Why Calvinists Cannot have Assurance

The Assurance of Salvation: And why a consistent Calvinist can’t have it.

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I grew up as a church brat. I could literally quote John 3:16 before I could spell my first name. Asking me when did I come to know that Jesus was Lord would have been like asking me when did you come to know your mom was your mom. I grew up believing in and following the ways of the Lord. I put my faith in Christ at young age and have remained an active part of the church my entire life.

As a teenager, I often remember one of those former gang banging drug dealers turned evangelist coming through town with their rags to riches testimony and inspiring story of God’s redemption. While I sincerely appreciated hearing what God had done in their lives, sometimes it left me feeling a bit uncertain about my own salvation experience. This was especially true when they would end their messages with the often-used question, “Do you know that you know that you know that if you died tonight you spend eternity with Jesus?”

I thought I knew until I compared my little ol’ boring testimony to his and he added that extra “you know that you know” in there. I simply was not sure “I knew that I knew”…whatever that means.

I struggled with doubt early in my journey. My assurance seemed to wane as the experience of making that decision faded from my memory. I remember praying the “sinner’s prayer” several times throughout my life to make sure it stuck.

Doubting salvation is a point with which many Christian’s struggle. I discussed the common question of one losing their salvation and the doubt that surrounds such issues HERE IN ANOTHER ARTICLE. 

We must understand that our assurance ultimately rests on three main factors:

  1. The Sincerity of your Commitment
  2. The Genuineness of your Experiences
  3. The Trustworthiness of God

If anyone of these factors is missing then assurance is not possible, not really. You must believe that your commitment to the Lord was sincere. Sure, you may have been relatively ignorant of doctrine, or confused about all the nuances of what it means to be a disciple, but you must know that you meant it when you committed your life to following Jesus. If deep down you know you said a prayer, walked an aisle or got baptized for some reason other than a sincere commitment to Christ, then you will never find the assurance you long for. Your faith must rest on Christ and his righteousness alone for your salvation.

Secondly, you cannot have real assurance if all you have to base your relationship on is the first experience. Imagine the wedding ceremony being the only experience on which to base the assurance of my relationship with Laura, my wife of 18 years. I can prove I’m married not merely by pointing back to the ceremony, but more importantly to my relationship with her today and all the thousands of genuine experiences that mark our lives together. The same must be true in a relationship with your Savior. It’s not just about what happened when you made that first confession, but it is about all that God has done in your life since that time.

Finally, and most importantly, you must believe the One in whom you have put your faith is trustworthy. Will He keep His promises? If the last of these factors is undermined then the other two crumble apart as well. After all, what good is a commitment to someone you cannot trust? And how can you believe the experiences are genuine if the person with whom you are sharing those experiences proves to be disingenuous?

This final point is why I believe Calvinism cannot logically bring assurance to those who are consistent within it’s systematic. I do not mean to offend anyone in bringing this charge, because it is not meant to be personal. It is a purely logical argument based upon the reality inherent within the deterministic framework.

Please allow me to explain:

  • Even Calvinists affirm that there are people who sincerely believe they will be saved, but in reality are self-deceived. For instance, John Piper, speaking of the Calvinistic systematic, writes:

“You can embrace a system of theology and not even be born again.”

  • In a worldview where God determines whatsoever comes to pass, as the Calvinistic scholars affirm, it must be said that those who are self-deceived are such ultimately because God has so determined it.
  • If you happen to be one of the individuals who God has destined to remain in self-deception, falsely believing that you are saved when in actuality you are not, then you could not know this fact until after you were condemned.

Because the Calvinistic system affirms that God is willing to unchangeably decree and use self-deceived individuals to be objects of divine wrath in order to bring Himself more glory, it is impossible for any consistent Calvinist to be certain that he or she is not one chosen for this ignoble purpose. 

Believing that you have committed yourself to Christ and have had experiences with him in relationship means nothing if He is not trustworthy toward humanity in general. And because He is proven to be able and willing to decree for others to sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not, there can be no assurance He is not doing the same with you. There is no way for a consistent Calvinist to know if he has been chosen for self-deception or true salvation.

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97 thoughts on “Why Calvinists Cannot have Assurance

  1. Excellent, Leighton! That is why I have found a tendency of those with testimonies like yours (and mine) tend not to be Calvinist, and those “miraculously” converted from an obstinate life of sin, tend to be Calvinist. But your argument against the possibility for certainty in assurance in Calvinist theology is sound!

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  2. The assurance of the Calvinist ultimately rests on three main factors:

    1. The Trustworthiness of God
    2. The Trustworthiness of God
    3. The Trustworthiness of God

    “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
    “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
    “…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,…’
    “…God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
    “…it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
    “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
    “…this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.’
    “…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
    “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.”
    “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
    “…Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
    “…Christ is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
    “…if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

    On and on we could go. Anyone, not just Calvinists, can have assurance of salvation simply because God is faithful.

    The Scriptures speak of one group of people who believe they are saved and are not – “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Such people trust in their works, the things that they do in hope of salvation. The one who truly believes stands before God and says, “…by grace I have been saved…”

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  3. Logically, it does seem like Calvinism teaches that God deceives people into thinking they are Christians, and if God himself is giving a deceiving witness to someone unsaved that they are saved, how can we consider that God to be trustworthy?

    I’m a little worried at the emphasis in your article at finding our security in the firmness of our own commitment or the feelings of our own experience. In my experience, our own feelings and our own commitment can often fail us. I would not teach people to trust in those things. Our commitment can end up being self-works and self effort. And our feelings don’t always match up with what God’s word promises to us. These are things I see as actually a source of the struggle with doubt for many believers, because they are always inward looking and trying to measure their feelings, instead of simply agreeing with God’s Word. Also many times people won’t make a commitment, or feel like they can’t make a complete commitment, just because they are not trusting in the grace of God, and are instead looking to themselves, and that keeps them from coming to Christ (as if they have to provide anything but helpless trust). The “Yes” God requires of us, in not to provide our own righteousness or even our own commitment (which would be a works salvation) but rather the “Yes” of trust for Christ to do it all.

    I would teach people that they can have present assurance now by knowing they have trusted in Christ, and that is all Scripture requires of us, because Christ said “apart from Me you can do nothing.” If you give the person the Scripture “if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord and Savior,” then continue to stand exactly by that promise. It’s that simple. What a Calvinist has to do, if someone falls away, is say they can judge the person’s heart that they never “believed.” Then, logically, how can they know if they “believe” good enough either? Thus a Calvinist arguing that a person can “look” saved and not be, is undermining their own confidence in the grace of God. If the Scripture that says when we believe we are saved is true, then anyone that falls away and stops believing, still had been saved in the past while they believed, but now no longer believes, so the Scripture no longer applies. Otherwise God’s Word is simply not true.

    And that cuts both ways for Arminians that believe in Eternal Security. Because we see people who say “I genuinely believed in Christ” and we see the Scripture that says “he who believes shall be saved,” but we want to keep the sacred calf of our Eternal Security doctrine and we end up saying people were lying about their testimony, or we end up saying people can deny Christ and not believe, yet still be saved. Both of these things are false—for if others were deceived, then we might be deceived about our faith as well, and nowhere does God promise salvation to an unbeliever but rather gives us severe warnings about departing from the faith. Thus I think it’s better to say that people can truly fall away, because that is really the only doctrine that gives us absolute security, ironically; because it honors Scripture, logic and personal experience.

    God’s Word promises Eternal Security to the believer, and the believer alone. Just keep believing, and you are eternally secure. But let us never preach that an unbeliever is secure, for the Word of God condemns this on all accounts.

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    1. Good morning Dizerner! “Just say yes” or “Just keep believing” sound like commitments of faith to me. This issue of assurance turns, as Leighton pointed out, not just on what we did, or keep doing in regards to trust, but also God’s response.

      As you and I have discussed, both of us believe God will make it impossible to stop trusting Him, you, after our resurrection, and me, after our regeneration. Both of us also believe the remedy for someone who one professed salvation but now denies the faith is the same, to be saved they must be born again.

      I agree with you whole heartedly that it is a dangerous doctrine to guarantee an apostate salvation because of a previous decision. But I also think it’s harmful not deny the reality of the promises to be kept saved by the power of God, or that everlasting life is everlasting life, or to deny that a child of God can stop being loved as a child of God because they can actually stop being a child of God, denying the reality of regeneration.

      We can’t lose it after resurrection, even though we retain free will to some extent, and we can’t lose it after regeneration, even though we retain free will to some extent. I hope this helps.

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      1. I’ve found two types of people, ones that are fearful of losing their salvation, and ones that are overconfident that no sin they do really matters in the area of salvation. I tend to want to believe the sin that leads to death is unbelief, but there may be a sin that so overruns God’s grace and is so heinous that it will not be forgiven—it’s not that no degree of sin wasn’t paid for by Christ, but that we can’t “crucify Christ a second time,” which to me means, if we truly have the grace to not do a heinous sin, yet override that grace, I think we literally cannot maintain faith in that situation. Theoretically, no sin can separate us on account of it being unpaid for by Christ, but in reality sin that overrides sufficient grace (Judas) can leave us with the inability to have faith in grace anymore. So I would say fearful believers that think every sin makes them lose salvation need to understand grace better, and hardened, stubborn believers need a dose of the fear of God, a truth that can get lost in the cracks of the modern “pamper-me” church age.

