Line by Line through Romans 9

This evening I will be debating Dr. James White over the interpretation of Romans 9. In the process of  writing my commentary on this chapter I have produced a summary outline that may help others better understand the flow of the text from a non-Calvinistic “Traditionalist” Southern Baptist perspective.

I highly recommend listening to this podcast where I give commentary line by line through Romans 9.

Also, for a full commentary on Romans 8:28-39: CLICK HERE

For the entire commentary and more on this subject please purchase the book: THE POTTER’S PROMISE: A Commentary on Romans 9


Summary Commentary of Romans 9 (NKJV)

by Professor Leighton Flowers

 I. THE CONDITION OF ISRAEL (1-3)

The Apostle’s focus shifts to begin the 9th Chapter.

  • In the previous eight chapters, Paul made man’s need and God’s gracious provision through Christ abundantly clear.
  • Paul ends chapter 8 on such a high note in reflection of the endless, inseparable love God has for those who are in an abiding, loving relationship with Him (8:9,28). Why does the tone shift so dramatically to the topic of Paul’s great sorrow and continual grief in chapter 9?

Paul’s Christ-like, self-sacrificial plea for hardened Israel.

  • I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit:” This is not merely an emotional appeal from the heart of a Jew who desires to see more of his own kind saved. Instead, it is a witness of the Spirit Himself inspiring the apostle’s deep conviction and desire for all lost souls.
  • “that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart:”

 Paul shifts from celebrating the relationship of the believer, those grafted in by faith, to reflecting on the overwhelming number of those cut off for their unbelief from his own country of Israel, a topic that continues into the following chapters (11:20).

Here, the apostle deals with his feelings about the current condition of Israel, who has rejected their own Messiah. How does that reflect on God’s promise made to Israel (Gen. 12:3)? Has God failed to keep that promise? If God will not keep His promise to Israel, then how can we know He will keep His promise to us?

  • “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,”

This is a self-sacrificial, Christ-like love for those who have become his enemies. Paul again expresses this desire for unbelieving Israel in 10:1, which is repeated with a quote from God’s own lips in 10:21.

This likewise reflects the same heart of Moses referenced by the apostle in 9:15: “Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written” (Exodus 32:31-32).

Most importantly, Paul reflects the very desire of Jesus, who was willing to be accursed for his enemies that they might be saved (Gal. 3:13).

II.  THE WORD ENTRUSTED TO ISRAEL (4-5)

  • Given that any nationality may be saved through faith and many from Israel do not believe, then what benefit is there in being a Jew? “…who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

As first mentioned in 3:1-2, the apostle here reminds the reader the benefit or blessing of being a natural descendent of Israel.

The very Word of God was entrusted to Israel (Rom. 3:2), which included the MESSIAH and His redemptive MESSAGE.

  • The special revelation of God, which all served to testify and prepare the way for the Messiah and His gospel, came by way of this elect nation.
  • Israel’s unfaithfulness and their being cut off for unbelief does not negate this blessing, or the promise that first brought that blessing to this elect nation of God (Gen. 12:3; Rom. 3:3-4).

III.  WHY THAT WORD HAS NOT FAILED (6-8)

  • Since the very people entrusted to bring the Word are standing in opposition to it, then has His Word failed? “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect.”

The ones entrusted with the Word are opposing the Word, so then, has the Word failed?

God’s word has not failed despite how things may appear from our human perspective.

The fulfillment of God’s Word, as promised to Abraham, is not dependent upon the faithfulness of Israelites (Rom. 3:3-4).

  •  “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel

Not every descendant of Israel is chosen to carry out the purpose for which God elected Israel.

Not every descendant of Israel is blessed to be in the lineage of the Messiah or to be an inspired messenger of God’s word.

Not every descendant of Israel is guaranteed salvation on the basis of being of Israel (vs. 7).

So, the many descendants of Israel you are seeing stand in opposition to the Word, were not chosen by God to carry the Word, thus it cannot be concluded that God’s Word has failed.

“nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”

Abraham’s two sons, by two different mothers, is used allegorically by Paul to represent the two covenants of Law and Faith, as Paul’s own self-commentary explains in Gal. 4:21-25: “Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.” (Gal. 4:21-25, NASB, emphasis added).

This is the apostle’s way of using a history lesson to remind his audience that being a seed of Abraham does not mean one is guaranteed the blessings listed in verses 4 and 5, which were specific to the seed of Isaac.

Nor does it guarantee the eternal blessing of being a child of God, which comes by faith in God’s promise (symbolized by Isaac, whose birth came by grace) to whosoever believes, not by works of the law (symbolized by Ishmael, whose birth came by works).

IV.  GOD’S PLAN TO BRING THE WORD THROUGH ISRAEL (9-13)

  • “For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.’”

This is the way in which the word of promise given to Abraham (Gen. 12:3) is to be fulfilled.

Isaac will be the lineage through whom the Word would come: The Messiah and His message come through Isaac’s seed, not Ishmael’s.

Sarah is a free woman and represents the covenant of faith, as opposed to the covenant of law represented by the slave woman (Gal. 4:21-25).

  • “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

The apostle is taking this one step further by not only seeking to prove his claims about the descendants of Abraham are true, but to even more specifically show that all the descents of Isaac are not:

  1.      Guaranteed salvation on the basis they are a descendant.
  2.      Chosen for the noble purpose of bringing the Word to the rest of the world.

God’s choice of Jacob, the lesser of the two brothers in age and physical prowess, was for the noble purpose of bringing the Word to the rest of the world.

God’s choice to fulfill His promise is not based upon the impressiveness of the nation (Deut. 7:7) or the morality of its representative head (Gen. 25:23).

The fulfillment of God’s Word has never relied upon the faithfulness or morality of the individuals chosen to carry it out (Rom. 3:3-4).

Neither brother would be justified apart from grace through faith in God, even though they are direct descendants of both Abraham and Isaac. Salvation is by the covenant of grace through faith in the call of God, not the covenant of law through works.

The expressed hatred toward Esau’s household reflected in the quote from Malachi reveals:

  1. Even direct descendants of Isaac himself (Edom) are not chosen for the noble purposes that God elected Israel, thus one should not assume that the opposition of direct descendants to God’s Word is an indication of its failure.
  2. Even direct descendants of Isaac himself (Edom) are not guaranteed salvation, especially if they remain in opposition to those who are chosen to bring the Word of God. As conditioned upon the original promise… “I will curse those who curse you” (Gen. 12:3).

Many examples in scripture are given to show the concept of “hate” referring to simply rejecting (without disdain) one over another for a noble task (Genesis 29:31, 33; Deuteronomy 21:15; Matthew 6:24; Luke 14:26; John 12:25).

Esau was also blessed and protected by God (Deut. 23:7, Gen. 33:8-16, Gen. 36), so the “hatred” was either (1) conditioned upon the Edomites attack upon Israel and/or (2) in reference to God’s selection of Jacob and his lineage for the noble purpose over Esau and his lineage.

V.  WHY GOD IS JUST IN SHOWING MERCY TO UNFAITHFUL ISRAELITES TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PROMISE IN BRINGING THE WORD (14-16)

  • Does God’s choosing to bless one descendant over another descendant make God unrighteous? What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!

The descendants of Abraham in Paul’s day had two false perceptions:

Every descendant deserves the benefit of bringing God’s Word. However, the truth is that God has only selected a remnant through whom to bring His Word.

Every descendant deserves eternal life on the basis of their being of Israel. However, no one is saved based on nationality but only upon grace through faith. Those nations, and the individuals therein, who oppose God’s Word remain under the curse (hatred), as illustrated by Edom (direct descendants of Isaac himself).

There is no unrighteousness with God for choosing some descendants for a noble cause and not others, nor is it unjust to condemn a descendant of Abraham who stands in opposition to the Word of God.

  • For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”

Paul’s reference to Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus 32-33 gives a perfect historical example of when God was merciful to Israel when they deserved to be destroyed for their unfaithfulness (worshipping a golden calf).

This example also parallels Moses’ self-sacrificial Christ-like love for Israel as reflected by Paul in the opening verses of this chapter… “forgive their sin—and if not blot me out…” (Ex. 32:31-32).

Certainly God may choose to save whosoever He is pleased to save (scripture teaches He chooses to save those who humble themselves and repent in faith – 1 Pt. 5:5-6), but this passage is in reference to God showing mercy to unfaithful Israel so as to fulfill His original promise through them even though they deserve condemnation.

  • So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

“It” refers to the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring His Word despite Israel’s unfaithfulness (Rom. 3:3-4).

The promise depends on our merciful God, not on the faithfulness (“willing and running”) of Abraham or his descendants.

Abraham “willed and ran” in the flesh to produce a son through Hagar (who Paul used symbolically to represent the covenant of law and works, Gal. 4:24).

God, by his mercy, provided Isaac through the free woman, Sarah (who Paul used symbolically to represent the covenant of grace by faith in the call of God, Gal. 4:21-26).

VI.  WHY GOD IS JUST TO HARDEN UNFAITHFUL ISRAELITES TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PROMISE IN BRINGING THE WORD (17-18)

  • For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

In the same way God hardened the already rebellious will of Pharaoh in order to accomplish the first Passover, so too God hardened the already rebellious wills of Israelites to accomplish the real Passover.

God’s power and goodness was displayed in mercy-ing unfaithful Israelites in the day of Moses and in hardening the unfaithful Israelites in the day of the Messiah.

  • Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Sometimes God will fulfill His promises by showing Israelites mercy, but His Word will never fail.

Sometimes God will fulfill His promises by hardening Israelites, but His Word will never fail.

Note: Those judicially hardened or cut off are not born in this condition, but have “grown hardened” over years of rebellion (Acts 28:27), they are cut off for unbelief (11:20) and the hope of the apostle is that they may be grafted back in and saved (11:11-32).

VII.  IF THE ISRAELITES’ UNRIGHTEOUSNESS ACCOMPLISHES GOD’S PROMISE TO BRING HIS WORD, WHY ARE THEY TO BLAME? (19-21)

  • “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will? But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God?”

You (an Israelite hardened to accomplish God’s promise) will say to me (an Israelite shown mercy to accomplish God’s promise), why are we to blame if God’s will is being fulfilled?

As the apostle already indicated in 3:5, this is a man-made argument that reveals a heart that has become calloused in its rebellion, otherwise they might see, hear, understand and repent (Acts 17:30; 28:27).

  • “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”

The lump of hardened clay represents Israel who is had grown calloused in rebellion (Acts 28:27) and who are now being remolded into two kinds of vessels:

Those unfaithful Israelites remolded, by means of signs from the incarnate Messiah Himself, to bring the Word.

Those unfaithful Israelites remolded, by means of judicially hardening, to accomplish the ignoble purpose of bringing redemption on the cross and the grafting in of the Gentiles (yet they still may be saved, Rom. 11:11-32).

VIII. HOW GOD’S WORD, AND THUS HIS GLORY, IS REVEALED THROUGH MERCY-ING AND HARDENING ISRAEL (22-24)

  • “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known:” Just as God manifests Himself through Pharaoh’s judicial hardening, He likewise does so through Israel’s judicial hardening.
  • “endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction:” God patiently put up with Israel even in their stubborn rebellion so as to be “cut off,” “given over” or “prepared” for the destruction they have earned (like the Edomites and Egyptians before them).
  • “and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” The promise made to Abraham to bless all the families of the earth (by the coming Messiah and His message) is now being fulfilled through the hardening and mercy-ing of Israel. The vessels prepared for mercy are “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:3) who God has promised His blessing from the very beginning: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13; Joel 2:32).

IX. HOW ALL THE NATIONS BENEFIT FROM THE MERCY-ING AND HARDENING OF ISRAEL BY THE BRINGING OF GOD’S WORD (25-29)

  • As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.” And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the living God.”

Notice that even in the original context the author acknowledges God’s genuine love for Israel despite their rebellion (Hosea 3:1), which is echoed by Paul throughout his entire context (Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1, 21; 11:11-32). God told Hosea to call his child “Lo-Ammi,” meaning “Not My People.” However, God also promised this was temporary.

People formally not known to be His people are now benefitting from the redemptive plan God has brought to pass through both the noble and ignoble vessels formed by the merciful Potter from the predominately unfaithful lump of Israelite clay.

Paul is using the scriptures to demonstrate that this has always been God’s mysterious redemptive plan (Eph. 3:1-13).

  • “Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.’ And as Isaiah said before: ‘Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah.’”

Regardless of the Israelites unfaithfulness throughout the generations God has always saved a believing remnant from physical destruction so as to carry out the purpose for which Israel was first elected: to bring the Word to the world. God’s promise will not fail, even if Israel is unfaithful.

If Israel had received what they deserved they would have been like the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Though the number of natural descendants are as countless as all the sand of the sea, only those Israelites who (like the Gentiles) pursue righteousness by faith would attain it.

X.  PAUL’S OWN COMMENTARY OF THIS PASSAGE AS BEING ABOUT FAITH IN THE WORD VERSUS WORKS OF THE LAW (30-33)

  • “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.”

The Gentiles did not run after the law and desire to keep the commandments in order to earn God’s favor (the covenant laws represented by Hagar/Ishmael to begin this chapter), but they trusted in His promise (the covenant promise represented by Sarah/Isaac, see Gal. 4:21-26).

The Israelites did run after and desire to keep the commandments in order to earn God’s favor (much like Abraham trying to produce a son in the flesh through a slave woman), but they have not attained it.

From the beginning this chapter has been about faith or works, not synergism or monergism. Salvation is all of God. But our sovereign God chooses to save those who pursue righteousness by faith rather than by works regardless of their nationality or morality.

  • “Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’”

Why were the Israelites not able to attain righteousness? Was it because they were rejected by God before the foundation of the earth and not given the grace they needed to believe? By no means! The apostle’s answer is clear and the difference is faith verses works, not chosen verses un-chosen.

The idea of a Messiah being crucified by the Israelites own hand was a “stumbling stone and a rock of offense.” To admit Jesus was their own Messiah would require them to own up to the shame of crucifying Him. But the apostle reminds them that whoever believes in Christ will not be put to shame for their wrong doing (see also Rom. 10:11).

Throughout this letter to the church in Rome, Paul clearly explains that salvation is attained by faith rather than works. So, why were some unable to attain righteousness? They pursued righteousness by law (Rom. 3:10-19) rather than by faith (Rom. 3:21-31). One should not assume that because the former is unattainable so is the latter.

124 thoughts on “Line by Line through Romans 9

  1. Great outline with annotations, Leighton! I look forward to your book with all its details! I am praying for your defense of sound doctrine tonight! The strongest issue remains – “Which view brings the most honor to the mercy of our God?” Everything He does in Rom. 9 is for the sake of showing mercy to more people, not less! And the three chapter context (Rom 9-11) concludes in Rom 11:32, definitely showing that God’s desire is to have salvation mercy on everyone! “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.”

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  2. You say:

    Not every descendant of Israel is chosen to carry out the purpose for which God elected Israel. So, the many descendants of Israel you are seeing stand in opposition to the Word, were not chosen by God to carry the Word, thus it cannot be concluded that God’s Word has failed.

    However I think that fits more with Calvinism, and is not what the text is really saying. All of Israel were chosen, clearly: God never said in the OT that some of Israel weren’t chosen based on a sovereign decree, but some of Israel were rejected because they bore “worthless fruit.” Whether God’s election produces the disobedience, or the disobedience forfeits God’s election, is at the heart of Calvinistic determinism versus Arminian creaturely freedom. Then we get right to the question of whether God’s election is based in human response, or he simply decides who he will make disobedient. The real key to going through Romans 9 and showing it doesn’t prove Calvinism, is to show that it leaves room for a human response. Even the climactic point “Who are you, O man,” would be nonsensical if he were reprimanding a man for what God, himself, caused the man to do, and thus implies a measure of freedom in the man’s response. So the crux of the issue is: Does election in Romans 9 leave no room for a determination upon the response of the elected? Does human libertarian free will really play any role in Romans 9? And we can bring in Paul’s very imagery of the Potter from Jeremiah to show that the original parable spoke of the Potter having a good purpose that was thwarted by the vessel itself, and indeed Paul himself elsewhere says a man can make himself a vessel of honor by his choice. So when Paul says “Who has resisted God’s will,” he does not mean God’s will is for men to disobey, but that God’s will is for disobedient men to be punished. It’s important to note “prepared for destruction” is not the same Greek word as “prepared for mercy” and thus not meant to be a direct parallel by Paul.

    Your point:

    From the beginning this chapter has been about faith or works, not synergism or monergism.

    This is a very good focus. And really, Romans 9 does not unequivocally say that God’s election is not based on any libertarian free creaturely response, but rather God’s election is not based on anything the creature can earn or merit. And again the Calvinist confuses any free response at all, with something that merits a response from God. Romans 4 says Abraham believed while still ungodly, and that faith is, by definition, something Abraham himself did, yet an action that didn’t merit a response from God. The only Calvinist response is to hammer on passages that seem to indicate faith is a gift. However, our will itself is a gift, yet our will is something we must use. God has dealt to each man a measure of faith, but Christ clearly indicated to his disciples that they must use they faith they already possessed.

    God bless and thanks for your input into this theological issue.

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    1. Hooray!

      I quite like this. It demonstrates that we non-Calvinists have finally gotten to the point where we can discuss minor quibbles of exegesis regarding Romans 9 among ourselves.

      This, to me, is a good thing. If the next big “Romans debate” rush of material that occupies the primary and secondary literature is with non-Calvinists debating (hopefully in a scholarly and friendly way) and discussing and fine-tuning the best non-Calvinist readings of the passage, a lot will be right in the world of theology. 🙂

      Let’s just get on with John 6 and Ephesians 1 as well. 😀

      In this spirit, I will add here my minor quibble:

      “You (an Israelite hardened to accomplish God’s promise) will say to me (an Israelite shown mercy to accomplish God’s promise), why are we to blame if God’s will is being fulfilled?

      As the apostle already indicated in 3:5, this is a man-made argument that reveals a heart that has become calloused in its rebellion, otherwise they might see, hear, understand and repent (Acts 17:30; 28:27).”

      While I agree that in Rom. 9:19 this is an unbelieving Jewish interlocutor connected with Rom. 3:5-8, I think that though he is hardened and rebellious, the objection is entirely sarcastic (in line with the sarcastic objections throughout Rom. 3-6), and not something even the interlocutor believes, just as Paul doesn’t believe that God’s will can never be resisted. The same way as neither Paul nor unbelieving Jewish interlocutor actually believes “Let us do what is evil so that good may come.” Note that Paul is more fair to his opponents (Rom. 10:2) than they are of him (Rom. 3:5-8) and is genuinely concerned about them (Rom. 9:2-3, 10:1). Though, he won’t tolerate nonsense in responding to sarcastic objections (Rom. 9:20, cf 3:4, 3:8b, 6:2, 6:15b-16, 7:7b, 7:13b, etc.).

      I think the disingenuous sarcasm of the rhetorical questions and the interlocutor’s objections in the diatribe that Paul smacks down stems from the slandering attempts of Paul’s Gospel (Rom. 3:8) that Paul has grown accustomed to hearing. Watson and others note how Paul is most likely responding to either real or close cousins to actual objections he has heard (or heard about, a la Rom. 3) while on mission. Paul’s response “who are you o man..” shows Paul rejecting the premise and exposes the fallacy of the sarcastic objection. Namely, how can the interlocutor even object, if, as he (sarcastically) supposes, that God’s will can’t be resisted. The interlocutor is hardened precisely because he resisted Gd’s will in the first place. The Biblical view Paul has of the Potter and clay parable he brings up demonstrates the point. With the unbelieving interlocutor throughout Romans, Paul NEVER grants the premise, and he does not change that pattern here. The only time Paul ever grants the premise of an interlocutor in Romans is to the believing Gentile interlocutor in Rom. 11:19-20. However, even there he still qualifies it and issues a word of caution.

      Of course, none of this necessarily disagrees much overall. Perhaps Prof. Flowers simply didn’t include these insights, but doesn’t find them objectionable either.

      But again, that we are even discussing these minor points of disagreement demonstrates all the room there is for discussion in non-Calvinist readings, and how Reformed readings are not even close to being on Paul’s radar in this passage.

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      1. Jonathan,

        I agree. I’ve always thought that about the objector in Rom 9. The question seems totally disingenuous. Even obnoxious. “Who resists God’s will?” (as if people don’t resist God’s will all the time; Luke 7:30, Acts 7:51). And, even if the objector meant that God’s “hardening” can’t be resisted, it doesn’t matter, since (as you pointed out), God never would have hardened them if they hadn’t been willfully and persistently disobedient in the first place. The question sooooo merits Paul’s no-nonsense rebuke.

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    1. Yudo,

      First of all, neither of your questions has anything to do with Romans 9 which I thought was the topic of this thread.

      “2 questions:
      did God know who would and wouldn’t have faith in Him. if he did. how did he come about this knowledge.
      where does salvific faith come from?”

      Regarding the second question, faith is not a thing or object that comes from here or there: like a rock that you could throw around. No, saving faith involves a choice to trust in the Lord alone to save you. We exercise faith all the time, every time we choose to place our faith/confidence in something or someone. When we drive we trust that putting our foot to the brake pedal will slow the car down. We have all sorts of objects and persons that we make choices to trust in. The most important person to trust and the most reliable person to trust, is of course the Lord.

      Regarding the first question. God knows everything (at least this is the view of the vast majority of Christians whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Independents, Calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, non-Calvinists of every theological stripe, except for open theists).

      As to HOW God knows everything the calvinist believes that God knows the future only because he predetermines the future (which actually is saying that God does not have this ability to foreknow by nature, he only knows what he predetermines). This makes sense but is nowhere stated in scripture so it comes primarily through the calvinistic system itself. With non-Calvinists there are various views including the Boethian/Aquinas view, the Okhamist view, the Molinist view, the simple foreknowledge view, etc.

      There is also what you could call the “agnostic view” (i.e. we know THAT he knows but we really do not know HOW he knows what he knows). I lean towards the Boethian view (i.e. God is eternal, and when you are eternal you see everything at once, what C.S. Lewis called the “eternal now”) as to how he knows, but also see much to the agnostic view. God is a spirit, has no brain, no physical senses like eyes and ears, I know how we know, but how an eternal, self-existent spirit knows, I don’t think we know and even if he tried to explain it to us it seems to me that it would be beyond our comprehension. Regarding how we know that he knows everything, that is what scripture properly interpreted reveals (I am sure you know the texts already so I will not repeat them here, just take it for granted that you do believe that he knows everything because that is what he reveals in the Bible about the extent of his knowledge). Regarding how he actually knows what he knows we have various models or theories about it. I really do not think we need to worry much about how he knows, what we need to take confidence in is that he does know everything about us and everything else so we can deeply trust Him.

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  3. Is initial saving faith itself, a gift of God? I’m yet to find a verse that i can say teaches that. Eph 2:4-9 clearly teaches otherwise, and in Heb 12:2, the word “our” was added by the King James translators.

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  4. Thanks Leighton! I appreciate all the effort you’ve put into preparing this and look forward to reading your book.

    I’m trying to get my head around judicial hardening. I’m coming around to the idea that God hardened/hid the truth from the rebellious Jews to ensure the crucifixion (obviously a crucial part of God’s plan of redemption), but why continue the hardening after this? Couldn’t he have offered salvation to the gentiles (thus provoking jealousy) without continuing to harden the Jews in their rebellion? What benefit does this continued hardening bring?

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    1. Some scholars contend that the bigotry of even the believing Jews (judaizers) would have prevented the Gentiles from becoming established in the early church. He was allowing time for the Gentiles to enter and Paul’s hope was that that would lead to envy and salvation of those hardened.

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    2. “What benefit does this continued hardening bring?”

      For starters, it is judgment. The judgment stems from sin and idolatry of “works of Torah” over the God who gave Torah (Rom. 10:3 cf Romans 1:18-3:20; John 5:30-47, etc.)

      The “benefit” is that God is merciful and loving and thus even His judgment has merciful ends to it (See Rom. 11:25-36, and just as it did in the Exodus and judicial hardening of Pharaoh to rescue Israel in a display of power to make His name known, a la Rom. 9:14ff, cf Ex. 3-15).

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  5. “Regarding the second question, faith is not a thing or object that comes from here or there: like a rock that you could throw around. No, saving faith involves a choice to trust in the Lord alone to save you.”

    allow me to rephrase the question then.

    where does the ability to make this choice come from?

    “(which actually is saying that God does not have this ability to foreknow by nature, he only knows what he predetermines)”

    the alternative is that there are forces outside of God’s control that he didn’t create and has to learn about. omniscience and omnipotence compromised.

    God created everything and knows everything within His creation. there is nothing that exists that is outside of God’s creation. as far as it not being in scripture. if God being the creator of all things is in scripture and God knowing all things is in scripture then we simply follow the logical conclusions to these facts to arrive at our position.

    quite frankly, the above quoted statement doesn’t make sense unless we are to believe that there are things that exist that God didn’t create.

    the rest of you post is really just saying “i don’t know” to the second question.

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    1. You say:

      the alternative is that there are forces outside of God’s control that he didn’t create and has to learn about. omniscience and omnipotence compromised.

