an almost unanimous view that it meant what we commonly take it to mean (i.e. to know beforehand, which explains how there can be prophecies of future events in scripture). Granted there are some exceptons,such as the Sabellians and today the open theists such as Hasker, Boyd, etc. Where there is variation is regarding the explanation of **how** God knows the future (so there is the Molinist position, the Ockahmist position, the Anselmian position, the Thomist position, the Arminian position, etc and my own agnostic postion, we know that God knows the future but we do not and cannot know how he knows the future, but note all of these views believe that God does in fact know the future).

        Now I took your own terminology “true possibilities” and explained my view using your terminology. Now you say I am operating from the wrong definition of “true possibities” (though I believe I took an ordinary understanding of the phrase “true possibilities”. Again you never showed where I was wrong, you simply claim I have the wrong definition of true possibilities. I am really not interested in playing the shift the definition game where terms are just changed as we go along (in particular commonly used terms like foreknowledge are dismissed in favor of some other understanding without any evidence that the change ought to be made).

        Brian you did this with the word “know” providing differing meanings for the word “know” but we are not talking about merely the defintion of “know”, we are specifically discussing the meaning of proginosko (Know-before). Thomas Edgar has a good article on this words meaning on the web, just look up Thomas Edgar and foreknowledge and you should have no difficulty finding it. You jumped from the valid claim that “know” has various meanings to the unsupported conclusion that proginosko has all of these varied meanings as well, and that is not accurate.

        I also believe we are at an impasse as well: if you simply dismiss my view as incorrect but make no attempt to show how it is mistaken and/or show how your own view is to be preferred,then there really is no place left to go. Now if you had demonstrated my view to be in error that would be one thing: but to simply dismiss it as wrong and not explain how it is wrong that is something entirely different.

        Like

      2. Hi Robert,

        I was a little surprised that my response seems to have helped evoke a passionate response that seems to have frustrated you some. That certainly was not my intention. Please forgive me for not recognizing that it might provide the opportunity for that affect.

        I thought I answered with clarity why I do not self identify as an Open Theist, for just like you adequately identified how different people from Christian history think differently as to “how” God foreknows the future, I have found different people today have different understandings of what Open Theism is. Even those who have self-identified as Open Theists have different understandings of God’s foreknowledge of the future. Truly, I am not trying to play a game with you! I promised to honestly agree, disagree and explain further with whatever I can from any definition that you might offer of your understanding of Open Theism. Definitions of terms goes to the heart of this side discussion of ours. I do not see our differences as that important pragmatically speaking.

        I did not say the words – “Your position is wrong”! I am not sure why you heard that in the words that I actually wrote, and that you seemingly do not hear the brotherliness with which I was responding. Let me repeat the appropriate paragraph again –

        “We are close, Robert, on the things that really matter – that all things were not predetermined, and that there is true contra-causal freedom. We are not yet close on the meaning of “true possibilities” for the future since in my definition they would have to both be true for God, and for man, and can not be defined as a combination of one settled event, with all others as counter-factuals in God’s mind from before creation (though He was truly able to ordain the future to be that way… He just didn’t). I don’t really mind if we agree to disagree on this matter. 🙂 I think we are probably at an impasse unless there are specific Scriptures on this subject you would like to discuss.”

        As for your Cafe Coyote analogy, I am not the judge whether you are wrong or right, I am only offering how my view of true possibilities differ from yours. You have suggested that the human perspective is one of true possibilities of what to order from the menu, but in reality there is only counter-factual possibilities since only one already-known-possibility will happen. Am I describing it correctly? My view (right or wrong) is that God ordained a future where all the possibilities of ordering from the menu are still true possibilities and God can choose to involve Himself actively in motivating a certain choice or actively motivate others to influence that choice, or be passive in that choice. But He knows all the options of His involvement and your involvement as true possibilities (unless He predetermines one and turns your heart to only pick one). No settled choice can be known otherwise, therefore His foreknowledge only knows the future as it truly exists in His mind.

        May I ask why you have not answered my question about the traditional meaning of baptism? Maybe you just overlooked it. But I think it is very important as an example of how authoritative we should make traditional definitions without always being willing to recheck them against Scripture.

        As far as evidence that counters everything being settled facts in the future, all the conditional statements of Scripture, which are not anthropomorphisms, but are statements of the real future from God’s perspective also. Verses like Genesis 22:12, “now I know”, Jeremiah 18:11, “I am devising a plan”, and Jeremiah 19:5 “neither came it into my mind” also point to a future that is not a set of settled facts in God’s mind.

        My little discussion on the various meanings of the word “know” was for the purpose of showing that the definition of “foreknowledge” must not only be made from the contextual meanings of the 7 passages where the noun and verb (foreknow) are used. Also the possible meanings of the word “know” in all its biblical contexts will need to be factored in to develop a biblical definition for “foreknowledge”.

        If you think this discussion makes you feel that I am saying dogmatically – “You’re wrong”, then perhaps we should not continue it. We do differ. And of course we both lean towards the “rightness” of our own view. But I don’t think I was in any way aggressively putting you down as “wrong”. I did not use that word once in discussing your view, and yet you characterized my discussion of your view with that word 10 times. Please reread my last post to you with a sense of my desire for positive encouragement and learning from each other.

        If it will help our discussion further – on Theopedia.com there is this definition for Open Theism –
        “Open theism, also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it ‘open’ for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others. A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.”

        I would affirm all of this except the last two statements because I do believe God knows the future exhaustively as it actually exists, which is a combination of things already predetermined and things not yet determined. And I do affirm that God is omniscient, and that does include God knowing everything that will happen, but only in terms or either being that which is already predetermined or among all the true possibilities that still exist. Nothing will happen that will take Him by surprise!

        On Wikipedia there is this definition for Open Theism –
        “Open theism, also known as openness theology and free will theism, is a theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas related to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology. It is typically advanced as a biblically motivated and philosophically consistent theology of human and divine freedom (in the libertarian sense), with an emphasis on what this means for the content of God’s foreknowledge and exercise of God’s power. It has been said that Open theism triggered the “most significant controversy about the doctrine of God in evangelical thought” in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.”

        I would affirm all of this definition. What a Wonderful Savior is Jesus!

        Like

  20. Brian,

    “I was a little surprised that my response seems to have helped evoke a passionate response that seems to have frustrated you some.”

    I don’t like quibbling over definitions and if that is all it becomes it is just wasting time. Your comments at times do not appear to be direct or forthright but unnecessarily evasive. For example your reluctance to identify yourself as an open theist until now. Again as a New Testament professor you know that labels are used not in a hostile or pejorative sense but to differentiate positions, so we know what positions we are talking about.

    “I have found different people today have different understandings of what Open Theism is. Even those who have self-identified as Open Theists have different understandings of God’s foreknowledge of the future. Truly, I am not trying to play a game with you!”

    Then if people have these different understandings of what open theism is, give yours, if that is your position.

    “I did not say the words – “Your position is wrong”! I am not sure why you heard that in the words that I actually wrote, and that you seemingly do not hear the brotherliness with which I was responding.”

    I am not saying that you needed to say the precise words “Your position is wrong.” What I wanted to hear from you is if you believed my view was wrong/incorrect/mistaken, then explain ***how it is wrong***. You just kinda implied it was wrong but did not show in what way it is wrong. Analogy, I have friends who are scientists, when they are testing a theory or design, they want to know why things go wrong or why things are wrong so that they can improve the theory, discard the theory. If you simply implied that something was wrong they would want to know how is it wrong?

    “We are close, Robert, on the things that really matter – that all things were not predetermined, and that there is true contra-causal freedom.”

    Ok, so we agree that not all things were predetermined and that there is LFW.

    “We are not yet close on the meaning of “true possibilities” for the future since in my definition they would have to both be true for God, and for man, and cannot be defined as a combination of one settled event, with all others as counter-factuals in God’s mind from before creation (though He was truly able to ordain the future to be that way… He just didn’t).”

    Now you are more directly stating you position.

    According to you, for something to be a “true possibility” in the future, it would have to be a “true possibility” for man and a true possibility for God. It cannot be defined as a combination of one settled event with all others as counter-factuals in God’s mind from before creation.

    Why not??

    You never explain why that could not be the case. You assert your view: it cannot be. But you do not explain why not, why can’t it be that way.

    Now my understanding of open theism is that open theists deny that God can know what a person will in fact choose to do in the future (if LFW is involved in the choice). They deny that God can know freely made choices in the future because they believe that if God knows what the actual outcome will be, what the person will actually choose to do, then God’s foreknowledge of this event precludes the person from acting freely (with LFW involved). Put simply they believe that divine foreknowledge of a future freely made choice is incompatible with that choice being made freely (with LFW).

    Or put it another way. I believe God knows all things including all possibilities and all actualities (whether those actualities occur in the past, are occurring now or will occur in the future). With regard to our freely made choices (those involving LFW) this means that God both knows (1) what choices we will have in the future and (2) when faced with a specific choice involving at least two different alternative possibilities, how we will in fact choose (i.e. He knows what choice we will actually make). In contrast open theists will grant that God knows (1) what choices we will have, but they deny (2) what choices we will in fact make.

    My difficulty with this denial of (2) is that in scripture we have multiple instances where God tells beforehand, reveals beforehand, prophecies about what some group or individual will in fact choose to do in the future. We have evidence in scripture both for instances in which people have and make their own choices (i.e. evidence for LFW) and we have evidence in scripture for instances in which God tells beforehand about some choice that someone will in fact make in the future (i.e. evidence that God knows both (1) the choices we will have and (2) the choices that we will in fact make.

    “I don’t really mind if we agree to disagree on this matter. :-)”

    I don’t either, again, what I was hoping for from you was not just to say that you disagree (I expect that from an open theist): but your showing how I am wrong/mistaken.

    I provided the Café Coyote analogy to present my view, and you respond:

    “As for your Cafe Coyote analogy, I am not the judge whether you are wrong or right, I am only offering how my view of true possibilities differ from yours.”

    Sorry that is a bit of a cop out: I presented the view and expected you to agree with it if it is correct or disagree with it and show where its wrong/incorrect.

    “You have suggested that the human perspective is one of true possibilities of what to order from the menu, but in reality there is only counter-factual possibilities since only one already-known-possibility will happen”

    No, if the choice made involves LFW then by its very nature the choice involves two genuine possibilities, either of which could be chosen (because that is the nature of LFW, and I began by assuming LFW to be true and assuming LFW to be involved in the choice I was making.
    The skeptic of the incompatibility of LFW and foreknowledge says the two are not compatible.
    So if I then present a scenario in which both are present and they are compatible, it is not fair for the skeptic to then take away LFW. If the two are compatible you have to grant both as present you cannot then come along and say no the person really does not have access to both options. You also cannot come along and redefine foreknowledge. The supposed incompatibility is between the ordinary conception of foreknowledge and the ordinary conception of free will/LFW.

    “My view (right or wrong) is that God ordained a future where all the possibilities of ordering from the menu are still true possibilities and God can choose to involve Himself actively in motivating a certain choice or actively motivate others to influence that choice, or be passive in that choice.”

    Right as I explained in the analogy, BEFORE the choice is made, both possibilities are true possibilities (as LFW is present either one could be chosen). Once the choice is MADE (then by the nature of choosing, the one true possibility is actualized as the choice made and the other true possibility is no longer a true possibility but is an unactualized choice, a counterfactual.

    “But He knows all the options of His involvement and your involvement as true possibilities (unless He predetermines one and turns your heart to only pick one).”

    Again up until the choice is made, the various possibilities are true possibilities (that is the nature of LFW). God knowing “all the options” is God knowing what choice we will have ((1) above). God foreknowing what choice we will actually make is (2) above. God’s knowing (2) does not preclude (1). God knowing how you will in fact choose, does not eliminate the choice that you had before the choice was made.

    “No settled choice can be known otherwise, therefore His foreknowledge only knows the future as it truly exists in His mind.”

    In God’s mind he knows both (1) and (2). We only know (1) when we are actually facing that particular choice. And we only know (2) after we have made our choice. But knowing both (1) and (2) does not cause or bring about (1) or (2).