        I’ve heard these two arguments before—everlasting life, by virtue of it’s definition, must mean it lasts forever, and heaven has no ability to apostatize. Frankly, I find them very unconvincing. “Everlasting” in the biblical context is spoken of as an attribute of something we can gain or lose. Before we are saved we will have “everlasting” condemnation until we get saved. So the quality of the thing is applied to the age to come, and not to this current physical existence. Galatians specifically says it’s by “sowing to the Spirit” that we will in the end “reap everlasting life.” And considering the massive biblical evidence for true apostasy, I don’t think we can assume that “everlasting” (and I’m sure you know the Greek ainion behind that) means within it’s definition an inability to ever be lost. Our faith is what is linked to our attachment to the Vine, and thus our everlasting life in Christ. Only by virtue of that union is that life there, because what makes the quality of the life everlasting is in Christ, not in us. The second argument, that because heaven does not have the ability to reject God in it, thus in the here and now, we can assume this same condition (an inability to reject God) would be nice for me to believe, if it matched up with the Word of God. There simply is no indication that this physical life ever reaches a point where we no longer have a choice.

        I think fear is the main thing that drives people to this doctrine of Eternal Security, and we should not build a doctrine based on emotion. If God says we can do what needs to be done for salvation, then we have no excuse to give in to that fear, and we can instead believe what Scriptures really tell us. He who endures to the end, will be saved. I certainly don’t want anyone’s blood on my hands who could say “But you taught I’d be saved no matter what choices I made in life,” and teachers will receive a more severe judgment. So I’ll err on the side of caution, rather than trying to bend all those Scriptures that warn us not to depart from the faith.

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    2. Dizerner writes, “Logically, it does seem like Calvinism teaches that God deceives people into thinking they are Christians…”

      Logically?? What logic?

      The Scriptures tell us who deceives whom–

      “…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

      “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.”

      “…sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me,…”

      “…I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned….such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

      “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.”

      “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…”

      “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

      ” I tell you this so that no-one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”

      “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

      “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

      “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

      Calvinism teaches all the above. Your logic only seems to deceive you. Throw it away and start reading the Bible – when you have a firm grasp on the Scriptures, you can take on Calvinism.

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      1. Err. I agree with all those scriptures, but Calvinism doesn’t. Calvinism teaches Divine determinism—God decrees all that happens. And Calvinists throughout the ages have admitted this.

        John Calvin writes:
        Calvin adds: “Yet sometimes he also causes those whom he illumines only for a time to partake of it; then he justly forsakes them on account of their ungratefulness and strikes them with even greater blindness.” (Institutes of Christian Religion, 3.24.8)

        But I do not see that this is any reason why He should not touch the reprobate with a taste of His grace, or illumine their minds with some glimmerings of His light, or affect them with some sense of His goodness, or to some extent engrave His Word in their hearts.
        (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Hebrews and I and II Peter, p.76)

        And people rightly observe:

        “For every person who has ever followed Jesus and then forsaken his name, we have to conclude that God ordained that said person would be eternally damned, but on their way to being damned, God ordains the illusion of redemption in Christ, in that they would come to know Jesus, exhibit kingdom fruit, and then apostatize, all for the sake of divine glory.”

        “Because God has pre-ordained this, there is nothing any apparently saved person can do. God has ordained the illusion! Of course, this brings up another question: Why is the God (who is Himself truth) ordaining such an illusion? How can God be truthful if He unconditionally pre-ordains illusions? And what kind of God could or would ordain such an illusion for the sake of His glory?”

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      2. Dizerner writes, “Err. I agree with all those scriptures, but Calvinism doesn’t. Calvinism teaches Divine determinism—God decrees all that happens.”

        Calvinism teaches that God is sovereign. Whether Calvin got it right in the quotes you cite is debatable. Regardless, that which we know today as “Calvinism” has been refined in the years since Calvin first proposed his systematic theology particularly by the puritan writers like Owen and Edwards. The focus is, and always has been, on sovereignty – if you don’t like “Calvinism” you have to water down sovereignty – which is what you are doing in the final two citations you approvingly included.

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      3. You’re simply changing what sovereignty means to fit Calvinism. Many of us feel sovereign doesn’t mean meticulous determinism, but instead ultimate power and authority. Arminianism is all about sovereignty—God being completely sovereign—where sovereignty does not mean meticulous determinism.

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      4. So, the question is whether sovereignty, properly defined, coveys to God the power of meticulous determinism? You define sovereignty as “ultimate power and authority” and thereby say that it does not convey to God the power of meticulous determinism. Is sovereignty “ultimate” power or “absolute” power or do the two words really mean the same thing so that you do not know what you are talking about?

        On the Calvinist side, Arthur Pink describes sovereignty this way:

        “To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan 4:35).

        To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa 115:3).

        To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “the governor among the nations” (Psa 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1Ti 6:15).

        – The sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, and infinite. When we say that God is sovereign we affirm His right to govern the universe which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases. We affirm that His right is the right of the potter over the clay, i.e., that He may mold that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. We affirm that He is under no rule or law outside of His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any.”

        What is your definition (or whose definition did you read that really impressed you)?

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      5. Well, I think Calvinists do a very weird thing with the word Sovereignty. I would define God’s sovereignty to mean he can do anything he wants. Calvinists define God sovereignty to mean God has to rule exactly a certain way and has no choice in the matter. Thus, in their seeming exaltation of the “freedom of God,” their definitions take away God’s freedom. God could be meticulously determining; no one argues that he couldn’t if he wanted to. The question becomes, could God be sovereign and not determining? Calvinists say “no!” and by saying no they ironically limit God and reduce his sovereignty. Sovereignty means God can rule any way he wants too—any way! And God is sovereign enough to allow freedom, why wouldn’t he be? I wouldn’t mind so much if Calvinists just said “God didn’t allow any autonomy” but they go so far as to say “God can’t allow autonomy and remain sovereign!” And to me, that makes God less than sovereign. God bless.

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      6. Dizerner writes, “I would define God’s sovereignty to mean he can do anything he wants. Calvinists define God sovereignty to mean God has to rule exactly a certain way and has no choice in the matter.”

        Actually, Calvinists define sovereignty exactly as you do, “God can do anything He wants.” Where did you get the false notion that Calvinists say that “God has to rule exactly a certain way and has no choice in the matter”? Don’t we all agree that God has the ultimate “free” will and can do whatever He wants?

        Dizerner writes, “God is sovereign enough to allow freedom…”

        So, what is the conflict here. Even Calvinists agree to this. God allows people the freedom to sin when He could intervene and prevent any person from ever committing sin. God is always present with everybody, as He was present in the garden with Adam and Eve, watching everything that is happening. God could have stopped Adam and Eve form sinning but He stood by and allowed them freedom to sin.

        However, God cannot give people autonomy – freedom from His rule – and allow them to be a law unto themselves. People are always subject to God’s laws even when God grants people freedom to disobey His laws.

        Dizerner writes, “God could be meticulously determining; no one argues that he couldn’t if he wanted to. The question becomes, could God be sovereign and not determining? Calvinists say “no!””

        So, you agree that God can be meticulously determining. It is sovereignty that makes this possible.

        You ask a good question, “could God be sovereign and not determining?” How can a Sovereign God not be determining – after all, God always has the final say in everything that happens – it is God, therefore, who necessarily determines all that happens.

        How can you answer “Yes,” to your question? I don’t think you can without voiding sovereignty.

        It is obvious that you have an immature understanding of sovereignty, in general, and certainly as the Calvinists understand it. Where are you getting all these goofy ideas?

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      7. To me, and I mean no disrespect, you are the one being goofy, because you contradicted yourself twice in your own post.

        First you say:
        However, God cannot give people autonomy – freedom

        Then in the next sentence you say:
        even when God grants people freedom to disobey

        Yea, if I argue both sides of a debate, I can always win to. Lol. Look, either people HAVE freedom or the DON’T. It can’t be both.

        First you said:
        Calvinists define sovereignty exactly as you do, “God can do anything He wants.”

        Then you say:
        How can you answer “Yes”? I don’t think you can without voiding sovereignty.

        Uh, you just said there’s something God cannot do if he wanted, while saying you believe that God can do what he wants. Goofy much?

        God can do ANYTHING he wants. NOTHING voids his sovereignty if it’s his choice. There is no way to “void” sovereignty, that’s what sovereignty means, God can delegate some of his sovereignty to creatures without “voiding” his sovereignty, because God IS sovereign. Because a parent is “sovereign” over his child, hypothetically, the parent could let the child drive his car and spend all his money; a king has the RIGHT to give up his throne for a day, if he wants to, BECAUSE he is sovereign. So free autonomy is not somehow incompatible with real sovereignty.