      All Arminians believe God created people’s true free will, whoever that will has the ability to create decisions ex-nihilio. We still believe in omniscience for God knows all free will decisions, even though he didn’t cause them. The real question then, is does this compromise his omnipotence? But if you take away the ability for God to delegate sovereignty saying that if he ever does so he cannot be sovereign you have in actuality take away from God’s sovereignty by telling God there’s something he cannot do and stay sovereign, and you’ve put God in a little man-made, man-exalting box. This may seem like a paradox, but if God wants to delegate sovereignty, he’s certainly sovereign enough to do that—and why not. If God wants to rule over a people voluntarily submitted to him, that doesn’t make him less than sovereign or you set limits on his sovereignty—like the 800 pound gorilla, God rules any way he wants to. He alone defines what his sovereignty means, no man-made, man-exalting enforcement of a definition is binding upon God. What justification do we have to make a definition that says “God’s sovereignty can never do this or that.” By definition it means he can anything he wants, including creating true freedom, including delegating his own sovereignty. The audacity to insist that God cannot do that is completely man-centered.

      As for where saving faith comes from, Scripture says God gives to every man a measure of faith, but the man himself must use the faith given to him. This is why when the disciples ask the Lord to increase their faith, he basically tells them they already have faith they are not using, even if it’s a tiny mustard seed. So like a muscle that must be exercised, or a free will that must be used to decide, faith is a resident gift and ability that a person must choose to use, when that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (thereby instructing people what to put faith in). And this faith precedes regeneration because Abraham was said to believe while still ungodly (Romans 4). Then that faith justified and sanctified Abraham in his ungodliness, because we cannot clean ourselves up before we come to God just as the sinners we are. This is a true synergism where we contribute no good thing but trusting another for the goodness, and that trust cannot be meritorious as Romans 4 tells us. Not all synergistic actions are actions that merit or achieve righteousness through effort; there are actions, like passive reception, or helpless trust, that are synergistic yet contribute nothing meritoriously. I suppose that also seems like a paradox, yet who would insist that merely receiving a gift earns the gift? That’s the kind of strange logic Calvinists end up having to resort to, to exalt their man-centered monergism.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “All Arminians believe God created people’s true free will, whoever that will has the ability to create decisions ex-nihilio. We still believe in omniscience for God knows all free will decisions, even though he didn’t cause them. The real question then, is does this compromise his omnipotence? But if you take away the ability for God to delegate sovereignty saying that if he ever does so he cannot be sovereign you have in actuality take away from God’s sovereignty by telling God there’s something he cannot do and stay sovereign, and you’ve put God in a little man-made, man-exalting box. This may seem like a paradox, but if God wants to delegate sovereignty, he’s certainly sovereign enough to do that—and why not. If God wants to rule over a people voluntarily submitted to him, that doesn’t make him less than sovereign or you set limits on his sovereignty—like the 800 pound gorilla, God rules any way he wants to. He alone defines what his sovereignty means, no man-made, man-exalting enforcement of a definition is binding upon God. What justification do we have to make a definition that says “God’s sovereignty can never do this or that.” By definition it means he can anything he wants, including creating true freedom, including delegating his own sovereignty. The audacity to insist that God cannot do that is completely man-centered.”

        can God tell a lie and still be holy? can God make a mistake and still be infallible? or the classic, can God make a boulder so heavy that he can’t move it?

        this has nothing to do with man centered thinking but about the laws of logic(God created that too).

        if God knows all things yet created beings that would make decision totally independent of His creative decree. how did He come about knowing what these creatures would do? does He know what these free creatures are gonna do prioir to it playing out in time? does God know the future fully and accurately? how does He know it?

        “As for where saving faith comes from, Scripture says God gives to every man a measure of faith, but the man himself must use the faith given to him. This is why when the disciples ask the Lord to increase their faith, he basically tells them they already have faith they are not using, even if it’s a tiny mustard seed.”

        are you referencing romans 12:3 and luke 17:5? if so, both instances are dealing with those who belong to God, who are in Christ. they have indeed been given a measure of faith. this does not refer to every single person on the planet.

        “And this faith precedes regeneration because Abraham was said to believe while still ungodly (Romans 4).”

        romans 4 defines abraham’s ungodliness as being one who was not justified by the law. if thats the case everyone who is in Christ believed “while still ungodly”. nothing unique to draw from here. isn’t that the point of the first part of romans 5?

        BTW, salvific faith is a part of regeneration. those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are in the process of regeneration.

        “Then that faith justified and sanctified Abraham in his ungodliness, because we cannot clean ourselves up before we come to God just as the sinners we are.”

        no sir,

        he was indeed justified but he was not sanctified. sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ and walking as He walked. abraham didn’t do that, even after he was justified. lying about His wife, sleeping with another woman other than His wife to bear a son in the flesh which was motivated by not believing in the promise of God. these aren’t Christ like actions.

        always keep in mind that justification is an event while sanctification is a process.

        “Not all synergistic actions are actions that merit or achieve righteousness through effort; there are actions, like passive reception, or helpless trust, that are synergistic yet contribute nothing meritoriously. I suppose that also seems like a paradox, yet who would insist that merely receiving a gift earns the gift?”

        except if people don’t exercise the faith they don’t get the gift. so it is meritorious, especially considering that salvific faith comes from us making a decision on something and not on God drawing us as in john 6.

        did God give everyone a measure of faith which is enough to believe but some just don’t?

        is God equally drawing every single person as in john 6?

        Like

    2. Thank you for answering so civilly and intelligently.

      You said:
      does He know what these free creatures are gonna do prioir to it playing out in time? does God know the future fully and accurately? how does He know it?

      My answer would be, the same way he created all things from absolutely nothing. He is God and is not bound by human logic or understanding. The way we know who is he is from what his Word reveals to us. If his word reveals to us that he knows the hearts of all people, and yet humans are still made in the image of God, himself, with free choices, we except it and don’t ask “how” or demand a full explanations of thing beyond our understanding. Biblical answer: his ways are higher than our ways.

      You said:
      can God tell a lie and still be holy? can God make a mistake and still be infallible? or the classic, can God make a boulder so heavy that he can’t move it?

      If you ask, can God do the logically impossible, I would answer yes. If you ask, will God be different than how he reveals himself in his Word, I would say no. His Word is the guide, the map and the compass to revelation beyond the limits of human understanding. Does God’s Word reveal that God does not sin? Yes. Does God’s Word reveal that he could never logically create a truly contra-causal libertarian creaturely free will? No, it does not.

      You said:
      are you referencing romans 12:3 and luke 17:5? if so, both instances are dealing with those who belong to God, who are in Christ. they have indeed been given a measure of faith. this does not refer to every single person on the planet.

      Okay. The way I read the Word is that whosever will can come, so no one who hears about Christ is barred from believing in him. The only time God actively makes men disobey his own wishes is if they already have begun to do so themselves. Otherwise we have a schizophrenic God who wishs two opposite things at one moment in time. I’ll grant that those texts can’t definitively prove the possibility that all have a potential faith. I might go to Romans 1 just so you can’t weasle out of it.

      You said:
      if thats the case everyone who is in Christ believed “while still ungodly”.

      Well, that was my point. We come ungodly, then believe, then are justified. If you are justified already, you cannot be ungodly, period.

      You said:
      he was indeed justified but he was not sanctified. sanctification is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ and walking as He walked.

      I see this as a moot point, although I do think Scripture shows signs of Abraham’s sanctification in his willingness and readiness to be completely obedient. He was more obedient than most modern Christians are today… would you go circumcise your household, or kill your own son, the day after God told you to? However, it’s not pertinent to our main discussion.

      You said:
      so it is meritorious, especially considering that salvific faith comes from us making a decision on something and not on God drawing us as in john 6.

      But it’s the Calvinist who insists on defining any activity as meritious. God’s Word, on the other hand, tells me an activity independent of God can, although it is not meritorious, yet accomplish something with God. When the tax collector did not lift his eyes to heaven, and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” he was not doing anything righteous. He was expressing complete trust and dependence on the mercy of someone other than himself. I will believe the definition of a meritious work as defined by God’s Word itself over a Calvinist. I’m sure you could not fault me for that.

      You said:
      did God give everyone a measure of faith which is enough to believe but some just don’t?

      That’s way more simplistic than how I see things. We have the overarching influence of sinful actions and judgment affecting all men resulting in a lot of Satanic bondage and separation from the life of God. Christ said unless the strongman was bound you could not steal his goods. This was speaking of the human soul. I do believe people are spiritually dead, but I don’t think that means they cannot respond to the Gospel call. The Gospel *is* the power of God, as it is heard, and calls men to come out of their tombs. There is a point, where if you are blessed enough to hear the Gospel message, you have the choice whether to accept or reject God’s grace (tons of Scriptures indicating that).

      You said:
      is God equally drawing every single person as in john 6?

      Calvinists have tendency to exegete a verse in isolation from surrounding context. To read my understanding of John 6, head on over here (God drew those who prepared their hearts):
      http://theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=4999&start=10#p66659

      Like

      1. “My answer would be, the same way he created all things from absolutely nothing. He is God and is not bound by human logic or understanding. The way we know who is he is from what his Word reveals to us. If his word reveals to us that he knows the hearts of all people, and yet humans are still made in the image of God, himself, with free choices, we except it and don’t ask “how” or demand a full explanations of thing beyond our understanding. Biblical answer: his ways are higher than our ways.”

        it would seem that you would admit that your position isn’t logically tenable and are trying to dismiss this by saying that we shouldn’t test to see if our theories are logical in stating that Gods ways are beyond our ways. you also beg the question by asserting that man has free choices. can you show me a text in scripture that says man has libertarian/contra-casual/autonomous free will?

        “If you ask, can God do the logically impossible, I would answer yes. If you ask, will God be different than how he reveals himself in his Word, I would say no. His Word is the guide, the map and the compass to revelation beyond the limits of human understanding. Does God’s Word reveal that God does not sin? Yes. Does God’s Word reveal that he could never logically create a truly contra-causal libertarian creaturely free will? No, it does not.”

        well, first you have to prove that having autonomous free creatures is logically possible with an omniscient God. then you would have to show from scripture that this is what God actually did. the ball is in your court.

        “Okay. The way I read the Word is that whosever will can come, so no one who hears about Christ is barred from believing in him. The only time God actively makes men disobey his own wishes is if they already have begun to do so themselves. Otherwise we have a schizophrenic God who wishs two opposite things at one moment in time. I’ll grant that those texts can’t definitively prove the possibility that all have a potential faith. I might go to Romans 1 just so you can’t weasle out of it.”

        your first two sentences in this paragraph beg the question. neither has been substantiated. only asserted. there is no schizo God when we understand that God’s decreative will which cannot possibly be resisted is different from His prescriptive will which can and will be resisted according to God’s decreative will. God is not wishing two opposite things at the same time. he has decreed an action while giving His commands to mankind through His word that they will be held responsible for. romans 1 isn’t even talking about faith but rather culpability due to sufficient natural revelation. james 1:13-15 needs to be kept in mind here.

        “Well, that was my point. We come ungodly, then believe, then are justified. If you are justified already, you cannot be ungodly, period.”

        those who are elect are not saved from birth. they are destined for salvation from birth. significant difference.

        “I see this as a moot point, although I do think Scripture shows signs of Abraham’s sanctification in his willingness and readiness to be completely obedient. He was more obedient than most modern Christians are today… would you go circumcise your household, or kill your own son, the day after God told you to? However, it’s not pertinent to our main discussion.”

        there are indeed signs of abrahams sanctification but that doesn’t mean he was completely sanctified. again, sanctification is not an event, it’s a process. being completely sanctified means we walk the same way Jesus walked having no sin whatsoever in though word and deed. that didnt happen with abraham, at least not in this life.

        “But it’s the Calvinist who insists on defining any activity as meritious. God’s Word, on the other hand, tells me an activity independent of God can, although it is not meritorious, yet accomplish something with God. When the tax collector did not lift his eyes to heaven, and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” he was not doing anything righteous. He was expressing complete trust and dependence on the mercy of someone other than himself. I will believe the definition of a meritious work as defined by God’s Word itself over a Calvinist. I’m sure you could not fault me for that.”

        what independent act of God would you be referring to?

        a person recognizing their sin before God and dire need for His mercy is indeed a righteous act especially when God throughout His word commands that all men do this to be saved. if you feel that this is contrary to the Word of God, you’re most welcome to prove it.

        “That’s way more simplistic than how I see things. We have the overarching influence of sinful actions and judgment affecting all men resulting in a lot of Satanic bondage and separation from the life of God. Christ said unless the strongman was bound you could not steal his goods. This was speaking of the human soul. I do believe people are spiritually dead, but I don’t think that means they cannot respond to the Gospel call. The Gospel *is* the power of God, as it is heard, and calls men to come out of their tombs. There is a point, where if you are blessed enough to hear the Gospel message, you have the choice whether to accept or reject God’s grace (tons of Scriptures indicating that).”

        not a sufficient answer,

        according to you, every single person has the strength to break the bonds themselves. some do and some don’t. why is that?

        God puts out a message to save people. it is sufficient to do this. yet, not only do some reject it, the vast majority of people reject it. why is this? A God who desires that none should perish but that all would come to repentance has failed miserably in attempting to accomplish this goal. it also seems that ultimately it doesn’t even rely on God at all. all God can do do is make an offer. He can’t save anyone. Man has to make a decision for anything God does to be effective.

        the “calvinist” doesn’t have this problem.

        “Calvinists have tendency to exegete a verse in isolation from surrounding context. To read my understanding of John 6, head on over here (God drew those who prepared their hearts):
        http://theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=4999&start=10#p66659

        so your answer is yes then? that’s a huge problem for your position if that’s your conclusion.

        your exegesis of john 6 is far from the best handling of that text and wouldn’t be the most compelling argument for your position. would take more time than i have to untangle it all so i’ll leave it for now.

        have a good day sir.

        Like

      2. Thanks for answering, I learn a lot from hearing another’s perspective. I genuinely try to understand and make sense of the arguments of an opposing position.

        First let me say I think the Calvinist intuitively understands and feels, both in Scripture and in the world, that God in not entirely fair according to our feelings of fairness. That is, he does not give equal grace, mercy or opportunity to all humans throughout time, and his election upon certain of them gives them more grace, necessarily, then it gives the non-elect. But as an Arminian I can affirm all of that truth. I do not feel I have to take that failed Arminian defense of so many that God really is equally gracious to all, because he judges them “according to the light they have” as so many Arminians are wont to say. The concept is Scriptural, but it doesn’t get God off the hook of an unjust situation in the world. I say all that so you know I’m not a “typical” Arminian the way Calvinists think of, and so I already completely agree that God is not fair according to my sense of fairness. We have that in common and it need not be argued.

        You say:
        all God can do do is make an offer. He can’t save anyone.

        I assume you mean God can’t save anyone *without over-riding their free will.* If God changes our will to say “yes” without it actually being us doing the decision-making, then we get a Bible full of things that look and sound like “choices” but secretly underneath God is doing all the choosing and man is doing none of it. So verses like “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve” really mean “Wait and see what I God will choose for each of you.” Verses that say, for example, “If you listen to the voice of God you will be blessed and if you disobey you will be cursed,” really don’t express any true conditionals, but rather mean under God’s secret Calvinistic workings, “Wait and find out who I will decree to obey or disobey me, and thus curse and bless at my discretion and no real true free choice of your own.” Or when we get to the Gospels when Christ says to his disciples “Will you also leave me?” what he really means is “Has God decreed that you also will leave me by his sovereign plan?” So it’s kind of an trump card for anything the Arminian might say looks like true free will, because no matter *how* much it looks like the Bible is calling it a free choice, the Calvinist can simply say “Ah! But it just *looks* that way, underneath there is no real choice God does all the choosing.” And this is a real theoretical possibility if God chose to wrote the Bible that way… I wouldn’t ever put him in a box and say that’s impossible. But we’d both agree it’s important to know if true libertarian contra-causal creaturely free will exists or not, because then something would depend and ride upon it.

        You say:
        Man has to make a decision for anything God does to be effective.
        the “calvinist” doesn’t have this problem.

        Yes, this is true. Calvinism doesn’t have the “problem” of real rebellion against God’s will (since God’s will is always done). Universalism doesn’t have the problem of God’s injustice, since all are saved. I guess you’d agree that merely solving a difficult problem doesn’t make a belief system a good thing. Besides the fact that every system also introduces some problems as well. For example, when you start defending God’s two wills according to Calvinism you seem a bit unwilling to say that they contradict each other. But if God says to me “I earnestly desire for you to repent and obey me,” but underneath God’s decree (and thus real desire) is that I never be able to obey him or repent, but that I’m a vessel of wrath unto damnation, why doesn’t God just straight up tell me what his real will is for me instead of “pretending” (and I would argue really lying) that he wants me to obey him.

        You say:
        A God who desires that none should perish but that all would come to repentance has failed miserably in attempting to accomplish this goal.

        I could counter-argue that a God that controls people’s decisions never really experiences true love. He’d always know somewhere in the back of his mind, that this creature is just doing exactly what he manipulated it to do, and there is no real image of God, person-hood, or relationship.

        You say:
        according to you, every single person has the strength to break the bonds themselves. some do and some don’t. why is that?

        Okay, I really think Calvinists completely overstate this point. Say Rambo comes to rescue me, and I’m a P.O.W. locked and tied up in a shack. After blowing up all the tanks and airplanes and a whole army of men with machine guns, Rambo blows up the door to my shack and triumphantly walks in guns a-blazin’, while throwing a few grenades out the windows for good measure. He then notices a helicopter out the window closing in, and fires a rocket launcher at it, destroying it. Now he looks me right in the eye and says “You want me to cut those ropes off of you? The enemy has been defeated.” But I look him back in the eye and I say “Rambo, if you have to ask my permission to cut these ropes, then I really saved myself. No matter how many enemies you killed coming in here, my salvation is really still all up to me. I’m the real power and savior of myself because I can say ‘no’ to you. No matter how much ‘heavy lifting’ you did Rambo, I always have the last say.” Now honestly, does that seem a proper way to argue? No person in their right mind, would say I “saved myself” in that situation, merely because I was offered a choice whether or not to accept a salvation that was entirely done for me. No normal person would say that reaching out my hand to receive a million dollars somehow earns that million dollars. Yet when it comes to theology this is the kind of argumentation people end up using to defend a cherished system.

        You say:
        well, first you have to prove that having autonomous free creatures is logically possible with an omniscient God.

        Okay. Knowledge of an action doesn’t necessarily by logic mean that the knowledge is the driving causal agent of the action. A simple proof is, I can know what you ddi yesterday with 100% certainty. That knowledge is not the thing that “forced” the action to occur, even though since I know it with 100% certainty, no other action could ever have occured.

        You say:
        Can you show me a text in scripture that says man has libertarian/contra-casual/autonomous free will? you would have to show from scripture that this is what God actually did. the ball is in your court.

        This is difficult because, as I previously mentioned, anything that really looks like a free choice in the Bible can be immediately explained away by the Calvinist as an illusion. So since the Calvinist sets his own terms for proof and always holds in reserve his trump “secret decretal will of God” to explain anything that the average person would read as a real free human choice, it can be hard to find a Scripture that disallows for the kind of bizaare logic game to be played. However, I think have at least one in Isaiah 5… because God says he expected something from his vineyard due to something that he, himself, God, had done for that vineyard. Now God says “When I expected sweet grapes… why… did… I… get… sour grapes.” No matter what kind of mystery you put into it, God himself cannot be surprised if God himself caused the thing to happen. He cannot be surprised. And there, in the passage, what next does it say? It says “What.. more… could… I have done… for my vineyard.” Under Calvinism, there always is something more God could have done. I really don’t see any way around that without stretching logic beyond belief. God simply cannot say, under Calvinism “What more could I have done for my vineyard that I did not do.” (Psst, God, I’ll give you a hint what more you could do! Divinely decree your vineyard bring you good fruit!)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. more to the topic at hand:

    “Since the very people entrusted to bring the Word are standing in opposition to it, then has His Word failed?”

    “So, the many descendants of Israel you are seeing stand in opposition to the Word, were not chosen by God to carry the Word, thus it cannot be concluded that God’s Word has failed.”

    so it would seem that you are saying that those chosen are simply the one who would evangelize the gospel message while those unchosen would not evangelize the message. can you elaborate more on how you have substantiated this from romans 9? this seems like a framework you have forced upon the text with no evidence from the text.

    Like

  7. Yikes.

    I am still trying to figure out what the word sovereignty has to do with free will or determinism (compatiblism).

    Nothing about the word entails either philosophical concepts. Sovereignty simply means absolute authority and rulership.

    So, it is not even right to say “how does God exercise his sovereignty?”

    The question of this particular debate, since everyone agrees that God is maximally sovereign by definition, is, “what kind of cosmos is God sovereign over? Does it contain any creatures with libertarian freedom, or is the entire cosmos deterministic?”

    If the idea is that God can not be sovereign unless the universe is completely deterministic, then that is a fairly low view of God’s power, knowledge, wisdom, etc. and in one argument even has God running scared of stray molecules that can wreck His plans (see Sproul’s rather dumb argument near the beginning of “Chosen by God” for example).

    If the idea is that God can not know anything unless He foreordains everything, then that is not only a low view of God’s divine nature, but it places a logical dependence between God’s omniscience (an attribute) and God performing an action (something He can either do or not do) in eternity’s past. There is no logical contradiction in God knowing what free creatures will do in the future, so I am not sure why this assertion still hangs around since it is clearly problematic. The idea that God must “do” in order to “be” all that God should be (namely omniscient) is hardly a compelling solution, and perhaps only slightly better than Open Theism. God shouldn’t have to do anything in order to know all that can possibly be known for a divine being to know if that divine being is omniscient like we affirm God is. If someone claims God can’t know unless He foreordains, then I would like to know where those who espouse this view get this information about the mechanics of divine omniscience from. I make no claims as to HOW God is God, but I do make claims that His immutable attributes should in no way be dependent upon His contingent actions.

    Moreover, no one needs to explain HOW God knows what He knows. They need only affirm THAT God knows absolutely everything in the same way they need to affirm THAT God has always existed by the necessity of his nature and has never not existed without having to further explain the mechanics of HOW existing by the necessity of His own nature works. How does “always existing and never not existing” work? I don’t know, and no one else knows that either.

    So, we all know He exists by the necessity of His nature, but that isn’t a mechanical explanation of that nature. As such, I fail to see why a mechanical explanation must be given to any attribute of that nature, including how God knows what an omniscient being should know. But again, I am happy to affirm what is a bad mechanical explanation, namely, any explanation that creates a logical dependence between God’s immutable nature (what God is) and God’s free and contingent actions (that He is free to do or not do).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jonathan –

      You said – “But again, I am happy to affirm what is a bad mechanical explanation, namely, any explanation that creates a logical dependence between God’s immutable nature (what God is) and God’s free and contingent actions (that He is free to do or not do).”
      I will have to think of about that a little more, but my first reaction is that any definition of God’s immutable nature has to be logically consistent with the revelation of His free and contingent actions.

      If He is immutably righteous, He cannot be caught in a lie. That one is easy. But how about – “If He is immutably a spirit, He could not become incarnate.” Perhaps the problem is how you have used immutable as an adjective for God’s nature, instead of one aspect that must be defined by the rest of His nature. God is all powerful, but He is unable to sin. God is immutable (in certain attributes) but He did “change” when He became man. Omniscience is the tricky attribute that we are discussing. But I hope we will get our evidence for its definition for biblical revelation as the highest authority and not philosophy.

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      1. Isn’t “unable to sin” a slightly different nuance than “unwilling” to sin? We all can theoretically do things we would never will to do. God’s actions can’t contradict his nature, but they don’t have to be predictable or cookie-cutter either—for example if an attribute of God is “creative” a whole lot of actions would accord with that one attribute.

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      2. Well, I do not personally see how the Son (Second Person of the Trinity) taking on an additional nature constitutes a change in the divine nature itself as if it became a new or entirely different thing as a result of the incarnation. It is important to make the distinction and keep the two natures separate.

        What I mean by immutable (as an adjective as well) is that the nature of God is both complete and unchanging in its essence. Logic, reason, philosophy helps us understand what that entails. Philosophy is the handmaiden of theology. It is pressed in service so we do not reason wrongly from what the authoritative Scripture informs us of God.

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      3. Hi Jonathan, Though I think the theological jargon of saying both hypostatic union and separate in natures is true of the incarnation is logically inconsistent, would you at least agree that the incarnation brought a change in the Godhead’s experience of reality and an addition to His experiential knowledge? Or do you allow old definitions from philosophy trump more biblically consistent philosophical definitions?

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      4. Jonathan,

        Brian wrote:

        “I will have to think of about that a little more, but my first reaction is that any definition of God’s immutable nature has to be logically consistent with the revelation of His free and contingent actions.”

        For your information Brian is an open theist. I had an extensive discussion with him about this recently here at Soteriology 101.

        “If He is immutably righteous, He cannot be caught in a lie. That one is easy. But how about – “If He is immutably a spirit, He could not become incarnate.” Perhaps the problem is how you have used immutable as an adjective for God’s nature, instead of one aspect that must be defined by the rest of His nature. God is all powerful, but He is unable to sin. God is immutable (in certain attributes) but He did “change” when He became man. Omniscience is the tricky attribute that we are discussing. But I hope we will get our evidence for its definition for biblical revelation as the highest authority and not philosophy.”

        Note the first few lines are a typical open theist argument: X is this, but with regard to X God does . . . Therefore God is omniscient, but he does not know . . .

        “Omniscience is a tricky attribute”

        No it’s not.

        It has not been “tricky” for the church throughout its history (and that includes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Independents). All have had no problem understanding omniscience to mean that God knows everything (all possibilities as well as all actualities, whether this is in reference to the present, the past, or even the future).

        Note Brian says:

        “But I hope we will get our evidence for its definition for [from] biblical revelation as the highest authority and not philosophy.”