    A perfect example being when we are tempted and choose to give into temptation. God knows the temptation we will face, what our choices are, giving in to the temptation or resisting the temptation by means of the way of escape provided by God as he promises. He also knows what choice we will make. If we sin God did not bring that about neither did his knowing about it bring it about.

    “May I ask why you have not answered my question about the traditional meaning of baptism? Maybe you just overlooked it. But I think it is very important as an example of how authoritative we should make traditional definitions without always being willing to recheck them against Scripture.”

    I didn’t deal with it much because I granted that all things must be tested by scripture.

    “As far as evidence that counters everything being settled facts in the future, all the conditional statements of Scripture, which are not anthropomorphisms, but are statements of the real future from God’s perspective also. Verses like Genesis 22:12, “now I know”, Jeremiah 18:11, “I am devising a plan”, and Jeremiah 19:5 “neither came it into my mind” also point to a future that is not a set of settled facts in God’s mind.”

    What does it mean to say “being settled facts in the future”? The future does not yet exist, so the future is not “settled” in that sense. We both agree that God does not predetermine all events, so the future is not “settled” in that sense either. Seems to me that if you mean by “settled” that God knows what choices we will in fact choose to make, then I would say both that God knows what choices we will make AND that if we are acting freely (LFW is involved) in those future choices then we bring about these events, we settle them from the perspective of causing them to occur (while God knows about them his knowledge does not bring them about).

    “My little discussion on the various meanings of the word “know” was for the purpose of showing that the definition of “foreknowledge” must not only be made from the contextual meanings of the 7 passages where the noun and verb (foreknow) are used. Also the possible meanings of the word “know” in all its biblical contexts will need to be factored in to develop a biblical definition for “foreknowledge”.”

    Understood, but the basic meaning of proginosko in Greek is “to know beforehand” Again, check the article by Thomas Edgar on this.

    “If you think this discussion makes you feel that I am saying dogmatically – “You’re wrong”, then perhaps we should not continue it.”

    I don’t care if you say I am wrong/mistaken dogmatically or nicely, I really don’t care how you say it. What I do care about though is to see your explanation of how I am mistaken/wrong.

    “We do differ. And of course we both lean towards the “rightness” of our own view. But I don’t think I was in any way aggressively putting you down as “wrong”. I did not use that word once in discussing your view, and yet you characterized my discussion of your view with that word 10 times. Please reread my last post to you with a sense of my desire for positive encouragement and learning from each other.”

    Again, no problem with how you said I was wrong! Problem is with not explaining how. I have done a lot of teaching. When a student gets something wrong, I don’t just say “you are wrong” and that’s it. I want to show them how they are wrong, how they made the mistake, what mistake they made, so they can improve.

    [[“If it will help our discussion further – on Theopedia.com there is this definition for Open Theism –
    “Open theism, also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it ‘open’ for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others. A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.”
    I would affirm all of this except the last two statements because I do believe God knows the future exhaustively as it actually exists, which is a combination of things already predetermined and things not yet determined.”]]

    Ok thanks for the clarification of your beliefs, finally! 🙂

    “And I do affirm that God is omniscient, and that does include God knowing everything that will happen, but only in terms or either being that which is already predetermined or among all the true possibilities that still exist.”

    Or put more simply, God knows what choices we will have, but he does not know what choices we will in fact make! 🙂

    {{“On Wikipedia there is this definition for Open Theism –
    “Open theism, also known as openness theology and free will theism, is a theological movement that has developed within evangelical and post-evangelical Protestant Christianity as a response to certain ideas related to the synthesis of Greek philosophy and Christian theology. It is typically advanced as a biblically motivated and philosophically consistent theology of human and divine freedom (in the libertarian sense), with an emphasis on what this means for the content of God’s foreknowledge and exercise of God’s power. It has been said that Open theism triggered the “most significant controversy about the doctrine of God in evangelical thought” in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.”
    I would affirm all of this definition.”]]

    Well thanks for being clearer that you are an open theist, why couldn’t you do this before?

    I will not lose respect for you or declare you unsaved or . . .

    What is important is that you are saved and affirm the essentials of the faith (which I have no doubt that you do). Now you better lay low again, there are others who view open theists as heretics or nonbelievers, especially because they deny calvinism! 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Robert,

      “I don’t like quibbling over definitions and if that is all it becomes it is just wasting time.”
      Definitions are essential to understanding, and are not owned by tradition as superior to the Scripture’s use of words within their context. Labels can be a combination of definitions. And as you have seen from the way Open Theism was defined, you would agree with almost all of the sentences in those definitions yourself. But I would not use that label to describe you. And I redefined a major portion of that first definition myself, so I would not want that label to describe me either. I teach my students that labels are mostly used in an unhelpful way.

      “Now you are more directly stating you position.”
      You do realize that this comment of yours is after a quote I took from a previous post to you to show you again. I am getting the feeling sometimes Robert that you do not read carefully the whole post before responding.

      “You never explain why that could not be the case. You assert your view: it cannot be. But you do not explain why not, why can’t it be that way.”
      I think you’re saying that my view cannot be possible, because your traditional definition of foreknowledge must be right. I have tried to explain, but I feel you may not be listening. You will not answer my question about the traditional definition of baptism, which has been wrong for centuries, as well as the traditional definition of “church” (in the OT) and “millennium” (not Jesus reigning in Jerusalem). The same folks that gave us those wrong definitions of important words, could easily have given us the wrong definition of foreknowledge. And I did give you verses and biblical discussion in support of my view of true possibilities for both God and man, but you ignored commenting on those.

      “Right as I explained in the analogy, BEFORE the choice is made, both possibilities are true possibilities (as LFW is present either one could be chosen). Once the choice is MADE (then by the nature of choosing, the one true possibility is actualized as the choice made and the other true possibility is no longer a true possibility but is an unactualized choice, a counterfactual.”
      I think you are contradictory here. If before creation God sees the future of you going to the restaurant and sees all the possible choices from the menu that you “feel” free to make, but sees one as the choice you will make, then that one “possibility” that you will make into your choice seems like a true possibility to you, but the true label of it is that it is an “eventuality,” and is known to be such, even before you were born. The other so-called “possibilities” that your knowledge thought could be made by your will, would be labeled (in your view) as counterfactuals in God’s mind before creation. They did not become counterfactuals in God’s mind after you made the choice, because none of them could ever have happened, else God’s knowledge of them would have been faulty. They were always known to Him as counterfactuals. And it is contradictory to logic to say an event can be called a counter-factual and a true possibility at the same time or that God knows two contradictory statements as both true.

      “What does it mean to say “being settled facts in the future”? The future does not yet exist, so the future is not “settled” in that sense. We both agree that God does not predetermine all events, so the future is not “settled” in that sense either.”
      If the future only exists in God’s mind, and He knows the future as a completed combination of counterfactuals and eventualities, then there are no “true possibilities” to be known. If He knows of any “true possibilities” then there can be no eventualities known in those circumstances since that would be contradiction in logical terms. If you have a verse that says God knows true possibilities as eventualities, I am listening…. Something like God saying, “I know you can, but I also know you will” would work.

      I did give you verses and biblical context in support of my view. I would love to here your input on that. Here is the paragraph again –
      “As far as evidence that counters everything being settled facts in the future, all the conditional statements of Scripture, which are not anthropomorphisms, but are statements of the real future from God’s perspective also. Verses like Genesis 22:12, “now I know”, Jeremiah 18:11, “I am devising a plan”, and Jeremiah 19:5 “neither came it into my mind” also point to a future that is not a set of settled facts in God’s mind.” And I did answer eventually your “direct” question about open theism. 🙂 So I think I should eventually get an answer to my direct question about the terms – “baptism”, “church” and “millennium”. Are the traditional definitions wrong for these?

      Keep on plodding, my Brother!

      Like

      1. Hello Brian,

        “ “I don’t like quibbling over definitions and if that is all it becomes it is just wasting time.”
        Definitions are essential to understanding, and are not owned by tradition as superior to the Scripture’s use of words within their context.”

        I agree that we want to carefully define things, and you speak of how they “are not owned by tradition superior to the Scripture’s use of words”. I made this exact point regarding the word “foreknowledge” that my definition of it does not come from tradition but from the original Greek language (i.e. proginosko means “to know before”, as Thomas Edgar makes clear in his article). I also said that the majority or traditional view reflects this meaning of the Greek original. So it is not as if the Greek word proginosko means one thing and the church tradition developed a different meaning of the Greek word.

        “I teach my students that labels are mostly used in an unhelpful way.”

        They are also used in a helpful way, the way I mentioned, among scholars to distinguish views and know what view they are speaking of. This is a perfectly legitimate manner of using labels. And you a New Testament Professor have yet to acknowledge this acceptable use of labels.

        “I am getting the feeling sometimes Robert that you do not read carefully the whole post before responding.”

        That could be a “true possibility” 🙂 , I deal with a ton of information each day, not just reading posts here, so perhaps I do not sometimes read things as carefully as I should. Build me a clone and that would help eliminate or lessen this problem! 🙂

        ““You never explain why that could not be the case. You assert your view: it cannot be. But you do not explain why not, why can’t it be that way.”
        I think you’re saying that my view cannot be possible, because your traditional definition of foreknowledge must be right.”

        No, it seemed to me that you were saying I was mistaken but not telling me how. I don’t believe your view is wrong merely because of a definition. I believe your view is wrong because it does not fit scripture (and of course you believe the same about mine and that’s expected).

        “I have tried to explain, but I feel you may not be listening. You will not answer my question about the traditional definition of baptism, which has been wrong for centuries, as well as the traditional definition of “church” (in the OT) and “millennium” (not Jesus reigning in Jerusalem).”

        See you are trying to make it a “battle of definitions” but for me it is not one definition against another but one view of foreknowledge that fits the Bible and one that does not. So I have little interest in definitions used in other subjects.

        “The same folks that gave us those wrong definitions of important words, could easily have given us the wrong definition of foreknowledge.”

        It is true that people have sometimes been wrong in their definitions, but my concern when it comes to foreknowledge is not how tradition defines it but how the Greek word was defined. And as far as I am aware it meant simply “to know before”.

        “And I did give you verses and biblical discussion in support of my view of true possibilities for both God and man, but you ignored commenting on those.”

        I will deal with that more in this response, in my other responses I wanted to present my view and see how you find it to be mistaken.

        [[“Right as I explained in the analogy, BEFORE the choice is made, both possibilities are true possibilities (as LFW is present either one could be chosen). Once the choice is MADE (then by the nature of choosing, the one true possibility is actualized as the choice made and the other true possibility is no longer a true possibility but is an unactualized choice, a counterfactual.”
        I think you are contradictory here. If before creation God sees the future of you going to the restaurant and sees all the possible choices from the menu that you “feel” free to make, but sees one as the choice you will make, then that one “possibility” that you will make into your choice seems like a true possibility to you, but the true label of it is that it is an “eventuality,” and is known to be such, even before you were born. The other so-called “possibilities” that your knowledge thought could be made by your will, would be labeled (in your view) as counterfactuals in God’s mind before creation. They did not become counterfactuals in God’s mind after you made the choice, because none of them could ever have happened, else God’s knowledge of them would have been faulty. They were always known to Him as counterfactuals. And it is contradictory to logic to say an event can be called a counter-factual and a true possibility at the same time or that God knows two contradictory statements as both true.”]]

        First of all I really appreciate the interaction now as you are helping me clarify my view.