        You say:
        It is obvious that you have an immature understanding of sovereignty… as the Calvinists understand it

        Of course I can never “understand” Calvinists’ definition of soveriegnty they’re full of doublespeak and sophistry and don’t stick to clarity and consistency. That’s not my fault, and certainly not indicative of an “immature” view of sovereignty, whatever that might mean.

        God bless.

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      8. Dizerner writes, “Look, either people HAVE freedom or the DON’T. It can’t be both.”

        The issue then is what you mean by freedom. Do you have a child’s understanding of freedom or something more? A dog allowed to run around in a fenced yard id free to do anything it wants in that yard but it has no freedom to go outside the yard. If food is placed outside the yard, the dog will desire that food but will not be free to have that food.

        As God is sovereign, people are free to act within the constraints imposed on them by God. When God protected Israel, others countries were free to harass each other but could not harm Israel (now consider that Satan seeks those he might destroy but can only do so within the boundaries set by God). Thus, under God’s sovereignty, people are free to act as God allows and not free to act as they might want if unrestrained. Autonomy conveys the idea that man is a law unto himself – not just free to act – free to set his own boundaries. If you accept the idea that people are free only to the extent that God grants them freedom to act, then you agree with Calvinism. God is autonomous and man is not. Only one entity, God or man, can be autonomous at the same time. Whoever is autonomous is sovereign.

        Dizerner writes, “you just said there’s something God cannot do if he wanted, while saying you believe that God can do what he wants.”

        The issue is whether God can be sovereign and not determine all things all things (is it necessarily so that sovereignty requires the sovereign to decide all things). Either God is sovereign and determines all things or God is not sovereign and does not determine all things. Do you have an example of something that a sovereign God does not determine (where we understand that determine does not mean cause because that is not at issue). If you accurately understand sovereignty (which does not appear to be the case considering your confusion with autonomy) I do not see any way for you to conclude that God does not determine all things. Even the Scriptures tell us, “God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

        So, take your shot at this – what do you see a sovereign God not determining?

        Dizerner writes, “I can never “understand” Calvinists’ definition of soveriegnty they’re full of doublespeak and sophistry and don’t stick to clarity and consistency.”

        That is the type of comment a person will make when they are pretty much ignorant of Calvinism. That would explain the goofy things you say about Calvinism. So, where do you dig up this goofy stuff about Calvinism since it seems obvious that you don’t read the Calvinist writers? If you actually want to understand Calvinism, read some RC Sproul.

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      9. I don’t know where you are getting the idea that anywhere I said man has “no limits” to his autonomy. Autonomy doesn’t mean “no limits” anywhere in it’s definition—to use your words, that’s goofy. Even if ALL autonomy is, is the choice between one option A and one option B, no matter how small the choice is, it is autonomous if God does not manipulate or control in any way the choice for A or B.

        Ironically, I think you are the one misunderstanding Calvinism here, because I think a lot of Calvinists would disagree with certain things you say. But I don’t think it’s fair to say I don’t understand Calvinism when they seem unable to even be consistent so many times. If that’s what you want to think, I guess I can’t convince you otherwise, but know that I’ve spent years and thousands of hours trying to understand Calvinism, including both reading their material and listening to their sermons.

        you say:
        So, take your shot at this – what do you see a sovereign God not determining?

        THE FREE CHOICE OF PEOPLE. That should be clear by now. Yes, autonomy is within limits, but within those limits God does not deterministically control the free choices of people.

        you say:
        Either God is sovereign and determines all things or God is not sovereign and does not determine all things.

        Well, I think you’re begging the question by simply insisting that sovereignty has to mean determinism and that freedom doesn’t have to mean free of control. If I define “Calvinism” as “Arminianism” then I become a Calvinist. Why would a determinist ever use the term “free will” except to be deceptive? Why wouldn’t you admit that people other than you define sovereignty differently? You can’t win an argument by just redefining all the words to fit what you already believe.

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      10. Dizerner writes, “Even if ALL autonomy is, is the choice between one option A and one option B, no matter how small the choice is, it is autonomous if God does not manipulate or control in any way the choice for A or B.”

        “Autonomy” is not another word for freedom; it does not identify the basic ability to choose. A person may have freedom of choice and not be autonomous. If a person is autonomous, then the person is the source of his freedom.

        You say “manipulate or control” as if they are the same. Just as “determine” does not mean “cause,” so “control” does not mean “manipulate.” God determines all things and controls all things but God does not cause or manipulate all things (He can, though, if He wants). God gives people freedom to choose within the constraints of His will. Thus James writes, “you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” By this James is telling us that God is sovereign and has the final say on what we will do – we are not autonomous; we are not able to choose independent of God. Again, form Ephesians, “God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” You rightly ignore the Scriptures in your arguments because the Scriptures do not support your arguments.

        Dizerner writes, “…know that I’ve spent years and thousands of hours trying to understand Calvinism, including both reading their material and listening to their sermons.”

        Apparently, you want Calvinism to mean something it doesn’t; otherwise years of study would not be necessary. Basic concepts about Calvinism still escape you.

        Dizerner writes, “you say:
        So, take your shot at this – what do you see a sovereign God not determining?

        THE FREE CHOICE OF PEOPLE. That should be clear by now. Yes, autonomy is within limits, but within those limits God does not deterministically control the free choices of people. ”

        God determines that people are free to choice and God determines their choices – God has the final say on what a person chooses. As Ephesians and James tell us, nothing happens that is contrary to God’s will – God does deterministically control the free choices of people (which is not the same as saying that God causes and manipulates the free choices of people). If it is true that you have “spent years and thousands of hours trying to understand Calvinism,” you should have been able to identify this difference even if you don’t like it.

        Dizerner writes, “Why wouldn’t you admit that people other than you define sovereignty differently?”

        That’s my claim – and the problem. Sovereignty has only one true definition; Calvinists use that definition and others change the definition but still want to call it sovereignty. Given that you seem to understand that people define sovereignty differently, do you understand that some are using an incorrect definition of sovereignty? So, the primary issue here is to define sovereignty – and you have refused, or are unable, to do so. Given that you don’t seem to know the true definition of sovereignty – especially as it applies to God – it is not surprising that your understanding of Calvinism is deficient leading to your false understanding of Calvinism.

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      11. Isn’t the issue Roger, whose definition of sovereignty best reflects the meaning of that word as presented by the truth of Scripture? No-one group or person holds authority over how words should be defined. Definitions must be held accountable to Scriptures!

        No verse in Scripture states that God predetermined all things… even His and man’s choices forever before creation. To dogmatically make that a part of the definition of divine sovereignty is unsound and unwise.

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      12. brianwagner writes, “Isn’t the issue Roger, whose definition of sovereignty best reflects the meaning of that word as presented by the truth of Scripture?”

        Of course. That is why appeal to the Scriptures is so important. So far, this is dizerner’s downfall. He has been unable to craft a definition of sovereignty that reflects that which the Scriptures tell us, but he wants to reject a Calvinist definition that relies on the Scriptures. Dizerner has been unable to point to any failure of the Calvinists to properly understand God’s sovereignty (here, I quoted Pink as one who has defined sovereignty as a Calvinist and dizerner avoided dealing with it – what else could he do?) and thereby show that sovereignty must mean something other than as Calvinist define it.

        brianwagner writes, “No verse in Scripture states that God predetermined all things… even His and man’s choices forever before creation. To dogmatically make that a part of the definition of divine sovereignty is unsound and unwise.”

        That God determines all things is not part of the definition of sovereignty; determinism is a consequence of sovereignty. Sovereignty reflects God’s attributes – that He is omnipotent, omniscient (or in your case, that His understanding is infinite), all-wise, omnipresent, etc. That God is sovereign says that He has His say in everything that happens and He has the final say in all that happens so that everything that happens is necessarily according to His will – thus the statements by Paul in Ephesians and by James. God’s decisions reflect His infinite understanding of current and future impacts of any decisions He makes – so God can decide that Satan should enter the garden to deceive Eve and at the same time, decide that He would impregnate Mary and that Christ would die on the cross for the sins of His elect as these become necessary because of Adam and Eve’s sin and God’s purpose for His elect.

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      13. Always a nice try, Roger. But the consequences of your definition of divine sovereignty is certainly a necessary part of understanding the definition itself. If sovereignty means good must predetermine all if His and man’s choices forever before creation, than it becomes definition that colors the understanding of Scriptures away from the normal meaning of subjunctive statements, universal invitations and warnings, and declarations of divine decision making happening in the present and future.

        You are free to use manmade popular definitions to twist the normal meaning of Scripture to your own liking… you just can’t be a qualified to be an elder and do that.

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      14. brianwagner writes, “But the consequences of your definition of divine sovereignty is…”

        Why aren’t we beyond this?? You understand the problem with sovereignty because your solution to that problem is to deny that God has perfect knowledge of all future events. So, when you write, “…it becomes definition that colors the understanding of Scriptures away from the normal meaning of subjunctive statements, universal invitations and warnings, and declarations of divine decision making happening in the present and future,” you mean that you have decided that sovereignty does not work in light of certain things you read in the Scriptures (and think to understand properly).

