Calvinism’s Inconsistency Revealed

John Calvin wrote:

“…how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be, not by His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them…Who does not tremble at these judgments with which God works in the hearts of even the wicked whatever He will, rewarding them nonetheless according to desert? Again it is quite clear from the evidence of Scripture that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills just as he will, whether to good for His mercy’s sake, or to evil according to their merits. ” (John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11)

 Yet, as Albert Mohler testifies, John Calvin does not avoid using the word “permit” in his pastoral ministry to those who suffer great loss. Is this an inconsistency of Calvinism? I believe it is.

John MacArthur, a notable Calvinistic pastor, wrote:

“But God’s role with regard to evil is never as its author. He simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends. Ultimately He is able to make all things-including all the fruits of all the evil of all time-work together for a greater good (Romans 8:28).”

John Piper, another notable Calvinistic pastor, has written:

“God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his “positive agency.” God is, Edwards says, “the permitter . . . of sin; and at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if it be permitted . . . will most certainly and infallibly follow.”

Contrast the statements of Edwards, Piper and MacArthur with the one from Calvin above and the inconsistency becomes quite clear.

Calvinistic theologian, RC Sproul, addresses the heresy of “equal ultimacy” by giving this warning:

“[Equal ultimacy is the belief that] God works in the same way and same manner with respect to the elect and to the reprobate. That is to say, from all eternity God decreed some to election and by divine initiative works faith in their hearts and brings them actively to salvation. By the same token, from all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative. In the case of the elect, regeneration is the monergistic work of God. In the case of the reprobate, sin and degeneration are the monergistic work of God. This distortion of positive-positive predestination clearly makes God the author of sin who punishes a person for doing what God monergistically and irresistibly coerces man to do. Such a view is indeed a monstrous assault on the integrity of God. This is not the Reformed view of predestination, but a gross and inexcusable caricature of the doctrine. Such a view may be identified with what is often loosely described as hyper-Calvinism and involves a radical form of supralapsarianism. Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.”

Is Calvin’s first quote in support of “equal ultimacy” or not? If not, how are they different in any meaningful way? And what practical difference is there with the Calvinistic claims and that described above as “equal ultimacy?” Can anyone clearly define a distinction with a difference between a world where God is said to hate one brother and love another before the creation and the world described by Dr. Sproul under the label of “equal ultimacy?” Is God merely permitting or allowing anything according to Calvinism’s teaching?

For a Calvinist to affirm divine permission in any sense of the word is for them to affirm contra-causal (or autonomous) creaturely free will, for what is there to permit in a deterministic worldview except God’s own determinations? Likewise, for Calvinists to speak of God restraining evil is also an affirmation of autonomous freedom, for what is there to restrain outside of God’s own determinations? Is God restraining that which He determined? If not, then there must exist something that He did not determine, which is itself an affirmation of creaturely autonomy.

As most theologians regularly acknowledge, the doctrine of the fall of man is quite complicated and mysterious. The root question boils down to this:

If mankind was created good and not inclined to evil, then how could he choose to do other than what is good?

The Calvinist has to appeal to mystery on this question, as evidenced here in the words of John Piper:

“I have not removed a mystery, I have stated a mystery. God hardens unconditionally and those who are hardened are truly guilty and truly at fault in their hard and rebellious hearts. Their own consciences will justly condemn them. If they perish, they will perish for real sin and real guilt. How God freely hardens and yet preserves human accountability we are not explicitly told. It is the same mystery as how the first sin entered the universe. How does a sinful disposition arise in a good heart? The Bible does not tell us.”  (http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-hardening-of-pharaoh-and-the-hope-of-the-world)

The answer for those of us who do not affirm meticulous divine determinism is relatively simple: Free will: The albeit mysterious function of the moral creatures will to refrain or not refrain from any given moral action (CLICK HERE for more on free will). So, do not be fooled, both camps appeal to mystery on this point. “Our side” just does so while affirming contra-causal freedom and determinists leave God “holding the bag” (so to speak.) (CLICK HERE for more on the weakness of compatibilism)

The inconsistency of  the theist determinist is evident in the quotes above and in examining of writings from their scholars, such as Jonathan Edwards.

On the one hand, Edwards argues that mankind always chooses according to their greatest inclination which is ultimately determined by their God given nature, yet on the other hand Edwards preached that Adam “was perfectly free from any corruptions or sinful inclinations,” and that he “had no sinful inclinations to hurry him on to sin; he did it of his own free and mere choice.” (Edwards, ‘All God’s Methods Are Most Reasonable’, in Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, ed. by Kenneth P. Minkema, Works 14 (1997): 168.)

How does this not violate Edwards own definition of human will and choice? For Adam to choose to sin he must violate the law of his own nature, as defined by Edwards. Thus, the determinist rejects the mystery of contra-causal freedom only to adopt another even more difficult mystery. One that arguably brings into question the holiness, righteousness and trustworthiness of our God….i.e. the theory that God is actively involved in the determination of moral evil (see Calvin’s original quote).

For more on this topic listen to Dr. Albert Molher illustrate the inconsistency of Calvin himself: HERE.

297 thoughts on “Calvinism’s Inconsistency Revealed

  1. Very good explanation, Leighton, of the obvious inconsistency in the Calvinistic explanations of divine determinism… They want God to have predetermined every sinful outcome before creation, but not held accountable for every sinful outcome that He predetermined. Either He is not accountable to the same righteous standard (which comes from His own nature) that He holds His creation to, or He was indeed able to share the freedom of will (which comes from His own nature) with His creation so that only they are truly accountable for defying His righteous standard!

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  2. Great article and illuminating quotes from these guys.

    It’s definitely true that Calvinists struggle with this question and can’t seem to agree on a response. I’ll even go further to assert that these folks don’t HAVE a coherent response.

    The difficulty is that we’d like a gap between what God does and what his creatures do. The problem is that they all reduce to equal ultimacy, the term you mention.

    There are essentially 4 routes:

    (1) Introduce some sort of SUBSTANTIAL gap to halt the reduction.

    (2) Refuse to draw any meaning from radical reductions because reduction is meaning-destroying; extracting meaning from reduction necessarily produces bizarre quandaries. Meaning comes from discriminatory interests, and we must let those interests uphold an hylomorphic stack. In plain English, it means to employ a taxonomy that categorizes the varieties of God’s work in a meaningful way (“meaningful” as defined by interests). This is an ultra-important development for this and many other theological issues: http://stanrock.net/2015/03/11/the-sun-also-rises-or-the-heterophroneo-of-everything/

    (3) Do some combination of the above two, confusing one’s self until the problem seems sufficiently muffled by mysteries.

    (4) Bite the bullet and reduce everything into a wad.

    #1 is the route taken by libertarian free will fans, i.e., we cannot ultimately reduce because a mysterious bridge-breaker says “Halt! Go no further.”

    #3 is the route taken by many Calvinists, particularly single predestination folk, as well as fans of Molinism, and (of course) Augustine.

    #4 is the route Calvin took, apparently, based on the above quote.

    I think #2 is woefully overlooked and is simultaneously the proper solution.

    First, it doesn’t rely on a mysteries-in-the-premises, which are toxic. Mysteries-in-the-premises act as skeleton keys or wildcards and are horrifyingly dangerous for reasoning.

    Second, we can articulate a taxonomy instead of just invoking terms like “authorship” ambiguously. We can say, “When I say ‘authorship,’ I mean God either exceptionally intervened with a miracle to do X, or his subtle plans in the world were deftly vectored to make X come about. When Y comes about as a byproduct of the chaotic — ordered but complicated — interactions, then (a) Y is a corollary of creation, (b) is God’s superordinate responsibility (because God can prevent or undo whatever he pleases), but (c) we say is NOT his ‘authorship’ so-defined.”

    A hylomorphic chart of “making choices under God’s sovereignty,” with “compatibilistic free choices” boxes: http://i.imgur.com/80j9wMM.png

    Third, we can admit that Adam was going to sin. There is no coherent way to say that “Adam was not going to sin” without also saying “Adam never sinned.” He was a good creation — not in the pagan sense of “The Good” with which our religion became saddled, but in the Biblical sense of “commendable” — but like ALL MAMMALS, Adam & Eve had propensities toward curiosity, gullibility, selective memory, and irrational loss-aversion. This is just how our brains work. It’s emergent phenomena of the neurotransmitters that make us tick.

    St. Isaac of Ninevah:

    “For [passionate vengeance] characterizes people who do not know or who are unaware of what they are doing, for as a result of some matter that has occurred unexpectedly to them they are incited by the vehemence of anger to take vengeance.

    Such action does not belong to the Creator who, even before the cycle of the depiction of creation has been portrayed, knew of all that was before and all that was after in connection with the actions and intentions of rational beings.”

    “You should see that, while God’s caring is guiding us all the time to what he wishes for us, as things outwardly appear, it is from us that he takes the occasion to providing things, his aim being to carry out by every means what he has intended for our advantage.

    All this is because he knew beforehand our inclination towards all sorts of wickedness, and so he cunningly made the harmful consequences which would result from this into a means of entry to the future good and the setting right of our corrupted state.”

    In other words, Adam as a creation was commendable insofar as Adam was the first step in God’s optimal creative process, a drawn-out thing in time, in the same way that a cruddy log is commendable when your end is a beautiful table, and yet you do not commend the cruddiness, but the ancillariness.

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    1. Hello Stan,

      I have to say Stan that I find your post here to be fascinating. While the others posting here are using familiar terminology and concepts, things I have seen on numerous occasions: you on the other hand appear to be higlyly creative even having your own terms and concepts.

      Just a couple of commnents in response to your post. Early on you wrote: “The difficulty is that we’d like a gap between what God does and what his creatures do.” I am not sure what you mean by “gap” here. Gap is a spatial term, there is a gap between X and Y. God is not just another being among many operating and competing with other beings in the universe. He is not even the supreme being competing with other beings. He is a spirit and not physical having no arms or legs or brain and to be honest we really have no idea how he operates in relation to the universe.

      For example, we know from scripture that he holds the whole universe in being, but how does THAT work? We can imagine it to be like that Greek myth with the guy holding the world on his shoulders, but that is not even close ot the reality as that guy in the myth has a real body with real hands and arms holding up the actual earth. To speak of this “gap” that you speak of assumes that both we and God are operating in space in the same way: a highly dubious assumption to say the very least. Later in your post you wrote: “and we must let those interests uphold an hylomorphic stack” A what? 🙂 You then clarified what this enigmatic statement means by saying “In plain English, it means to employ a taxonomy that categorizes the varieties of God’s work in a meaningful way.” Well I have a problem with this statement. I understand your intent is to provide this “taxonomy that categorizes the varieties of God’s work”: my problem is I do not believe this is possible.

      Seems to me that if the true God, the one God, the God who reveals himself in the Bible if he is truly transcendent, he is beyond our **categories**. And to be blunt we really do not know how he acts in the world so how could we come up with this supposed taxonomy? To come up with it you would need to fully understand his ways and thoughts which according to Isaiah are way beyond our thoughts! It may be a well meaning idea on your part: I just don’t think it is doable by anyone (including you). So it seems to me you are speaking of things way beyond not just your depth of understanding but beyond the understanding of all of us combined.

      How does a finite mind like the ones we have comprehend the infinite mind of God so at to arrive at this taxonomy of God’s workings?

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      1. Hylomorphism means “the shape of the wood” and comes to us from Aristotle (some Hellenic philosophy is bad for theology — this one is essential for theology). Imagine a bunch of figurines on a shelf, each one distinct and beautiful. Then a person tells you, “They’re all actually the same; they’re all just wood. One is equal to the next.” In one respect — the reductive respect — he is correct. But in the way you care about, they’re very different; they’re different in the formative respect. And this interest driven discrimination by form is what makes these figurines meaningful, rather than “all wood in the end.”

        It’s a bit like when somebody tells you, “Who cares what your food tastes like? It all ends up in the toilet anyway.” This is a radical reduction and bypasses the very things we care about.

        “Gap” in the above was an analogy for a supposed causal “break” between the actions we perform and the things God has instituted. Libertarian free will fans imagine that there is such a “gap”; libertarian free will means that I can perform a non-random action that is also not-wholly-attributable to prior and external causes (which ultimately arrive at God’s creative decisions).

        If you think God’s work is ineffable such that we are not permitted to discuss kinds thereof, you might find fault with theology broadly. The idea that our inability to fully understand the varieties of his work yields the inability to discuss those varieties =at all= is a non sequitur that I would not, and most theologians would not, accept.

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  3. I’m new to you and you to me. I left one comment on the recent thread after your comments about your debate with Dr. White.

    I came to know about you on a friend’s blog, TurretinFan.

    On that thread where a number of comments were made I pointed out I thought both you and Dr. White tied in the debate. I thought Dr. White wasn’t listening to your argument well and for the life of me don’t understand why he couldn’t acknowledge he understood what you meant when explaining what you meant about noble causes.

    Here, now, I’d just like to touch on this issue of permission and ask for your comment in response to a verse, just one verse.

    Heb 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.

    For me, this one verse has saved me a lot trips to purchase at the drugstore tylenol or advil or aspirin to alleviate the headache that most of the time ensues a conversation with a babe in Christ. Feeding lambs is not an easy task and I don’t believe for one minute every Minister is called to that work, “feed my Lambs”, John 21:15.

    I’ve been in active ministry since around 1975. I’ve gone back and forth with many people, young and old. Rarely have I found anyone, including my wife and children, who agrees with me one hundred percent of the time. As you have said in your manner, I say in mine that the glue that holds us together is God’s Divine Love not man’s, which parenthetically is what Jesus was getting after Peter about in that question and answer session in John 21.

    This debate between Arminians and Calvinists is an intriguing debate for me basically because I found reading some of Arminius’ thinking was powerful and helpful. I hasten to say the same when I’ve read some of Calvin’s thinking, too.

    For me, I’m not so interested in pinning you down in an argument like these debates tend to attempt to do to the opposing sides as I am lifting you up and blessing you and having sweet fellowship which is our inherited right:::>

    Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
    Act 20:33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.
    Act 20:34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.
    Act 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

    AND

    Php 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
    Php 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
    Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
    Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    I don’t believe any one of us is going onto maturity UNLESS and UNTIL God “permits it”. Maturity is reserved for those for whom God permits it and not for the rest. For the rest of us I suppose these proverbs are apropos:

    Pro 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
    Pro 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

    Would you comment on that assertion found in Hebrews 6:3?

    thanks
    michael

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    1. “If God permits” should not be taken as meaning that God may not want them to go on to maturity, past those basics common to the faith…Instead, this expresses the believers’ complete dependence on God. If we do press on to maturity, we realize that it only happens with His continual presence and help along the way.

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    2. Hi Michael – I hope you don’t mind if I make an alternative suggestion. I agree with Leighton’s biblical meaning for this generic phrase – “if God permits”, but I wonder if this context might suggest a more nuanced meaning.

      I think this author (I prefer Barnabas) uses the 1st person pronoun “us” to identify with his audience (cf. 6:1, 10:26) which includes true Christians and some only professing Christians, some of the later who are deciding to return to Judaism. In this context he says “if God permits” (i.e., all of us will go on to maturity) but then gives a major warning that God will not permit some to go on to maturity, that is, those who fall away to the point of publicly identifying with their nation who crucified Jesus (6:6). They will not even be permitted to even be renewed for an opportunity of salvation, even though they were so close to entering into salvation through the various gracious experiences God gave them (6:4-5).

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      1. BRIANWAGNER

        FYI, that isn’t my definition of Divine Determinism. I pulled it off some site that was defining what it is. I’m fairly novice and new to these things, double predestination, equal ultimacy and Divine Determinism.

        I try to weigh all things against the Word of God which is what I have been primarily studying for forty years now.

        I do not consider myself either an Arminian or Calvinist.

        So go ahead and develop your thinking with regard to that definition or anything else you might think is apropos for me to understand from your point of view.

        thanks
        michael

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      2. Thank you Michael for the clarification. It’s not my definition of divine determinism either, but it is a fuller rendition of the Calvinist one from my perspective. 🙂

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      3. Hi Michael – My definition for Divine Determinism – Those decisions by God before and after He laid the foundations of the world as expressions of His sovereign rule in human history, both conditional or unconditional in relation to the counter-causal freedom He has provided mankind and other spirit beings.

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    3. Hey Michael. So do you see all permission as unilateral? Would you say to your child, “I’ll permit you to go to the movies if you clean your room.” I’m not seeing in the text where this permission is unconditional permission, since the entire book of Hebrews is an exhortation. It feels like Divine determinism is being assumed first, and then trying to find something that looks like it.

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      1. DIZERNER,

        would you say this a fair definition of Divine Determinism?

        Divine Determinism is the view that God, before the creation of the world, has predetermined exactly whatever comes to pass. Whether directly or through specific secondary conditions, God is causally involved in every event. From the smallest movement of atoms to the formation of entire galaxies, all must come to pass inevitably and necessarily because of God’s absolute will and divine decree. God wrote the story of your life, the beginning, the middle and the end. The most dreaded decision of your life has already been decided upon. Your destiny is entirely dependent on what God wills and decrees. Hence, everything you do is ultimately predetermined by God, long before you were born. Thus your actions are incidents part of a long chain of events much like dominoes and are reached by a necessary causal relationship between these events ultimately initiated by the good pleasure of God’s will.

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      2. It’s an okay definition Michael, but it could be a lot clearer about the main and important points. The main thing to realize under Divine determinism is there is absolutely no real self-determining autonomy anywhere in all creation; that is, none of us have any part in writing our own story by our own decisions. That should be the focal point for any definition, and the part I’d contend with. God bless.

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      3. Michael writes, “Divine Determinism is the view that God, before the creation of the world, has predetermined exactly whatever comes to pass….”

        Your definition basically focuses on God’s knowledge of all future events. You need to add a few words describing how God is able to ordain (predetermine) all things – How is it that God is in the position of willing and decreeing all that happens?

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      4. And Michael you also need to include that your definition of divine determinism has God forced to make all His determinations for all future human history forever, even though the Scriptures clearly states that He has made some determinations since creation and will make some more in the future.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “even though the Scriptures clearly states that He has made some determinations since creation and will make some more in the future.”

        In other words, brianwagner wants you to incorporate a god who is not omniscient into your definition. It’s his personal bias.

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      6. God was omniscient before determining to create the heavens, earth, and mankind. And He is still omniscient before any of His freely made future determinations!

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      7. brianwagner writes, “God was omniscient before determining to create the heavens, earth, and mankind. And He is still omniscient before any of His freely made future determinations!”

        By definition, omniscience would include those future determinations – else we have God making determinations only in the future and not knowing those determinations before the creation. A determination by God is part of His omniscience. Either God knows all His determinations before He creates or He cannot be omniscient.

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      8. So Roger you are saying God knew He had to create this world from all eternity past. He was not free to choose in His eternal omniscience to create anything else. Is that correct?

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      9. brianwagner wrote, “you are saying God knew He had to create this world from all eternity past. He was not free to choose in His eternal omniscience to create anything else. Is that correct?”

        Not exactly.

        I think we have to be careful not to deny to God the ability to have an original thought (recognizing that we really don’t know how God thinks and can relate only as we think). There was a point where God pondered the creation of an universe and immediately, God knew every detail of the universes that He would create from beginning to end. In a Molinist fashion, God could immediately conceive of all the possible universes that He could create and then choose that one universe that He did create. God was free to originate the idea of a universe, free to consider all the different combinations of events that could occur in that universe, and free to choose that one universe that fulfilled perfectly His purpose. The decision made by God was made with perfect wisdom encompassing infinite understanding so that it was a perfect decision necessitating no alteration afterwards as there could be no basis for changing anything that God had decided.

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      10. So He was perfectly free to leave some things undecided! That could have been one of the combinations He considered, and it fits well with what He has revealed, since He speaks truthfully to us about things He decided after creation and speaks truthfully of conditional future decisions!

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      11. Not sure how edifying the exchange is between the two of you? But let me ask you both if you believe this verse is saying God has created the wicked, made the wicked with everything else?

        Pro 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

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      12. brainwagner writes, “So [God] was perfectly free to leave some things undecided!”

        Should God leave some events undetermined, then He would not know what was to happen in those instances. Then, there would be later events tied to an undetermined event which also would have to be left undetermined so we have a domino effect of events not determined and thus, unknown to God. It prevents God being omniscient as He would lack knowledge of those events that are undetermined.

        It has been shown that one way to avoid the Calvinist conclusions is for you to deny that God is omniscient (as you do here).

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      13. Good questions Michael! I constantly wonder if any edification takes place when Roger and I discuss! 🙂 But I believe God answers prayer, so I have great hope for Roger and myself to be able to learn and even change!

        Prov 16:4 in my view is the same as Eph 1:11. The word translated “made” in your translation is not the OT word for create. The meaning is more “working” with things already made and making them fit into His plan. Even though the Hebrew uses the completed tense form for this verb in this verse, the idea is gnomic, declaring God’s sovereign use of all things, even those who did not start out wicked, but became wicked in their use of the Adamic nature and rejection of God’s grace (cf. Rom 9:22, “fitted” not “created”).

        I like the NIV translation of this verse –
        Prov 16:4 (NIV) The LORD works out everything for his own ends– even the wicked for a day of disaster.

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      14. brianwagner,

        I just did a scriptural search in the following bibles:::>

        Proverbs 16:4

        (Bishops) The Lorde hath made all thynges for his owne sake: yea, the vngodly for the day of wrath.

        (ESV) The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

        (Geneva) The Lord hath made all things for his owne sake: yea, euen the wicked for the day of euill.

        (HOT+) כלH3605 פעלH6466 יהוהH3068 למענהוH4617 וגםH1571 רשׁעH7563 ליוםH3117 רעה׃H7451

        (KJV) The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

        (KJV+) The LORDH3068 hath madeH6466 allH3605 things for himself:H4617 yea, evenH1571 the wickedH7563 for the dayH3117 of evil.H7451

        (LITV) Jehovah has made all for His purpose, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

        (LXX+)

        What I discovered is there is no verse three or four in the LXX? Hmmmmmm???

        I don’t have time to go through verses one and five to see if they put verses three and four in verses one and five. I don’t read Greek very well. And I don’t have time right now to follow up on it.

        Do you read Greek?

        michael

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      15. Yes, Michael, I am fairly comfortable with biblical Greek and Hebrew. From what I can tell, both chapters 15 and 16 of Proverbs are missing in the LXX except for a couple verses from chapter 15. This is news to me… so I will look into it more and get back to you!

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      16. brianwagner,

        I see a chapter 16 but no verse 3 or 4. It was news to me too until you made you comment and quoted from the NIV.

        Thanks and look forward to what you come up with. I see the verses in the Hebrew text. I would want to know why the LXX translators did not include verse 3 and 4 in chapter 16 of Proverbs. It could be they put those verses into verse one and five to keep a context and sense of what the Hebrew was putting forth.

        michael

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      17. Ok… I am learning some new things about the LXX. It’s a little like the Textus Receptus. People ask “which one?” My software “The Word” has Ralph’s LXX used in the Orthodox denomination which has most of 15 and 16 missing. It also has an English translation of the LXX by Brenton which seems to be based on Codex Sinaiticus, which starts its numbering at 2 and skips to 5. Then there is some other strange numbering.

        But stranger still is that verse 2 sounds like the Hebrew of verse 4 that we are discussing. The English translation is – “All the works of the humble [man] are manifest with God; but the ungodly shall perish in an evil day.” As interesting as this is, for now, I will stick with the MT on this verse.

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      18. One more discovery, Michael! Verse 9 in the LXX is also similar to the Hebrew verse 4 – Here is its translation –
        All of the works of the Lord [are done] with righteousness; and the ungodly [man] is kept for the evil day.

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  4. Good work at untangling the tangled and twisted ball of evasive and contradictory language in Calvinism.

    I think this line: for what is there to permit is a deterministic worldview except God’s own determinations?
    Was meant as: for what is there to permit *in* a deterministic worldview except God’s own determinations?

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  5. Pastor Flowers asks, “If mankind was created good and not inclined to evil, then how could he choose to do other than what is good?”

    The answer boils down to deception. Adam/Eve were deceived to think that they were doing good by eating the fruit.

    Look at the deception, “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” To be like God is good – it is something we all aspire to – we all want to be holy and sinless. In effect Satan was telling Eve that God had placed the tree in the garden to test her to see if she truly desired to be like Him. Rather than die, eating the fruit would demonstrate that Eve wanted to be like God and He would reward her, not punish her.

    We read of Eve’s consideration of the fruit, “..the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom…” Eve now saw eating the fruit in a positive light such that it was now good for her to eat it – “Look, Adam, it is good for us to eat the fruit for by doing so, we will gain wisdom – God has given us this fruit to bless us.”

    Isn’t that the way Satan works – It is good for you to date/marry an unbeliever so that you can bring him to salvation. It is good for you to abort your baby because God does not want your baby to suffer. It is good for you to divorce your wife because each of you can serve God better that way. And so it goes. How often do we find ourselves engaging in sinful activities because we have fallen for Satan’s argument that it is really for good that we do it.

    So, we have one explanation.

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    1. RHUTCHIN

      With the help of the Holy Spirit I suppose we can imagine the shock to the sense of the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus, a blameless man according to the Law when after he was confronted by the Lord on the road to Damascus to discover he too had played right into Satan’s hand?

      He goes on in his defense before King Agrippa with this argument:::>

      Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

      Here’s a man you could not find any fault with realizing being blameless means little or nothing to his Sinless God he was serving with ignorance and zeal.

      I suppose the same shock occurred with Simeon too seeing this is what he was told to look for when the Holy Spirit visited him? Notice the Holy Spirit is not lying here when He inspires Luke to write that Simeon was righteous and devout. I guess being blameless, righteous and devout has no place with God when it comes to the preachers of the Gospel being permitted to preach the Word of the Kingdom to every creature for a witness and then the end shall come?:::>

      Luk 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
      Luk 2:26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
      Luk 2:27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law,
      Luk 2:28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
      Luk 2:29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;
      Luk 2:30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
      Luk 2:31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
      Luk 2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

      I know I was shocked on July 21, 1975 when for the first time I read the following Words from Scripture and my whole being lit up like a torch:::>

      Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

      All I know is at that moment some light went on inside my being that shined and is still shining to the depth of my soul and for the first time then I was able to put two and two together and realize I was a very deceived man, I was a fallen man before My God and He touched me and made me come alive with Christ. It hasn’t been easy since those days but it sure has been exciting. These arguments and debates as to whether or not I can go onto maturity is interesting to me. I’m certain of one thing that Eve wasn’t apparently aware of. I can be easily deceived! I am still learning. I suppose you can say the same, too?

      One thing I now am convinced of is God isn’t learning anything. Just like the man said many years ago to me, he said words to this effect, “if your god is learning, he would not be the God of the Bible, because the God of the Bible learns nothing, knows everything and permits you to learn about Him in His own good time”. It was shortly after that that these Words of Scripture came alive within my soul kind of like that moment in time years before when I read Matthew 1:21. Here are the Words that helped make sense of what he said to me about the God of the Bible permitting me to learn about Jesus:::>

      Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
      Mat 11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
      Mat 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
      Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
      Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
      Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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      1. Really cool testimony, Michael, I thank and praise God for it. I think sometimes when our personal spiritual life progresses a certain way, when we realize how blind and dead in sin we were, and how helpless we were to save ourselves or even begin to do the right thing or find truth anywhere, the sovereignty of grace becomes very strong in our hearts. But there are those whose path was a constant seeking and searching for something, rather than a “lightning out of the blue” kind of conversion, and they tend to feel more strongly that a person is responsible to use the grace they have to seek out God and more grace. However, whenever we feel we’ve done something and God responded we’re tempted to think we earned God’s favor or were better than our fellow man. Scripture condemns passivity but it also condemns self-righteousness. Scripture says “but God who is rich in mercy” yet also says “seek the Lord while he can be found.” Harmonizing sovereign grace with human autonomy will never be easy. I would say—and even though Calvinists are fine with the illusion of free will—that Calvinists often don’t realize Arminians can believe in sovereign election and grace alone. It’s just that Arminians leave one component in tact—human autonomy, a real relationship between God and a fellow autonomous being, a real action and response system and a real ability to say “no” to God’s grace and election, indeed I would say, real love. A person with a good heart thinks “How could anyone ever say no to such a gracious and merciful God,” yet we can’t assume our heart is representative of everyone. Another person thinks “I know my heart was never good nor can every be good, but God still loved and regenerated me for a reason I don’t think I’ll ever understand.” However at that point for God to take away your ability to reject him, would truly take away something precious, and God would always know that you never really chose him back after he had chosen you. Because when Scripture says we can deny the Lord or affirm him, it surely can’t be that God alone makes that decision for us, or a travesty is made of the call of God to respond to his Word’s warnings and exhortations. I’m one of those people, that even though I feel sovereignly chosen, in ways I had absolutely nothing to do with, still think about the fact that maybe I really do have autonomy about some things—and God’s promises and warnings, they sit there in his Word and whether I take them seriously and pursue them, once I’m sovereignly enlightened and made alive by grace, is still up to my autonomous decision to respond. The parable of the master and the talents shows that the servants all got their talents by grace alone, yet what they did with them was entirely described as their own decision. All of that emphasis on choice in Scripture, it all can’t just be an illusion, and that’s really the main thing I think that Arminians want to stand for.

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      2. dizerner,

        I hear what you are saying.

        I’ll take a risk. My mentoring Pastor before he died was asked what he would do differently if he could serve the Lord all over again? He said now that he knows what he knows if he knew it when he was starting out in ministry he would take many more risks.

        I’ve lived a dangerous life and been to some very very dangerous places and have survived. I not proud of some of the things I did and am quite ashamed about it. When I am on my death bed I too believe I will have been reduced to being just a beggar at the Hand of Mercy and Grace, an unprofitable servant only having done what I was required to do and done it oh so imperfectly.

        I have been pondering lately about being found in Jesus’ Life Book and where in Scripture it teaches about being written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life”.Rev 21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
        Rev 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
        Rev 21:24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,
        Rev 21:25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
        Rev 21:26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
        Rev 21:27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

        I’m charismatic in a lot of ways. So when I read about having my dead stone cold heart replaced with a living heart or now that I am regenerated I have the “mind” of Christ and that I have been given the “Spirit” of God I think I am coming to understand what it means to have my name written down in His Book, the Lamb’s Book of Life.

        There have been and are now presently some very bright giants of Theology from Clement of Rome spoken about in Philippians 4 to guys today like R.C. Sproul or even our dear friend and brother of this soteriology 101 Leighton Flowers, just to name two of many. I have been listening to DA Carson on youtube the last several nights and have been greatly blessed by his ministry. I was just sent a booklet by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross and another booklet, Wasted Faith, by Jim Elliff. As I suppose in your ministry and home church you guys read books? So do I and we and we read a lot of them. My point though is I suppose the Lord would take exception if we were just following other men’s thinking and theology or philosophy or logic and not His? It’s His life and Spirit the Father has conjoined us to so we can be alive in Christ today and for the rest of our sojourning in the fallen wicked world:::>

        Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
        Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
        Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
        Eph 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
        Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
        Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
        Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

        To be trained up in discipleship and baptized into the Names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is it seems to me the main or major work Pastors and Teachers and Elders are given to, right? To come to know Him and Him crucified and to live in His Spiritual Life all the while we are only the outer envelope so to speak for Him to dwell in us, Christ in you, the hope of Glory?

        Gal 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
        Gal 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
        Gal 6:16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

        Along with thinking about having my name written in His Lamb’s Book of Life I’ve been thinking about Galatians 5:16-23.

        Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
        Gal 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
        Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
        Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
        Gal 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
        Gal 5:21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
        Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
        Gal 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

        What has been keeping my focus is the fact that there are a lot of fruits of the flesh but only ONE Fruit of the Spirit and that fruit is multi-faceted like a finely polished diamond and IT IS GOD’S FRUIT not mine.

        We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that the deeds of my flesh are put to death as the Apostle teaches in Romans 8:

        Rom 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
        Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
        Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
        Rom 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
        Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
        Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
        Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
        Rom 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
        Rom 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
        Rom 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
        Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

        I believe there will be some albeit “autonomous” ones who will come to the end of their days to sadly hear:::>

        Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
        Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
        Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

        I am asking daily for the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, to crush my autonomous self-willed nature and humble me so that His Divine Nature comes alive within my heart and mind and live and produce the Fruit of the Spirit through me.

        I have noticed as I yield to His Spirit not insisting on my will to be accomplished but His that I, too, like Paul see the law of sin and death at work in my flesh.

        Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,
        Rom 7:23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
        Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
        Rom 7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

        Now after about forty years, I still battle with the lusts and temptations and pride of life that comes over me and it does seem to have increased not decreased as time goes by. Hmmmmm?

        I have noticed also that every morning the Lord is present waiting for me to pray and seek His favor to put to death my self life and live another day in Him for His glory!

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      3. The idea of God’s grace does not preclude autonomy. And it’s interesting how deep autonomy really is in us, yet we have to distinguish still between our own works and God’s. Think about what you yourself said here:

        “I am asking daily for the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, to crush my autonomous self-willed nature and humble me so that His Divine Nature comes alive within my heart and mind and live and produce the Fruit of the Spirit through me.”

        So *you* are the one asking, and it’s all up to *you* asking? Why ask, if God does it all man? Why even ask. God either does it, or you or you’re a vessel of damnation and no amount of asking is gonna get you anywhere. See how taking away autonomy, even though it looks like trusting in grace, starts to give us some wrong ideas?

        I’m huge on grace. But God said I can do something. God said I can decide. God said I can seek. God said I can humble myself. God said I can ask. Now I want to ask you one simple question, Michael: “Is it up to God, and God alone, whether I ask, humble myself and seek? Is that what God’s Word really tells me?”

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      4. dizerner,

        yes I see again what you are saying. I approach all this first as being dead in trespasses and sins. God makes me alive so that I now can ask and ask correctly and according to His Will. I can tell you certainly what I am asking for now is nothing like what I was asking for in the early days of the ministry I was brought into back in 1975.

        You write: //So *you* are the one asking, and it’s all up to *you* asking? Why ask, if God does it all man? Why even ask. God either does it, or you or you’re a vessel of damnation and no amount of asking is gonna get you anywhere. See how taking away autonomy, even though it looks like trusting in grace, starts to give us some wrong ideas?

        I’m huge on grace. But God said I can do something. God said I can decide. God said I can seek. God said I can humble myself. God said I can ask. Now I want to ask you one simple question, Michael: “Is it up to God, and God alone, whether I ask, humble myself and seek? Is that what God’s Word really tells me?”//

        God said I was dead in trespasses and sins. What does that mean to you? I had no clue what that meant until the Spirit of God made me alive in Christ.

        God promised to “bless” families and nations because of the obedience of Abram/Abraham. Again, this blessing comes about because of the obedience of someone other than me or you.

        Why do I pray and ask God for the things He reveals to me? Because He taught me to ask and to pray according to His Word.

        Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

        We are first made alive in Christ. The veil is removed, the Spirit of Grace and Truth comes into our inner man and we can now see clearly and by the Spirit of Grace and Truth ask according to the Will of God not according to our own self centered fleshly will. All I had before regeneration was my self centered sinful nature. I was born again. I was baptized. I was made alive with Christ. God did that to me. I did nothing to come alive in Christ. But dead in trespasses and sins one morning in July 1975 while reading a KJV Bible at Matthew chapter 1 I am came to verse 21 and something spiritual and powerful happened. I began to understand what I was reading. I came alive. I was filled with a deep and abiding sense of Joy and Peace that has not left my conscience now after forty years!

        I can remember details of my past when I was two years old, three, four, five and up to that morning in July. These are vivid memories. I cannot one time remember anything about the Bible I had read before that morning. Not once can I remember experiencing this Joy and Peace. It is all blank. But now and after that morning, I have vivid memories of things the Spirit has shown me as I have read the Scriptures hundreds of times. It’s amazing to me to read the Bible and to have a memory of experiencing it too!

        So, yes, I choose to ask and pray and seek the Lord. Sometimes I ask amiss!

        Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
        Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
        Jas 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
        Jas 1:15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
        Jas 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
        Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
        Jas 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

        See verse 18? Now I see it is of God’s Own Free Will that He brings me forth by the Word of Truth. Do I still get in my flesh and ask foolish and selfish things to consume it upon my lusts? Yes, of course. When I do I now understand what the Apostle Paul was writing about when he wrote Romans and the struggle he writes about in Romans 7 and 8.

        You might be confusing the work you are being taught by the Spirit to do and the autonomous work that is self generated?

        Here’s how James deals with it:::>

        Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
        Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,
        Jas 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
        Jas 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
        Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

        The faith I had before July 1975 was dead faith. I wasn’t living for God nor did I really know Him as I do now.

        Also James chapter 4 goes into asking amiss or to consume it upon our lusts.

        But anyway, I believe I understand what your point is. I just have come to an understanding of these things that is contrary to yours.

        It’s not the major thing here. What is major is that we both confess the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead! That’s the major thing and really the only message we have been tasked with bringing to every creature for a witness so that then the end shall come.

        Now I live full tilt in what Peter wrote here living to hasten the day of the Lord’s return. The only ones with a vested interest in keeping this present heavens and earth from continuing on and on and on and never coming to an end is Satan and his ilk and those who hate God and man:::>

        2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
        2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
        2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
        2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
        2Pe 3:13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
        2Pe 3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

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      5. Michael you have a gracious spirit about you. I appreciate that.

        You said:
        You might be confusing the work you are being taught by the Spirit to do and the autonomous work that is self generated?

        Well, I certainly have in the past and I still struggle. But what I’m learning is, my autonomy still plays a part, just not the part I originally thought. God doesn’t ask me to perform righteousness in my own efforts, but he does ask me to trust him, and that’s something I have to do—trust him. That’s something biblical characters did too—trust God. And I don’t think God forces us to trust him. He gives us a choice. Paul said the ancient Israelites were a *lesson* for us, remember that verse? What’s the lesson? Some of the grumbled and complained, some of the rebelled, some of them resisted God. Now Michael, if God decreed them to do that, how is that a lesson for me? What’s the lesson then, wait and find out whether I’m a vessel of damnation by God’s decree and choice? Just sit around hoping maybe I’m not? “Thou shalt cross thy fingers and hope thou aren’t a vessel I’ve chose to unalterably damn.” See, michael, I don’t see a single verse *anywhere* in all of Scripture that tells me I *can’t* have God’s grace if I want it. “Hey you! Yea you! You’re one of the guys that God won’t ever allow to do the right thing, even though he’ll ask you to in Scripture.” What I see Calvinists doing, is taking the idea of grace, that we can’t earn our way, and that we don’t have any power in ourselves, and then using that to mean that for some people God will never, ever even offer them a true option, a true saving grace. Michael not one person under Calvinism will be in hell because they truly autonomously chose to reject God. Not one. They were preselected and God made sure and well that they could *never* obey him. As much as we love each other in Christ and in our faith, can’t you see that some of us feel that’s an important point? That I can, right now, go up to *anyone* in the world and say “God truly loves you and wants you to serve him. *You* have the option to receive his grace or reject it.” And only a heinous twisting of all conceivable logic makes receiving a gift an act that earns the gift, or holding on to a rope an action that gives one bragging rights. I believe in grace. I believe in grace so much that I don’t think anything in my flesh pleases God. I don’t think I can do a single action or think a single thought that pleases God in my own effort, ever or for all time. But God tells me, I can perform an action of faith and humility, that as I fail to do the right thing, I can keep coming in faith to the cross, and say “I was crucified when Christ was crucified. Every sin I commit as he works his grace in me, is covered with his blood. And I can confess and forsake it.” And God doesn’t decree nor force me to do that. He invites and enables, but he’s a true gentlemen—even if he has to put me in a whale or knock me off my horse, he won’t force that one sacred thing—my free will. And that’s grace, the power to trust and humble myself, grace that I can “yes” or “no” to. And like you, every day I try with all my heart to say “yes” in my darkness and struggles to one day eventually fully learn my own inability and instead trust in the life and work of another.

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      6. Dizerner, amen, good word! I totally agree. I don’t have an issue with anything in what you wrote here. It really was refreshing to read.