        Second, would you agree that you are talking about two different perspectives here? One perspective is God’s. As he knows all things, he knows what choices we will face, as well as what choices we will eventually end up making when we face these choices ( I like your term “eventuality”). He knows that of the available options that we consider, we will only choose one, the “eventuality.” He also knows that if we pick that one option which then becomes the eventuality, the other options were not chosen. If we acted with LFW meaning our choice was not necessitated (not a result of a causal chain, not a result of God having controlled us and our choice, not a result of some factor like a desire necessitating our choice, not as a result of coercion against our will, etc., instead freely chosen by us with us determining which choice becomes the “eventuality”) then we could have chosen these other options but in fact did not choose them (hence they are counterfactuals from God’s perspective). You mention that God in my view would know these things before I was born or before the creation was created. Hence God would know these things in eternity, before the creation existed. Could we call this the “eternity perspective” and God has this perspective. On the other hand, from our perspective, can we call it the “in time perspective”. We come to face a choice and we believe that we can actualize either option, but we do not know which we will in fact actualize until we make our choice. Once we make our choice, then we know which option is the “eventuality” and which is the counterfactual. And regarding the counterfactual, the choice we did not make, if we are choosing and LFW is involved then we believe that we could have chosen this other option. And if we had chosen this other option, then that option would become the “eventuality” and the unchosen option would be the counterfactual. Note in our perspective we know we have a choice, but we do not know which choice is the “eventuality” and which choice is the counterfactual, UNTIL we actually make our choice. Our in time perspective then is much more limited than God’s eternal perspective. They are also two different perspectives. You claim my view is a contradiction, not if there are two different perspectives. It reminds me of Einstein’s work on relativity which emphasized things being relative to the where the observer is (the perspective of an ordinary person is very different from that of a person riding on a light wave). Things are relative to a specific reference point. Similarly, things appear different from God’s eternal perspective and our in time perspective. There is no contradiction it is just different reference points. When I watch TV and my cat watches TV I see visual perceptive things I also see words/concepts on the screen, the time on the screen, etc.: while my cat only views visual perceptions. Are these two different perspectives contradictory? No, the cat’s is much more limited than mine: just as our perspective is going to be much more limited than God’s when it comes to our having and making choices.

        Third you wrote; “They did not become counterfactuals in God’s mind after you made the choice, because none of them could ever have happened, else God’s knowledge of them would have been faulty. They were always known to Him as counterfactuals.” I believe in regards to my view this is a mistaken comment. Because God’s foreknowledge of what eventuality would occur is based upon which choice I determine to be my choice. If I choose option A, then God via his foreknowledge would know that option A is the eventuality and option B is the counterfactual. If instead I choose option B, then God via his foreknowledge would know that option B is the eventuality and option A is the counterfactual. God knows what I will in fact choose, the eventuality: but his knowledge does not cause my choice. He knows what my choice will be, but if he did not plan it, determine it, if instead I was acting with LFW then I determined which option would be my actual choice. God’s knowledge would never be faulty because his foreknowledge concerns eventualities, what I will in fact choose. As he is omniscient he knows both what the eventualities will be in the future as well as the counterfactuals. Before I make my choice both options are doable if I am choosing with LFW involved. Before I make my choice from my in time perspective, either option could become the eventuality, and my actual choice will determine which becomes the eventuality and which becomes the counterfactual. God’s knowledge does not determine my choice, I do if I am exercising agent causation and LFW is involved.
        Fourth, The nature of a contradiction is that two things are contradictory when they cannot both be true IN THE SAME SENSE. But we are talking about two different perspectives here, so they are not in the same sense, they are from the perspective of eternity and from the perspective of being in time. I really like the term eventuality, that is a keeper. When we have a choice, and then make a choice an eventuality occurs.

        [[“What does it mean to say “being settled facts in the future”? The future does not yet exist, so the future is not “settled” in that sense. We both agree that God does not predetermine all events, so the future is not “settled” in that sense either.”
        If the future only exists in God’s mind, and He knows the future as a completed combination of counterfactuals and eventualities, then there are no “true possibilities” to be known. If He knows of any “true possibilities” then there can be no eventualities known in those circumstances since that would be contradiction in logical terms.]]

        The future is known to God and as you say that means from his perspective there are both eventualities and counterfactuals when it comes to events involving our freely made choices. Now regarding “true possibilities” I believe that would be in reference to our perspective in time. When we are in time BEFORE we make our choice, BEFORE we make one option the eventuality and the other option the counterfactual, we view the two options as “true possibilities” because we can actualize either one. We also know that due to the nature of choosing, we will in fact actualize one and not actualize the other. One “true possibility” from our perspective will become actual, will become an eventuality: the other will become not actual, will become a counterfactual. And think about it if we believe in LFW and say we make the wrong choice (say we choose to give into temptation rather than choose to resist that particular temptation). We feel regret about our sin because we believe correctly that we could have done otherwise, should have done otherwise (chosen to resist temptation). And I feel that way about all of our sins, we make the wrong choice, but if we acted freely then we could have and should have done otherwise. As you know this important when it comes to personal responsibility. Personal responsibility (and attributions of praise and blame) makes sense when LFW is present and when the choice we did not make was a counterfactual that we could have chosen had we chosen differently.

        “If you have a verse that says God knows true possibilities as eventualities, I am listening…. Something like God saying, “I know you can, but I also know you will” would work.”

        Now it is interesting that you should say that. Using my new term, helpfully provided by you, eventualities. It seems to me that when we look at the Bible at purported prophecies of events that involve freely made choices by people, they are ALWAYS stated as EVENTUALITIES. Jesus does not say to Peter, the rooster may or may not crow before you may or may not deny me three times. No, Jesus speaks of both the rooster crowing and Peter’s denials as eventualities, not as might or might nots, but as what WILL in fact take place: as eventualities. And this goes for other prophecies in scripture as well: they are stated as eventualities. As God states it that way and he is never wrong in these prophecies that means that He knows future eventualities. He does not speak of them as merely being possible or even probable but as being actual eventualities.

        “I did give you verses and biblical context in support of my view. I would love to here your input on that. Here is the paragraph again –
        “As far as evidence that counters everything being settled facts in the future, all the conditional statements of Scripture, which are not anthropomorphisms, but are statements of the real future from God’s perspective also. Verses like Genesis 22:12, “now I know”, Jeremiah 18:11, “I am devising a plan”, and Jeremiah 19:5 “neither came it into my mind” also point to a future that is not a set of settled facts in God’s mind.” And I did answer eventually your “direct” question about open theism. 🙂 So I think I should eventually get an answer to my direct question about the terms – “baptism”, “church” and “millennium”. Are the traditional definitions wrong for these?”

        Again not concerned about various definitions of baptism church etc. etc. Not my aim here. Let’s talk instead about the Bible verses you bring up here and the clear mistakes you make in your comments here.

        Gen. 22:12 refers to when God says “not I know” to Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac on the altar. First point, God does not say “I will know” he says “NOW I know” meaning it is a present tense statement when it is made and it is not talking about a FUTURE event. Brian you explicitly state “but are statements of the real future statements of the real future from God’s perspective also. Verses like . . .” And then you refer to Gen. 22:12. But this verse is not God talking about a future event. Second, if God knows the heart and the mind and what a person is thinking in the present (as you must acknowledge even as an open theist), then God knew what Abraham was thinking and planning when he said earlier in the narrative to Isaac let’s go up. At that point in the present time, Abraham knew what he was planning to do and so did God. It seems to me that when God says “NOW I know” he is confirming Abrahams’ faith (now I know literally that you trust me, as you are willing to sacrifice your own son). He is also telling Isaac about his Father’s commendable faith (Isaac is hearing God himself declare that his father Abraham has this commendable faith). Nothing in this verse about the future, it was happening in the present time from Abraham and Isaacs’ perspective.

        Jeremiah 18:11 – God has said earlier in the law in the “blessings and cursings” section that when Israel obeyed him they would be blessed and when they disobeyed him they would be cursed. That statement in Jeremiah 18:11 is again a statement in the present time. And what is God talking about when he says “I am devising a plan”? This is a present tense (from the perspective of Israel hearing the challenge) that they have two choices, (1) repent and so God will not bring a cursing upon them, or (2) don’t repent and God will discipline them with a cursing (and it is this cursing that it is speaking of when it says “I AM [note the present tense, not I WILL] devising a plan” the plan referring to how God will discipline them if they do not repent. It is similar to when a parent says to a child who is contemplating disobedience: “if you do that, there will be consequences.” Now if Israel did repent, then God would not carry out the plan that he referred to; if they did not repent then God would carry out this plan of discipline that he was devising. Now bringing my thinking into this event with this understanding in place. God IN TIME was presenting them with a choice: repent of your sin and I will relent from carrying out this plan of discipline that I am devising or don’t repent and face the consequences face the carrying out of the plan that God was devising. The choice was up to them, they really could choose either option, both were “true possibilities” for them (though when they made their choice one of these options would become the eventuality and the other the counterfactual, or vice versa if they chose differently). They would not know which was the eventuality until they made their choice. God from eternity would know which choice would be the eventuality and which choice would be the counterfactual. And yet it was their choice that would determine which option became the eventuality and which became the counterfactual. The text of Jer. 18 was presenting the “in time perspective” regarding this choice. It is similar with the infamous potter analogy in the prophets. In those potter narratives, God the potter will respond based upon the choices made by the people. We see this God says, Israel does and then God responds theme many times in the OT. And in each case LFW is present, the eventuality was not preplanned or determined by God, it was freely chosen by Israel.

        Jer. 19:5 I take this one to be a figure of speech that God found their conduct to be absolutely morally repugnant: “unbelievable”. If I see some utterly ridiculous, almost incomprehensible moral action by someone I may respond with: “That is unbelievable, I can’t believe that you did/said that”. Now if we analyze my statement logically, I obviously believe they did or said what they did or I wouldn’t’ be responding to it. Likewise God viewing their activity did not suddenly lose his ability to know their hearts or lose his ability to know what they were doing in the present time situation. No, he knew exactly what they were doing. And he was absolutely outraged by it hence the statement made in Jer. 19:5. It is speaking of his moral outrage at their activity. We cannot take it literally as if it did not literally enter his mind what they were doing, because it if did not enter his mind literally, then how would he be outraged by it?

        By the way Brian, all three of the verses that you brought up are all referring to in time, present situations. None of them is speaking of a prophecy of some future eventuality. All are from the in time perspective. You said “but are statements of the real future from God’s perspective also. Verses like”. None of them are from “the real future from God’s perspective”, all of them are from the in time present perspective of human beings dealing with real choices in real time in their present tense frames.

        “Keep on plodding, my Brother!”

        You call it “plodding” I call it “sharpening”. Thank you very much for this interaction Brian as it is really helping me sharpen and clarify my thinking on these issues.

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      2. Hi Robert, I am enjoying our dialog also. I also helps me in refining how I say things so that they will be better understood. Let me affirm that I am not dogmatic about the meaning of foreknowledge, only attempting to be as logical and biblical in how it should be defined.

        You would probably agree that the Greek definition of foreknowledge is only as good as the authorities, who claim to know what it means, have correctly interpreted its meaning in the contexts where it is found, both biblical and non-biblical. You would also probably agree that the Bible has given meaning to words, like baptism, that go beyond, and are even different from, their common use. If you have ever done in depth lexical studies you soon find, like commentaries, dictionaries do not always agree as to what words mean in various contexts.

        I do intend on reading the article you suggested. Thanks. I would recommend also an article by C. Gordon Olson, “A Lexical Study of Foreknowledge and Predestination.” He agrees with you. But I think he also shows that we should not bring dogmatic definitions to a biblical words when the context itself does not limit our choices enough to one meaning and where other reasonable meanings that correspond with the greater context of Scripture fit.

        You said – “Again not concerned about various definitions of baptism church etc. etc. Not my aim here. Let’s talk instead about the Bible verses you bring up here and the clear mistakes you make in your comments here.” You make it seem sometimes that the discussion can only be on your terms. Would you at least affirm with a yes, that traditional definitions of important words in Christianity have been wrong for long periods of time? Don’t forget how much you pushed me to discuss open theism. 🙂 You owe me an answer on this one! 🙂

        You said – “It seems to me that when God says ‘NOW I know’ he is confirming Abrahams’ faith (now I know literally that you trust me, as you are willing to sacrifice your own son). …. Nothing in this verse about the future, it was happening in the present time from Abraham and Isaacs’ perspective.” I think you would agree that the passage clearly infers that this truth has become known differently to God than it was known to Him before. You even use the word “literally” indicating that God did not know it as literal before that point. I use this verse to indicate that if God knows the future before creation as only one way (a composite of counterfactuals and a chain of eventualities, including also all of His own choices ahead of time) then He would never say the words “Now I know” and be truthful in terms of His foreknowledge of all eventualities. Yes He knew before the sacrifice what Abraham was thinking and how Abraham was weighing his choices. What if Abraham had left open the option of stopping, hoping something would give him a reason to stop?