        In this case, the key to sovereignty is omniscience. If you were unable to dispose of omniscience (to include God’s perfect knowledge of the future) you could not undo sovereignty and if you cannot undo sovereignty, then your understanding of difficult verses must be wrong. The weakness of your argument, as we discovered earlier, is that your view of omniscience cannot account for God’s infinite understanding – a clear Scriptural teaching. Because God has infinite understanding, He necessarily has perfect knowledge of all future events. This means that God must be omniscient as the Calvinists claim. The consequence of this is that God must also enjoy the sovereignty that Calvinists attribute to Him.

        So, yes, one’s view of omniscience and therefore, sovereignty, does color one’s interpretation of the rest of Scripture. That is why so many people, including you, are seeking to undo sovereignty and to do that, they have sought to undo omniscience because they cannot think of any other way to do it. However, like you, no one who disavows that God is omniscient has ever put together a good exegesis to support that belief. Have they? Have you?

        You claim that I and others are twisting Scripture. Your claim is invalid until you develop an exegesis to prove your contention. That exegesis must deal with God’s infinite understanding and without that, your whole system is no more than a house of cards – a house built on sand. Let me know if you, or anyone else, is able to produce the exegesis required to make your case.

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      15. There are exegesis articles out there for all of this, but of course you might not call them “good” since they overturn the philosophical definitions you have chosen to believe that come from other scholars for words like sovereignty and omniscience. In the end the reader can decide who is tightly dividing the meaning of Scriptures when it comes to honoring the self revelation of God’s nature! Blessings my friend!

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      16. brianwagner writes, “There are exegesis articles out there for all of this, but of course you might not call them “good” since they overturn the philosophical definitions you have chosen to believe that come from other scholars for words like sovereignty and omniscience.”

        Good exegesis proves itself.

        How about a recommendation or two of articles you have read and know to be good.

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      17. Have you heard of L.D. McCabe’s book – The Foreknowledge of God? You probably have heard of Gregory Boyd’s book – The Openness of God. These provide good exegesis of passages relating to God’s sovereignty and omniscience.

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      18. brianwagner recommended “L.D. McCabe’s book – The Foreknowledge of God.”

        I have downloaded the McCabe book. However, I am confident that he offers no argument respecting God’s infinite understanding. Had he done so, you would have already advanced his argument, or at least, alluded to it. You have not, so he did not. A casual scan of the book suggests that McCabe’s arguments are those current Open Theists are using and there is nothing new under the sun. I am going to avoid Boyd’s book for now but maybe later.

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      19. Why do you feel it is necessary to have human authority as foundational to promote the normal reading of Scripture? That, I believe is one of the main problems with Calvinism, thus the name. They put their trust in men. Cursed is he who puts his trust in man!

        I do agree though that there should be others who have identified the normal grammatical contextual meanings in Scripture as well as the philosophical twisting that others have done who have politically held the seats of so called “orthodoxy”. But that is only for confirmation. I found agreement in McCabe and Boyd and others. I was not led to this position by them, but by struggling with the Scriptures that I was presented by Calvinists that wewere obviously giving interpretations that went against the normal contextual reading of those verses, and I was wondering why God would hide such opposite meanings under the normal reading! I soon realized that it was man who was covering up the normal reading, and just like Catholicism had done with their magisterium, the laity were “assured” they could not understand the bible on there own. Theologians were presented as necessary for understanding the most important truths to believe! False!

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      20. you say:
        Good exegesis proves itself.

        Laughably wrong. I’ve given people good exegesis that proves autonomy and they’ve rejected it. I just had a Calvinist tell me that I “made too much of an effort” in exegesis, and wrote too long and with too many cross referenced Scriptures. It really makes a person fed up with insincere statements like this, and no longer want to dialogue with a child-like behavior that in the end, ignores what the other person has to say, and simply pouts only what they already want to believe for prior reasons.

        I can say, I have no prior reasons to desire to believe Arminianism. Can you vow to me that you have no bias or prior reason to believe Calvinism? I really don’t think you can, and that makes dialogue impossible.

        But God bless and help us find the truth, even when we disagree.

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      21. Maybe you don’t really know how to do a good exegesis.

        Dizerner asks, “Can you vow to me that you have no bias or prior reason to believe Calvinism?”

        I came to Calvinism honestly. I studied the Bible and only later discovered that Calvinism said the same things I was discovering. Essentially, I am not a Calvinist. I just find that Calvinism tends to agree with the things I have found to be true.

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      22. Maybe I do? Maybe saying “maybe” is just a red herring and insulting. Might help you to be less arrogant and condescending if you’re really seeking after the truth. To be honest, I’ve never once seen good exegesis from you. Calvinists are so ridiculous sometimes. They’ll paste a few verses in and act like they are masterfully exegeting them and thoroughly proved their point, while putting almost zero effort in. Then you go to the original languages, follow the entire context, consider all the options, cross reference all passages, spend a lot of time praying and meditating, and they think their pile of crap that took them a few seconds to paste in is somehow more awesome exegesis, as long as they can paste in Arthur Pink or something. Really makes me want to stop talking to such immature people. How can the Calvinists I talk to really show they are sincere seekers of the truth if they consistently show no respect, hypocritically use double standards, and insult like little children, then tell you “you’re just closed to the Holy Spirit” or something ridiculous. I try really, really hard to always show respect, really listen to the other side’s point of view, and examine closely everything they say to see if there might be some truth in it. But it’s an exercise in futility if that attitude in never reciprocated. The floor is yours, I’m out.

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  4. Leighton,

    As a former Calvinist you are already aware of this, but here you go.

    “How may I know I’m elect? First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced. Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope. Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me – a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it. Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God’s Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness. Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative.” – A .W. Pink, The Doctrines of Election and Justification [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], pp. 140-41.

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    1. I always like it when people quote Pink because they always miss out certain bits. He’s an easy quote, as you’ve demonstrated above, for certain aspects but most people don’t like the fact that Pink was also 100% convinced that God doesn’t love all people. Resting easy in confidence that God loves you is fine if you can live with the fact that God doesn’t love all people. But most of us find that less than comfortable (neither do most people find scriptural support for Pink’s view). So despite all Pink’s protestations and seemingly pious words about “avoiding everything that is condemned by God’s word” I would suggest that without love, not only are we “nothing” but God is equally “nothing” without love. Unless of course you believe that God holds double standards.

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      1. Andrew Barker writes, “…most people don’t like the fact that Pink was also 100% convinced that God doesn’t love all people.”

        Pink agreed with the Universalists that God saves those people He loves. If God loves all people, then God saves all people. If God does not save all people, then it cannot be said that God loves all people.

        For support, Pink points to these Scriptures:

        – Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
        – The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.
        – There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:…a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

        OK. You subscribe to universalism. That is your perspective.

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      2. I forgot to include that Pink and his like are generally seen as hyper-Calvinists. Their views are not really that representative of how most Calvinists like to be understood, although you have to say that Pink was at least consistent.

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      3. As usual, all you offer is name calling.

        So, if God really does love everyone, do you think that requires that God save everyone He loves?

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      4. “but most people don’t like the fact that Pink was also 100% convinced that God doesn’t love all people.”

        This Calvinist believes that God’s love for people is different, depending on whether one is elect or not. There is a general love for all. He graces the elect and the non elect out of some kind of love and compassion. after all, each person born is deserving of instant destruction.

        So I would say that God has discriminating love. He loves some (the elect) in a way that He does not love all.

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      5. Les writes, “This Calvinist believes that God’s love for people is different, depending on whether one is elect or not.”

        If God saves one person and not another, the person not saved could certainly argue that God loved His elect more than him and considering that eternity reserved for the one not saved, that God hated him.

        I think Pink’s conclusion works – If God save saves a person, God loves that person; if God does not save a person, God hates that person.

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      6. rhutchin,

        I do not think you and I disagree. I don’t disagree with Pink. There is, in my view, a kind of love for all people (“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,”) and according to Romans 9 and elsewhere, a hatred toward the non elect sinners. As I said, His saving love discriminates between the elect and non elect.

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      7. Jude writes “To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:” Those whom God has called (regardless whether they come to be called as the Calvinists describe or the non-Calvinist) are God’s elect and God is said to love them.

        In Romans 11, Paul writes, “What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.'”

        We see a difference in the way God treats His elect over against the non-elect.

        I liked the verse you quoted with – “for mankind.” The translations seem divided on how to translate God’s philanthropy – perhaps some translators seeing it limited to Paul’s audience and some seeing it more expansively. It makes for an interesting verse – I had not paid much attention to it before now.

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      8. Yes, the Titus 3:4 verse. “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,”

        The word is philanthrōpia. And even in our common usage we know that a philanthropist is one who is known to do good things and is generous to people. He is a “lover of man.” Yet we know that such a person has a different love for his wife and children. And for his mother. He doesn’t love the recipient of one of his education grants the same way he loves his own family.

        This is the distinction most Calvinists see in the scriptures as to how God loves all yet loves his own in a different, saving way.

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      9. Hi Les! Did you ever have the gut feeling that the Scriptures teach that God desires and has planned for everyone to have the opportunity to become one of His children and a part of His bride, but does not force them to it? Do you think that Esau did become God’s child? It appears Jacob may have thought so…. (Gen 33:10). And is it possible that “Esau have I hated” only means rejection of him and his line from being used to provide the opportunity for the redemption to the world?