        Agreed, and the biblical revelation is clear. He knows all about us in the present,: he also knows future events that involve freely chosen actions (i.e. He knows future events that involved libertarian free will). I went through this with Brian, and you will need to be ready Jonathan for the standard open theist **proof texts** (i.e. texts that emphasize contingency in time, if they do this then God will do this, etc.). You will also find Brian trying to play games with definitions. Brian is a nice guy at the same time and has good things to say in opposition to determinism/calvinism: he is also an open theist affirming an error that is rejected by the vast majority of believers today and throughout church history.

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  8. Well, you can assert it being logically inconsistent, but some evidence would be helpful, as would evidence for the assertion formed in the rhetorical question that I allow “old definitions from philosophy” (and that nagging orthodoxy) to trump what so far amounts to your opinions of what is more “biblically consistent philosophical definitions” without even stating what those are, much less providing any evidence for them.

    If the old ones are essentially right, why not keep them? Rhetoric aside, I would agree that through Christ, new experiential knowledge was acquired by God. But experiential knowledge has not been considered an aspect of omniscience, so I am fine with that. Though, I think saying “change in experience” means “change in nature” is utterly wrong-headed. Skydiving for the first time doesn’t even fundamentally change your nature just because you are having a new experience. It just has you falling out of the sky hoping the minimum wage high school kid packed your parachute correctly.

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    1. Hi Jonathan, I like the parachute illustration! 🙂 And I wasn’t necessary talking about a change in God’s experience being a change in some of the other most fundamental aspects of His nature. But it does cause a limitation to how one defines the aspect of “immutability” in God’s nature. Immutability can not then be defined as that aspect as including impassibility or being unable to add to His experiential knowledge.

      Transubstantiation and sacramental salvation are very old “orthodox” views. Even Aristotle is appealed to for the contradiction between substance and accidents in their definition of transubstantiation, and then there are proof texts they hold to as well! But I hope you see that rejecting that old orthodox view by many publicly in the 16th century, and on to the present, was the right thing to do based on a more biblically consistent view of God’s nature and revelation. I will not bow before a God that someone says has become a piece of bread!

      Neither will I worship a god that has been constructed from philosophy that defines the God of Scriptures as the being who has predetermined to display more of His wrath, damning most of humanity without them ever having a bona-fide chance to hear and accept His mercy, since that mercy was only planned for a few in that scheme. If that helps me see the definition His eternality as being logically linear and sequential (from everlasting to everlasting), so be it! And if it helps me to see His omniscience of the future as being all His predeterminations (as seen in biblical predictions) along with all the true possibilities left undetermined (as seen in biblical conditional statements) so be it. And if I end up rejecting the RC “orthodox” contradictory notion of knowing it all as if it was predetermined even though it wasn’t, or the Calvinist’s contradictory notion calling all subjunctive statements in Scripture as anthropomorphisms because they want to hold to their philosophical “orthodoxy” of all things being predetermined, so be it.

      So called “orthodoxy”, no matter how popular or powerful or preserved it might be, does not hold authority over the normal reading of Scripture and my conscience prayerfully yielded to the Holy Spirit!

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      1. Brian,

        “Transubstantiation and sacramental salvation are very old “orthodox” views. Even Aristotle is appealed to for the contradiction between substance and accidents in their definition of transubstantiation, and then there are proof texts they hold to as well! But I hope you see that rejecting that old orthodox view by many publicly in the 16th century, and on to the present, was the right thing to do based on a more biblically consistent view of God’s nature and revelation. I will not bow before a God that someone says has become a piece of bread!”

        Well it’s nice that you reject transubstantiation: that does not appear to be a biblically taught doctrine.

        On the other hand, the omniscience of God **is** a biblically taught doctrine.

        I find it interesting and strongly suggestive that while Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants have various disagreements regarding various doctrines: when it comes to omniscience however, they provide a very united front

        “Neither will I worship a god that has been constructed from philosophy that defines the God of Scriptures as the being who has predetermined to display more of His wrath, damning most of humanity without them ever having a bona-fide chance to hear and accept His mercy, since that mercy was only planned for a few in that scheme.”

        Nice to see that you still reject Calvinism.

        “And if it helps me to see His omniscience of the future as being all His predeterminations (as seen in biblical predictions) along with all the true possibilities left undetermined (as seen in biblical conditional statements) so be it.”

        Well there you crossed the line, now you continue to reject the biblical view of omniscience (and not it is not Greek philosophy, because the ordinary believer sees lots of prophecies in the Bible that are then fulfilled and concludes that God knows the future, knows what will actually take place before it takes place). You can play your definitional games and appeal to your philosophical reasoning but that cannot overcome the common experience of ordinary believers interpreting biblical prophecies.

        “And if I end up rejecting the RC “orthodox” contradictory notion of knowing it all as if it was predetermined even though it wasn’t, or the Calvinist’s contradictory notion calling all subjunctive statements in Scripture as anthropomorphisms because they want to hold to their philosophical “orthodoxy” of all things being predetermined, so be it.”

        We have been through this before. God’s perspective is eternal, from an outside of time perspective in which he sees all things at once (i.e. he sees the choices we will have as well as the choices we will in fact make, he sees it all and knows it all). Our perspective is an **in time** perspective in which we see things happening in the present (we have a choice and then we make a choice, the choice made is a past event from our perspective and then we go to the next choice that we face and the cycle of choice repeats itself). The bible very often speaks of events from the in time perspective(e.g. so God can say to the Israelites, obey me or not, it is your choice, if you obey then this will occur if you do not obey then this will occur, as this is speaking from an in time perspective genuine contingency is involved). And there is no logical conflict between these two very different perspectives.

        “So called “orthodoxy”, no matter how popular or powerful or preserved it might be, does not hold authority over the normal reading of Scripture and my conscience prayerfully yielded to the Holy Spirit!”

        And the “normal reading of Scripture” by ordinary believers has confirmed over and over again that God knows all things. The ordinary believer when exposed to open theism sees it as a finite God with limitations, very unlike the infinite God revealed in scripture. You are free to choose to believe that God is finite and limited but this is not the biblical conception of God it is the mistaken conception of open theism.

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      2. Hi Robert!

        I am glad you recognize where a very powerful, popular, and preserved “orthodox” definition was wrong when it comes to transubstantiation. And what is the orthodox definition of God omniscience of the future? Is it your RC contradictory one that God does not know the future as all predetermined but does know it all as all settled, or is the orthodox one now the predominant Protestant one (Calvinist) that He knows the future as all predetermined before creation? Both cannot be orthodox, even though both have to make the normal conditional statements in Scripture anthropomorphisms (though the RC position may deny this, holding to something logically contradictory, like they do for transubstantiation).

        And I appeal to you not to misrepresent me by using labels, when you will not even identify yourself by any label. Should I call you a Roman Catholic since you hold their definition of omniscience? As you know I do not self-identify myself as an open theist, but I willingly identified for you the aspects of that position that I agreed with and those I disagreed with. As you know, I affirm, in opposition to your misrepresentation of me, that the Scripture teaches an infinite God that is only limited by His nature (Yes, He is omnipotent, but He is immutable in His righteousness, so He is unable to sin. Yes, He is immutable, but since He became incarnate, He must be mutable in His experience). And you have no clear proof of God’s eternality being defined by Scripture as non-sequential in His experience (before/after).

        You are a “nice guy” Robert, I think. But you do have a hard time playing nicely sometimes in these forums! Don’t be afraid to discern how unbiblical “orthodox” definitions might be, just as Protestants and other independent theologians like Hubmaier of the 16th century challenged the so-called “orthodoxy” of their day with the normal reading of Scripture!

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  9. Brian,

    “I am glad you recognize where a very powerful, popular, and preserved “orthodox” definition was wrong when it comes to transubstantiation.”

    Actually it was not a definition, it is better to speak of it as an interpretation. The RC’s interpret it their way, others interpret it in other ways.

    “And what is the orthodox definition of God omniscience of the future?”

    Again, it is not properly speaking a **definition**. It is an understanding or interpretation of the biblical evidence. The most ordinary believer sees the text present Jesus as saying that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Jesus three times: and concludes that God must know the future to make such an accurate and exact statement about the future. Jesus does not say that the rooster may or may not crow, or that Peter may or may not deny, it says it specifically and even includes the number of denials. The ordinary believer does not say: well that is apparently the “RC contradictory” view of God’s knowledge of the future. No, they conclude this is the simple and plain and intended interpretation of the scripture.

    “Is it your RC contradictory one that God does not know the future as all predetermined but does know it all as all settled, or is the orthodox one now the predominant Protestant one (Calvinist) that He knows the future as all predetermined before creation?”

    Two mistakes here. First of all what you call the “RC contradictory one” is an attempt to appeal to those here who reject the Catholic church, to equate the standard understanding of foreknowledge held by CATHOLICS, EASTERN ORTHODOX, PROTESTANTS with merely Catholicism. That is not accurate and you know better. It is not the “RC contradictory one” as it is held by more than just the Catholics.

    It is also not “contradictory” that is merely your UNSUBSTANICIATED CLAIM.

    Jonathan made the correct statement that you:

    “I allow “old definitions from philosophy” (and that nagging orthodoxy) to trump what so far amounts to your opinions of what is more “biblically consistent philosophical definitions” without even stating what those are, much less providing any evidence for them. “

    This is another instance of you doing precisely what Jonathan was talking about. You claim that it is contradictory and try to associate it with Catholicism (an attempt at guilt by association perhaps?).
    This understanding of omniscience was held by the early church **before** there was an organized Roman Catholic church.

    Second your statement here that it is “the predominant Protestant one(Calvinist)” is outright false.
    The view that “he knows the future as all predetermined before creation” is the MINORITY view among protestants. Only the Calvinists believe it, and they are not the majority of Protestants by any stretch of the imagination. Take the Southern Baptist denomination as a good example, the majority of them do not hold the calvinist view (and the SBC is the largest protestant denomination).

    “Both cannot be orthodox, even though both have to make the normal conditional statements in Scripture anthropomorphisms (though the RC position may deny this, holding to something logically contradictory, like they do for transubstantiation).”

    Again empty and unsupported claims.

    You have never shown the any contradiction in the standard understanding of omniscience.
    And why can’t they both be “orthodox”? One may be correct and one may be mistaken, but both may be considered orthodox. If you want to talk “orthodox” and what falls within the pail of ortodoxy, it is open theism that is regard as heretical. It is your open theism with its finite God perspective that is the odd man out, the one that is sometimes referred to as heretical.

    “And I appeal to you not to misrepresent me by using labels, when you will not even identify yourself by any label.”

    I don’t mind “labels” if they are not used in the pejorative way and are accurate.

    In your case you are in fact an OPEN THEIST. That is your position and yet you don’t want the label.
    As I explained to you before, there is a pejorative use of labels (meant to put down someone or ridicule someone: e.g. when a Calvinist labels a non-Calvinist as a “Pelagian”). There is also an acceptable use of labels (e.g. when one scholar says that William Hasker is an open theist, this is not demeaning in any way or pejorative).

    “Should I call you a Roman Catholic since you hold their definition of omniscience?”

    No, you know better on this as well, you know that I am a Baptist.

    Regarding holding the “RC definition” of omniscience, I don’t care who holds it, I am much more concerned with whether or not it is true, whether or not it is accurate.

    In this case what you are labeling the “RC definition” of omniscience is also the “Eastern Orthodox definition” of omniscience, and also the “Protestant definition of omniscience” (calvinists and non-Calvinists may disagree as to **how** God knows the future with calvinists claiming that he knows it because he predetermined it and non-Calvinists denying this: but BOTH AGREE THAT God knows everything about the past, the present, the future and all possibilities and actualities).

    Brian your attempt at a “divide and conquer” strategy completely fails.

    You are trying to present things as if there is lots of disagreement among Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Calvinists and non-Calvinists on what you call the definition of omniscience: WHEN THERE IS NO SUCH DISAGREEMENT. They all hold the same view, it is only you open theists who disagree, it is only you open theists who deny what everybody else believes.

    “As you know I do not self-identify myself as an open theist, but I willingly identified for you the aspects of that position that I agreed with and those I disagreed with.”

    And this is disingenuous on your part. You are an open theist and you play games to avoid the label. This is dishonest, you are an open theist, own up to it and stop playing definitional games.

    “As you know, I affirm, in opposition to your misrepresentation of me, that the Scripture teaches an infinite God that is only limited by His nature (Yes, He is omnipotent, but He is immutable in His righteousness, so He is unable to sin. Yes, He is immutable, but since He became incarnate, He must be mutable in His experience).”

    No, your conception of God is of a finite and limited God who does not know the future till it occurs. He LEARNS about future actual outcomes in the same way that we do, they have to take place before he knows these eventualities.

    “And you have no clear proof of God’s eternality being defined by Scripture as non-sequential in His experience (before/after).”

    Well there have been a lot of sharp minds considering this issue of eternity. While we don’t fully understand it, as we are within a time bound perspective. Again, there is consensus on this, that eternal means outside and beyond time. To be outside and beyond time is to also beyond the sequential experience of time as we experience it. You can look at theologians on this, at physicists on this. Now you may reject it because you want to hold to your erroneous open theism view: but again it is a few of you against everybody else across all theological traditions.

    “You are a “nice guy” Robert, I think. But you do have a hard time playing nicely sometimes in these forums!”

    It is not an issue of “playing nicely” or “not playing nice” to accurately declare when someone is an open theist or not. It is not an issue of ‘playing nice” or “not playing nice” to present the open and available facts concerning church history (e.g. that in church history everybody except for Socinians and open theists hold the same understanding of omniscience). It **is** an issue of making truthful claims. It is an issue of speaking the truth and not playing semantic games. I don’t play games when posting, if that is **not playing** nice, well . . . 🙂

    “Don’t be afraid to discern how unbiblical “orthodox” definitions might be,”

    I am not afraid of the truth nor should I be. According to Brian it is the valiant open theist like himself who questions the truth about foreknowledge that is showing courage. What a spin, the open theist becomes the hero fighting the tyrannical and false view held by everyone else. I have read church history in various theological traditions and this is a slam dunk, everybody holds the same understanding of omniscience except for open theists like Brian. I can understand why you want to present the false picture that there is disagreement on foreknowledge among different Christian groups. I can understand why you want to try to speak of the standard understanding of foreknowledge as the “contradictory RC view”. These are all rhetorical ploys designed to justify your open theism and trying to present it as just another orthodox view among many. And none of that is true.

    “just as Protestants and other independent theologians like Hubmaier of the 16th century challenged the so-called “orthodoxy” of their day with the normal reading of Scripture!”

    And note the false dilemma Brian presents here: it is either the “so-called ‘orthodoxy’ of their day (which according to Brian were the false views) versus the “normal reading of Scripture” (which according to Brian is the true view and supposedly leads to his open theism).

    There is a third option which is my view and also the view of the vast majority of Christians whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant (the true perspective, the correct perspective of all of us that God knows everything, every possibility, every actuality, whether it is past, present or future) and this view is BASED UPON A NORMAL READING OF SCRIPTURE.

    We didn’t come up with the standard view of omniscience via philosophical speculation or development via a tradition. No, we came up with this view as it ***is*** the result of a normal reading of scripture. It is open theists like Brian who come along and say we are wrong, that we merely “hold to tradition” rather than a “normal reading of scripture”. It is open theists who came up with their view because of philosophy (in their philosophical speculations they cannot see how foreknowledge and libertarian free will are compatible: therefore they jettison foreknowledge, keep LFW and reinterpret scripture in line with their open theism presuppositions). It is open theists such as Brian that want to slam and ridicule the truth by calling it the “contradictory RC view”.

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    1. Hi Robert, I am glad to believe that you, as a Baptist, if you lived back in the 16th century, would have argued strenuously that the “orthodox” definition of baptism as a sacramental new birth through infant baptism held by almost all RC, Orthodox, and Protestants was WRONG no matter how many years it had been promoted as the orthodox view, and how little “proof” of believer’s baptism in writings outside of Scriptures throughout Christian history was able to survive! And I hope my belief in you will not be disappointed that someday you will reassess the biblical truth concerning omniscience as it really exists.

      You know that a prediction of the future in the Scripture guarantees that the future event predicted will certainly take place, (I agree), but you do not know logically from such Scripture that the giving of such a prediction does not guarantee that all the future is known as only settled events in God’s mind. That one predicted event is certainly known as settled, as are all other events revealed as predictions. But all future events presented in a conditional way are equally known as conditional in God’s mind, and cannot be known as settled which is logically contradictory to the whole idea of knowing them as conditional. You are free to believe in contradictions. I support your right to do so, but it does sadden me . I desire for you to be more logical and effective in your ministry for the truth!

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      1. Brian,

        “Hi Robert, I am glad to believe that you, as a Baptist, if you lived back in the 16th century, would have argued strenuously that the “orthodox” definition of baptism as a sacramental new birth through infant baptism held by almost all RC, Orthodox, and Protestants was WRONG no matter how many years it had been promoted as the orthodox view, and how little “proof” of believer’s baptism in writings outside of Scriptures throughout Christian history was able to survive!”

        I hope that I would have been faithful and stood for truth against error at that time!

        “And I hope my belief in you will not be disappointed that someday you will reassess the biblical truth concerning omniscience as it really exists.”

        I guess you will be disappointed. I will not someday “reassess the biblical truth concerning omniscience: because I already know the truth on this issue. A truth that you and other open theists deny. I will not someday be reassessing the trinity nor the deity of Christ nor the incarnation nor the resurrection as these are all beliefs that the Bible clearly presents: beliefs held across the board with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants all believing them.

        It is significant that it is always those who want to change orthodox doctrine that are asking for and hoping for such “reassessments”.

        You speak of :

        “the biblical truth concerning omniscience as it really exists.”

        We all ****already know what this truth is***, again it is you and other open theists who are denying it, questioning it, arguing against it.

        You frequently make reference to church history and yet when it comes to the history of the church and how all have held to the standard view of omniscience you appear to be unaware or ignorant of it. You should look at more of church history, look at how the standard view of omniscience has been held by everybody. Again, only Socinians and open theists have questioned it in church history. If anyone needs to do a reassessment it is you, a reassessment of your false open theistic beliefs.

        “You know that a prediction of the future in the Scripture guarantees that the future event predicted will certainly take place, (I agree),”

        Ok so now you say that you believe that if God makes predictions about the future that involve freely made choices (LFW) that guarantees that these will events will occur with certainty. What you don’t say and are very careful to leave out is your open theist belief that in some cases God determines events, it is those what are prophecies found in the Bible that are certain of fulfillment. But that is not affirming foreknowledge that is only affirming that God can use his power and force it to happen (that actually sounds very Calvinistic, he knows these future events because he predetermines them and powers them to be). That is not the standard understanding of foreknowledge. Is ironic that as an open theist you hold to calvinism when it comes to future events (i.e. he knows them because he predetermined them and forces them to happen): so you become a partial determinist when it suits you to escape the implications of God knowing the future and stating it in the Bible.

        “but you do not know logically from such Scripture that the giving of such a prediction does not guarantee that all the future is known as only settled events in God’s mind.”

        The conclusion that God knows all future events is an abductive argument (i.e. which model best fits the facts as given, what is the best explanation of the given facts, inference to the best explanation). We have facts that show God knows the present, we have facts that God knows the past, we have facts that show he knows future events involving LFW. We even have examples in the bible of how God knows how things would have gone differently if certain things were different (the verses the Molinists like to appeal to to prove their view). The best model or explanation for these facts is that God knows all of these facts of the past, present and future because he knows all facts (the choices we will have and the choices we will in fact make).

        Your model on the other hand, denies His ability to know facts about the future that involve LFW. You intentionally limit what God knows and then argue for your model. You further will attempt to proof text for God being limited in his knowledge by appealing to texts that state things from an **in time** perspective (e.g when God tells Israel, do this or if you don’t you will be disciplined).

        Your model presupposes a finite God acting in time and limited to time. My model presupposes an eternal God who acts in time but also knows from eternity.

        “That one predicted event is certainly known as settled, as are all other events revealed as predictions.”

        Again, you start with the presupposition of a finite God and then you seek to support your presupposition. I start with an infinite and eternal God, and then see how the facts all fit together best.

        “But all future events presented in a conditional way are equally known as conditional in God’s mind,”

        No, they are stated in a conditional way when the Bible presents things from an **in time perspective**.
        That is not at all the same as your false claim that that they are “equally known as conditional in God’s mind”. You are making a big and completely unjustified leap in logic in your claim here.

        “and cannot be known as settled which is logically contradictory to the whole idea of knowing them as conditional.”

        You assume (but have not shown or proved) that God is in time and so sees things in the same way we do, in an in time perspective where things are purely conditional.

        But again God sees things from an eternal/outside of time perspective. He interacts with us in time (which is why many of the biblical narratives when presenting things from the in time perspective contain contingency), and when he speaks to us in time he will of course use our in time perspective (partly to accommodate us, partly because we wouldn’t’ understand things from an eternal perspective of seeing everything at once, that is beyond us as finite and limited beings, BUT NOT BEYOND HIM as an infinite and unlimited being).

        And there is no contradiction between God knowing eternally and us knowing in time. These are two different perspectives and they do not contradict each other. God knows both the choices we will face as well as the choices we will make (cf. like someone way up high seeing an entire parade in a single glance, seeing all of it, the beginning part, the middle part and the end of it). We on the other hand only see the immediate present that we are in (cf. say we are in the middle of the parade, we see those who are immediately next to us, to the right to the left, immediately behind us, we see only the present, we do not see the future, so we when facing a choice see the alternatives but do not know which one we will actually choose until we choose it, God seeing the entire parade sees the choices we will have and the choices we will make). There is no contradiction between these two perspectives though they are very different.

        “You are free to believe in contradictions.”

        I don’t believe in contradictions.

        You claim the standard view of foreknowledge is a contradiction but have never shown or proved it in all the time that I have discussed this with you.

        You keep asserting “Contradiction” “Contradiction” but you don’t show it or prove it.

        “I support your right to do so, but it does sadden me .”

        And again I don’t believe in contradictions. You believe the standard view held by everyone else is a contradiction. You believe this because of your unjustified allegiance to open theism.

        What “saddens me” is that you could hold to the false view of open theism and at the same time be attacking the truth with your definitional games and appeals to times when the church was wrong about something in the past.

        For you it is all about defending open theism a false view rejected by virtually all Christians.

        For me it is about defending the truth, the view held by the church, all aspects of it, against the errors of your open theism.

        “I desire for you to be more logical and effective in your ministry for the truth!”

        That’s nice and I desire for you to show the contradiction that you keep claiming: and I desire for you to renounce your false open theistic views (and of course you believe the same about me and my commitment to the standard view held by virtually every believer in church history across all of the theological spectrum).

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      2. Hi Robert, Contradiction – “God seeing the entire parade!” If the end of the parade exists to be seen, then you and I are already existing there and experiencing it. We are not! The future does not yet exist in reality, so you are in a contradiction to state it as so with that illustration as if it does.

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  10. Regarding Open Theism: For a being outside of our experience of time the future might currently exist, right? How can you prove that no being experiences time differently than we do? That seems like a tall order for Open Theism, although I found it’s ideas very interesting to ponder. Why should we assume that humans dictate how every being experiences time? In other words why is our “now” everything’s “now”? Can we prove there is only one now, and that it is the same as our own now? I think you have a decently logical case, but I don’t see how you can prove the future or past doesn’t exist for all beings. I do think Scripture clearly shows God having future knowledge about some free-will agents, but that aside for now, how can you prove that the present is all that exists to all beings? Whatever mysterious way our faculty of consciousness interacts with time and space, how can you possibly prove it’s the only reality or indicator of “now.” The theory of relativity tells us that not everyone’s now is exactly the same, indeed that time is passing at different rates according to the relative state of the observer. Under this theory it would be possible, without using the supernatural, that in a galaxy far away our own sense of now would be simultaneous with the aliens’ past. If we add in the supernatural, why couldn’t God currently be in the future as we speak? I don’t really see a logical reason he couldn’t, indeed, I believe he is the I am, and that Jesus Christ is (present tense) the same yesterday, today and forever in his divine nature.

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    1. Dizerner,

      “Regarding Open Theism: For a being outside of our experience of time the future might currently exist, right?”

      In his mind Yes if He knows everything and sees everything simultaneoulsy. What C. S. Lewis called an “eternal now.”

      “How can you prove that no being experiences time differently than we do?”

      Actually Brian cannot prove that. But worse yet, as Brian holds to open theism His God is a finite and limited being who exists in time just like we do.

      “That seems like a tall order for Open Theism, although I found it’s ideas very interesting to ponder.”

      It is a tall order and most open theists just ignore the possibility that God is eternal and outside and beyond time.

      “Why should we assume that humans dictate how every being experiences time?”

      We shouldn’t in fact if we are going to assume something we should assume that God does not experience time in the exact same way that we do. That is why I use the distinction between us being in time and having and “in time perspective.” And God being eternal and having an “in eternity”/eternal perspective. If you wanted stated another way a distinction between the Creator’s relation to time and the Creatures relation to time.

      “In other words why is our “now” everything’s “now”? Can we prove there is only one now, and that it is the same as our own now?”

      I would say that as in time creatures we experience a series of consecutive presents that keep following each other. The present that we now experience we call “the present.” The present that we have already experienced we call “the past”. The present that we have not yet experienced but will experience we call “the future.”

      “I think you have a decently logical case, but I don’t see how you can prove the future or past doesn’t exist for all beings.”

      I would make one sleight tweaking of what you say here: it is not necessarily that the future events or past events exist or no longer exist somewhere, rather it is in God’s mind he knows all past and future events that will occur so from his perspective it is as if all of these events exist. Or put another way, God’s knowledge corresponds to all propositions concerning the past, present and future.