        You said – “And what is God talking about when he says ‘I am devising a plan’? …. it says ‘I AM [note the present tense, not I WILL] devising a plan’ the plan referring to how God will discipline them if they do not repent.” Again, the present tense indicates that God has not made all His choices yet, so He can only know them as not yet made, since they do not yet exist. If He knows the exact thing He is going to do, the eventuality, then to say, “I am devising a plan” would be kabuki theatrics, for He would not devise a plan contrary to that eventuality. He would just announce the eventuality so that man could respond accordingly. The context indicates that in this case He will “change” His mind based on man’s free interaction with the true possibilities.

        You said – “Jer. 19:5 I take this one to be a figure of speech that God found their conduct to be absolutely morally repugnant: “unbelievable”. …. We cannot take it literally as if it did not literally enter his mind what they were doing, because it if did not enter his mind literally, then how would he be outraged by it?” There may be a third option. Their actions had not entered His mind as a predetermination, which I think you would agree. Certainly He had known their actions to be a possibility, because He knew all possibilities, but He never knew it as an eventuality either, otherwise He would not be outraged by it? I don’t even think He “knew” it as a likely possibility, but only as a possible possibility, thus the outrage!

        You mentioned perspectives as not being contradictory. You would agree that God’s perspective of reality is the only true reality. Man’s perspective is limited, but it can not be contradictory to it, even if he chooses to describe it in a contradictory way. But calling counterfactuals “true possibilities” is contradictory, for in reality they are only counterfactuals, and only SEEM as true possibilities from man’s limited perspective. In your definition of foreknowledge God only knows the future as a combination of counterfactuals and eventualities. But the Bible describes reality in God’s perspective. You did not address the conditional statements that Scripture is filled with. They all point to true possibilities, not just from man’s perspective, as if God is hiding His perspective for some reason and accommodating truth to man by using all anthropomorphisms when He uses conditional statements. Liberalism has used the idea of accommodation to help them deny the normal meaning of many biblical statements. And Calvinism uses the idea of anthropomorphism to deny many biblical statements about God’s nature and free interaction with man. I know that such is not your intention, Robert.

        I also think you have not grappled enough with how knowledge of the future comes into existence. It comes from God, not to Him. You said – “He also knows that if we pick that one option which then becomes the eventuality, the other options were not chosen.” You also said – “Because God’s foreknowledge of what eventuality would occur is based upon which choice I determine to be my choice.” There is no “if” in God’s foreknowledge in the traditional view that “then becomes the eventuality”, for the eventualities all exist together with all the counterfactuals in His foreknowledge, based on His choices for creation before it takes place. In the same way God’s foreknowledge of eventualities cannot be “based upon” my choices, because He knows the eventualities of all His choices ahead of time, and so all my choices are thus limited by His. After creation, in that scenario, the reality will only be one settled human history, which was certainly possible for God to make. This is called Molinism, and God would not be culpable for sin. Molinism, in my view consistently represents your view of foreknowledge (I am using the label because I know you like it 😉 ) I just don’t think it reflects the Scriptures and logic the best.

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  21. phillip(not seeing why i can’t reply directly to posts)

    my question remains unanswered as to why two people with the ability to respond positively to the gospel one accepts while the other rejects. the scenarios you bring up have nothing to do with the question.

    those who hold to the doctrines of grace believe that both grace and faith are from God and that both are the means for salvation.

    again, if you just want to state your position thats fine with me. but if you believe that what i’m saying is wrong you cant’t just say “i disagree” as that is a non-defense of your position.

    when it comes to the truth of God’s Word, people can’t just believe what they want to believe. there’s are not 8 billion different truths or even two different truths. there’s only one.

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    1. Yudo,

      You said…. “when it comes to the truth of God’s Word, people can’t just believe what they want to believe.”

      And that’s what you believe. You just continue to prove my point. Just the small sample I provided earlier proves otherwise.

      In my latest post I didn’t just say “I disagree”. I feel I more than adequately addressed your use of Ephesians 2:8-10. As brother Flowers pointed out to you earlier, even Calvin understood “it” in Ephesians 2:8-10 referred to salvation. Leighton, Brian, and myself all believe salvation is the gift of God. Yet some Calvinists want to continue to insist “it” refers to faith specifically. Why is that?

      Find the answer to that question and I hope you will find the answer to yours.

      God bless.

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      1. Hello Phillip,

        You are making some very good points in correcting Yudo’s errors: so I am enjoying your posts.

        “In my latest post I didn’t just say “I disagree”. I feel I more than adequately addressed your use of Ephesians 2:8-10. As brother Flowers pointed out to you earlier, even Calvin understood “it” in Ephesians 2:8-10 referred to salvation. Leighton, Brian, and myself all believe salvation is the gift of God. Yet some Calvinists want to continue to insist “it” refers to faith specifically. Why is that?”

        You can add me to this list of people who also take it to be referring to salvation not just faith. Be ready for the follow-up argument: Ok if all of it is a gift, that includes faith, so faith is still a gift that God has to give his elect or they will not be saved.

        Paul viewed all of it as a gift that we don’t’ deserve. As rebellious sinners we don’t automatically get what we deserve from God (as one of my mentors used to remind us: if you ask only for justice you will get Hell, ask for mercy so that you can be saved”): instead God lavishes grace upon us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

        “Find the answer to that question and I hope you will find the answer to yours.”

        You probably know this already Phillip, if so, this is just a reminder, but that “question” he keeps asking is just the “what makes you to differ” argument that calvinists keep bringing up over and over and over despite the fact that non-Calvinists have answered this question many times. They just don’t like the answers we give them, and they think this is a good set up question to set us up for further arguments from them! 🙂

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      2. so you can be saved without faith or grace? is that what you’re saying?

        as i stated already. faith and grace both come from God as the means for salvation. putting salvation as an “it” doesn’t effect my position at all. grace, faith, salvation. none of these are from ourselves. and if you think faith does come from us apart from God, then again, we would have something to boast about. and actually i’ve read eph2:8-10 this way:

        “for is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, grace and faith is a gift from God. not by works, so that no one will boast.”

        i actually don’t look at the word “it” but the word “this”. the grace and the faith are from God. there is nothing within ourselves that is good. the ability to put our faith in Jesus Christ is a good thing that we cannot do unless God moves on our heart and mind.

        my question yet again remains unanswered. it would profit the discussion for you to answer the question directly, especially if you feel synergists have answered this question thoroughly in the past.. bringing up scenarios where people are at different levels in their theology, again, has nothing to do with my question.

        now, instead of telling me i can believe what i want to believe, how about actually attempting a sound rebuttal if you, like robert, think i’m in error.

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      3. Yudo,

        Sorry for the length of this post, but you covered a lot.

        You asked….. “so you can be saved without faith or grace? is that what you’re saying?”

        Now where did I say that? Much less even imply that?

        Romans 4:16…
        “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace….”

        You said…. “‘for is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, grace and faith is a gift from God. not by works, so that no one will boast.’ I actually don’t look at the word ‘it’ but the word ‘this’”.

        Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)…
        “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And THIS is not your own doing; IT is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

        Now I am not an English major, but wouldn’t “this” (ESV) or “that” (KJV) be singular? To fit your interpretation wouldn’t it have to read as follows…

        “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And they (grace and faith) are not your own doing; they (grace and faith) are the gift of God…”

        Just an observation.

        You said…. “there is nothing within ourselves that is good.”

        Amen. I agree completely.

        You said… “the ability to put our faith in Jesus Christ is a good thing that we cannot do unless God moves on our heart and mind.”

        If by “good thing” you mean a work, than I disagree, since scripture clearly states that faith is not a work. In fact, faith is admitting we need God’s grace. Now the rest I agree with. God must take the initiative and open the heart and plant the seed, or the word of God (Luke 8:11, Romans 10:17, Acts 16:14, James 1:21). If the seed isn’t planted, then lost man cannot believe. However, if by “move on our heart and mind” you mean spiritual regeneration, then that isn’t scriptural.

        However, you said…. “…..faith….none of these are from ourselves.”

        Matthew 9:22…
        But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; YOUR faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

        Matthew 9:29….
        Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to YOUR faith let it be to you.”

        Matthew 15:28….
        Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is YOUR faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

        Luke 5:20….
        When He saw THEIR faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

        Romans 4:5…
        But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, HIS faith is accounted for righteousness

        It would appear from the verses above (and there are many, many more) that the Lord himself attributes faith to the individual.

        You said… “bringing up scenarios where people are at different levels in their theology, again, has nothing to do with my question..”

        And, again, that is what you believe, when actually, it does.

        You said… “now, instead of telling me I can believe what I want to believe, how about actually attempting a sound rebuttal.”

        Yudo, I am sorry if my response frustrates you, but I have. And you rejected it because you believe, in your own words, it “has nothing to do with my question.” And that is your choice to do so. You can certainly choose not to believe it.

        Why does one Christian believe “regeneration precedes faith” and the other Christian rejects it?

        Both have the same word of God. What makes them differ?

        Blessings.

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  22. robert,

    “You probably know this already Phillip, if so, this is just a reminder, but that “question” he keeps asking is just the “what makes you to differ” argument that calvinists keep bringing up over and over and over despite the fact that non-Calvinists have answered this question many times. They just don’t like the answers we give them, and they think this is a good set up question to set us up for further arguments from them!”

    i eagerly await that spectacular answer from either you, phillip, mr. wagner, or mr. flowers that will finally put that question to rest.

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  23. Brian,

    “Let me affirm that I am not dogmatic about the meaning of foreknowledge, only attempting to be as logical and biblical in how it should be defined.”

    Well if it is simply an issue of “how it should be defined” just look at the Greek word proginosko, it means “to know before.”

    In my previous post I noted that every time God presents a prophecy (a future event) God never says “it may or may not happen”: instead they are presented as eventualities (what will happen). You made no comments in response to this observation.

    “Would you at least affirm with a yes, that traditional definitions of important words in Christianity have been wrong for long periods of time? Don’t forget how much you pushed me to discuss open theism. 🙂 You owe me an answer on this one! :-)”

    Well I guess an example would be baptism. But it seems to me the meaning of the word did not change over time, rather, the mode of it changed over time (from full immersion to sprinkling).

    Before we get into the three verses that you brought up. Originally you claimed they all spoke of future events. I believe you were mistaken, in each instance they were in the present tense time frame and they were not prophecies.

    “I think you would agree that the passage clearly infers that this truth has become known differently to God than it was known to Him before. You even use the word “literally” indicating that God did not know it as literal before that point. I use this verse to indicate that if God knows the future before creation as only one way (a composite of counterfactuals and a chain of eventualities, including also all of His own choices ahead of time) then He would never say the words “Now I know” and be truthful in terms of His foreknowledge of all eventualities. Yes He knew before the sacrifice what Abraham was thinking and how Abraham was weighing his choices.”

    Actually I don’t agree that “this truth has become known differently to God than it was known to Him before.” As I said before, I believe the main reason he says it is for Isaac’s sake. He wants Isaac to know that his father has shown a God pleasing faith by his actions. If God does not say it, then how would Isaac know? He would only know that at first it seemed like his own father was about to kill him, and then he relented. But why? God answers that by speaking audibly to Abraham. And that speaking is meant to encourage both Abraham and Isaac.

    “Again, the present tense indicates that God has not made all His choices yet, so He can only know them as not yet made, since they do not yet exist. If He knows the exact thing He is going to do, the eventuality, then to say, “I am devising a plan” would be kabuki theatrics, for He would not devise a plan contrary to that eventuality. He would just announce the eventuality so that man could respond accordingly. The context indicates that in this case He will “change” His mind based on man’s free interaction with the true possibilities.”