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      10. Hi Brian. You wrote,

        “Hi Les! Did you ever have the gut feeling that the Scriptures teach that God desires and has planned for everyone to have the opportunity to become one of His children and a part of His bride, but does not force them to it?”

        Absolutely. I do think God has a desire for everyone to trust Him and surely to have the opportunity to respond to the gospel. I also believe God forces no one to love Him.

        “Do you think that Esau did become God’s child? It appears Jacob may have thought so…. (Gen 33:10).”

        No I do not. Hebrews 12: “14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”

        “And is it possible that “Esau have I hated” only means rejection of him and his line from being used to provide the opportunity for the redemption to the world?”

        I don’t think so Brian. It seems to me that a usual reading of the passage at a minimum shows that God had a different love for Jacob than He did for Esau. That’s not surprising as we see in scripture God having a special or different love, for instance, for Israel over all the nations. God chose one nation out of many to bless in a different way and to a greater extent than He did other nations. That is a discriminating love. The idea of a different kind of love by God is not unusual in scripture.

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      11. Thank you for your thoughtful response Les. I am glad that you believe God gives everyone a true opportunity to be saved!

        I lean towards seeing Esau’s example used in Hebrews as a pre-salvation example from his life, and the rejection of the blessing as being from Isaac (temporal blessing) and not from God (salvation blessing). I do concede that I think the writer of Hebrews is using that temporal blessing example to warn those professing Jewish Christians (but not yet saved), who are in jeopardy of never truly getting saved by falling back into Judaism and taking a stand against the gospel of Christianity, that if they reject they will never get another chance to inherit salvation.

        I do agree with you Les that there are different loves that God displays in the end as each person chooses or rejects His offer to be a part of His family! I just do not believe those displays of love were all predetermined before creation. Thanks again for the conversation.

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  5. Really surprised that no one, neither the original author nor one of the commenters, has referenced this gem from Calvin on this topic:

    “Experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected by almost the same feeling as the elect. so that even in their own judgment they do not in any way differ from the Elect… because the Lord, to render them more convicted and inexcusable, steals into their minds to the extent that his goodness may be tasted without the Spirit of Adoption.” (Institutes, 3.2.11).

    That is the main reason assurance cannot exist for Calvinism. The most committed Calvinist in the world could wake up one day only to find that the Lord had only been fooling them all along…that instead of giving them real, saving faith, Jesus had only “stolen into their mind” to render them “more convicted and inexcusable.” Even though they were sure they were elect, even though nothing they could see differentiated themselves from the elect, it was all nothing but a cruel joke as Jesus gave them a taste of life for the sole purpose of revoking it later. And that could happen to ANY Calvinist at ANY time – after all, hasn’t it happened before?

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    1. Broader context for the passage quoted–

      “I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly “feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. “Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it “is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. “There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.”

      That the gospel has a great attraction to all, including the reprobate, does not escape any of us. Thus, we see the great lengths Paul and others go to distinguish faith from works. Does not Christ even say that people will stand before Him at the judgment advancing their works as the basis for their salvation, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” So it is that Calvin says, “…the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.” Are we then to conclude that God gives no assurance to the elect when He says through John, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Perhaps Mackenzie has no claim to salvation or does not enjoy assurance of that salvation and should consider that he is looking to his works for that assurance and not to God.

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      1. Oh good! As long as I have assurance of salvation, I’m fine!….well, except for the fact that Calvin says there’s literally no way to know, because “even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.” That’s the sticking point, and the point you (and Calvin, actually) attempt to gloss over.

        You can talk about assurance of salvation, and true grace, and all that jazz, as much as you’d like: The fact remains that you have no way of knowing whether you’re experiencing the real thing, or whether your faith is merely “evanescent.” It literally doesn’t matter what you’re feeling or believing right now, because Jesus might deliberately be TRICKING you into believing that you’re elect, when you actually aren’t.

        But i’ve seen you around, and I know it’s no good discussing this with you. So I’ll end with this:

        If you can say that you really believe this is an accurate account of those who “fall away” from the faith, then I’d have a very hard time calling you a brother in Christ. If you believe that God deliberately grants them a small amount of grace and MAKES THEM BELIEVE THAT THEY’RE SAVED, solely “to render them more convicted and inexcusable”, then I don’t think we believe in anywhere close to the same God. That God delights in condemnation, and explicitly takes steps to create more opportunity for condemnation. And that’s…disgusting, really. And horrifying. And a far cry from the God who takes no delight in the death of the wicked, but rather wishes that they should turn from their evil ways and live. Instead, this is a God who COULD help them turn from their wicked ways…but instead just makes them THINK that’s what is happening, but is really just giving Himself more rope to hang them with.

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      2. mackenzie writes, ‘….well, except for the fact that Calvin says there’s literally no way to know, because “even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.” That’s the sticking point, and the point you (and Calvin, actually) attempt to gloss over. ”

        The key phrase is, “…in their own judgment…” Rather than trust “our own judgment” we should trust the Scriptures, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” This applies in all areas of life including assurance of salvation.

        Mackensie writes, “It literally doesn’t matter what you’re feeling or believing right now, because Jesus might deliberately be TRICKING you into believing that you’re elect, when you actually aren’t.”

        Calvin wrote, “In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end.” So there is no trickery involved. If God does not save a person, a person cannot be saved. The distinction is between living by faith and living by works as the means of salvation. It is not “what you’re feeling or believing right now,” but what the Scriptures tell us. Here, there is abundant Scripture to discern where one stands with God. By these Scriptures, no one would stand before God and appeal to their works as the basis for their salvation; the appeal would always be to grace. It is only through ignorance of the Scriptures that a person would appeal to his works for salvation and it is only through ignorance of the Scriptures that one would lack assurance of salvation.

        The problem is not with Calvin’s attempt to explain how people stand before Christ at judgment and appeal to their works. The problem is that you don’t like what Calvin says but you have no alternative that suffers from the same problems – so long as it is the person who chooses how to justify his salvation. Let a person judge his salvation by the Scriptures and there is complete assurance simply because that is what God tells us in the Scriptures.

        Mackensie says, “But i’ve seen you around, and I know it’s no good discussing this with you.” That can only be because I rely on the Scriptures and you do not. Maybe, you should try arguing from the Scriptures.

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  6. BrianWagner: ….”there are different loves that God displays in the end as each person chooses or rejects His offer to be a part of His family!” This doesn’t appear as normally well thought out as your usual comments. What you’ve described above is a difference in response to God’s offer of salvation, not the intent or extent of God’s love. Also, you’re going to have a difficult job squaring this with verses such as “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. If you read surrounding verses it’s quite plain that God shows his love towards us in that ….. while we were yet sinners. Personally, I’ve read nothing which convinces me that God doesn’t express exactly the same love to all. Even those who live in direct rebellion to him. The idea of God loving us because of who we are, rather than who and what He is, is somewhat foreign to scripture.

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  7. Mackenzie,

    You have made some very good and valid observations concerning calvinism in the area of assurance. In particular it is both surprising and comical to see Calvin himself make comments that make his own deterministic system even more problematic than it already is! 🙂

    You quoted once such gem from Calvin and wrote:

    “That is the main reason assurance cannot exist for Calvinism. The most committed Calvinist in the world could wake up one day only to find that the Lord had only been fooling them all along…that instead of giving them real, saving faith, Jesus had only “stolen into their mind” to render them “more convicted and inexcusable.” Even though they were sure they were elect, even though nothing they could see differentiated themselves from the elect, it was all nothing but a cruel joke as Jesus gave them a taste of life for the sole purpose of revoking it later. And that could happen to ANY Calvinist at ANY time – after all, hasn’t it happened before?”

    Yes and as I said on another thread on this same subject, the problem the calvinists refuse to deal with (and cannot deal with) is the fact that if those who are deceived by God himself to believe they are genuine believers when they are not, then God is going to be very persuasive in persuading victims of this deception to be deceived about their actual state.

    “Oh good! As long as I have assurance of salvation, I’m fine!….well, except for the fact that Calvin says there’s literally no way to know, because “even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.” That’s the sticking point, and the point you (and Calvin, actually) attempt to gloss over.”

    That is the key:

    “there’s literally no way to know, because ‘even in their own judgement there is no difference between them.”

    “You can talk about assurance of salvation, and true grace, and all that jazz, as much as you’d like: The fact remains that you have no way of knowing whether you’re experiencing the real thing, or whether your faith is merely “evanescent.” It literally doesn’t matter what you’re feeling or believing right now, because Jesus might deliberately be TRICKING you into believing that you’re elect, when you actually aren’t.”

    And again, if God is doing the deceiving of these deceived individuals, there is no way they are going to know that they are deceived, that they really are not saved individuals.

    “But i’ve seen you around, and I know it’s no good discussing this with you. So I’ll end with this:”

    That is wise on your part Mackenzie, rhutchin is a calvinist troll who goes from site to site presenting the same arguments over and over despite the fact he has been corrected and refuted over and over.
    Mackenzie note rhutchin’s response to your observation concerning him:

    “Mackensie says, “But i’ve seen you around, and I know it’s no good discussing this with you.” That can only be because I rely on the Scriptures and you do not. Maybe, you should try arguing from the Scriptures.”