        I am not a Calvinist, just so you know. I have read some of his institutes and some of the WCF and some of his large and small catechisms. I have read some of Martin Luther too, his smalcald articles and other writings and his large and small catechisms. I have read some Francis Turretin. John Owens too. Some of Jacob Arminius as well. I’ve read so many books I don’t think I can recall them all. I was introduced to J.V. Fesko some years ago and started an online dialogue with him when he was pastoring a church on the east coast before ending his pastorate there, becoming a teacher/professor at WSC in Escondido, Ca.. I found out he wrote a number of books. I asked him to arrange to have all of them sent to me so I could read them. He did. I did.

        You write: //That’s something biblical characters did too—trust God.//

        Amen.

        I want to zero in on this point by making it this way and ask you to respond as you are so led by the Holy Spirit:::>

        Gen 22:15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven
        Gen 22:16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,
        Gen 22:17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,
        Gen 22:18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

        Dizerner, that being so, how come this then:::>

        Isa 7:1 In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it.
        Isa 7:2 When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.
        Isa 7:3 And the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field.
        Isa 7:4 And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.
        Isa 7:5 Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying,
        Isa 7:6 “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,”
        Isa 7:7 thus says the Lord GOD: “‘It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.
        Isa 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
        Isa 7:9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'”

        We read there in Genesis 22 that Abraham, the father of our Faith, too, did something then God follows with a promise and not just any ole promise but the one promise that will bring Christ back to this fallen wicked world ransacked and molested and destroyed by the god of this world and his ilk.

        And with that, I wonder about these extreme opposites when we talk about our love for His Grace?

        Heb_13:9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

        1Pe_1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

        Jud_1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

        Even still:::>

        Rev_22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

        michael

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      7. Could you explain how you think Isaiah 7 relates to Genesis 22, I have no idea what you’re asking. And what do you mean by ” these extreme opposites.” What two things are you seeing as opposing each other?

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      8. dizerner,

        sure.

        Start with the “blessings” promised. In Genesis 18 we see “why” God is going to bless ALL nations through Abraham’s offspring.

        Why?

        Here:::>

        Gen 18:17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
        Gen 18:18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
        Gen 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

        This training of his children and household or “discipleship” for us in the New Testament was to bring forth a blessed “family” and a blessed “great nation” who would KEEP THE WAY OF THE LORD and how?, BY DOING RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE.

        Is God mutable or immutable? Does the Way of the Lord change as history plods along? Does doing Righteousness and Justice differ over time?

        NO!

        So the question I posted, albeit now I see it wasn’t fully comprehended by you, is how come both the “family” or “great nation” of Israel is splintered in two so there is now division between the twelve tribes and one whole group, the nations of Israel, is aligning up with another “nation” to destroy the other group, of this “nation” of Judah?

        Why the hostility? Where did the wheels fall off? How come so many centuries later the promises of God, to bless families and nations hasn’t happened? Is God weak? Is God on vacation? Doesn’t He have the Sovereign Will to bring about a plan to bring about His promises? Can God lie? Can we trust Him when He makes promises?

        The important verse from the Isaiah citation is the last verse: Isa 7:9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’”

        That was the point of showing the two opposites or extremes? Apparently as time passed this division came about because of a lack of “Faith”.

        Let me list three verses, one from Acts and two from Romans that points to why we see such trouble throughout history and throughout the history of the Jews:::>

        Act 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

        Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

        Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

        I believe when we get to the bottom of this matter and begin to let the Lord show us why we do not yet see all families and nations blessed with the blessings of Abraham Christ will return and this present fallen heavens and earth will be no more and the Bride will marry Her King and live happily ever after in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit.

        Here’s the end time plan:::>

        Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
        Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
        Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
        Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

        michael

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      9. Well, amen, Michael I can hardly argue with that. Paul tells us that the Old Testament Law just brings out our old sin nature and ends up in wrath, but that the promise was only to the “Isaacs,” those born of grace and not works, which display sin. The nation of Israel’s history is ridden with wickedness, and Paul tells us why: they didn’t seek righteousness by grace. When we get outside of God’s grace bad things happen. Let’s both seek the mercies of the living God that endure forever!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. RHUTCHIN,

      I’m responding on this thread because I don’t see a reply button after your latest comment to me about Divine Determinism?

      You write: //Michael writes, “Divine Determinism is the view that God, before the creation of the world, has predetermined exactly whatever comes to pass….”

      Your definition basically focuses on God’s knowledge of all future events. You need to add a few words describing how God is able to ordain (predetermine) all things – How is it that God is in the position of willing and decreeing all that happens?//

      As I noted to BRIANWAGNER I pulled that definition off some site that posited that as a definition. I’m a novice and new to these terms, equal ultimacy, double predestination and Divine Determinism. So go ahead and lay out whatever you want that you think would be apropos for me to understand your view on this subject.

      thanks
      michael

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      1. Michal writes, ” I pulled that definition off some site that posited that as a definition.”

        Beware of what you read on the internet.

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      2. Divine Determinism – God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:11)

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  6. The question is not the means God uses, it whether God is responsible for man’s actions. Given Calvin’s words above, the consistent Calvinist should just say: “Obviously, it happened exactly the way God wanted it to.” rather then trying to pass it off on secondary causes. You can’t say: “The devil made me do it.” if God is pulling the devil’s strings.

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  7. Pastor Flowers,

    While I can see why you would see an inconsistency here at first glance, I think that on further inspection there is no inconsistency and a very real difference between double predestination and equal ultimacy. I have gotten to where I don’t even use the terms “permit” and “allow” when discussing soteriology with non-Calvinists just to avoid any misunderstandings or accusations of double speak from those who don’t understand my position. I will attempt to explain what that position is and show how there is no inconsistency as briefly as possible.

    To begin, God in His eternal state of omniscience knew all of His own actions and all the repercussions of His actions perfectly. Genesis tells us that He created man “very good”, yet man chose to sin. The difference between God’s goodness, which is immutable, and man’s goodness, which was mutable, was knowledge. God cannot change because He is omniscient. What He is, He will always be because nothing can happen and no new piece of information can come to Him that He didn’t already know. Nothing will ever happen that He didn’t anticipate causing Him to change His mind or His character. Man was created good but not omniscient. God gave man the right instructions when He put him in the garden, but Adam was able to take in new information that he didn’t know already. Adam and Eve were given false information from the serpent. They were given the incentive of improving themselves to become more godlike and the fruit that was forbidden was “pleasing to the eye”. They were not fallen and naturally inclined toward sin before the fall, but a sinful nature is not necessary for committing sin. All that was necessary was that they be created with limited knowledge and given a command to be obeyed by God.
    I believe God intended the fall for His own good purposes. He knew that Satan would tempt Eve. He created Satan and knew of his fall in much the same way. He made him beautiful and powerful yet with limited knowledge. Satan took in knowledge of his own existence and instead of giving all glory to God for how he was created, he pursued glory for himself based on the knowledge he took in of himself in comparison to other creatures. God knew of Satan’s fall as well as man’s fall. He intended both to happen to accomplish God’s good purposes in the perfect way. Where in all of this did God do evil? If the fall was necessary in accomplishing God’s good purposes in the most perfect way, wouldn’t God be wrong to not ensure that it happened?

    Knowing that God knows all things perfectly, that would necessarily include all of His actions and their repercussions. He knew how things would play out after His acts of creation if left to play out without any intervention from Himself, yet He also knew every time He would intervene and never had any intention of letting things simply play out through causal sequences without intervening. This is where we see the distinction between permitting and directly causing different things. God performed nothing but good actions from pure intentions, and knowing where the natural course of things would go eternally intended to intervene at those points in time where the natural course of things would not accomplish His good purposes in the most perfect way. While God’s good actions causally lead to what happens within His creation and thus causally determine what happens if He allows things to continue without intervention, He either intervenes to bring about something else or simply allows things to play out without any intervention.

    In both cases God has determined what happens within His creation, but there is a real difference in how He does it. When intervening He either prevents evil, directly acts to bring about good, or fine tunes circumstances to work things out exactly to what He wills them to be. If He were to supernaturally work in a person’s heart turning it toward evil, this would seem like an evil act on God’s part. In salvation, If He were to supernaturally work in a person’s heart turning it to reject Him, this would be equal ultimacy. After the fall people will naturally reject God. He simply allows things to continue without intervention in the case of the reprobate. He supernaturally intervenes turning people’s hearts toward Him in the case of the elect. The difference is that in the Calvinistic view all of God’s actions are good and all of His intentions are pure, while in the view of equal ultimacy some of God’s actions are not good.

    You may claim that because God has determined everything both good and evil that this is a distinction without a difference, but there couldn’t be a clearer difference in what God does. The two propositions: “All of God’s actions are good” and “Some of God’s actions are not good” are by logical definition contradictory since it is a universal affirmative and particular negative with the same subject and predicate. If contradictory propositions are not different, then the word “different” has no meaning.

    You ask, “For a Calvinist to affirm divine permission in any sense of the word is for them to affirm contra-causal (or autonomous) creaturely free will, for what is there to permit is a deterministic worldview except God’s own determinations?” I think it should be clear that the way I have used the words “permit” and “allow” above doesn’t require anything other than compatibilistic freedom. A person is free to follow their prevailing desire as they perceive it after evaluating the sum total of their circumstances when making any decision. God either intervenes to bring about a different result or He permits things to continue on without intervention. Either way God has ultimately determined what happens through causal means. To say that God permits things to play out according to their natural causal sequences which can ultimately be causally traced back to His good actions in no way affirms “contra-causal” or “autonomous” creaturely freedom. It requires compatibilistic freedom. You may disagree with me on many points within my view, but there is no inconsistency in my view.

    Likewise, it is not an accurate representation of the Calvinistic view to ask, “for Calvinists to speak of God restraining evil is also an affirmation of autonomous freedom, for what is there to restrain outside of God’s own determinations?” Things that are restrained are not determined by God. They are what would have happened without God’s direct intervention. God eternally determined what would happen by knowing what He would intervene to bring about, not what He would restrain from happening. The things that are prevented were never intended to happen and there was never any chance of them happening.

    I think some Calvinists like John Piper appeal to mystery too quickly, but I see no internal logical inconsistency in Calvin’s refusal to use the words “allow” or “permit” in abstract theological discussion for clarity while using these words in practical pastoral conversations where the finer points of soteriology were not being discussed. I would think that the people he pastored would already be very familiar with his view of God’s absolute control of everything. Jonathan Edwards never said anything that should lead to your conclusion that Adam would have had to violate the law of his own nature according to Edward’s own definition of human will and choice. I would recommend reading Edward’s “Freedom of the Will” and really studying every step in his argumentation there. I think you would come away with a new appreciation for his mind and wouldn’t be so quick to accuse him of elementary inconsistencies in his views.

    I think this article all boils down to you forcing a view onto Calvinists that they don’t hold. I would agree that it would be inconsistent to say that God determined everything and did not determine everything, but when we use the words “allow” and “permit” we are not denying the determination of the things allowed. We are using different terms to recognize the real difference in what God does when directly intervening and when not directly intervening. Like I said before, I usually don’t use these terms in soteriological discussions with non-Calvinists just to avoid confusion, but there is no inconsistency when they are used in the way I have explained. God bless brother.

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    1. I want to comment on Matt Mayo’s post. Matt says that Leighton does not get it, that it is perfectly permissible for theological determinists to speak of God permitting people to do things when in fact everything has been predetermined. Calvin clearly disagrees with Matt and had some very negative things to say about the use of the term “permission” when speaking of God’s decreeing whatsoever comes to pass.

      Looking at Matt’s post the key words on this appear here:

      “He knew how things would play out after His acts of creation if left to play out without any intervention from Himself, yet He also knew every time He would intervene and never had any intention of letting things simply play out through causal sequences without intervening. This is where we see the distinction between permitting and directly causing different things. God performed nothing but good actions from pure intentions, and knowing where the natural course of things would go eternally intended to intervene at those points in time where the natural course of things would not accomplish His good purposes in the most perfect way. While God’s good actions causally lead to what happens within His creation and thus causally determine what happens if He allows things to continue without intervention, He either intervenes to bring about something else or simply allows things to play out without any intervention.”

      According to Matt all of history can be seen as either one of two things occurring: either the event is a deterministic causal sequence of some kind (let’s call it “causal chains” for short) or God performing an “intervention.” So if we look at any event that occurs it is either a causal chain necessitating some event or an intervention by God.

      Daniel Dennett one of the infamous new atheists claims that evolution is an acid that destroys everything in its path. I think Dennett was mistaken about this, it is not evolution that ought to be characterized as the universal acid that destroys everything in its path, it is exhaustive determinism. If Matt is correct, this acid of exhaustive determinism destroys everything that is meaningful: free will as ordinarily understood, creativity, personality, personhood, language use, responsibility, praise, blame, values, rationality, science, art, culture, religious faith, beauty, goodness, truth, all of it goes out the window. Instead of these realities it is all replaced by a puppet world where we are all puppets and God is the divine puppet master.

      But no theological determinist actually lives out their belief. They cannot it is impossible for them to live it out. They don’t treat other people as merely “causal chains” (especially those who are most important to them like their spouses and kids). Just like everyone else they speak of having and making choices, of being creative, of being responsible for ones actions, of being rational, of praise for good actions and blame for bad actions. Just like everybody else they choose whether or not to respond in a post, what words they choose to use or not use.

      And there is a reason for this: they have to live in the real world just like non-determinists do. The real world that God has created in which we sometimes do have and make our own choices. The real world in which we are persons created in the image of God not just biological machines. The real world where we are not just the result of some causal chain, but are a combination of our genes, our environment, what we have learned and also the choices we have sometimes freely made. Besides being false, exhaustive determinism is extremely boring. It is remarkably similar to the materialist’s claim that “everything is merely molecules in motion” (substitute “causal chains” for “molecules”).

      John Searle humorously points out that the determinist when they go out to eat at a restaurant, does not just sit there and expect some causal chain to bring their food to the table. They, just like the rest of us, looks at the menu, sees what the available options are, deliberates, and then selects one and by their choice excludes the others. And their mouth then freely selects the words they use to convey their selection to the server, just like with everybody else. Searle is right; it can become quite comical to force deterministic explanations on everyday examples of freely made choices. Searle a professor shares another humorous illustration and he says imagine a student in a class when they raise their hand to ask a question of the instructor, the instructor then calls upon them and they answer: “I just don’t know what happened, my arm, the damn thing just shot up for no reason! Sometimes that happens I have no control over it!” We laugh at this because we know when that student raises their arm as a result of a freely made choice, they do so for reasons in light of what is important to them, and nothing besides the person themselves forced that arm to go up nor was it random. It was fully intentional and a freely performed action. And we can do this with any choice or action the determinist engages in. Just analyze it as being **merely** the result of a causal chain, it gets quite comical.

      Matt also recommended that we study Jonathan Edwards further:

      “I would recommend reading Edward’s “Freedom of the Will” and really studying every step in his argumentation there. I think you would come away with a new appreciation for his mind and wouldn’t be so quick to accuse him of elementary inconsistencies in his views.”

      I disagree, Edwards views on the will are passé (except for a few Calvinist determinists like Matt). His book the Freedom of the Will has been passed by in contemporary discussions of free will. Edwards presented certain definitions; he then assumed these definitions and developed his arguments for theological determinism. But those definitions can easily be rejected. One evidence that suggests that Edwards is passé is that modern philosophers don’t cite him or this work much. The discussion has moved on past Edwards and his now archaic and practically useless book. Among most contemporary Christian philosophers the majority hold to libertarian free will and so they aren’t citing Edwards much either. If you want to see a good example of begging the question and constructing an entire edifice from false assumptions then by all means read Edwards’ book on the Freedom of the Will. If you’ve got better things to do with your time, then pass, use your time in some other more worthwhile pursuit.

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      1. Robert,

        It’s funny that I post a comment demonstrating that there is no inconsistency in the use of the terms “allow” and “permit” and you post a lengthy reply that does nothing to demonstrate otherwise. Instead you just seem to object to living in a world where the Law of Causation is true because you say, “determinism destroys everything that is meaningful: free will as ordinarily understood, creativity, personality, personhood, language use, responsibility, praise, blame, values, rationality, science, art, culture, religious faith, beauty, goodness, truth, all of it goes out the window”. Yes your view of Libertarian Freedom is destroyed, but I would disagree with you about everything else you listed. Of course you didn’t bother to demonstrate any of the claims you made in your reply.

        You claim that I can’t live out my beliefs, but I do it very well. I don’t believe that people are “merely causal chains” so you can put that straw man away. I operate on the knowledge that I will always be able to do (as long as it is within my natural abilities) exactly what I determine to be most desirable, as I perceive it by taking in information and evaluating that information through my thought process.

        It seems that John Searle has shot himself in the foot again. When I go into a restaurant I don’t just expect the food that I would have chosen to make its way to my table. If it did there would be no causal chain. Searle is attacking a straw man if this is meant to be a refutation of Compatibilism. I believe the means to the end of getting my food in front of me are necessary. The links in the causal chain must be there. If they were not, my food magically appearing in front of me would be an uncaused effect which is illogical. You can apply that to prayer, evangelism, or whatever. God not only determines the ends, He also determines the means, and the means are necessary in bringing about the ends. The same thing applies to the other silly example of the student raising his hand. Of course it was intentional and he freely chose to do it. There was a choice made based on the circumstances that student perceived and how he evaluated his options through his thought process to determine that raising his hand was his most desirable option. A complex sequence of specific causes went into producing a specific effect. As I demonstrated in our previous conversation, identical causes producing logically opposite effects is absurd, yet that is exactly what your view of Libertarian Freedom requires.

        You then attack Edward’s “Freedom of the Will” without even addressing any of its content (much like you did my comment). People are still publishing books about that that book and Edwards is widely quoted among scholars (not that any of that determines anything about the validity of his arguments). You simply called his work “passe” and “archaic”, made a couple of very vague comments about assumptions and question begging, and made a fallacious appeal to the majority as though it proved something. If you want to cite specific examples of what you claim from the book, I would be happy to discuss them. Otherwise, I would really prefer something that addresses what I wrote in my first comment if you can really demonstrate the inconsistency that Pastor Flowers wrote about in his article since that is what I commented on in the first place. It’s funny how many times the specific point of the discussion gets diverted and how many things go unanswered in these discussions. I was hoping Pastor Flowers would defend his accusations of inconsistency, but if someone else wants to defend it that’s fine too.

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      2. Matt Mayo writes, “…I post a comment demonstrating that there is no inconsistency in the use of the terms “allow” and “permit”…”

        I think the terms, “allow” and “permit,” do not adequately convey what God is doing. People can think that God is passive or indifferent to what is happening and uninvolved, just flippantly letting people do whatever it is they want to do.

        God is actively involved in everything in His creation. Satan can only enter the garden if God stands aside thereby allowing/permitting Satan to enter. God decides that Satan should enter the garden and God takes an action – moving out of the way – and only then does Satan enter.

        David brings Bathsheba into his bedroom only by God’s decree. This means that God decides that David should carry out the things he desires and God moves out of the way so that He is not a barrier to that which David wants.

        As believers, we always want God to stand between us and sin, so we pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” We don’t want God to move out of the way thereby allowing Satan to sift us for we know what that outcome will be.

        God is intimately and actively involved in every aspect of His creation; He sustains it down to each electron circling in each atom and that electron runs its course only because God sustains it and directs it.

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  8. Stan,

    Thanks for elaborating on the meaning of “Hylomorphism”. Sounds like a very interesting term.
    Again, I enjoyed your first post because you write in such an original and creative way and add interesting terms/concepts to the discussion.

    ““Gap” in the above was an analogy for a supposed causal “break” between the actions we perform and the things God has instituted. Libertarian free will fans imagine that there is such a “gap”; libertarian free will means that I can perform a non-random action that is also not-wholly-attributable to prior and external causes (which ultimately arrive at God’s creative decisions).”

    So “gap” is your term for the libertarian claim that not everything is determined, that there are gaps in which libertarian free will operates? I see no problem with that and it is ironic that John Searle who is not a Christian, but a materialist, who holds to LFW and argues for it very persuasively in his writings, in discussing LFW he uses the term “gaps” as well.

    “If you think God’s work is ineffable such that we are not permitted to discuss kinds thereof, you might find fault with theology broadly. The idea that our inability to fully understand the varieties of his work yields the inability to discuss those varieties =at all= is a non sequitur that I would not, and most theologians would not, accept.”

    I believe that you misunderstood my point Stan.

    I was not saying that we are not permitted to discuss things about God.

    Of course we can do that.

    The same God that told Isaiah his ways and thoughts were much “higher than our ways and thoughts” also said in the same book: “come let us reason to together.” So a Christian is not obliged to say nothing about God at all, to not engage in theological discussion at all. That is not at all what I said or claimed.

    My concern was that you spoke of having developed a **taxonomy**, a categorization of God’s ways of interacting with the world.

    Recall what I said about this:

    “Seems to me that if the true God, the one God, the God who reveals himself in the Bible if he is truly transcendent, he is beyond our **categories**. And to be blunt we really do not know how he acts in the world so how could we come up with this supposed taxonomy? To come up with it you would need to fully understand his ways and thoughts which according to Isaiah are way beyond our thoughts! It may be a well-meaning idea on your part: I just don’t think it is doable by anyone (including you). So it seems to me you are speaking of things way beyond not just your depth of understanding but beyond the understanding of all of us combined.”

    My claim remains that God is beyond our categories because He is transcendent.

    As He **is** beyond our categories, that means any attempted **taxonomy** of his ways is not something that we can do. In saying this however, it does not follow, it is a non-sequitur, to then claim as you have that it follows that we can therefore say nothing about God/cannot engage in theology whatsoever. Not having a taxonomy of God’s ways, because it is beyond our capabilities (and it is beyond us if God is truly transcendent) is not at all like saying that we should say nothing about God or not engage in theology at all. That is an extreme response to what I claimed.

    That being said, thanks for responding and keep up the creative thinking and conceptualizations.

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  9. Stan,

    Thanks for elaborating on the meaning of “Hylomorphism”. Sounds like a very interesting term.
    Again, I enjoyed your first post because you write in such an original and creative way and add interesting terms/concepts to the discussion.

    ““Gap” in the above was an analogy for a supposed causal “break” between the actions we perform and the things God has instituted. Libertarian free will fans imagine that there is such a “gap”; libertarian free will means that I can perform a non-random action that is also not-wholly-attributable to prior and external causes (which ultimately arrive at God’s creative decisions).”

    So “gap” is your term for the libertarian claim that not everything is determined, that there are gaps in which libertarian free will operates? I see no problem with that and it is ironic that John Searle who is not a Christian, but a materialist, who holds to LFW and argues for it very persuasively in his writings, in discussing LFW he uses the term “gaps” as well.

    “If you think God’s work is ineffable such that we are not permitted to discuss kinds thereof, you might find fault with theology broadly. The idea that our inability to fully understand the varieties of his work yields the inability to discuss those varieties =at all= is a non sequitur that I would not, and most theologians would not, accept.”

    I believe that you misunderstood my point Stan.

    I was not saying that we are not permitted to discuss things about God.

    Of course we can do that.

    The same God that told Isaiah his ways and thoughts were much “higher than our ways and thoughts” also said in the same book: “come let us reason to together.” So a Christian is not obliged to say nothing about God at all, to not engage in theological discussion **at all**. That is not **at all** (pun intended) what I said or claimed.

    My concern was that you spoke of having developed a **taxonomy**, a categorization of God’s ways of interacting with the world.

    Recall what I said about this:

    “Seems to me that if the true God, the one God, the God who reveals himself in the Bible if he is truly transcendent, he is beyond our **categories**. And to be blunt we really do not know how he acts in the world so how could we come up with this supposed taxonomy? To come up with it you would need to fully understand his ways and thoughts which according to Isaiah are way beyond our thoughts! It may be a well-meaning idea on your part: I just don’t think it is doable by anyone (including you). So it seems to me you are speaking of things way beyond not just your depth of understanding but beyond the understanding of all of us combined.”

    My claim remains that God is beyond our categories because He is transcendent.

    As He **is** beyond our categories, that means any attempted **taxonomy** of his ways is not something that we can do. In saying this however, it does not follow, it is a non-sequitur, to then claim as you have that it follows that we can therefore say nothing about God/cannot engage in theology whatsoever. Not having a taxonomy of God’s ways, because it is beyond our capabilities (and it is beyond us if God is truly transcendent) is not at all like saying that we should say nothing about God or not engage in theology at all. That is an extreme response to what I claimed.

    That being said, thanks for responding and keep up the creative thinking and conceptualizations.

    Like

  10. I’m reading along checking out the discussion between rhutchin and Brian Wagner on the issue of God’s omniscience (having had an extensive discussion with Brian Wagner on this issue and discovering that Brian is an open theist who denies that God knows what people will in fact freely choose to do in the future [thus God is NOT ominiscient according to Brian Wagner]) and I read Brian Wagner writing the following:

    “God was omniscient before determining to create the heavens, earth, and mankind. And he is still
    omniscient before any of His freely made future determinations” (11:33 AM)

    Has Brian Wagner renounced his false open theistic beliefs?

    That would be great, if so, his affirmation here is that God knows everything including freely made choices that we will make in the future. Now I hope that Brian has rejected his past open theism beliefs.

    On the other hand, if Brian still holds his open theism beliefs, for him to say here twice that God is omniscient is misleading and even dishonest. If I showed his quote to some friends and they had not interacted with him and did not know he was an open theist they might come to the conclusiion that Brian really believes that God is omniscient, that God really does know everything including what will in fact occur in the future (including what choices we will freely make). I hope he is no longer an open theist. If he still is, this quotation by him reminds me of my past experiences dealing with non-Christian cultists in counter cult ministry (i.e. they would use Christian terms, the same terms we regularly use, but with very different meanings attached to the terms). If Brian continues to deny that God knows what we will freely choose to do in the future, then he really should not be saying that God **is** omniscient.

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    1. Michael, I do not self identify as an open theist, but do hold to some premises that some who call themselves open theists hold to. But I also hold to perseverance of the saints, but that doesn’t make me a Calvinist.

      I have you my definition of divine determinism. My view is that the future does not yet exist except in God’s mind.

      Since not everything has been predetermined, I believe, though not dogmatically, that God knows the future fully as a combination of everything He has determined already and all the possibilities that still are possible because of His free will and any contra causal freedom He permits man to have.

      That may not be the traditional definition of omniscience of Roman Catholicism, but I believe it represents the biblical revelation better. Many poor definitions from Roman Catholicism have been redefined, and rightly so, since they borrowed much from human philosophy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. brianwagner writes, “My view is that the future does not yet exist except in God’s mind.”

        If any part of the future is undetermined, that future cannot exist even in God’s mind simply because, it may turn out not to happen at all.

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      2. brianwagner

        two things stump me now with your responses about open theism.

        First is this: //That may not be the traditional definition of omniscience of Roman Catholicism, but I believe it represents the biblical revelation better. Many poor definitions from Roman Catholicism have been redefined, and rightly so, since they borrowed much from human philosophy.//

        I’m not able to get my mind around that. Who in here is arguing from a Roman Catholic position?

        Two, you write: //My view is that the future does not yet exist except in God’s mind.

        Since not everything has been predetermined, I believe, though not dogmatically, that God knows the future fully as a combination of everything He has determined already and all the possibilities that still are possible because of His free will and any contra causal freedom He permits man to have.//

        That seems to me to be a thin slice of open theism. As I have been taught about God, past, present and future, if God learned anything it would not be God. This conversation has now turned a corner from where I sit. Do you believe God is omniscient and learns NOTHING?

        His name is Alpha and OMEGA, Beginning and END and First and LAST. This creation before God spoke “in the beginning” has a predetermined OMEGA, END AND LAST moment. Do you agree with that analysis?

        thanks
        michael

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      3. I label the traditional definition of omniscience Roman Catholic (Augustinian, if you’d rather). But I think you would agree that we should be willing to test all theological definitions with Scripture, no matter how old or how popular they might be.

        You said – that my definition of omniscience “seems to me to be a thin slice of open theism.” I s that better than a thick slice?  You also said – “if God learned anything He would not be God.” How do you factor in Hebrews 5:8 = “…though He was a Son, [yet] He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” It appears from Scripture that the incarnation was a new experience for God. Would it be reasonable to call it a “learning” experience even though in His omniscience nothing took Him by surprise since He knew in terms of His infinite understanding (Ps 147:5) all that possibly could transpire?

        These titles you mentioned ”Alpha and OMEGA, Beginning and END and First and LAST” do imply various meanings, and I think it would be unwise to make all three couplets mean exactly the same thing. Also I think it would be unwise to give dogmatic definitions to these titles unless the Scripture itself defines them more. Your analysis is reasonable that “before God spoke ‘in the beginning’” God had in His mind a predetermined ending, or outcome that He would sovereignly bring about. But there is less certainty that these titles imply everything in between has been predetermined from before creation. God is certainly sovereign over everything in between and He exercises that sovereignty freely and in oversight of the contra-causal freedom He has allowed for man to express.

        I personally believe Alpha and Omega points to God as the source of all Truth and its revelation. The title Beginning and End points to God as sovereign creator and final judge. And First and Last points probably to His eternality, though I like the idea of it pointing to His exaltation and humility in our behalf. I hope this helps.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “Hebrews 5:8 = “…though He was a Son, [yet] He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” It appears from Scripture that the incarnation was a new experience for God. Would it be reasonable to call it a “learning” experience even though in His omniscience nothing took Him by surprise…”

        More context from Hebrews 5–

        “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth…Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…”

        Earlier in Hebrews 2, we read: “Since the children have flesh and blood, [Christ] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–…For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

        As to omniscience, God knew that Christ would not sin and would be the source of salvation for His elect. That was the game plan. That Christ experienced suffering from a human perspective (or however, we might phrase it), does not imply that God “learned” something that He did not already know. Had God “learned” something through Christ’s suffering, then we could not say that God is omniscient.

        So we just distinguish further the division here. You say that God is not omniscient so He can learn through Christ’s experience in suffering. The Calvinist view is that God is omniscient and would not learn anything from Christ’s suffering.

        There is the issue of how “learned obedience from what he suffered” relates to omniscience. Does this “learned obedience” represent new knowledge for God? The Calvinist would say, No, as Christ, in a sense, stopped being God and started being human when He was born, so He experienced life as a human and as a human learned His ABC’s and numbers like any child, learned how to work with wood by his father, etc. As a human, Christ was not omniscient. This would not detract from God’s omniscience.

        Sounds like a context issue that you are ignoring by your statement.

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      5. Who is ignoring the meanings of the words “Son” and “learned” in this context, this verse, Hebrews 5:8?

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      6. brianwagner writes, “Who is ignoring the meanings of the words “Son” and “learned” in this context, this verse, Hebrews 5:8?”

        Well you wrote, “It appears from Scripture that the incarnation was a new experience for God.” Did you mean “…a new experience for the Son.” Or were you just ignoring the Son.

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      7. Roger, I was going to ignore your earlier statement, – “No, as Christ, in a sense, stopped being God and started being human when He was born…” believing it was just an oversight in the moment on your part, since I’ve come to notice that it seems you read part, reply, read part, reply… etc which indicates to me that you do not try to understand as fully as possible what the other one is saying.

        But now that you have said – “Well you wrote, ‘It appears from Scripture that the incarnation was a new experience for God.’ Did you mean ‘…a new experience for the Son.’ Or were you just ignoring the Son” I believe I should bring up that previous comment also. Are you suggesting that the Son really was no longer God in some way while incarnate or that it was not God experiencing the incarnation as a new experience? Really? And I am the one accused of heresy?

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      8. brianwagner writes, “Are you suggesting that the Son really was no longer God in some way while incarnate or that it was not God experiencing the incarnation as a new experience?”

        Jesus said, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17) So, yes, I think we can say that “the Son really was no longer God in some way while incarnate.” To this we might also add the appearance of Moses and Elijah to strengthen Him before His death and His constant need for prayer to avail Himself of His father for some purpose. At the same time, I don’t see any grounds to think that God did not already know that which Christ was experiencing in human form – simply because it was God who created humanity and built within humanity the ability to experience life even as Jesus would do in His incarnation.

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      9. Michael,

        You asked Brian Wagner direclty if he is an open theist. He is an open theist as shown by numerous coments made here at this blog. When I discussed this with him he pulleld this same thing that he does not self-identify as an open theist and that he does not like labels. It is true that labels may sometimes used in a harsh way to attack someone, at the same time sometimes labels are just a simple and convenient way to designate a person’s position. For example if you ask me if I hold the traditional view of omniscience (i.e. the view held by the vast majority of Christians throughout church history whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants or Independents): that God knows everything about the past the present and the future. I would answer Yes with no reservations. I have nothing to hide here and as vitually every Christian holds this view I am quite confident that we all have it right, that the Bible does teach that God knows the future (incluidng choices we will in fact make in the future and God knows these choices before they are made). You will note that Wagner does not want to self identify as an open theist (I would not want to be identified with a position that in all of church history is ONLY held by Socinians a cultic group and open theists today either). Because he holds this false view of God’s knowledge he has to attack and undermine the traditional view (one of the ways he repeatedly tries to do this is by making it merely a Catholic doctrine, but it is not merely a Catholic doctrine it is also an Eastern Orthodox doctrine and a Protestant doctrine as well).

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      10. Note that Brian Wagner wants to reduce the traditional understanding of God’s omniscience to only a Catholic doctrine. No, it is also an Eastern Orthodox doctrine, also a Protestant doctrine, also a Calvinist doctrine, also an Arminian doctrine, also a Methodist doctrine, also a Presbyterian doctrine, also a Southern Baptist doctrine, also . . ………….

        Note Wager says his open theism “represents the biblical doctrine better.”

        No it doesn’t, not even close. The Bible has numerous instances (we usually call them prophecies) where God tells someone before the future event occurs what some individual or group will choose to do. Brian Wagner denies that God knows these things. So his understanding of omniscience is not the view held by virtually every other Christian.

        Note in attacking the traditional understanding of omniscience by trying to reduce it to merely a Catholic doctrine (which is both false and misleading) he also says this “Catholic” view of omniscience “borrowed much from human philosophy.” Again a misleading and false representation. Most of us simply look at the numerous prophecies in the Bible, where God says someone or some group will choose to do something in the future, and we conclude well if God gets these prophecies right then he must know the future to be able to do that. There is no borrowing from human philosophy involved in that. It is open theism that borrows from human philosophy to deny that God is omniscient to deny that he knows the future fully (e.g. they will claim that the future does not yet exist so God cannot know it, but that is human philosophy not scripture, or they will claim that God knows all that can be known and that no one can know the future choices that people will in fact make, but again this is human philosophy not scripture).

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      11. Robert writes, “Brian Wagner denies that God knows these things. So his understanding of omniscience is not the view held by virtually every other Christian.”

        To be fair, I think brianwagner concedes that God knows a good part of the future – he says that God only leaves some things undetermined, not all. The one notable outcome that brianwagner needs to keep undetermined is the salvation decision of each person. If he allows God to know the decisions everyone makes regarding salvation, then he becomes a Calvinist and he wants to avoid that.

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  11. Michael you asked a good question: does God learn anything? The answer, again held by virtually all Christians from all Christian theological traditions (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants) who affrim that God is omniscient is that No God does not learn anything.

    Now it must be noted that there is one rather important caveat: the incarnation when the Son Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. When Jesus became flesh he entered our human in time perspective, experienced physical sensations including thrist and tiredness and pain. He also while incarnated did not know the hour of the second coming though he said the Father did. Now Michael do we conclude based on the Jesus’ experiences while in the flesh that God does not know everything, that God ordinarily experiences thirst, tiredness and pain? Or do we say these things were true of Jesus while in the flesh? Note when you asked Brian the question of whether or not God learns things: he responded by citing a passage from Hebrews that directly refers to when Jesus was in the flesh and learned obedience. In the past when I worked with Walter Martin doing counter cult ministry those who denied the divinity of Christ (e.g. the Arians, the JW’s) would be very quick to cite verses like the one that Brian cites to prove Jesus could not have been God since he learned things and other passages referring to Jesus while he was in the flesh. I expect this from cultists, as they reject that Jesus was and is God. They reject the trinity. But note that Brian Wagner the open theist when asked directly about his views. Instead of being honest and forthright and saying that Yes God learns what future choices we will make when we make them: resorts to the same proof texts used by cultists to argue against Jesus divinity. That ought to be a loud and bright warnig light about Wagner’s open theistic beliefs.

    Brian Wagner denies that God knows what choices people will actually make in the future. That is open theism and it is a deniable of God being omniscient. The God of the Bible knows everything including future choice we will make: the God of open theism does not know future choices that we will make so by no stretch of the imagination should this be viewed as God being omniscient.

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    1. Robert writes, “Brian Wagner denies that God knows what choices people will actually make in the future.”

      The choice, at issue, is that of salvation. What people have figured out is that the Calvinist system says that God is omniscient with respect to the future and knows who chooses salvation and who does not (further adding that God does not obtain this knowledge by observing what the person chooses).

      brianwagner does not like the Calvinist system and he realizes that, to oppose the Calvinist system, he must oppose the idea that God is omniscient. He has no other option. I suspect that he would like to agree that God is omniscient but knows that he cannot do so for then he would have to accept the Calvinist system – and he does not want to do that.

      That is why Calvinism is so difficult to oppose – it forces people to deny things that they have no real Scriptural basis to deny.

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      1. Rhutchin was correct in his earlier comments about Jesus during the incarnation in answer to Brian Wagner’s appeal to Jesus learning obedience during the incarnation. rhtuchin is not correct here however. rhutchin tries to present things as if only calvinism believes that God has foreknowledge of all future choices (including the choices to trust Jesus or reject Jesus ending up in the eternal destinies of heaven or hell). This is not true, non-calvinists believe in omniscience and they believe that this includes God knowing who will end up saved and who will end up lost.

        Note that rhutchin claims: “brianwagner does not like the Calvinist system and he realizes that, to oppose the Calvinist system, he must oppose the idea that God is omniscient”. Non-calvinists like Wagner do not oppose the calvinist system merely because calvinists hold to omniscience (non-Calvinists and again this includes Catholics and Eastern orthodox and most Protestants who are not calvinists hold to omniscience). No, they oppose the calvinist system because they see it as false and unbiblical. Notice that rhutchin also falsely claims that Wagner would like to agree that God is omniscient but supposedly if he did so then he would have to accept the calvinist system. This is false and again non-calvinists are quite comfortable both holding to the traditional understanding of omniscience and rejecting calvinism. So rhutchin’s claims here are completely false.

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    2. Robert I agree it’s completely improper to use Jesus’ human nature to try to prove Open Theism. A human nature can learn things, by definition, but if we believe Christ has two natures, than as you say, we don’t impute the human side into the divine.

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  12. Michael,
    You correctly noticed that Brian Wagner tried to minimize the traditional understanding of omniscience by labeling it as the Catholic definition of omniscience. He is wrong about this as this view is held by virtually all Christians throughout church history. Brian Wagner also tried to minimize the traditional view by claiming “I label the traditional definition of omniscience Roman Catholic (Augustinian, if you’d rather).” So first he tries to attack and minimize it merely a Catholic doctrine (that is false as it is held by the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants as well). Next he tries to attribute it to Augustine who was around in about 400 A.D. This fails as well as the early church in the CENTURIES before Augustine also held the traditional understanding of omniscience. The traditional view then has been held throughout church history including in the earliest centuries of church history (before Augustine ever came on the scene). People need to examine church history in regards to this doctrine of God’s omniscience. If they do so they will find it was held by Christians from the beginning, across all church traditions including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, for all of church history. It is only in the late twentieth century and early twenty first century that open theism comes along and attacks and denies the traditional understanding claiming its false and unbiblical understanding to be superior to the traditional view.

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    1. Robert,

      you write: //It is only in the late twentieth century and early twenty first century that open theism comes along and attacks and denies the traditional understanding claiming its false and unbiblical understanding to be superior to the traditional view.//

      That doesn’t surprise me seeing we have Scripture warnings that such will be the case in the last days. Here are just two that come quickly to mind when reading your response about Brian Wagner:::>

      1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
      1Ti 4:2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
      1Ti 4:3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

      And

      2Ti 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
      2Ti 3:2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
      2Ti 3:3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
      2Ti 3:4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
      2Ti 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
      2Ti 3:6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
      2Ti 3:7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

      The reality is for us who have indeed been “born again” we have been conjoined to Christ whose truth claim is “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” no man comes to the Father but by Me.