    Brian at first you spoke of all three of these verses as: “BUT ARE STATEMENTS OF THE REAL FUTURE FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE [my emphasis by means of capitalization] also. Verses like Genesis 22:12, . . .Jeremiah 18:11, . . .and Jeremiah 19:5”
    The present tense indicates that they have not yet made their choice. And this is exactly what you would expect if God was talking to them before they made their choice, encouraging them to repent so they would not have to face the consequences of not repenting. Parents say this kind of thing to their kids often, don’t do it, but if you do, then this will follow. The fact the parents says this means the child has not yet decided, not yet made their choice, and they are still in the process of choosing and choosing only and always occurs in the present tense. He knows what he is going to do, and his response depends upon their choice. And we have this throughout scripture. For example God says whosoever believes will be saved. This is stated in the present tense and God knows who is going to choose to believe and who is not. But his knowing this is not equivalent to him preplanning or determining their choices.

    Do you NOW (pun intended) admit that your claim was incorrect? None of these verses is speaking of the real future from God’s perspective: each was stated from an in time perspective. God was not prophesying some future event when he said to Abraham “NOW I know”. Nor was God prophesying some future event when he said he was devising a plan of how to deal with their disobedience. Nor was God prophesying some future event when he said it had not entered his mind. In each case God was engaging in a real conversation with people in the present, in the in time perspective.

    ““There may be a third option. Their actions had not entered His mind as a predetermination, which I think you would agree. Certainly He had known their actions to be a possibility, because He knew all possibilities, but He never knew it as an eventuality either, otherwise He would not be outraged by it? I don’t even think He “knew” it as a likely possibility, but only as a possible possibility, thus the outrage!”

    I still hold my view that his statement expressed moral outrage at their activity. It was not a statement that he did not know what they were doing nor a statement prophesying some future event. I also don’t think his statement is expressing “a possible possibility”. No, it was again a present tense statement of his feelings about what they were doing at that time.

    “You mentioned perspectives as not being contradictory. You would agree that God’s perspective of reality is the only true reality. Man’s perspective is limited, but it can not be contradictory to it, even if he chooses to describe it in a contradictory way. But calling counterfactuals “true possibilities” is contradictory, for in reality they are only counterfactuals, and only SEEM as true possibilities from man’s limited perspective. In your definition of foreknowledge God only knows the future as a combination of counterfactuals and eventualities. But the Bible describes reality in God’s perspective. You did not address the conditional statements that Scripture is filled with. They all point to true possibilities, not just from man’s perspective, as if God is hiding His perspective for some reason and accommodating truth to man by using all anthropomorphisms when He uses conditional statements. Liberalism has used the idea of accommodation to help them deny the normal meaning of many biblical statements. And Calvinism uses the idea of anthropomorphism to deny many biblical statements about God’s nature and free interaction with man. I know that such is not your intention, Robert.”

    God’s perspective is the only perspective that has full knowledge of everything. But this is not the same as saying as you say “Gods’ perspective of reality is the only true reality.” We have perspectives on reality that are partial but they can be true with regard to some things, mistaken with regard to others things and ignorant with regard some things. Again my perspective on what is on the TV screen is more full and a better perspective than my cats but it does not mean mine is true and the cats is utterly false (that only I am experiencing reality when looking at the TV screen and my cat is not experiencing reality when she looks).

    Our perspective on the choices we face is not contradictory to God’s perspective, it is only less. He knows the choice we have and what choice we will make (while we know the choice we have but not the choice we will make, until we make it). God knows that we can make either choice if acting freely, and we know that too. We only know which option is the counterfactual after we make the choice while God know the counterfactual before we make the choice. There is no contradiction between these perspectives, one is more limited, one is more full.

    “You did not address the conditional statements that Scripture is filled with”

    Nor do I need to do that, I don’t have the time to go through every “conditional statement” in the Bible here. I don’t have the time and neither do you. Unless you build me that clone! 🙂

    I can say that in many cases these conditional statements are expressed as being conditional because some choice is being considered and the choice has not yet been made. Once the choice is made things with regard to that choice are no longer conditional as it becomes an eventuality.

    “But the Bible describes reality in God’s perspective. “

    No, if it only expressed things from his perspective it would be from eternity and we probably would not understand it. The Bible usually expresses things from an in time perspective. Partly to accommodate us and partly because an in time present perspective is all that we ever experience. So if he is going to speak to us in an understandable way it often will be in the in time perspective.

    “as if God is hiding His perspective for some reason and accommodating truth to man by using all anthropomorphisms when He uses conditional statements.”

    I think in all cases, God does not tell us everything that He knows, but what we need to know. Partly, because again the difference between Him and us is very large. Partly, because we would not be able to understand it even if he told us (try talking to an ordinary child, say a 5 yr. old about nuclear physics). Partly to accommodate us, again when we speak with children we use an easier to understand vocabulary. This is not demeaning or deceitful it is necessary because of who is talking to whom. Say that God really knows the future in its entirety, do you really believe he could sit down with us in common English and explain it so that we could and would understand it? I don’t think so.

    Accommodation by the way gets a bad rap, seeing as He is God and we are us, there has to be some accommodation going on. Anthropomorphisms also have a place. And while we are on this topic, when God was here in the flesh talking with us he often used parables and these parables (a definite form of accommodation) used common everyday realities that people knew and understood. That was his way and it is indicative of a good teacher as a good teacher always speaks to people not where he/she is at, but where the students are at. It seems to me that the bigger our conception of God the more we realize the place and need for accommodation, anthropomorphism, figurative language, parables, stories, metaphors, etc. God did not simply present us a set of propositions in the bible stated like Wittgenstein’s Tractatus! 🙂 Then there is old Aquinas who said our knowledge of God is not going to be direct but analogical. He HAD a point.

    “I also think you have not grappled enough with how knowledge of the future comes into existence. It comes from God, not to Him. You said – “He also knows that if we pick that one option which then becomes the eventuality, the other options were not chosen.” You also said – “Because God’s foreknowledge of what eventuality would occur is based upon which choice I determine to be my choice.” There is no “if” in God’s foreknowledge in the traditional view that “then becomes the eventuality”, for the eventualities all exist together with all the counterfactuals in His foreknowledge, based on His choices for creation before it takes place. In the same way God’s foreknowledge of eventualities cannot be “based upon” my choices, because He knows the eventualities of all His choices ahead of time, and so all my choices are thus limited by His.”

    First, I do not know how God knows what he knows. Seeing as he is an immaterial self existent spirit, has no brain, no sense organs, no eyes, ears, etc. I know how we know things, I do not know how God knows things (nor do I need to know HOW he knows what he knows). I do know that He knows because of his own statements in scripture where he says he knows the heart, people’s minds, and even future eventualities (choices they will make in the future like Peter’s choice to deny him three times, or Judas’ choice to betray him).

    You speak of knowledge of the future coming from God and not to him, as if it is an object that is passing back and forth. I hold the correspondence view of truth (our knowledge is true/correct when it corresponds with reality). I believe that God knows what is true, in the present, in the past, in the future because his beliefs correspond with the realities found in the past, present and future. Those realities will include both the choices that we have and the choices that we make. I spoke of his knowledge depending upon what we do, that was perhaps not the best way to state it. I should have said something like his knowledge of what we will choose to do in the future (held in eternity) corresponds perfectly with what we will in fact choose to do (eventualities are not what we could choose to do, but what we will in fact choose to do). As to how God knows I have no idea, and that is way over my pay grade! 🙂

    “After creation, in that scenario, the reality will only be one settled human history, which was certainly possible for God to make. This is called Molinism, and God would not be culpable for sin. Molinism, in my view consistently represents your view of foreknowledge (I am using the label because I know you like it 😉 ) I just don’t think it reflects the Scriptures and logic the best.”

    It was my understanding that the Molinist believes (like the calvinist) that God preplans every detail of history (he chooses one possible world over others, and that possible world is chosen in all of its details). I don’t believe that God preplans all details of history though I do believe he knows all the details that make up the history we experience. As I said before I believe he creates the kind of world that he wants, suited to his purposes. But this is not predetermining every detail of history as the calvinist claims. This world he creates contains LFW as a feature. It seems to me that the Molinist wants both LFW and the strong meticulous providence similar to that of a calvinist. I don’t think Molinism reflects the Scriptures and logic the best either. Neither does calvinism and neither does open theism.

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    1. Good morning Robert,

      Let me say again, that copying and pasting large sections, in order, of someone’s post and then responding with lengthy comments may not be as affective in helping persuade others, unless they learn to like you and are somewhat hopeful that you really are carefully trying to understand their view point. I do like you and I want your interaction to be more effective from your view point.

      We both agree that “proginosko” means to “know before”, and we agree that the future is truly only known as it truly exists in God’s mind, but we disagree on what makes up the content of this knowledge. For you it is all counterfactuals and eventualities in God’s mind, for me it is some counterfactuals, some true possibilities, and some eventualities in God’s mind. The evidence of predictions in Scripture proves there are some eventualities already known, and the evidence of conditional statements in Scriptures proves there are some true possibilities (unless you want to say all conditional statements are all accommodations to the human perspective). I have affirmed many times in our conversations the truth of biblical predictions being known by God settled facts. I was surprised that you accused me of not doing so.

      I was also surprised that you do not think the meaning of the word baptism has changed in its “orthodox” or “traditional” definition. I was assuming you would self-identify as a Baptist and not a Catholic. Even if you want to be known as a Methodist or some other Protestant denominational term, Christian History is clear that the traditional meaning of “baptism” was wrongly defined by RC for 1000 years. Even your comment on the change in mode proves that the definition of baptism, that the mode symbolizes, had changed.

      I was also surprised that you were not more careful in how you quoted me, when you were trying to prove that I had picked Scriptures that I “claimed… all spoke of future events.” Look again my brother! You took parts of two different sentences. The first sentence said clearly that conditional statements in Scripture are statements of “the real future from God’s perspective”, and the second sentence lists verse references that I said “point to a future that is not a set of settled facts in God’s mind.” Perhaps the words “point to a future” was not clear enough. The first two passages truly were God’s statements of the present, but those statements identify that those now settled events were previously unsettled in terms of their future in God’s mind. The last passage would definitely point to an unsettled future, if God says He is now planning His choices, unless you are suggesting He already knows all the choices He is going to make and is still planning His choices, which is logically inconsistent.

      (As for what God said to Abraham for Isaac’s benefit, He would only need to say, “You have shown that you fear Me…” You are avoiding the implications of the meaning of “Now I know”.)

      I don’t think I will be the one to convince you that it is impossible and illogical, for true counter-factuals to be called true-possibilities. Counter-factuals are always all false. True possibilities are always all possibly true or false. You said – “Our perspective on the choices we face is not contradictory to God’s perspective, it is only less.” God’s perspective does not contain true possibilities in your definition of foreknowledge, but only counter-factuals and eventualities. His perspective is the only true one. Ours is not just less if it falsely represents that perspective.

      You said – “Nor do I need to do that, I don’t have the time to go through every ‘conditional statement’ in the Bible here.” I am not sure how you thought I was asking you to do such a thing, I just wanted your concession that conditional statements point to true possibilities for man’s freedom from God’s perspective and are true statements of God’s knowledge of certain events of the future, just like predictions are true statements about other events of the future.

      You said – “No, if it only expressed things from his perspective it would be from eternity and we probably would not understand it. The Bible usually expresses things from an in time perspective.” This is brings us back to needing to clarify something I thought we had clarified. The future does not exist. In fact the past no longer exists, not just in human experience but in God’s reality. I am not talking about His mind, I am talking about His experience. If Psalm 90:2 is true, then God’s experience of reality corresponds to ours in a linear way, “from…to”. This has nothing to do with time in a solar perspective, but it does have to do with logic and experience in the sequential aspect of before and after. So, yes, I think He can and has revealed to us the future in a sequential fashion that is partially determined (His choices already made) and partially open (true possibilities that He would leave for Himself and man). And He knows the future completely that way.