    Notice the “logic” that rhutchin presents here: there is only one possibility as to why you made your observation concerning him (it couldn’t actually be that you were stating the truth about him, that is obviously an invalid observation according to him! 🙂 ). No, according to him, it is ONLY because he supposedly relies on the Scriptures and you do not rely on the scriptures. That is just typical of him.

    Thanks again for your observations Mackenzie: now be a good boy and start relying on scriptures so you can start telling the truth like rhutchin does! 🙂 

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    1. Robert writes, “…if God is doing the deceiving of these deceived individuals, there is no way they are going to know that they are deceived, that they really are not saved individuals.”

      The key words, “…if God…” So what do the Scriptures tell us.

      Of the reprobate:

      “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

      “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.”

      “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

      “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

      And of the elect:

      “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

      “God has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”

      Naturally, “…if God…” means “Of course, God…” because God is sovereign and no one deceives, or is deceived, unless God has determined that it should be.

      The only way a person can know that he is not deceived in through the Scriptures which Scriptures His elect pour through night and day finding, in them, the assurance God gives them of their salvation.

      Robert writes, “Thanks again for your observations Mackenzie: now be a good boy and start relying on scriptures so you can start telling the truth…”

      🙂 Robert gives wise advice.

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      1. So Roger you admit that God predetermined before creation that Satan and man would be successful in the self deception and decided ahead of creation that He would sit back and watch people walking around thinking He loved them though He knew He would never give them a real opportunity to receive His love?

        My Bible doesn’t read that way!

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      2. brianwagner writes, “My Bible doesn’t read that way!”

        That’s because the Bible you read has erased those verses that tell us about God being omniscient (even with regard to all future events).

        The Bible I read does not erase those verses.

        Your Bible is an abridged version produced to promote certain doctrines that are not supported by the unabridged version

        You and I understand this, so I’ll assume you are just torquing everyone else.

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      3. If the very scriptures you quote says someone other than God did the blinding. Why do you then make it say that God did it?

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      4. dizerner writes, “If the very scriptures you quote says someone other than God did the blinding. Why do you then make it say that God did it?”

        I don’t say that God did it (although based on the example of David numbering Israel, maybe we should (with the necessary background explanation) in the sense that God is the immediate cause.

        I say that God is sovereign so no one acts in a particular manner outside God’s positive decree that they act in such manner.

        Answer the following questions–

        1. Is God omniscient even with regard to all future events?
        2. Is God omnipotent and able to control of all events including future events?
        3. Does God have infinite understanding?
        4. Do God’s actions reflect His perfect wisdom?

        If you say, Yes, to these questions, you agree with me that God decrees all that happens. You must disagree with one of those questions to take a different position.

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      5. So you wouldn’t say that God did it, but maybe you should, and essentially you think he did, but you wouldn’t say it, but maybe you should? I’m only trying to clarify.

        Now don’t you often say Arminians arrive at their positions through the elaborate philosophy of man, rather than a direct reading Scripture. It’s weird to me how that often seems to be the opposite of the case and no one sees it.

        I take the Scripture for what is says.

        The Devil blinds people.

        Now we have to take that verse and somehow make it mean something it doesn’t say in the verse itself.

        God blinds people.

        How do we accomplish that. We start asking a lot of deeply complex philosophical questions about omniscience in the light of determinism.

        Does… does Scripture explain this complex logic out for us in one clear verse or do we have to use the so-called philosophy and logic of man to arrive at it?

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      6. Satan blinds people only by permission of God. Thereby, Satan becomes God’s agent to blind people so that we can say that God blinded people through His agent, Satan. God does not have to order Satan to blind people; it is Satan’s desire to destroy people and Satan actively seeks to blind people to the gospel. However, since Satan can only blind those people that God permits him to blind, we can conclude that God, in permitting Satan to blind a person, has willed that the person be blinded.

        God is sovereign and all actions of Satan and people are subordinate to God through His sovereignty. Satan cannot tempt Adam and Eve, Cain cannot murder Abel, David cannot take Bathsheba to bed, Christ cannot be crucified unless God, as sovereign, declares that such should be.

        If you think differently, what is it that you think the situation is?

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      7. Well there’s no doubt that God is all knowing or all powerful, but there’s a problem if God ever wants any real free autonomous choice (note I mean just the choice, not some kind of all powerful autonomy), because by definition he can’t control the outcome. If we argue that God cannot create this choice that is free of his control, simply by virtue of him always knowing the outcome, and thus always in some way really making the choice himself, by virtue of his creating with foreknowledge, we’ve thereby robbed an all-knowing God of even the ability to created a being that chooses independently of him, and thus reduced and lowered God’s power and abilities. We can argue that, hypothetically, free choice then becomes for God like creating a square-circle, or a rock so big he can’t lift it, and that, at least to our minds, it would seem God cannot create a logical impossibility. But why is what God can do necessarily constrained to what we can imagine possible or feel we can prove rational? There are serious thinkers who think time is something God is subservient to (Open Theists) and those who think that logic is something God is subservient to (many Calvinists and some Arminians). But shouldn’t we assume that time and logic are creations, and not something God had to act within and be constrained by? Time and logic are things *God thought up and created* and he is not, therefore, forced to be constrained to them unless he so willingly chooses to be. But if God is beyond logic, then logical arguments might not even seem to always apply to him. And if God can create square circles, why can’t he create people that always freely choose him, even without his control. Now a lot of Calvinists will say, and I think you even did at one point, that if we see two things in Scripture that seem to be logically contradictory, simply accept them both anyway. I can see in Scripture that God’s will is not always done, yet he still remains Sovereign—that even though there is an evil power, God remains more powerful and able to keep his promises. But I can’t really see anywhere in Scripture where God wants to do the very things he doesn’t want to do, where God desires that his own will not be done. That doesn’t make sense to me, but more importantly, it doesn’t seem Scriptural.

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      8. I don’t know if there is actually a point to your comment. It seemed rambling to me and going nowhere. A couple comments–

        1. “there’s a problem if God ever wants any real free autonomous choice (note I mean just the choice, not some kind of all powerful autonomy), because by definition he can’t control the outcome.”

        Why should God have to give His creation free autonomous choice? There is no problem as God does not have to do this.

        2. “we’ve thereby robbed an all-knowing God of even the ability to created a being that chooses independently of him, and thus reduced and lowered God’s power and abilities.”

        In what way does this reduce God’s power or abilities? By sheer definition of “sovereignty,” nothing can be independent of the sovereign. If God is sovereign – which He is – then He cannot create anything that is independent of Him. This is no way, that I see, detracts from His power and abilities.

        3. “There are serious thinkers who think time is something God is subservient to (Open Theists)…”

        Serious thinkers?? Open Theists necessarily deny that which the Scriptures say about God in order to exalt man. No serious thinking goes on there.

        4. “But I can’t really see anywhere in Scripture…where God desires that his own will not be done.”

        What about David and Bathsheba? God commanded, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Yet, God gives David the freedom to commit adultery and it is God who decides – thus expressing His will – that David should commit adultery. You don’t seem to want to allow for God to will something – e.g., Ten commandments – for which people are free to obey or not. This is contrasted with that which God wills over which His creation has no say – e.g., the flood of Noah.

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      9. Going “nowhere” yet you found four direct points to address. I’m really wondering if you are a troll after all, you seem to deliberately try not to make sense—no offense if you aren’t a troll, it just really, really looks like it.

        you say:
        God gives David the freedom to commit adultery and it is God who decides

        Okay, lol. Square circle: either David has freedom or God decides, it can’t be both. That’s pretty simple, a direct violation of all laws of logic.

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      10. I just addressed false/goofy notions that you expressed.

        As to your inability to understand this statement, “God gives David the freedom to commit adultery and it is God who decides – thus expressing His will – that David should commit adultery.”

        God is sovereign; thus, God has the final say on anything that happens. David’s desire and will is to commit adultery. It is God who must decide whether David should continue on that path – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” It is God who decides that David should engage in the adultery he desires and that decision by God is His decree and His will.

        Thus, it is both. David freely desires; God can choose to restrain those desires. No violation of logic – none that you explain.

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      11. “It is God who must decide…” Roger, you cannot make it sound like God decides seeing David’s decision. In your view God creates David with no other ability for any other choice and His own choice is also previously made. You write like an Arminian sometimes, i.e., God acting based on first foreseeing man’s actions without His involvement!

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      12. We are only looking at the “elephants leg” (so to speak) and not the whole animal. It is not a matter of God “seeing” for the first time – and thereby learning – what David wants to do. It is a matter of God “knowing” what David wants to do – because God knows Davids thoughts and desires before David even thinks them. However, this discussion is about God’s will and the focus has been to show that everything that happens is God’s will because God has the final say on whatever happens – God does not even have to know the future to control everything as He only needs a present knowledge of events to decree everything that happens (not knowing the future just requires that God be more involved as people make decisions and He gains new information).