      He is the One who defined the GIFT of Eternal Life and He did it with these Words:::>

      Joh 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

      What amazes me about myself is how quickly I take in what others say as TRUTH and this struggle has been with me since I have been in ministry starting back in 1975. I was made alive in Christ, conjoined to Him spiritually literally July 21, 1975 after reading in a KJV Bible this one verse:::>

      Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

      The truth is Jesus is the Active Living All powerful Truth Who engages us for whom He died and leads us into His Life daily as we pick up our cross beam and go to our daily execution. Sometime last week I was listening to a D A Carson lecture where he was noting a revelation of truth he arrived at being sharpened by Martyn Lloyd-Jones who was opening up what it meant to carry one’s cross beam to their execution. The point of emphasis was how often do we realize God has condemned us to death so we are required to carry our own cross beam daily to our daily execution! Think about that! How often I avoid the reality of my sinful human carnal nature having to die daily no matter how good or holy or right I am! It hit me like a ton of bricks that God has condemned us all to death. Jesus indeed spoke the truth about it when He said either we fall on the Rock and die to self and live for His glory daily or the Rock falls on us and we perish!

      Pro 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
      Pro 12:27 Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.
      Pro 12:28 In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

      I appreciate the sharpening and the sense you bring to this debate and look forward to experience more of it as we plod along at Leighton’s expense in here! 🙂

      michael

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      1. Hi Michael, I am going to think the best and believe that you really don’t think I am professing doctrines of demons.

        Would you agree with John, the apostle, that we have been in the last days since the first century? He even called it the last hour (1John 2:18). Would you agree that Paul gave two examples of doctrines of demons – forced fasting and forced celibacy in the text you quoted? The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have been practicing those doctrines for centuries.

        Would you have stood with Luther against the “traditional” teachings of most of professing Christianity in the 16th century? Would you have stood with Hubmaier (the Anabaptist theologian) against the reformed teaching of Luther and Zwingli, which dominated the areas ruled by those reformers? Is it not a logical fallacy to point to Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and some Protestants, as authorities for any theological definition when they all who profess the false gospel of baptismal regeneration for infants?

        Let’s keep our discussion to what the Bible says for those definitions!

        I love the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word, and am thankful for its clarity in all that is necessary to believe for salvation and spiritual growth!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Brian, quite frankly, it is disconcerting to me the subtlety by which you write about open theism as you do and don’t lay claim to it? Either you are deluded and deceived by a subtle demonic doctrine, which is really the way they all start or you are a blatant liar by saying you do not self identify? What you hold out as omniscience is not.

        I read your words. It’s clear you do not hold to the full, full stop, the Only True God who has absolute knowledge without learning anything, that I hold to. I am learning. Jesus, as a man was born of a woman and by that exception it implies the Son of God, fully 100% God incarnate, learned things. As I suppose you can recall written of Him He:::>

        Luk 2:40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

        AND

        Luk 2:51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
        Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

        That in no way takes away His Godhood and Divinity. He is 100% God and 100% human. This Divine knowledge introduces into mankind’s conscience a reality, a mystery, that God, Who is Omniscient, can create a body to dwell in and then dwell in that body and develop like His own people and suffer and die like His own people and for the sake of His own people and Our Heavenly Father’s Glory.

        Heb 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
        Heb 2:12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
        Heb 2:13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
        Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
        Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

        AND

        Joh 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.
        Joh 12:21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
        Joh 12:22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
        Joh 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
        Joh 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
        Joh 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
        Joh 12:26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
        Joh 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
        Joh 12:28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
        Joh 12:29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
        Joh 12:30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
        Joh 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
        Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
        Joh 12:33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

        AND

        Joh 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
        Joh 17:18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
        Joh 17:19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
        Joh 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
        Joh 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
        Joh 17:22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
        Joh 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
        Joh 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

        Honestly Brian, birds of a feather flock together. I don’t know about your feathers, but right now I am suspicious of them and you.

        I’ll be bold as a Lion now and suggest it’s time for you to repent!

        michael

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      3. Michael. I affirm all the verses of God’s holy Word that you just wrote!

        I would have liked your answers to my previous questions to you but that’s ok if you have decided not to answer.

        I am truly sorry that my words taken from scripture to help us understand how God has revealed Himself to us has encouraged you to doubt my testimony for Christ. I think your overconfidence in Robert’s opinions may have helped those doubts also.

        If there is some specific verse you wish to discuss that may help mutual understanding in the faith, please feel free to mention it. I am glad you affirm, it seems, that God through the incarnation did learn experientially things He had not experience previously. I hope that informs your understanding of the Bible’s definition of God’s immutability.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “I am glad you affirm, it seems, that God through the incarnation did learn experientially things He had not experience previously. I hope that informs your understanding of the Bible’s definition of God’s immutability.”

        I don’t think we can draw that conclusion. We can go so far as to say that Christ, having emptied Himself – “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” – of that glory, he became human and had the experience of aging as a human and learning as a human. Were such things unknown to God? Had He not sustained many humans before this and did they not grow even as Jesus would do?

        You portray God as being human but it was Christ who was human. I don’t see a basis for you to attribute to God that which you have not shown to be true of Him.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I wouldn’t necessarily see Open Theism as demonic in origin any more than Calvinism; both views, it seems to me, are an attempt at solving the problem of evil in a way (evil ends up being something that either surprises God or is decreed by God). I think a lot of doctrines that attack the necessity of faith in the cross, are demonic, but as far as I know both of those affirm the necessity of faith in the cross for salvation. I mean some beliefs are less essential, it’s hard to say exactly where, but I’m hesitate to create unnecessary division when Christ said if they’re not against us they’re for us. Just a little note to try stay balanced when sincere believers are trying to iron out the best way to interpret the Word. I for one appreciate someone taking the time to explain why, from the Word, they see things a certain way. I know I’ve been demonized many times simply for disagreeing over, what I see as, a non-essential doctrine.

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      6. dizerner writes, “…Calvinism; both views, it seems to me, are an attempt at solving the problem of evil in a way.”

        I see Calvinism as seeking to discover why one person is saved and another is not. That is the basis for TULIP.

        Calvinism gets caught up in the problem of evil, as does any other theology, only because the atheists have concocted a problem that doesn’t exist.

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      7. A good God allowing heinous evil is a “problem that doesn’t exist”? Either God has an evil side, or God isn’t powerful. It’s the age-old strongest objection to Christian theism, how can you possibly justify calling it a “problem that doesn’t exist.”

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      8. dizerner writes, “Either God has an evil side, or God isn’t powerful. It’s the age-old strongest objection to Christian theism, how can you possibly justify calling it a “problem that doesn’t exist.””

        The term, “evil, is an adjective that is used to describe certain actions. Who gets to identify what will be called “evil”? Dose man get to do it or does God?

        When you refer to something being ” heinous evil,” you have declared that dizerner, and not God, is in charge of identifying what is “evil” and what is not. You are seeking to displace God. Why aren’t you satisfied to let God identify those things that are evil.

        Jesus said, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven,…” Jesus does not distinguish one action as “heinous” and another as something lesser. Jesus is saying that any disobedience to God is heinous no matter what form it takes. When you identify one sin as “heinous,” what you are doing is seeking to justify yourself before God because you don’t do heinous sins – you just do “non-heinous” sins. It doesn’t work that way.

        God does not do evil. God can stand aside so that people can sin – do things that God describes as evil – but this does not make God evil. God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will and that purpose is ultimately for His glory. Those who advance the “problem of evil” argument put themselves over God to judge God. We don’t get to play god or judge God. Thus, there is no problem of evil.

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      9. You said:
        God can stand aside so that people can sin – do things that God describes as evil – but this does not make God evil.

        So if a young girl is raped in front of me, and I have the power to stop it, and I stand by and watch, that’s not evil?

        We may perceive judgment on sin is evil, but if someone just harms someone for no reason at all, not judgment or any conceivable reason but that the person liked to harm things, how could that not be evil for anyone? I’m not saying God couldn’t be evil if he wanted, but just because God would do evil it doesn’t make it less evil. In other words, Jesus could have said “I have come to steal, kill and destroy,” and he has that right. But then an attribute of God would be evil. You can’t say that just because God could lie, that makes it truth. It’s still a lie.

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      10. dizerner writes, “So if a young girl is raped in front of me, and I have the power to stop it, and I stand by and watch, that’s not evil?”

        So, you are judging God because this is what He does. You have a standard for that which is “evil” and you judge God by your standard yet you have no regard for the standard by which God judges you. When you ask “Why is a girl raped?,” implicitly, you ask, “Why does God send anyone to hell?’ since He can save all. Are you not saying that God is evil if He has power to save all people from hell yet does not do so. How can you who are evil judge God?

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      11. No, I don’t mean to say God is evil for sending a person to hell, I mean to say God is evil for sending a person to hell for no reason independent of his own desire. God decreed that one man’s sovereign autonomy could bring harm to other men, and I’ll admit that seems evil to me. However, that’s God leaving the choice to others, not God himself taking the choice to (regardless of any outside factors) make sure people go to hell. This may seem at first glance like a moot point, because both things seem intuitively unjust—yet the real point here is, that God did not want any man to make the wrong choice and thus end up in the damnation of other men. Now if you make the argument “God knew it would happen, so in effect, that means God did it,” you’ve thereby not just removed autonomy, you’ve removed even the *possibility* of autonomy. In other words, you’d have to say God *can’t* create autonomy ever—because God would always know that the autonomous decision would be, and thus God himself was making the decision. And that’s just an illusion—that foreknowledge equals causation. If we take that proposal in depth we can debunk it.

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      12. dizerner writes, “…I mean to say God is evil for sending a person to hell for no reason independent of his own desire.”

        That is what the atheist )Satan) has tricked you to think. What you are saying is that a person’s desire trumps God’s desire. You would be correct to say, “I mean to say God is evil for sending a person to hell for no reason independent of His (God’s) own desire.”

        dizerner writes, “Now if you make the argument “God knew it would happen, so in effect, that means God did it,” you’ve thereby not just removed autonomy, you’ve removed even the *possibility* of autonomy….because God would always know that the autonomous decision would be, and thus God himself was making the decision.”

        God is sovereign. With that sovereignty comes the right and ability to make such decisions if He chooses. The autonomous argument is promoted by the atheists as a way to make man sovereign over God. Do you know that you carrying atheist baggage?

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      13. I don’t think so, I clearly say God has the right to be evil, just as God has the right to lie. My God is more sovereign then yours because he truly can do *anything*. You on the other hand constantly limit him and box him in by saying “only this way can be what I define as sovereign.” Sovereign means, no box. Yet you say sovereign means a box. That’s our fundamental disagreement I think. So then—God’s word says he cannot lie. Does God’s Word say he is good? Can you show me one verse that says God delights in evil (not creates, delights)? It frustrates me that Calvinists act like the Bible is just overflowing with Divine determinism, when 90% of the Bible would be phrased completely differently in the light of determinism.

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      14. dizerner writes, “God has the right to be evil, just as God has the right to lie.”

        I don’t think “right” is the issue. The contentious point seems to be whether God has the “ability” to to do evil – e.g., to lie. When the Holy Spirit moves Paul to write of “..God who cannot lie…” is God telling us that He has no ability to lie – and by extrapolation, no ability to do evil? If God determines all things in line with Ephesians 1:11, and God cannot do evil, then everything God does is necessarily good.

        dizerner writes, “It frustrates me that Calvinists act like the Bible is just overflowing with Divine determinism, when 90% of the Bible would be phrased completely differently in the light of determinism.”

        Essentially, you are expressing your opinion, the opinion of a man who’s opinions, as a sinner and product of sin, are tainted.

        Nonetheless, there are a great many prophecies regarding Jesus. For example, Isaiah speaks of a virgin being impregnated, presumably by God, Daniel 24 provides a timeframe for the birth of Christ, and on and on. Certainly God had determined all these outcomes. Paul says, “…when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles,…” and then we read how God confronted Paul on the road to Damascus, we have determinism. Paul speaks of the child of promise in Romans 9 being Isaac and then Jacob. Certainly God had a hand in the impregnation of Rebekkah as she was past child-bearing ability. Jesus said that the OT spoke of Him and explained many things to the mean on the road after His resurrection. Have we even grasped the full extent of this – not that I can tell. God’s involvement in human history is obviously great – Noah’s flood, Sodom/Gomorrah, the existence of Israel across the centuries – Where is Edom (Esau) today? -, the opening of hearts, the closing of minds, and on we could go.

        Against all this, you want us to focus on some verses that you opine are different. Would 90% of the Bible actually be phrased different or just 1% and this only to please you and your limited grasp of God? The Calvinists frustrate you because your ignorance of God’s word is of such magnitude that you cannot grasp the things they have found and your human sinful flesh fights against the insights of much wiser people who spent considerably more time and effort to understand the Scriptures than you have. Why not just accept the notion that you are not the most knwoledgeable person and have a lot to learn about the Scriptures.

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      15. rhutchin God can determine some things, and still not determine all things. I’d prefer Calvinism to be true, actually, because it absolves me of all true responsibility to make good autonomous choices. Under Calvinism I just have to found out what God has for me, but I can’t really and truly make a difference. And I don’t mind that so much. I won’t say that my theology has less mystery or difficulties than Calvinism; as much as you want to say evil isn’t a real thing, because whatever God does is good no matter what, I think rather that like God never lies, God never does what would be objectively evil, were evil defined well enough. Calvinists don’t frustrate me because I’m lazy or ignorant—I actually think Calvinism is most intimidating to people that haven’t thought it all out for themselves. It seems to them so secure and coherent and a system of thought, they will latch on to it without doing the real work required to understand it fully or how it truly matches with Scripture. Calvinists frustrate me rather, because so many seem to want to declare themselves right and biblical with a very shallow and incomplete proof—and then say the other side is the one doing that. Then when you point that out they say “well, obviously you can’t prove your position so you are just talking about this” but in reality they leave a lot of the arguments untouched and make sweeping generalizations that they think cover all the bases. If someone isn’t willing to listen, or put much work in, but always act like they did—there’s not much real discussion taking place. I could use the old “expressing an opinion” to your whole Calvinism argument, indeed it’s just all your opinion, and you’re sinful, so why listen to you? But somehow you think you’re always right, so I assume you must think you have completely mastered your own sin. But if a person isn’t even willing to consider autonomy, how will they ever know if Scripture teaches it? They won’t because any time the Scripture teaches it they’ll say “no it means something else.” And somehow that’s suppose to be more intellectual and knowledgeable and honest and spiritual and wiser—to simply change everything Scripture says to one’s preconceived notion. Even a child could see that’s not right, indeed, perhaps instead of touting how wise and insightful we are, we should become more like little children and more humble. I’ve spent my entire life passionately pursuing these truths and I’m condescendingly told such immature almost insulting condemnations. This isn’t what Christ would do to an earnest and sincere seeker—and maybe it shows the fruit off the Calvinistic tree. God bless.

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      16. dizerner

        you write: //My God is more sovereign then yours because he truly can do *anything*.//

        Hmmmmm?????:::::>>>>>>

        Can I get you to exegete the following in light of what I have highlighted as your words, above^^^

        Heb 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
        Heb 6:14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
        Heb 6:15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
        Heb 6:16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
        Heb 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
        Heb 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
        Heb 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
        Heb 6:20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

        How is it the Word of God is impossible to break and it is impossible for God to lie yet you are saying something contrary to Hebrews 6 where the Holy Spirit has clearly established otherwise?

        thanks
        michael

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      17. Hey, michael. God can set limits on himself. Indeed that was my point. See, Calvinism wants to say that God *has* to be a certain way. But I say God *chose* to be a certain way. That’s a subtle but really big difference. Why can God not lie? Because he doesn’t have the actually ability to lie? No, because it against the nature he chose to be. And exactly the same thing when it comes to rhutchin saying there is no evil, because *anything* God says, by definition, is not evil. So if God commands the most heinous evil you can think of, then it’s actually good, simply by virtue of God having done it (under rhutchin’s theology). See how that doesn’t logically pan out? So just as God has bound himself in certain ways, such as always acting in accord with his holy character (even though by virtue of him being the Supreme being, no one forced him to be holy), so God has limited his control over autonomous creatures, simply because it was in his character to create autonomy. I think you’d agree that *we* can’t dictate what God will be, but rather God’s Word reveals it. Whereas, Calvinists argue a definition of sovereignty they formulate outside God’s Word and then impose it on the Scriptures. They will argue that sovereignty can *only* mean absolute Divine determinism. When I say God can be anything he wants, I’m not saying God chose to lie. I’m saying that God could choose to lie if he wanted and no one could stop him. His nature is his choice, not something outside him imposed upon him by some other power.

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      18. dizerner

        thank you for that thoughtful response.

        you wrote: //I’m not saying God chose to lie. I’m saying that God could choose to lie if he wanted and no one could stop him. His nature is his choice, not something outside him imposed upon him by some other power.//

        Here is where I believe your argument breaks down.

        Let me illustrate with a couple of verses from Genesis and 1 John. Then would you pick these verses up and tell me something about them in direct relation to what is revealed about the Eternal no beginning no ending God?

        Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
        Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

        And

        1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

        Keep in the forefront of your mind as you respond to this that we are dealing with God from our limited creature nature who we would never come to know on any level unless He chose to reveal Himself to us so that we could come to know Them on some level by giving us the Gift of Eternal Life, which John writes Jesus defines, WHO CANNOT LIE, as KNOWING the Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent to save His people from their sins. God the “eternal” WHO IS LIGHT, AND IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL, chose to reveal Himself to his creatureS.

        thanks
        michael

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      19. There is no power nor law keeping God in check, making sure he doesn’t lie. What makes him unable to lie? His lack of power and ability to do so? May it never be. One thing and one thing only. He has decided to be that way. Otherwise you are unconsciously implying “something” out there prevents God from doing or being something. My argument does not break down in any way whatsoever. If God chose to have a different nature (be evil) there is nothing in existence that could have stopped him. Let’s be thankful he is what he is together.

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      20. Hi Dizerner. I think you may want to rethink your view that God chooses His nature, which has no Scriptural support and the clear verse that says God is unable to lie.

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      21. Also. I believe I do have Scriptural support.

        Exodus 3:14 – Rotherham’s
        And God said unto Moses, I Will Become whatsoever I please. And he said—Thus, shalt thou say to the sons of Israel, I Will Become hath sent me unto you.

        You are probably aware of hayah, to be, in Hebrew, and perhaps know some of Hebrew verb tensing.

        אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה (Exo 3:14 WTT)

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      22. Hi Dizerner! You will have to determine which verses have the clearer teaching about God’s nature concerning whether He is able to lie and chooses not to, or whether He is unable to lie. Ex 3:14 has nothing about whether He is able to lie or not, but Titus 1:2, 2Tim 2:13, Heb 6:18, John 14:6 etc, indicate the ability to be false is not part of God’s nature.

        Then there is the issue of the meaning of the word “nature” as it is related to God. Immutability is an adjective that has to be factored into defining God’s nature in some respect, though it can not be used to reject the adjective of freedom that must also help define God’s nature. So I agree that God can choose to experience changes in His nature, like the incarnation, but I would deny that He can choose to experience change in His nature like no longer being just, merciful, truth, and love.

        I think you may have made an equivocal fallacy with the word “will” in Ex 3:14. The Hebrew imperfect tense can be translated – “I will be” in this verse, but probably with this verb of being it also at least includes “I am”. In other words – “I am and will be what I am and will be”. However, the Greek words of Jesus, which most believe He assumed for Himself as this same OT title in John 8:58, εγω ειμι, “I am” emphasized the present tense reality. Even so, the future tense – “I will be what I will be” does not mean “I will be what I want to be”, it just means what it says, and implies more the idea of faithfulness to not change as their covenant God than to reveal to them that He can be whatever He wants to be, even a liar!

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      23. But I think those disagreeing with me are confusing the issue. I’m sure you don’t think some outside force comes in and prohibits God from lying. Nor do I think you believe God does not have the power to lie. What you believe is God does not have the *character* to lie. When Scripture says he cannot lie, what it means is he *will* not lie, and *that* is why he cannot. Not because, even if he wanted to, he just couldn’t muster up a lie. It seems like semantics but it’s important. You keep misrepresenting what I’m saying, and I guess with such a complex subject that’s easy to do. Okay, say we use the words “cannot” do we really mean “has no power to be able to” or do we mean “has no willingness to be choose such.” Because I’m fairly sure you’d say God has the power to do something evil, you (and I!) both agree God has a good nature (indeed that what’s started this whole thing, and it appears knee-jerk reactions to the thought “whoa, whoa, he’s saying God could be evil” have clouded my entire point to begin with. 😛 Let me put it another way: do the things that restrict God’s nature come from any other source besides his choice: and if so, what source? I’d really be interested if you could answer the *source* of his inability to be evil. Because it sounds to me like you’re saying God can’t even choose what he wants to be—and that seems completely wrong to me. He wasn’t ever generated or created, so he *had* to have chosen his own attributes. *No one* made him that way, nor did he spontaneously appear. You know what it’s like for people not to “hear you out” on your open theism and cry heretic—let’s all keep making attempts to really understand the other’s arguments. 😛

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      24. Hi Dizerner :
        You said – “I’m sure you don’t think some outside force comes in and prohibits God from lying.” I agree

        You said – “Nor do I think you believe God does not have the power to lie.” I disagree. Maybe this is where we are speaking past each other. I believe all of God’s attributes have to be defined by Scripture and God reveals in Scripture whatever defines His nature. To be almighty has to be defined by all His other attributes. God does not have the power to sin. The immutable righteousness of His nature prohibits Him from having that power.

        You said – “When Scripture says he cannot lie, what it means is he *will* not lie.” The Scriptural word “δυναμαι‘‘ does not mean the English colloquial “can” in the volitional sense, but in the ability sense.

        I think I do understand what you are trying to say. I have heard Calvinists use this rational argument concerning the nature of the unsaved. “It is like a snake,” they say, “which has a mouth and a throat that could have hay pass through it for food, but it will never eat hay for its nature will not let it, so the reprobate will never trust God even though they have a will and a conscience that have the innate ability to function as if they could, because the rest of their nature will not let them.” (I am not using this illustration to encourage Roger, Roy, or Yudo , 🙂 for I do not think it accurately reflects Scriptures’ teaching on total depravity). But God does not have the mouth or throat for sinning. I believe αδυνατον ψευσασθαι “impossible to lie” in Hebrews 6:18 defines the limits of “almighty” just like “I never knew you” defines limits to “ knows all things” and “became flesh” defines limits to “I change not”.

        So no, you should not be sure that I’d say “God has the power to do something evil.” I say the opposite.

        You asked – “Do the things that restrict God’s nature come from any other source besides his choice: and if so, what source?” This is a helpful question, I think, for bringing us closer to understand each other even if we end up not agreeing at this point, which is ok by me… I respect you, my brother and friend! The other source of His inability is His own nature as it truly is! This is an example where I think philosophy has dictated to us what an infinite God must look like. Infinity of power must mean the actual ability to do everything imaginable. The philosophical definition of immutability, to be infinite, must include impassibility, so that God could not be said to actually stop loving and start hating in reality, since that would be a change for Him! In my view, let that philosophical defining of God be damned! I am going to stick with God’s self-revelation in Scripture without the twisting done by philosophy for the sake of any dogma. We are all certainly free in God’s will to speculate, but we are not at liberty in God’s will to make our philosophical speculations necessary for gospel or sound doctrine.

        You said – “He wasn’t ever generated or created, so he *had* to have chosen his own attributes.” Is there not another choice concerning the “origin” of His attributes? They have no origin. He did not choose His attributes; they are what they are from everlasting to everlasting.

        I don’t believe you are a heretic, Dizerner, and I hope you feel that I have heard you out! I appreciate your interaction.

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      25. I guess I feel like, to put God’s nature above his will, is to take away an element of his autonomy. If God wasn’t truly free be anything he wanted, but bound by some nature he always had, I do feel like that lessens his sovereignty. I don’t want to go the route of Calvinists in insisting certain conditions must mean God is sovereign, but that’s just it—the one condition to God’s sovereignty, to me, is that he absolutely had no conditions at all. He’s completely self-autonomous. And if he has a nature that he never chose nor decided nor emanates from his will, than God’s will is subservient to his nature. God’s autonomy is foundational to me, and I do think it’s very Scriptural and has a lot of far-reaching ramifications, even for creaturely autonomy versus determinism. God sets his own rules, God creates logic, time and space itself, and God is completely above all our logical arguments of what he must or must not be—and that, paradoxically, is the one logic of my argument. Just like being tolerant must necessarily be intolerant of intolerance, I have to use logic to make the one point that God is completely above and beyond all logic. However he has gracious created logic and rules and attributes he has bound himself to, not because he had no choice, but precisely because he chose. Of course I’d never make this theology necessary for anything salvific, but it does cut to the heart of Divine determinism and some other things I see as errors.

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      26. Good morning Dizerner, I appreciate that you revealed your motivation behind your view. I do believe holding the biblical view of God’s freedom defeats the Calvinist view of all things predetermined before creation.

        The Scripture clearly has God determining things after creation!

        But I think you have developed a view about God’s nature that doesn’t have the Scriptural support as you claim. I would love to see the clear verses for it, or read someone who has written on your view. Any suggestions.

        Also you can not use logic to prove an illogical statement, no matter how clever it may sound on first hearing. Logic, like truth, is an immutable part of God’s nature. He breathed it into the Scriptures. Without it the Scriptures can be made to mean anything anyone wants. A word study of the Greek words logos and logidzomai demonstrates this.

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      27. Brian,

        if you don’t mind the intrusion, I’m curious. Can you cite some verses for what you claim, :::> //The Scripture clearly has God determining things after creation!//

        thanks
        michael

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      28. Hi Michael – Here are some of the texts that point to God’s decision making after creation. Why did He not honestly state these in the past tense if they all had been made before creation? I hope this helps.

        Deut. 12:5 (NKJV) 5“But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.

        2 Chr. 6:5-6 (NKJV) 5‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. 6Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’

        2 Chr. 7:16 (NKJV) 16For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

        Psa. 25:12 (NKJV) 12Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.

        Psa. 65:4 (NKJV) 4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.

        Psa. 75:2 (NKJV) 2 “When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.

        Jer 18:11 (NKJV) 11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ”

        1Cor 12:11 (NKJV) 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

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      29. Brian

        I don’t see how any of these verses proves what you say they prove. The Old Testament is a type and shadow of something in God’s domain of predetermined actualities not probabilities. At some point in Eternity past Lucifer fell from Grace and became the arch enemy of his Creator and all other creatures. I believe that at that time then God set in motion what we as mere lowly in nature humans with creativity and notion comprehend about this past when we give ourselves to understand the whole Counsel of God as contained in the 66 books of the Bible. God is the constant. God is immutable and cannot lie because He is immutable. I’m learning. He is not. Creation is continually being sustained by this constant need for survival. I cannot stand alone separated or severed from God and continue to live! Just like Adam died the moment he partook of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil so I too will begin the dying process the moment I am separated from my life source, God, Who is Righteous and Judicious. I am connected to His Eternal Character and Nature. He connected me to Him.

        Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
        Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
        Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
        Eph 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

        Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
        Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
        Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
        Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

        I can go on and on and on about all that.

        Let me respond to just one of your citations and make some comments about it.

        You cite:::>

        2 Chr. 6:5-6 (NKJV) 5‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. 6Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’

        I don’t know if you follow this rule but there is a rule of hermeneutics that Scripture interprets Scripture and the Old Testament is explained in the New Testament.

        The reason why the Lord God Almighty did not choose a city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house to dwell in so that Their Names might be there or choose any man to be a ruler over us His Church, the wife of the Lamb or present day Jerusalem is because that was pointing to this :::>

        Heb 12:18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest
        Heb 12:19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
        Heb 12:20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”
        Heb 12:21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
        Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
        Heb 12:23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
        Heb 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
        Heb 12:25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.

        and

        Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.
        Heb 13:11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.
        Heb 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
        Heb 13:13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
        Heb 13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
        Heb 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

        I don’t know about your disposition with regard to eschatology? Maybe you are a pre-trib. dispensationalist? If so then what I just wrote won’t have very much of an affect on you?

        For your information I am not only an amillennialist I’m also a continuationist and a paedobaptist. That might mean three strikes against me and I am out?

        michael

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      30. Michael writes, “I’m also a continuationist and a paedobaptist”

        Just out of curiosity and not for argument.

        continuationist – defining tongues as foreign languages or also angelic (unknown to humans) languages.

        paedobaptist – the baptism of infants as dedication to God or as conferring salvation.

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      31. Hi Michael – I am not sure you understand why I chose those verses. That may be my fault for not explaining more when I listed them. I chose those verses because they all confirm that God made (makes) decisions/choices after creation. If all His decisions/choices were made before creation, then those verses would not be accurately representing the truth. They would in fact be false, for God should have been honest in all those verses and said that He had already made all those choices before creation.

        Thank you for telling me a little more about your theological persuasion! What is most important is that you are personally trusting only in the finished redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ! The rest tells me how you view and interpret the Scriptures. But my guess is that you would agree that the Scriptures should be interpreted according to the grammar, context and original intent of each passage, and that we should not bring our theology dogmatically to the passage, but let the passage inform our theology. To assuage your curiosity, I self identify my theological position as evangelical, fundamental, baptistic, dispensational, and compassionate! 🙂

        I will even identify myself as an open theist if you will identify yourself as a closed theist who believes God will never make any more determinations into the future forever! 🙂

        On a side note, I don’t think it would be wise to say Satan fell in eternity past, that is, before creation. I would think the normal biblical view is to say all of creation, including the angelic principalities and powers, were made by the Son after Genesis 1:1 (cf. Ex 20:11), and that the fall of Satan happened after he saw the glory God was receiving in His creation (cf. Is 14). Just a thought, but I won’t burn you at the stake for that one! 🙂

        Also, I affirm the truth, wholeheartedly, of all the Scriptures you list, my friend!

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      32. Brian,

        sure, I am a closed theist. I already laid that out with you earlier on when I noted the Lord’s Name being Omega, Last and End. That to me informs me we are on a pre-programed predetermined trajectory that God has established and is in sole control of, no ifs ands or buts about it.

        Ok, now will you admit you are an open theist?

        Please note well verse 15 in any language or translation, be my guest:::>

        Psa 33:10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
        Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
        Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
        Psa 33:13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
        Psa 33:14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
        Psa 33:15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

        And I was thinking the way you go at laying forth Scripture you must be either a blatant dispensationalist or a closet one. It’s good to see you being bold about your theology, for once! 🙂

        There are a couple other verses that have relevance to this discussion. Verse 11 and the phrase “to all generations”.

        Verse 12 says God the LORD chooses His people who are His heritage! That too narrows the probabilities to actualities in this life. If you want to say that confirms equal ultimacy or double predestination, then I guess you can. I am not a Calvinist or an Arminian but a Biblical theologian and systematic theologies are not my best suite so I can say without reservation there are some things in the Scriptures God planned for me to know leaving me clueless in other things in the Scriptures. What I know I know and I am still learning more everyday, especially how hard it is to die to myself so that Christ lives in and through me instead! 🙂

        I have touched on the mysteries when making reference to Ecclesiastes 3:11 and Ephesians 3:8. No one and I mean no one knows who God is without God revealing Himself to them first.

        So, my baseline with anyone is to first establish what the Apostle Paul established in Romans 10 or Jesus in Matthew 11.

        I didn’t establish this at first with you because you clearly are saved. I can tell with all your oddities you still confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead.

        michael

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      33. Hi Michael, I can agree with the predetermined trajectory and ends as you have mentioned in God’s Word. Are you saying as a closed theist that God can not make any more determinations now or into the future forever even if He does keep to those specific ends that He has predetermined already?

        You see, I am actually, literally a partial closed theist, because I do believe God has determined already some ends that will happen, no ifs ands or buts! But I am also a partial open theist since I believe, as I have shown you in Scriptures that God is still making determinations and will make some new ones in the future.

        So if you accept the wording I gave to describe you as a closed theist, then I accept the wording I gave to describe myself as an open theist. Fair enough? Aren’t these word games fun?

        I do appreciate greatly your affirmation of my testimony of profession in trusting Jesus alone for His full salvation!

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      34. Brian,

        well Peter was one of the Lord’s favored Apostles or maybe a more high maintenance Apostle than the others and He rebuked him and Peter rejected Him. So I wouldn’t hang my hat on that affirmation you make.

        No, God is unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever. As I tried going over the passibility and impassibility with another in here will state again I hold to God’s impassibility now, before now and in the future.

        We simply are creatures. I also tried to establish with two verses, Ecclesiastes 3:11 and Ephesians 3:8, that the unchanging God can reveal His Eternal Nature to His creatures in such a way that we can realize and understand that His Eternal Nature is unsearchable, past finding out yet knowable but unsearchable. I am getting older as you are, day by day and it seems to me each year now seems to go by faster than last year. I have taken Moses’ advice to count and number my days so I end up with a heart of wisdom on the last day of my natural existence passing into eternity and into the Glorious Majesty of God Almighty.

        Psa 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
        Psa 90:13 Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
        Psa 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
        Psa 90:15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.
        Psa 90:16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
        Psa 90:17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

        Again, you laid down the terms of the agreement. I kept my end of the terms and stated unequivocally without reservation I am a closed theist. Now you are hedging and wanting to wiggle out of just making the same unequivocal statement that you do not believe in the traditional definition of omniscience and are an open theist, which is what you are, thinly or thickly.

        I wait for your declaration with no equivocations.

        michael

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      35. No problem Michael, I just wanted to make sure you understood my definitions! Based on those you are a closed theist in spite of the verse that clearly state that God has made and is making decisions after creation and I am an open theist who believes God is freely making decisions in accordance with what He clearly said He is doing and in full agreement with all the determinations He has already made. How’s that?

        I do not believe in the Roman Catholic, philosophical definition of omniscience but what I believe is the definition of omniscience that reasonably comes from a normal reading of God’s Holy Word!

        We serve a wonderful Savior!

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      36. You said:
        Also you can not use logic to prove an illogical statement, no matter how clever it may sound on first hearing

        I completely agree actually, I don’t think logic can prove anything at all, because proof implies ultimate reality and absolute truth, and logic can’t ever “prove” itself (that would be a circular argument, which according to logic, is invalid). Indeed a whole branch of apologetics takes this neat little truth and builds the “Transcendental argument” out of it, which actually argues the illogical from the logical (God is the ground of logic, and that is learned by revelation alone). But that ends up being more of a claim than a proof of anything. However I’m quite well thought out on logic. I’m curious where your biblical support for logic being a part of God’s nature is… (that may seem obvious but autonomy is also obvious to me and you required a proof text, which I provided). Because logic is a part of the limitations of our own mind. What would be your strongest verse for “I the Lord your God am logical in my very nature?” It’s only fair if your going to be so strict on any claim I make about God’s nature. Of course I won’t pull out all the standard little gripes about deriving from human philosophy, carnal Christianity and atheism if you can’t do it. 😛 After all reading something in a book someone wrote hardly makes it true, as I’m sure you’d agree.

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      37. Dizerner, It’s been a busy day but I didn’t want you to think I am ignoring you! 🙂 I will write more later tomorrow, but three quick thoughts.

        Logic has to do with what is true or false. The verses I gave you relating truth to God’s nature are a good place to start to show logic comes from His nature. The verse you have to prove His chooses His nature, I commented on, and I am interested in your response to my comment that shows that verse does not prove your view. And finally I was interested in a book that supports your view because I wanted to see what other Scriptures are used in support and how the Holy Spirit has revealed that view to someone else. Thanks.

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      38. Well, I’m a Sola Scriptura guy and argument from human authority means very little to me. It’s easy to dismiss a Scripture as not meaning what you don’t want it to mean—anyone can do that. If Exodus 3:14 doesn’t mean God will be whatsoever he chooses, I really don’t know what else it means. There certainly is no indication the verse means “I AM what I HAVE TO BE.” There is absolutely no indication God is forced to be what he is, but rather the repetition affirms autonomy. I mean I could point out I think that logically points to causality more than any verse logically points to God being founded in logic. I really think you’re going to have to twist and stretch a lot of meanings to try to force a Scripture into saying God is logical. And if his thoughts and ways are above even our ability to grasp, despite rhutchins protests, our thoughts and ways surely include logic. To deny Exo. 3:14 includes autonomy and that Isa 55:9 excludes logic denies the plain meaning to an extent I could no longer discuss the verses, because I’d have to be denying what I understand them to say. God bless man, thanks for your thoughts.

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      39. Good morning Dizerner. You are certainly free to believe for yourself what you think Ex 3:14 and Is 55:8 mean. You are a human authority also. Would you be willing to test to see if the Lord has revealed this understanding you believe He has given you of these verses to any one else?

        Autonomy, I believe can not be defined to mean an ability to be whatever is inconsistent with one’s eternal nature. Can His choose not to be eternal? Can he choose not to be God? There has to be aspects of His Godness that cannot change. Which ones in your view?

        Truth is one of those aspects, and I believe Ex 3:14 actually is God’s way of affirming the first law of logic. The law of identity. He is who He is. This affirms that there is no contradiction in Him, which is the second law of logic. God’s nature is not founded on logic or autonomy, but both of these characteristics flow from His nature and must define each other without the exclusion of one or God ceases to be who He is! Thanks for the discussion.

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      40. I agree God’s nature is not founded on logic. However what autonomy represents to me is the true definition of his sovereignty, rather than determining control.

        You said:
        There has to be aspects of His Godness that cannot change. Which ones in your view?
        All of them of course. Perhaps a lot of this is the difficulty of being precise with semantics. Whether God’s nature flows from his choice, or whether his choice flows from his nature, may seem inconsequential really. It’s possible they could both flow simultaneously… I feel that logic (the greatest conceivable being would have to be truly self determining) and Scripture (I don’t think Exo 3:14 is affirming the law of identity that completely misses the mark) tend towards one viewpoint.

        But it’s so far from fundamentals perhaps it’s simply splitting at hairs.

        Liked by 1 person

      41. to the both of you, Brian and Dizerner,

        I wanted to add this thought. God doesn’t have to be anything to anyone in time except to each other, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of Them knows each other personally and exactly. Seeing Our God is One being, Three persons, the only time the ideas of logic and autonomy come into existence is when God creates something in His image or likeness, some lesser being than Who They are. We can not plumb the depths of “when” God creates anything. God has revealed to us “why” They create. Everything They create is for Their Glory:::>

        Rev 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

        Eph 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
        Eph 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

        Let me “set an example” by asking, “when” did God need to create anything? Or, “when” did God create seraphim, cherubim or angels? Does God need to create any creation to be God?

        Answer those questions and you have my attention! 🙂

        michael

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      42. Hi Michael – I think we agree that God had no need to create. Would you agree that He also had no need to decide to create, and that when He decided to create, He had no need to predetermine every aspect of human history, including His choices in it, forever?

        As for principalities, like angels, if we believe they are “in” the heavens and the earth, then they were created during the 6 days of creation (Ex 20:11).