      “I do think Scripture clearly shows God having future knowledge about some free-will agents, but that aside for now, how can you prove that the present is all that exists to all beings?”

      Again, the question is can he prove that God cannot see it all at once in his mind? He can’t prove that, all that he can do is mock and ridicule the idea, but he cannot disprove it.

      “Whatever mysterious way our faculty of consciousness interacts with time and space, how can you possibly prove it’s the only reality or indicator of “now.””

      Again there has to be a qualitative difference in God’s knowledge and ours, God’s experience of time and ours: that is the Creator/Creature distinction.

      “The theory of relativity tells us that not everyone’s now is exactly the same, indeed that time is passing at different rates according to the relative state of the observer. Under this theory it would be possible, without using the supernatural, that in a galaxy far away our own sense of now would be simultaneous with the aliens’ past.”

      Einstein’s theories show time is experienced differently from different reference points. And that is just within our created universe. We are not merely talking about the created universe, but the infinite and eternal Creator’s relation to this created and finite universe.

      “If we add in the supernatural, why couldn’t God currently be in the future as we speak? I don’t really see a logical reason he couldn’t, indeed, I believe he is the I am, and that Jesus Christ is (present tense) the same yesterday, today and forever in his divine nature.”

      I am not sure about whether he could be *in* the future, because God is not *in* anything. On the other hand, if we are speaking about his mind, he could be seeing the future though it has not occurred in our own experience. Good to see you join the conversation Dizerner and some good thoughts!

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    2. Hi Dizerner! Thank you for the questions asking for clarification. I think your main question that summarizes them all is – “How can you prove that the present is all that exists to all beings?” I think that would be for the proponent of such an idea to prove. I would prove a logical linear sequential reality of a finished past, a current present, and a not yet existent future from the normal reading of Scripture and especially God’s definition of His eternality as “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2).

      I do not know of any clear Scripture that supports the past still existing or the future already existing in reality. I would suggest that even the name “I AM” has been loaded with philosophical baggage it was never intended to convey as seen in its contexts. Timelessness could easily have been stated by God for the human mind to think about, if it truly is an essential part of His nature to know and use to define so important aspects of His salvation!

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  11. Brian,

    Is that the best that you can do?

    Come on you’re a professor of New Testament, is that really the best that you can come up with?

    “Hi Robert, Contradiction – “God seeing the entire parade!” If the end of the parade exists to be seen, then you and I are already existing there and experiencing it. We are not! The future does not yet exist in reality, so you are in a contradiction to state it as so with that illustration as if it does.”

    I used the analogy in reference to God’s mind: of seeing an entire parade to convey what it would be like to have an eternal perspective as God does. C. S. Lewis used this very analogy to illustrate knowing from an eternal perspective.

    Question: when I or Lewis use this analogy are we claiming that these future events actually exist and are taking place right now in our present reality?

    No.

    What is the essential point of the analogy?

    It is an analogy for seeing everything (or in God’s case KNOWING EVERYTHING SIMULTANEOUSLY in his mind). If you truly knew everything in your mind then you would know everything simultaneously.

    Now note how Brian constructs the supposed contradiction:

    “If the end of the parade exists to be seen, then you and I are already existing there and experiencing it. We are not!”

    Call this proposition 1 – me and Brian ALREADY EXISTING AND EXPERIENCING (in reference to the future) “there” (i.e. in the future) while we are still in the present.

    Then Brian adds:

    “The future does not yet exist in reality,”

    Call this proposition 2 – future events do not yet exist in the present reality (today).

    What is the contradiction between these two propositions? P-1 states that future events are already existing in the present reality. P-2 states that future events do not exist in our present reality. These two things **do** contradict each other.

    But note that both propositions are referring to events in time, and events existing or not existing in our present reality.

    So what’s the problem here?

    The problem is that Brian is intentionally misrepresenting my view here.

    Did I claim that future events are already existing, already happening, in the present reality?

    No.

    Do I agree with the proposition that future events do not yet exist and are not yet happening, in the present reality?

    Yes.

    When I spoke of the God “seeing the entire parade”:

    WHERE IS THIS SEEING OCCURRING?

    In our present reality or in GOD’S MIND?

    God’s mind.

    God’s mind is *****not in**** our present reality in the so-called real world that we inhabit.

    God and his mind are separate from the creation which he made. If God’s mind were **in** the real world that we are experiencing presently, that would be pantheism (did I ever claim that pantheism is true when I used the analogy of the parade? Did I ever claim that God’s mind is in the universe? Did I give any inkling of pantheism whatsoever? No, No, and No)

    Brian’s last attempt to show a contradiction in my view is an utter fail: as I was not talking about how future events are already existing in the present reality: I was instead talking about God’s mind, that in His mind he knows everything, including future events that have not yet taken place in our reality. Brian has yet to show or demonstrate a contradiction between God knowing everything from an eternal perspective and our knowing and experience events from an in time perspective.

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    1. Robert you really say very little and much repetition with a lot of words! 🙂 If you and I agree that the future only exists in God’s mind, then the contradiction is He sees it as finished (all settled events) and also as unfinished (with LFW of true possibilities), which would be a contradiction which I know you will never admit to, just like a Catholic will not admit that the bread is not both bread and Jesus! It will have to be up to others to admit for me that you hold a contradiction. I don’t mind.

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      1. I don’t think he ever implied God sees the future as “unfinished with lots of possibilities” just to be fair.

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      2. Ok Robert! Dizerner is defending you! Does God see the future as containing LFW of true possibilities (which I label as “unfinished”, a term you may not accept) and also as completely settled? He has not read yet our lengthy discussion of true possibilities as opposed to counterfactuals on another page. 🙂

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      3. First of all, you claimed a contradition and I answered your claim showing no contradiction. Regardless of how many words I used, your earlier attempt failed. It was a really weak argument. Now you are bringing up another one, let’s look at this one. I doubt I will persuade you as you have just chosen obstinately against the evidence to hold onto your open theism. But my target is not you but others who may read this little exchange.

        You state your latest alleged contradition in this way: then the contradiction is He sees it as finished (all settled events) and also as unfinished (with LFW of true possibilities), which would be a contradiction which I know you will never admit to.”

        You then compare this alleged contradiction with the RC “who will not admit that the bread is not both bread and Jesus”. Note the contradiction with the RC is seeing the same object as simultaneoulsy bread and Jesus’ body. This needs to be contrasted with what I have been maintaining all along (i.e. God has one perspective, what I have called the eternal perspective or outside of time perspective and the we/human persons have another perspective, what I have called the in time perspective).

        It seems to me that we could describe a choice that involes LFW as including the following elements. First there are at least two different (though there could be more but let’s limit it to two) alternative possibilities that a person believes they could choose one from among the various possibilities. Second, by the nature choosing we HAVE A CHOICE before we MAKE A CHOICE. We do not make the choice first and then have the choice, we have the choice in time first, and then we make the choice. Third if two different options are involved, we cannot choose both of them, we will choose one option and not the other option. A corollary of this idea is that we cannot actualize two opposite options simultaneousy (that would be to actualize a contradiction, like someone punching and not punching another person at the same time with the same arm). This means that if we have a choice, and then make a choice, some choice will be the choice made (I call this the actual outcome, it is not merely possible but it is an actualized choice, a choice that is made). Let’s call one such choice where you have a choice and then make a choice from differeing alternative possibiities: a cycle of choice. All of us have been involved with lots of cycles of choice. And the process is always the same, we first face a choice, at this time frame we have a choice. We then make a choice closing the cycle of choice with regards to a particular choice. Before the choice is made, in the time frame when we have a choice, if LFW is present and the choice is not determined by some necessitating cause, then we can choose either option. Once we make a choice, we no longer have a choice regarding those two options, LFW is no longer present the moment we make the choice. This means that LFW is present when we have the choice and ends in the cycle of choice when we make a choice.

        For people when we are in the present facing a choice (i.e. the having a choice time frame when choosing, the before period of time in the cycle of choice) we do not know the actual outcome, until we make the choice. So from an in time perspective we only know we have two options to choose from, we do not know the actual outcome until we make a choice.

        Now I maintain that from our perspective we experience multiple cycles of choices. And in each case we only know that we have a choice, we do not know what the actual outcome will be, until we make the actual choice that we will in fact make. And we will in fact make a choice if the cycle of choice goes to completion with respect to a particular choice. Our in time perspective is limited, we know the choices we have but not the actual choices we will make until we make them.

        God is infinite and not limited in his knowledge as we are. In his case, if he really knows all things, then he knows everything there is to know in regards to a particular choice cycle that we experience in time. He knows the choice we will have AND he knows the choice that we will make. As he is outside of time, and his perspective is eternal, He sees it all simultaneously. This means he knows every cycle of choice that will take place: whether it is in our past, in our present or in our future. Now where is the contradiction? Our perspective being in time is that we know when we have a choice but we do not know what choice that we will make until we make it. God not being in time both knows the choice that we will have and the choice that we will make. Where is the contradiction?

        Brian said the contradiction was between God “sees it has finished” (Brian calls this a settled event) and God sees it as unfinished (Brian calls this an event that is not settled, “with LFW of true possibilities”). Let’s put this claim in my terminology. If God sees what choice we will in fact make (the actual outcome) he is seeing the making of the choice. What about when we HAVE A CHOICE: that is the realm of the present, when LFW is present and we can choose either option (what Brian calls “with LFW of true possibilities”). So God sees both the choice we will make and the choice that we had, he sees the entire choice cycle connected with a particular choice.

        How is it contradictory for God to know both the choice we will have (when LFW is present and we can choose either option) AND the choice that we will make (when LFW ceases in regards to a particular choice)? This is simply claiming that God knows the entire cycle of choice in regards to a particular choice. This is precisely what we would expect if God does in fact know everything! And if he knows from an eternal perspective why can’t he know both the choices we will have and the choices that we will make?

        The open theist like Brian claims that God can only know the choices that we will have, but not the actual choice that we will in fact make. And how does the open theist like Brian know this? He just chooses to believe it and then claims as he is doing in this thread that God’s foreknowledge of settled events eliminates LFW. But it doesn’t as I have just explained.

        The two perspectives out in time perspective and God’s eternal perspective do not contradict each other at all. Our perspective is more limited and God’s perspective includes many more details, but they are not contradictory. When I face a choice I do not know all the consequences that may follow from my choice: God does. When I face a choice I know the two alternatives and I might think one is the morally right choice to make while the other is not: God knows which is the better choice, which is the more moral choice. When I make a choice I consider the two alternatives and a deliberative process is involved, I may not even know all of the factors and influences present when I choose: but God knows all of these things. Put simply my in time and human perspective is very limited compared to God’s eternal and much fuller perspective.

        There is no contradiction between a fuller and a less full perspective.

        A child looking at a physical injury knows and things of some things: a professional doctor looking at the same injury knows a lot more things the child has no conception of in regards to the injury. Likewise an eternal perspective that sees every cylce of choice is very different from a limited human perspective that sees only some things in regards to a cylce of choice. Again there is no contradiction and this is not at all like the RC view on the bread and the body of Jesus.

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      4. Lol, Brian it appears that about Rober, as Job said, “I have declared that which I did not understand” and “therefore I retract.”

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    2. You said:
      God’s mind is *****not in**** our present reality in the so-called real world that we inhabit. God and his mind are separate from the creation which he made. If God’s mind were **in** the real world that we are experiencing presently, that would be pantheism (did I ever claim that pantheism is true when I used the analogy of the parade? Did I ever claim that God’s mind is in the universe? Did I give any inkling of pantheism whatsoever? No, No, and No.

      This is really what keeps me from accepting Open Theism. I think you stated it well. It’s like God has to *become* a part of his creation, so that he “lives along in time” like everyone else for Open Theism to be true. Thus logic and time are actually greater than God, and he has to obey them instead of existing entirely beyond them.

      But I wonder why Open Theists accept ominpresence? That doctrine also violates our human logic. If God is temporally located only in our own experienced now, why isn’t God spatially located as well? Do most Open Theists reject omnipresence? Probably omnipotence too?

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      1. Dizerner,

        “This really what keeps me from accepting open theism” (hopefully that and other reasons as well).

        “I think you stated it well. It’s like God has to ‘become’ a part of his creation, so that he “lives along in time” like everyone else for Open Theims to be true.”

        Right, that is why I refer to the God of open theism as a finite and limited God who lives in time just like we do. It is like he is just a bigger version of ourselves. We are in time and so is He, so just as we don’t know what choices we will make until we actually make them, God in open theism is in the same place. That also means he learns things about the future just like we do. That is a finite God not at all like the God of the Bible who created the universe (which includes space and time). The God of the Bible is transcendent, not just a bigger version of us living in time with a time perspective just like us.

        “Thus logic and time are actually greater than God, and he has to obey them instead of existing entirely beyond them.”

        I think here you are making the point that He is transcendent, though I might not use the words that you use here. God is beyond time but not beyond logic as he is rational and always acts in a rational manner. Your statement that he exists “entirely beyond them” is again getting to the reality of his transcendence, his being the Creator and we being the creature.

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    3. You said:
      God is beyond time but not beyond logic as he is rational and always acts in a rational manner.

      I’m surprised you say this. God is beyond time, yet he still acts within time, right? Likewise he is beyond logic (how else could it be) yet can act logically. I know people want to say God becoming a man and dying on a stake for sins so that his blood cleanses and purchases us is entirely logically, but I really don’t know how metaphysical claims can ever be made in the realm of mental logic.

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  12. Brian asks: “Does God see the future as containing LFW of true possibilities (which I label as “unfinished” a term you may not accept) and also as completely settled?”

    Both. Consider the present that we are in right now. The present consists of both cycles of choice that are completed (e.g. I just chose the words for that last sentence and typed it, it is done, it is settled it is finished) and cycles of choice that are about to be completed but are still unsettled (e.g. at this precise moment, the choices that I have with regard to what I am going to say in this post). A mistake many people make in my opinion is to imagine the future as just this single block of settled choices. But this is wrong, the future is just a present that we have not yet experienced. The future is another present that we will experience and in that present as in this present we live in a world of both finished/settled events and unfinished/in the process of being completed/settled events. I was driving my car recently and thinking of this: that I was about to face a choice, I had a choice where the actual outcome was not yet settled the choice was not yet made. At the same time, in a house I was driving by someone else had just made a choice so with regard to their particular choice, it was a settled event. So in the same time, the present, two different cylces of choice were coexisting. Using Brian’s language, that present had both settled and unsettled events occurring in the same present! In the present right now, some of us are making a choice or just made a choice so a settled event occurred, others are in the midst of a choice when they have a choice but have not yet made their choice. As God sees the choices that we will have in the future and the choices that we will make in the future, he sees both the unfinished/unsettled events and the finished/settled events that will comprise the future.

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    1. You said:
      A mistake many people make in my opinion is to imagine the future as just this single block of settled choices. But this is wrong, the future is just a present that we have not yet experienced. The future is another present that we will experience and in that present as in this present we live in a world of both finished/settled events and unfinished/in the process of being completed/settled events.

      But this is exactly what Open Theists believe as far as I know.

      Then you add:
      As God sees the choices that we will have in the future and the choices that we will make in the future, he sees both the unfinished/unsettled events and the finished/settled events that will comprise the future.

      Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t that mean all choices are settled/finished *to God*?

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      1. As I was explaining earlier, I believe each choice that we make involves a cycle of choice (if libertarian free will is involved) that consists of both the choice that we will have (where we could make either choice) and the choice that we will in fact make. We will in fact make some choice, though at least two were available when we have a choice. That choice that we will in fact make is what God foreknows. So for example Jesus said that Peter would deny him three times. Jesus did not say merely that you will have a choice between denying me and not denying me and you might do this or you might do that. No, when Jesus said you will deny me Jesus was talking about the actual outcome, the choice that Peter would in fact make. God knowing both the choice that Peter would have and also how he would in fact choose does not eliminate his free will because free will in the libertarian sense existed before he made the choice when he had the choice: not after he made the choice when in fact the actual outcome had occurred. When you ask does it mean that all choices are settled/finished *to God*? I would say that with respect to the actual choices that we will in fact make, then Yes those are settled to God, known to God. But he also knows the choice that we had before we made that actual choice.

        Imagine God created a little box, a box that had pictures of all of history. Some of these pictures would be pictures of the choice that we had, some of these pictures would be pictures of the choices that we in fact end up making. All of these pictures would record actual historical events. But this device, this box has no effect on what choices we will make. LIkewise God knows everything and knows every choice that we will have and every choice that we will make, but that knowledge does not cause the events that occur as history.

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  13. I want to say some more things about this concept of the nature of the present that I have been advocating. It seems clear to me, from both my own experience as well as observing others and talking to others. That when it comes to the process of choosing we all experience what I have called here “the cycle of choice” in regard to particular choices.

    If we believe in free will in the libertarian free will sense (which again is true of most of us excepting various kinds of determinists) we believe that before we make a choice that we had a choice (we really could have chosen either option, both options were available to us, accessible to us, known to us, the two possibilities were real, either one could have been actualized). Regret makes sense only if we really could have chosen either possibility.

    When we look at what we call the “present”, it is in the present that we HAVE CHOICES, or believe that we have real choices between different possibilities. Up until the moment we make our choice we can go either way. Once we make our choice however, one possibility becomes an actuality and the other becomes a “might have been” (something we could have chosen but did not choose). Once we MAKE A CHOICE we cannot un-ring the bell and have the choice again. With particular choices there are no do-overs. Once you make a choice that is in fact the choice that you have made. And that choice made immediately becomes a past event.

    When we consider the past, what is it but a “present” that we have already experienced and is no longer present. If we think about a past freely made choice that we made, we believe that while we made the choice, while that is in fact the choice that we made. Nevertheless if we acted freely, if LFW was present, it was present before we made the choice when both options were still open, still available to us. So when we consider the past when it comes to a choice that we made, we see that we were in a “present” in which we had a choice and then made a choice (in other words – the past is a cycle of choice that is already completed). So the past involves cycles of choice that are already completed. The present in respect to a particular choice involves a cycle of choice in which we are IN THE MIDST OF that cycle (we have a choice but have not yet made our choice). Open theists call this “openness” and say that the future is open both for us and for God.

    It seems to me that we view the past as cycles of choice that are already completed, or “settled”. The present with respect to a particular choice is a cycle of choice that is not yet completed, we have not yet made our choice, the choice is not yet settled. Since our present consists of both cycles of choice that are not yet completed and cycles of choice that have just been completed, it seems the accurate way to refer to this is that the present has elements that are both settled and open. And the same is true for the past, it also had elements that were open (the choices that we had) and elements that were settled (the choices that we ended up making). So then there is the future.

    Seems to me that the future is a “present” that we have not yet experienced. And that future “present” is like the current “present” in that it will involve some cycles of choice (some choices where we first have the choice and then make the choice). So the future like the past, and the current present, will have elements that are open (the choices that we will have) and elements that are settled (the choices we end up making). The traditional and standard view of God’s knowledge is that He knows everything, every possibility (which would be the having choice part of the cycle of choice) and every actuality (which would be the making a choice part of the cycle of choice). Put simply when it comes to the past, present and future, God knows every choice that we will have and every choice that we will make.

    A major difference between us and God is that while he is outside of time and has an eternal perspective of seeing everything at once so He knows the entire cycle of choice in regards to a particular choice (both the choice that we have and the choice that we will in fact make) as we are **in time** we only know the having a choice part of the cycle of choice while we are in a “present” and so we do not know the choice that we will make until after we in fact make that choice.

    Open theists want us to believe that the future is completely open for us, just a realm of pure true possibilities. The problem with this claim is that it is only half right. It is right in regard to the future will include us HAVING CHOICES (and that is open, that is unsettled, that is unfinished, that is the when LFW will be present). The half they don’t get right, that they seem to completely minimize and neglect is the other part of the cycle of choice: that we will also MAKE CHOICES in the future.

    The future as ****it will involve**** cycles of choices does not just involve openness, does not just involve our having choices between true possibilities. It will also involve cycles of choice that involve the making of choices, settled outcomes, actual outcomes, actual choices that will be made. And this is where we can see the stark difference between the traditional or standard view of what God knows and the open theism view of what God knows.

    For the open theist God knows about choices that we will have, but not the actual choices we will make (until we make them, so God ends up being in time just like us not knowing the actual outcomes until they occur).

    The traditional or standards view is that he knows not only the choices that we will have but also the choices that we will in fact make (i.e. God knows the entire cycle of choice involved with a particular choice that is made). It should be added that open theists seem to believe or argue that if God did in fact know the entire cycle of choice involved with a particular choice then LFW would not exist with regard to that particular choice.

    But this is wrong as a choice that involves LFW will involve BOTH the having a choice part of the cycle of choice and the making a choice part of the cycle of choice.

    A genuine choice will have both parts. And we know this when we look at freely made choices that we made in the past (we had a choice and then we made a choice) That does not bother us and we do not conclude from this that we did not have free will, that LFW was not present. No, we simply conclude that this is a cycle of choice that has already occurred. Now if we reason this way about past cycles of choice that we experienced, and if we know this is what also happens in the present when it comes to these cycles of choice: then why don’t we think this will also be true in regards to future choices? In the future we will experience this same cycle of choice where if we are choosing freely we will first have a choice and then we will make a choice.

    Excuse the length but I wanted to be crystal clear.

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  14. You say:
    For the open theist God knows about choices that we will have, but not the actual choices we will make (until we make them, so God ends up being in time just like us not knowing the actual outcomes until they occur).

    How would that explain God having a book with a list of names of those whom he will save. How can God guess what those names will be, when they are dependent on endless free will choices? And one more question: How can God know about future choices we will have that will be based on the outcome of future choices of others? It seems to me, God simply cannot know all possible future choices we will have, if some of those future choices are based on the future choices of others. Thanks in advance.

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    1. Dizerner,

      I must be missing something here.

      In an earlier post in this very thread you wrote in response to Yudo:

      “All Arminians believe God created people’s true free will, whoever that will has the ability to create decisions ex-nihilio. We still believe in omniscience for God knows all free will decisions, even though he didn’t cause them.

      From those statements you seem to be declaring yourself to be Arminian (and Arminians believe and hold the standard view of God’s knowledge that he knows all things, all possibilities and all actualities): correct me if I am mistaken about you being an Arminian.

      You also say that God knows the freely made decisions of all people:

      “We still believe in omniscience for God KNOWS ALL FREE WILL DECISIONS” (my emphasis with capitals).

      So from these statements you appear to hold the traditional view of God’s foreknowledge (i.e. that he knows all future events including those that involve freely made choices by people).

      But now you ask me:

      “And one more question: How can God know about future choices we will have that will be based on the outcome of future choices of others?”

      Dizerner you said earlier that God knows all free will decisions that people will make: now you ask how can God know about future choices we will have if the outcome is based on the choices of others?

      You then conclude your post saying:

      “It seems to me, God simply cannot know all possible future choices we will have, if some of those future choices are based on the future choices of others.”

      So at first in this thread you seem to affirm the traditional/standard understanding of God’s knowledge held by Arminians and others (that he knows everything including what freely made choices we will make in the future):

      but NOW you said that:

      “It seems to me, God simply cannot know all possible future choices we will have, if some of those future choices are based on the future choices of others.”

      When you explain how you can make these apparently contradictory statements in the same thread/context, then I will be ready to answer your other questions. Thanks.

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      1. I’m sorry, I thought it would be quite obvious that my question was not according to my own belief system. I was asking a hypothetical question under the framework of your own stated beliefs, not my own. I would have no need to question myself about my own view of Open Theism, LFW, or foreknowledge. What I’m asking is “Doesn’t your (or Open Theism’s) stated belief that choices are possibilities only, produce these logical dilemmas” I hope I managed to clarify my intention. (Incidently, Paul also uses this dynamic to answer his opponent’s objections, by asking, mid-letter, a question he himself does not ask, but that his opponent would ask under his own framework.)

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    2. Hi Dizerner! I hope you won’t mind if I take a stab at your questions. My answers will have the advantage of being at least shorter than Roberts! 🙂

      You asked – “How would that explain God having a book with a list of names of those whom he will save.” There is no verse that says such, but actually the better inference from certain verses is that the Lamb’s Book of Life (salvation life) and the Human Book of the Life (physical life) were both empty at creation (cf. Rev. 17:8, Ps 69:28)

      You asked – “How can God guess what those names will be, when they are dependent on endless free will choices?” In His omniscience at creation He knew the future as a combination of all He had predetermined (which was not everything) and all He had left as true possibilities (which included an almost infinite number of possible human lives after Adam and Eve). He did not ever plan for any of those possible human lives, when they actually were conceived, to perish, but did plan (probably around the time of each conception) to bring them to a place of repentance where they can make a choice to accept or reject His mercy.

      You asked – “How can God know about future choices we will have that will be based on the outcome of future choices of others? It seems to me, God simply cannot know all possible future choices we will have, if some of those future choices are based on the future choices of others.” He knows them just as they actually are, and just as you have stated, as possible human choices, which are unimaginably complex and interrelated, but He knows all the possibilities as if they all would each come to reality within the boundaries of all His already predetermined choices and laws of providence. When He actively causes or permissively allows one of those possibilities to become a reality in the present, it does not take His knowledge by surprise.

      I think you may still need to grapple with God’s self-revelation, that He does not exist in the future in reality (or above it, which is illogical), but that the future only exists in His mind at the moment. He is the God who was, who is and who is to come, from everlasting to everlasting. I am not talking about solar time or space time, for God dwells beyond the event horizon of space in His omnipresence and views our space time differently (a day as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day), but He does view it in the same reality in which is the definition of His eternity – Psalm 90:2, from everlasting to everlasting, which is logical and sequential. I hope this helps!