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      13. If you are a teacher, how come you can’t teach (or, at least, argue a position – presuming you have a position to argue)? What point did you mean to make by your comment?

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      14. Position already stated… point already made! Don’t think I can make it any clearer! Sorry! Have a good “predetermined” weekend, Roger!

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      15. you say:
        Thus, it is both. David freely desires; God can choose to restrain those desires. No violation of logic – none that you explain.

        Well you phrased it differently this time. But I can agree with this completely—God sovereignly gives us freedom, and despite our freedom, allows our free choices to even with foreknowledge.

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      16. dizerner writes, “God sovereignly gives us freedom, and despite our freedom, allows our free choices to even with foreknowledge.”

        Thus, man’s freedom to choose is constrained by God’s will to achieve His purposes. Like a dog in a fenced yard, the dog is free to roam within the confines of the fence but cannot venture outside that fence. People are free to roam within the confines of God’s will but cannot venture outside God’s will.

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  8. Dizerner,

    The rules of Logic, like the rules of morality, are not created beings but instead reflect the eternal nature of God. God is not “under morality”, rather morality reflects His eternal nature. Likewise, God is not “under logic”, rather logic reflects His eternal nature.

    You write:

    “We can argue that, hypothetically, free choice then becomes for God like creating a square-circle, or a rock so big he can’t lift it, and that, at least to our minds, it would seem God cannot create a logical impossibility. But why is what God can do necessarily constrained to what we can imagine possible or feel we can prove rational? There are serious thinkers who think time is something God is subservient to (Open Theists) and those who think that logic is something God is subservient to (many Calvinists and some Arminians).”

    God does not actualize or bring to pass logical contradictions or physical contradictions: like having it rain and not rain at the same time in the same place. This is not a limitation on God rather this is a reflection that God is rational and so His creation is orderly and rational. Logical contradictions therefore are not found in an orderly and rational universe. My scientific friends tell me that because the universe is so orderly this allows for mathematical descriptions of nature that are used in science by physicists and engineers.

    Open theists do not believe that God is “subservient” to time, rather they believe He is in time just like the rest of us. Calvinists and others do not believe that God is subservient to logic, rather they believe that God as His nature is rational, acts and thinks rationally/logically.

    “But shouldn’t we assume that time and logic are creations, and not something God had to act within and be constrained by?”

    Time is created as is space and matter: all originated through God’s creation of the universe out of nothing.

    The rules of logic are not things that were created. One of the strongest arguments against the materialism of atheists used by many apologists for the Christian faith, is that certain realities are not things, not physical (such as the rules of logic, morality, meaning, abstract concepts and conceptualization, etc.) and so they cannot be accounted for by a completely materialistic explanation.

    “Time and logic are things *God thought up and created* and he is not, therefore, forced to be constrained to them unless he so willingly chooses to be.”

    Time is considered to be both created and relative by physicists (cf. Einstein’s theories on this), but logic is not. God being rational by nature is not constrained by logic, rather he reasons logically as He is a logical person.

    “But if God is beyond logic, then logical arguments might not even seem to always apply to him.”

    God is not “beyond logic”, rather He is, and His actions (e.g. miracles) are sometimes supra-rational (i.e. above our understanding, above our capacity for rational explanation). Supra does not mean beyond logic or illogical, it means above our rational understanding: big difference. It may not “make sense to us” but that does not mean it is irrational. Take the incarnation for example. We cannot understand how that could have occurred, so in that sense it does not make sense to us. At the same time, God desired for the incarnation to occur for rational reasons (including fulfilling biblical prophecy and providing an atonement for the whole world). And this is true with many biblical doctrines, they may be beyond our understanding but they are not irrational and not done for no good reasons.

    “And if God can create square circles, why can’t he create people that always freely choose him, even without his control.”

    But God does not create square circles as he does not engage in actualizing physical contradictions. You may think it is pious sounding to declare that God is beyond logic and so can engage in contradictions: but this is not being pious it is being irrational. As Christians we are to trust in God and His revelation, but we are not told to leave our brains at the door when we walk into a church building.

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    1. I have no doubt at all that creation reflects God’s nature in some way. But to say that morality or logic or time are not created, is to exalt them to a status only the Creator has. Only the Creator is uncreated—would you agree? It seems to me this should be apparent, that all things are divided into two categories: created and uncreated. You can pull a little sleight of hand by saying something in creation matches or exhibits God’s attributes. That doesn’t make that something eternal or part of God. God is separate from creation, and that should be a foundational thing. So is time God? Is morality God? Is logic God? For some people, I think they virtually see creation in this way. But time, morality and logic are not God, even if they reflect his nature. They must be creations. At one point you admit time was created, yet just as some people cannot conceive of time not existing in any dimension, so some cannot conceive of logic not existing in any dimension. How and where is the difference? And I think people exhibit a doctrinal preference and predilection when they take these unexamined predilections to the Word of God to derive doctrine from it.

      you write:
      God does not actualize or bring to pass logical contradictions or physical contradictions: like having it rain and not rain at the same time in the same place. This is not a limitation on God rather this is a reflection that God is rational and so His creation is orderly and rational.

      Aren’t you, by saying this, already conceding my point that the reason God does not actualize logical contradictions is not because he cannot (not a limitation on God) but rather because he desires not to (reflection of God). My point is certainly not about what God actually does, but rather what he could do if he wanted—but, as we previously talked about at length, if God does not even have the ability to choose what he himself wants, that makes him less than Sovereign. However I’d still even argue the point: How in the world can you know? How can you know God does not actualize logical contradictions? Isn’t a miracle by definition suspending or violating natural law, and thus, illogical to our minds? Isn’t the spirit world beyond the normal logic of how we conceptualize? Isn’t God becoming a male human being, breaking all known laws of logic? Isn’t the fact that God put us in Christ, essentially, illogical?

      How can you possibly prove that all truth is only logical? And also we have a big problem using logic as a foundation or framework. Logic is inherently circular in nature, and only consistent within a given framework. Thus there are actually different kinds of logic that apply to different frameworks. Even the mathematical expression of nature, that you pointed out scientists and physicists had the joy of discovering, is yet one framework of how our thoughts interface with perceiving reality and processing or understanding it. Surely matter and energy itself, or whatever this creation is, cannot be objectively experienced independent of the human mind (at least in this creation) yet we all assume it has some kind of objective reality. The things we perceive are but a tiny part of the reality that the things are, and only our personal subjective perceptions of that tiny part of the thing. When I behold a sunset I know what it feels like, but by no means do I know what it essentially is.

      Still, take any system of logic, and you have laws like the law of identity or non-contradiction or excluded middle, but you’ve also got the law of circular reasoning or proof, and then logic, when coming under scrutiny by itself, as a system, might seem to break its own laws. Prove logic is a true system without using logic? Because here we have the heart of circular proof, trying to prove reason with reason or logic with logic, and if we make it that one exception, we have an assumption or presupposition that is unproven, a blind leap of faith into the dark unknown. And there are paradoxes found in nature, things that seem like both cannot be true yet both are true—yet scientists, even unbelieving ones, know and accept this truth.

      you said:
      Open theists do not believe that God is “subservient” to time, rather they believe He is in time just like the rest of us.

      Being in something and regulated by it, is in a sense, being subservient to it, and that is all I meant by it nothing more.

      you said:
      Calvinists and others do not believe that God is subservient to logic, rather they believe that God as His nature is rational, acts and thinks rationally/logically.

      This isn’t quite true, because many don’t believe God could violate logic even if he wanted to.

      you said:
      …but logic is not.

      On the contrary from what I can understand anyway logic is completely framework dependent, and thus relative.

      you said:
      certain realities are not things, not physical (such as the rules of logic, morality, meaning, abstract concepts and conceptualization, etc.) and so they cannot be accounted for by a completely materialistic explanation.

      Surely you’d still admit they were created things, even if not material. As inescapable as time or space seems to us so is logic. But this should not be seen as a fundamental nature of God, but rather of us as created things. The Bible even hints at an escape from these created limitations in the new created order some day, experiencing things that now we cannot even imagine.

      you said:
      And this is true with many biblical doctrines, they may be beyond our understanding but they are not irrational and not done for no good reasons. … Supra does not mean beyond logic or illogical, it means above our rational understanding: big difference.

      I’m having trouble seeing where the big difference is. Beyond and above are just words we use to describe something that we cannot fathom or explain. There may be a “meta-logic” that God uses, that we wouldn’t understand as logical, and I have no problem with that, but then, by definition, itwouldn’t be what we understand and consider as logic, would it?

      you said:
      But God does not create square circles as he does not engage in actualizing physical contradictions. You may think it is pious sounding to declare that God is beyond logic and so can engage in contradictions: but this is not being pious it is being irrational.