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      43. Brian, you write: //He had no need to predetermine every aspect of human history, including His choices in it, forever?
        As for principalities, like angels, if we believe they are “in” the heavens and the earth, then they were created during the 6 days of creation (Ex 20:11).//

        NO I don’t agree with that. God predetermines what He will create then creates what He does from His Eternal Nature and Character which is Righteousness and Justice (Eternal LIGHT) so that every aspect of human creation and her history is predetermined, at least with regard to this creation or else we would not have had the following prayers:::> Act 4:23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
        Act 4:24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
        Act 4:25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
        Act 4:26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
        Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
        Act 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

        Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
        Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
        Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
        Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
        Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

        Also, my position is the darkness in Genesis 1:2 is not something God created, This darkness existed prior to God creating these “present” heavens and earth. What Lucifer did he did prior to Genesis 1:1. I proffer the “cause” for creating this present heavens and earth is precisely because of what Lucifer did that is described by some of the Prophets and the Lord Himself as they were looking back in time revealing the incident in question. “Darkness” is a fruit. Lucifer produced this fruit not God. God did create this lesser being, Lucifer in eternity before Genesis 1:1. God is the primary cause of his existence BUT God did not tempt him to rebel against his Creators, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Notice the very first thing God “created” when creating this present heavens and earth is LIGHT, Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

        I understand your position, as you say, //As for principalities, like angels, if we believe they are “in” the heavens and the earth, then they were created during the 6 days of creation (Ex 20:11)// but that is not the revelation I am operating under. I am saying what I am saying above is the order and cause for the creation of LIGHT after darkness and this present heavens and earth. Everything created in the present heavens and earth, before the fall of Adam was very good. In verse 11 of Exodus 20 you read “and all that is in them”. Nowhere in Genesis 1:1 and following to verse 31, the end of the chapter, does it say God created darkness or evil or rebellion in the heart of His creation. All that, darkness, [a fruit], evil, [a being] and their rebellion, Satan’s life’s work in this present heavens and earth were prior to “in the beginning God created the heavens and earth”. What is clear to me is once Lucifer rebelled and led a rebellion there was a bottomless pit created around all this separating them and their rebellion from LIGHT; and, besides God, [Father, Son and Holy Spirit], there were Elect Angels and Seraphim and Cherubim watching all this happen, as spectators, as eyewitnesses to all this and they are presently actively involved in the prosecution of the judgment against this darkness and the evil foes. They are seeing how Eternal Righteousness and Justice brings about the predetermined judgment upon Satan and his angels and sadly, some of Adam’s race. Go to all the verses in Scripture where we see anything to do with Satan and demons and fallen angels and reflect on this occasions. There aren’t many of them in the whole body of Scripture, the 66 books that make up our Protestant Bible, but a sufficient number of verses exist and in them they are in various stages of revelation. You will see how obtuse mankind is against this enemy of God and man. You will see how God predetermines to crush Satan and his angels in them. Some things done is just extremely radical, like what we see happened in the book of Job. We see Judah coming before God wearing “unclean robes” in the book of Zechariah. We see Satan stand up against the children of Israel so greatly that King David caves into their demands and sends Joab out to number the warrior of Israel. King David was weak and could not withstand his people’s “inspired” rebellion. Hmmmm? We see Judas cave in and betray Jesus Our Lord. We see over and over again the people of God cry out in anguish because of these principalities and powers of spiritual wickedness. We see individuals delivered from demons and healed from being harassed by them. And we faithfully see the end of the Beast, the false Prophet, Satan, Death, Hades and all those whose name was not found written in the book of Life. Their end will be in torment forever and ever in the lake of fire, the judgment of Our Righteous and Just God.

        Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

        michael

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      44. Thank you Michael for you reply and explanation of your view of spiritual warfare. I think you might be confusing physical darkness with spiritual darkness. Do you really think physical darkness is evil?

        I have no problem, if I find out in heaven that there was an angelic rule on earth somewhere on the “time”-line back before Genesis 1:1, but I will continue to take the normal reading of Ex 20:11, John 1:3, Col 1:16 to mean angels were created after Gen 1:1.

        And your verses on some things being predetermined, which I agree with, do not prove that all things were predetermined, or that God was forced to predetermine all things when He freely decided to create. And the normal meaning of Scripture revelation that you have rejected (which I sent you), which clearly declares He has determined and is determining things after creation are not overturned by your verses but complement them.

        I hope this helps, my friend.

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      45. michael writes, “my position is the darkness in Genesis 1:2 is not something God created, This darkness existed prior to God creating these “present” heavens and earth.”

        Before God created the universe, there was only God. There was only God and God was all that was. God has been described as “light” as opposed to darkness. In order to create our universes, God had to create the darkness – or set aside some area – into which He would then pour billions of galaxies each with their billions of stars. Our universe would fit into the palm of God’s hand (so to speak) and He could have created a billion universes, all equally complex and all uniquely different, and all would fit into the palm of God’s hand (so to speak). If darkness existed before prior to Genesis 1:2, then your position must also be that this darkness was God – God was comprised of this darkness. He then set aside a region of this darkness, of Himself, that He would then use in creating our universe.

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      46. rhutchin,

        go back and carefully reread what I wrote. You will see what I was saying. What you wrote is not what I was saying.

        Remember a couple things as you do which things I didn’t include in what I laid out to Brian.

        One, Jesus said His “KINGDOM” was not of this world.
        Two, The Children of God were known BEFORE the foundation of this world.

        I could go farther but won’t until we begin to see clearly what I wrote already. I would be happy to continue along this line of reason but am hesitant as this is Leighton Flowers place not mine.

        michael

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      47. Brian if you ever have the time I’d really be interested in how you handle the phrase “before the foundations of the earth” in light of the future being unknowable due to some aspects of potentiality not existing yet (I hope I said that right).

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      48. Hi Dizerner – I believe “before the foundation of the earth” which is really only in two passages (Eph 1:11, 1Peter 1:20) and the idea in a third (2Tim 1:9) in my thinking points to reality before God spoke “Let there be light”. That reality was linear and logical and reached into (or came out from) the everlasting past (Ps 90:2). I do believe reality has been and always will be a succession of events, encompassed “in” the being of God (Acts 17:28).

        I don’t like the word “unknowable” in your request, for it limits the definition of knowledge of the future to a series of settled events as facts, whereas it could logically (and is biblically, I believe) better defined as a series of settled events (predetermined) in association with almost limitless number (limited only by already predetermined laws, limits and ends) possible events. The knowledge is complete and full; therefore it is suitable for the term omniscience, as it relates to future knowledge. I hope this helps.

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      49. dizerner writes, “If Exodus 3:14 doesn’t mean God will be whatsoever he chooses, I really don’t know what else it means. ”

        Malachi 3 tells us, “I am the LORD, I change not.” “I AM THAT I AM” in our 2015 English would be something like, “What you see is what you get.” God is what He is and how He came to be what He is, He does not reveal to us. He says that He has always been God and nothing has changed. We cannot speak of God being one things at some point and then changing Himself into something different.

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      50. I don’t think God’s nature changed in time. “I am that I am” expresses ideas of aseity, that God is self-determining and self-existent. “What you see is what you get” is not really right. That leaves open all kinds of ideas. I could say to you about myself “Well what you see is what you get.” But I could never, ever say to you “I am that I am” because I’m a created thing.

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      51. dizerner writes, “But I could never, ever say to you “I am that I am” because I’m a created thing.”

        I think that is the point. God was not created and did not create Himself. God is what He is – including His nature – and there never has been a point where God was something else.

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      52. Well my response would be if he chose eternally outside of time there was never a time he was not what he had chosen. His self-determination does not necessitate a “before” and “after” like time-bound creatures have.

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      53. You say:
        And finally I was interested in a book that supports your view because I wanted to see what other Scriptures are used in support and how the Holy Spirit has revealed that view to someone else.

        Old post I know, but I was listening to an A.W. Tozer sermon posted by Amyra B. When you first asked who else might have my view, I was not really well read enough to know and it’s not a thing that gets talked about too often, even in the theology books I’ve seen anyway, although limited by budget. But I was really pleasantly surprised to hear this come up in Tozer’s sermon on Calvinism, and Tozer is one of the biggest inspirations of my life, and certainly someone I would say the Holy Spirit revealed things to. Here is a direct quote from the sermon:

        “God’s sovereignty is his absolute freedom… to do all that he wills to do…. the sovereignty of God and the will of God are bound up together… God cannot lie because he wills not to lie… he cannot break a promise because that would violate his nature, and God does not will to violate his nature… it is Scriptural to say God can do anything he wills to do. And it means that God is absolutely free.”

        I think this clearly shows Tozer intuitively put the freedom of God’s will before even God’s nature, as a definition of absolute sovereignty.

        Sermon (relevant part starts about 6:30):

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      54. Thx dizerner for sharing those thoughts from Tozer’s sermon. I have been blessed in the past by things i have read devotionally from him. Did he happen to tie his views u to any specific Scriptures that God wills His own nature?

        It would seem that since God’s will is a part of His eternal nature, the point you are trying to make is that His will is logically foundational to all the other characteristics of His nature, since it cannot be logically prior. I would like to have some clear verses that use the word “will”, meaning determine or choose, to support this notion for further consideration.

        Thanks for keeping the conversation going. I hope that I come across as someone willing to change my mind when confronted with clear Scriptures, as well as willing to accept a brother whose idea may not have clear scriptures in support, but also does not have any, perhaps, that are clearly against.

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      55. Maybe part of the reason I feel so strongly about it is, I don’t think humans are just victim to succumb to whatever “nature” they are born with, but rather can choose and decide what kind of character they will be. I had a friend who always excused his temper with “Well, I have some Irish.” If God “has some Irish” and simply can’t help being some ways, I think that falls more into even God having been deterministically oriented. The image of God that we bear, is for me, self-determining choices, and if God doesn’t have that I don’t think I could argue we do either. So it all ties in with the freedom of choice. I would again point to a meditation on “I am that I am,” not as meaning “I am what I can’t help being,” but rather “I am what I choose.” Of all the ways God could have linguistically chosen to express his nature to Moses, he chose this and I think it’s very significant—we shouldn’t brush fast past it and assume our first glance gives us the full understanding.

        If someone says to me:

        God has no choice about who he is.

        What does that convey? That conveys that God could in no way have “absolute freedom” because he’s bound to his nature by no choice of his own.

        Of course when I mean self-determination here I don’t mean regeneration but choice and character.

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      56. Thank you for your comments, dizerner. If Tozer had some supporting verses, I would be interested. And I understand you have chosen to have – “I am that I am” mean “I am what I choose to be.” And I am sure you would agree the Hebrew language has a word for “choose” that God could have used in that context to sunstantiate your meaning even more.

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      57. Sure, but there’s tons of theological logic people have thought out without any directly corresponding verse. I don’t think there’s any one verse that shows Open Theism either, yet we have massive books on it simply because people think the idea can explain other things we see in Scripture and in the world. If I read 10 books on Open Theism, they may have a lot of Scripture, but I may not think a single one really supports Open Theism. Same thing with Calvinism. “Proof texts” are a dime a dozen when you barely make any effort to show how they really causally connect to your point. That’s why I’d rather take the opposite tack of pasting in 100 verses and take a simple 3 word phrase. God could have used the word “chosen” in Exodus 3:14, I’ll grant that point. But he also could have used the word “nature” or “character.” Why did he just say “I am”?

        But you think God is logical. Can you honestly tell me that God logically has absolute freedom if he can’t even choose his nature? How is that freedom, when by definition, God would have no choice. You would have to say a qualified “God has absolute freedom about all things except who he is—he has no freedom at all about that.” Thus I think, again, that from Scripture, logic and experience we could accurately say God’s nature flows from his will.

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      58. You are free to choose to believe that, even without substantial biblical evidence, or logic or experience. You are human by nature, and there are certain aspects of that which will not change, no matter how free you will might be! And those aspects of your humanity are what they are not because you choose them to be what they are. Perhaps the analogy of humanity, being in God’s image, may help you understand why I choose to believe there are aspects of God’s nature unrelated to His free will, which is just one aspect of His nature in my view. Blessings, my brother!

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      59. Well you are “free” to believe that, even without substantial biblical evidence, or logic or experience. And the reason you are free to believe that is because you chose to be that way, not because your nature forced you to, nor because it’s biblical or logical (which you’ve not shown in the slightest).

        I’ll be honest, you’re sounding more like a Calvinist in that last post. 😛 It’s illogical to argue that because there are some things I don’t decide about myself, that means there are no things I can. It’s also illogical to argue that my physical nature is my fundamental nature—did you know the Bible condemns that? If we are just flesh and bones, if we are just dirt alone, what blasphemy to call that the image of God. “Fear not him who can harm the body, but him who can harm the soul.”

        But to me, you’ve created a “god” in your own image. And you’re free to keep on worshiping it. But as for me, I’ve been created in the image of my God.

        Blessings!

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      60. Hi dizerner! I am not sure how I am coming across to that would elicit such a response from you, my friend. I think you may be attributing a negative spin for some reason to my words, and I cannot figure out why. I really don’t mind if we disagree on this divine nature issue.

        However, you said – “It’s illogical to argue that because there are some things I don’t decide about myself, that means there are no things I can.” I agree. I don’t know how you got that I was saying otherwise, especially since I said “certain aspects”, not all aspects.

        You said – “It’s also illogical to argue that my physical nature is my fundamental nature—did you know the Bible condemns that?” I was not making that argument in any of the words I said. When I said “human” I would have assumed you would think I meant with a body, soul, and spirit. I know you believe that we will always have all three.

        You said – “But to me, you’ve created a “god” in your own image. And you’re free to keep on worshiping it.” This is what hurt me the most! I hope I can convince you that everything the Scripture says about God, I believe with all my heart. We are in His image, which I actually believe has not only to do with having a spirit, free will, and reason, but also because we are relational, e.g. man-woman-children.

        I hope this will help mend some of your misconceptions of me.

        Like

      61. Hey Brian.

        You say:
        I think you may be attributing a negative spin for some reason to my words, and I cannot figure out why.

        When you start out your post saying I don’t have biblical, logical or experiential evidence to support my point, after I just said I strongly felt I did, and took the time to explain why, but you simply say “no you don’t” with a wave of your hand and no real exegesis, I find it hard not to take in an insulting manner.

        I hoped that statement would break through to you—because I think fundamentally all your reasoning and all your logic goes to one source. You don’t seem to be able to imagine a God that blows your mind, that you can’t get your logical thoughts around and explain, that transcends all of creation.

        I meant no harm nor insult in my posts. But now maybe you can understand me better.

        Like

      62. I am sorry dizerner that my words sounded that way. Please forgive me. Truly, I want you to know that I did not mean for you to take “you are free to hold… without substantial” to mean “without any”. I was just affirming what my opinion was, like anyones would be, that the other side has not given enough evidence for proof, in my personal opinion.

        And, personally, the more I learn about God from His revelation, that I can be more sure about or even speculate about, the more my mind is “blown away”! He is such an awesome God! To me it’s like man’s search with more powerful telescopes and microscopes, a little more clarity but a multitude of new questions!

        Again, I ask for your forgiveness for not being more careful in my word choices. I respect your love for truth and God’s Word.

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      63. brianwagner writes, “The Scripture clearly has God determining things after creation!”

        Given the verses you cited in support of this, I would not use the word, “clearly.” In the verses you cite, a distinction can still be made between that which God determined before He created the world and that which God brings about in the course of time.

        Then there are verses like this – Psa. 25:12 (NKJV) 12Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. – that have nothing to do with when God determines to do something; it only states conditions under which God God interacts with people.

        As seen in other arguments, the verses you cite to support your positions don’t tend to be strong endorsements of what you believe. I think that is because you did not develop your beliefs based on what you were reading in the Bible, but you formed your beliefs based on opposition to something like Calvinism and were then forced into certain directions. For example, I think you first developed a dislike for Calvinism and then found that you had to reject omniscience and that left you with the Open Theists even though you don’t seem enamored with them (who really is?).

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      64. dizerner

        you write: // He has decided to be that way. Otherwise you are unconsciously implying “something” out there prevents God from doing or being something. //

        You seem to be rationalizing as a human here. There is no choice when you are LIGHT. LIGHT is LIGHT. God defines Himself for us in this and He also defines “darkness” as evil in some instances in Scripture.

        Again as I asked wildwanderer, please explain the unsearchable nature of Christ and the fact that God, who cannot lie, has put eternity in our hearts for a purpose, that is, so we cannot comprehend Him from beginning to end. He has no beginning or end and HE IS LIGHT so there is no consciousness of either in God’s mind, only in ours. Here we are debating in an area of consciousness where there is no firm resolution of these things from our limited point of view, as though we can firmly resolve the issues.

        It seems to me there is a greater matter at hand which is where I would like to open up things but this is not my blog or my place to do so unless Leighton says go for it! If he does, what I would point to is eschatology and how we “hasten” the coming of the Lord’s return, which is something we should all joined together in one voice and accord to hasten as Peter shows and Habakkuk shows in their writings.

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      65. You said:
        You seem to be rationalizing as a human here.

        On the contrary, I think it is *you* who are using a created beings mindset to apply it to a Creator. You and me are so used to being within limits and having rules to follow, it is difficult for us to perceive of a God who has none. But that’s what it means to be God, by definition. You seem to be confusing also, God’s nature with God’s abilities. I’m not arguing God’s nature is differently than his Word reveals him. If you followed my logic closely you’d see that. Meditate a bit more on it!

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      66. dizerner

        thanks again for your thoughtful response.

        Tell me, Is God LIGHT? Did John miss the message?

        God being LIGHT, is there any darkness in Him at all? Is a lie LIGHT or darkness?

        thanks
        michael

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      67. I’m arguing what God could have been not what God currently is. The question is, is God restrained from being evil by:
        1. a lack of power
        2. a choice of character
        Would you pick 1 over 2?

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      68. dizerner

        I would and will sidestep both one and two. They are illogical. In fact, the question has no basis.

        God is LIGHT. Period. Full stop.

        God creates. Period.

        When God creates, as the Scripture points out and God being the SAME yesterday, today and forever, creates very good.

        End of story with God.

        What God creates “can and has” created darkness, not God. Why? Because no creation can be God.

        So to ask the question you are asking is illogical.

        The message is Our God, or My God, is LIGHT and there is no darkness in God at all. All darkness, though permitted to exist, exists and originates from a creation of God not the Creator.

        God cannot create something to be greater than God. Darkness is not equal with God, it is lesser essence and being than God. So the origins of darkness comes from something created, lesser in essence and being than God and all creations are less than not equal to or greater than God.

        God is ONE Being in three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all co-equal in being.

        thanks
        michael

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      69. michael I don’t feel you’ve even answered the question at all. We both agree that light is an attribute of God. But where we disagree is whether God had a choice about that. You seem to be saying “God could not have been other than he is.” That means God can’t even decide his own attributes. :\ What kind of a God is that? You really think God’s nature is something God himself couldn’t help, but just somehow rose up within God without any choice or consent from God, because God can’t decide nor help what he is? Absolutely not, man. The reason our God is good and trustworthy is because that’s his decision. Nothing else but his own choice determines his nature. His nature does not overpower his own choice!!!

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      70. dizerner,

        graciously I’m going to bow out from this line of reasoning with you except with this general comment which will possibly bring about your response which I will then graciously respond to if you so choose to respond.

        The whole of your comment above ^^^ puts God into an “either or” and “choices”. I’m saying this is not God, My God. My God is LIGHT. Full stop. There has never been a “TIME” when God has not been so there never will be a “TIME” where God has to choose to lie or do other than BEING LIGHT.

        God is Light. God is Love. God is Truth in eternity past, present and future. When the Son of God emptied Himself and became a creature like us, He did not stop being co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He chose to be governed the creation created by, through and in Him like us by the same Holy Spirit we are governed by. And this Spirit is the Spirit written about in Genesis 1:2 and in this very important passage written to Timothy, here:::>

        1Ti 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

        God the Holy Spirit VINDICATED God the Son to God Our Heavenly Father opening the way for all of us to a New and Living Way to the fullness of God which Adam lost in the Garden.

        To digress a bit. I find it very very interesting that the WAY OF THE LORD has been KNOWN from the beginning of Creation as it has known from before the beginning of creation. Darkness, too, has been known from and before the beginning of creation. In this creation, we, mere human creatures have had put into us or built into us the ability to comprehend eternity so we cannot find it out in the beginning and the end of our existence, Ecclesiastes 3:11 and that that, eternity, is unsearchable. We can comprehend what we cannot know in this temporal reality. The apostle Paul writes about being able to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Apparently we know something about the riches of Christ. And that knowledge leads us to understand these riches are unsearchable.

        So, again, as to your argument about God choosing to refrain from lying or having the power to lie, I say there is no basis for that line of reasoning and logic that you are putting forth in here then asking me to answer questions based in it.

        By His Grace and for His Glory,
        thanks
        michael

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      71. OKay, fair enough. Probably what is bothering people is the idea of a “possibility” for God to be other than he is, and of course I don’t think so, but rather what is the real “determiner” of God’s nature. I’m happy with “it just is” but even happier if I knew he was God enough to create his own nature. We just have to get technical and logical sometimes, but if God is light speaks to you, then you know I’d never disagree with that! If I’m starting to annoy you, tune me out, I’m pretty used to that anyway. 😛

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      72. dizerner,

        no, in no way are you an annoyance to me. Far from it. I’m just saying we seem to have exhausted our views with each other and there hasn’t been any traction either way.

        What I find odd in your position is the use of the word “create”. God is ETERNAL. That means no beginning or a starting point of a creation. God exists. God existed. God has never not existed for the rest of eternity He will be Who He has always been for eternity past.

        Let me open it up again and ask you to consider something I was asked when listening to a dear old timer, Dr. J Sidlow Baxter. When preaching at University Baptist Church in Fayetteville Arkansas, he asked his listeners to do something. I wasn’t present at this meeting. I got the tape and listened to it instead. He asked his listeners to close their eyes and start thinking back into eternity and see how far back they could imagine eternity into the past? So I started. I quickly came to a full stop trembling as my mind couldn’t stay on that trajectory. It caused me to shudder.

        After that thought experiment he then asked his listeners to start thinking “into” eternity future. To start thinking about Heaven and living with God or thinking about hell and dwelling in the lake of fire for the rest of eternity. Wow, what a change in my mind. I found it so much easier to think into the future whether about dwelling in Heaven for eternity or hell than thinking into eternity past!

        After a bit he then said, God made us to think in one direction only and that direction is to think in a direction towards God and into eternity with God or without Him. Either way, we were created to think in one direction in eternity. He said we were not created to comprehend God as Eternal in eternity past. That ability is God’s and God’s alone. God is LIGHT. It is not His nature to create as you say //create his own nature//. To think that way is simply to think as a carnal Christian or atheist thinks.

        Hope that helps clarify what my objection is that I am making with regard to your argument?

        And again, I’m not annoyed with you. I am happy to have these exchanges. All I am saying is to consider maybe these exchanges have arrived at the dead horse syndrome? Are we now just beating our chests waiting for our position to be embraced? How foolish if we have gotten to this point in the debate and continue down our line of logic and reason, right?

        You’ve made your case clear. I, perhaps, have made mine clear? Let the others judge?

        thanks
        michael

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      73. I completely disagree I’m thinking as a carnal Christian or atheist. I think you’re being too dismissive and condescending with comments like that. I’ve never even heard a carnal Christian or atheist think this deeply about God in my life. You might think “any” thinking at all is carnal, if so, just say that. But don’t act like my particular line of thought is somehow inherently unChristian. I don’t see any reason to say that. Because you keep misrepresenting my position how can I assume I “made it clear” as you say? Because I can’t really make out what your “position” is how can you say I’m beating my chest or a dead horse? Nothing your saying makes sense to me, and I guess that really is a dead end in one sense. I’m just an optimistic person always hoping that I can learn something or have someone understand my position. If you feel it’s a dead-end I don’t feel it’s my fault.

        You say:
        God has never not existed for the rest of eternity He will be Who He has always been for eternity past.

        So did God just have a nature that he had no decision about? Basically God’s nature was not his choice, but something that just “was” and God found it out, so to speak? I think freedom—freedom to be whatever God chooses—is an essential part of the power of his Divinity. God’s will was not formed by his nature, his nature was formed by his will. And a lot of interesting and far reaching theological ideas branch out from that. God himself is founded on his own autonomy.

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      74. dizerner,

        it’s this kind of response I’m looking to avoid. You may be too sensitive to my wording and causing the lines to blur? Yes, I believe we all think carnally and we need to par extra special attention to that. I’m not interested in offending you so if my wording has I apologize.

        I believe you have not grasped my point. If you read Robert’s response to me about you you will see he has and I have grasped to whatever degree I have, Robert’s insights.

        So, again, let me apologize for being offensive in my wording towards you in this dialogue.

        michael

        Like

      75. Really michael? You tried to avoid offending me by saying I’m like an atheist and carnal Christian? I care deeply about these things and about God and that should be obvious. I really wouldn’t mind a rebuke it if it what you said were true. But as it is, it’s like the lady said “you may love me, but you have a funny way of showing it.” However, of course I forgive your unfair accusations. I’d never hold that against you. I’m sure you may not have realized that you were deeply insulting my motivations and character. And that’s okay, we all write without thinking sometimes.

        I would really love to grasp your point. I’ve tried very hard, and studied your posts. Have you spent the time thinking about what I’m saying, because I don’t see any indication of that. Brian disagrees heavily with me, but he shows me he at least understands my logical points and doesn’t desire to throw around moral accusations. And he’s a pleasure to talk with.

        Liked by 1 person

      76. dizerner

        your point is God created His nature. I don’t think so. God is eternal having no beginning or end and therefore there is no creating God’s nature. God creates lesser things and creatures and ALL for His Glory and all creation serves Him from beginning to end. I do not believe in annihilationism. I believe in the lake of fire which is an eternal damnation some creatures will experience non-stop from the moment they are cast into that lake of fire for the rest of their eternity.

        thanks
        michael

        Like

      77. Amen, to eternal damnation and eternal life. I think the words “created his nature” are something I said after a long bit of frustration feeling like people weren’t listening and now they’ve latched on to that terminology to introduce concepts I never meant to. Please see my reply to Robert below… can I rephrase it “God chose to be the way he is.” Would you disagree with that statement? Was God locked into a nature he had absolutely no choice about? The question we are asking is not whether God created some external thing in time within himself, but whether he had any choice in who he is. That’s true autonomy. I’m honestly a bit surprised at how radical this is seeming to posters here. If you don’t think God has any choice whatsoever in who he is, I find that really odd. It means something, somewhere overrode God’s free autonomous will.

        But I’m tired of facing hostility and no real good scriptures or arguments. If i don’t see any soon I’ll gracefully bow out.

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      78. dizerner

        I think I am comprehending what may be the sticky wicket here? Could it be you are trying to define the passibility of God as an attribute of God’s impassibility or unchanging eternal character and eternal nature?

        The impassibility of God as one of His attributes, is in line with His immutability, omniscience, or eternality.

        A verse comes to mind to cite now:::>

        Mal 3:6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

        What my point is is God is impassible, He does not CHANGE. He has created this creation. It is in tact and everything is running along His predetermined plan and foreknowledge. He is a passible God “inside” this creation. He doesn’t change His nature because of His creation or what His created creatures do. He will always remain the same and respond with Righteousness and Justice in every situation with mankind.

        It’s a terrible and horrifying thought, eternal damnation. I am horrified to consider that some people I know are in the lake of fire right now or will be there some time in the future.

        You asked if this is a more acceptable phrase: // “God chose to be the way he is.”// I would say to that that God, because He cannot CHANGE HIS NATURE, will always be the way He is to every creature.

        Here we are in this creation made in Their image and likeness. We live learning how to walk in the Faith Abraham walked in and we are identified as children of Abraham because we have been given the same Faith Abram/Abraham was given. That sets us apart from the wicked and reprobate humanity who are just as much a part of this world of fallen beings.

        There is an interesting verse in Genesis 18 where God says “WHY” He is going to fulfill His promise made to Abraham. We too can expect the same fulfillment of the very same promise made to Abraham when we walk in the very same Faith Abraham walked in and produce the same fruit. Here’s the verse I’m thinking about:::>

        Gen 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

        There are several things in that verse that if you use your imagination you can see why Jesus said the following:::>

        Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
        Mat 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
        Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

        Was Abraham a sinner? Did he go way beyond himself when he chose to lay with Hagar? Boy did he! Look at all the turmoil in the middle east right now with these children of Abraham fighting and killing each other!

        Abraham had been given Faith and that Faith produced fruit. Faith without works, James writes, is dead. Abraham’s Faith was living and active Faith in “who” and “what”?? He was actively engaged in a faithful walk with the God of Righteousness and Justice and did not waver from the promises God made to him. This God, our God, established the WAY OF THE LORD and by Faith Abraham walked in it teaching his children and his household after to keep it.

        Now let me ask you this. Is the WAY OF THE LORD written about there in Genesis 18:19 different than the WAY OF THE LORD today? Do we walk in a different WAY OF THE LORD than Abraham walked in his day?

        God is the same yesterday, today and forever in His Eternal Nature, unchanging in this world. He responds to all creatures the same.

        King David said it like this:::>

        2Sa 22:25 And the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight.
        2Sa 22:26 “With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
        2Sa 22:27 with the purified you deal purely, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
        2Sa 22:28 You save a humble people, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.

        God always, always, always, always responds the SAME to the merciful, blameless, pure and crooked. He shows Himself merciful to the merciful. He shows Himself blameless to the blameless. He shows Himself pure to the purified. And with the crooked He is always tortuous!

        So, in His Eternal Nature God is impassible. Within creation, either the angelic world or the human world, we see His passibility.

        I hope that helped clear things up. But if not, we can continue hashing this out so that we come to a good understanding between us about what it is we are trying to convey to each other.

        michael

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      79. Well everything you said was awesome and I agree with it all. It’s a very tiny minute doctrinal point whether God had any choice about who he was—I apologize for my oversensitivity in being easily offended.

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      80. dizerner writes, “…what is the real “determiner” of God’s nature. I’m happy with “it just is” but even happier if I knew he was God enough to create his own nature.”

        We know what God tells us. God says, “I AM,” or “I AM THAT I AM.” God does not explain how He is what He is. Why would you be “happier” if you knew God was God enough to create his own nature? Why are you not satisfied to know that which God has made known to you? Perhaps Satan is sifting you to make you question God.

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      81. Because I think inherent in the definition of God is the power of autonomy as the greatest conceivable being.

        Please stop these silly accusations that trying to understand the nature of God is being “sifted” by Satan. You are all starting to sound like Job’s friends, to be honest. There is nothing inherently demonic, disrespectful or demeaning in positing that God has complete autonomy. The very verse you quoted “I am what I am,” speaks very plainly that God himself is responsible for Who and What is he. *That’s* my whole point, and my proof text.

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      82. dizerner,

        also, is there a consciousness within GOD who has no beginning or end a beginning or end? Isn’t it a logical reality that only in God’s creation there is a beginning of DARKNESS and therefore there will be, as God has revealed in Scripture, an end to DARKNESS? We learn from Habakkuk and Peter there will come a end to darkness and that end will only come to pass with the destruction of the current present created heavens and earth?

        Let me ask?

        When we read:::>

        1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

        … are we not then with that revelation that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, able to go back to Genesis 1:1-5 and conclude the origin of the darkness being revealed there to be from a creation and permitted to exist and freely willingly rebell against LIGHT before Genesis 1:1 and as we see from Genesis 3:1 and following?

        thanks
        michael

        Like

      83. I agree completely michael the origin of darkness was autonomous rebellion and one day darkness will end. The Calvinist however, doesn’t see things that way, and most of my posts are addressed towards Calvinism.

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      84. Good morning Dizerner! If your understanding of open theism is that a future event surprises God, than that’s why I don’t identity as an open theist. Nothing surprises God, for He knows all the future possibilities completely so that which ever one begins reality it is not a surprise.

        Thank you for affirming that my attempt to reflect what I see is a rationale interpretation of Scripture that tries to honor the freedom, grace, and mercy of God is not of a demonic origin.

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      85. Perhaps surprises was too strong a word. I’ve heard other open theists use it so I assumed it was okay…

        On another note I can’t believe rhutchin says:
        I see them often intentionally disguising their position and purposely confusing the issue by denying that God knows the future but then saying that they believe God is omniscient

        If we simple change two words we have this:

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      86. If we simple change two words we have this:

        I see them often intentionally disguising their position and purposely confusing the issue by denying that God decrees the future but then saying that they believe God “permits”

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      87. brianwagner writes, “I don’t identity as an open theist. Nothing surprises God, for He knows all the future possibilities completely so that which ever one begins reality it is not a surprise.”

        You may not identify as Open Theist but you are open theist.

        You write, “Nothing surprises God…” as if that means something. It doesn’t. You allow that God knows the possible outcomes in the future but not the actual outcomes. You allow that God knows it is possible for a person to choose eternal life or eternal death but you do not allow that God knows the choice the person makes. Whatever choice a person makes, God must deal with it. Whether the choices people make are “surprises” to God are of no consequence to the argument.

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      88. Dizerner, exemplary attitude. I’ve done a lot of material in constructive criticism of Open Theism but would never call its teachers demonic. Some of them I would even call holy and set-apart, even as I disagree with the OT position.

        Liked by 1 person

      89. There are people who play fast and loose with the definition of omniscience, among the more famous being those who identify themselves as Open Theists. I see them often intentionally disguising their position and purposely confusing the issue by denying that God knows the future but then saying that they believe God is omniscient. We might go so far as to call them demonic but it appears that they can be deceptive.

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  13. Just a couple comments in response to Matt Mayo’s most recent post. Matt claims that his way of explaining how God both permits things and also exhaustive determinism are both simultaneoulsy true answers the inconsistency that Leighton Flowers brought up. No, Matt has “moved the goalposts” and given his way of showing no inconsistency. But Flowers was not talking about the Mayo way of doing so, but specfically how people like Calvin had this inconsistency. Recall that Matt says all events are either causal chains or God’s interventions. So in Matt’s view God permits these causal chains to continue on unless God has to interrupt them for some reason and intervene. But Matt’s view is not Calvin’s view and I take Calvin as a better authority on the calvinist system than I do Matt. Flowers started this thread directly quoting Calvin on this. Recall that Calvin wrote “God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills just as He will, whether to good . . . or to evil.” Calvin then, believed that God works direclty in the hearts of men to cause them to do both good and evil. Calvin did not view things as Matt does that we have these causal chains that run through people and lead them to do good or do evil. No, for Calvin it was much more direct and personal, God literally works in everyr human heart causing them to do good or evil Calvin himself recognized that it is false and misleading to describe this as merely “permitting evil” to occur. Calvin said this directly in words that Flowers quoted: “God otiosely permits them, when scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them.” So who is correctly presenting calvinism here, Calvin or Matt Mayo?

    Matt brings up the “law of causation” yet again. Here we must recall that for Mayo every cause necessitates its effects. That again is begging the question, it assumes determinism to be true. The non-calvinist can grant that everything that occurs has a cause. But it is not necessary to maintain that all causes necessitate their effects. To take one obvious example if this were so, then even God could not intervene in the world as whatever the causes necessitate would have to occur and even God could not intervene to bring something different about. But God does intervene, so everything that occurs is not necessitated by prior causes. There is also another strong argument against Matt’s view of causation, quantum physics. In the past people held a more Newtonian view of the universe where it was viewed as a giant machine with everything happening by necessity. But Einstein came along as did quantum physics and so this older view was discarded. The most that you can say is that things at time almost seem as if they are necessitated.

    Lastly Matt says lots of scholars cite Edwards and his work on the will. This may be true of calvinists like Matt, of course they cite and quote and continue to use Edwards outmoded and discarded ideas, but this is not true of contemporary scholars in the area of free will (whether nonbelievers or believers who are not determinists). With some calvinists like Matt it is as if they are frozen in time, espousing Edwards false and archaic ideas when the rest of the people have passed them by. So they have their discussions of Edwards ideas among themselves, but in the larger context of the rest of the world they are ignored as are Edwards ideas. These folks did to get unstuck, become unfrozen and get up to speed with contemporary discussions of free will.

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    1. Robert,

      It seems that you are not as familiar with Calvin as you would lead us to believe if you think that what I have said is at odds with Calvin’s view. I really don’t think that Calvin is the best source for Reformed soteriology and it is somewhat unfortunate that his name has been attached to the view, but I have not moved the goal posts or said anything that would go against Calvin’s view on God’s use of secondary agency to accomplish His purposes. Calvin did use the term “permit” in contexts where it was obvious that he was not talking about “bare permission” or “otiosely permitting” as in the quote Professor Flowers gave. He doesn’t present arguments based on the Law of Causation the way I do, except to distinguish between God as the Primary Cause and evil people as secondary causes (he uses the terms “Principal Cause” and “inferior causes”), but that in itself goes against the understanding you seem to have of him. By “bare permission” he means that God has not willed it, decreed it, and brought it to pass. Calvin and I both deny that type of permission. By “otiosely permitting” he means that God did not intend it to accomplish a certain purpose. Calvin and I both deny that also. I may be using a slightly different argument than Calvin, who mainly argues by presenting numerous scriptures where men do evil things and those things are also attributed to God, but I’m not presenting a different position.

      If you want to understand his position instead of falsely accusing him of inconsistency read chapters XVII “Use To Be Made Of The Doctrine Of Providence” and XVIII “The Instrumentality Of The Wicked Employed By God, While He Continues Free From Every Taint” of Book 1 of his Institutes. He talks about the wicked and God’s “legitimate use of their wickedness” and that He “works by their means”. When you allow Calvin to define his own terms and read the full context in which he uses them, there is no inconsistency between his statement, “I am only producing a few out of many passages, from which it is perfectly clear that it is the merest trifling to substitute a bare permission for the providence of God, as if He sat in a watch-tower waiting for fortuitous events, His judgments meanwhile depending on the will of man” and his statement on the next page, “I admit that God often acts in the reprobate by interposing the agency of Satan; but in such a manner, that Satan himself performs his part, just as he is impelled, and succeeds only in so far as he is permitted”. Calvin also has no problem with Augustine’s repeated use of the word “permit”. After differentiating between the decretive will of God and His precepts Calvin says, “while they act against the will of God, His will is accomplished in them. Hence he [Augustine] exclaims, “Great is the work of God, exquisite in all He wills! So that, in a manner wondrous and ineffable, that is not done without His will which is done contrary to it, because it could not be done if He did not permit; nor does He permit it unwillingly, but willingly; nor would He who is good permit evil to be done, were He not omnipotent to bring good out of evil.”” (Institutes Bk.1 Ch.XVIII Sec. 3)

      I think it’s pretty clear that Calvin’s criticism of the use of the terms “allow” and “permit” are criticisms of “bare permission” without having decreed and willed that the things happen or having a purpose for them happening. My view is not at odds with Calvin’s view, and as I demonstrated in my first comment, there is no inconsistency there.

      You go on to once again try to criticize my use of the Law of Causation saying, “Matt brings up the “law of causation” yet again. Here we must recall that for Mayo every cause necessitates its effects. That again is begging the question, it assumes determinism to be true.” In our last conversation you failed to refute my arguments by misunderstanding and misusing different terms as well as misstating and not understanding the Law of Causation itself. When you now say, “But it is not necessary to maintain that all causes necessitate their effects” it seems that you are repeating the last of your failed attempts where you claimed that the sum total of all causal factors that produce a specific effect are not sufficient for producing that specific effect. You misused the term “sufficient cause” taking it as representing the total of all causal factors and claimed that all causes are not sufficient causes. The term “sufficient cause” which is usually contrasted to “necessary cause” and “contributing cause” is used to identify a causal condition. A sufficient cause is a causal condition which is sufficient in and of itself to bring about an effect regardless of whether or not other causal conditions are present. A necessary cause is a causal condition that is necessary for an effect to occur, yet it will not produce the effect if other causal conditions are not present. When I talk about the cause or set of causes or causal circumstances that produce a specific effect, I am talking about the sum total of all causal conditions not just one particular causal condition among many. As I demonstrated and gave examples to illustrate in our previous conversation, the idea that the same specific set of causes could produce a logically opposite effect is absurd.

      You try to give an example to back up your claim by saying, “To take one obvious example if this were so, then even God could not intervene in the world as whatever the causes necessitate would have to occur and even God could not intervene to bring something different about. But God does intervene, so everything that occurs is not necessitated by prior causes.” This really doesn’t make any sense. Why could God not intervene in His creation at any point He wishes to do so? If the causal conditions that play into producing a specific effect are present, what would prohibit God from acting in a way that introduced another causal condition that is sufficient to bring about a different effect? God eternally knew how He would bring about everything that would perfectly accomplish all of His purposes. That includes every time He would intervene within His creation to change circumstances or act in a variety of ways to bring about His purposes perfectly. How does the fact that specific causes bring about specific effects prevent Him from doing this? In fact, if specific causes didn’t bring about specific effects, how could God or you or anyone bring about a desired effect by doing what is known to cause that effect?