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      1. Thanks for the answer Brian. This format is a bit awkward to seriously dialogue, but you could join a current discussion with me over at:

        http://www.theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=5142

        My user name is dizerner there as well.

        One point I have a hard time seeing is you saying the book of life (and I don’t see a justification for you to divide it up into two books) was blank. We could theorize that God wrote names as people were saved, but Revelation clearly says “before the foundation of the world” the names were written.

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      2. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, Dizerner! I have a long drive commute from where I teach. I am waiting for my registration to be accepted on the site that you linked for me. Thanks. But to answer you while I wait,

        You said – “but Revelation clearly says “before the foundation of the world” the names were written.” But actually 13:8 and 17:8 both say names were NOT written in the Book of Life FROM the foundation of the world. The ESV and NLT wrongly translate the Greek preposition απο apo as “before” in 13:8, but it can only mean “from” or “since”, meaning starting a some point and going forward from there. The main meaning in this a passage is that these worshippers of the beast never had their names written in the Lamb’s book of life from creation until the present. The main inference would be that names are being added from creation through the present and into the future.

        I hope this helps.

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      3. Oh… and also, I see two books intimated especially in Ps 69:28, the book of the living (to be taken out of) and the book of the righteous (not to be written in). Remember, the ones in Revelation were never written in one of the books, but the blotting out of the other book as in Moses’ prayer and the imprecatory prayer against the wicked in first clause of Ps 69:28 would be to have them physically die.

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      4. Dizerner,
        Brian is wrong about the book of life. In Rev. 17:8 it is speaking of “eath dwellers” which throughout the book of Revelation is a reference to nonbelievers. It says of them that “And those who dwell on the earth [the nonbelievers] whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world”. The contrast is that in the case of believers their name has been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. That phrase means from eternity (cf. Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet. 1:20 which also speaks of things planned or conceived in eternity (when there was no universe, no space, no time, only God). The phraise then means before the world was created, or when only God existed.

        In the second paragraph Brian presents his own open theism view, that God knows all possibilities and knows what he will determine to occur. What this leaves out, and it is intentional, is that God also knows what we will in fact choose to do. The God of open theism only knows the part of the cycle of choice the part that involves our having a choice. But he does not know what choice we will make until we make it.

        Again, because the God of open theism is a finite God who exists in time and is time bound just like us. He is just a bigger version of us, he is not eternal nor is he transcendent. This false conception of God also blurs and minimizes the Creator/Creature distinction. God and his ways are not illogical but they are beyond our understanding. For example God created exnihilo, out of nothing he brought the universe into existence. This is not illogical but it is beyond our understanding.

        In his third paragraph he merely presents his open theism views some more and again he leaves out that God knows what we will in fact choose to do in the future. I have dealt with Mormons and they have open theistic beliefs as well. The god of Mormonism is not transcendent and exists in time just like us and at one time was one of us. It is sad that Brian with his open theism beliefs has a conception of God very similar to that of the Mormons. The true God is not like anything else in the universe according to scripture, he is outside and beyond the universe as the Creator of the universe, he is not just another creature in our universe a competing cause with other natural causes in this universe.

        In the fourth paragraph Brian challenges you to grapple with God’s self revelation. This is the pot calling the kettle black. It is Brian who needs to grapple more with the transcendent God of the Bible, the God who created the universe including space and time as we experience it, the God who just exists and is not contingent like the contingent creatures that he created. Brian’s conception of God is way too small. But that is what you get when you put God in time just like us and leave out God’s eternal nature and transcendence.

        Notice that Brian says that God “does not exist in the future in reality OR ABOVE IT, WHICH IS ILLOGICAL” (emphasis mine). Why is it illogical for God to be outside of time/eternal to be beyond the universe he created? Most Christians have no problem at all thinking of God as beyond the creation which he created. He is above it and beyond it, that is the God of the Bible and most Christians have believed that for centuries. Brians statement demonstrates that he rejects both th eternal nature of God and his transcendence. What Brian needs to do is do some reading in say someone like Thomas Aquinas who did understand the transcendence of God, that God is above and beyond the universe he created. Admitedly we may not understand how it all works out, but we should not restrict God to our own imaginations and to our time bound reality. And note I wrote a substancial amount explaining my view and how there is no contradiction, Brian ignores all of it, does not deal with any of it. And that is OK he chooses to embrace his false open theism beliefs rather than accepting what Christians have always believed.

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      5. Hi Robert. The Greek preposition “from” (απο) will never mean “before” (προ) no matter how much you want to twist its meaning to fit your interpretation. Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 say “from” (which is at and after). The references you gave (Eph 1:4, 1Pet 1:20) say “before”. Don’t mix them together unless you are trying to deceive people about what the Bible actually says. Compare Luke 11:50. Does this verse teach that the blood of prophets that were slain was shed before creation? Ridiculous.

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      6. You said:
        But actually 13:8 and 17:8 both say names were NOT written in the Book of Life FROM the foundation of the world. The ESV and NLT wrongly translate the Greek preposition απο apo as “before” in 13:8, but it can only mean “from” or “since”, meaning starting a some point and going forward from there. The main meaning in this a passage is that these worshippers of the beast never had their names written in the Lamb’s book of life from creation until the present. The main inference would be that names are being added from creation through the present and into the future.

        Brian, thanks for answering. I can see that apo in that context could be taken that way. I actually had not considered that way to look at it. Although it doesn’t convince me of Open Theism, you make an excellent and valid point concerning apo. That did indeed help me. I don’t think it necessarily precludes the names being pre-written, but it also doesn’t necessitate that interpretation.

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      7. Thank you dizerner for your openness to consider reasonable interpretations. I should say that I am not a self professing open theist, though I do reject that God’s knowledge of the future can be expressed in contradictory terms.

        And I do agree that though logically “from the foundation of the world” does not exclude the possibility of the same activity being actually, “before the foundation of the world”, it is highly unlikely. The phrase “before the f…” is used in the NT, and the HS could easily have chosen that for John to put here.

        I would be interested to know what you think of the same idea found in Psalm 69:28 where the inference of adding names to the book of the righteous is understood by the prayer to not add the names of the wicked to it.

        I tried to join the discussion on the other site, but have not yet received an email accepting my registration… Not sure why. Sorry.

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      8. Moses in Exo. 32:32 was the first to talk about removing a name from the book of life. I’m not sure how the concept of *removing* a name helps your cause as that implies the name is already in the book. I’ve asked the site admin about registration, hopefully he’ll get on the ball.

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      9. Good morning dizerner. That’s why I think there are two books, as seen Psalm 69:28. The book of the living is the one, I believe Moses wanted his name blotted out of, meaning physical death. The book of the righteous is the same as the Lamb’s Book of spiritual life in my view.

        Thanks for checking with the site admin for me!

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  15. Dizerner,

    Still not fully understanding what you are saying. Are you and open theist or an Arminian? You stated earlier that you were Arminian. Arminians believe and hold the standard traditional view of God’s knowledge: they also reject open theism. So where are YOU coming from? Thanks.

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    1. Robert, I’m an Arminian. I’m asking a question TO an Open Theist (not to myself which would make no sense. I don’t understand why that’s complicated.

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    2. Let me try to explain it better. If I were talking to a person that believes in a flat earth and I quoted them:

      You said:
      The earth is flat.

      How could I keep walking one way and end up at the same spot if the earth is flat, and not fall off the edge?

      ^^^ Hypothetically similar to my post.

      NOW. Would you respond to me, “But I thought you didn’t believe the earth is flat? Obviously if you don’t believe the earth is flat *you don’t believe it has edges*. So what are you asking about edges or saying you can fall off them? You previously said you were a round earther. So I don’t understand why you think the earth has edges.

      EXPLANATION. I’m positing a question *under the opponent’s framework* *not my own*. I’m saying “IF the earth were flat, how would this work, or what about this.” That doesn’t make me suddenly believe in a flat earth.

      I hope that’s clear.

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      1. Still not clear: are you an open theist or an Arminian? That will help me better understand where you are coming from. thanks.

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  16. Dizerner,

    Brian says that I am twisting the meaning by suggesting that it means **before** the foundation of the world. Brian says that it does not mean **before** but “from the foundation of the world. I checked some commentaries including Greg Beale’s commentary of Revelation and they all agree with me. They also used some of the same cross reference texts that I brought up. That means that if Brian is right then everyone else that I checked is wrong. Hmm, so we are all wrong and Brian the open theist is correct. I guess it’s possible but it seems unlikely to me.

    Unfortunately for Brian his goose is still cooked his ship is still sunk! Why?

    Let’s assume that he is right, that God put all the names of those who would be saved at the moment that he created the world (note young earth creationists say this was about 10,000 years ago, old earth creationists say this was billions of years ago, let’s take the 10,000 years ago view to make the point). So 10,000 years ago God knew who all the saved people would be when he created the world.

    Now if that is true, then God foreknew who would be saved thousands of years before they were saved. But according to Brian’s open theism beliefs that is not possible as God cannot foreknow the freely made choices people will make in the future.

    The problem is compounded because Brian also believes in libertarian free will, that when people become believers they freely choose to do so/LFW is present. But if God knew who all these believers would be when he created the world that would mean he knew what these people would freely choose to do in the future (and Brian’s open theism cannot allow for that). Brian says with regards to the future that God knows the possibilities OR God sometimes predetermines some events (i.e. Brian is a partial determinist when it comes to some future events). But if God cannot know how people will in fact choose in the future, then with all of these believers God must have predetermined that they become believers. If that is the case then Brian is no different than a calvinist who believers the exact same thing. Brian has effectively shot himself in the foot on this one! 🙂 This is yet another reason to reject his open theism and his attempts at defending this false theology.

    I was going to talk to a friend of mine who was the graduate assistant to D.A. Carson when he got his Ph.D at Trinity (on a passage in the book of Revelation no less) and is now a profesor of New Testament now. But I don’t think I need to do that now, it’s not necessary because if Brian is right about the Revelation passage, then his open theism is effectively refuted. If he is wrong about it and the others are right his open theism is effectively refuted. Either way his open theism is refuted.

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    1. Good morning Robert! Did you even read Luke 11:50? If the prophets were slain from the foundation of the world in that verse, it does not mean before, nor does it mean at in this verse! But as you can see it means starting at and continuing from that point on. Psalm 69:28 says, Let them not be written… which naturally means let not their names be added to the book of the righteous.

      I am not asking you to become an open theist, just a little more open to taking a more normal reading of Scripture! 🙂

      If it makes you feel any better… a small selection of commentaries from one persuasion can all be wrong. All the RC commentaries would have disagreed with Luther’s sola fide interpretations.

      And there is such a thing as the iterative use of the perfect tense in Greek grammar!

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      1. “Good morning Robert! Did you even read Luke 11:50? If the prophets were slain from the foundation of the world in that verse, it does not mean before, nor does it mean at in this verse!”

        You are correct about Luke 11:50 I just went and looked at Revelation commentaries. I have now looked at Luke 11:50 and the context is the persecution of the prophets **throughout** history (cf. also v. 49 and v. 51). One thing to note however is that it appears to be speaking of the prophets AS A SET (“the blood of all the prophets”). This is important because in the Revelation passage it also appears to be speaking of two sets of persons. One set is the nonbelievers/the “earth dwellers” and the other set is believers. Throughout the book of Revelation this is one of the themes the contrast between the two groups. It is not speaking of them as individuals but as groups. John is not talking about how people have come to be believers throughout history. He is contrasting two sets of persons (those not written in the book of life/unbelievers and those written in the book of life/believers). This suggests that he is focusing on how all of them were written in the book at once, not sequentially throughout history.

        The “normal reading of Scripture” is that they were put in the book all at once. This is why most believers hold this view and why most commentators hold this view as well.

        “I am not asking you to become an open theist, just a little more open to taking a more normal reading of Scripture! :-)”

        I **am** open to taking a normal reading of Scripture: that is precisely why I and others take it as a reference to two sets of persons in Revelation being contrasted, not a reference to people coming to be nonbelievers and coming to be believers throughout history (as you are reading into the text).

        “If it makes you feel any better… a small selection of commentaries from one persuasion can all be wrong. All the RC commentaries would have disagreed with Luther’s sola fide interpretations.”

        You are correct that “a small selection of commentaries” that are **just from** “one persuasion” can be wrong. But if you look at various commentaries on Revelation whether they be Calvinists or non-Calvinists, Catholics or Protestants, etc. It is not a “small selection of commentaries” it is virtually every commentary and from every theological tradition.

        Unfortunately, you like to do this a lot: make these statements that try to minimize how a majority hold a certain view (when that majority just happens to oppose you and your open theism) and that majority are across the theological spectrum. That suggests you are not very well read on other theological traditions. And yet you regularly pontificate about this and make this error repeatedly.

        “And there is such a thing as the iterative use of the perfect tense in Greek grammar!”

        Well aware of this grammatical point as are the commentators who take my position on the Revelation passage. 🙂

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      2. Robert! You would agree, I hope, that in Rev 13:8 and 17:8 it is only talking about a future group of earth dwellers who specifically follow the Antichrist, whose names have never been written in the Lamb’s book of life “from the foundation of the world” up until that point in the future. That is all these verses are clearly saying. You and I are making inferences from these verses as to when names get written. I am proposing that the stronger inference based on the idea “from” until then for names not written, points to names being written in from until then.

        Also, you did not mention the Psalmist’s prayer, Ps 69:28 for its clear request that names not to be written in the book of the righteous, which also gives the same inference that names are being written. Nice try, but I have not seen your normal reading yet for “from the foundation of the world” without putting on my Calvinist glasses! But I will not label you a Calvinist, though such a view of the book of Life puts you in bed with them in my view!

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  17. “‘Robert! You would agree, I hope, that in Rev 13:8 and 17:8 it is only talking about a future group of earth dwellers who specifically follow the Antichrist, whose names have never been written in the Lamb’s book of life “from the foundation of the world” up until that point in the future. That is all these verses are clearly saying. You and I are making inferences from these verses as to when names get written. I am proposing that the stronger inference based on the idea “from” until then for names not written, points to names being written in from until then.”

    I think we understand both of our differing interpretations. I would point out that in Rev. 13:8 it speaks “of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. Was Jesus slain at the beginning of the world and then this happened repeatedly throughout history? No. This means that the plan to have Jesus die on the cross was in God’s mind from the beginning (or even from eternity). So in the actual verse we have been discussing the phrase (from the foundation of the world) cannot be referring to a process that was taking place throughout history as your interpretation claims. You are correct we are both making inferences. And again I remind you that your view is not the view that commentators take on this verse (except perhaps if an open theist somewhere did a commentary on Revelation). I believe we are at an impasse regarding this verse.

    “Nice try, but I have not seen your normal reading yet for “from the foundation of the world” without putting on my Calvinist glasses! But I will not label you a Calvinist, though such a view of the book of Life puts you in bed with them in my view!”

    That is just it Brian, it is not JUST Calvinists who see this verse in Revelation the way that I take it: it is also Arminians, Molinists, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Independents. The **only people** who take it differently appear to be open theists like yourself.

    I would be very concerned if a majority across all theological traditions held the same view as against my view (that everybody else but me held some view). That would set up a strong presumption that my view is probably wrong while the view held by virtually everybody else is probably correct. Brian you seem to think the opposite, it does not bother you at all that the majority of believers across all major Christian traditions holds a different view.

    Speaking of “who is in bed with whom” since you brought it up. Open theists like Calvinists and Atheists deny that libertarian free will is compatible with divine foreknowledge (so that puts you in bed with Atheists and calvinists in my view). Open theists like Mormons believe that God is in time just like us, and believe in a finite and limited God who does not know the future (so that puts you in bed with Mormons in my view).

    I am quite comfortable holding doctrines that are held by Christians across the board (whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants or Independents). As this is true with the trinity, the deity of Christ, the resurrection of Jesus, etc. and that we are all united about God’s knowledge as opposed to open theists makes me very confident that we have it right and the extreme minority known as open theists like yourself has it wrong.

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    1. Hi Robert, You still haven’t commented on Ps 69:28.

      And I am sure that you would admit you are taking a non-literal interpretation for Rev 13:8 when you link “from the foundation of the world” with the Lamb slain, instead on the more natural link with names written as seen in 17:8. There is no word for “planned” in this verse, nor is there any other verse in the NT were “slain” means “planned to be slain”. The RC theology you are so found of wants Christ eternally suffering on the cross. I am sure you would not buy into that. But they would ask you why don’t you take it literally, like they think they take the phrase, “This is my body”. Check your commentaries again and see how the exegetical ones are not sure “slain” should go with the prepositional phrase, “from the foundation of the world.”

      And I wouldn’t lean too much on the RC and Grk Ortho for authority. They do both profess a false gospel, you know!

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      1. Brian,

        I am not that concerned that we disagree on the interpretation of certain verses. That is to be expected as you interpret from an open theism perspective and I do not. I am however, disappointed by a couple of your latest comments.

        “The RC theology you are so found of wants Christ eternally suffering on the cross. I am sure you would not buy into that. But they would ask you why don’t you take it literally, like they think they take the phrase, “This is my body”.”

        You say that I am “so found of” RC theology. It is not that I am fond of all aspects of their theology. It is that when considering a particular doctrine it both wise and useful to consider what others have said throughout church history. The RC have said a lot and they have had some very sharp theologians and philosophers (e.g. Aquinas, Anselm, etc.) To not consider what they have to say is to deprive yourself of a wealth of knowledge and thinking. This is not to say they are always right, but you just don’t throw out everything they have to say just because it was an RC that said it. That is like the proverbial “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”.

        It is also an important consideration that when all of the major branches of Christianity agree on something it is likely that is true (e.g. the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation was God in the flesh, etc.). They also all agree on the extent of God’s knowledge believing that God knows all things (i.e. actualities and possibilities even including the freely made choices we will make in the future). That goes against your aberrant theology of open theism, but that is reality, it also partly explains why you feel the need to attack Catholicism.

        “And I wouldn’t lean too much on the RC and Grk Ortho for authority. They do both profess a false gospel, you know!”

        This is the comment that is particularly disappointing and disturbing.

        You now ***sound just*** like Roy Lange.

        Like him you say of others that they have a “false gospel”. I don’t respect people like Lange and their extreme view on the gospel (that they alone have it and others who disagree with them have a false gospel and so are all heretics and hell bound).

        I don’t believe that RC’s and Eastern Orthodox deny the gospel as stated in 1 Cor. 15 (they do not deny that Jesus was God in the flesh, came to the earth, died on a cross, was buried and rose bodily again: they affirm all of these things).

        The ones that I personally know (whether Catholic or Eastern Orthodox) who show every indication of being saved, do not deny any of this and their character reflects what the Bible says ought to be true of believers and they are in some cases very godly people. Now their group may be off on some things, no doubt about that, but you just should not make the blanket condemnation as you do, that all of them have a false gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). And so all are heretics that are hell bound (when Paul brings up those who propose a false gospel, not only are they wrong they are hell bound/”they are to be accursed”). I thought more of you, apparently I was wrong. You are just another Roy Lange on the internet.

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    2. Robert, The interpretation of verses of Scripture is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to the gospel, which you misrepresented from 1Corinthians 15:3-4, I guess to show your solidarity with RC and EOrtho who do profess a false gospel. I thought you professed to be a Baptist. Have you ever read a good Baptist History?

      Christ died for our sins and rose again! He is not still paying for sins, and we do not get the benefits of His redemption through participation in sacraments, or lose that redemption through some so-called mortal sin! You might revere intellectual men who come up with such false teachings about the gospel (like Aquinas), and then hold them up as authorities for other less explained topics of Scripture. But I have a little bias, wondering how they missed such clear important truths for the salvation of souls. I am willing to look at their interpretations of Scriptures, as I am yours, judging how well their meaning is drawn from the context and grammar. I am surprised that you will not even discuss one more verse with me – Ps 69:28.

      But I am now wondering how important Baptist sound doctrine is to you that you feel God adequately used RC and EOrtho to preserve the gospel and sound doctrine down through the centuries! Even living in America with its professed intellectual freedom should have taught you enough about how those who control the textbooks shape many people’s understanding of history. Well, it was a much easier task, before the dawn of the printing press, to give the populous the impression that sacramental Christianity was the only church Christ was concerned with for 1000 years. Even our evangelical seminaries today promote that false view of Christian history!

      If you do not believe that RC and EOrtho profess a false gospel of works for salvation, I pity you my friend, and I pray that the Lord will open your eyes! Yes, there are those who call themselves RC or EOrtho who are truly born again, but this is in spite of, and in opposition to, what their denominations teach, not because of their denominations’ false gospel teaching. They teach the new birth happens at infant baptism without the personal expression of faith in the child! Does it Robert? Do you really know why you are a Baptist? You need to read some testimonies of ex-RC priests and nuns who have come to salvation through personal faith in Christ, which is the only way in the gospel!

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      1. Brian or should I call you “Roy Lange”,

        “Robert, The interpretation of verses of Scripture is of utmost importance, especially when it comes to the gospel, which you misrepresented from 1Corinthians 15:3-4, I guess to show your solidarity with RC and EOrtho who do profess a false gospel. I thought you professed to be a Baptist. Have you ever read a good Baptist History?”

        Not questioning the importance of proper interpretation of scripture.

        My earlier point was that I don’t consider our disagreement over texts like Rev. 13:8 to be all that important.

        You again affirm that the RC’s and Eastern Orthodox deny 1 Cor. 15 when all do not. Instead of renouncing Roy Lange like behavior you continue to exhibit it, further demonstrating you are no different than Roy Lange (just an open theist version of Lange).

        “Christ died for our sins and rose again! He is not still paying for sins, and we do not get the benefits of His redemption through participation in sacraments, or lose that redemption through some so-called mortal sin!”

        I don’t agree with Catholics on this, and never said I did. I am quite aware of areas where I disagree with their theology.

        “You might revere intellectual men who come up with such false teachings about the gospel (like Aquinas), and then hold them up as authorities for other less explained topics of Scripture.”

        I don’t “revere” these folks; I do however have an openness to learn from them when they got it right. As I do from anyone who gets it right.

        Regarding the “less explained topics of Scripture” Aquinas for example is way superior to you and your false musings regarding God’s relation to time and the creation.

        “But I have a little bias, wondering how they missed such clear important truths for the salvation of souls.”

        If you wonder how they made some mistakes you need only study their history, as you would with any group that you wanted to properly understand.

        “I am willing to look at their interpretations of Scriptures, as I am yours, judging how well their meaning is drawn from the context and grammar.”

        And we should look at how people interpret scripture and how they came up with it, where they get it right and where they get it wrong.

        “I am surprised that you will not even discuss one more verse with me – Ps 69:28.”

        Because again, how the two of us interpret individual texts such as Ps. 69:28 is much less significant than your Roy Lange like behavior. That is a **much bigger problem** than me or you being incorrect about Ps. 69:28.

        “But I am now wondering how important Baptist sound doctrine is to you that you feel God adequately used RC and EOrtho to preserve the gospel and sound doctrine down through the centuries!”

        Baptist doctrine is in my opinion the most biblical of the various theologies that are out there to choose from. At the same time while recognizing that Baptist doctrine is the most biblical, that does not mean that I cannot learn from others with differing theologies. Truth is truth: if the Devil tells you that 2 + 2 = 4 it is true even though the devil told you so! When it comes to doctrine the most important consideration is not who says it: but is what they say TRUE.

        “Even living in America with its professed intellectual freedom should have taught you enough about how those who control the textbooks shape many people’s understanding of history.”

        I am quite familiar with the principle that he who wins usually determines what history will be written. I read a lot in history and this principle occurs repeatedly.

        “Well, it was a much easier task, before the dawn of the printing press, to give the populous the impression that sacramental Christianity was the only church Christ was concerned with for 1000 years. Even our evangelical seminaries today promote that false view of Christian history!”

        I never said that “sacramental Christianity” is the only church that Christ was concerned with for 1000 years. I never said that RC is the one true church of God. I do say however that we can learn what intelligent men and women have said throughout church history. I believe that sometimes we make the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. So for example you look at someone like Aquinas and you automatically throw out everything he wrote just because he was RC. I think that is stupid. The same if an RC said “well Brian Wagner is a Baptist so let’s throw out everything he says because he is Baptist”. That would be equally stupid. I am a big fan of rationality not stupidity like this.

        “If you do not believe that RC and EOrtho profess a false gospel of works for salvation, I pity you my friend, and I pray that the Lord will open your eyes!”

        Go ahead and pity me, folks like you and Roy Lange demonstrate a lot of pride in believing they alone have the truth and everybody else is wrong. You guys take it further and further claim that the others are all professing a false gospel and so they are all heretics. I pity people like you and Roy Lange, I really feel sorry for you guys, I really do.

        “ Yes, there are those who call themselves RC or EOrtho who are truly born again, but this is in spite of, and in opposition to, what their denominations teach, not because of their denominations’ false gospel teaching.”

        Ok, that is some progress, so they are not all heretics, they are not all unsaved. Maybe I should be happy with such baby steps on your part.

        “They teach the new birth happens at infant baptism without the personal expression of faith in the child!”

        And they are wrong on this: as is anyone including Presbyterians who believe in baptismal regeneration. I believe as a Baptist in believer baptism so of course I disagree with them on this. I also disagree with ***Protestants*** who practice infant baptism as well. They are wrong on this but this does not mean they are all professing a false gospel.

        “Does it Robert?”

        No, as I just explained I hold to the Baptist/biblical view on baptism. That you would ask such a dumb question really shows your intentional ignorance and contentiousness. I make no reservation in declaring myself a Baptist (oh I shouldn’t say the label as you don’t like labels, bring out the violins).