      You said – :I spoke of his knowledge depending upon what we do, that was perhaps not the best way to state it.” I appreciate your humility in admitting that you misspoke when saying God’s knowledge of the future depends on what we do. What I am hoping for, Robert, is not that you confess that my view of His foreknowledge is the only possible one that could be true, but that at least in agreement with how you view the reasonableness of your position, you will accept that mine is also reasonable and possible when looking at biblical evidence.

      Have a great week!

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      1. Brian,

        “We both agree that “proginosko” means to “know before”, and we agree that the future is truly only known as it truly exists in God’s mind, but we disagree on what makes up the content of this knowledge.”

        Correct I believe God’s mind includes knowledge of all possibilities, actualities, everything. You limit God’s mind to knowing some possibilities, some actualities (if He is the one acting unilaterally) you exclude Him from knowing what we will freely choose to do in the future.

        The God I affirm is infinite while the God you affirm is finite and limited.

        It is significant that Mormons hold an open theism view similar to your own. Likewise their God is not infinite but is finite and limited as well. I bring up the Mormons as they are very nice people, some appear to be moral character, and some are very intelligent and educated, and yet they are wrong, they are espousing error. No offense against them as persons, but their ideas are wrong and not even possibly true. Stafford probably the sharpest Jehovah’s Witness that I know also holds to the open theism view. In his case he believes that God could know all things but intentionally limits himself in his knowledge so that he can interact with us better. I do not believe God limits his knowledge to interact with us better though he limits the knowledge that he imparts to us. My point is that being wrong and espousing an erroneous view is not necessarily due to a lack of intelligence, education, sincerity, moral character, etc.

        “For you it is all counterfactuals and eventualities in God’s mind, for me it is some counterfactuals, some true possibilities, and some eventualities in God’s mind.”

        Again, I affirm God as being infinite while your conception of God has a limited and finite God (with respect to his knowledge). With me God knows the choices we will have and also the choices we will also make (before we make them). With you God knows the choices people will have but not the actual choices **until they make them**.

        “The evidence of predictions in Scripture proves there are some eventualities already known, and the evidence of conditional statements in Scriptures proves there are some true possibilities (unless you want to say all conditional statements are all accommodations to the human perspective).”

        These prophecies are not merely predictions that may or may not come to pass. They are telling what future outcomes will occur before they occur and sometimes these outcomes involve freely made choices/LFW (e.g. Peter denying Christ three times, Judas betraying Christ, whole Nations’ actions such as the activities of the Assyrians, Babylonians, etc. etc.).

        Before we make our choices if we are experiencing LFW then we are facing live possibilities with both options being available and accessible and chooseable (Yes I coined that word but I think you know what I mean 🙂 ). They only become settled** in time**/in history, when we make these choices (though God via foreknowledge knows what choices we will in fact make before we make them). We settle these choices in time God’s foreknowledge does not bring them about or settle them in history as his knowledge is not causative (instead his foreknowledge corresponds with what will in fact take place).

        Brian in your thinking we face “true possibilities” when we face a choice of two alternative possibilities ONLY if the actual choice we make is not known to God until it happens. So your definition of “true possibilities” by definition says that they are only “true possibilities” if the resulting actual choice between the two possibilities is not foreknown by God (you do not allow for God to know all of these eventualities as would be true if God had exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events). So your definition of “true possibilities” precludes God from knowing future events that involve LFW choices resulting in eventualities. Your definition of “true possibilities” begs the question against the traditional view that God foreknows all eventualities including those that involve LFW.

        “I have affirmed many times in our conversations the truth of biblical predictions being known by God settled facts. I was surprised that you accused me of not doing so.”

        My examples of Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal both involve LFW, both are prophecies of what they will freely choose to do, things known to God before they occur (precisely what your view denies is possible, what your definition of “true possibilities” precludes).

        “I was also surprised that you were not more careful in how you quoted me, when you were trying to prove that I had picked Scriptures that I “claimed… all spoke of future events.” Look again my brother! You took parts of two different sentences. The first sentence said clearly that conditional statements in Scripture are statements of “the real future from God’s perspective”, and the second sentence lists verse references that I said “point to a future that is not a set of settled facts in God’s mind.” Perhaps the words “point to a future” was not clear enough. The first two passages truly were God’s statements of the present, but those statements identify that those now settled events were previously unsettled in terms of their future in God’s mind. The last passage would definitely point to an unsettled future, if God says He is now planning His choices, unless you are suggesting He already knows all the choices He is going to make and is still planning His choices, which is logically inconsistent.”

        I gave my interpretations of your three proof texts, none of them involve prophecies, all of them are given in the present tense time frame, the time frame that God usually presents when speaking of historical events involving human persons. When we say that the facts are settled in God’s mind concerning the future we mean that He knows every detail. He knows the choices people could choose but do not end up choosing. He knows the options that were present when they chose, He knows what their actual choices will be. He knows what they will do and how he will respond. Every detail is known to Him before any of it happens. There is no contradiction between his knowledge of all things and our present time experience of having and making choices. When we don’t make a choice if LFW is present it does not mean we could not have made that choice (if we **had to make the choice** that we make and it is impossible for us to make the other choice, that is determinism not LFW). So-called “counterfactuals” are made false by our act of choosing the other option; but our choosing of the other option does not mean our choosing of the option not chosen was not possible. When I speak of “counterfactuals” I mean simply the choices that were not made that could have been made. They were possible before the person makes their choice, they become impossible after the actual choice is made (that is simply the nature of choice, once you choose to raise your hand to ask the professor the question, that excludes the other choice of keeping your hand down and not asking the professor the question; and it is true vice versa if you choose to keep your hand down, that choice excludes the choice of raising your hand and asking the question at that moment, unmade choices are impossible **after** you make the choice not **before** you make the choice when you have the choice).

        “I don’t think I will be the one to convince you that it is impossible and illogical, for true counter-factuals to be called true-possibilities. Counter-factuals are always all false.”

        Right they are false because you made the other choice, you did not choose them, and again as I just explained that is the nature of choosing (one choice excludes the other when you make the actual choice between the two options). Counter factuals always refer to the unmade choices ( because by definition the term refers to the choices not chosen). But because they were not chosen it does not mean they were impossible, had the person chosen otherwise than the counterfactual would have been the eventuality instead.

        “True possibilities are always all possibly true or false.”

        If you are referring to the two options present before you make the actual choice, then yes, they are possibly true or possibly false before you make the choice because if choosing freely you can choose either option. Once you make your choice, one true possibility is actualized and the other is excluded. But the resulting unmade choice referred to as the “counterfactual” is now impossible, it was not impossible previous to your making the actual choice. And I again reject your definition of “true possibilities” if it is defined in such a way to exclude God from foreknowing the actual choice that you will make (I don’t accept this begging the question definition).

        “You said – “Our perspective on the choices we face is not contradictory to God’s perspective, it is only less.” God’s perspective does not contain true possibilities in your definition of foreknowledge, but only counter-factuals and eventualities. His perspective is the only true one. Ours is not just less if it falsely represents that perspective.”

        No, my perspective is that previous to the actual choice, when we have the choice between two alternatives, if we are choosing freely/if LFW is present, then we could choose either option. In that sense they are both “true possibilities” though by the nature of choice once we choose to actualize one, we make the other the counterfactual. God knows both which choice we will in fact choose to make as well as which choice will not be made. There is no contradiction between these two perspectives (the infinite and eternal perspective of God and the finite and limited perspective of us).

        “You said – “Nor do I need to do that, I don’t have the time to go through every ‘conditional statement’ in the Bible here.” I am not sure how you thought I was asking you to do such a thing, I just wanted your concession that conditional statements point to true possibilities for man’s freedom from God’s perspective and are true statements of God’s knowledge of certain events of the future, just like predictions are true statements about other events of the future.”

        The statements in the Bible that present the in time perspective, the perspective we face when we have and then make choices is what the conditional statements point to. They point to the fact that before the choice is made, both options were available and accessible to the person or group making the choice. They are stated as conditionals because the actual outcome/the eventuality is conditioned upon which choice they make. Once the choice is made, the choice is no longer conditional but there is one choice that is actualized and one that is not.

        “You said – “No, if it only expressed things from his perspective it would be from eternity and we probably would not understand it. The Bible usually expresses things from an in time perspective.” This is brings us back to needing to clarify something I thought we had clarified. The future does not exist.”
        The events of the future do not yet exist, the knowledge of the future does however exist in God’s mind/he has complete knowledge of every detail of the future both all possibilities and all actualities.
        “In fact the past no longer exists, not just in human experience but in God’s reality. I am not talking about His mind, I am talking about His experience.”

        I have been talking about his mind all along: that in His mind He knows all things without the limitations your definitions and reasoning develop.

        “If Psalm 90:2 is true, then God’s experience of reality corresponds to ours in a linear way, “from…to”. This has nothing to do with time in a solar perspective, but it does have to do with logic and experience in the sequential aspect of before and after.”

        I am not sure that I would agree that God’s experience of reality corresponds to ours because he is God, he is infinite, we are creatures and finite. Necessarily these are two different forms of “experience”. God is not just a bigger and smarter version of us; he exists in another reality that is incomprehensible to us. Which is again why the Bible is going to have some accommodation, some anthropomorphism, figurative language, etc.

        “So, yes, I think He can and has revealed to us the future in a sequential fashion that is partially determined (His choices already made) and partially open (true possibilities that He would leave for Himself and man). And He knows the future completely that way.”

        No. he doesn’t, by your reasoning and definitions, he does not know what choices we will actually make in the future when LFW is involved. He will **learn** what our choices are when we make them: he does not know them before we make them nor can he know them before we make them according to your open theism/view. He does not know the future “completely” in open theism, that is both misleading and false.

        “What I am hoping for, Robert, is not that you confess that my view of His foreknowledge is the only possible one that could be true, but that at least in agreement with how you view the reasonableness of your position, you will accept that mine is also reasonable and possible when looking at biblical evidence.”

        If you are asking whether or not I believe open theism is a “possible” way of interpreting the biblical evidence? Yes, in fact others such as the Mormons and JW’s and some brilliant people like William Hasker and Greg Boyd do in fact interpret it that way. Do they believe they are being “reasonable” when they do so, I am quite sure they do.

        However is this the correct way of interpreting scripture? No. It is an error, it is a mistake (and I am sure they feel the same way about me and my interpretation of the biblical evidence as well).

        I appreciate your willingness to discuss this issue in a civil and nice manner Brian, at the same time I am not being persuaded to adopt your open theism error rather than the much more biblical and better established “traditional view” on foreknowledge. I am sure you feel the same that that your view is more biblical and better established: but I believe we are now at an impasse. I am not saying you are mistaken in other beliefs that you hold and in fact thankfully we probably share many Christian beliefs in common. But on this issue of foreknowledge you are mistaken and the traditional view is superior to your open theism position (and again you probably feel likewise! :-).

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      2. Robert, Should I assume you agree with my further clarifications on the Scriptures that I made and on the wrong traditional definition for baptism? That is my assumption since you did not comment on them further. I would recommend that you read and edit your responses before posting them, using the perspective of being the one who would be receiving them. It is hard for me to imagine that you would like reading posts with lengthy block quotes from the previous person’s post, negatively inferring generalizations, and guilt by association.

        You said – “The God I affirm is infinite while the God you affirm is finite and limited.” If I just said the same thing back to you, would that move the conversation forward? You affirm that God’s foreknowledge includes knowing contradictions – “true possibilities” that are also counterfactuals. Does that make Him “more” infinite in His foreknowledge than my affirming of God’s foreknowledge as knowing the future exhaustively as it actually exists in His mind?

        I think that we both would agree that saying God is infinite is a generalization that needs defining by Scripture. All of His attributes have limitations when viewed in combination. He is all powerful, but because of His righteousness, He is unable to sin. He is immutable, but that must not deny the change in His nature He went through to become man! He was free to pre-determine everything, but He was also free to leave an open a future where everything is not pre-determined or foreknown as all eventualities, even one where the Son, at least, could say truthfully, “I do not know the day or the hour of my return.”