      It seems like you are trying to exhaust every protest against the Law of Causation ever made. You bring up quantum physics, but don’t present any argument from it. I would guess that you are appealing to the mistakes made by the atheists who claim that movements, such as quantum leaps, in sub-atomic particles are causeless effects. This is nothing more than a fallacious argument from ignorance that has been made and disproved many times before. Just because they are unable to perceive the cause of certain sub-atomic movement does not mean that there is no cause. These illogical claims have been made many times before and usually pointing to things on the limits of our abilities to perceive. For example, people pointed to maggots as an example of abiogenesis and an uncaused effect. Louie Pasteur put two pieces of meat out but put one under glass to show that there was a causal condition (flies) that produced the effect of maggots. The specific cause was later discovered by observation and the use of microscopes, but people have continued to point to things beyond the limits of our perception and fallaciously make the same argument from ignorance that later generations laugh at.

      Concerning Johnathan Edward’s “Freedom of the Will”, I asked you to present examples from the book to back up your vague accusations, but you still gave none. I criticized your use of a fallacious appeal to the majority, and asked for arguments against what he actually wrote in the book; instead you tried to discount all the people who quote from that book and write entire books about that book and then repeat your appeal to the majority. Your critique amounts to nothing more than a statement that people who disagree with Edward don’t quote him positively. Not only is that not a very revealing statement, since it could be said about just about anyone who ever authored a book, it proves nothing at all about the truth of the arguments he presented.

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      1. Correction. I confused the experiment of Pasteur with the experiment of Francisco Redi. Redi used the meat and maggots while Pasteur used broth and micro-organisms for the same purpose. Both disproved the people of their times who claimed spontaneous generation (causeless effects). Robert continues to respond to others but not to me. Do I smell bad or something or could it be that he has abandoned his failed arguments pertaining to the original subject of this thread? 😉

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  14. Robert,
    Why don’t you write about something that you know rather than attacking someone who you don’t know. You presume to understand Brian Wagner, but in truth you fail to understand what he is saying, therefore you are attacking him. You are trying to gain support by misinterpreting and insulting Brian while attempting to elevate your own authority with the claim that you worked with Walter Martin. Philippians 2.3 We live in a world where there is an overwhelming desire to dominate others, and an idolatrous need to be right about everything. Since you have it right… teach me… who is God?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, so Batman er I mean the UNMASKED THEOLOGIAN has now arrived to save the day! 🙂

      UT you suggest that “Why don’t you write about something that you do know rather than attacking someone who you don’t know.” Actually I have read quite a bit on this issue of divine omniscience. I have also read not just from one perspective but from differing perspectives. I have read those who hold the traditional view of omniscience (that includes Catholic theologians, Eastern Orthodox theologians, Protestant theologians, both calvinist and non-calvinist, etc. etc.). I have also read what open theists including William Hasker, Greg Body, James Sanders, etc. have to say on this topic as well. UT are you claiming that I just don’t understand what all these folks are saying, that I have misinterpreted them all? Now regarding attacking someone who you don’t know, UT it might help you if you make a simple but important distinction. Distinguish between the person, and the truth claims that they make. Since you appear to be concerned about Brian Wagner let’s use him as the example of how this works. Brian Wagner from my past interactions with him and observations of how he interacts with others is a nice guy. He usually writes in a very civil and gracious way. Now that is him as a person. On the other hand, if we examine his truth claims. He claims the traditional understanding of omniscience is false, he claims that God does not know what people will actually and freely choose to do in the future. These claims are false. He has made other claims that I will not repeat here as it is not necessary to make my point. I challenge some of his points and I claim they are false and demonstrably so. UT you take my challenges to his falsle claims to be attacks upon him as a person, that is your mistake. One of the things that I have learned is that if I keep an open mind, and separate some mistakes that a person makes I can learn from virtually anyone. So for example I reject certain elements of both Catholocism and Eastern Orthodoxy and yet I have learned from areas where they do get it right. Thomas Aquinas is a perfect example of this. On some things, most notably when he was talking about Catholic distinctives, he was dead wrong in my opinion. Yet in other areas, he made points that are true. Do you throw out everything that Aquinas wrote simply because he was Catholic or do you practice discernment rejecting some claims but accepting others?

      I am an eclectic when it comes to the people that I know and get along well with, I know people who are Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Independents, all varieties of believers that you can imagine. I also know unbelievers from all sorts of backgrounds. I know some very good people and also people who are evil and depraved as they come. I look at them all as persons first, and yet I also am aware of the truth claims they make. In a context such as this blog I am usually focused on their truth claims not their personal lives (this is not the context for personal discussiions such as “how are your kids doing?” How is your ministry going?” How is your job search going? etc. etc. there are more appropriate places for this kind of discussion such as facebook and private email and also email groups). On a blog like this we are not focused on people’s personal lives, rather, we are considering their truth claims.

      I mentioned my past with Martin to make the point that I have had past experiences with cultists who also attack traditional Christian beliefs by appealing to verses where Jesus during the incarnation did not know something or got tired or got thirsty. I was not trying to “elevate your own authority” as you claim. actually here in this context I have very little authority! 🙂 I do not have parental authority here, nor the authority of being an elder, nor the authority of being a mentor here, etc. etc. actually my only authority here is to make a good argument that persuades or to present scripture properly. I also have no desire to increase my authority here as that is not why any of us comment here.

      Regarding being in a world where people want to dominate others I am quite aware of this as I am involved in a large prison ministry. I have no desire to dominate others and I know first hand from my dealings with others who try to live this way, that it does not work. The christian way is not to dominate but to serve others (I am constantly trying to get this across to the prison population with mixed results! 🙂 Regarding the idolatrous need to be right about everything. I am well aware of this as well. which is precisely why I have a very eclectic band of friends and acquaintances. Since I believe that I make mistakes and am not always right I surround myself with others who keep me accountable and are in many cases much more intelligent than I am and more informed than I am. I can and do learn from all sorts of people.

      I share these things with you UT so that you may better understand where I am coming from. Thanks for your admonitions and reminders.

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      1. Pro 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
        Pro 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

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  15. At 11:15 AM Brian Wagner wrote: “If your understanding of open theism is that a future event surprises God, than that’s why I don’t identify as an open theist. Nothing surprises God, for He knows all the future possibilities completely so that which ever one begins [probably “becomes”] reality it is not a surpise.” Dizerner then added that he thought the word “surprise” was Ok since he had heard some open theists themselves use the word.

    I believe that we should do our best to accurately and fairly present other views (though we sometimes see some advocates responding even when their view is fairly presented responding “you just don’t understand my view”). We do this to avoid caricatures and straw men, we really want to deal with the view so that if we refute it we are refuting the actual view not a misrepresentation. That being said, I have never understood the claim that under OT God is ever surprised. Advocates of OT believe that God knows the past exhaustively (i.e. he knows both the choices that we had and the choices we end up making). Under OT he also knows the present exhaustively, he knows the choices that we are facing and he sees the choices that we end up making. Furthermore, as he knows our minds before we make the choice that we end up making in the present, how will he then be surprised? If he knows you were contemplating to either go to McDonald’s or go to Wendy’s before you make the actual choice that you end up making: how is he then going to be surprised whichever way you end up going? He is not going to be surprised then under OT.

    Wagner brings up his self identifiation thing again: which brings up an interesting question, if we do present his understanding fairly and accurately would he then identify as an open theist?

    He seems to be playing a game that he will only identify as an Open theist if we present his exact view. I am not interested in playing this game, I will simply identify him as an open theist as that is in fact his position. One of the things that has bothered me about Wagner’s approach is that he attacks and questions the traditional understanding of omniscience but will not honestly and forthrightly declare himself to be an open theist when he is one. I will have more to say on this shortly.

    Note Wagner says in his comments that “He knows all the future possibilities completely”. But that is just it, under the traditional understanding of omniscience, God not only knows all the future possibilities completely, he also knows all the future actualities completely as well. For Wagner, God knows the choices that we will have in the future (those are possibilities) but he does not know how we will in fact choose (those are actualities). Now he may give us various reasons as to why God does not know these future actualities/these choices that we will in fact make: but that only demonstrates rather clearly that in the traditional view there are things God knows that under the OT view he does not (or according to them cannot) know. This is why I find Wagner’s claim that God is omniscient to be misleading and possibly dishonest (he knows the traditional view, he rejects the traditional view and he affirms a view in which God HAS LESS knowledge than he has under the traditional view, how then can he have less knowledge than he has under the traditional view and yet Wagner wants to call this OMNIcience?). If Wagner said that He believes that there are parts of the future that God does not know (specifically how people will in fact end up choosing) while I would disagree with him I could respect him for being honest and forthright about his own view.

    It is interesting that Wagner claims that God “knows all the future possibilities completely” . Open theists often make this claim: but how does God know all these possibilities? Ot’s regularly attack the traditioal view saying how does God know what we will actually choose to do if the future does not yet exist, if God does not predetermine these events, etc.? But this same argument goes right back at them: how does he know all of these future possibilities, if the future does not yet exist, if God has not predetermined thes possibilities, etc.?

    In the traditional understanding God knows what choices we will have (the future possibilities) and the choices that we will in fact make (the future actualities). In OT he knows the former but not the latter. Therefore it is misleading and even dishonest for advocates of OT to claim that God **is** omniscient. We can disagree with Wagner on his OT but we need not question whether he is a believer or whether he is trying to interpret scripture as best that he can. He is a nice guy who just happens to be mistaken on this issue, as are all open theists. I just wish they were more forthright about admitting that in their view God knows future possibilities but not future actualities.

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    1. You say:
      in their view God knows future possibilities but not future actualities.

      Seems like a very fair point. It’s one or the other, and they shouldn’t use ambiguous language (as Calvinists also do with “free will” and “permission”). No matter how good a guesser God is, he’s still just guessing about some choices (he could of course still ensure certain things happen).

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    2. Someone might say – “It is misleading and even dishonest for” someone who does not hold the traditional definition of omniscience “to claim that God **is** omniscient.” The traditional definition of “regeneration” is the gift of spiritual life given to infants without their expression of personal faith being necessary. That definition is unbiblical (as is the Calvinist’s untraditional definition of “regeneration).” Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and some Protestants also have other false harmful definitions, based on their sacramental theology, for a number of their theological terms. We should always be willing to test our theological definitions against the Scriptures’ plain contextual meanings.

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      1. Brian Wagner writes that “someone” (it was me but apparently Brian has such disdain for me at this point that he cannot even write my name): and then only quotes part of my point. My point was that Brian Wagner being a New Testament professor certainly knows the various views and knows that he holds to open theism. But instead of being forthright and direct and honest about his open theism beliefs he plays this game of claiming that he does not “self-identify” himself as an open theist. Brian knows that in his view God knows all future possibilities, but He does not know what people will in fact choose to do in the future (i.e. actualities, what will in fact be chosen by people in the future) AND that in the traditional view God does know both all future possibilities as well as all future actual choices. But Brian wants to claim that both views are affirming that God is omniscient. But this is not logical, this is not true, how can he be said to be omnisicient under open theism if under the traditional understanding he actually knows more?

        But there is another argument that Brian Wagner keeps bringing up repeatedly and this argument is so bad that it really needs to be killed off right now. Recall that one of the points that I have made repeatedly is that the traditional understanding of God’s knowledge/omniscience is that God knows not only future possibilities but also what we will in fact choose to do (so God knows the choices that we will have AND the choices that we will make) and that if we look at church history this understanding is held across the board, it is held by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Independents). Put another way this view is held by the vast majority of Christians throughout church history by everyone EXCEPT FOR OPEN THEISTS such as Brian Wagner. Now Brian Wagner being an open theist attempts to undermine this point by first claiming it is only a Catholic doctrine or only “Augustinian” (implying that it has only been in church history since about 400 A.D. when Augustine was current). This is false because it preceded Augustine by hundreds of years as the early church prior to Augustine held the traditional view. Another way that Brian has tried to undermine this fact since it strongly militates against his novel and very recent view: is to try to undermine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox by appealing to errors that have been present in their theologies/practices. So Brian’s argument is that since the Catholics/Eastern Orthodox have been wrong about X or Z, therefore they are also wrong on their view of omniscience. Anybody see why this argument is so bad and worthy of being killed off?

        If Brian’s argument were valid we could also argue that since the Catholics/Eastern Orthodox have been wrong about X or Z, therefore they are also wrong on their views of the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation/that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh, that the Bible is the Word of God, that there will be a final judgement. But this is a rediculous argument because the Catholics/Eastern Orthodox are not wrong about the trinity, the deity of Christ, etc. because they are wrong about X or Z. You cannot logically go from the fact that they are wrong about X or Z to the conclusion that they are wrong with respect to their understanding of omniscience or the trinity or the deity of Christ. I have always thought that C.S. Lewis made a very strong point in regards to his concept of “Mere Christianity.” By this concept he meant that if Christians from across different theological traditions believed the same thing about something then that was strong evidence that this belief was both Christian and true. And we can see this with some of the most important Christian doctrines including the deity of Christ, trinity, incarnation, physical resurrection of Jesus, final judgment and in this context GOD’S OMNISCIENCE. Christians have had virtual total agreement on certain things that Lewis called “Mere Christianity.” If we examine church history we will definitely find areas of disagreement when we compare Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant theologies and practices. And in some of these areas we may be fully pesuaded that someone is wong about something. But it does not follow that since they were wrong about some things that they therefore were wrong about everything. Baptists believe that Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox and the Methodists and the Presbyterian and the Lutherans are in error regarding infant baptism. But do those of us who are Baptists conclude based on their error with regard to infant baptism that they are also in error with regard to the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the physical resurrection of Christ? Or reverse it, the Catholics, Easterrn Orthodox, etc believe that Baptists are in error regarding baptism, do they then conclude that Baptists are in error with regard to the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the physical resurrection of Christ? No and No. But if Brian Wagner’s argument were valid then since the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are in error regarding X or Z, therefore they must be in error about the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the physical resurrection of Christ. Hopefully Wagner will stop using this really lame argument from this point since it has been exposed for what it is.

        And this ought to lead us to really, really wonder, how is it that Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants agree on the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the physical resurrection of Jesus, that there will be a final judgment, that the Bible is the Word of God? The fact they all agree on these things strongly suggests that these things are both biblical and true. Now if that is the case with these shared beliefs, why doesn’t this also apply with the shared belief that again Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants (except for open theists like Wagner) all hold concering the omniscience of God??? As with the trinity and the deity of Christ, despite our differences on things baptism and the sacraments and whether or not clergy can marry, when it comes to omniscience we all agree. The fact the entire church (except for open theists today) throughout church history have all held the same view of omniscience strongly suggests this understanding is both biblical and true. Brian Wagner and a few other open theists like Greg Boyd (who says he began to hold to open theism in about 1983), William Hasker and John Saunders claim that the entire church is wrong about omniscience. That they have it right and that all of the rest of us, whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Calvinist, Arminian, MOlinist, Ockhamist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Lutheran, etc. etc. are all wrong about this? That is extremely doubtful. What is much more likely is that where there is such uniformity among Christians from differing traditions, we have it right, we are the ones who espouse the biblical view of God’s knowledge.

        Lastly, Brian says that things should be tested by scripture. Here Here, I agree with that wholehearteldy. And the church has tested it beliefs for centuries regarding omniscience. Its greatest minds have considered this issue and they have all arrived at the same conclusion: the traditional understandig of omniscience. And they have also tested open theism and found it wanting. Calvinists have done some excellent work showing the inadequacies and errors and problems with open theism: as have non-calvinists.

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      2. Robert, very well said.

        Here’s some Scripture the open theist might want to ponder in regard to God’s omniscience:::>

        Psa 33:10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
        Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
        Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
        Psa 33:13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
        Psa 33:14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
        Psa 33:15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
        Psa 33:16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
        Psa 33:17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
        Psa 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
        Psa 33:19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

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      3. Michael, I affirm the truth of all those wonderful verses about our sovereign, merciful God! Thank you for sharing them.
        Brian

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  16. I have some problems with some aspect of OT, in the same way I have some problems with simple foreknowledge and some problems with Molinism. And of course, I have problems with Calvinism. All these are theories, attempts to explain God’s interaction with time, something I”m not sure we can ever really understand. There are other theory’s, too. But, I’m a lot more uncomfortable with someone saying Jesus was not in some way fully God, then speculation about how God interacts with time. Fully man and fully God-this is a fundamental foundation of Christianity, not optional.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wildswanderer writes, “Fully man and fully God-this is a fundamental foundation of Christianity, not optional.”

      It as Jesus who said, “…now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

      As Christ did not have that same glory He had before the wold began (presumably because of His incarnation), then I don’t see how you support your claim that Christ was fully God during His life on earth except you exclude anything about glory.

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    2. Wildswanderer,

      I agree with you that when we look at different theologies we will often find things we disagree with or find to be error in our best judgement.

      That being said, what do **YOU** do with the fact that when we examine church history and various Christian traditions (including Catholocism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism) we find unanimous agreement on the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incaranation/that God actually became flesh and dwelt among us, that there will be a final judgement, that the Bible is the Word of God, that God created the world out of nothing, AND THAT GOD IS OMNISCIENT (meaning that he knows all possibilities and all actualities, whether they be past, present or future)????

      What does this unanimous agreement on these doctrinal beliefs suggest to you?????

      Among different theologians there are different theories to account for the fact that God knows the future (including Boethian, Molinist, Ockhamist, simple foreknowledge, Calvinist, Arminian, etc.), but they all agree that in fact he does know the future in its entirety. In other words there are differing explanations as to HOW he knows the future, not THAT he does know the future (except again for open theists who deny what everyone else believes).

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  17. yet more misunderstanding of the “calvinist” position.

    there is no inconsistency, God pre-ordained all actions and events in time and this includes how he would interact in those actions and events.

    job chapters 1 and 2 are examples of God permitting and restraining evil. the very crucifixion of Jesus is an example of God allowing evil(isaiah 53; acts 27-28) joseph’s brothers plot to kill their brother where God providentially allowed them to throw joseph in a well but restrained their evil inclination to kill him(gen 37:18-22). also the assyrians being brought against israel by God’s permission and then restrained by God( isaiah 10).

    there is no conflict between God’s decreative will and His interaction in actions and events in time because those interactions are a part of His decreative will.

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    1. Yudo, there is no logical inconsistency in the system of Calvinism. That is what makes it so enticing to the intelligent mind. The inconsistency is between Calvinism and the revelation of Scripture which nowhere says God preordained all choices, even His own, into the future forever. The Scripture says God had made after creation and will continue to make into the future determinations freely in line with His nature and sovereignty.

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  18. What do you do with all the scriptures that state that God changed his mind, or that God regretted? It just seems very one sided to take all scriptures about God’s foreknowledge and scriptures about God’s future plans at face value and re-interpret all the ones that claim he can regret or change his mind.
    If God is truly sovereign over his own actions, it would seem that he can both know and plan future events and choose to not plan and not know other future events. Is it the OT who are limiting God or is it the traditional view that limits Him? In simple foreknowledge, which is the traditional Arminian view, God has foreseen all His future actions, so those actions must come to pass. The Calvinist view has God not just seeing them, but pre-programming everyone and everything to follow his exact plans, down to how many grains of dirt are under our fingernails at three o’clock on Tuesday. In this view, there is no such thing as God having free will, let alone man, no matter what anyone claims. If God is not the author of sin, how can he pre-program people to sin? He can’t. Some view of Open Theism is the only way for God to truly respond to prayers, at least as far as any human can understand responding. We all live as if we are Open theists. We pray to God, believing that prayer moves him, that a lot of people praying will actually change the future in some way. Again, I don’t know how God interacts with time. It seems as if most Christians are very schizophrenic when it comes to their view of God. They talk as if God has preplanned their every move and then in the next moment affirm that prayer changes things. How can both be true? I’m not offering answers, just asking the questions normal people ask if they care to think about these things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. wildwanderer,

      it seems that you would be conceding that you are an open theist. if this is actually true then i appreciate your honesty. i only wish that Mr. wagner could be as honest.

      as far as the prayer thing is concerned, if God preordained all actions and events in time, why would this not include the times when we pray and what we pray?

      as far as the scriptures of God changing His mind and being regretful, i believe Mr. wagner and others know how i have dealt with this. God speaks to His creatures on the level of His creatures who have limited knowledge of the past, present, and future. it’s condescension.

      you guys can claim omniscience until you’re blue in the face but if there are things that will happen that God doesn’t know about and has no control over than omniscience goes out the window. unless you want to try to dismiss such logical inconsistencies by saying its all “supernatural”.

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      1. ” In this view, there is no such thing as God having free will, let alone man, no matter what anyone claims.”

        bob enyart argued along the same lines against james white in their debate. bob is a card carrying true blue open-theist. seems you’re leaning hard towards that view.

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      2. I know very little about Bob Enyart and have not seen the debate, so this opinion didn’t come from him. It just seems like the logical conclusion that determinism always brings me to. It puzzled me for a long time how people could embrace determinism, when it seems so drastically counter to most of the Bible. I have finally concluded that they somehow find it comforting to believe that they can do nothing without God ordaining it from the beginning of time. This is where I think the Open Theism gets a lot of traction-the people who find determinism repulsive because it looks exactly like fate, are glad to embrace a world in which prayers really do change lives, in which God is not the author of all evil, but really does hate it and war against it. OT makes spiritual warfare real instead of theoretical. Yes, you can affirm all these inside simple foreknowledge, or some other form of God outside of time, but it’s a lot harder to grasp how God can see future, past and present all at once and still interact on a moment by moment basis with people.

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      3. See Yudo, that’s the problem. You declare that open theists believe there are things that truly exist that God doesn’t know and has no control over. He knows all things that truly exist, even all future things He has determined and ask future things He has not determined, and He has control over it all.

        I will declare myself an open theist if you will declare yourself a closed theist with a view of God that is no longer free to make any more determinations! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You said:
        God doesn’t know about and has no control over

        Just pointing out that having to control something to know it is a complete fallacy you’ve never once proven.

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      5. Actually, I can just as easily argue for simple foreknowledge or Molinism. It just depends on what day it is. I’m not totally convinced that anyone is right about these things. I just find Calvinism very inconsistent and self-contradicting, the others are all viable theorys.

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      6. wildswanderer writes, “I can just as easily argue for simple foreknowledge or Molinism….I just find Calvinism very inconsistent and self-contradicting, the others are all viable theorys.”

        Molinism and Calvinism are consistent with each other. Molinism explains how God considered all the possible worlds He could create and then decided on that one world He would create and this is the world He created at Genesis 1. Under Molinism, the one, unique world that God actually created is a Calvinist world. God knows everything that is to happen in that world and by creating that world, God ordains everything that then happens in the course of time. Calvinism describes the world that Molinism says God created.

        So, when you say, “I just find Calvinism very inconsistent and self-contradicting, the others are all viable theorys,” you are putting your ignorance on display – ignorance of both Calvinism and Molinism.

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    2. Wildswanderer

      I’m new to this group and to these things. However I do have an open ended opinion and am willing to have it sharpened. Reading your words here help me think maybe you might have some advice for me with regard to a couple of show stopper portions of Scripture. I’d ask for your exegesis with regard to these two portions of Scripture to open a dialogue with you honestly and sincerely:::>

      Ecc 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

      And

      Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

      What I’m most interested in is how you deal with the impossibilities of each of these verses. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we see God puts eternity into man’s heart for a purpose that does not escape Him but us, the ones who have eternity put into our hearts. That purpose it stands to reason is impossible for us the creature to comprehend, that is, that God, who is without beginning or end puts eternity into the hearts of His creatures who do have at a minimum a beginning. What can you say about that?

      And we see the Apostle Paul was brought to a place in this reality that at most he realized his gift of preaching and teaching was quite “wing clipped” or limiting in scope seeing he was saying in Ephesians 3:8 he by the Grace given to him was commissioned to preach what is unsearchable, that is the unsearchable riches of Christ. Isn’t this the real reality here? That we can have only a limited yet eternally ongoing revelation of who God is, the Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent to say His people from their sins?

      These two verses, it seems to me, if we can comprehend them in balance eliminates a lot of the confusion in this debate between theologies that are present with Calvinists and with Arminians?

      thanks
      michael

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      1. What I’m most interested in is how you deal with the impossibilities of each of these verses. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we see God puts eternity into man’s heart for a purpose that does not escape Him but us, the ones who have eternity put into our hearts. That purpose it stands to reason is impossible for us the creature to comprehend, that is, that God, who is without beginning or end puts eternity into the hearts of His creatures who do have at a minimum a beginning. What can you say about that?

        Michael, I’m not sure what you are getting at here. It’s not hard to understand why God put eternity in men’s hearts. I would say it is so men will be discontent with “life under the sun” and search for the true meaning of his existance, which is exactly what Solomon is doing in the entire book of Ecclesiastes.

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    3. Wildswanderer,

      I asked you a direct question that you have ignored. If you answered my question perhaps you would then have the answer to the question you ask here:

      “What do you do with all the scriptures that state that God changed his mind, or that God regretted? It just seems very one sided to take all scriptures about God’s foreknowledge and scriptures about God’s future plans at face value and re-interpret all the ones that claim he can regret or change his mind.”

      Do you really think these questions have not been asked in the entire history of the church?

      Do you really think open theists and people like yourself are the ***first*** to ask these questions?

      This is why it is helpful to know what the church has thought throughout its history.

      Did you know that in the past those who held to the traditional understanding of omniscience ALSO believed that God genuinely interacts and responds to people in real time in real history?

      Do you really think that Christians in the past believed that God does not genuinely interact with people?

      Is this something new that only you and the open theists have discovered?

      As can be documented for its entire history the Christian church across all theological traditions has held to the traditional view of omniscience. But you appear to choose to ignore that.

      The view that the majority of Christians have held throughout church history is not an either/or, EITHER: (1) God knows the future (he is omniscient) and so does not genuinely interact with us, OR (2) God genuinely interacts with us and is not omniscient (i.e. the open theism position). That is what in logic is called a false dilemma, presenting two mutually exclusive points, claiming one is error and one is truth, when in fact other available and better options exist. The third possibility, which is in fact the view held throughout church history is (3) God knows the future (he is omniscient) and simultaneously God genuinely interacts with us.

      You then argue against God’s omniscience:

      “If God is truly sovereign over his own actions, it would seem that he can both know and plan future events and choose to not plan and not know other future events.”

      Why should he choose to not know other future events?

      Why should he choose to not be omniscient?

      You next make a statement that is just flat out mistaken:

      “Is it the OT who are limiting God or is it the traditional view that limits Him?”

      It is the open theists because according to them if God does have omniscience then he cannot simultaneously be genuinely interacting with humans. THAT is putting a LIMITATION upon God that does not exist. The reality is that he can both be omniscient and genuinely interact with people.

      “In simple foreknowledge, which is the traditional Arminian view, God has foreseen all His future actions, so those actions must come to pass.”

      That is a misrepresentation of the traditional Arminian view. In this view, God freely chooses to do what he does. He is not forced to do things, it is not accurate to say that he **must** do things and has no choice. The Arminian view is that he will in fact choose to do certain things, but this is not the same as he must do those things. The same is true of us, with regard to our future choices, if we act freely then we will in fact choose to do X, but we did not have to do X (we would have to do X if we were not acting freely, if our choice was necessitated, as is true in Calvinist theology, and Arminians are not Calvinists I assume you know).

      You spoke of the calvinist view and I will not spend any time on it as I believe calvinism is mistaken on some things.

      “Some view of Open Theism is the only way for God to truly respond to prayers, at least as far as any human can understand responding.”

      The ONLY way for God to truly respond to prayers??????

      Not true at all, again Christians for centuries have lived with the belief that God is omniscient AND he genuinely interacts with them. I may provide an example of this so that you can better understand what the vast majority of Christians have always believed. If your statement were true, since open theists is a relatively new and novel view, that would mean that for centuries believers would be praying believing that God does not truly respond to their prayers.

      “We all live as if we are Open theists.”

      No, we all live as if we believe that God genuinely interacts with people. THAT is not the same as open theism.

      Open theism has not been around very long, it was not present in the early church. In the early church everybody believed both that God is omniscient and that God genuinely interacts with people. They were not open theists because open theism did not even exist then.

      “We pray to God, believing that prayer moves him, that a lot of people praying will actually change the future in some way.”

      Again, this has been a belief held by Christians across the board, the church did not learn this from open theists, open theists came on the scene very late.

      “Again, I don’t know how God interacts with time.”

      No one fully understands how a spirit who is universally present and has no body parts, interacts in time with people. We believe THAT it happens but we do not understand fully HOW it happens.

      “It seems as if most Christians are very schizophrenic when it comes to their view of God. They talk as if God has preplanned their every move and then in the next moment affirm that prayer changes things.”

      That may be true of Calvinists (who are just a minority of the set of all believers), but the majority of Christians again throughout church history have not been calvinists, have not believed that “God preplans their every move.”

      “How can both be true?”

      They cannot both be true, which is one of the reasons the majority of Christians have rejected calvinism. Most people are sharp enough to figure out if everything is preplanned, then we do not have free will and we just follow our prewritten scripts like good little puppets. 🙂

      “I’m not offering answers, just asking the questions normal people ask if they care to think about these things.”

      And asking questions is good; just don’t limit yourself to what you are thinking in your mind alone. Consider what other believers have thought about these things. There have been some very, very intelligent and godly people in church history. Sure mistakes were sometimes made, but they were not always mistaken. Learn from both the mistakes and what others have gotten right. This is living like the wise person from the book of Proverbs (willing to learn from others, realizing the power in a multiple of counselors, understanding one is limited and can gain from the insights and wisdom of others, etc.).

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      1. Wildswanderer writes, “In simple foreknowledge, which is the traditional Arminian view, God has foreseen all His future actions, so those actions must come to pass.”

        Robert responded, “In this view, God freely chooses to do what he does. He is not forced to do things, it is not accurate to say that he **must** do things and has no choice. The Arminian view is that he will in fact choose to do certain things, but this is not the same as he must do those things.”

        Simple foreknowledge says that God knows the future but does not explain how God knows the future – God just knows. Calvinists go down one more level and explain how God knows the future – God decides the future. If God has decided the future, then that future must come to pass (if God knows the future, then that future must also come to pass). God’s knowledge of the future is not the cause of that future. God’s decisions about the future do not necessarily cause the future – God did cause the destruction of Sodom/Gomorrah; God did not cause the Romans to crucify Jesus but God did decide not to stop the Romans from crucifying Jesus; God made these decisions before He created the world – thus, they must then occur in the course of time.

        Robert also writes, “The same is true of us, with regard to our future choices, if we act freely then we will in fact choose to do X, but we did not have to do X (we would have to do X if we were not acting freely, if our choice was necessitated, as is true in Calvinist theology, and Arminians are not Calvinists I assume you know).”

        That a person’s choices are “necessitated” does not mean that people do not make them freely. If a person’s choice is necessitated, then it means that God knows beforehand the choice that will be made and God will not prevent that choice being made. In neither case does God cause the person to make a particular choice – either by His knowledge of by His decision not to prevent it.

        Pastor flowers uses the illustration of the speeder and the policeman (not a perfect analogy). The policeman knows the person is speeding and does so freely and the policeman does nothing to prevent the person speeding and then the policeman judges the person for speeding (gives the person a ticket). The person protests, “But officer, you knew I was speeding and you could have stopped me from speeding but you did not – it’s unfair for you to let me speed when you could have stopped me and then give me a ticket for speeding.” The officer responds, “It was your choice to speed, you get a ticket.”

        Wildswanderer writes, “It seems as if most Christians are very schizophrenic when it comes to their view of God. They talk as if God has preplanned their every move and then in the next moment affirm that prayer changes things.”

        Robert responded, “That may be true of Calvinists (who are just a minority of the set of all believers), but the majority of Christians again throughout church history have not been calvinists, have not believed that “God preplans their every move.”

        In that God has ordained all that happens (even more, God works all things after the counsel of His will), we can rightly conclude that God has preplanned our entire lives. Thus, we are mistaken to say that prayer “changes” anything – how could it? The purpose of prayer is to “appropriate” those things God has promised to us – those promises being made certain in God’s knowledge and prior decisions regarding our lives.

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      2. rhutchin,

        besides the verse you cited before, Ephesian 1:1, I like to pray and seek the Lord to apprehend the results of these verses too:::>

        Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
        Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
        Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
        Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

        If there is any doubt in your mind that God has not predetermined that plan for the fullness of time, that is, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth, pray you live long enough and YOU WILL SEE THIS PREDETERMINED PLAN COME TO PASS just like we read another predetermined plan came to pass:::>

        Act 4:22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
        Act 4:23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
        Act 4:24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
        Act 4:25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
        Act 4:26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
        Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
        Act 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

        I have a proposal. Let’s get behind both these following thoughts and pray and keep on praying until what King David wrote before them both comes to pass. Three portions of Scripture, first from Habakkuk then 2 Peter and rounding up with 1 Chronicles:::>

        Hab 2:2 And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
        Hab 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

        There in Habakkuk we find or read about a predetermined plan which I believe the Apostle Paul had in mind when he penned Ephesians.

        In these following verses from 2 Peter, we see Peter exhorting the Saints with the Faith given to them to “hasten” the coming of the day the Lord:::>

        2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
        2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

        Finally, long ago and before Habakkuk King David had written these Word to his inaugural song and then had the song sung:::>

        1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
        1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
        1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

        I have no doubt and am 100% convinced one of these days in the very last generation of mankind the Lord is going to touch down on the planet and it will be dissolved along with the created heavens and then begin the process of judgment, judging every deed of every man, woman and child!

        Maranatha!

        Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
        Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
        Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
        Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
        Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Michael,

    You have made some very good points against dizerner’s view that God created his own nature. Apparently you are not persuading dizerner however (nor are the efforts of others). I want to help you with this. This is yet another perfect example where knowing church history and what some of the great minds in church history have thought in the past can be very helpful in dealing with a present problem or error.

    A common and well known distiction is between necessary being and contingent being. A necessary being just exists, a necessary being was never brought into existence, a necessary being was never created. In constrast a contingent being is a being that has come into being, that has been created, that had a beginning. God is a necessary being, He exists in all possible worlds, he was not created, he never had a beginning, he was never brought into existence. God created the world and the world is therefore contingent, it had a beginning, it was brought into being by God. A thing is created only if its existence had a beginning.

    Now with this distinction and these concepts in mind we can see why dizerner is mistaken. I could quote multiple statements by dizerner but I think one will be sufficient: “I’m happy with “it just is” but even happier if I know he was God enough to create his own nature.”

    Here is the major error that dizerner is making. The traditional understanding is that God is what He is, and always has been and always will be what He is. He just is, or as he said to Moses when Moses asked him who he was: I am. God just is, He just exists, he **is** a necessary being, uncreated, never having had a beginning and never having been brought into being.

    Note dizerner dismisses this understanding as something he is happy with and yet something else is better according to dizerner. He says what is better than the traditional understanding of God being a necessary being: is “he was God enough to create his own nature.”

    Now here is the problem with dizerner’s claim. If God CREATED his own nature, then God’s nature is a contingent being, a created being, his nature HAD A BEGINNING. But if God’s nature had a being and God created his nature, then God existed before his nature existed! Because a thing is created only if its existence had a beginning. It should be clear that dizerner’s claim leads to the conclusion that God’s nature had a beginning like any other created thing, that his nature was brought into being like any other created being. This is self-contradictory. Now it may sound noble to claim that God can choose to do anything including choosing to create his own nature. But theologically and philosophically it is contradictory and false. God created every created being with a certain nature. But in the case of God himself his nature was never created, it never had a beginning, it was never brought into being even by God himself. God has had the nature that he has eternally, there was never a time when he did not have the nature that he has, never a time when he created his own nature.

    Included in His nature is that He is good, He is loving, He is just, He is merciful, He is sovereign, He is omnipotent, He is omniscient, etc. etc. These are God’s essential properties true in every possible world. I really think some folks need to do some further study of these things. I think a major and repeated problem that I am seeing here is that people are just speaking off the cuff, speaking their opionions without having studied any of these things sufficiently by seeing what other believers have thought throughout church history. We really need to study and be aware of history not neglect the great minds that have been part of the church (whether they were Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant). As Christians we have a rich history that has predated us. Some here want to disparage and minimize and even attack this history instead of humbly learning and benefiting from it.

    Hope this helps you Michael.

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    1. Robert,

      yes that was very helpful and insightful. I believe we are on the same track albeit your knowledge is deeper and more intimate of these great thinkers than mine.

      I have been studying a lot of history the last few years. I haven’t gotten into the specific autobiographies or historians’ writings of the Patristics or Apostolic Fathers up from the first century to date. It’s a tall order because there is so much to read. If the Lord tarries I will.
      I am assuming you have read up on Clement of Rome, Irenaeus or Polycarp or Cyprian or Augustine and the seven major councils and so the history parade goes through the centuries to date? I have done three church history courses the last year or so about each of the centuries from the first to current date by three separate historians. These were general courses and outlined key men in each century and their key points in their century. I am thinking my next major read will be Josephus or Tacitus and then after that who knows? You have any suggestions?

      In any event, I see you zeroed in on the same words I did from dizerner’s view and that “God created his own nature”.

      Again, thank you very much for your insightful and helpful response. It was my pleasure to read it.

      michael

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      1. Michael, If I may, I would like to suggest that you read the Reformers and their Stepchildren, by Verduin, and The Pilgrim Church, by Broadbent.

        It is important to realize that Christ’s promise to build His church does not mean that He was primarily using Roman Catholicism for 1500 years to build it. Nor does it mean that their choice of writers from the first the centuries should be accepted as authoritative foundation writings for Christianity. The writings of the apostles are the only foundation!

        Look at the declarations of the 7 RC councils again, and notice how little or no appeal is made to Scripture for the authority behind their dogma, but the declarations themselves become the authority. And the anathemas prove that they are adding to the gospel, for they are saying you must also believe this or you are damned. In fact, look carefully for a clear gospel statement of salvation by grace through faith and not of works in any of these councils’ declarations or canon law decisions… It’s not there.

        I hope this helps.

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      2. brian,

        thank you for the suggestion.

        Are we on the same page with regards to the seven councils? Is the Council at Ephesus or Chalcedon Roman Catholic Councils? And the Councils at Constantine, are they to be considered Roman Catholic Councils? When do you believe the Roman Catholic Church began?

        You write: //It is important to realize that Christ’s promise to build His church does not mean that He was primarily using Roman Catholicism for 1500 years to build it.//

        Where do you get the idea that I believe the Roman Catholic Church has anything to do with what Christ has been doing building His Church the last 1500 plus years or is right now doing? From my point of view that sentence makes little to no sense to me.

        For your information, I consider myself a Biblicist. I’m more Reformed than ever before. I study the Bible. I study it in its original languages and in the various translations. Albeit I do not read and write fluently Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic am as comfortable with these languages as you are. I’m not so keen on Textual Criticism but I have looked into these things and based on what I have studied there is a question in my mind why and why not certain passages are a part of some Translations of the 66 books of the Bible. Within the first 6 months after July 21, 1975 I had read the Bible in I believe at a minimum of 6 Translations. Today I cite from the ESV. With the advent of the computer and internet and some very good Bible Apps I have over thirty Bible translations not including the lexicons and other resources at my fingertips. I suppose you do too?

        When I read another’s writing I am looking for the Biblical foundation and reasoning built off that foundation. I completely agree that the only foundation we have to work from is the Rock and the Scriptures and the hermeneutics of the Apostles, [Acts to the book of the Revelation].

        Deu 32:4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

        Deu 32:31 For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.
        Deu 32:32 For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter;
        Deu 32:33 their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps.
        Deu 32:34 “‘Is not this laid up in store with me, sealed up in my treasuries?

        Do I believe about myself that I have, like the Apostle Peter, flip flopped between the Rock and the rock? Peter in one instance is confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord and then the next moment he is giving place to the poison of the poison grapes of the rock then Jesus is rebuking Satan from his mind and soul. Perfection is not attained in the life for me, at least. I believe I will enter into “spiritual perfection” the moment I breathe my last breath in this fallen corrupted flesh and blood container my spirit, soul and body are dwelling in with the Lord conjoined to me.

        Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
        Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

        If there was ever any doubt in anyone’s fair minded mind that the RCC is off the rails of the WAY OF THE LORD, unlike Abraham, the council of Trent should seal the doubt so it becomes a reality.

        I’m not sure why you keep focusing so much on the RCC in our exchanges? What have I said or intimated that I draw from anything that religion has to offer when I respond to any comments in here?

        thanks
        michael

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      3. Hi Michael, I am sorry if my suggestions and opinions of RC to you felt like a criticism of you or your understanding of Christian History. That was not my intention. Perhaps I overreacted. It was probably your use of phrases like – “these great thinkers”, “Apostolic Fathers”, “seven major councils” and “key men in each century and their key points”, that caused me to assume you were putting weight on Roman Catholic’s view of doctrinal authority and orthodoxy as it has preserved it. I appreciate your affirmation that you test everything by the Scriptures! Amen, my brother!

        I think you will enjoy those two books I mentioned. And I believe RC started with the first council at Nicea called by the Roman emperor who took for himself the title pontificus maximus. That denomination, which was being formed at that time, already held to a false gospel of baptismal regeneration – “baptism for the forgiveness of sins” (Nicene Creed). They commissioned a history of the first three prior centuries to be written that would help substantiate their “Christianity”.

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      4. Brian,

        yeah, that makes sense. Sorry for leading you astray! 🙂

        I don’t consider anything Constantine did as THE WAY OF THE LORD. I do believe his place in history was decreed as all rulers are as we learn from Genesis 18 and Romans 13.

        Gen 18:17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
        Gen 18:18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
        Gen 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

        and

        Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

        Like one preacher said, God can use some mighty crooked sticks to give some mighty good licks! Constantine sure proved that correct?

        michael

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    2. Robert, thank you for interacting so vigorously with my argument. I’m saddened you didn’t address it to me, perhaps you feel I’m unreasonable? I always try to listen and weigh everything.

      You say:
      If God CREATED his own nature, then God’s nature is a contingent being, a created being, his nature HAD A BEGINNING.

      A nature is not a being, that’s your mistake in logic. No one would say a nature is a being. I have a nature, it’s kind and gentle but sometimes I lose my temper. That’s my nature. Can I change it? Yes, I can. Did I, at some point, decide to be that way? More or less, yeah. So the first error in logic is a nature is not a being, so it certainly can’t be anything described as a “contingent being.”

      Next you make another error. You argue that if God created his nature, that means God had to be in time, like we are. God does not act causally, he acts eternally. The great historical church minds have often agreed with this, the ones you seemed to suggest I didn’t study, so I’m a bit surprised you seem so unaware of that and use this faulty argument. Even Christ was described as “eternally begotten before all worlds,” and on one argued that meant there was a “before” or “after” to Christ’s begetting. Would you condemn that statement of faith cherished for centuries by the early church? So we see that something can be created outside of time.

      Indeed I believe in God’s immutability (if you had even cared to ask). But there is only one reason for it: God chose to be immutable. Everything starts with God’s choice, because *nothing* is forced upon him, not even his own nature, which would violate what another great thinker (the ones I apparently ignore?), St. Anselm, said:

      “God is a being greater than which none can be conceived–or, for short, the greatest conceivable being or the most perfect conceivable being”

      In short, the arguments against my position have been unfair and illogical so far. I really look forward to thinking about some better arguments against my position!

      Like

      1. dizerner writes, “That’s my nature. Can I change it? Yes, I can.”

        Calvinists and others would say that only God can change a person’s nature. Also, that a person is born with a sin nature and has no control over that. However, your position is consistent with your insistence that people are autonomous and can will whatever they want.

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      2. Well, I meant the soul nature not the spirit natural. I can show you sinners that controlled their tempers. Please don’t sidetrack from my point as it wasn’t meant to be an illustration of the flesh vs. the spirit, law vs. grace, or the old man vs. the new creation. It’s just too complex a topic to introduce tangentially here.

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      3. Dizerner,

        I have looked at this thread and specifically the commnets regarding your view about God choosing his own nature and this thread has meandered all over the place! You began your post here with: “I’m saddened you didn’t address it to me, perhaps you feel I’m unreasonable.” dizerner you are being overly sensitive here. I “picked” Michael because we have similar views on this subject and his post was way down the thread (I checked in other places where I might have posted and there was no place to post!). I continue to hold the view that God has always had the nature that he has, he did not create his own nature nor did he choose it. He simply is who He is, and is what He has always been and always will be.

        Examining your posts it appears to me that you seem to feel that choosing out of one’s nature is some sort of bad or inferior thing. I disagree, and in the case of God he has a perfect nature so HIs choices flow out of a nature that is perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly righteous, etc. Consider what it was like when there was no creation only God. God did not need to create the universe because he had any need or lack. No, the three persons of the trinity loved and delighted in each other perfectly. We could also consider the example of ourselves when we have been perfected, sin has been eliminated and we will no longer ever choose to sin. The nonbeliever thinks that condition will be boring, so they would rather be with the sinners, they claim! 🙂 But they don’t get it, in our condition in the eternal state we will delight in only choosing good, only choosing love. Considering the reality and the pain and suffering caused by sin in our present condition I am looking forward to being done with sin, to only choosing good and love out of a perfected nature.

        In looking at your posts dizerner it seems to me that you are placing too high a value on autonomy, the freedom to do whatever we want (even if that includes choosing to be irrational or choosing to do or be evil, or choosing simply to be capricious). Most Christian thinkers who have held to libertarian free will have not viewed it as an end in itself but as a means to an end. Total autonomy is not the highest value in traditional thinking. The highest value is to experience and pursue the good, with the ultimate good being God himself. I believe this is also true in some respect with God as well: his ultimate value is not autonomy, the right to do whatever including being able to choose to sin, to lie, to deny himself, etc. No, his higest value is to enjoy and delight in himself in a perfect love within the persons of the trinity, to love perfectly. Dizerner I believe that in arguing against the calvinist determinists (who deny the reality of libertarian free will) you have swung the pendulem too far. Free will is a good, it is a means to some other goods: but total autonomy is not a good. God is not totallly autonomous the point that he can choose to do anything including choosing stupidly, irrationally, choosing to sin, to lie, to deny himself or choosing to sin. He cannot do these things because he can and will only choose according to his loving and good nature. If you read the New Testament the apostles exult in being slaves of Christ, of being servants. Slaves and servants are not into autonomy but into doing and being good. Jesus did not say during the incarnation that I exult that I can do anything that I want to do, that I have total autonomy. No, he came as a servant and he said not my will be done but thy will be done.

        Are you familiar with the two kinds of freedom that Servais Pinkaers wrote about? If not, I recently wrote an article on these two kinds of freedom and if you like I could post it here for you and then we could discuss it further. The emphasis on autonomy, or what Pinkaers calls “the freedom of indifference ” was developed by Anselm who sought to correct Aquinas. Aquinas followed the earlier tradition of what is called freedom for excellence by Pinkaers. The Bible does not support or endorse the freedom of indifference championed by Anselm but the freedom for excellence promoted by Aquinas and the early Christians. Anyway if you are interested I will post the article for you to consider Just let me know.

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      4. Yea I’m very interested in that article. I’m actually not as well studied on these things as I’d like to be and always looking to learn more.

        I’m not trying to make autonomy out to be more than it is, but it seems to me it can’t really be a pendulum, it’s a binary 0 or 1 value. However, I think I understand why it makes less sense to some people.

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      5. Robert writes, “I believe that in arguing against the calvinist determinists (who deny the reality of libertarian free will) …”

        Just to be accurate, Calvinists deny that the unsaved have libertarian free will – their will being compromised by their sin nature so that they always reject God’s salvation. Once God regenerates a person, he then has libertarian free will and expresses his new freedom to accept God’s salvation.

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  20. Michael,

    Speaking of “leading astray” as you mention, you need to connect the dots better with Brian Wagner. He is an open theist and he knows that the entire church tradition (including Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) IS AGAINST HIS FALSE VIEW OF OPEN THEISM. THAT is why he periodically goes on these attacks of Catholicism here.

    He knows that Catholicism is totally against his view.

    He knows that there have been some great Catholic thinkers (e.g. Thomas Aquinas) who have stated views that ****completely contradict**** his open theism.

    So his approach is to attack the Catholic church hoping that in this way it undermines what some of these Catholic thinkers have said about divine omniscience.

    Take Aquinas for example, he presents some very good arguments that God is transcendent, and that God in eternity sees everything at once (what C. S. Lewis the popular Protestant apologist and writer called the “eternal now”). If Aquinas is right, then Wagner’s open theism is wrong. See, according to Wagner, God is in time just like the rest of us. Wagner’s open theistic conception of God makes God just a bigger version of ourselves, in time just like us, not knowing the future, just like us, not above and beyond the creation, just like us. Wagner’s open theism conception of God makes God just a bigger version of ourselves. While I would not claim that these Catholic thinkers were always correct in their claims and beliefs: they did however get the transcendence of God correct. He **is** above and beyond his creation, He is not like any other created thing, He is not in time just like us, He is in eternity. And unlike us, He does know the future. Michael you have to view Wagner’s posts as defenses and rationalizations of his false open theism theology. That is why he attacks Catholicism at times. We have not been discussing where Catholics are incorrect in their theology here: we have been discussing divine foreknowledge and the falsity of open theism here. Wagner is an open theist and in order for his beliefs to be true he has to attack and challenge and undermine a whole lot of people whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox or Protestants. He has to show that all of us have been wrong. That is a very tall order and so far Wagner has completely failed in his defense of open theism.

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    1. Robert,

      thank you for that insight. Spot on as the last posts I have read. If you haven’t, maybe you have already, I’d read all my post exchanges with Brian Wagner. You will see I carefully and hopefully with some Grace called him out to repent of his open theism?

      I’m thinking one reason he is going at it the way he is is to lay his foundation to claim his historic view as a “Baptist” is the correct “historical” chain link from the Apostles and Christ of the First Century to date. From this historic view, every other “religious movement”, the EO split from the RCC and then others, the Waldensians and as the Bible came into the English language of Tyndale and Wycliffe to the later reformers with the German language of Luther to the Geneva Bible and Zwingli and later, Calvin and Bishops Bible are “add on” religious movements that are not true Biblical religious movements. I believe some are true and inspired by the Lord Himself while others are not. I might be mistaken? It would be nice to have Brian just come clean with his position as bold as a lion like we do? But it does seem odd as you noted and most likely more correctly than me as to why that is that he keeps bringing the RCC into the debate. There seems to me inconsistency as he is inconsistent most of the time, at least with me in this forum, with my comments and what I am saying. I give him the benefit of the doubt and it is quite possible I am not connecting the dots as you say? It seems you and he have a longer history on this blog than me? I just came to know about this blog after Leighton and Dr. White had their debate just in the recent past.

      Onward! Christ is reigning right now and the kingdom of God is at hand right now to everyone God touches touching their ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the Churches.

      thanks again Robert!
      michael

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  21. So, rhutchin, I take it that you reject the Westminster confession?

    “Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.” (Westminster Confession of Faith),

    The vast gulf between Calvinism and Molinsim starts with Molinism basing God’s decision to create a certain world on what he foresaw in the future, not on some secret decree.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “…I take it that you reject the Westminster confession?”

      I am not sure that Molinism (or those who promote it) ever explain how it is that God knows the different worlds that are possible. I always got the impression that they took a “simple foreknowledge” view that God just knows. I tend to doubt that those promoting Molinism take the view that God “looks” into the future to learn what would happen as that would then deny omniscience.

      So, I agree with the Confession. I disagree with your claim that “Molinsim starts with Molinism basing God’s decision to create a certain world on what he foresaw in the future.” I disagree about the secret decree mostly because I don’t understand what you mean – the Calvinist will cite Ephesians 1 and say that God works all things – including the creation of the world – after the counsel of His will. That is not necessarily a “secret” decree; but if it were, why is that an issue?

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  22. i think i’ve had my fill of this blog. my goal was to allow my position to be tested in the arena of ideas. no one is going to convince anyone they are wrong so i just wanted to see if i could find a truly compelling argument here.

    “I know very little about Bob Enyart and have not seen the debate, so this opinion didn’t come from him. It just seems like the logical conclusion that determinism always brings me to. It puzzled me for a long time how people could embrace determinism, when it seems so drastically counter to most of the Bible. I have finally concluded that they somehow find it comforting to believe that they can do nothing without God ordaining it from the beginning of time. This is where I think the Open Theism gets a lot of traction-the people who find determinism repulsive because it looks exactly like fate, are glad to embrace a world in which prayers really do change lives, in which God is not the author of all evil, but really does hate it and war against it. OT makes spiritual warfare real instead of theoretical. Yes, you can affirm all these inside simple foreknowledge, or some other form of God outside of time, but it’s a lot harder to grasp how God can see future, past and present all at once and still interact on a moment by moment basis with people.”

    i wasnt saying you got your argument from bob but rather that you are using the same arguments that he used with him being an open theist.

    i wouldn’t be too concerned with what people are comforted by and what they’re repulsed with. i’d be more concerned with what is true.

    it’s not hard to grasp how God can see past present and future all at once while still having interaction when we understand that He predetermined His interactions within time. nothing contradictory or logically fallacious about that assertion.

    “See Yudo, that’s the problem. You declare that open theists believe there are things that truly exist that God doesn’t know and has no control over. He knows all things that truly exist, even all future things He has determined and ask future things He has not determined, and He has control over it all.”

    God knowing all things that truly exist isn’t being debated here. what’s being debated is how God knew everything before it existed and how this would be consistent with Him being omniscient. if God only knew things after they came into existence then He basically had no control over what would come into existance and no knowledge of what would exist until it existed.

    consequently, God would no longer be the creator of all things but merely someone learning about what has been created by something/someone else.

    how does God come to know about these undetermined events? did to He know about them before or after they occurred? if before, did he eternally know about them or did He gain this knowledge at some point?

    also why would God need to make more determinations when He is an infallible God who created all things perfectly? do you think God messed up and needs to do something over?

    “You said:
    God doesn’t know about and has no control over

    Just pointing out that having to control something to know it is a complete fallacy you’ve never once proven.”

    nor did i ever assert it. my statement which you have misrepresented was a challange to explain how an omniscient God can create something he doesn’t know about and has no control over?

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  23. Michael,

    I reviewed this thread a bit and did not realize how many other comments were made earlier that I had not seen. Here I want to bring out only one observation: Brian Wagner continues to be dishonest in not declaring himself to be an open theist. My basis for this claim is now not only his repeated comments that he does not “self-identify” as an open theist, but also the fact he promised you and Yudo that he would declare himself to be an open theist if either of you did just one thing.

    Brian Wagner wrote to Yudo on June 1, 2015 at 2:49 PM:
    “I will declare myself an open theist if you will declare yourself a closed theist with a view of God that is no longer free to make any more determinations.”

    Brian Wagner also wrote to you Michael on June 2015 at 9:37 PM:
    “I will even identify myself as an open theist if you will identify yourself as a closed theist who believes God will never make any more determinations into the future forever.”

    Then Michael you responded apparently just a few minutes later, on June 2, 2015 at 10:05 PM:
    “Sure, I am a closed theist. I already laid that out with you earlier on when I noted the Lord’s Name being Omega, Last and End. That to me informs me we are on a pre-programmed predetermined trajectory that God has established and is in sole control of, no ifs ands or buts about it.”

    So Michael he promised you he would reveal himself as an open theist, if you declared yourself to be a closed theist, and you did so. And yet Brian Wagner still has not been honest and forthright about being an open theist.

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  24. I’m having trouble with wordpress, so sorry for not putting this in the right order.
    William Lane Craig explaining the difference between Molinism and calvinism:
    You say that on Molinism, “God predetermines us by choosing which world we exist in, so it seems like it’s not too different from Calvinism.” It’s completely different because we have libertarian freedom in those worlds to accept or reject God’s grace. God’s choice of a world does nothing to predetermine us. Think of it this way: we are co-actualizers of the world with God. He leaves it up to us to determine whether W1 will be actual or W2 will be actual by giving us the freedom to actualize those states of affairs lying within the scope of our free choices. So if two worlds W1 and W2 are completely alike up to the moment of my accepting/rejecting God’s saving grace and if I’m saved in W1 but lost in W2, that’s because I choose to actualize one rather than the other. Don’t blame God for which world is actual!

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “It’s completely different because we have libertarian freedom in those worlds to accept or reject God’s grace. God’s choice of a world does nothing to predetermine us. ”

      This is where Molinism gets a little goofy in my view. The Molinist thinks of all these possible worlds as actually existing in a sense. However, they only exist in God’s mind. There is not an actual world where WW1 occurs and one in which it doesn’t. There are hypothetical, possible worlds that God considers as He decides what world to create.

      Nonetheless, that world which God then decides to create and that is described beginning in Genesis is the world that Calvinism describes. It is a world where all has been determined. It is a world where God has chosen His elect and He sends Christ to procure salvation for His elect. Had God wanted to save more people, or all people, He would have created a world in which those numbers were to be saved. If you buy into what Molinism is saying, then you should also agree with Calvinism (I don’t know why Craig is antagonistic to Calvinism and I have yet to find anything on his website to explain it).

      Molinism is pre-Genesis 1:1 theology; Calvinism is post-Genesis 1:1 theology. They are consistent with each other. Molinism is not compatible with non-Calvinist theologies that deny that all has been determined in the world God created. Those theologies, like open Theism, must reject Molinism and this necessarily from what I understand.

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      1. I have some problems with Molinsm, it’s hard to believe this is the best of all possible worlds. But:
        In Molinsism, God sees are future possibitys, all counterfactuals and chooses the best of all possible worlds. That is far different then God choosing, for example who is saved and who isn’t because of, well, because of no reason that we can comprehend, because Calvinists (at least all the ones I’ve heard) will say that God does not choose based on who will choose him, so he doesn’t choose based on his foreknowledge. Calvinists place the mystery with God’s will. In Molism, there is no such mystery, because God is choosing based on foreknowledge of all possibitys, although we don’t know how he has this knowledge. He can leave everyone’s free will intact, and people’s free choices really will change the future, which although God knows and he knows what action he will take at every turn, he doesn’t cause man’s free actions. In Calvinism, I don’t see how we can escape the fact that God is choosing ever action of man and fallen angels by causation.

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    2. I wish the Calvinists would get their story straight on how irresistible grace is supposed to work. One says God gives LFW and man always choose God, another says God opens men’s eye, then only move some to accept him. I still think you’re trying to smuggle LFW into a system where it can’t fit.

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      1. wildswanderr writes, “I wish the Calvinists would get their story straight on how irresistible grace is supposed to work. One says God gives LFW and man always choose God, another says God opens men’s eye, then only move some to accept him.”

        The grace that God extends to His elect is comprised of several parts = all of which God works on the person and cannot be resisted.

        – God changes the person’s heart for a heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36).
        – God rescues His elect from the dominion of darkness and brings them into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1)
        – God quickens His elect giving life to that which was dead (Ephesians 2)
        – God gives new birth to His elect (John 3)
        – God calls; God justifies; God glorifies His elect. (Romans 8)
        – God takes those who were slave to sin and sets them free. (Romans 6)

        The effect of God’s grace is that the will which had been slave to sin is set free – free to operate with a new heart of flesh, in life and not death, having eyes opened and ears able to hear, so that the person is free in every sense of libertarian freedom. There is nothing to make straight.

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  25. Dizerner,

    You showed interest in the article so I will post it here for you.

    The context of this article is that it is written for pastors, chaplains, staff and volunteers who work in prison ministry. The “freedom of indifference” derives from Anselm while the “freedom for excellence predates Anselm and was promoted by the early church fathers, Aquinas, etc. Read it and then we can talk about it further and see how it applies to what you have been saying:

    Two Kinds of Freedom

    Our students who are incarcerated often ask us to pray that they be released or be released early. They want to get back with family, get out of an awful place, etc. Many of them they want to be “free” and by “free” they mean so that they can do whatever they want to do with no restraints. Our desire for them however is something much greater than merely being “free to do whatever you want.” We want them to experience the ultimate freedom which is to serve the Lord. Wait a minute! How can we be truly free if we are a slave to Jesus and serving Him?

    Theologian Servais Pinckaers distinguishes between two kinds of freedom. The first he calls “the freedom of indifference.” The second he calls “the freedom for excellence.” The “freedom of indifference” means: that I stand above the Yes and the No, indifferent to the two and on the basis of no compulsion (interior or exterior) I alone decide. It is autonomous self direction. By that meaning what is a threat to freedom? Anything 0utside of us, other people, society, laws, and ultimately God! Ludwig Feurbach the father of modern atheism illustrates this when he says: “the No to God is the Yes to man.” Feurbach assumes based on the “freedom of indifference” that the will of man and the will of God must be in conflict. To save man’s freedom he advocates we get rid of God! Jean Paul Sartre following Feurbach said “If God exists I cannot be free, but I am free, therefore God does not exist.” People operating out of the freedom of indifference meaning for freedom will see God as a threat to their freedom. So if you really want to be free you have to get rid of God, eliminate him from your thinking and choosing.

    The freedom for excellence means: the disciplining of desire to make the achievement of the good first possible and then effortless. Have you ever learned a new language? When you first began trying to speak the language you didn’t speak very “freely”, it was hard, you stumbled. And how did you become proficient in the new language? You had to submit yourself to a whole set of examples, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, rules, and corrections of the new language. Once you submitted to all these laws, these laws made you free to speak the new language fluently. These laws made you disciplined so that you could achieve the good (learn the language) and then made the speaking of the language effortless. Or take learning to play golf. If you went out on the course and said: “I will just swing the club anyway I want! Just get out there and be myself.” Would you play golf freely? No, and you would be a lousy golfer. 🙂 Again you would have to submit to a whole set of disciplines, practices, and corrections, coaching, and laws to be a free golfer. The laws that are placed in your mind and body as you learn golf is what makes you free to play the game. Your freedom became disciplined so that the achievement of the good became first possible and then effortless. Freedom is a consequence of law in this understanding: not contrary to law. Law does not oppose freedom in this understanding the more you master the law the freer you are!

    Now how does this relate to Christianity and our students? God desires that human beings flourish in every area of their lives. In the Bible the freedom talked about is not the freedom of indifference but the freedom for excellence. People who desire only the freedom of indifference, do not understand the freedom for excellence. So they see the laws spoken of in scripture and think all it is, is a bunch of rules. The Psalmist wrote: “but his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). The apostle Paul says in Romans 6:12-22 that when we were nonbelievers we were slaves of sin. Once we became believers we were not free to do whatever we want (the freedom of indifference). Instead we are to be slaves of righteousness (cf. “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God”, v.22). Paul is talking about the freedom for excellence. If we submit to the Word of God, the laws, correction, discipleship, mentoring, allowing our desires to be disciplined by God. That makes the good first possible and then effortless.

    The apostle Paul often introduced himself in his letters as the “doulos Christus Jesou”/ “I am the slave of Christ Jesus”. But that same Paul could say: “it is for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1). That makes no sense under the first meaning of freedom. If you are anybody’s slave you are not free.

    But under the second meaning this makes perfect sense. The more you are enslaved to Christ the freer you are.

    If we want to see that the will of God and the will of man can come together in a non-competitive harmonious way. Look at Jesus. Jesus had a human will and a divine will. The divine will in Jesus did not eliminate or overwhelm the human will. Instead the human will and the divine will came together so that the finite human will of Jesus was enhanced and brought to perfection by contact with the divine will. That makes no sense under the freedom of indifference, but makes perfect sense under the freedom for excellence.

    What do we desire for our students? That they merely are free from being in a prison, so that they can do whatever they want? (the freedom of indifference) No, we want them to become disciples of Jesus who pursue the freedom of excellence. And experience excellence in their relationships with their spouses, that they become excellent parents, that they become excellent family members, that they become excellent believers. People so enslaved to Jesus that they become as free as they can be! We are not content with mere freedom of indifference; we want our students to experience freedom for excellence in every area of their lives. We want them to flourish in every area of their lives. Their desires will need to be disciplined by means of laws, correction, examples, discipleship, spiritual practices, and mentoring. As they submit to these things, the good will become possible, and then as they continue it will become habitual and effortless.

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    1. I strongly disagree with this article “Two Kinds of Freedom” because it is heavily mixing law and grace, mixing works righteousness with salvation by faith alone with accompanying fruit.

      The first mistake it makes is the same that Calvinism makes. They try to argue the concept of slavery means you have no free will. However, without free will there is not even such a thing as slavery—the concept of slavery requires a free will to be enslaved, or there is nothing that could in any way be described as doing the will of another instead of your own will. Note that Calvinists also make the mistake that a slave’s free will can be either aligned or not aligned with his or her master. The Old Testament tells us in more than one place that a slave can so love his master he can covenant to serve him voluntarily and deliberately. It describes a slave that gets his ear pierced with an awl, which was not required. This extra step was completely free will, and a whether a slaver performed it or not, he was still a slave. Indeed, the OT tells us “how can two walk together unless they be agreed,” because otherwise one party is being dragged along. It shows us separate and independent wills even in the midst of slavery. The Bible also gives us an illustration of the opposite case—a slave that is unhappy and isn’t able to do what he desires or wishes. Romans 7 gives a very moving and detailed description of a poor man enslaved to doing what his autonomous free will hates.

      The article says:
      How can we be truly free if we are a slave to Jesus and serving Him? …. If you are anybody’s slave you are not free.

      One should never, ever justify the concept of slavery as immediately meaning no free will. Slavery means the free will is not free, but forced to do the will of another being. It does not and never directly implies the slave has no free will. So at the very beginning this article confuses self-determining autonomy with the ability to do what the free will wants. I can want to fly, but be “enslaved” to the ground. I’m not free to fly—but I’m free to choose to want to fly. So what I choose in my free will, is not equated to what I can actually perform in real life. It’s two kinds of freedom alright, but not the two the article points us to (which ends up putting us under Law again, and removing grace). The freedom to choose and the freedom to act the choice out.

      The article says:
      The “freedom of indifference” means: that I stand above the Yes and the No, indifferent to the two and on the basis of no compulsion (interior or exterior) I alone decide. It is autonomous self direction.

      The article again commits a serious fallacy immediately, of poisoning the well. By labeling autonomous freedom “indifferent” the author is casting all kinds of negative ideas on Libertarian freedom preemptively, before the reader has weighed whether real autonomy deserves to be labeled and thought of as “indifferent.” The word indifferent carries the idea that one does not care at all about the choice, and this incorrect idea is smuggled in as a central intrinsic component to autonomy. However real freedom means *I* get the choice about whether to be “indifferent” or not, whether to care about the importance of my own choices. Autonomous freedom means I can choose to care deeply or I can choose to be indifferent, and it’s completely incorrect to take away the idea of that choice and then call it “freedom.” Freedom means one does not have to be indifferent—always in all cases.

      The article says:
      To save man’s freedom he advocates we get rid of God! Jean Paul Sartre following Feurbach said “If God exists I cannot be free, but I am free, therefore God does not exist.”

      No, no, no. Man is free precisely *because* God is free. God has the freedom to bestow freedom. Man can complain about freedom, or not desire that freedom, but whatever the man does, he has that freedom because God made man in his own image.

      The article says:
      The freedom for excellence means: the disciplining of desire to make the achievement of the good first possible and then effortless.

      Here the article begins it’s real agenda of putting Christians under a system of Law again, that Christ died to free us from. It starts implying that real freedom means a performance driven agenda where we try hard to be like Christ, instead of simply reckoning ourselves crucified in Christ and trusting 100% and completely in Christ’s Work on the Cross applied by the free gift and power of the Holy Spirit, instead of renewed self effort and putting oneself under the demands of a higher standard. It is thus mixing law and grace, because these two principles do different things for us—one condemns all efforts, the other freely empowers through trust.

      The article says:
      Law does not oppose freedom in this understanding the more you master the law the freer you are!
      If we submit to the Word of God, the laws, correction, discipleship, mentoring, allowing our desires to be disciplined by God.
      Again you would have to submit to a whole set of disciplines, practices, and corrections, coaching, and laws to be a free golfer.
      Their desires will need to be disciplined by means of laws, correction, examples, discipleship, spiritual practices, and mentoring.

      And here it is. The Galatians 3 “hex,” the desire for moralists and works righteousness proponents and legalists to slip Law back into grace, the Law whose purpose it is to expose our inability and sin and drive us to pure faith in the Cross-Work. The Law brings wrath because those in the flesh cannot please God. We are to seek a righteousness “apart from Law” or we’ve stumbled at the stumbling stone, the Rock that either we fall on and break, or that ends up crushing us.

      The article says:
      that they become excellent

      God does not want us to attempt to be righteous by efforts and obedience to commands and putting ourselves under a demand for holiness. All that will lead to eventually, is either self-righteous hypocrisy with heavy deception, where we think we are holy but sin underneath, or crushing legalistic demands that will drive us to despair and surface and make alive our sin nature. God does not make us “excellent” he makes us “crucified.” We are too bad to “fix up,” but God has said we are so far gone, we are so exceeding sinful, we are so spiritual disgusting, he has had to crucify us in Christ. God’s solution and our method of sanctification is by free grace in believing ourselves crucified with Christ, and not by “turning over a new leaf” or renewing our determination and constantly reconsecrating ourselves. That’s the difference between trying and trusting, between freedom and demand, between heaven and hell.

      The article says:
      People so enslaved to Jesus that they become as free as they can be! We are not content with mere freedom of indifference
      But under the second meaning this makes perfect sense. The more you are enslaved to Christ the freer you are.
      As they submit to these things, the good will become possible, and then as they continue it will become habitual and effortless.
      That makes the good first possible and then effortless.

      Like almost all works righteousness preachers, they always slip in a measure of grace so they can sneak in the demands of the Law, and thus mix grace and works. It never fails that the poison is mixed in with some good food, to make the poison look more legitimate. What freedom really means in the context of grace and law, is not the loss of autonomy, but the freedom of our sin nature and our inability through faith in the work Christ did in death and resurrection. Works religion always attempts to invade the pure grace found in trusting Christ to do absolutely everything in our lives. And Paul is clear that, “if it is by grace, it is no longer by works.” Paul is clear that “under Law no flesh is justified.” Paul is clear that unless he considers himself crucified with Christ, he is not trusting in the life of the Spirit. Paul’s solution to sanctification was not to try harder in his flesh, but to believe God dealt with is old sinful nature by killing it in Christ on the cross. Either Paul is saying “it is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me,” or else Paul is saying “So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” That’s the difference between flesh and spirit, that’s the only means of sanctification, that trust is the only true freedom from inability to demands and dominance of evil desires. The Law in any form whatsoever is a ministry of condemnation producing sin, because it is an attempt to replace the Work Christ did on the Cross when he said “It is Finished!” And Paul’s *only* solution to sin is, a complete helpless trust expressed in “I thank my God through Jesus Christ my Lord.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. dizerner writrs, “The first mistake it makes is the same that Calvinism makes. They try to argue the concept of slavery means you have no free will.”

        This is wrong. The Calvinists argue that slavery means you have no libertarian free will – or the ability to choose otherwise. The unsaved has free will that he exercises to do whatever his evil heart desires (within the boundaries set by God). Thus, as a slave to sin, the unsaved is not coerced to sin but freely chooses to do sin. At the same time, the unsaved has no desire for righteousness and never considers choosing righteousness.

        dizerner writes, “Note that Calvinists also make the mistake that a slave’s free will can be either aligned or not aligned with his or her master.”

        Calvinists cite Matthew 6, “No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. [In practical application] You cannot serve both God and Money,” to conclude that a slave’s will is always aligned with his master.

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      2. What do you do with Romans 7 then? “The good that I *will* to do, that I do not do, but the evil *I do not want,* that I keep on doing.” And how did Judas experience remorse if he only did what he himself loved to do? I believe Matthew 6, which you cite, is referring to what the Bible calls “willing obedience,” where the slave’s will does line up with the masters. I don’t think it proves in every case that it has to.

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      3. dizerner,

        let the sword fight begin!

        I am having a very difficult time connecting with what you wrote and responded to Robert’s paper.

        There is a MAJOR disconnect here. You write a response to what he published but I don’t comprehend any basis for it is your wrote. I don’t sense any foundation in or on Christ when you take apart what Robert writes.

        As you can imagine from my response after reading his paper I liked it. It was very thorough and intelligent and has a basis in the TRUTH.

        What you write in response is in my view lacking any sense and I found it wanting.

        Let’s go at this cat and skin it along the lines of a couple of verses of Scripture I have in mind. The purpose of citing these verses is to expose what I sense is missing from your argument against what Robert wrote.

        Jesus said a couple of things, well really, one thing a couple of different ways that points to our utter inability to free ourselves from the higher powers that rule our life and “free will”. And there seems to be only two higher powers above us that even if we are willing to live separate from them with our will we unwillingly are subject to one of the two anyway.

        Here’s the first way I would approach this topic of freedom of wills:::>

        Luk 20:9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while.
        Luk 20:10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
        Luk 20:11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed.
        Luk 20:12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out.
        Luk 20:13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’
        Luk 20:14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’
        Luk 20:15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
        Luk 20:16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”
        Luk 20:17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?
        Luk 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

        So what is this story all about if it is not about man as a creature required to submit to his Creator? We do see free will in this story. Verse nine shows us clearly that. The vineyard planter or Creator willingly and freely gives “stewardship” and “responsibility” to the tenants. These tenants are free to follow the law established by the owner of the vineyard which is share some of the product of this vineyard with me after each harvest.

        Someone introduced some belligerence into this agreement between the Vineyard Owner and the Tenants so much so the Tenants rise up and rebel against the Vineyard Owner. The insanity of these Tenants is so extreme they have been convinced they can overthrown the Vineyard Owner and take over the vineyard! Well the “moral” of this story is verse 18.

        Do you care to exegete verse 18?

        Then there is another record Luke captures in his Gospel. This one really exposes “who” the belligerent is behind all hostilities against God and man. It’s what Jesus says after the events that actually happened in time and space that kills the idea for me, at least, that anyone of us has the kind of freedom of will you suggest Robert leaves out of his paper.

        Here’s the second way I would approach this topic of freedom of wills:::>

        Luk 11:14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled.
        Luk 11:15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,”
        Luk 11:16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.
        Luk 11:17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.
        Luk 11:18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.
        Luk 11:19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
        Luk 11:20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
        Luk 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;
        Luk 11:22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.
        Luk 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

        We live in a fallen world. We in fact had no say in our mother’s impregnation that conceived us and brought us into this world. There is no way you can say you exercised your free will to be born into this fallen wicked world. No, it would be a strong delusion on your part to claim anything of the sort about yourself. You have to acknowledge one way or another that you had nothing to do with this world in its present condition of wickedness. There is nothing you can do willingly or freely to make things right between you and your Creator.

        It’s just a fact of life we were born with a sinful nature and are subject to one of two higher powers who rule over our life.

        But, the Scriptures teach about a Savior. A Savior from what? I say first and foremost Christ saves us from our free will and the lies it produces within us.

        See verse 23? Can you explain where in that verse there is any sort of free will that you claim we have in that verse?

        Oh yes, you think you get to choose who you will serve. That’s true. But I want to make this point clear. You would not know Christ to choose Him if He was not FIRST revealed to you.

        Recall this from the Gospel of Matthew:::>

        Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
        Mat 11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
        Mat 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
        Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
        Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
        Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

        See verse 28? There is absolutely no way you would know Christ and the benefits that come to hear Him say “come to me” from Him if something prior had not occurred!

        Can you tell us what it is that causes you to freely COME TO JESUS?

        I’d like to know.

        I have a lot more I would like to say or comments I would like to freely make about your responses to Robert’s paper but I will hold off until I hear back from you on what I have already addressed above. I am even more anxious to hear from Robert. I can bet you you will be in for a surprise when and if he responds to your rebuttal.

        michael

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      4. Hi michael I hope you are doing well!

        You say:
        You would not know Christ to choose Him if He was not FIRST revealed to you.

        Absolutely man. I would agree totally with this. God is the author of our faith and by his own will and Word alone he begets us. That’s called election in the Bible and it’s a doctrine I agree with totally. But now… let’s see… does election really mean no autonomy, no free choice? *After* God chooses me I have a choice. It’s weird to me that you cite 3 passages in the Gospel that support the truth of the real autonomous choice we have in responding to God. In the first one you cite, the parable of the vineyard, you think maybe those Jewish leaders ever read Isaiah 1-5? “Sons I have raised up.” Well, there’s God’s election we have no part in. What does it say next, do you know without looking it up? “They have rebelled against me.” Ah! Autonomous free choice response to God! Oh but, maybe God knew all along that he made them reprobates… that sneaky God only elected them so that he could decree they rebel and have no free autonomous response to decide their own fate! (And what a deceitful God that would be, too!) But then we get to Isaiah 5. And look, another vineyard… the vineyard of God that he sent his Son to. “I had a lovely vineyard,” says God, “on a very fruitful hill.” Then you remember what comes next? It goes like this “But then I, God, unalterably damned that vineyard to produce bad fruit in accordance with my decrees from all eternity that nothing resists!” Oh, wait. Wait is that in Isaiah 5? Ah, it turns out I was wrong, that isn’t in there at all! In fact God says some remarkable things in Isaiah 5! “What more could I have done for my vineyard that I did not do?” Now be straight gut honest with me michael. How could God ask that if he really could do more? You know what autonomy-deniers tell me michael? They tell me that God lied to talk to us in condescending metaphorical language. It’s like if went into your kid’s room, michael, you threw everything they had all over the floor, then yelled at your kid to clean his room. Then you said to your kid “What more could I have done to help you keep your room clean?” And when your kid objects you say “But my ways are higher than your ways, and I’m speaking to you in condescending language you can understand.” No amount of condescension gives even God the right to lie, michael. In fact the Bible makes a big point of saying God cannot lie, which ironically enough some autonomy-deniers have cited multiple times to me in this very thread! But Isaiah 5 doesn’t stop there. It says more. It says something remarkable again. “Why when I expected good grapes, did I get worthless grapes.” Condescending metaphorical lies again? What do those worthless grapes remind you of?

        Luke 20:15 What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?
        Luk 20:16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”

        Could we say… God was just to condemn those tenants because God really and truly expected better of them? And why would that be?

        Luk 20:17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?
        Luk 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

        Now, michael, in these two verses who rejected the cornerstone? The builders rejected the cornerstone. Not God decreeing the builders to reject the cornerstone, because then the builders could not truly “reject” anything except to do what God’s hand and plan predetermined they do. *We* have to choose to fall on that stone, michael. I choose to fall on it every day and do you know what it does to me? It breaks me in pieces. It breaks me in pieces to see my sin on the Lamb of God. It breaks me in pieces to see my inability to please God. It breaks me in pieces to know that there is no good thing in me. But far better than if I chose to reject that stone and be crushed by it!

        Luk 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

        What decides whether we are “with Jesus”? Well, yes we have to meet Jesus. We don’t decide that. The disciples didn’t decide to meet Jesus. But Jesus still said, after he said “I chose you,” he directly asked them “Do you too want to go away?” He would never take away their autonomous response. No where in all the Bible is our autonomous response taken away from us. Only in Calvinism does “whosoever” no longer mean “whosoever” and “if” no longer mean “if.” I wish your eyes could be opened to that!

        Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

        This verse is an invitation to all who read it. It does not say “come to me all my elect who I will unfailingly force to follow me and have no free autonomous response.” It says “come to me all who are weary.” I will say one thing—I’m weary of Divine determists taking away God’s universal call to salvation and taking away the truth that anyone this call reaches can respond to it by God’s grace. Or else Jesus is a liar, michael, and he’s not. He’s the greater strongman and he offers to take off our burden of sin. Let’s not turn us all into unaccountable robots and puppets who can only do exactly what God forces us to do. He treats us with dignity as made in his very image. And he’s no puppet nor are we.

        God bless.

        Like

      5. dizerner,

        I await Robert’s response.