        “Do you really know why you are a Baptist?”

        Yes, it is the most biblical set of doctrines that I am aware of. I consider myself a Biblicist, whatever the Bible teaches is true. That said, Baptist theology most closely fits biblical revelation in my opinion.

        “You need to read some testimonies of ex-RC priests and nuns who have come to salvation through personal faith in Christ, which is the only way in the gospel!”

        Already been there, done that.

        You don’t have to convince me of the errors of Catholicism: just as you don’t have to convince me of the errors of the open theism that you advocate.

        I was just wondering, at the school where you are a professor of New Testament, are they aware that you espouse open theism?

        Like

  18. Dizerner,

    So I checked the blog site that you made reference to (it is Steve Greggs site). Dizerner you have been making good points against the open theists posting there. I particularly like your graphic where you show visually how God could see the entire time line/all of our history at once as well as see individual points along the line. Paidion the open theist responded to your visual illustration with:

    “It’s a fairly common view that God, in some sense, exists “outside of time.” That view doesn’t make sense to me. If every event is one “eternal now” to God, then how could God interact with man in time, as He seems to have done according to Scripture?”

    Note it doesn’t make sense TO HIM, therefore it is not true!

    Well that is not enough, that is not a rational response at all. It is what in logic is called the fallacy of “cavalier dismissal” (i.e. if you don’t like something you just dismiss something as out of hand without giving reasons for your dismissal). Atheists engage in these kinds of cavalier dismissal frequently: e.g. miracles don’t make sense to me, so I don’t believe they ever occur; God being three persons and one God does not make sense to me, so I can’t accept that” etc. etc. Note the criteria in each case is that person, they decide what is ultimately true or not, what is acceptable or not acceptable.

    He also says it is a “fairly common view” that God exists outside of time. This is true, and some of the greatest minds of the Christian church including Aquinas and C. S. Lewis held this view.

    I noted that Paidion started his interaction presenting his open theism in response to your words:

    “Dizerner wrote:I don’t think God can truly be omniscient under Open Theism. You can be cute and say the future literally doesn’t exist, but regardless if the future is something God doesn’t know, then God doesn’t know everything, he’s just a great guesser.”

    Paidon then said:

    [[“Dizerner, does God know that you are now standing on the top of Mount Everest? Clearly God cannot know something that does not correspond to reality. The fact that the future doesn’t exist is more than “cute.” It’s a fact. Thus there is nothing in the future which can now be known. For the future is DETERMINED by present decisions (including God’s decisions) and present events (most or all of which cause future events).

    Dizerner, how can it be known that you will eat ice-cream tomorrow when that event or non-event will be determined by your choice?

    What appears to be logical statements about the future (statements which are either true or false) are actually either statements of intention or predictions. For example, though they appear to be logical statements, “I will go to Thunder Bay next week” is a statement of intention, and “The Winnipeg Jets will win the game” is a prediction.

    If on the other hand, the two sentences above were TRUE now, then it would be impossible for me NOT to go to Thunder Bay next week, and it would be impossible for the Winnipeg Jets to lose the game.

    All open theists believe that God is truly omniscient, because He knows everything that is possible to know.”]]

    God is rational and as that is his nature He was not going to create an irrational world. One feature of an irrational world is that it is a world in which contradictions could be actualized in the real world (e.g. I cannot be sitting here typing these words, at this location, call it location A, and at the same time be standing on Mount Everest, call it location B, I cannot simultaneously be at both location A and location B at the same time). God does not know such contradictions not because he is not omniscient but because he did not create a world where actualizing contradictions like that could occur. It is similar to when philosophers ask whether or not God can create a rock so heavy that he cannot pick it up (this is also nonsense and it is trying to play off God’s power, create an unliftable rock and at the same time lift up the same rock). The answer to this kind of nonsense is to show precisely why it is nonsense, what is the contradiction that would have to be actualized for it to occur.

    Paidion started by asking you:

    ““Dizerner, does God know that you are now standing on the top of Mount Everest?”

    The answer to that question would be that say you were at location A you could not be simultaneously at location B/standing on Mount Everest, because to do so you would be actualizing a contradiction (something that cannot happen in the orderly and rational world that God has created). Another way to show the contradiction is that God knew the truth (i..e that you were at location A) and for him to know that you were now “standing on the top of Mount Everest” (a false statement) he would have to know the truth (that you were not there) and also know the false claim (that you were there) at the same time. It would also mean that God knew a false claim that you were at Everest as a true claim (that you were actually standing there on Mount Everest).

    Next Paidion claims:

    “Clearly God cannot know something that does not correspond to reality.”

    That is partly true, God knows the past choices that you made (things that happened in the reality of the past), he also knows what choices you had that you did not make in the past (things that did not happen in reality in the past). I think what he should have said is that God cannot know **something that is false to be true** (like knowing you were standing on Everest when in reality you were not).

    Next Paidion says:

    “The fact that the future doesn’t exist is more than “cute.” It’s a fact. Thus there is nothing in the future which can now be known.”

    He is right that future events do not yet exist in the present time (neither do past events now exist in the present time). But it does not follow from his question about Everest that God does not know future choices that we will in fact make (before we make them). Note he says “there is nothing in the future which can now be known” this does not follow from his statement either. This is just a declaration of his false open theistic view. What God knows about the future includes what choices we will in fact make (except for open theists that is what all other Christians call foreknowledge of future events). What God can and does know about the future is both the choices we will have and the choices that we will in fact make. So there is much to know about the future and God knows all of it.

    Paidion next asks you:

    “Dizerner, how can it be known that you will eat ice-cream tomorrow when that event or non-event will be determined by your choice?”

    To be honest we don’t know HOW God knows what He knows including future events that will take place. What is important is that we affirm THAT he knows all events that will take place in history. I could comment on his other statements and show their falsity but I just want to make one more comment about his last comment:

    “All open theists believe that God is truly omniscient, because He knows everything that is possible to know.”

    They do not believe that God is **truly** omniscient, because he does not know what we will freely choose to do in the future according to open theists(according to them if God did know what we are freely going to choose to do in the future, this knowledge would eliminate libertarian free will with respect to that particular choice). Paidion says this is impossible to know. For him it is only possible to know what God decides he will do in the future and what possibilities will exist in the future.

    But this is arbitrary, because we could ask him:

    So you say that God knows the possible choices that we will have in the future, how does he know that?

    The open theists cannot answer because he determined those choices because then the person would not be choosing freely.

    So how does he know these future possibilities?

    This is never explained by them.

    And yet THEY KNOW he cannot know what choices we will in fact make in the future: and they ask us how does he know these freely made choices that will in fact occur in the future.

    This is completely arbitrary on their part, but not surprising as they do not want to accept that God knows future freely made choices that we will in fact make. To quote Paidion again: “that doesn’t make sense” to them.

    Like

  19. Dizerner,

    i hope that you day finds you well,

    “I assume you mean God can’t save anyone *without over-riding their free will.* If God changes our will to say “yes” without it actually being us doing the decision-making, then we get a Bible full of things that look and sound like “choices” but secretly underneath God is doing all the choosing and man is doing none of it. So verses like “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve” really mean “Wait and see what I God will choose for each of you.” Verses that say, for example, “If you listen to the voice of God you will be blessed and if you disobey you will be cursed,” really don’t express any true conditionals, but rather mean under God’s secret Calvinistic workings, “Wait and find out who I will decree to obey or disobey me, and thus curse and bless at my discretion and no real true free choice of your own.” Or when we get to the Gospels when Christ says to his disciples “Will you also leave me?” what he really means is “Has God decreed that you also will leave me by his sovereign plan?” So it’s kind of an trump card for anything the Arminian might say looks like true free will, because no matter *how* much it looks like the Bible is calling it a free choice, the Calvinist can simply say “Ah! But it just *looks* that way, underneath there is no real choice God does all the choosing.” And this is a real theoretical possibility if God chose to wrote the Bible that way… I wouldn’t ever put him in a box and say that’s impossible. But we’d both agree it’s important to know if true libertarian contra-causal creaturely free will exists or not, because then something would depend and ride upon it.”

    we simply understand that God has a prescriptive will that man knows and is held accountable for and a decreative will that man does not know and is not held accountable for. man does not make decision based on what he doesn’t know but on what he does know. james 1:13-15 confirms this.

    “Yes, this is true. Calvinism doesn’t have the “problem” of real rebellion against God’s will (since God’s will is always done). Universalism doesn’t have the problem of God’s injustice, since all are saved. I guess you’d agree that merely solving a difficult problem doesn’t make a belief system a good thing. Besides the fact that every system also introduces some problems as well. For example, when you start defending God’s two wills according to Calvinism you seem a bit unwilling to say that they contradict each other. But if God says to me “I earnestly desire for you to repent and obey me,” but underneath God’s decree (and thus real desire) is that I never be able to obey him or repent, but that I’m a vessel of wrath unto damnation, why doesn’t God just straight up tell me what his real will is for me instead of “pretending” (and I would argue really lying) that he wants me to obey him.”

    since universalism is unbiblical, the point it moot. you would need to do the work of showing that God’s two wills are contradictory. God tells a man that he must repent and he makes a decision about that command based on his own desires(james1:13-15) it just so happens that God decreed from the beginning all the actions that man would take. the key is that man isn’t making his decisions based on that eternal decree but on the desires of his heart.

    just in case you want to respond by saying that God put those desires there, man doesn’t know what desires God has put there. that same man could have desires that would cause him to repent from his rebellion. that’s pretty much what the story of paul is, though paul did not do what he did based on an eternal decree in where he had no knowledge of its contents.

    “I could counter-argue that a God that controls people’s decisions never really experiences true love. He’d always know somewhere in the back of his mind, that this creature is just doing exactly what he manipulated it to do, and there is no real image of God, person-hood, or relationship.”

    ezekiel 11:19-20
    jeremiah 31:33

    you are more than welcomed to tell God that His way of gathering His people and conforming them to the image of Christ is bogus when you stand before Him at judgement. i’m gonna go ahead and allow God to do as He pleases and satisfy His glory the way he see fit and will not attempt to be God’s counselor.

    “Okay, I really think Calvinists completely overstate this point. Say Rambo comes to rescue me, and I’m a P.O.W. locked and tied up in a shack. After blowing up all the tanks and airplanes and a whole army of men with machine guns, Rambo blows up the door to my shack and triumphantly walks in guns a-blazin’, while throwing a few grenades out the windows for good measure. He then notices a helicopter out the window closing in, and fires a rocket launcher at it, destroying it. Now he looks me right in the eye and says “You want me to cut those ropes off of you? The enemy has been defeated.” But I look him back in the eye and I say “Rambo, if you have to ask my permission to cut these ropes, then I really saved myself. No matter how many enemies you killed coming in here, my salvation is really still all up to me. I’m the real power and savior of myself because I can say ‘no’ to you. No matter how much ‘heavy lifting’ you did Rambo, I always have the last say.” Now honestly, does that seem a proper way to argue? No person in their right mind, would say I “saved myself” in that situation, merely because I was offered a choice whether or not to accept a salvation that was entirely done for me. No normal person would say that reaching out my hand to receive a million dollars somehow earns that million dollars. Yet when it comes to theology this is the kind of argumentation people end up using to defend a cherished system.”

    the anology presented here is a bit inaccurate as it doesn’t factor in man’s sin nature in that they will remain bound in that shack because of how much they hate rambo. they don’t care what rambo did for them, they want nothing to do with rambo. that’s what those verses in ezekiel and jeremiah are about fixing.

    Jesus defeated sin and death, he nailed our sins on the cross, he removed the wrath of God from mankind, and yet, none of this matters if man does not make the decision to repent and turn to God. he won’t be saved and will be cast into eternal hell. man’s refusal to repent doesn’t take away the fact that God did these things, it just means the efforts were in vein for that particular person. this is the heart of synergism. salvation ultimately is a joint effort between God and the creature and it can’t happen without the cooperation of both. God can do whatever he wants. if man refuses to repent, it’s all for naught.

    i believe in what the angel said in that Jesus WILL save His people from their sins(matthew.1:21) it doesnt say He would try really really hard.

    “Okay. Knowledge of an action doesn’t necessarily by logic mean that the knowledge is the driving causal agent of the action. A simple proof is, I can know what you ddi yesterday with 100% certainty. That knowledge is not the thing that “forced” the action to occur, even though since I know it with 100% certainty, no other action could ever have occured.”

    you may be able to find out some things i did yesterday but you wouldn’t know every single thing fully and accurately(ie. my thoughts) and you would be acquiring this knowledge by learning. meaning you didn’t always have this knowledge. i’d be more impressed if you knew fully and accurately what i will do 5 days from now. every thought, word and deed that i will do on that day.

    whether that knowledge is the driving causal agent or not depends on how that knowledge was obtained.

    let’s not use word’s like “forced” to describe God decreeing all actions and events in time. that’s a caricaturization of our position. man is not doing anything against their will. God does not override anyone’s will. He changes it. He doesn’t override our desires. He gives us new ones. it’s what being a new creation is all about(2 cor 5:17; gal 6:15).

    “This is difficult because, as I previously mentioned, anything that really looks like a free choice in the Bible can be immediately explained away by the Calvinist as an illusion. So since the Calvinist sets his own terms for proof and always holds in reserve his trump “secret decretal will of God” to explain anything that the average person would read as a real free human choice, it can be hard to find a Scripture that disallows for the kind of bizaare logic game to be played. However, I think have at least one in Isaiah 5… because God says he expected something from his vineyard due to something that he, himself, God, had done for that vineyard. Now God says “When I expected sweet grapes… why… did… I… get… sour grapes.” No matter what kind of mystery you put into it, God himself cannot be surprised if God himself caused the thing to happen. He cannot be surprised. And there, in the passage, what next does it say? It says “What.. more… could… I have done… for my vineyard.” Under Calvinism, there always is something more God could have done. I really don’t see any way around that without stretching logic beyond belief. God simply cannot say, under Calvinism “What more could I have done for my vineyard that I did not do.” (Psst, God, I’ll give you a hint what more you could do! Divinely decree your vineyard bring you good fruit!)”

    i made this request because it seemed that you were not satisfied with me making logical inferences from the text of scripture. there is no verse in scripture that says “God decreed all action and events in time”. we arrive at this conclusion due to logical inferences from various texts. you do the same thing as there is no verse in scripture that says “man has autonomous/contra-casual/libertarian free will” and your response is more or less and admission of that fact. so we are both left drawing logical inferences from scripture.

    all the verses in scripture similar to that of isaiah 5 are God condescending to his finite creatures and dealing with them on their level. again, they don’t know the contents of God’s eternal decree. they only know their own desires and the law and commands God gives them. God saying in this chapter, “i expected this and you gave me that” is God dealing with them on their level, not His own.

    for synegists to continue to erroneously conflate God’s decreative will with God’s prescriptive will is to argue a straw-man and never actually contend with our position.

    enjoy the rest of your day sir.

    Like

    1. <>
      No it’s an admission of the fact that Calvinists can simply play a game where they change what the Scripture clearly indicates. That’s not admitting Calvinists are right, that’s admitting that Calvinists never play fair.

      <>
      Thank you for this answer. You’re honestly the first Calvinist (among several) that tried to give me a sincere solution to this passage. It’s odd to me that God would so severely misrepresent what’s going on under Calvinism just to “deal with us on our level.”

      <>
      You responded very politely and I appreciate that. I hope you can see from my point of view, that this statement is taking one principle from Romans 9 and rewriting a huge amount of Scriptures. I agree that under your own framework that stays logically consistent (free will is an illusion). However I don’t think it’s at all fair when Calvinists then turn around and tell me as an Arminian, that “What I haven’t seen is an Arminian willing to let the Bible speak for itself and set aside preconceived notions about man’s ability.” Is letting the Bible speak for itself constantly changing the meaning of most of it to fit one chapter in Romans? I don’t feel that’s even close to a fair criticism.

      God bless.

      Like

    2. It erased the comments I was replying to. They are in order:

      *your response is more or less and admission of that fact*

      *i expected this and you gave me that” is God dealing with them on their level, not His own.*

      *for synegists to continue to erroneously conflate God’s decreative will with God’s prescriptive will is to argue a straw-man and never actually contend with our position*

      Like

      1. hello again sir,

        “No it’s an admission of the fact that Calvinists can simply play a game where they change what the Scripture clearly indicates. That’s not admitting Calvinists are right, that’s admitting that Calvinists never play fair.”

        well, the alternative is to just say God is not omniscient. He didn’t know if abraham would believe in Him or not and had to come up with a test to find out. are you willing to deny the omniscience of God to remain consistent?

        “Thank you for this answer. You’re honestly the first Calvinist (among several) that tried to give me a sincere solution to this passage. It’s odd to me that God would so severely misrepresent what’s going on under Calvinism just to “deal with us on our level.”

        that’s what God chose to do. God certainly could have communicated with man as someone who decreed all actions and events in time, but He didn’t. He chose to communicate with us on the level of our limited knowledge of past, present, and future. such condescension does not negate God’s decreative will.

        “I hope you can see from my point of view, that this statement is taking one principle from Romans 9 and rewriting a huge amount of Scriptures. I agree that under your own framework that stays logically consistent (free will is an illusion). However I don’t think it’s at all fair when Calvinists then turn around and tell me as an Arminian, that “What I haven’t seen is an Arminian willing to let the Bible speak for itself and set aside preconceived notions about man’s ability.” Is letting the Bible speak for itself constantly changing the meaning of most of it to fit one chapter in Romans? I don’t feel that’s even close to a fair criticism.”

        no rewriting involved, just interpreting scripture in a way that harmonizes God’s Word and doesn’t sacrifice His divine attributes. if God really was flabbergasted at the fact that His garden didn’t give Him what He expected, we not only have a God who is not omniscient but we have a God who is not omnipotent enough to bring about the the result he truly desired.

        bob enyart while he may be a heretical open-theist is at least consistent in that he simply denies God’s attributes in light of his theology. he said point blank in his debate with james white that God had no idea that he(bob enyart) would be born.

        Like

      2. Hey, thanks for answering. So would you admit, then, that the vast majority of Scripture *looks* like humans have free will and God responds to it? Your main argument in your last post has turned onto Open Theism, because you seem to assume like some Calvinists do, that Open Theism is the only logical alternative to Calvinism because God acts (so the Calvinists say) *as if* he doesn’t know the future free will choices of humans. Well, I’ve proven that foreknowledge doesn’t equal causation, so what do we have left. The argument that because God knows the future LFW choices of humans, then God should never, ever act like he *doesn’t* know those choices. However, I would argue, out of respect for the true independence and sacred autonomy of those choices, it would be invasive and degrading for God to utilize his foreknowledge by acting on future knowledge today. In other words, God could just get this whole creation over with by throwing everyone into heaven or hell that will eventually get there, right?

        Why under Calvinism doesn’t he just “get it over with” so to speak? Because he lets things play out in real time. Under Calvinism God plays things out in real time just to see his own play unfold. Under Arminianism, however, God so respects the autonomous choices (that he still foreknows) that *out of respect for their autonomy* he will not access or act out of his knowledge of their future choices. Thus, God can act *relationally* even though he knows the end from the beginning. This insistence by Calvinists like James White that the only consistent belief in autonomy simply *has* to lead to Open Theism is completely erroneous—it is grossly misunderestimating the sovereignty and complexity of God. Foreknowledge is just an *attribute* of God, it doesn’t mean that foreknowledge *dictates* what God does relationally. Now you might say, “Oh that sounds all good logically, but where are you going to find *that* in Scripture.” Upon close examination I think we find it in Scripture in many places. However the one clearest example for explanatory purposes is when God sent Moses to Pharaoh.

        “And they will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt, and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. (Exo 3:18-19 NAS)

        Here we have God knowing a hypothetical (ala Molinism) yet still giving Pharaoh what we would call the benefit of the doubt, approaching Pharaoh, asking him to let the people go, and giving him a chance to make the actual decision to harden his heart that God knows he will do. Thus God’s relational self is acting with Pharaoh as if God didn’t know Pharaoh’s future free will choice out of respect, I believe, for the sovereignty of Pharaoh’s free will decision. This and many other verses describe God having knowledge about things deep in our hearts that no one else could know, and knowledge of future choices we will make. One striking example is, the Apostle John saw his own name on the foundation stones of heaven’s city, while he was still in this life (perhaps not for long but still with the theoretical ability to use his free will to reject the Lord).

        God did not, in the garden of Eden, walk up to Adam and judge him before Adam had ever commited the crime. If you want to say only Open Theism can be a logical alternative to Calvinism because God would always *have* to act according to his knowledge of the future, why, under Calvinism, doesn’t God act according to his knowledge of the future either? Why doesn’t God condemn Adam *before* he ever eats the fruit (after all, under Calvinism Adam doesn’t even have the ability to truly commit an autonomous crime or rejection of God). Under Calvinism God knows Adam will sin, yet still lovingly fellowships with him with that knowledge of the future in the back of his mind. Under Arminianism, God does the same, but for a different reason—out of respect for autonomy he relationally acts independently of his foreknowledge (does not access it in his relationships).

        Like

  20. Yudo,

    “well, the alternative is to just say God is not omniscient. He didn’t know if abraham would believe in Him or not and had to come up with a test to find out. are you willing to deny the omniscience of God to remain consistent?”

    It is not necessary for a non-calvinist to “deny the omniscience of God to remain consistent”: where do you get that from Yudo? What is your basis for claiming that a non-Calvinist has to deny omniscience to be consistent???

    “that’s what God chose to do. God certainly could have communicated with man as someone who decreed all actions and events in time, but He didn’t. He chose to communicate with us on the level of our limited knowledge of past, present, and future. such condescension does not negate God’s decreative will.”

    So are you saying that whenever God communicates with us that he always talks at our level (i.e. he always talks from a perspective of being in time just like us)?

    “no rewriting involved, just interpreting scripture in a way that harmonizes God’s Word and doesn’t sacrifice His divine attributes. if God really was flabbergasted at the fact that His garden didn’t give Him what He expected, we not only have a God who is not omniscient but we have a God who is not omnipotent enough to bring about the the result he truly desired.”

    Where does it say in the text of Genesis that God was “flabbergasted”? Or where did Dizerner say that?

    “bob enyart while he may be a heretical open-theist is at least consistent in that he simply denies God’s attributes in light of his theology. he said point blank in his debate with james white that God had no idea that he(bob enyart) would be born.”

    Yudo are you saying Bob Enyart is a heretic because he is an open theist or for other reasons? I don’t know him or what he teaches, so why are you saying he is heretical?

    Like

  21. Dizerner,

    First of all I posted my comments about Paidion the open theist primarily for your sake. What is your response to these comments? I took the time to do so for your sake and yet you have not said anything in response.

    “Hey, thanks for answering. So would you admit, then, that the vast majority of Scripture *looks* like humans have free will and God responds to it? Your main argument in your last post has turned onto Open Theism, because you seem to assume like some Calvinists do, that Open Theism is the only logical alternative to Calvinism because God acts (so the Calvinists say) *as if* he doesn’t know the future free will choices of humans. Well, I’ve proven that foreknowledge doesn’t equal causation, so what do we have left. The argument that because God knows the future LFW choices of humans, then God should never, ever act like he *doesn’t* know those choices. However, I would argue, out of respect for the true independence and sacred autonomy of those choices, it would be invasive and degrading for God to utilize his foreknowledge by acting on future knowledge today. In other words, God could just get this whole creation over with by throwing everyone into heaven or hell that will eventually get there, right?”

    So you believe that God has foreknowledge of all events but that he just does not use it: is that your view?

    “This insistence by Calvinists like James White that the only consistent belief in autonomy simply *has* to lead to Open Theism is completely erroneous—it is grossly misunderestimating the sovereignty and complexity of God.”

    Agreed. It is a bit simplistic to claim that all non-calvinists who deny calvinsm and believe in free will must therefore become open theists. This “logic” does not follow at all.

    “Foreknowledge is just an *attribute* of God, it doesn’t mean that foreknowledge *dictates* what God does relationally.”

    Foreknowledge just means that God knows what you will in fact choose to do before you do it in time. In the OT we have instances where God tells them that if they obey he will bless them and if they do not obey he will bring calamity upon them. So what he does depends upon how they choose (at the same time he knows how they will in fact choose). So both foreknowledge and contingency are present in those types of narratives.

    “ Now you might say, “Oh that sounds all good logically, but where are you going to find *that* in Scripture.” Upon close examination I think we find it in Scripture in many places. However the one clearest example for explanatory purposes is when God sent Moses to Pharaoh.
    “And they will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt, and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. (Exo 3:18-19 NAS)
    Here we have God knowing a hypothetical (ala Molinism) yet still giving Pharaoh what we would call the benefit of the doubt, approaching Pharaoh, asking him to let the people go, and giving him a chance to make the actual decision to harden his heart that God knows he will do. Thus God’s relational self is acting with Pharaoh as if God didn’t know Pharaoh’s future free will choice out of respect, I believe, for the sovereignty of Pharaoh’s free will decision. This and many other verses describe God having knowledge about things deep in our hearts that no one else could know, and knowledge of future choices we will make.”

    Good example Dizerner.

    “God did not, in the garden of Eden, walk up to Adam and judge him before Adam had ever commited the crime. If you want to say only Open Theism can be a logical alternative to Calvinism because God would always *have* to act according to his knowledge of the future, why, under Calvinism, doesn’t God act according to his knowledge of the future either? Why doesn’t God condemn Adam *before* he ever eats the fruit (after all, under Calvinism Adam doesn’t even have the ability to truly commit an autonomous crime or rejection of God). Under Calvinism God knows Adam will sin, yet still lovingly fellowships with him with that knowledge of the future in the back of his mind. Under Arminianism, God does the same, but for a different reason—out of respect for autonomy he relationally acts independently of his foreknowledge (does not access it in his relationships).”