        And then there is your use of guilt by association. If you believe in a six literal day creation, does that mean you are similar to a Jehovah Witness enough to be compared to them in my post? If you believe in evolution, is that cause enough to associate you closely with the belief system of Richard Dawkins? Would it be helpful to you if I said that your view of divine foreknowledge is similar to Roman Catholicism’s view of it, knowing RC is a denomination with idolatry and a false gospel?

        You said – “These prophecies are not merely predictions that may or may not come to pass. They are telling what future outcomes will occur before they occur.” I don’t know how many times I have to affirm this exact idea, before you will stop inferring that I don’t affirm it. When God reveals a prediction in His Word, through His prophet, that event predicted will come about with certainty in the future!
        You said – “Brian in your thinking we face ‘true possibilities’ when we face a choice of two alternative possibilities ONLY if the actual choice we make is not known to God until it happens. “ I think that we are still speaking past each other, Robert. God knows the possibilities as they truly are. One of those possibilities God then comes to know as an actuality (“Now I know”) when He either predetermines it to happen (prophecy) or passively allows it to become an actuality in His presence. Going from being fully known as a possibility to being fully known as an actuality is no significant change in God’s knowledge, in terms of His understanding of it, it is just His foreknowledge changing to His acquired knowledge.

        God’s knowledge of possibilities includes all the ramifications of each as if all were their own eventualities. Besides being logically necessary for true LFW to exist, it makes God’s omniscience and foreknowledge greater in my thinking than the limited contradictory foreknowledge of the traditional view.

        Maybe another biblical illustration would help you.
        Choose A, B, or C.
        A. God knew before creation all who would trust Jesus freely for salvation and all the rest as never trusting Him, and He wrote down all the believers’ names into the Lamb’s Book of Life before creation.
        B. God knew before creation all who would trust Jesus freely for salvation and all the rest as never trusting Him, and He chose before creation not to write down all the believers’ names until each one would express that faith.
        C. God knew before creation all the possible souls that could be born and planned that each would get an opportunity to freely trust or reject His salvation. He reserves a place for all of their names to be written in the Book of Life if and when they express that trust, and takes away their place and does not write their name in it if they reject (cf. Ps 69:28, Rev. 20:19).
        For A and B it would be impossible for God to “know” any as becoming possible believers with their names in the Book of Life except the few names that will end up there. All the rest He only can know as lost. Position C does not limit His foreknowledge like A & B do.
        You said – “So-called ‘counterfactuals’ are made false by our act of choosing the other option; but our choosing of the other option does not mean our choosing of the option not chosen was not possible.” Again I do not think you understand God’s role as the source of all knowledge. Perhaps you may not be seeing it clearly in terms of creation and His predetermination of all His choices (not necessarily man’s) that would have to be true for His knowledge to include all eventualities before creation. Counterfactuals are not “made false by our act.” They are false from before creation, in the mind of God, in line with all His predetermined choices of His acts, before any of us even come into existence to face any choices of our own.

        You said – “No. he doesn’t, by your reasoning and definitions, he does not know what choices we will actually make in the future when LFW is involved. He will **learn** what our choices are when we make them.” I think you would have to agree that God was not flesh from all eternity past but became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14). I think you would also agree that God could logically be said to have learned or experienced something new when He became flesh. That learning or change in experiencial knowledge must be factored into any definition of omniscience for God and also His divine foreknowledge.

        You said – “I believe we are now at an impasse.” I will not be bothered if you choose not to respond any further, and if you do respond, I will consider it the last input into this conversation unless you ask me a specific question (not just a rhetorical one, like you can assume all mine are in this response if you wish :-)). I am sure we will meet again in conversation on this site or elsewhere. Until then, I am praying for your ministry of encouragement in the truth! Brian

        Like

  24. to phillip,

    so your position is indeed that faith does not come from God but from man independent of God, this then means that man does have something to brag about and is ultimately in charge of their own salvation as God can’t save anyone if the agent doesn’t exercise the faith they have independent of God.

    as james white rightly put it, “God voted for you, satan voted against you, and man has the deciding vote”. God can’t save anyone unless they choose to exercise their faith. the angel’s words in matthew 1:21 should be changed to “he will try to save his people from their sins”. God can’t save anyone unless they exercise the right amount of faith that God apparently has no control over.

    yes, i know you didn’t say any of these things but they are the logical conclusions to what you did say.

    the word in that passage doesn’t need to be “they”. this refers to the means of salvation which are the grace of God and the faith He gives us. having faith to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior is indeed a good thing that fallen man can’t do apart from God. to believe otherwise is to say fallen man can do something extraordinarily good totally independent of God working in them.

    all the verses that say “your faith” are simply referring to the fact that Jesus sees the faith that is in them. it does not follow exegetically or hermeneutically that this faith originated from them independent from God.

    you say…..”, faith is admitting we need God’s grace.”

    actually faith which is actually salvific is knowing your sin makes you worthy of hell, admitting you need God’s grace, putting your faith in Jesus Christ, and desiring to live like him. this is something man in his fallen state cannot do.

    “Yudo, I am sorry if my response frustrates you, but I have. And you rejected it because you believe, in your own words, it “has nothing to do with my question.” And that is your choice to do so. You can certainly choose not to believe it.”

    so it seems you just won’t deal with the question i asked. mr. flowers did the same thing in another one of his blog posts dealing with my question as to why one person believes unto salvation while the other rejects unto damnation. he gave a similar non-answer question in response.

    you haven;t explained why you think the question relates to mine or what the point of your question is. you’re just asserting it answers my question without any substantiation that it does. it just seems that you’re not interested in defending your position on this point so i suppose you’ve given up on it.

    Like

    1. Yudo,

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I DO have empathy for your position. I really do. So I will not allow myself to get in an un-brotherly war of words.

      I’ve answered your question now at least a couple of times. And I will re-state it again.

      People can believe what they want to believe.

      Now you can choose not to believe that, but even that continues to prove my point.

      You previously said…. “when it comes to the truth of God’s Word, people can’t just believe what they want to believe.”

      Really?? Then why all the chaos? Why all the different denominations? Why all the different schools of thought? Why all the different “…isms”?

      Why does one Christian embrace Calvinism and the other Christian doesn’t?

      What makes them differ Yudo? Please respond to that.

      Like

      1. “People can believe what they want to believe.”

        if this is your answer to the question of why does one accept and one reject when these two people have heard the gospel in full and understand it, then i can respect you for at least giving me an answer, but in all honesty, it’s a non-answer.

        while people are entitled to their own beliefs, they’re not entitled to their own truth.

        we can’t “believe what we want to believe” about who God is
        we can’t “believe what we want to believe” about who Christ is.
        we can’t “believe what we want to believe” about the trinity, the hypostatic union, what sin is, God’s attributes, the gospel, etc.

        God’s Word doesnt allow us to do so. the Word of God is not an opinion or a view. it is the truth and we are held responsible for understanding it.

        why are there so many factions in the church? there are numerous reasons for that. education, hardening, traditions, culture …

        why do some accept the gospel while others don’t? outside of not hearing it yet, there’s only one reason. they have not been enabled by the spirit to accept such truth.

        Like

  25. Yudo,

    You said… “While people are entitled to their own beliefs, they’re not entitled to their own truth.”

    Then how do you explain the calvinistic teachings of “Christ dying for a select few” and/or “regeneration precedes faith”? They are what some Calvinists believe, because, for them they are “truth”.

    As far as “church factions” are you saying the reasons are not because of God, but rather something else?

    Finally, you said… “Why do some accept the gospel while others don’t?… there’s only one reason. They have not been enabled by the Spirit to accept such truth.”

    And that’s what you believe, because that is your truth. Thanks, again, for proving my point.

    People can believe what they want to believe.

    God bless.

    Like

    1. i suppose we can end the exchange here since you believe there are an infinite number of truths and everyone can have their own truth as “people can believe what they want to believe”. it would seem you are not interested or not capable of defending anything you have to say. all i can tell you is if you can’t actually prove that people are right or wrong in what they say then you shouldn’t be making any objective claims about anything.

      i’m not concerned with people agreeing with what is have to say. i’m interested in hearing arguments as to why my position is in error and why theirs is correct. you copping out to “believe what you want” shows you’re not up for doing that so…

      feel free to have the last word.

      Like

    2. Yudo,

      I am not looking for the last word, but from your latest comment I think some clarification is needed.

      When it comes to scripture, there isn’t “an infinite number of truths”. God’s word is truth. Period.

      However, consider the notion of “limited atonement”. Some Calvinists (not all) really believe that Christ only died for a select few. They “believe” this because they are convinced it’s the plain teaching scripture (biblical truth).

      Most Christians (including some Calvinists) believe Christ died for all. They “believe” this because they are convinced it’s the plain teaching of scripture (biblical truth).

      Now obviously both cannot be right, but both believe they are right. And both “believe” they have scripture on their side.

      Now both groups have the exact word of God so what makes them differ?

      All scripture is truth, including the gospel.

      Why does one person accept the gospel while the other person rejects it?

      For the exact same reason one Christian believes (in the words of Spurgeon) “Calvinism is the gospel” and the other Christian rejects it.

      Stay gracious, brother.

      Like

  26. Pastor Flowers writes, “…[Calvinists] maintain that God eternally determines all things that come to pass (including those very behaviors). So, do Calvinists believe God is determining to save an individual without regard to His own determinations for how that individual will behave, all the while intimately foreknowing these “elect” individuals from before the foundation of the world? Is God supposedly ignoring his intimate knowledge of everything about an individual, which He Himself providentially determines to come to pass, while choosing (before the foundation of the world) to save that individual?”

    I think we have confusion between “determination” and “cause.” That God “determines” a person’s behavior means that God decrees that people should freely express their behaviors without interference from Him; it does not mean that God causes those behaviors – those behaviors arise from the person’s heart (or nature). The Calvinist distinction between “determination” and “cause” appears to be a really difficult concept for a non-Calvinist to grasp and leads to much confusion about Calvinism.

    Then, Pastor Flowers writes, “Calvinists teach that God chooses individuals without regard to their character, behaviors or anything personal about the individual. Non-Calvinists teach that God chooses to save individuals who are humbled and broken by their guilt and shame.”

    That’s part of the story. God does know one thing about people – they are sinners in need of salvation – otherwise, why have to choose them; the need for God to choose someone presupposes a need to choose them.

    Calvinists also say that God “chooses to save individuals who are humbled and broken by their guilt and shame.” What’s the difference? The Calvinists also say that God is instrumental in bringing a person to the point where they are “humbled and broken by their guilt and shame.” God does this be sending His spirit to convict them of their sin and guide them into truth (John 18). Calvinists say that the natural condition of sinful humanity is that no one has any shame or guilt for their sin and no one is humbled and broken over guilt for their sin – until God’s spirit interacts with them producing this shame.

    In Romans 9, Paul says, “…For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls;” The verse does not mean that God does not “know” that they are sinners; it means that God’s choice of them did not reflect anything they were to do in their life – God does not choose them because He observes (foreknows) that they will humble themselves.

    Pastor Flowers says, “…the non-Calvinist believes God’s choice is intimately personal because God is choosing to save someone who is admitting how bad they really are right in the midst of their shame and guilt.” The Calvinist would add that this choice is personal because it is God is intimately involved in bringing the person to the point where they admit “how bad they really are right in the midst of their shame and guilt.”

    Well, at least Pastor Flowers is staking out a position in clear opposition to the Calvinist. So, who is right?

    Like

  27. Brian,

    “You said – “The God I affirm is infinite while the God you affirm is finite and limited.” If I just said the same thing back to you, would that move the conversation forward?”

    My comment was not intended to “move the conversation forward” it was intended to show the clear differentiation between our two views (the traditional view of foreknowledge held by the majority of Christians across all of the theological spectrum versus the open theist view of foreknowledge, the infinite God of scripture versus the finite and limited God of open theism).

    “You affirm that God’s foreknowledge includes knowing contradictions – “true possibilities” that are also counterfactuals.”