        But while I wait, you state my point very well when you wrote this in the above response to my response to your response to Robert’s paper: //It breaks me in pieces to see my inability to please God.//

        It’s either you have an autonomous free will with an inability to please God or you realize your inability after coming to realize you have no free will. You are either a slave of sin, which sin you are responsible for YET not responsible for the nature of your sin. Our human Federal Head, Adam, is responsible for that, that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote this in the book of Romans to the True Believers in Rome:::>

        Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
        Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
        Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

        In verse 16, the Greek word for justification is:::>
        δικαίωμα
        dikaiōma
        Thayer Definition:
        1) that which has been deemed right so as to have force of law
        1a) what has been established, and ordained by law, an ordinance
        1b) a judicial decision, sentence
        1b1) of God
        1b1a) either the favourable judgment by which he acquits man and declares them acceptable to Him
        1b1b) unfavourable: sentence of condemnation
        2) a righteous act or deed
        Part of Speech: noun neuter

        In verse 18, the Greek word for justification is:::>

        δικαίωσις
        dikaiōsis
        Thayer Definition:
        1) the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him
        2) abjuring to be righteous, justification
        Part of Speech: noun feminine

        In verse 17 the Apostle points to the responsible party for our sinful natures. We are not responsible for being born slaves to sin and unwillingly governed by the god of this fallen wicked world, Satan. He has control of every soul of man born of woman UNTIL and only until God comes along to each man He elects and calls by drawing them out of the world and freeing them from their slavery to sin and the devil and by so doing making them slaves of Christ.

        I mentioned this before and it bears repeating here again. Under Roman Law, which is the Law used to crucify Christ, He was led unjustly to His predetermined crucifixion, when one is crucified one has had to have been “condemned” first.

        When we read these Words from Jesus what does it tell us about our own condemnation before the One requiring us to pick up our Cross beam daily, DAILY, and die to self and our self will, our autonomy as you like to frame it, so we can receive the abundance of Grace and the GIFT of Righteousness and reign in LIFE daily through “our autonomous free will”? No, that’s not what verse 17 teaches now is it?

        Here are the Words of Jesus that shows us He condemns us thus making our human nature and will in need of daily crucifixion, too, for our sins and these Words teach us the only way to freedom from ourselves is to pick up the cross beam He has selected for us and not our own autonomous free will so we can die to our self-choices and selfish manner of life in this fallen wicked world ruled by the god of this world, the devil:::>

        Luk 9:18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
        Luk 9:19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”
        Luk 9:20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
        Luk 9:21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one,
        Luk 9:22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
        Luk 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
        Luk 9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

        And let me be clear here dizerner, I am not a calvinist. I have not studied the institutes of John Calvin. I am not an Arminian. I have not studied the works of Jacob Arminius. I am a biblicist and have kept myself studying the Scriptures for the last 40 years. And oh how little I know. I have read so many books I could never remember half of what I read. But this one thing I have discovered, I found His Life in these Proverbs:::>

        Pro 1:22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
        Pro 1:23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

        And

        Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

        michael

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      6. You may not be a Calvinist, but you sound like a Divine determinist denying the autonomy of creation, and that’s not Biblical.

        Yes we are enslaved to a sin nature. Yes God elects us. Yes we have complete inability to do a righteous work.

        But NO! NO! NO! that does not mean God entirely takes away our autonomy.

        Saying YES to grace is not electing oneself.

        Saying YES to grace is not empowering oneself.

        Saying YES to grace is not freeing oneself from sin.

        Saying “Yes” is our autonomous acceptance that God would do it all for us, and *that’s our choice* is what the Bible says.

        Not our choice to be elected. Not our choice to overcome sin. Not our choice to by our own power do righteousness.

        But a CHOICE to say YES to JESUS. Take that way, and you’ve taken away the Bible—I don’t care if you say your a biblicist until your blue in the face, take away autonomy and you’ve rewritten what the Bible says to us.

        You say:
        It’s either you have an autonomous free will with an inability to please God or you realize your inability after coming to realize you have no free will.

        You’re missing a possibility here. YOU have to fall on the stone, God doesn’t do that for you. God shows you the Stone. God gives you the Stone. God doesn’t force you to say Yes to Jesus, he didn’t force his 12 Apostles, he didn’t force Moses, he didn’t force Paul. He freed them from sin, He showed them his power, but he didn’t force their autonomous choice. That’s unbiblical. Paul said “Woe is me *IF* I don’t preach the Gospel.” That woe and that if, if words mean anything, mean what they say. Divine determinism attacks the very meaning of words themselves to rewrite the Bible in it’s own man-made image, then has the audacity to turn around and tell me I read it wrongly!

        You said:
        One requiring us to pick up our Cross beam daily, DAILY, and die to self and our self will, our autonomy as you like to frame it, so we can receive the abundance of Grace and the GIFT of Righteousness and reign in LIFE daily through “our autonomous free will”? No, that’s not what verse 17 teaches now is it?

        Absolutely incorrect. We don’t die to our “autonomy” that’s nowhere in the passage. We die to self and God doesn’t force us to do that, he offers it to us. We don’t die to “autonomy.” We autonomous choose to die. We die with Christ to our own efforts. We die to our ability to please God in our own strength. We die to our sin and selfish nature. And we die by grace alone through faith alone. We don’t die by effort—we die by faith. We die by choosing to accept what God offers us—the Bread of Life, that died and rose in our place.

        Divine determinism is deep in your thinking, leavening all the bread of your thought, as Jesus described to us the leaven of wrong thinking. I hope you can find your way out!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. dizerner

        you are being anachronistic. You are basing your argument in something other than the reasoning that is found in the Bible.

        You write: //But a CHOICE to say YES to JESUS. Take that way, and you’ve taken away the Bible—I don’t care if you say your a biblicist until your blue in the face, take away autonomy and you’ve rewritten what the Bible says to us.//

        dizerner, let me ask? Who freed you from your slavery from the god of this world so you could “freely” choose Christ’s Gospel?

        michael

        Sent from Windows Mail

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      8. dizerner

        what is missing from that statement Jesus freed me, he said “follow me” and I did is this:::>

        Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
        Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

        See the word “qualified”?

        Here is the Greek:::>
        Strongs:
        ἱκανόω
        hikanoō
        hik-an-o’-o
        From G2425; to enable, that is, qualify: – make able (meet).

        Thayers:
        ἱκανόω
        hikanoō
        Thayer Definition:
        1) to make sufficient, render fit
        1a) to equip one with adequate power to perform duties of one
        Part of Speech: verb

        What I’m pointing out is this disqualifies your assertion that you have autonomous free will to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. You can argue all you want but sadly the Scriptures argue against you!

        Here is an even stronger argument against your claim to autonomy:::>

        2Co 3:4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.
        2Co 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,
        2Co 3:6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

        Can you see the difference between you, dizerner, claiming you are sufficient to make choices according to your autonomous free will and the Apostle Paul who claims just the opposite?

        michael

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      9. michael, michael. “qualifying” me is not choosing for me. Hey, micheal I “qualified” you to win a prize. Does that mean you don’t have to go pick it up? Think again, re-examine everything, hold fast *to the good*.

        No, I can’t see “the difference.” I really think you are confusing grace with free will. Choice is not “sufficiency.” If I offer you a million dollars that is “sufficient” for you, but you still have to accept it.

        Our choice is not something that earns anything for us, nor is it something that we trust in—it’s *obedience* that comes from letting God’s power work in us. And is our obedience one of works? No, it’s one of faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. We believe, and trust is to obey. God asks nothing of us he won’t supply to us, and under grace every command becomes a promise.

        Don’t be afraid to take another look at the Word of God without those Calvinistic glasses. It doesn’t mean you have to trust in yourself just because God gives you a choice. Simply pray “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” God will walk with you all the way, if you say a simple “Yes, Lord.”

        Paul wasn’t afraid to be called a synergist. Look at what he writes;

        And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

        If the grace of God is monergistic, it can never be in vain. And it won’t be in vain for you or me, since every day we pray “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

        God bless I’m done here.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Blessings, Michael.

        Just for clarification.

        Do you believe we are freed from the slavery of sin via the new birth? In other words, can we only believe the gospel thru being born again?

        Like

      11. Phillip with two L’s, greetings

        That is an interesting question.

        Believing is one thing. Satan and the demons all believe and they tremble

        Why we believe seems to me to be the question.

        Having made that clarification, in any event, I would say yes in order to be freed from the human nature which is corrupt and we were born with one has to be born again and by this “conjoining” to Christ, the Life “giving” Spirit, we are freed from that that we could not be freed from naturally.

        Years ago as I was confronted with this question and seeking an answer, and I am not sure you are seeking an answer, maybe so, but rather I believe you already have an answer, I came up with this following pithy saying which poetically of sorts also answers the question:

        “if we do not die and go to heaven BEFORE WE DIE, we do not go to Heaven!”

        Why do you ask?

        If you believe I am mistaken I am open to be instructed by the Truth and the Scriptures are the Truth.

        michael

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      12. Brother Michael,

        I just noticed earlier you said “I’m more Reformed than ever before” and yet stated “I am not a Calvinist”.

        Yet believing “regeneration precedes faith” is a uniquely calvinistic doctrine.

        Yes, I do see it differently, but this isn’t the topic of this particular blog to address it. Thanks for clarifying.

        God bless.

        Like

      13. Phillip,

        with all due respect I would rather say and observe, John Calvin read the Scriptures and saw that regeneration produces the fruit of the Spirit. He then wrote about what he discovered in the Scriptures.

        Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

        He did not originate this doctrine. It is not unique to Calvinists. Calvinists are just coming into the Truth of the Scriptures where we can see this knowledge written about as a promise as far back as the first promise to us in Genesis 3.

        I am reformed. I would not consider myself a Calvinist. Although because I have given myself to understand the Scriptures and then teach and preach them I have been told what I am teaching sounds alot like I am a calvinist! hmmmmm????

        I haven’t even studied the Westminster Confession of Faith or the large and small catechism. I have read portions from this writings as well as parts of Calvin’s institutes. I was trained as a minister and ordained into the ministry but I don’t think that ordination would be accepted in a Calvinist Church.

        The more I grow in this Grace and Faith the less I am inclined to study “Calvinism” because then when someone comes at me and charges me with being a Calvinist and arguing like one I can honestly say, no, I don’t think so. What I think is happening is what you know about John Calvin is like me; we have studied the same Bible and have come up with the same results.

        I have also been charged that I sometimes come across as a Lutheran. I have read the small catechism he wrote and thoroughly enjoy reading it on occasion. He clearly exegetes the Lord’s Prayer with that little catechism he wrote for children.

        I have read a number books written by Calvinists, to be sure. I have also read a lot of book written by Lutherans. I have also read a lot of books by charismatics and fundamentalists too. I would not characterize myself as any of these. As I said to dizerner, I consider myself a Biblical theologian, someone who was sanctified by the Holy Spirit in 1975 while reading a KJV of the Bible. I started reading Matthew chapter one. When I got to 1:21 a light came on inside my being and I started crying uncontrollably seeking forgiveness for what before that touch I didn’t realize was my sin and just how bad a sinner I was before God. I cried and cried and read and read and read and read none stop for several days without sleeping. My life changed. I saw things differently after that and it has never been the same since.

        michael

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      14. Michael,

        I apologize if I offended you. It was not my intent. That said, you are the first reformed “non-calvinist” I have met who embraces “regeneration precedes faith”.

        Regarding Matthew 1:16, I hope you know “His people” was/is referring to the people of Israel.

        Compare that with the following…..

        Matthew 10:5-6 (NKJV)….
        These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

        Matthew 15:24 (NKJV)….
        But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

        Luke 1:68 (NKJV)….
        “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people…”

        God bless, brother.

        Like

      15. Phillip

        no in no way was I offended. Why would you assume that from anything I said?

        As for pointing out Matthew, being Jewish and his Gospel was written to the Jews, I clearly understood that from reading that day and the next and the next and next. What happened is God made that verse and all the Gospels, the Book of Acts and the book of Romans up to chapter 14 come alive to me in a way that was amazing. It still is amazing after all these years to reflect on what happened. I have come to understand who “His” people are. His people the Bible teaches are every Elect person known from before the foundation of the world. I saw also in the Old Testament where God was inclusive of people other than the Jews, the twelve tribes of Israel. Even in the very first instructions God gave, strictly and narrowly speaking as you have by the verses you cited, inclusive instruction and provision for other people groups and nations, foreigners and strangers who were not directly blood relatives of the Jewish people to be joined to His religious order, Judaism:::>

        Exo 12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
        Exo 12:2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
        Exo 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.

        Exo 12:43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it,
        Exo 12:44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him.
        Exo 12:45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it.
        Exo 12:46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.
        Exo 12:47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
        Exo 12:48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it.
        Exo 12:49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”

        Here in the very first of this “new” calendar where God lays out the yearly counts and festivals, seven of them are developed through Moses little by little, God says “THERE SHALL BE ONE LAW FOR THE NATIVE AND FOR THE STRANGER WHO SOJOURNS AMONG YOU”.

        That’s powerful, don’t you admit?

        We have got to get our dispensations correct and see the Heart and ETERNAL PURPOSE of God. The whole of the purpose of the Jewish Nation was to fail in keeping of the Law of Righteousness so as to be an example to all nations the relationship God will have with us will not be by the Law of Righteousness. The relationship God will have with “His” people will be by Grace through Faith as is demonstrated by the life of Abraham.

        The whole of Scripture points to Christ and Him crucified, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. We can realize the difficulty the First Century Jews were having understanding this as you carefully read the Gospels and the book of Acts and see how God dealt with this mystery, as the Apostle Paul later in one of his epistles describes it.

        So, a “jew” is not one literally in the sense of flesh and blood. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. No, a jew is one spiritually, born again to become a new creation. This “new creation” is made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

        Hope that clarifies what I am preaching and teaching from Scripture?

        michael

        Like

      16. Brother Michael,

        If I understand what you are preaching and teaching, would you say you are an advocate of Covenant Theology?

        Like

      17. Michael,

        That’s a lengthy question that I really don’t have time for, but suffice it to say that the promises given to Israel are being fulfilled today by the Church.

        Like

      18. phillip,

        why not believe the promises to Israel are for the Church made up of both Jews and Gentiles and see that at the end of the day no one comes to the fullness of the Promises made to Abraham except by, through and for the Lord Jesus Christ?

        I realize that there are some differing views on eschatology. Some are dispensationalists who read woodenly literally the Scriptures. Then there are post-millennials and amillennials and various options with how it all plays out in the end. At the end we will all know which position was correct. In fact everyone who passes out of this life since today and after today and before the final day who hold to one position or another now and will know then the correct eschatology.

        Will there be a LAST DAY, a FINAL DAY and then the Lord breaks into this creation and destroys it? Yes I do believe so. Is my position more important than yours if yours is nothing like mine? No, of course not. The very Scriptures, such as these void such a notion:::>

        Php 2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
        Php 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
        Php 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
        Php 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

        Rom 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
        Rom 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

        Tit 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
        Tit 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

        1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
        1Jn 3:17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

        Do you see the common denominator in all these exhortations?

        Someone said we, the Church, should spend our time majoring on the major things and not majoring on things less important.

        It seems to me the most major thing the Church has in front of us today is to get the Word out that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son of God, raised from the dead by the power of God and He has atoned for the sins of His people so they might be saved.

        If we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved.

        There seems to be a divisive spirit that does not rest and has no vested interest in seeing the Great Commission fulfilled. Why? Well Jesus said once we get the Word of His Gospel out to every creature then the end shall come. Why would the devils want to see the end of the world? It’s curtains for them and what awaits at the end of the world for those whose name is not written down in the Book of Life?

        THE LAKE OF FIRE!

        Now what enemy of God and man would want to hurry along or “hasten” the end of this present heavens and earth?

        2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
        2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
        2Pe 3:13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

        It makes perfect demonic sense to me to see to it the Church never comes into one accord and cry out HURRY UP LORD, MARANATHA!

        1Co 16:21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.
        1Co 16:22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!
        1Co 16:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
        1Co 16:24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

        Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
        Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
        Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
        Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
        Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

        michael

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  26. This thread is really hard to follow, again I discover posts from today much further up the thread (if I miss someone’s comments it is due to this, sorry about that).

    Michael,

    I did notice that now Brian Wagner is finally openly admitting to being an open theist: I guess that is improvement but the semantic game playing leading up to his admission was just ridiculous and time wasting and dishonest.

    Wagner now refers to himself as a “partial” open theist. This is like saying you are partially pregnant:

    “No problem Michael, I just wanted to make sure you understood my definitions! Based on those you are a closed theist in spite of the verse that clearly state that God has made and is making decisions after creation and I am an open theist who believes God is freely making decisions in accordance with what He clearly said He is doing and in full agreement with all the determinations He has already made. How’s that?”

    Despite this progress Brian Wagner continues to try to foist this false representation that the traditional understanding of God’s omniscience is A ROMAN CATHOLIC INVENTION AND DOCTRINE:

    “I do not believe in the Roman Catholic, philosophical definition of omniscience but what I believe is the definition of omniscience that reasonably comes from a normal reading of God’s Holy Word!”

    For the MILLIONTH time, the traditional understanding of omniscience is held by all Christians (except for open theists) ****throughout the history of the church****, ****from the beginning of church history*** and ****held by all three major branches of Christianity**** (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant).

    In fact, if you believe as I do, that the Catholic church started later, did not start in the first century, then since we have all believers in the early centuries holding the traditional view of omniscience, this understanding actually ***predates*** the Catholic Church.

    Note that Wagner tries to attack and minimize the traditional understanding by not only claiming it is a Catholic invention (this is false and impossible as the early church held it before the Catholic Church even existed) AND by claiming it is a “philosophical definition.”

    No, while it is true that philosophers and theologians have held the traditional view so have “laymen”.
    Ask any “laymen” (who is not an open theist) whether God’s omniscience includes all future events and they will say Yes. If you make this even more specific and ask does this mean that God knows what you will choose to do in the future? Again, the answer is Yes.

    Brian also claims: “but what I believe is the definition of omniscience that reasonably comes from a normal reading of God’s Holy Word!”

    No, Brian’s false conception of omniscience does not come from scripture it comes from his invented theology open theism. How do we know this to be true? Because from the beginning of church history, again across all Christian traditions, everybody who believed in the traditional understanding of omniscience would tell you the exact same thing: “but what I believe is the definition of omniscience that reasonably comes from a normal reading of God’s Holy Word.” And we know for a fact that the traditional understanding of omniscience held by everyone existed *******before******* open theism ever came on the scene. If Brian’s conception of omniscience really did come from a normal reading of scripture then there should have been a whole lot more people in the early church and throughout church history espousing this full or partial open theism view based on their normal reading of scripture.

    But look at church history and you do not find anyone espousing open theism up until the last couple of centuries. Are we really to believe the entire church was wrong on this up until the rise of the open theists who now have the truth while the entire church was mistaken for almost 18 centuries?

    Open theism is the novel view, open theism is the false view, open theism is the recent view.

    Wagner is now trying to pass his false view off as the view that comes from “a normal reading of scripture” and that is just false and misleading. It should be noted that non-Christian cults engage in this exact same kind of thing, claiming their aberrant views come from “a plain and normal reading of scripture” (and like open theism, their view is novel, recent and not the view held by the church throughout its history). I am also concerned that Wagner has been refuted on this claim that the traditional view of omniscience is a view invented by Catholics, a Catholic doctrine, before, and repeatedly, and yet he keeps right on peddling this false claim. This continues to be both dishonest and misleading and he knows exactly what he is doing.

    Like

    1. Robert,

      again, thank you for that thoughtful insight.

      I asked Brian directly when he thought the RCC started? I don’t believe he gave me a straight answer with that question either!

      You may recall I also cited from Psalm 33 which clearly points out God’s governing hand over ALL human hearts:::>

      Psa 33:10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
      Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
      Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
      Psa 33:13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
      Psa 33:14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
      Psa 33:15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.

      Here we read that God has plans for ALL generations. And we see He also fashioned every heart of mankind AND knows all our deeds. I just cannot understand it but it does raise a suspicion with me too that he is not standing squarely in a Biblical and Godly theological tradition of God’s omniscience.

      Hope the rest of your day and evening are blessed in your fellowship with God and His people.

      thanks again,
      michael

      Like

      1. Hi Michael! I thought I had answered your question on the start of RC. Here is my answer, if not again, AD 325, the council of Nicea.

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      2. Brian,

        ah, yes, I recall that but you didn’t expand it as to why you think the council of Nicea of 325 ad is the foundation of the RCC. I’ve been through this before too and don’t believe the RCC had formed any such thing as a papacy and the kinds of dogmas that have emerged centuries later.

        Why do you believe this council is the foundation of the RCC?

        michael

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      3. Hi Michael. Nicea was Roman emperor led, it viewed itself as a Catholic authority for Christianity, and its gospel was sacramental, promoting trust in baptism, performed only by clergy they approved, to grant forgiveness of sins. That’s a false gospel! I hope this helps.

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      4. Brian,

        apparently your history and mine are much different. What you just wrote seems a bit anachronistic to me, that is you are putting into the Council of Nicea 325 ad something you think it was about.

        This council came about because of Arius and the Arian controversy. It was the first of a number of councils that occurred spread over a number of centuries from roughly the Third to Seventh centuries. From these various councils, Nicea, Ephesus, Chalcedon and other lesser meetings men finally defined over time what some false doctrines and assumptions about the Christ were, whether He was partial man and all God or some hybrid combination of the two or He was not God just God’s agent to the full creed that there is One God, “being” in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Over this period the Church Fathers and Leaders denounced Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monophysitism and Monotheletism, all considered heresies.

        Might you be a bit confused?

        michael

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      5. Hi Michael, I do get confused at my age about some things. 🙂 But concerning Christian History, I feel fairly comfortable. The books I recommended to you earlier will help you understand my view of the false gospel and false ecclesiology of RC that started at Nicea.

        As I mentioned to you earlier, it is interesting how little the Scriptures are appealed to for authority of their dogma. Yes they were declaring dogma on the nature of Christ, but if you read the “canons” of each Council -http://www.piar.hu/councils/~index.htm you will see how they were declaring themselves as the only legitimate Christianity, damning others who would not submit to their authority even if the teaching of those other groups was the was the same!

        Do you believe that forgiveness of sin comes through baptism? I had assumed that you would see that such teaching is a false gospel! I hope this helps.

        Like

      6. Brian

        for some reason you keep bring the Roman Catholic Church into this dialogue. Enough of that trash. Yes, the devils were at work and continue to be at work to dissuade the True Church from standing in the WAY OF THE LORD. There were very good minds at work during the 325 ad council as there were in subsequent councils as heresies of one sort and then another rose up within the Church to dissuade and detract from the Truth. What does that have to do with being forthright and honest instead of subtle and ploy sophistry in here?

        As I shared already I do not believe the RCC began at or around the time of Nicea 325 ad. We have seen and still see the ugly snake being talked about by Jesus in John 10 and by Paul in Acts 20 and Peter in his epistles, John in his and Jude too. He has been permitted to do what he does.

        You ask if baptism is how one is forgiven? No, God forgives because Jesus Christ fulfilled what He was commission to fulfill. God through Christ commanded that we the Elect go forth and baptize and teach and make disciples under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We see the world reaction when after Pentecost the Holy Spirit began coming alongside the Elect in this commission and increase in it’s push back against Her and at times violently in the following years and centuries to what is happening in these days. There is an enemy that works against those who actually began doing what Jesus said to do in His Name.

        michael

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      7. Michael – I am sorry that you think I keep bringing RC up and that you think it as “trash”. My last response to you was directly as a response to yours (perhaps you forgot, I do that some times).

        But you had concluded your previous post – “Over this period the Church Fathers and Leaders denounced Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monophysitism and Monotheletism, all considered heresies.
        Might you be a bit confused?”

        You agree that forgiveness does not come through baptism! But now are you a bit confused? You called these leaders of Nicea and the other councils, “Church Fathers and Leaders”, but they all professed to believe forgiveness comes through baptism! Why would you choose to promote the teachings of men who held a false gospel, even if they understood some biblical truths correctly?

        That was the main point I was trying to make. The RC chosen “Fathers” are not the leaders Christ was using to build His church, as is obvious because of their false gospel and false ecclesiology. None of them, even if some were truly saved (and most likely some were), none were qualified as elders biblically!

        I hope Michael that you will read the canon laws of each council and determine if you think this is truly where Christ was building His church even at AD 325.

        Like

      8. Brian,

        I can see this dialogue deteriorating rather quickly. Where and when, and please quote me, did I ever say I promoted any of the Church Fathers and Leaders of that period in question you keep harping on?

        You have no idea what my view is on these men and their thinking. I made clear where my mind stands. It stands with Abraham and the WAY OF THE LORD. It is the Faith God gave Abram/Abraham and on down through the ages to date that I am concerned about and the Truth. I mentioned these personalities from a historical basic. As you might be aware there is plenty of debate as to “who” is a thinker that aligns with the RCC and who the RCC thinks aligns with them. There has to be something here you are not bringing out by your method and innuendo approach to these things. You are holding close to the chest your presuppositions about this era of Church history. What is it? What’s the significance of it and how does it contribute to anything here other than you have been subtle and reluctant to boldly claim you hold to open theism.

        You must have a resolve as to who represents Truth and what that Truth is. In your view, who from the historical personalities from Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Augustin and on and on and on, you name them through the first 500 to 1000 years of Church history show that they have the Faith once delivered to the Saints and walked out the WAY OF THE LORD?

        michael

        Like

      9. I am sorry Michael you feel I am being “subtle and reluctant”. I was thinking I was being very forceful and willing to share my views of the councils of RC. I was quoting your use of the terms “Church Fathers and Leaders”. I am sorry too, if I assumed wrongly that you felt they were the Church Fathers and Leaders of the body of Christ in the 4th century.

        In the very beginning when you showed interest in Christian History I recommended two books that help document the church Jesus was building through the centuries. I wasn’t being subtle then either! 🙂 But, to spell it out further, all the men qualified as elders throughout the centuries held to the true gospel and the sound doctrine of believer’s baptism.

        Like

      10. Brian,

        why do you keep zeroing on the 4th Century?

        Name some names??? There were a lot of Church Father and Leaders prior to the 4th Century and afterwards. Who are the “Church Fathers and Leaders” you would embrace and who would you not embrace?

        michael

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      11. Michael, I think I mentioned before the only church fathers I recognize are the apostles. The ones RC chose from the three centuries prior to when it started were chosen because they promoted the sacramental, magisterial Christianity that RC wanted to promote and preserve.

        But from what I have read, Polycarp, perhaps Irenaeus, post 200 Tertullian, perhaps Novatian, Priscillian, Patrick, in groups like the Paulicians, Petrobrusians, Waldensians, Bohemian Brethren, Lollards.

        Does that help?

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      12. You’re welcome my friend! Remember, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, by Verduin (he was reformed, but is in heaven now and knows better 🙂 ) and The Pilgrim Church, by Broadbent (he was Plymouth Brethren, and he knows better now too). I can’t wait till I know even as I am known!

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  27. Michael,
    You said that you had had enough of the “trash” that Brian Wagner is presenting in his comments concering Catholicism, and that you were getting tired of his subtlety and lack of openness about his open theism. And yet you continue to dialogue with him?

    I will say it once again, the reason that Wagner is attacking the Catholic church is in order to defend his open theism.

    He keeps trying to undermine the historical theology argument against his false open theism (i.e. Every Christian in the early centuries, the middle centuries and all the way through today, except for recent church history have all held the traditional view of omniscience, Wagner is in denial of this fact and so keeps trying to undermine the Catholic church and in doing so he keeps making mistakes regarding church history, mistakes you have noted).

    Now I myself am a Baptist and I believe paedobaptism is mistaken. That being said however, I would never make the erroneous statement that Brian Wagner made that: “But to spell it out further, all the men qualified as elders throughout the centuries held to the true gospel and the sound doctrine of believer baptism.” Note Michael he states this as a UNIVERSAL (ALL) truth.

    If he is correct then anyone who does not hold to believer baptism was not/is not/will not be qualified to be elders “throughout the centuries.” Now Wagner is aiming primarily at Catholics trying to attack them as unqualified to be elders.

    But if he is right than this means that anyone who espouses paedobaptism is automatically disqualified from being an elder.

    And who would that include?

    The Reformers including Calvin and Luther and Melancthon, etc. held to paedobaptism: so by Wagner’s claim/logic they were not qualified to be elders.

    That also means today that all Presbyterians including men like Vern Poythress since they hold to paedobaptism are not qualified to be elders.

    That means John Wesley and all Methodists are not qualified to be elders. This is an incredibly false claim.

    Now if Wagner backs off and qualifies it by claiing that he only means the Catholics who hold to paedobaptism, that is totally arbitrary and merely demontrates an extreme prejudice against Catholics.

    And again Michael consider why Wagner is doing this: all for the sake of his cherished but false open theism. He affirms open theism so he has to attack everybody else who holds the traditional view of omniscience. In trying to attack the Catholics he has now enlarged his attack upon all who hold paedobaptism. Now again, I am a Baptist so I don’t agree with paedobaptists on this issue. But does that justify claiming that none of them qualifies as an elder??? Michael I can fully understand why you said this dialogue with Wagner is deteriorating, and why you described his views as “trash.” All because Brian Wagner will resort to anything in order to defend his open theism and try to attack and undermine the traditional view of omniscience.

    Like

    1. Robert,

      again, insightful and edifying.

      I do agree as you can read in my comments that I point out to him he is being shady about something? I believe not only is it a reluctance in becoming clear about his open theism but also I believe there is something more?

      I am a minister of the Gospel of the Kingdom, born again and Spirit filled with Christ dwelling in my inner man and pray daily for the Kingdom to find its place in more and more hearts touched by True Grace.

      Here’s why his arguments fall on deaf ears about who was qualified and not qualified to be in ministry whatever their responsibility, as Pastor, Elder, Deacon, Preacher, Teacher of the Good News with Christ who is at the work feeding the lambs and nurturing the sheep into the fullness of God in all generations and centuries since He rose from the dead:::>

      Php 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
      Php 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
      Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
      Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
      Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

      And

      2Ti 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
      2Ti 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
      2Ti 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

      I suppose the Holy Spirit and the Lord Himself have been actively at work in every generation bringing men and women into Christ’s Life and set them in the Church as His examples among men in every century. There has been this process of “equipping”, that is, entrusting to faithful men who will be able to teach others also going on every since the close of the First Century.

      Reading Brian’s comments I get the sense he doesn’t believe most of the “Church Fathers and Leaders” in subsequent centuries fill those shoes or practice this mandate the Apostle lays forth to Timothy?

      thanks again
      michael

      Like

      1. Good morning Michael. If you have ever had the awesome task of testing those for ordination to eldership you know that you must decide if the person holds the true gospel of Christ and to sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).

        Since believers baptism is a necessary sound doctrine, then Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Sproul, though evidently saved and with the gift of teaching, would not qualify as elders biblically. There were multitudes of men qualified through the centuries as elders who never wrote books or whose writings were destroyed and not preserved by the unqualified “elders” of Christianity.

        Elevating as qualifications disputable matters, (Rom 14:1) like one’s understanding of the timing of the future rapture or of omniscience as it relates to the future to qualify as sound doctrine for eldership also is harmful to the testimony of Christ. I am not saying God does not still use His children when they are put into positions they are not qualified for. But much harm also results.

        A person who doesn’t say believers baptism is necessary for ordination to eldership is not a Baptist, even if they call themselves one! And I say again, the elders of the Church Christ was building through the centuries all held to the sound doctrine of believers baptism. I hope this helps.

        Like

      2. Brian,

        well again, wow. I applaud you for your forthrightness and clarity of position. I am not a Baptist. I am an ordained minister and have been in active and passive ministry for years. When I say passive what I mean by that is I am set in place to listen and understand and equip in the Spirit of Gentleness, which is Who Our Omniscient Lord and Savior is, working at His side as He builds His Church in the 21st Century, unchanged in purpose or method, setting free with the Gospel story those who have that unique quality Church Fathers and Leaders know firsthand and who have also been set in place in the functioning part of the Body of Christ. Everyone, young and old are called to His Eternal Glory in Christ. Not all are called to teach. Let there be many listeners and few speakers. I suppose you know the book of James well?

        While I disagree with you on your assumptions as to who was qualified for eldership and ministry in the first 1500 years I applaud you now for stopping the shadiness of dialogue to now speak from a defined theological position. We each have our quirks so it’s that quirk in you that I am having a bit of time settling with. You are an open theist, too.

        As you have noticed, I have continued to engage with you in here and hope to continue.

        I suppose with your clear declaration now as to the premise and presupposition you hold as a believer’s baptist, you will find my thinking on paedobaptism and covenant theology along the lines of Abraham and circumcision difficult as well as my position as an amillennialist? I believe there is one covenant, the Gospel covenant and it was preached first. The law came in afterwards as the schoolmaster to help us all, Jew and Gentile alike, see our fallen human natures are incapable of keeping that holy, righteous and good law. Our flesh is corrupted by the nature of Adam. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. If you are going to die and go to Heaven before you die, you will have to be born again first and sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit and Christ Himself as well as come under the disciplines of God Our Heavenly Father. Bastards on the other are indifferent to the chastisement and discipleship of the WAY OF THE LORD.

        Gen 18:17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
        Gen 18:18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
        Gen 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

        Godly men since the fall of Adam have been walking in the WAY OF THE LORD doing HIS Righteousness and Justice. Others have not. These others are enemies of God and man no matter what they say or teach. You shall know them by the fruit. The Fruit of the Spirit is… !

        God made it known to Abram what He was going to do for him, a man without a family of his own. Now he is faced with the reality of believing in God Almighty to do what He promised or not. As we learn he struggles and fails giving in to his flesh and his wife Sarai and goes and lays with Hagar. What a sore mistake that has the world in as mankind witnesses the uproar these days as we see the children of Abraham’s own loins, his children from three women fighting and killing each other. God promised Abram He would make him a “great nation”. If was from this great nation all families could be and should be blessed. That great nation did come into existence. She did produce the bloodline needed so the Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin and Christ was born!

        This great nation failed in everything else she was suppose to achieve. Thank God for that!

        The promise to Abram was different than the promise to Abraham. To Abram, families could be and should be blessed. To Abraham, nations could be joined to Christ and be blessed.

        Today, here we are, ministering in the venues opened to us to minister the Gospel of the Kingdom in while praying that this Kingdom would come into more and more hearts by Grace through Faith and more and more souls would be conjoined to Christ by the calling and election and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

        Today is the best time to be alive in every nation on earth to preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Is there enough of the Holy Spirit to fill more and more hearts and minds? Well yes, of course. The supply of the Spirit is eternal. God can and will fill more and more thirsty souls with LIFE.

        Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
        Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
        Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
        Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
        Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

        That’s my mission and work these days to engage others and to present the True Gospel of the Kingdom, the true Grace of God as Peter the Apostle write, waiting passively and patiently as the Holy Spirit works through me and by me, too, to sanctify others drawing them to God with His Word of Truth, that powerful active Word that is alive and powerful. God elects and calls His own children to Christ by the Word of His Grace:::>

        Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

        Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

        michael

        Like

      3. Brian, thank you.

        I need prayer and people praying for me and ask for people to pray for me.

        Here is some specific biblical sense to it and that request and need that I would ask you to keep in mind when praying for me. I do ask for your prayers for me and the ministry I am a part of and if you indeed are a professor at a seminary or pastor or teach a group of Christians, have them pray along this specific line:::>

        2Co 1:11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

        The Apostle Paul realized not only in the power of God’s prayer for him he also realized the power in the prayers coming to God on his behalf. Prayer for us and by us works in us Divine Blessings, too. He asked a lot of people he was personally engaged with and was a part of to pray for the blessings of God to flow into his life lived for Christ and his ministry.

        That verse at first might seem very selfish and self-centered. But when you break it down in light of everything you learn about this man you realize it is such a humble request so that many more souls would come to the free True Grace that comes from the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and because of the promises God made to Abram/Abraham.

        Again, thank you for your kind offer to pray for me. Please do and please do it often!

        michael

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Michael,

        “I do agree as you can read in my comments that I point out to him he is being shady about something? I believe not only is it a reluctance in becoming clear about his open theism but also I believe there is something more?”

        At first I thought Brian Wagner’s only problem was open theism: I believe that you are correct here, there are more problems than just open theism.

        “I am a minister of the Gospel of the Kingdom, born again and Spirit filled with Christ dwelling in my inner man and pray daily for the Kingdom to find its place in more and more hearts touched by True Grace.”

        Michael are you an elder?

        According to Brian Wagner you are not qualified to be. In his view, only Baptists who believe in believer baptism can be qualified elders. I thought that before Wagner was just anti-Catholic, apparently his prejudices are much broader and include all who do not believe in and practice believer baptism (i.e. anyone who is not Baptist in their doctrine).

        Note his latest affirmation of this belief:

        “Since believers baptism is a necessary sound doctrine, then Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Sproul, though evidently saved and with the gift of teaching, would not qualify as elders biblically.”

        So according to Brian Wagner anyone who is not a Baptist in their belief concerning baptism “would not qualify as elders biblically.”

        I already see Wagner’s “me against the world” attitude in regards to open theism (i.e. he thinks he and his fellow open theists have it right about God’s omniscience while EVERYBODY ELSE and that is a lot of “everybodys”, including Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants is wrong on this).

        It takes a lot of pride to maintain this “I am right everybody else is wrong” kind of attitude.

        I have said before and say it again, just because Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are mistaken on some things does not mean they are mistaken on everything, or even that you cannot learn from them. Michael you wrote in one of your posts:

        “This council came about because of Arius and the Arian controversy. It was the first of a number of councils that occurred spread over a number of centuries from roughly the Third to Seventh centuries. From these various councils, Nicea, Ephesus, Chalcedon and other lesser meetings men finally defined over time what some false doctrines and assumptions about the Christ were, whether He was partial man and all God or some hybrid combination of the two or He was not God just God’s agent to the full creed that there is One God, “being” in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Over this period the Church Fathers and Leaders denounced Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Monophysitism and Monotheletism, all considered heresies.”

        It was these people in the early church, many who according to Wagner were not qualified to be elders, who thankfully and faithfully took a stand against these false beliefs and heresies establishing the correct doctrines in regard to the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the two natures of Jesus, the two wills of Jesus, etc.

        “Here’s why his arguments fall on deaf ears about who was qualified and not qualified to be in ministry whatever their responsibility, as Pastor, Elder, Deacon, Preacher, Teacher of the Good News with Christ who is at the work feeding the lambs and nurturing the sheep into the fullness of God in all generations and centuries since He rose from the dead:::>”

        Michael it appears that you disagree with Wagner on his concept that only Baptists can be qualified elders.

        Wagner also wrote:

        “Elevating as qualifications disputable matters, (Rom 14:1) like one’s understanding of the timing of the future rapture or of omniscience as it relates to the future to qualify as sound doctrine for eldership also is harmful to the testimony of Christ. I am not saying God does not still use His children when they are put into positions they are not qualified for. But much harm also results.”

        Note what Wagner wants to designate as “disputable matters”: “like one’s understanding of the timing of the future rapture or of omniscience as it relates to the future.” He quotes Romans 14:1 and in that context it is talking about issues of “Christian liberty” (where Christians may and do disagree). He picks a person’s view on the rapture as an example. I would agree this is a non-essential, there are godly people who disagree on this.

        But note his second example of an issue of “Christian liberty”: open theism/”omniscience as it relates to the future”.

        Pretty sneaky, a doctrine that is held by every believer from across all denotations throughout church history (except for open theists like Wagner) is supposedly an issue of “Christian liberty”? No, it is error and a person who espouses this is promoting an error that goes against what every other Christian believes. Michael do you see how insidious this is? Wagner wants his open theism to be accepted as merely a matter of “Christian liberty” while he simultaneously claims that only Baptists can be qualified elders.

        “I suppose the Holy Spirit and the Lord Himself have been actively at work in every generation bringing men and women into Christ’s Life and set them in the Church as His examples among men in every century. There has been this process of “equipping”, that is, entrusting to faithful men who will be able to teach others also going on every since the close of the First Century.”

        Apparently according to Wagner during all this time the Lord was never raising up any qualified elders in any other groups (only the Baptists may serve as qualified elders). Apparently God had no idea of how to, nor was he, ever raising up godly people during all of church history who were not Baptists in their theology. This claim is almost unbelievable except for the fact that Wagner has demonstrated that he clearly is comfortable maintaining an attitude in which he is right while everybody else is wrong. The arrogance behind this mentality is deafening.