    The first part is good, at the end though you speak of God wanting to relate to us in a genuine way so that he “acts independently of his foreknowledge (does not access it in his relationships)”. I am not sure that he acts independently of his foreknowledge: I would say his relating to us in a personal way is compatible with his foreknowing all future events. In other words there is no conflict, we can believe both because the Bible teaches both. Open theists sometimes act as if their theology alone allows for God to relate to us in a personal way: but this is not true. God relates to us in a personal way AND He also foreknows all future events.

    Like

    1. You said:
      I am not sure that he acts independently of his foreknowledge: I would say his relating to us in a personal way is compatible with his foreknowing all future events. Open theists sometimes act as if their theology alone allows for God to relate to us in a personal way: but this is not true. God relates to us in a personal way AND He also foreknows all future events.

      Yes, Robert, I think they are compatible, if you read my post closely you will see that. However, what it is *not* compatible with is God using his foreknowledge in his relationships. Biblically he acts as if he does not know future choices, even though he does. This is the exact reason that Open Theism is getting such a following. God acts *as if.* Otherwise we would constantly have God simply telling people what they’re going to do—but how would people feel like they, themselves, did the action if God constantly told them what they’d do. Say every time you went to lunch with someone, right before you ordered, they told you exactly what you were going to order. Every time you had conversation with this person, right before you made your point or thought, they’d tell you ahead of time. You’ve then lost a feeling of relationship that is dependent on two autonomous identities interacting. Or say, how could God enjoy a moment of intimacy with a saint he knows one day will betray and curse him? God can act in a way that seems to humans illogical with complete omniscience and this births the theological science of Open Theism and reducing God to temporal limits of a man. Calvinists, indeed, end up having to make the whole Bible be something *it doesn’t look or sound like on the surface,* so then they can turn around and say “See, you Arminians have to do the same thing with Open Theism—because the Bible looks and sounds like God doesn’t know future human choices when he talks to humans.” That’s why I think that Scripture showing how God dealt with Pharaoh is so important to prove God can relationally withhold foreknowledge from himself. The question then becomes, does Romans 9 warrant rewriting the entire rest of Scripture to take away free will.

      Like

      1. Dizerner,

        “Yes, Robert, I think they are compatible, if you read my post closely you will see that. However, what it is *not* compatible with is God using his foreknowledge in his relationships.”

        I don’t think he uses it in relationships in the sense of revealing future events (though there is that incident with David at Keilah).

        “Biblically he acts as if he does not know future choices, even though he does. This is the exact reason that Open Theism is getting such a following.”

        People want the God of open theism because they want relationship over everything and they don’t appear to want a God who is both immanent and transcendent.

        “God acts *as if.* Otherwise we would constantly have God simply telling people what they’re going to do—but how would people feel like they, themselves, did the action if God constantly told them what they’d do. Say every time you went to lunch with someone, right before you ordered, they told you exactly what you were going to order. Every time you had conversation with this person, right before you made your point or thought, they’d tell you ahead of time. You’ve then lost a feeling of relationship that is dependent on two autonomous identities interacting. Or say, how could God enjoy a moment of intimacy with a saint he knows one day will betray and curse him?”

        You are right that God does not share everything that he knows with his kids, kinda like a human parent knows more than they tell their small kids.

        “God can act in a way that seems to humans illogical with complete omniscience and this births the theological science of Open Theism and reducing God to temporal limits of a man.”

        Right the open theistic conception of God has God as in time just like us, and not knowing future freely chosen events, again like us. He becomes a finite and limited God and seems to lose all transcendence.

        “Calvinists, indeed, end up having to make the whole Bible be something *it doesn’t look or sound like on the surface,* so then they can turn around and say “See, you Arminians have to do the same thing with Open Theism—because the Bible looks and sounds like God doesn’t know future human choices when he talks to humans.””

        I don’t think he looks and seems as if he does not know the future, rather he acts in a contingent manner when dealing with contingent beings in time.

        “That’s why I think that Scripture showing how God dealt with Pharaoh is so important to prove God can relationally withhold foreknowledge from himself.”

        I don’t think that God “withholds foreknowledge from himself” that is not stated by the text
        .
        Where does it say THAT Dizerner??

        Greg Stafford the sharpest Jehovah’s Witness takes that approach that God knows all things but intentionally withholds it from himself: but I don’t think the Bible says that.

        I don’t believe that he withholds information from himself: rather God withholds information from us, big difference! 🙂

        “The question then becomes, does Romans 9 warrant rewriting the entire rest of Scripture to take away free will.”

        Romans 9 only if misinterpreted takes away free will. God is freely making choices throughout the chapter. And in Romans 10-11 which are supposed to go with Romans 9 there are multiple references to freely made choices.

        Like

      2. You say:
        I don’t believe that he withholds information from himself: rather God withholds information from us, big difference! 🙂

        How could God possibly say something didn’t even come into his mind then, or that he expected a different outcome then he got. With that language you are forced to choose between two possibilities:

        1. God is using deceitful metaphorical language to speak to us on “our level” (Calvinism uses this explanation)

        2. God is being completely honest. By withholding his own foreknowledge he expects the best of people and genuinely expects them not to wander into deep perversions.

        Like

  22. Dizerner,

    “How could God possibly say something didn’t even come into his mind then, or that he expected a different outcome then he got. With that language you are forced to choose between two possibilities:”

    You present a false dilemma here (i.e. you present just two possibilities when there are better and available ways to go).

    Regarding your reference to Jer. 32:35 you might want to go look at that passage again. What it says is that “And they built high places of Baal . . . to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, WHICH I HAD NOT COMMANDED THEM NOR HAD IT ENTERED MY MIND THAT THEY SHOUD DO THIS ABOMINATION TO CAUSE JUDAH TO SIN.”

    God is expressing moral outrage here. I am quite happy that our God at times gets disgusted by the depravity of certain sins (cf. Jesus telling them to put a millstone around the necks of some people for what they do). You cannot take this comment about it not entering his mind too literally for a couple of reasons. First if it literally never entered God’s mind then how could he be talking about it? He has to know about it first in order to talk about it. Second, we make statements like this to that are not meant to be taken literally but are statements of moral outrage. E.g. someone says “it is inconceivable to me that you did that!” It is really inconceivable? If it were he could not have conceived it and then talked about it. Or “I can’t believe that you did THAT!” Does the person making the statement really believe that the person doing the morally outrageous conduct could’t do it? No, it is an expression of moral outrage.

    “1. God is using deceitful metaphorical language to speak to us on “our level” (Calvinism uses this explanation)”

    It is not deceitful to express moral outrage “it never entered my mind” nor is it deceitful for God to accommodate us by speaking at “our level” or from the in time perspective that we experience. Parents do this kind of thing all the time with small children: and the difference between our infinite God and us is much greater than that of a human parent and their child. It is only “deceitful” if the words are intended to deceive. When God is outraged and says that never even entered my mind, he is not trying to be deceitful he is in fact expressing his moral outrage and contempt for what they were doing. Have you never thought or said about someone’s action that it was disgusting, that you can’t believe someone would do such a thing?

    “2. God is being completely honest. By withholding his own foreknowledge he expects the best of people and genuinely expects them not to wander into deep perversions.”

    God is honest, which is why he sometimes expresses outrage and frustration with things people choose to do. He never withholds his foreknowledge from himself you have no biblical text anywhere that presents that idea. He withholds it from us, but then he withholds a lot of things from us every time he communicates with us (he knows things completely and fully we know things only partially “through a glass darkly” as Paul puts it, there is no need for him to share everything he knows nor could we handle it, cf. when he does a bit of this with Job, where you there when I . . . Do you know . . . And God just goes off asking him I believe something like 70 questions!).

    The (3) third possibility you leave out is that God uses figurative language that is not meant to be literal, but he also is honest and he also tells us the truth, he just does not tell us everything that he knows nor does he need to (NOR does he withhold his own foreknowledge from himself, he withholds it from us usually though at times he gives glimpses of the future through prophecies).

    Like

    1. Well, a Calvinist would absolutely love your arguments Roberts, and use every argument you made to defend the deceitful language of acting like humans have free will. After all, if you think it’s okay for God to say something that is really the opposite of the factual truth to speak to us “on our level” as long as there is no “intention to deceive” then it’s okay for God to be a Divine determinist but act like humans have a choice. You’ve defeated your own Arminianism by your arguments, and I’m not willing to do that, nor do I think your arguments are any good—or even very logical.

      You said:
      First if it literally never entered God’s mind then how could he be talking about it? He has to know about it first in order to talk about it. E.g. someone says “it is inconceivable to me that you did that!” It is really inconceivable? Or “I can’t believe that you did THAT!” Does the person making the statement really believe that the person doing the morally outrageous conduct could’t do it?

      God uses the past tense “never came to my mind.” It’s a ridiculous argument to say that God uses the present tense “is not coming to my mind presently.” That’s not what God says nor does it make any logical sense to say something current isn’t coming to your mind that you are currently talking about. It’s a complete non-sequitor of an argument, and shows me just how powerful the truth of what I said is. Could God be more clear? PAST TENSE:

      “and it did not come into My mind”

      Robert if I say to someone “It’s inconceivable to me you did that” I would *always* mean just that, as an honest person. I would never use it to mean the *opposite* of that, that I did conceive it. If my brother tried to murder a family, I would say “That’s inconceivable” because *it really was inconceivable to me.” Yes, the person making the statement “I can’t believe you did that,” if they have any integrity or character, really and truly believes the other party would never have done such a thing.

      You said:
      Have you never thought or said about someone’s action that it was disgusting, that you can’t believe someone would do such a thing?

      Yes, and I wouldn’t lie about it. I really would not believe said person *would* do such a thing, AND THAT IS WHY I SAID IT. Not to “bring it down to their level” so they can “understand” my complete lie that I really did constantly imagine them doing said horrible thing.

      You said
      It is only “deceitful” if the words are intended to deceive.

      Lol. This is the level of argument you have to resort to? I guess I made good arguments. Try using these words on your wife, or in a courtroom of law, or better yet to God. If I tell you a lie, that’s deceitful to you (misrepresenting factual truth) whether I meant it to be or not.

      You said:
      He never withholds his foreknowledge from himself you have no biblical text anywhere that presents that idea.

      The Scriptures I spoke of, where God said something didn’t come to his mind, or where God expressed an expectation for something he did not get, are the proof. The way we derive God’s attributes from Scripture is not finding a verse that says things as directly as possible, but showing that from the overall tenor of Scripture this attribute fits God best.

      I’m open to good arguments against my view, if I ever see them. God bless.

      Like

      1. Dizerner,

        “Well, a Calvinist would absolutely love your arguments Roberts, and use every argument you made to defend the deceitful language of acting like humans have free will. After all, if you think it’s okay for God to say something that is really the opposite of the factual truth to speak to us “on our level” as long as there is no “intention to deceive” then it’s okay for God to be a Divine determinist but act like humans have a choice. You’ve defeated your own Arminianism by your arguments, and I’m not willing to do that, nor do I think your arguments are any good—or even very logical.”

        God does not say things that are opposite of the truth to us: he does use figurative language and hyperbolic language etc. that technically are not literally speaking things in a concrete way. If you don’t understand that you just don’t understand the nature of language use.

        [[“God uses the past tense “never came to my mind.” It’s a ridiculous argument to say that God uses the present tense “is not coming to my mind presently.” That’s not what God says nor does it make any logical sense to say something current isn’t coming to your mind that you are currently talking about. It’s a complete non-sequitor of an argument, and shows me just how powerful the truth of what I said is. Could God be more clear? PAST TENSE:
        “and it did not come into My mind””]]

        You still don’t get it: we use these kinds of expressions all the time: or is English not your natural or first language? Perhaps that is part of the problem here.

        “Robert if I say to someone “It’s inconceivable to me you did that” I would *always* mean just that, as an honest person. I would never use it to mean the *opposite* of that, that I did conceive it. If my brother tried to murder a family, I would say “That’s inconceivable” because *it really was inconceivable to me.” Yes, the person making the statement “I can’t believe you did that,” if they have any integrity or character, really and truly believes the other party would never have done such a thing.”

        Do you ever use sarcasm or figurative speech when speaking to others? Or is it all concrete and without any metaphors of any kind?

        [[“You said:
        Have you never thought or said about someone’s action that it was disgusting, that you can’t believe someone would do such a thing?
        Yes, and I wouldn’t lie about it. I really would not believe said person *would* do such a thing, AND THAT IS WHY I SAID IT. Not to “bring it down to their level” so they can “understand” my complete lie that I really did constantly imagine them doing said horrible thing.”]]

        I don’t think in that passage he was “bringing it down to their level” he was expressing extreme disgust. He was not lying as he was really disgusted by the thought they were willing to burn their own children as sacrifices.

        [[“You said
        It is only “deceitful” if the words are intended to deceive.
        Lol. This is the level of argument you have to resort to? I guess I made good arguments. Try using these words on your wife, or in a courtroom of law, or better yet to God. If I tell you a lie, that’s deceitful to you (misrepresenting factual truth) whether I meant it to be or not.”]]

        You are laughing at my point, perhaps English is not your first language and perhaps you are not a parent who has never engaged in this kind of thing. You can mock it all you want but it is real and acceptable and commonly practiced by parents with their children.

        Yes and I was talking about accommodating someone by using simpler speech in talking with them. THAT is not lying; lying always involves an intent to say one thing that you know is not the truth. That is not at all what parents do when they use simpler language with their children. You also say here “misrepresenting factual truth whether I MEANT IT BE OR NOT”. If it does not have the intention it is not lying. Check out fraud and misrepresentation in the field of law: the intent to deceive has to be there or else it is not lying.

        [[You said:
        He never withholds his foreknowledge from himself you have no biblical text anywhere that presents that idea.
        The Scriptures I spoke of, where God said something didn’t come to his mind, or where God expressed an expectation for something he did not get, are the proof. The way we derive God’s attributes from Scripture is not finding a verse that says things as directly as possible, but showing that from the overall tenor of Scripture this attribute fits God best.]]

        Again the text about it did not enter his mind is not literal, it cannot be, if it had literally never entered his mind then he could not have been talking to them about it. If you refuse to see this kind of thing there is not much else to say. And the “overall tenor of Scripture is that God constantly and repeatedly accommodates us in the way he speaks to us.

        An infinite mind is not going to talk to a finite mind on the level of infinity now is he?

        “I’m open to good arguments against my view, if I ever see them. God bless.”

        Your view is not Arminianism as you claim that God does not know things (Arminians believe God knows all things, that the phrase about never entering his mind was not a literal truth). It is open theists who claim God does not know things. Perhaps that is part of your problem, you call yourself an Arminian but hold open theists beliefs, like that he does not know everything.

        Like

      2. You say:
        if it had literally never entered his mind then he could not have been talking to them about it

        Robert if I say something never came to my mind I’m not talking about RIGHT NOW. That should be like really, really obvious. I made that point super clear. If I tell my son, “It never came to my mind that would crash my car,” my son doesn’t then object “Well obviously it did come to your mind or you couldn’t be talking about it.” That objection makes no sense at all and I don’t understand why you keep making it.

        You say:
        An infinite mind is not going to talk to a finite mind on the level of infinity now is he?

        Sorry Robert but an infinite mind is not an excuse to lie. I know you want to excuse it away as metaphorical language, but I think the language is far too clear. I think God can relationally withhold information from himself without doing any violence to his omniscience. You apparently think God can’t do that, and so put logical limits on God the Bible does not. I argue against Open Theists so I think you’d have to admit they themselves don’t agree with you that I am one. I’m fine if you want to call me one, but I don’t see how you can hold that up logically. You keep remaking my argument that God truly and absolutely doesn’t know future decisions instead of relationally. Since you don’t allow me that distinction, you will always misrepresent my view by conflating it with God absolutely not knowing the future.

        You said:
        the intent to deceive has to be there or else it is not lying.

        You said “deceitful.” You didn’t use the word “lying.” If I tell you that there is a hundred dollars in your pocket, *even if I believe that*, I’m still being deceitful because I am *misrepresenting facts.*

        So you really believe that for God to convey the information he had to be deceitful and misrepresent the real factual case? An infinite mind could use no other way than to say something that was factually incorrect about his own thoughts and feelings? Sorry, I have way to high a regard for God’s Word to be convinced of you attributing such deceit to it.

        Like

  23. Dizerner,

    “Well, I’ve proven that foreknowledge doesn’t equal causation…”

    …you did? where?

    “This insistence by Calvinists like James White that the only consistent belief in autonomy simply *has* to lead to Open Theism is completely erroneous—it is grossly misunderestimating the sovereignty and complexity of God. Foreknowledge is just an *attribute* of God, it doesn’t mean that foreknowledge *dictates* what God does relationally.”

    excellent…

    now prove it.

    Like

    1. Maybe you missed my previous proof that you never replied to. I will copy and paste it here again:

      You say:
      well, first you have to prove that having autonomous free creatures is logically possible with an omniscient God.

      Okay. Knowledge of an action doesn’t necessarily by logic mean that the knowledge is the driving causal agent of the action. A simple proof is, I can know what you did yesterday with 100% certainty. That knowledge is not the thing that “forced” the action to occur, even though since I know it with 100% certainty, no other action could ever have occurred.

      Now offer me a real logical proof that knowing a future action someone will do is 100% always and necessarily the driving causal agent behind the action.

      Balls in your court.

      Like

      1. hello,

        i actually did reply to it. i’ll paste the reply

        “you may be able to find out some things i did yesterday but you wouldn’t know every single thing fully and accurately(ie. my thoughts) and you would be acquiring this knowledge by learning. meaning you didn’t always have this knowledge. i’d be more impressed if you knew fully and accurately what i will do 5 days from now. every thought, word and deed that i will do on that day.

        whether that knowledge is the driving causal agent or not depends on how that knowledge was obtained.”

        the last line is crucial. you could be correct about an event in the past or future but how did you come about that knowledge? if God learned things in order to have exhaustive foreknowledge than there is something outside of His creation that He learned from to get the knowledge that He didn’t know was out there and found out about. do you believe there are things that exist outside of God’s creation?

        Like

      2. You’re right, sorry I missed that answer because I didn’t see anything I could reply to at the time (it seemed like you just posed an irrelevant hypothetical about the extent I know about your past).

        You say:
        if God learned things in order to have exhaustive foreknowledge than there is something outside of His creation that He learned from to get the knowledge that He didn’t know was out there and found out about. do you believe there are things that exist outside of God’s creation?

        Autonomy is a creation of God, but you are right, God gave people the same ability to create out of ex-nihilio that God himself had, in the power of their choices. (I said ye are gods—made in the image of God.) But to describe a free choice as “outside of His creation” is different than to describe it as “outside of His control.” Control and creation are not the same thing, even though in Calvinistic theology this idea is so repeatedly hammered in that it becomes difficult to extrapolate the two. An autonomous choice is outside of God’s control, but it’s not outside of God’s creation, because God created the autonomy. You might argue, the autonomous choice is itself a creation, as I admitted. I agree, but there would be no ability to create this choice without God creating that ability. So God’s creative act created the ability for his creation to create, and that does not put the creation’s creation beyond God’s creative act, only it puts it beyond God’s control.

        Also you ask, “Does God have to learn things, and get knowledge that He didn’t know was (quote unquote) out there and found out about.”

        God knows all things of all times instantly and with no effort, and he does so by his very nature. He does not have to do anything to acquire knowledge, he already instantly knows all that can be known by virtue of his nature. Despite being recently called an Open Theist in this very comment section, I think God is simultaneously present at all times that ever have or will exist, all places that every have or will exist, and knows all things that ever have or will exist or even could exist. The question then becomes, from my point of view, “Just because God doesn’t cause an action does that give God any difficulty in knowing the outcome.” And I think logically, to say God has a difficulty, is for you to begin saying God has to “do something” to acquire knowledge in some certain circumstance. Let me try to be more clear about it: Just because an autonomous choice will be beyond God’s control, this gives God zero extra difficulty in knowing it. Autonomy does not somehow mean “Greater than God” just because God doesn’t control it. God sets the *rules* for the autonomy and set the *limits* of the effect of the autonomous choice. We clearly see this in Satan’s decision to “Become like God,” and see how that insane desire worked out for him. God can foresee autonomy *supernaturally,* he doesn’t need any mechanism or effort to accomplish it; but his foreseeing it does not make autonomy any less autonomous.

        Like

    1. Dizerner believes that God normally is omniscient, not that he became omniscient at some point. The problem with dizerner is that he also believes that God gets rid of his omnisicient in order to relate to us in a personal way. Dizerner has given no proof or biblical evidence for this false claim. In his latest post he alludes to a comment that I made about his beliefs and dizerner says “Despite being recently called an Open Theist in this very comment section.” Actually that is not at all what I said, dizerner has misrepresented my comments. Here is my comment that he is alluding to: “you call yourself an Arminian but hold open theists beliefs, like that He does not know everything.” Note I did not say he was an open theist, I said he holds a belief that open theists hold, namely that God does not know everything. And this is true of dizerner’s position, dizerner says that God normally knows all things, except when he is relating to us in a personal way, THEN he puts his omniscience aside. And when he puts aside his omnisicence then he does not know all things, which IS a belief of open theists. Probably the most intelligent Jehovah’s Witness apologist also holds to dizerner’s position. LIke dizerner, Greg Stafford, also believes that God normally knows all things, but in order to relate to us in a personal way, in order to preserve our free will, God puts aside his omniscience. Note am now saying that dizerner is a Jehovah’s witness? No, I am just noting that his belief/position regarding God’s omniscience is the same view as the view held by Greg Stafford. In contrast to both dizerner and STafford, I hold the view that God is omniscient, always has been omniscient and always will be omniscient the one exception would be Jesus’ experience when he was incarnated (he experienced reality like we do, being in time, experiencing physical pain and suffering, hunger, thirst). But we do not argue from this exception that since Jesus felt physical pain that therefore God usually experiences physical pain. We do not argue from Jesus not knowing the hour of the second coming to the concludion that God while not incarnated also does not know the hour of the second coming.

      Like

      1. Okay, Robert, you said “like an open theist,” I admit I overstated. However when you say “Dizerner has given no proof or biblical evidence for this false claim” that’s not the truth. I gave strong biblical evidence—granted you might think it didn’t prove anything, but the fact is I gave a verse and interpretation, so it’s disingenuous of you to act like I gave nothing. What you should say is “Dizerner gave a failed biblical proof that I heavily disproved with other Scriptures.” But of course, I don’t think you even attempted that. I proved pretty clearly that God knew Pharoah’s free will choices, yet still acted with Pharoah as if those choices had not been made yet. I didn’t see a single refutation from you on that point, so I will say in return “Robert has given no proof or biblical evidence for his false claims.” Logically, do you think God must use the full force of all his attritubes upon every dealing with a human? Does God have to use *all* his omnipotence every time he interacts with us to be omnipotent? If you said “no” to that question, does that give me the right to go around saying you don’t believe in omnipotence, because effectively God withholds his full omnipotence in dealing with man? (Btw, that is also quite Scriptural, that God withholds his omnipotence.) It’s interesting though that Greg Stafford also came to this conclusion, I appreciate you mentioning that.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Dizerner,

    “it seemed like you just posed an irrelevant hypothetical about the extent I know about your past).”

    it’s very relevant as it establishes that you’re not omniscient and if God is not omniscient then your theology would be logical tenable. but since you want to hold on to God being omniscient, you have the task of explaining how a God who knows all things can have creatures making choices outside of His eternal decree?

    “Autonomy is a creation of God, but you are right, God gave people the same ability to create out of ex-nihilio that God himself had, in the power of their choices.”

    autonomy is a part of who God is. you’ll need to substantiate that God created human beings with “autonomous/contra-casual/liberterian free will.

    “But to describe a free choice as “outside of His creation” is different than to describe it as “outside of His control.” Control and creation are not the same thing, even though in Calvinistic theology this idea is so repeatedly hammered in that it becomes difficult to extrapolate the two. An autonomous choice is outside of God’s control, but it’s not outside of God’s creation, because God created the autonomy. You might argue, the autonomous choice is itself a creation, as I admitted. I agree, but there would be no ability to create this choice without God creating that ability. So God’s creative act created the ability for his creation to create, and that does not put the creation’s creation beyond God’s creative act, only it puts it beyond God’s control.”

    you need to explain how a omniscient and omnipotent God can create something he has no control over. you’re begging the question here in that you haven’t proven that man is autonomous.

    “God knows all things of all times instantly and with no effort, and he does so by his very nature.”

    if God knows all actions and events in time that will ever take place instantly then there can be no variables. everything is static.

    you need to explain how actions by autonomous creatures came to be known by God when he didn’t preordain them as well as how God can know all action and events that will ever take place fully and accurately when it’s full of variable for God.

    ““Just because God doesn’t cause an action does that give God any difficulty in knowing the outcome.” And I think logically, to say God has a difficulty, is for you to begin saying God has to “do something” to acquire knowledge in some certain circumstance. Let me try to be more clear about it: Just because an autonomous choice will be beyond God’s control, this gives God zero extra difficulty in knowing it.”

    you’re saying two different things here.

    at first you’re talking about knowing the outcome of autonomous choices and comparing it to knowing what autonomous choices will be made. if God knows all actions and events that will take place in time, fully accurately, and instantly, then it logically follows that He would have to know what choices these alleged autonomous creatures will make and the only possible outcomes to those choices. again, there can’t be any variables in a fully and accurately known future from eternity.

    the question then becomes, if he knows every action these autonomous creatures will make, when and how did he come about that knowledge? if he always had it, then you need to explain how He had it without causing it.