    No, I affirm that God knows all possibilities and all actualities and that in eternity he knows all of these things. You have attempted to show my view has a contradiction but you have failed. God created a world where we cannot actualize contradictions (I cannot both lift up my arm to ask a question and keep it down at the same time and in the same situation, that would be a contradiction and God’s created world does not allow for those, and God does not know such contradictions).

    “Does that make Him “more” infinite in His foreknowledge than my affirming of God’s foreknowledge as knowing the future exhaustively as it actually exists in His mind?”

    You have been playing a “definitional game” trying to show the superiority of your open theism view of God’s knowledge as against the traditional view. But this game fails in light of scripture properly interpreted.

    “I think that we both would agree that saying God is infinite is a generalization that needs defining by Scripture.”

    No, we would not both agree on this. If God is infinite then he is beyond full categorization and definition as definition presupposes delimitation. As Aquinas a **Catholic scholar** pointed out sometimes the best way to think about God is by what he is not, the “via negativa approach”
    .
    “He was free to pre-determine everything, but He was also free to leave an open a future where everything is not pre-determined or foreknown as all eventualities, even one where the Son, at least, could say truthfully, “I do not know the day or the hour of my return.””

    Hmm, that is interesting non-Christian cults often use this statement to **prove** that Jesus is not God. They reason correctly, that Christians believe that God knows everything, so they argue: God knows everything; Jesus did not know this; so Jesus did not know everything; therefore Jesus is not God.

    It is sad to see your use of this statement to try to establish what God’s knowledge is like **in eternity**. Your argument is: Jesus is God; Jesus does not know some things; therefore God does not know some things. The problem with this argument is that you ignore the very specific context of Jesus statement. In eternity, the Father, Jesus and the Spirit being God know all things (all possibilities and all actualities). When Jesus is incarnated, becomes a man, he enters the human realm of non-eternity, hence while in this context Jesus may not know this fact. But you cannot (or better should not) argue from Jesus’ experiences while incarnated, while he was a man in history experiencing the in time perspective just like all other men do, to the conclusion that this also means that God’s knowledge in eternity is limited. Jesus got tired and thirsty, should we also believe that God in eternity gets tired and thirsty? No.

    “And then there is your use of guilt by association. If you believe in a six literal day creation, does that mean you are similar to a Jehovah Witness enough to be compared to them in my post? If you believe in evolution, is that cause enough to associate you closely with the belief system of Richard Dawkins? Would it be helpful to you if I said that your view of divine foreknowledge is similar to Roman Catholicism’s view of it, knowing RC is a denomination with idolatry and a false gospel?”

    No, you apparently did not understand my point at all. I said that a person could be very nice, very moral, educated, sincere, and intelligent, just like the Mormons are: and yet still be wrong. Likewise with you, you can be all these things as well but that does not make your interpretation of the Bible possible or reasonable. It is mistaken, it is false. Just as Mormons can be all these nice things and yet be dead wrong in their interpretations of the Bible (including their view that God is finite and their open theism view). “Would it be helpful to you if I said that your view of divine foreknowledge is similar to Roman Catholicism’s view of it . . .? Yes. I am happy to be in the company of Aquinas and Molina and Thomas Flint, Alfred Freddoso, etc. etc. etc. etc. from the Catholic tradition who hold the traditional view. Very smart people, with some very good arguments for the traditional view. Your error here is that someone could be extremely evil in character, but if they claim that 2 + 2 = 4 their claim is still correct (so if the JW’s are right about the six literal days creation, then they are right about it, despite being wrong about other things). And the person could be nice, moral, intelligent, educated, and sincere and if they claim 2 + 2 = 3 their claim is wrong.

    “You said – “These prophecies are not merely predictions that may or may not come to pass. They are telling what future outcomes will occur before they occur.” I don’t know how many times I have to affirm this exact idea, before you will stop inferring that I don’t affirm it. When God reveals a prediction in His Word, through His prophet, that event predicted will come about with certainty in the future!”
    Well if your last statement here is true: then your open theism is false.

    If the prophet gives a prediction and “that event predicted will come about with certainty in the future” and that event involves LFW (which many of our choices will involve), then this PROVES that God is able to foreknow future events that involve freely made choices where the person could have chosen to do otherwise.

    Your statement here sinks your ship! 🙂

    Cuts off the very branch of the tree that you were sitting on! 🙂

    “Going from being fully known as a possibility to being fully known as an actuality is no significant change in God’s knowledge, in terms of His understanding of it, it is just His foreknowledge changing to His acquired knowledge.”

    Well oops there it is: “it is just His foreknowledge changing to His acquired knowledge.” That is wrong, that is claiming that God learns things, that God does not know all things in eternity. That is the finite and limited God of open theism yet again.

    “God’s knowledge of possibilities includes all the ramifications of each as if all were their own eventualities. Besides being logically necessary for true LFW to exist, it makes God’s omniscience and foreknowledge greater in my thinking than the limited contradictory foreknowledge of the traditional view.”

    God knows all possibilities as well as all eventualities. He also knows if choices had been made differently what would have resulted. He knows all of this **in eternity**, he does not acquire this as history goes on as you mistakenly claim. You claim that the traditional view of foreknowledge is contradictory but you never proved this, you merely assert this. And again the fact that you distinguish the traditional view where God does in fact know everything from your view shows yet again you do not hold the orthodox or traditional view, but you hold to open theism.

    “Maybe another biblical illustration would help you.
    Choose A, B, or C.
    A. God knew before creation all who would trust Jesus freely for salvation and all the rest as never trusting Him, and He wrote down all the believers’ names into the Lamb’s Book of Life before creation.
    B. God knew before creation all who would trust Jesus freely for salvation and all the rest as never trusting Him, and He chose before creation not to write down all the believers’ names until each one would express that faith.
    C. God knew before creation all the possible souls that could be born and planned that each would get an opportunity to freely trust or reject His salvation. He reserves a place for all of their names to be written in the Book of Life if and when they express that trust, and takes away their place and does not write their name in it if they reject (cf. Ps 69:28, Rev. 20:19 [v. 15]).
    For A and B it would be impossible for God to “know” any as becoming possible believers with their names in the Book of Life except the few names that will end up there. All the rest He only can know as lost. Position C does not limit His foreknowledge like A & B do.”

    “A” sounds like the Bible, doesn’t it say the names are already written in the book of life? And even your appeal to Ps. 69:28 which speaks metaphorically of it being blotted out, it must **first be in** the book of Life in order to be “blotted out”. So it appears the names are written from the beginning, which again would be referencing God’s divine ** in eternity** perspective where he knows all things including who will be saved and who will be lost. Your preferred view “C” has the names being **reserved** a place **if** they express trust. The Bible does not say their names are not yet written in the book of life or that they are being reserved in the book of the life in case they believe: it says their names are in the book of life. Which shows that from eternity God knows all things including who will end up a believer and who will not.

    “You said – “So-called ‘counterfactuals’ are made false by our act of choosing the other option; but our choosing of the other option does not mean our choosing of the option not chosen was not possible.” Again I do not think you understand God’s role as the source of all knowledge.”

    William Lane Craig defines counterfactuals as ““The subjunctive mood serves to indicate that what we have here is a contrary-to-fact hypothetical statement: if something were the case [which in fact it is not}, then something else would be the case, Philosophers call such statements counterfactual statements” (p. 71 William Lane Craig THE ONLY WISE GOD). God has knowledge that corresponds perfectly with what happened in the past, is happening in the present and will happen in the future of history, as well as the eternal state. God’s knowledge is not causative and does not cause events in time to take place. Counterfactuals refer to if someone had chosen differently what the outcome would be. God knows all of these hypotheticals as well. God knows what choices we will face and what choices we will make, in every instance because he knows everything from the in eternity perspective.

    “You said – “No. he doesn’t, by your reasoning and definitions, he does not know what choices we will actually make in the future when LFW is involved. He will **learn** what our choices are when we make them.” I think you would have to agree that God was not flesh from all eternity past but became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14). I think you would also agree that God could logically be said to have learned or experienced something new when He became flesh. That learning or change in experiential knowledge must be factored into any definition of omniscience for God and also His divine foreknowledge.”

    You made this same error earlier when arguing from what Jesus did not know while incarnated to the conclusion that God does not know things in eternity. You have it backwards, in eternity God knows all things, when incarnated Jesus had limitations as any genuine man does. It is backwards and wrong to argue from Jesus’ experience in time and while incarnated (while he experienced the in time perspective that humans experience) to what God knows in eternity from the eternal divine perspective.

    “You said – “I believe we are now at an impasse.” I will not be bothered if you choose not to respond any further, and if you do respond, I will consider it the last input into this conversation unless you ask me a specific question (not just a rhetorical one, like you can assume all mine are in this response if you wish :-)).”

    I hope this was your “last input”, I have no questions for you and it is getting weary hearing the errors of open theism repeatedly being espoused. Thanks for a gracious and civil and interesting interaction, I now better understand my own view as well as the open theism view which you espouse.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Leighton,

    The below was taken from Calvinist Vincent Cheung’s website. Not sure if this helps you with your upcoming debate with James White, but I just wanted to share. Hope it helps.

    God bless, brother.
    ………………………………………………..

    Romans 9: Individual vs. Corporate Election

    Arminians tend to interpret the election of Jacob and Esau to mean the choice of the people Israel and Edom. According to them it means the election of a collective and not of individuals. So they would say Romans 9 does not deal with the salvation of individuals but the election of Israel as a nation.

    The Arminian interpretation is impossible, and the answer stares at us plainly from the text:
    [6] It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. [7] Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.

    On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” [8] In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. [9] For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

    [10] Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. [11] Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: [12] not by works but by him who calls – she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” [13] Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    The point of the passage is to show that God’s word to Israel has not failed (v. 6). The reason this question comes up is because it seems that God promised salvation to Israel, but salvation is only available through faith in Jesus Christ, but Israel on the whole (most individuals!) has rejected Christ, and therefore it appears that Israel on the whole is not saved.

    Paul answers this right away. God’s word has not failed, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children” (v. 6b-7). Now stand in amazement at how STUPID the Arminians are. Paul takes Israel as a whole when he brings up the question, and then explicitly calls attention to the individuals within Israel in order to answer the question. In fact, his answer depends on individual faith and individual election. That is, God’s word to Israel has not failed, because not every individual within Israel belongs to the true Israel, and not every descendant in Israel is a child of Abraham.

    Then he adds two illustrations to emphasize individual election:

    From v. 7b-9, Paul says Abraham’s true children would come through Isaac. By this, he means that they would come through God’s supernatural power to fulfill his promise rather than by natural generation. “It is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (v. 8b). God made the promise to Abraham, but he distinguished the individual of Isaac against the individual of Ishmael. So his grace does not apply to “children of Abraham” in an all-inclusive and corporate sense, but in a selective and individual sense.

    But lest one thinks that from Isaac forward divine grace is given in a corporate sense without consideration of individuals, Paul makes the same point again, this time with Isaac’s children (v. 10). Two children, even twins, came from the same father, but God chose to love one and hate the other. As if to stress individual election even more, he chose the younger instead of the older.

    Returning to Paul’s reason for writing all this in the first place, his argument is intelligible and compelling only because he asserts individual election, and in a sense, even against corporate election. God’s promise to Israel (corporate) has not failed because the promise applies only to chosen individuals within this Israel, which we might call a true Israel.

    With this in mind, read the rest of Romans 9 and you will see that it consistently insists on God’s control over individuals. Again, Paul’s argument would not make sense and would fail unless this is what he intends.

    The Arminian argument is almost a sign of surrender. If it tries to make this a teaching of corporate election, then it admits that this is talking about God’s sovereignty in choosing nations, so that the nations do not choose themselves. The Arminian perceives the teaching of God’s sovereignty in this, but redirects it to a corporate application. Therefore, if this redirection is prevented and it is shown that the text obviously refers to individuals, we retain the Arminian admission that it teaches election, and since it refers to individuals, it teaches the election of individuals.

    Like

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