        “Reading Brian’s comments I get the sense he doesn’t believe most of the “Church Fathers and Leaders” in subsequent centuries fill those shoes or practice this mandate the Apostle lays forth to Timothy?”

        Well Wagner has made himself absolutely clear, none of those people in the early church or in the centuries following was a godly person. A godly person obeys the commands of God and develops the Christian character that is required of an elder/local church leader. According to Wagner’s reasoning, none of these people were godly people, none of them developed the kind of Christian character required of an elder according to the New Testament, none were qualified to be elders or to serve in leadership in the church.

        And Michael don’t feel that you alone are being attacked by Wagner, note he also said:

        “A person who doesn’t say believers baptism is necessary for ordination to eldership is not a Baptist, even if they call themselves one!”

        Well now he is asserting that I am not a Baptist. 🙂

        I believe that holding to believer baptism in order to be ordained ***is required*** to be ordained ***AS A BAPTIST PASTOR*** (but not if you are seeking ordination in another group, e.g. the Presbyterians, a Presbyterian may be ordained as an Presbyterian elder if he meets the requirements set out by Presbyterians, the same applies to Methodists, etc.).

        At least Brian Wagner is an **equal opportunity attacker**, he attacks everyone else who is not an open theist and who does not hold to believer baptism as he does.

        As a footnote, I work in prison ministry and have worked with Catholics and other non-Baptists to bring people to the Lord. If I had Wagner’s erroneous views I doubt this cooperation would have been possible and many of these people may not have been saved as a result. Do I agree with Catholics and other non-Baptists on everything? No. Do I believe they are mistaken on some things? Most definitely. Am I going to allow our differences to stop me from getting the gospel out to all types of people including inmates? No. But then I don’t have Wagner’s “I am right and everybody else is wrong” attitude either.

        Like

      5. Robert,

        greatly appreciate your sharpness and ability to bring into focus what is going on here between us and Brian and possibly others who are just sitting on the fence posts watching this play itself out?

        You asked if I was an elder? No, I’m an ordained Minister. I’ve worked with and ordained elders in some of my community of Churches. I’ve co-pastored several churches over the years. I was a police Chaplain with the rank of Captain of the city police department in my home city for a number of years. As a Minister I have opened both City Council and Board of Supervisor meetings and have been called upon to conduct very high public events. I’ve traveled and ministered in a few countries over the years and to a lot of church in the United States including Hawaii and Alaska. Right now, I sitting out any formal ministerial work enjoying a great time of rest and learning. I have been through ministerial training and continue in this training now going on forty years. I am getting a sense from the Spirit of the Lord some more doors will be opening soon and when they do I hope to be ready to walk through them into the next dynamic phase of ministering the Gospel of the Kingdom to others training and discipling and equipping then in the WAY OF THE LORD. We can get into details if you want on a sidebar, if necessary?

        You wrote this about Brian: //This claim is almost unbelievable except for the fact that Wagner has demonstrated that he clearly is comfortable maintaining an attitude in which he is right while everybody else is wrong. The arrogance behind this mentality is deafening.//

        You have touched on the main issue for me. That is, I await Brian coming clean and becoming bold enough to say you and I and others are WRONG. Little by little he has come out of his shell. I claimed I was a closed theist. He told us he would then say he was an open theist. Well we got a mushy declaration with qualifications “why” he is a open theist. Then in his latest post to me he finally began saying what his premise and presupposition is, his theological beliefs. Now I wait with baited breath he will make this charge too, that his is the correct way and ours is not. I hope he does. A good sword fight is in order then! 🙂

        thanks again Robert,
        michael

        Like

  28. You boys aren’t just out of the playing field of the original, topic, I feel like you’re on the way home arguing about who get’s to carry the ball.
    Brian, How do you relate the non-existence of time as we experience it, according to quantum physics, to Open Theism? Is this a weakness in OT or am I missing something?

    Like

    1. Wildswanderer,
      I posted directly to you earlier and you ignored and ever responded to my post. so I will repost it here:

      Robert

      May 31, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Wildswanderer,

      I agree with you that when we look at different theologies we will often find things we disagree with or find to be error in our best judgement.

      That being said, what do **YOU** do with the fact that when we examine church history and various Christian traditions (including Catholocism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism) we find unanimous agreement on the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incaranation/that God actually became flesh and dwelt among us, that there will be a final judgement, that the Bible is the Word of God, that God created the world out of nothing, AND THAT GOD IS OMNISCIENT (meaning that he knows all possibilities and all actualities, whether they be past, present or future)????

      What does this unanimous agreement on these doctrinal beliefs suggest to you?????

      Among different theologians there are different theories to account for the fact that God knows the future (including Boethian, Molinist, Ockhamist, simple foreknowledge, Calvinist, Arminian, etc.), but they all agree that in fact he does know the future in its entirety. In other words there are differing explanations as to HOW he knows the future, not THAT he does know the future (except again for open theists who deny what everyone else believes).

      Like

    2. Hi ww! The issue of what authority to use to define or theological terms was what led me to jump in when early Christian History was mentioned.

      I am definitely not a very sharp knife when it comes to discussing physics! You may have to explain a little more what you are thinking. When it comes to describing eternity I see the Scriptures as consistently using linear expressions, from everlasting to everlasting (Ps 90:2). So reality is sequential in my thinking, the experience of it may be altered by physical laws that God had made and interacts with, but I don’t think the past our the future can visited as if they all exist simultaneously. I hope this helps.

      Like

  29. You boys aren’t just out of the playing field of the original, topic, I feel like you’re on the way home arguing about who get’s to carry the ball.
    Brian, How do you relate the non-existence of time as we experience it, according to quantum physics, to Open Theism? Is this a weakness in OT or am I missing something?

    Like

    1. Wildswanderer,
      I posted a second post directly to you which you also did not respond to, so here it is again:

      1. Robert says:
      June 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm
      Wildswanderer,

      I asked you a direct question that you have ignored. If you answered my question perhaps you would then have the answer to the question you ask here:

      “What do you do with all the scriptures that state that God changed his mind, or that God regretted? It just seems very one sided to take all scriptures about God’s foreknowledge and scriptures about God’s future plans at face value and re-interpret all the ones that claim he can regret or change his mind.”

      Do you really think these questions have not been asked in the entire history of the church?

      Do you really think open theists and people like yourself are the ***first*** to ask these questions?

      This is why it is helpful to know what the church has thought throughout its history.

      Did you know that in the past those who held to the traditional understanding of omniscience ALSO believed that God genuinely interacts and responds to people in real time in real history?

      Do you really think that Christians in the past believed that God does not genuinely interact with people?

      Is this something new that only you and the open theists have discovered?

      As can be documented for its entire history the Christian church across all theological traditions has held to the traditional view of omniscience. But you appear to choose to ignore that.

      The view that the majority of Christians have held throughout church history is not an either/or, EITHER: (1) God knows the future (he is omniscient) and so does not genuinely interact with us, OR (2) God genuinely interacts with us and is not omniscient (i.e. the open theism position). That is what in logic is called a false dilemma, presenting two mutually exclusive points, claiming one is error and one is truth, when in fact other available and better options exist. The third possibility, which is in fact the view held throughout church history is (3) God knows the future (he is omniscient) and simultaneously God genuinely interacts with us.

      You then argue against God’s omniscience:

      “If God is truly sovereign over his own actions, it would seem that he can both know and plan future events and choose to not plan and not know other future events.”

      Why should he choose to not know other future events?

      Why should he choose to not be omniscient?

      You next make a statement that is just flat out mistaken:

      “Is it the OT who are limiting God or is it the traditional view that limits Him?”

      It is the open theists because according to them if God does have omniscience then he cannot simultaneously be genuinely interacting with humans. THAT is putting a LIMITATION upon God that does not exist. The reality is that he can both be omniscient and genuinely interact with people.

      “In simple foreknowledge, which is the traditional Arminian view, God has foreseen all His future actions, so those actions must come to pass.”

      That is a misrepresentation of the traditional Arminian view. In this view, God freely chooses to do what he does. He is not forced to do things, it is not accurate to say that he **must** do things and has no choice. The Arminian view is that he will in fact choose to do certain things, but this is not the same as he must do those things. The same is true of us, with regard to our future choices, if we act freely then we will in fact choose to do X, but we did not have to do X (we would have to do X if we were not acting freely, if our choice was necessitated, as is true in Calvinist theology, and Arminians are not Calvinists I assume you know).

      You spoke of the calvinist view and I will not spend any time on it as I believe calvinism is mistaken on some things.

      “Some view of Open Theism is the only way for God to truly respond to prayers, at least as far as any human can understand responding.”

      The ONLY way for God to truly respond to prayers??????

      Not true at all, again Christians for centuries have lived with the belief that God is omniscient AND he genuinely interacts with them. I may provide an example of this so that you can better understand what the vast majority of Christians have always believed. If your statement were true, since open theists is a relatively new and novel view, that would mean that for centuries believers would be praying believing that God does not truly respond to their prayers.

      “We all live as if we are Open theists.”

      No, we all live as if we believe that God genuinely interacts with people. THAT is not the same as open theism.

      Open theism has not been around very long, it was not present in the early church. In the early church everybody believed both that God is omniscient and that God genuinely interacts with people. They were not open theists because open theism did not even exist then.

      “We pray to God, believing that prayer moves him, that a lot of people praying will actually change the future in some way.”

      Again, this has been a belief held by Christians across the board, the church did not learn this from open theists, open theists came on the scene very late.

      “Again, I don’t know how God interacts with time.”

      No one fully understands how a spirit who is universally present and has no body parts, interacts in time with people. We believe THAT it happens but we do not understand fully HOW it happens.

      “It seems as if most Christians are very schizophrenic when it comes to their view of God. They talk as if God has preplanned their every move and then in the next moment affirm that prayer changes things.”

      That may be true of Calvinists (who are just a minority of the set of all believers), but the majority of Christians again throughout church history have not been calvinists, have not believed that “God preplans their every move.”

      “How can both be true?”

      They cannot both be true, which is one of the reasons the majority of Christians have rejected calvinism. Most people are sharp enough to figure out if everything is preplanned, then we do not have free will and we just follow our prewritten scripts like good little puppets. 🙂

      “I’m not offering answers, just asking the questions normal people ask if they care to think about these things.”

      And asking questions is good; just don’t limit yourself to what you are thinking in your mind alone. Consider what other believers have thought about these things. There have been some very, very intelligent and godly people in church history. Sure mistakes were sometimes made, but they were not always mistaken. Learn from both the mistakes and what others have gotten right. This is living like the wise person from the book of Proverbs (willing to learn from others, realizing the power in a multiple of counselors, understanding one is limited and can gain from the insights and wisdom of others, etc.).

      Like

  30. Michael,

    “greatly appreciate your sharpness and ability to bring into focus what is going on here between us and Brian and possibly others who are just sitting on the fence posts watching this play itself out?”

    Thanks for the kind words.

    “You asked if I was an elder? No, I’m an ordained Minister. I’ve worked with and ordained elders in some of my community of Churches. I’ve co-pastored several churches over the years. I was a police Chaplain with the rank of Captain of the city police department in my home city for a number of years. As a Minister I have opened both City Council and Board of Supervisor meetings and have been called upon to conduct very high public events. I’ve traveled and ministered in a few countries over the years and to a lot of church in the United States including Hawaii and Alaska. Right now, I sitting out any formal ministerial work enjoying a great time of rest and learning. I have been through ministerial training and continue in this training now going on forty years. I am getting a sense from the Spirit of the Lord some more doors will be opening soon and when they do I hope to be ready to walk through them into the next dynamic phase of ministering the Gospel of the Kingdom to others training and discipling and equipping then in the WAY OF THE LORD. We can get into details if you want on a sidebar, if necessary?”

    That all sounds very good: and no I will not claim that you are disqualified from being an elder simply because you do not hold to believer baptism.

    It occurred to me that there is something very ironic going on here. From reading your posts it appears to be that we are opposites on some of our theological beliefs (me – believer baptism, you –paedobaptism; me- premillennial, you – amillennial) and yet we agree on omniscience and we agree on the essentials (e.g. the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the Bible as the Word of God, etc.). We also have no problem getting along and interacting! We may disagree on some things and yet we can respect each other convinced in our own beliefs. And we don’t play games with each other, there is no subtlety present to hide or mask our views. We can be very open about both what we believe as well as what we do not believe. And this seems to me to be exactly how it ought to be with genuine believers. From what you have said I would have no hesitation in working together with you in the prisons to lead people to Christ.

    “You wrote this about Brian: //This claim is almost unbelievable except for the fact that Wagner has demonstrated that he clearly is comfortable maintaining an attitude in which he is right while everybody else is wrong. The arrogance behind this mentality is deafening.//
    You have touched on the main issue for me. That is, I await Brian coming clean and becoming bold enough to say you and I and others are WRONG. Little by little he has come out of his shell. I claimed I was a closed theist. He told us he would then say he was an open theist. Well we got a mushy declaration with qualifications “why” he is a open theist. Then in his latest post to me he finally began saying what his premise and presupposition is, his theological beliefs. Now I wait with baited breath he will make this charge too, that his is the correct way and ours is not. I hope he does. A good sword fight is in order then! :)”

    See that is just it, Brian thinks that he knows that we are wrong on things including omniscience and church history, but he won’t “come clean” as you say. I can say very directly and honestly and forthrightly to you that I disagree with you on some things (and you can do the same with me). And yet I do not lose my respect for you because you disagree with me. And we have unity on things that really matter.

    Wagner on the other hand, pretends to be nice but he is giving away that he really cannot stand others who disagree with him or even dare challenge him. He is a professor of New Testament at a Baptist school (I bet that in his classrooms no one dares challenge him or his authority, no one dares suggest or outright declare he is wrong on something as he holds the chalk, he has authority over them because he assigns their grades: but then he gets on line and this forced authority goes out the window, here he does get challenged, here he is shown to be in error, and I bet he just can’t stand it).

    I have taught at all levels and I welcome challenge, I welcome people thinking for themselves even when they disagree with me. While some professors (and Wagner appears to fit this profile) just want regurgitators (those who just regurgitate what the professor says in order to get a good grade, so it becomes a game of memory rather than real learning and thinking for oneself): I always seek to produce thinkers. For example when I have taught I have sometimes told my students that if you disagree with me you will not be automatically wrong or marked off or given a lower grade since you disagreed with me (what I am more concerned about is that you justified your answer, that you exhibited real thought, and gave reasons for why your answer is preferable).

    People who only want to produce regurgitators hate to have their authority threatened.

    In some cases this even extends to their views of God. They cannot accept a transcendent God who is Lord over them. It becomes a Lordship issue for them, they want to be Lord over their domain, and they sometimes have problems with God being Lord over them as well. So they create these much more manageable gods of their imagination (e.g. gods who are in time just like them, limited just like them, not knowing the future and so not in control or transcendent just like them, gods they can live with, as long as they maintain control over their own lives).

    I take the opposite view, God is Lord, he is transcendent, I have to take pains to avoid having conceptions of God that make him too small, more manageable, just a bigger version of us. I have to learn from others knowing that I don’t know everything nor will I ever know everything. I am quite comfortable admitting that others have good and meaningful things to say (even if they think differently theologically, even if they don’t hold my Baptist beliefs). I am even comfortable admitting that I am wrong at times. How will I really know and learn the truth if I keep holding onto to some error no matter what? If your desire is to know the truth then being wrong is not the worst thing, being corrected is not the worst thing, being prideful and believing that you cannot be wrong or that everyone else is wrong except you, is far worse.

    Like

  31. Honestly, Robert, I don’t believe you are really interested in listening to my answers to your questions. Whatever your grudge is with Open Theists, can we agree that they are out brothers and sisters in Christ and their views on time do not affect that in the least? I sincerely doubt that there have not been Open Theists of one sort or another in Church History. I know there were several in the Methodists up to a few hundred years ago. When the first century church fathers wrote about God’s relation to time, did they understand in any way that time does not operate in the way it appears to, in our limited minds?
    Part of the reason I don’t dismiss them outright is that it is a view that I find very believable in light of how I see God working in scriptures and no one has yet explained to my satisfaction why we should take all verses about God changing his mind or regretting as metaphors.
    Thanks for the answer, Brian. What I’m trying to get at is that time is relative, as Einstein noted, and quantum physics has taken that farther, or rather confused it farther, by finding that there are things in the world of particles that make no sense according to “normal” science and do not work in a linear fashion. This seems like great news for free will theists in general, as it runs counter to determinism, but I’m not sure if it is good or bad news for open theists. I know Greg Boyd has stated that God may not experience time in the same manner we do, which makes sense, being that He created it. I don’t know how anyone can deny, however that the entire Bible assumes a “before and after” as to how God interacts with his creatures. In the traditional view of time, is Jesus still on the cross? It creates questions with no answers that we can comprehend. Again, my answer is that we are probably all wrong about how God really does work, and I’d rather place the mystery with God’s complex creation, then with his will, which not a mystery, it is clearly for us to become more like Christ.

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    1. Wildswanderer,

      Alright you are now responding to me so we can talk about these things. We may not agree but at least we can discuss these things and interact on them.

      “Honestly, Robert, I don’t believe you are really interested in listening to my answers to your questions.”

      Actually I am. In my thinking you cannot think without questions: so I ask questions a lot. My earlier questions to you were to get you to see that other believers have asked these same questions and discussed these things in the past. I don’t expect you or anyone else to always agree with what people said in the past. My point is at least be aware of what was said (especially if some of the sharpest minds in church history have dealt specifically with these same questions and issues).

      One of my major concerns with open theists is that they want to downplay, minimize, or even mock this reality. It is OK to disagree with Aquinas on eternity for example, after you have actually checked out what he says. But to downplay, minimize or mock him and try to suggest he was only endorsing a “Catholic” doctrine is both false and unfair.

      “Whatever your grudge is with Open Theists, can we agree that they are out brothers and sisters in Christ and their views on time do not affect that in the least?”

      If you have read my posts carefully you will find that I never claim they are not believers, not saved. To use an analogy, as a Baptist I believe paedobaptists are mistaken regarding their view of baptism (and I know they feel exactly the same about me!): at the same time I do not claim that they are not believers because they are mistaken on this issue (and hopefully they feel the same about me!). No, I can disagree with someone in an agreeable way if they present their views directly, not in a stealth or misleading manner.

      “I sincerely doubt that there have not been Open Theists of one sort or another in Church History. I know there were several in the Methodists up to a few hundred years ago.”

      And that is my point, at the most you go back a couple of hundred years to find professing open theists: that leaves 19 centuries when no one (except the Sabellians who were a cultic group) was advocating and professing open theism. There have been some very smart people during those 19 centuries and none of them professed or argued for open theism. They knew what the bible says, and none of them advocated open theism. To use an analogy, if we consider the doctrine of the trinity, some have challenged it, attacked it, mocked it, but they were non-believers. Genuine believers regardless of their church tradition (whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant) have unanimously held to the trinity. If someone came up in the last couple of hundred years advocating something else, attacking the trinity, mocking the trinity, I would wonder the same thing, was all of the church really mistaken for 19 centuries until these new trinity deniers are correct? Same reasoning applies to open theism, was everybody wrong about omniscience for 19 centuries until the open theists got it right and all of the rest of us have been wrong?

      “When the first century church fathers wrote about God’s relation to time, did they understand in any way that time does not operate in the way it appears to, in our limited minds?”

      Well surprisingly they did appear to entertain the idea that time and space are not eternal, that they, like every other thing in the universe is created and had a beginning. They were very strong on the creation ex-nihilo (creation out of nothing) so they saw God alone as eternal and everything else as created, contingent, having a beginning unlike God who had no beginning and simply exists.

      “Part of the reason I don’t dismiss them outright is that it is a view that I find very believable in light of how I see God working in scriptures and no one has yet explained to my satisfaction why we should take all verses about God changing his mind or regretting as metaphors.”

      I don’t believe that some of the statements in scripture about God changing his mind or relenting from doing something or choosing to do something instead are **all** metaphors. I do believe that if you look at all of these statements they are all from an in time perspective, when God acts or talks with us in time, he talks from an in time perspective which is like ours. He tells people they have a choice, between obeying or disobeying, he then talks about his response to what they chose to do later in the same narrative. Wildswanderer I think an important distinction to make is between the **in eternity** perspective that God alone has, mentioned only a few times in the Bible. And an **in time** perspective that is often mentioned in the Bible. Or put another way between God’s perspective and our perspective.

      Also remember that the Bible is an accommodation to us, like a parent talking to a small child in ways the child can understand. A parent seeing a child push over a toy, says “you pushed over your toy”: the parent does not engage in a physics description that includes terms like force, momentum, gravity, nuclear particles, etc. as the kid would not understand it at all it would be way beyond his understanding (and the difference between God’s understanding which is both transcendent and immanent and ours which is just finite and so limited is much, much greater than that of a human parent and their child).

      “What I’m trying to get at is that time is relative, as Einstein noted, and quantum physics has taken that farther, or rather confused it farther, by finding that there are things in the world of particles that make no sense according to “normal” science and do not work in a linear fashion. This seems like great news for free will theists in general, as it runs counter to determinism, but I’m not sure if it is good or bad news for open theists.”

      It is extremely bad news for open theists because it suggests that time like space is created and not eternal. For open theism to be true, God has to be in time just like us. If time was created, is not eternal, if God therefore did not exist in time when there was no creation, open theism is in big trouble. And they know it which is why someone like Wagner wants to claim that God is in time just like us and speaks of “linear” statements of time in the Bible (forgetting that the Bible is not a science textbook but declaring things from a phenomenological viewpoint, e.g. The sun rising is stated in the Bible, science tells us the sun does not literally rise, is the Bible wrong? No, it is giving a perspective of what we observe, the everyday common sense point of view).

      Some free will theorists have tried to use it to disprove determinism and it may have some use for that. What it does show is the Newtonian view which was mechanistic is false (remember Laplace’s famous comment to Napoleon about God? “I have no need for that hypothesis” in a mechanistic view it is all like one giant machine, but Laplace did not know about Einstein or quantum physics! 🙂 bit of a gap in knowledge there!).

      “I know Greg Boyd has stated that God may not experience time in the same manner we do, which makes sense, being that He created it.’”

      Well see Boyd is not taking his observation far enough: if God created it, if time like space, like matter is a created being then God necessarily is above and beyond it.

      This is why Aquinas argued that God is eternal, outside and beyond time as he created time. God interacts with his universe, this is clear, but interacting with the universe is not the same as saying he is in time just like us (which is a standard open theist belief and false). True confessions time, I love science (one of my hobbies is physics) and have many friends who are practicing scientists, physicists, engineers. And they all view time as created as not eternal like God is. They all sound like modern versions of Aquinas when they talk about time and space and creation and God not being in time like us. 🙂

      “I don’t know how anyone can deny, however that the entire Bible assumes a “before and after” as to how God interacts with his creatures.”

      Right it **has to** as the Bible is not written for God’s sake but for our sake, we being in time creatures, the Bible takes an **in time** perspective most of the time (pun intended) though occasionally it alludes to eternity (cf. when it speaks of something being done “before the foundations of the world” = when there was no creation only God). Now note if it takes an in time perspective sometimes (another pun intended) then you will have situations where God talks to people about a choice they have not yet made. E.g. God tells the Israelites at times (pun intended) that they can choose to obey him, and be blessed or choose to disobey him and he will bring calamity upon them. Then after they make their choice God responds and says something about what choice they had made. As God was interacting with them in time he then ends up making statements like: “Oh, I see you repented, so I will relent from bringing calamity on you.” And how does the Bible taking an in time perspective put this: He changed his mind!

      “In the traditional view of time, is Jesus still on the cross?”

      No, the traditional view of time, is that for those in time like us is that it travels like an arrow from past to present to future. We are in the present, the cross happened in the past so No Jesus is no longer on the cross. But again while we are in time as creatures living in space and time, it does not follow that God is not in eternity, above and beyond time and seeing everything at once as C. S. Lewis described as being in an “eternal now.”

      “It creates questions with no answers that we can comprehend.”

      The questions we have that are beyond our comprehension is how an eternal God interacts with his creatures in time? Or how does a spirit with no physical parts interact and act in a physical world? But if we are talking about God this should be expected. If he is truly transcendent then he is going to be above and beyond not only time and space but also our limited time bound understanding.

      “Again, my answer is that we are probably all wrong about how God really does work, and I’d rather place the mystery with God’s complex creation, then with his will, which not a mystery, it is clearly for us to become more like Christ.”

      Take omniscience as an example of what you are saying here. As believers we can claim THAT God knows all things including our future choices. But in claiming THAT He knows all things, that does not mean that we can know or explain HOW God knows all things. The same goes for God acting in the world. We know THAT he acts in the world, but we do not know nor can we explain HOW he acts in the world. Aquinas knew this and made a distinction between “res significat” (the thing signified) and “modus significandi” (the mode signified). Or put in English, we know THAT X, Y, Z is true of God, we can say or signify these things about God. But we do know not or understand God’s mode of operating, how he does things, how he knows things, how . . .

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      1. While I know this was not written to me directly, it sure was indirectly and I am appreciative of it, Robert!

        Thanks.

        Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
        Job 31:2 What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high?
        Job 31:3 Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
        Job 31:4 Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?
        Job 31:5 “If I have walked with falsehood and my foot has hastened to deceit;
        Job 31:6 (Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!)
        Job 31:7 if my step has turned aside from the way and my heart has gone after my eyes, and if any spot has stuck to my hands,
        Job 31:8 then let me sow, and another eat, and let what grows for me be rooted out.

        Yet He ends with science beginning though from Eternity :::>

        Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
        Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
        Isa 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
        Isa 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

        The rains I know. The snow I know. The flowers and fruits and vegetables I know too.

        But how is it God can speak with Godly certainty and say SO SHALL MY WORD BE THAT GOES OUT FROM MY MOUTH, IT SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME EMPTY, BUT IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PURPOSE, AND SHALL SUCCEED IN THE THING FOR WHICH I SENT IT?

        By the rain drops silly, by the snow and flowers and birds and bees and fruits and vegetables! 🙂

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    2. Good thoughts WW. Whatever else God is experiencing, including His experience within the created order, I would choose to deny that Christ is still on the cross (Rom 6:9) or that any other event of the past is still happening if the Scripture declares it finished, otherwise truth loses all objectivity.

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  32. You guys obviously type faster then I do. Smile
    Just a couple thoughts, Robert. God creating time is a given for me, knowing the God created everything and time is relative. And I think most all Open Theists would agree. Now, process theology is a whole other ballgame, that I don’t know much about, so won’t go there. However, it does not necessarily follow that God does not choose to work inside the confines of time when relating to humans. We know that the Spirit works in people, on a moment by moment basis.
    BTW, I’m not a Baptist and I’m kind of ambivalent about baptism. When you’ve been told you whole life that Baptism is merely an outward sign of an inward reality, it tends to stick. I’m also pretty accommodating of people with other views then mine, although I may have a grudge against Calvin!

    “ I do believe that if you look at all of these statements they are all from an in time perspective, when God acts or talks with us in time, he talks from an in time perspective which is like ours. He tells people they have a choice, between obeying or disobeying, he then talks about his response to what they chose to do later in the same narrative.”
    Which is kind of my point. Every time God gives an “if, then” statement He is talking like an open theist. There is no “if” for a God operating outside of time. God is portrayed as being in time throughout the OT, even sometimes in physical manifestations. Now, of course, God can be both inside time and outside, but it gets a little convoluted, when God expresses emotions like anger, when, according to everyone in the traditional view, He already knew exactly how his people would disobey them before they did. I know, Calvin says God is just mumbling like a baby so we can understand, but that is imposing something on the text that isn’t there. And of course, if God is operating outside time, creation, the crucifixion and the antichrist are all happening at once for Him. It creates an impression of a God who is just watching from the outside instead of actively being involved with people on a moment by moment basis.
    Since I have been reading about church history (and not just as told by open theists) I have been surprised at how soon and how often the influence of the greek culture of the day is mentioned as a major factor. How can we deny that Aristotle and Plato had a major impact on Christian thinkers down through the centuries when we can see it in their writings? God as unmoved mover is not the passionate, interactive God of scripture. So, until God show me different, I’m keeping an open mind on these ideas. (pun intended) Although, I think the term “open theist” is misguided. When people first see it, it’s kind of like reading “open marriage” and they wonder if it means that anything goes…
    I don’t see how any of this takes about from God’s transcendence or sovereignty. It’s just one explanation of how He expresses those facets of Himself.
    Micheal asked:
    “But how is it God can speak with Godly certainty and say SO SHALL MY WORD BE THAT GOES OUT FROM MY MOUTH, IT SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME EMPTY, BUT IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PURPOSE, AND SHALL SUCCEED IN THE THING FOR WHICH I SENT IT?”

    Because He’s God and He will accomplish what He purposes one way or another. All without forcing His creations against their wills. One note, though. I don’t think we should take everything Job said as totally correct. Job was wrong about a lot of stuff, that’s why God had to set him straight. In fact, God basically tells him that he doesn’t have a clue how God really runs things.
    Take this comment: Job 31:3 “Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity?” Well, not always. Quite often, calamity falls upon the righteous and disaster also. No matter what our systematic theology is, we are pretty much all just guessing about a lot of this stuff.

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    1. wildswanderer

      //God basically tells him that he doesn’t have a clue how God really runs things//

      Yep, that’s the understatement of the century! Glad you arrived! 🙂

      I come back to Ecclesiastes 3:11 and Ephesians 3:8. Because God has left us in the dark so to speak, we are, for sanity’s sake, people of Faith and we live by this Faith once delivered to the Saints.

      God brings us to “know” God in such a personal way we come to the conclusion that we just cannot know God the way He knows. Jesus goes so far as to tell us we would not know Him unless God the Father reveals Him to us. And we would not know God the Father unless Jesus reveals Him to us. AND guess what? It’s the Holy Spirit who does the revealing to us! Hmmmmmm!!!

      God puts eternity in our hearts for a purpose. I believe as I just said the purpose is so the Righteous in this fallen wicked ruled world will live by Faith and nothing else thus separating us and distinguishing us from the children of the world. God has revealed to us true Preachers and Teachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom the unsearchable nature of the One He wants us to preach and teach about, the Lord Jesus Christ.

      As for your church history, I too was musing sometime back at how some went with Aristotle and some with Plato. If you remember Alexander the Great was personally taught by Aristotle who was a friend of King Philip of Macedon, Alexander’s father. That accounts for the Greek influences in the whole world at that time and why we have the Hellenists and the Bible was written in Greek., the LXX.

      Another thing about what Robert was touching on that you mention is the fact that God spoke to Jeremiah that Israel was going into captivity for seventy years. Daniel, one day was reading Jeremiah and realized, [my loose paraphrase], “hey, it’s been seventy years God, hows about getting us back to the Promise Land?” Also Isaiah is given a numerical prophecy too to give to King Ahaz and it apparently wasn’t nearly as significant as Jeremiah’s but nevertheless it was a similar numerical prophecy in that God told Isaiah to tell the King of Judah this:::>

      Isa 7:3 And the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field.
      Isa 7:4 And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.
      Isa 7:5 Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying,
      Isa 7:6 “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,”
      Isa 7:7 thus says the Lord GOD: “‘It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.
      Isa 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.

      There is also the story of “an unnamed man of God” who cries out this:::>

      1Ki 13:1 And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings.
      1Ki 13:2 And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.'”

      Then later on in 2 Kings we read about Josiah:::>

      2Ki 21:24 But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon, and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place.

      And

      2Ki 23:15 Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah.
      2Ki 23:16 And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.
      2Ki 23:17 Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.”
      2Ki 23:18 And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.

      In all these events we God “in-time” actively working with His people.

      michael

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    2. Wildswanderer,

      I have to share a story since you mention our typing speed. I took typing in high school. I typed 80 words per minute which according to the standards of the class was a “D”. It was the worst grade that I have ever received in my life, and yet in one sense it was the “best grade” I ever got. While much of what I learned in high school has not continued to be useful in real life after high school. Learning to type was a skill that I have used ever since then. So my worst grade was also one of the most useful and practical skills that I ever learned. I share that story sometimes with students to say that at times grades are relative, it is not the grade you receive but the skill that you develop that really counts.

      “it does not necessarily follow that God does not choose to work to work inside the confines of time when relating to humans”

      Yes, and that is why I have been saying that when God relates to us he does so with what I call an “in time” perspective.

      “God is portrayed as being in time throughout the OT”

      And if he is relating to us and WE operate from an in time perspective, then this is to be expected, right? Or to use another illustration/analogy, if God’s native language is German, and your native language is English, then when God chooses to interact with you, will he speak to you in German or English if he intends to interact with you in a personal way and in a way that you understand? He will speak in English to you. If you then recorded these conversations so that others could also understand and gain from your interactions (assuming the others are also native English speakers like you). Wouldn’t you for the most part portray your conversations in English? God does not normally speak in eternity/German to us as we as native in time/English speakers don’t understand the language of eternity.

      “It creates an impression of a God who is just watching from the outside instead of actively being involved with people on a moment by moment”

      Actually it **is** both, theologians have used two words/concepts to convey this truth. God is transcendent, that refers to him being outside the creation, being separate from the creation, also designated by the word “holy”. God is also immanent which means intimately involved with his creation. We get in trouble if we over emphasize one over the other, if we think or talk as if he is only one and not the other, when in fact he is BOTH simultaneoulsy. That is why I say that you need to check church history, people have talked about and believed that God is personally and intimately involved (i.e. immanent) for all of church history. The open theists are not the first to claim that he is immanent.

      You brought up Greek thinking. In Greek thinking God if he existed was a far distant deity who really did not care of become personally involved in the lives of peple (i.e. they overemphasized transcendence, hardly having room for immanence). But that is not biblical and that is not what the church has believed. Open theists have tried to portray the church as under the influence of Greek thought, but this charge is way exaggerated. It is yet another attack on the traditonal view of omniscience.

      Using Aquinas as an example again, he held to both transcendence and immanence strongly and simultaeoulsy (and he is the most influential theologian in the Catholic tradition). You also mentioned this concept of God as the unmoved mover (that is Aristotle by the way) “is not the passionate, interactive God of scripture.” That is why some have made a distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of the Bible.

      But again using Aquinas as an example, Aquinias used many of the concepts of Aristotle and yet when Aquinas spoke of creation he spoke of God gently and lovingly bringing the creation into existence and his analogy for this work was that God was acting like an artist! An artist who lovingly and gently brings the creation into existence is far different than an “unmoved mover”. My wife is very artistic and she is not at all an “unmoved mover” but just like God and artist who lovingly and gently brings things into existence (in her case already existig materials, not creating out of nothing!). One of the reasons I love art is that it is a huma reflection of the divine nature, again not an “unmoved mover.” And the artists that I know, and I know a few, are not at all lacking passion!

      “All without forcing his creations against their wills”

      Here is a good time to bring up a beautiful concept from Aquinas and other Catholic theologians: the noncompetitive transcendence of God. Fancy words I know, but helpful, what does it mean?

      If you look at other creation stories in other cultures. The gods violently bring things into being, they aggressively mold and remake ALREADY EXISTING MATERIALS. In other cultures the god is in competition with his creation and also viewed as another being among competing beings all competing for the same metaphysical space! In these other views there is this constant struggle between the god and what he created. And in these other views creation is not exnihilo (out of nothing, there is always some preexisting substance or thing that God remakes to form the “creation”). Contrast this with the Bible.

      According to the Bible God has no needs (the three persons in the trinity love each other with a perfect love so God does not need to create the univese to experience love and personality). The God of the Bible brings everything into existence in a noncompetitive and nonaggressive way (he speaks it into existence) there is nothing to be overcome as he brings it into existence. And as he is transcendent and separate from his creation he is not merely another being competing with other beings for metaphysical space: instead he is holy, separate from the beings that make up the universe, and he sustains the entire universe in its existence so he is immanently present and related to all beings. Just as he gently and lovingly brought it into existence he maintains it in existence.

      This is all completley different from the pagan conceptions of God and his creation. It is appropriately designated the noncompetivie transcendence of God. God is not just a bigger version of us with our limitations, competing with us to dominate and control us (that is pagan Greek thinking again, think of the gods like Zeus who are very emotional and very intense and very aggressive towards humans constantly figthting and battling humans. Wildswander apparently you have been suckered into believing that the open theists alone advocate the immanence of God: not true at all, and ignoring what the greatest minds in church history including people like Aquinas said. The open theists have been very active at presenting a false and revisionist history of the church.

      They want people to be duped into believing that the traditional church believed merely in the god of the philosophers, a god unmoved by what is happening with humans in the creation, an unmoved mover, a distant god more like the god of the deists who just created the world and now leaves it alone watching at a far distance but uninvolved with the creation. But that is not the conception of God that Aquinas and others in church history have held or promoted. The God who operates as an artist and is noncompetively transcendent is the God of Aquinas and I maintain the God of scripture that we all love and trust and delight in.

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  33. Well, when you consider how many of the theologians of the past were basically determinists, God as “unmoved mover” is pretty accurate, I think.
    I actually see God as an Author and Artist, probably because I love to write and I love art. But, I believe He is an Author who lets us write some of the script.
    Taking a big picture view, I can see God as having a rough outline of what human history will look, but not writing in personal narratives.
    I see Him and working on a person by person basis to bring as many as possible to a loving relationship with Him, not through coercion but through gentle persuasion.
    Does He sometimes use extreme measures? Yes, He is a being of emotion and passion and in that way, like us, although He is also totally other then us.
    The clearest picture we have of Him is Jesus. And His willingness to become us to know us better informs my overall view of God.

    Appreciate the verses, Micheal, although if they are there to combat OT, I think you might need to brush up on what the Open Theists really say.
    blessings to all….

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    1. WILDSWANDERER

      I used various verses to illustrate both the passibility and impassibility of God. To which were you referring?

      thanks
      michael

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    2. wildswanderer writes, “I believe He is an Author who lets us write some of the script.”

      That misunderstands the issue. Everyone agrees that God let’s people write some of the script – people are not robots under any theological system.

      One issue is whether God knows beforehand how a person writes his personal script. If God knows the future – the Calvinist system is affirmed – that creates problems causing some to run to Open Theism to resolve.

      Another issue is God’s sovereignty. If God is sovereign, then a person writes his script within the confines of God’s will – thus no one is autonomous and free of God. This causes problems for some people who want man to be autonomous.

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    3. Hey Brother WW!

      Have you ever done some thinking on why Calvinists hold that the knowledge of God, like definitions about His omniscience, must be derived from philosophy instead of the normal reading of Scripture? They end up required to make Scriptural truth an accommodation to man’s inability to know anything “truly” as God knows it. Or as reformed theology teaches, only God knows things univocally, and man can only know thing analogically. They make, in my view, God’s transcendence disconnected from His immanence, with God’s thoughts not just infinitely more, but also totally different.

      But it’s funny to me how these “brilliant” theologians are able to understand and define things that God just wasn’t able, or at least not willing, to explain clearly in Scriptures. The Scripturs even give an almost false sounding view of His nature, they would have to admit, using so many anthropomorphisms that they have cleverly recognized, that the original readers would have misunderstood. I truly believe this undermining of the meaning of the “inspiration of Scripture” and of the perspicuity of Scripture is one of the most harmful aspects of Calvinism. Any thoughts?

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV)……
    Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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    1. Hey Philip! That is one of my favorite passages. In my view, it is Jesus’s teaching on the bare minimum content needed in the heart and mind of one praying a sinner’s prayer in order to receive salvation!

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      1. Brian.

        Agreed.

        However, I also thought that portion of scripture kind of described this particular thread. Here you have one person boasting about his beliefs and pointing out his accomplishments. “I believe this….. I have done that”, while at the same time putting down the other.

        And then there was the other person who wouldn’t allow his anger and frustration get the best of him.

        One displayed arrogance. The other showed humility.

        God bless, brother.

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      2. Oh… I hadn’t considered that application. Definitely it seems there are still a number of “Pharisees” on this site and not enough humility and concern for the other guy! I like using 2Tim 2:22-26 for that kind of encouragement. All the best, my friend

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