    ” Just because an autonomous choice will be beyond God’s control, this gives God zero extra difficulty in knowing it.”

    i look forward to your proof of this claim

    “Autonomy does not somehow mean “Greater than God” just because God doesn’t control it.”

    actually, my point has been that, on the subject of the means of salvation, man’s will is greater than God’s will in that God can put forth all the effort He has in attempting to save someone and they will not be saved unless man exercises his “free will” to put their faith in Christ. that’s synergism.

    ” God sets the *rules* for the autonomy and set the *limits* of the effect of the autonomous choice. We clearly see this in Satan’s decision to “Become like God,” and see how that insane desire worked out for him.”

    rather, God sees autonomous creatures making choices he had no knowledge of and then reacts to these choices. that’s what he did with satan. it proves that God is more powerful than satan, but that’s not what we’re discussing.

    “God can foresee autonomy *supernaturally,* he doesn’t need any mechanism or effort to accomplish it; but his foreseeing it does not make autonomy any less autonomous.”

    i look forward to your proof of this statement.

    Like

    1. I say, “God can foresee autonomy *supernaturally*” and you respond “i look forward to your proof of this statement.”

      Supernatural by definition means beyond conventional logic. You can never logically prove God’s essential nature and abilities because they are beyond what our mind could even conceive of, as Scripture indicates. Logic is just a little wheelchair for the pitiful limitations of our natural mind. Any thought you could possibly think, God is greater than. If you want some outside proof for who God is, you are asking to demonstrate the supernatural by merely natural means. God is his own infinite proof, he is the I am.

      Like

      1. hello again,

        it would seem that you are conceding that your position is logically untenable. i suppose there’s nothing more to be said.

        you never substantiated that man has autonomous/contra-casual/liberterian free will from scripture. you merely assumed it throughout this exchange.

        you said that God knew everything instantly while the scriptures show God finding things out at a certain time. you rejected my assertion that God speaks in condescending language to finite creatures, therefore you need to explain why the scriptures show God finding things out in light of your position.

        can God make a mistake and still be infallible? sure…its “supernatural”.

        Like

      2. hello again Yudo.

        you never substantiated that man does not have autonomous/contra-casual/liberterian free will from scripture. you merely assumed it throughout this exchange.

        you said that God speaks in deceitful language in the scriptures. You rejected my assertion that God knew everything instantly but withheld relational foreknowledge. therefore you need to explain why the scriptures show God knows all things in light of your position (even standard Calvinists believe that—i still don’t know if you’re one).

        You also take the untenable position that logic is greater than God and that God’s attributes shouldn’t be explained by anything supernatural. Scripture clearly says God is beyond the logical capacity of the human mind, yet you seem to mock that foundational concept as conceding that you won somehow (strange).

        start proving your position and disproving mine, instead of simply making baseless declarations with no substance.

        Like

  25. Dizerner,

    “Okay, Robert, you said “like an open theist,” I admit I overstated.”

    Good, I do not view you as an open theist. I just get concerned when someone starts talking about God not knowing something.

    Earlier in the thread you wrote:

    “God knows all things of all times instantly and with no effort, and he does so by his very nature. He does not have to do anything to acquire knowledge, he already instantly knows all that can be known by virtue of his nature. . . .I think God is simultaneously present at all times that ever have or will exist, all places that every have or will exist, and knows all things that ever have or will exist or even could exist.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with you here.

    I also affirm that God knows all things and that it is “his very nature” to know all things. I also, like you, believe that God is in eternity and so his perspective is what C. S. Lewis called an “eternal now” So we agree about God knowing everything, in contrast to an open theist like Brian Wagner who denies that God knows everything (most notably denying that God knows what people will freely choose to do in the future).

    So that means our disagreement appears to be as to how this works out in practice: specifically when God is relating to human persons in a personal way. My perspective is that God withholds information from us when relating to us (cf. like a parent accommodating their small child and so not telling their small child everything they know about a situation, the child would not understand it all even if it was all share and the child really does not need all of the information, what the child needs to do is trust their loving and good parent in what they share with the child).

    Your perspective is that God withholds his knowledge from himself in order to relate to us:

    ““However, what it is *not* compatible with is God using his foreknowledge in his relationships. Biblically he acts as if he does not know future choices, even though he does. This is the exact reason that Open Theism is getting such a following. God acts *as if.* Otherwise we would constantly have God simply telling people what they’re going to do—but how would people feel like they, themselves, did the action if God constantly told them what they’d do. Say every time you went to lunch with someone, right before you ordered, they told you exactly what you were going to order. Every time you had conversation with this person, right before you made your point or thought, they’d tell you ahead of time. You’ve then lost a feeling of relationship that is dependent on two autonomous identities interacting.”

    I believe this is a fair and representative statement of your position. It is interesting that you say here that “he acts as if he does not know future choices, even though he does.”. Earlier when I spoke about God accommodating us in how he speaks to us and you said this was “deceitful”. I am wondering how accommodating us in language locutions is “deceitful” while **acting as if** something is true (that “he does not know future choices”) when in fact he does know the future (“even though he does”) is not deceitful? That seems a bit arbitrary to me, if accommodation**is** deceitful, then so is acting as if something is true when in fact it is not.

    It is also significant that in your comments here you speak of “we would constantly have God simply telling people what they’re going to do” and how THAT would cause problems. You go on to speak of how if “every time you went to lunch with SOMEONE (my emphasis with caps) . kept telling you what you were about to do. And what is the solution to this problem? That this SOMEONE withhold this information from you (which is precisely what I claim that God does with us!). The answer to this problem is not that this SOMEONE withhold this information from themselves, that is not necessary at all, what is necessary is they withhold this information form us. So even your own illustration/analogy here supports and fits my perspective.

    I have another problem with this concept that God withholds information from himself in order to interact with us in a personal way. Namely, the numerous biblical prophecies that are scattered throughout the Bible. If God were withholding information about future choices from himself for the sake of relating to us in a personal way, then how would he relating in a personal way to prophets and others whom he gave prophecies about future choices to??? If he ordinarily withholds information from us, then this is easy to explain, in the case of giving prophecies he does not withhold information about future choices.

    “However when you say “Dizerner has given no proof or biblical evidence for this false claim” that’s not the truth. I gave strong biblical evidence—granted you might think it didn’t prove anything, but the fact is I gave a verse and interpretation, so it’s disingenuous of you to act like I gave nothing.”

    Perhaps I should have worded it differently such as: “Dizerner gave a few bible verses in support of his claim but these do not appear to be persuasive as they can easily be interpreted differently than dizerner interprets them.”

    “I proved pretty clearly that God knew Pharoah’s free will choices, yet still acted with Pharoah as if those choices had not been made yet. I didn’t see a single refutation from you on that point, so I will say in return “Robert has given no proof or biblical evidence for his false claims.””

    I was thinking about this comment you make here about Pharaoh.

    God ***did not*** act directly with Pharaoh (in your perspective God withholds his foreknowledge from himself when interacting with an individual human person), but God DID NOT INTERACT directly with Pharaoh (Moses and Aaron interacted with him directly God never did).

    There is no instance where God speaks directly to Pharaoh or interacts with him directly.

    So that passage ***cannot be used to support*** your perspective.

    And with the “it never entered my mind” passage we interpret that text differently, so we are at an impasse on that one.

    “Logically, do you think God must use the full force of all his attributes upon every dealing with a human?”

    Not sure what this means. When we speak of His attributes I would say we know some things about Him but we actually know very little. It would seem that he does not exercise “full power” when dealing with us as that would probably destroy us. Just as he accommodates us when speaking to us, it would seem that he accommodates us when interacting with us in general. And I would say that when it comes to his knowledge he accommodates us by withholding knowledge from us (not from himself as you maintain). As I said earlier: “An infinite mind is not going to talk to a finite mind on the level of infinity now is he?”

    “Does God have to use *all* his omnipotence every time he interacts with us to be omnipotent?”

    I think the answer to that is No. But then again as He is infinite, my understanding of power always involves created beings (as that is all that I know and so all that I can really understand) so I can speak of how much force or momentum or velocity is involved when creatures exercise power. All those categories and terms go out the window with God however! 🙂

    “If you said “no” to that question, does that give me the right to go around saying you don’t believe in omnipotence, because effectively God withholds his full omnipotence in dealing with man? (Btw, that is also quite Scriptural, that God withholds his omnipotence.)”

    Ok let’s assume that it is analogous with his knowledge. Just as he withholds using his full power when dealing or interacting with us (because that would presumably destroy us): similarly he withholds using his full knowledge when dealing or interacting with us (because that would presumably cause problems for us, like that irritating friend in your analogy who keeps telling you what you will choose to do in the future, so that friend should not be telling you those things, that friend should withhold that information FROM YOU).

    It would also seem problematic to claim that God withholds some information about the future from himself when dealing with you: because this may have adverse effects on his providential dealings with you. Perhaps God knows that you are about to go through a trial that will make your faith grow stronger, but he does not tell you about it. He knows about it, withholds it from you but not himself, because he has some purpose occurring in the midst of your upcoming trial. He has to know about it and consider it so that he can plan for these future events and so that his purpose will be accomplished. If he withholds the information from himself this could become problematic in his accomplishing this future purpose.

    “It’s interesting though that Greg Stafford also came to this conclusion, I appreciate you mentioning that.”

    Well Stafford is very smart, but then again very smart people can most definitely be mistaken about things: witness Calvinists and Calvinism as exhibit A! 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks for answering in such a reasonable tone, Robert, and you make some good points I’m thinking about. Perhaps a better way to look at it is that God does not withhold knowledge from himself, but merely does not act based on the knowledge of future choices. We could say then, “not coming to his mind,” means it did not come into his plans for those people, that is, what he had purposed in his mind (not meaning his entire knowledge of everything). That would satisfy me as not being deceitful, because under all your explanations you seem to think it’s okay to use a metaphor that conveys an important factual inaccuracy, and I simply can’t accept that as within God’s character. Also your explanation for God stating a factual inaccuracy as withholding information from us, didn’t fly at all with me. I have no problem with God *withholding* information but not *misstating* information. You may not be aware, but there are people who defend the Trinity doctrine in the OT by saying God simply lied when he told the Israelites he was one, because they wouldn’t be able to grasp the truth anyway. Would you see that as an acceptable action by God in the light of your argument? Because both of your explanations of metaphor and withholding information still end up with God directly lying—and I’m not comfortable with that aspersion on his character. Thanks again I’ve learned through this exchange.

      Like

      1. Dizerner,

        “Thanks for answering in such a reasonable tone, Robert, and you make some good points I’m thinking about.”

        Well if we stimulate each other to think things through better, that is always a good thing.

        “Perhaps a better way to look at it is that God does not withhold knowledge from himself, but merely does not act based on the knowledge of future choices.”

        I think that is getting closer. The two ideas that we want to retain are that God **is** omniscient (contrary to open theists) and that God interacts with us in a personal way. The Bible teaches both so we should be asserting both.

        “We could say then, “not coming to his mind,” means it did not come into his plans for those people, that is, what he had purposed in his mind (not meaning his entire knowledge of everything).”

        Seems to me still that if he **is** omniscient and says something never entered his mind, I take that to be figurative speech of some kind. If he is omniscient not only did it not enter his mind at that time, it was in His mind from eternity.

        “That would satisfy me as not being deceitful, because under all your explanations you seem to think it’s okay to use a metaphor that conveys an important factual inaccuracy, and I simply can’t accept that as within God’s character. Also your explanation for God stating a factual inaccuracy as withholding information from us, didn’t fly at all with me.”

        Perhaps I did not state things as clearly or accurately as I could have. I was thinking of an illustration to try to make my point more clear.

        Say I wanted to tell you that where I am, it is raining really hard. I could say “it is raining very hard over here. Undoubtedly you would know exactly what I mean. But what if instead I said:

        “it is raining cats and dogs over here.”?

        Do you still know that I mean to express that it is really raining hard? Do you know that I don’t literally intend for you to think that actual dogs and cats are falling from the sky over here? If I used that expression would you say that I was being deceitful? I don’t think so. If you know common English expressions then you would know that the phrase “raining cats and dogs” means it is raining very hard, not a light drizzle.

        Or say that I said to you:

        “dizerner, I am so hungry that I could eat a horse!”

        Can I literally eat a whole horse? No, it would not fit in my stomach. Again I am using an expression: in this case to say that you could eat a horse is saying that you are extremely hungry. All of these expressions convey something true, though strictly speaking the statements themselves if taken literally are false (you cannot eat a horse it would not fit; it never rains cats and dogs that come falling out of the sky). It seems to me that something like these expressions is happening at times when God speaks to us. If God says to you: “dizerner I am going to stretch forth my arm and . . .” Would you take that as God saying he has a literal arm, or would you take it as an expression that God is about to do something?

        “I have no problem with God *withholding* information but not *misstating* information.”

        Good.

        “You may not be aware, but there are people who defend the Trinity doctrine in the OT by saying God simply lied when he told the Israelites he was one, because they wouldn’t be able to grasp the truth anyway.”

        Well that does not sound right. Accommodation to another person is not the same as intentionally lying to them.

        “Would you see that as an acceptable action by God in the light of your argument?”

        No, because my point is not that he lies to us, but that he sometimes uses expressions that convey a truth but the statement itself is not meant to be taken literally.

        Like when a parent says to a small child:

        “Look at that airplane in the sky it is flying like a bird!”.

        Technically speaking it is not flying like a bird; it is a jet plane using engines that through thrust, not flapping wings, causes the plane to move forward. But do you really need to explain to the child the principles of aerodynamics and physics involved when a jet air plane flies by? Or is it acceptable and not deceitful to say: “Look at that airplane in the sky it is flying like a bird!”?

        “Because both of your explanations of metaphor and withholding information still end up with God directly lying—and I’m not comfortable with that aspersion on his character.”

        Well again perhaps I have not expressed myself clearly enough (hopefully my illustrations in this post will help clear things up a bit).

        “Thanks again I’ve learned through this exchange.”

        Glad to hear, again, if we cause each other to think through things more deeply and more effectively than we both benefit from the interaction.

        Like

      2. Perhaps there’s a simpler explanation for Jeremiah 19:5. A more literal rendition of the Hebrew would be:
        ” that I commanded not, nor spoke of, nor did it come up on My heart.”
        I think we can both agree heart and mind convey different connotations. If only translators would be more careful!

        Like

  26. You may be right about that text Dizerner. This would mean that God was saying literally: “I would never ever have commanded them to do THAT!”

    Regarding translators that is why it is actually useful to know the original languages so that you always check for yourself. Unfortunately translators and commentators have biases too! 🙂

    Like

  27. dizerner,

    “you never substantiated that man does not have autonomous/contra-casual/liberterian free will from scripture. you merely assumed it throughout this exchange.”

    isaish 46:10
    psalms 139:4, 16

    God can’t have this knowledge if man is truly autonomous and God has all knowledge instantly without finding anything out. if God looked into something and learned the end from the beginning, the words that one would say, and the days of men’s lives. then He didn’t have this info eternally, He learned it from somewhere/someone.

    also, do you believe God had all knowledge eternally or that he instantly gained all knowledge at some point in time?

    “you said that God speaks in deceitful language in the scriptures.”

    canard, i did not say that. what i said is that God speaks on the level of finite creatures with limited knowledge of time and the events therein.

    “You rejected my assertion that God knew everything instantly but withheld relational foreknowledge.”

    false. i simply used this fact that i affirm to show how your position is logically inconsistent. your method of covering up this inconsistency is to throw out the term “supernatural”. such a term doesn’t help as it only deals with God’s ability to manipulate the natural world in ways we cannot. it does not relate to logic. God raising the dead is not illogical but rather shows Him having higher control over the natural world than we can have. same with having water gush from a rock and making a donkey talk. these are supernatural occurrences, but they’re not illogical.

    what do you mean by “withheld relational knowledge”? from who? himself? this would mean that an omniscient God who has all knowledge would cause himself to not have all knowledge. God can be A and not A at the same time? if you’re talking about Him withholding it from His creatures then this is the same thing as me saying that God speaks in condescending language.

    “You also take the untenable position that logic is greater than God and that God’s attributes shouldn’t be explained by anything supernatural. Scripture clearly says God is beyond the logical capacity of the human mind”

    you’ve read a bit too much into isaiah 55:8, that verse within it’s context is talking about God’s mercy and goodness being beyond man’s comprehension and expectation rather than affirming that God can be illogical. maybe you’re referring to another verse.

    Like

    1. Hey yudo. Part of my point in mirroring your reply, was that anyone can set the rules of what they think is “proof” then constantly say “I proved this and you didn’t prove that.” I find that kind of argumentation unhelpful and a red herring. Because i can just spit a reference and say, “boom, proved it.” John 3:16, boom, proved autonomy. “Whosever will,” boom, proved autonomy. Can you get any more plainer? Who so ever WILL. See, you want a chance to explain how you don’t think such and such really is proof or means something else. So for me to just keep saying “I proved this and you didn’t” doesn’t bring any new ideas or understanding to the table.

      You said:
      do you believe God had all knowledge eternally or that he instantly

      Yes, of course. God doesn’t “do” anything at all to have what his nature entails. Where you seem to stumble, is that you think if God creates autonomy he has to then “find out” from “another source” some information. But that is simply making a God in man’s image, it’s simply the argument “God cannot do anything I think is illogical or beyond my ability to understand how it works.” Many Scriptures condemn that attitude and I’d be glad to go into them. God knows autonomous decisions instantly with no effort, even though they are something he does not control. How? How? Same way God does every other incomprehensible mystery we cannot understand. It’s really not a logical problem for God.

      You said:
      canard, i did not say that.

      Again, I did this intentionally, because I feel you constantly do the same kind of canard against me. Learn to debate more fairly.

      You said:
      your position is logically inconsistent. your method of covering up this inconsistency is to throw out the term “supernatural”

      I don’t subscribe to this common apologetics notion that rationality and logic lead us to the truth. You don’t sit down one day and think “Wow, obviously it’s most logical that God became a man yet still stayed God to die as a man to appease God and enter into the hearts (not physical hearts) of all human beings by virtue of a mystical union with the God-man and his blood, not just physical but representative of life-force, that was spilled to atone for sins, that came from one original…” Well you get the idea. Christ being both God and man is the very definition of illogical, indeed logic itself is self-contradictory if you study it deeply. You cannot make logic the ground for all reality, and indeed, that puts it as something God then has to “bow” to because it’s greater than God. Logic is circular in nature and expresses the limitations of the human mind. Logic is limited and self-defeating. It simply does not work to explain the metaphysical. You are taking the “super” out of supernatural, then, for anyone must admit that logic is natural.

      You said:
      an omniscient God who has all knowledge would cause himself to not have all knowledge

      God can do whatever he wants, including logically contradictory things. The question then becomes how has he revealed himself in his word through revelation.

      Like

      1. “Hey yudo. Part of my point in mirroring your reply, was that anyone can set the rules of what they think is “proof” then constantly say “I proved this and you didn’t prove that.” I find that kind of argumentation unhelpful and a red herring. Because i can just spit a reference and say, “boom, proved it.” John 3:16, boom, proved autonomy. “Whosever will,” boom, proved autonomy. Can you get any more plainer? Who so ever WILL. See, you want a chance to explain how you don’t think such and such really is proof or means something else. So for me to just keep saying “I proved this and you didn’t” doesn’t bring any new ideas or understanding to the table. ”

        it can indeed help in peoples understanding if you actually present evidence for your claims, which it seems you’re not willing to do any longer. simply present the evidence for you claims and allow them to be examined.

        “Yes, of course. God doesn’t “do” anything at all to have what his nature entails. Where you seem to stumble, is that you think if God creates autonomy he has to then “find out” from “another source” some information. But that is simply making a God in man’s image, it’s simply the argument “God cannot do anything I think is illogical or beyond my ability to understand how it works.” Many Scriptures condemn that attitude and I’d be glad to go into them. God knows autonomous decisions instantly with no effort, even though they are something he does not control. How? How? Same way God does every other incomprehensible mystery we cannot understand. It’s really not a logical problem for God.”

        again, it seems that you recognize that your position is not logical and are simply trying to dismiss that fact somehow. you still haven’t shown that man has autonomous free will, why do you continue to make an unsubstantiated claim? we still haven’t gotten an answers as to how a God who is omniscient and omnipotent created something He has no control over. someone of something else decided what man’s actions would be and God has to react to the circumstances.

        i’d be interested in other verses besides isaiah 55:8 that would show that we shouldn’t use logic to think about God.

        “Again, I did this intentionally, because I feel you constantly do the same kind of canard against me. Learn to debate more fairly.”

        such back and forth accusation is not useful to the discussion sir. i simply clarified what i said because my statement was misrepresented.

        “I don’t subscribe to this common apologetics notion that rationality and logic lead us to the truth. You don’t sit down one day and think “Wow, obviously it’s most logical that God became a man yet still stayed God to die as a man to appease God and enter into the hearts (not physical hearts) of all human beings by virtue of a mystical union with the God-man and his blood, not just physical but representative of life-force, that was spilled to atone for sins, that came from one original…” Well you get the idea. Christ being both God and man is the very definition of illogical, indeed logic itself is self-contradictory if you study it deeply. You cannot make logic the ground for all reality, and indeed, that puts it as something God then has to “bow” to because it’s greater than God. Logic is circular in nature and expresses the limitations of the human mind. Logic is limited and self-defeating. It simply does not work to explain the metaphysical. You are taking the “super” out of supernatural, then, for anyone must admit that logic is natural.”

        first, you state that the hypostatic union and God’s plan of atonement for the sins of His people is illogical. i’m going to demand that you prove this claim. the hypostaic union is actually the definition of supernatural in that i can’t accomplished by natural means.

        second, supernatural means beyond our natural abilities. there is no test that can prove things like the hypostatic union, the resurrection, the flood, talking donkeys, bushes on fire without burning, floating axes, walking on water, are possible because we don’t have the ability to manipulate the laws of nature in the way God does. so we would never be able to demonstrate these things and that is, in fact, the “super” in supernatural. the laws of logic can be fully applied and none of these occurrences will be lost as none are logical fallacies.

        “God can do whatever he wants, including logically contradictory things. The question then becomes how has he revealed himself in his word through revelation.”

        if we go by what scripture says at face value we have a God who didn’t know things and had to find them out somehow.

        gen 22:12
        jer 19:5
        jer 26:2-3
        gen 18:20-21

        we don’t see a God who knew all things eternally or instantly but rather a God who had to find out about things the same way we do. you asked about what scripture revealed. well, there ya go.

        also in light of this verse:

        hebrew 6:18

        why is it “impossible” for God to lie? it doesn’t say that he won’t do it. it says he CAN’T do it.

        also titus 1:2 says God doesn’t lie. can God break His promises and still have these verses be true? it’s logic that gives us confidence in God’s promises. if God can really do anything He wants then we shouldn’t rely on these promises because apparently God can lie by not keeping his promises and still have these verses be true of Him because God can do whatever he wants, even logically contradictory things.

        apparently scripture makes a logical argument in order to give people confidence in the promises of God.

        Like

      2. You said:
        it can indeed help in peoples understanding if you actually present evidence for your claims

        You completely miss and evade my point. If I say your “evidence” you “presented” isn’t good enough, I can just keep saying you didn’t present evidence.

        You said:
        which it seems you’re not willing to do any longer.

        I’m not willing to have someone not listen to me. I’m not willing to have someone twist what I say. That’s seems pretty understandable, no?

        You said:
        again, it seems that you recognize that your position is not logical and are simply trying to dismiss that fact somehow.

        Metaphysical supernatural truth is above logic, yet God has created logic for a portion of our understanding. It’s silly to argue I’m wrong simply because I say logic is not the ground of all reality. You never proved that logic *is* the ground of all reality. I await that proof with evidence you present. 🙂

        You said:
        i’d be interested in other verses besides isaiah 55:8 that would show that we shouldn’t use logic to think about God.

        You yet again twist and misrepresent what I said. I argued we can’t depend on logic *alone,* not that we throw logic out.

        You said:
        such back and forth accusation is not useful to the discussion sir. i simply clarified what i said because my statement was misrepresented.

        No. What you did was miss my point. Again. By playing a victim, you don’t take responsibility for your inappropriate debate tactics. It’s like if someone is hitting me and I hit them back one time and I say “That’s so you know how it feels.” Then they say “Such back and forth hitting tactics are not helpful, sir.”

        You said:
        first, you state that the hypostatic union and God’s plan of atonement for the sins of His people is illogical. i’m going to demand that you prove this claim. the hypostaic union is actually the definition of supernatural in that i can’t accomplished by natural means.

        Would you like me to prove that it’s illogical using logic? First prove to me that logic is necessarily the only truth, oh, and don’t use any circular argumentation, like proving logic is true using logic.

        You said:
        we don’t see a God who knew all things eternally or instantly but rather a God who had to find out

        I disagree with your exegesis. You didn’t prove those verse disprove foreknowledge simply by pasting the verses in. Prove your point, sir.

        You said:
        if God can really do anything He wants then we shouldn’t rely on these promises because apparently God can lie by not keeping his promises and still have these verses be true of Him because God can do whatever he wants, even logically contradictory things.

        Sir, you’re being illogical. I said God created logic and uses it for some things. Please acknowledge that.

        Like

      3. Hi Yudo, If you do not want to interact, that’s ok. You may have had your fill of my “heresies.” But you said that you don’t see man’s autonomous freewill as “substantiated”. How do you view the phrase “freewill” used in the OT, or the verse 1Cor 7:37?

        Like

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