      I suppose if by pious you mean God-exalting. Calvinists see their position as more pious in that sense, since they feel themselves more willing to accept things that emotionally or morally offend them. Perhaps in that regard they are, I do not know but I’ve tried to understand their perspective deeply. I’m willing, I think, to accept whatever truth is, although I’d hope I’m mentally and emotionally prepared for it—I believe in many things that secular materialists would consider irrational and I have no need to try to argue with them “hey, I’m just as rational too.” Because I think it’s a big mistake for Christians to think logic leads to God, and one that’s made far to often with very negative affects on the unbelieving, since they know it’s not true. It doesn’t reflect well on Christians, nor does it feel honest, nor does it witness with the unsaved, nor does it agree with Scripture, that logic, in and of itself, somehow will reveal metaphysical truth to you. The best logic can do is show you that it is itself limited and self-referential. And I really might argue that to access some level of our heart we must leave some things about our brain behind, nor do I think we can break God entirely down to a rational and logical level. I feel strongly about it because, to really know God and bring his knowledge to others, we can’t substitute the experiential for head knowledge. And the world will always know this is fake and cheap substitute for an Isaiah 6 or Acts 9 experience.

      Still, I thank you for your thoughts and your cautions and will continue to meditate on them.

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      1. I’m not even sure where to start. In my opinion your post contains many errors regarding the nature and importance of logic so I am not going to address them all. I will pick just a few.

        “I have no doubt at all that creation reflects God’s nature in some way. But to say that morality or logic or time are not created, is to exalt them to a status only the Creator has. Only the Creator is uncreated—would you agree?”

        The confusion here is that you view morality and logic as created entities, like rocks, when they are not. Both flow from the nature of God. Even before the universe existed for example, good existed because God is good. Love existed because God’s nature is love. Logic existed because God is rational.

        “That doesn’t make that something eternal or part of God. God is separate from creation, and that should be a foundational thing. So is time God? Is morality God? Is logic God?”

        Love is not God, and yet God is love by nature according to scripture and this has been true for eternity, including when there was no created universe, when God alone existed. The same with goodness. Goodness did not begin when God created the universe, Goodness already existed when there was no universe. And God was rational when there was no universe. Logic did not begin when God created the universe. Logic already existed when there was no universe.

        “They must be creations.”

        No, if they are creations, created when the universe was created, then they did not exist when the universe did not exist. Did goodness for example originate at the point when the universe was created or did goodness exist when there was no universe when God alone existed?

        “At one point you admit time was created, yet just as some people cannot conceive of time not existing in any dimension, so some cannot conceive of logic not existing in any dimension. How and where is the difference?”

        Just ask yourself: what existed when there was no universe, when God alone existed?

        Or put another way, what originated at the point when God created the universe?

        Did goodness exist when there was no universe? Did love exist when there was no universe? Was God rational when there was no universe?

        Did goodness originate at the point when God created the universe? Did rationality originate at the point when God created the universe? When God created the universe did He do so in a rational manner or without the laws of logic? When there was no universe did God know that he could create (A) or not create the universe (not-A)?

        “My point is certainly not about what God actually does, but rather what he could do if he wanted—but, as we previously talked about at length, if God does not even have the ability to choose what he himself wants, that makes him less than Sovereign.”

        But what he could do is not going to contradict his own nature, He always acts in line with His nature. He is not going to choose to be hateful because as scripture says “God is love”. Because He is morally perfect he cannot sin. Scripture says that He cannot contradict himself (i.e. “he cannot deny himself”). As He is perfectly truthful “He cannot lie”.

        Trying to argue that God can choose to do anything if he just chooses to, makes the same error that Anselm made. Anselm had an extreme view of free will to the point that Anselm argued that God could choose to do anything including choosing to make evil good if he chose to do so! Most have completely rejected Anselm and his extreme voluntarism. Incidentally some calvinists today, especially on blogs make the same mistake that Anselm made so they will argue that anything is Good if God wills it (that is called voluntarism, and is a major error it comes out of nominalism). So you ask them if reprobating people is a good thing and they answer that if God wills it then it automatically becomes a good thing.

        “Isn’t a miracle by definition suspending or violating natural law, and thus, illogical to our minds?”

        Actually that is the same definition used by the nonbeliever and skeptic David Hume. Hume tried to argue from the supposed “fixity of the laws of nature” to the conclusion that therefore miracles do not and cannot occur. The Bible never defines miracles as violating natural law. You’ve been influenced by Hume here. You should read what Hume says about miracles and what Christian apologists have said to counter Hume.

        The Biblical picture is that God created a world that is both orderly (the laws of nature are stable and predictable which is why science is so successful and we can build and fly airplanes) and where God sometimes does miracles. There is no conflict between an orderly creation and the occurrence of miracles according to the Bible. It is atheists like Hume who come along and try to argue from the “fixity of natural law” that miracles cannot occur. That is not the Bible.

        “Isn’t God becoming a male human being, breaking all known laws of logic?”

        No, what law of logic does it break? Is the incarnation irrational?

        Spiritual things are not illogical take for example when Paul says that anyone who is a believer has the Spirit and that to not have the Spirit is to not be a believer. Paul was using a law of logic when he made this argument. In fact, Paul and all of the other biblical writers engaged in the laws of logic every time they made a statement.

        Actually let’s go even further: any time you use language at all, language necessarily involves the laws of logic. So anytime you read and interpret the Bible you are using the laws of logic.

        “How can you possibly prove that all truth is only logical?”

        Who ever said that “all truth is only logical”? As Thomas Reid said the same person (God) who created the orderly world we live in also created our senses which we use to perceive this orderly world, so usually they are very reliable. So we can have perceptions that are true.

        “And also we have a big problem using logic as a foundation or framework.”

        Try using language, any language at all, without logic, you can’t do it. Try reading and interpreting the Bible (which also involves language) without logic and you cannot do it. Logic is the inescapable framework for much of our thinking. It is like Oxygen you are normally oblivious to its presence unless you are deprived of it.

        From your comments you seem to miss the inescapabilty of logic in our language use and thinking. When you say for example that calvinism is false, you are engaging in logic. When someone presents an argument for calvinism and you attempt to refute it or show problems with it, you are engaging in logic. Even when you present what you believe to be true, you are engaging in logic.

        Let’s take your last argument as an example:

        “I feel strongly about it because, to really know God and bring his knowledge to others, we can’t substitute the experiential for head knowledge. And the world will always know this is fake and cheap substitute for an Isaiah 6 or Acts 9 experience.”

        You first word is “I”. So you are differentiating you from other persons including God, angels, and other people. It is NOT God or angels or other persons that “feels strongly about it” it is YOU. We haven’t even got past your first word and we are already engaging in logic. I could do this with other things in your statement but let’s just focus on one more: “we can’t substitute the experiential for head knowledge.” This is an argument. You are distinguishing “experiential knowledge” from “head knowledge”. They are not the same, that simple point is engaging in logic. A person could not follow what you are saying here unless they could distinguish between experiential and head knowledge. So you engage in logic in making your point and another person in order to understand your point has to engage in logic as well. It is thus inescapable for both of you: further proving the inescapability of engaging in logic whenever using language in any way. You argue that we should not substitute one for the other, again you are engaging in logic. In fact every statement and argument that you make involves engaging in logic. Even when you try to argue against logic and argue for its limitations you are engaging in logic.

        Logic is inescapable for us almost every time that we use our minds (whether that be reading and interpreting scripture or presenting points and making arguments on a blog like this; and anyone and everyone who makes any attempt to understand or respond to anything that you say on a blog like this is also engaging in logic).

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      2. You give me a lot to think about Roger and you argue your points well. You also seem quite knowledgeable.

        One thing I did take issue with is about miracles. You seem to really gloss over them, as if they could be integrated into natural law somehow. I know natural law is merely a convention of scientists and most deep thinking scientists with at least a minimal understanding of philosophy have no problem admitting this convention, and that there is no absolute truth in science. But how can you not see miracles as a violation of natural law? To me that is their very definition, or they are hardly a miracle at all… you could argue, I suppose, that natural laws are not fully known, you could argue that, say, there is some natural law of “miracles” where a miracle happens every so often, but still how could anything non-repeatable, measurable or explainable full under any kind of scientific explanation.

        You tackled logic quite admirably. You did seem to admit it was a self-contained and self-referential system, but then seemed a bit dismissive about it’s lack of external reference, implying that just because we have to use it, or need it like oxygen, that implies a kind of overarching inescapable quality for any reality. We need oxygen to live, yes, but we’ve discovered places without oxygen—it’s true *we* couldn’t live in those places. We are confined… the one thing that I would say God, is not. So it does come down as always to some fundamental presuppositions, and that I see God as entirely other and indescribable in his essential nature. I would argue that’s what Scripture means when it says no man can see or know God’s essential nature—his complete otherliness. Logic, morality, truth, time, space, *nothing* can describe God’s essential nature, for all words and all thoughts are of this creation. This is, why, too, I think the name YWHW was not even pronounced as ineffable, representing God’s unknowable otherliness.

        But you adroitly point out that, without logic, we could not even think, or talk, or argue that logic is not all that it is. The problem I think is I can grant your point and still make mine. Logic is like a signpost, and it might say “Beyond this ye cannot pass!” and yes, I have to stay behind that sign, but underneath is writte “Beyond this ye cannot know!” And that doesn’t mean that because, like a fish in water, I need logic to even think about being outside that water, that that means, merely by virtue of its inescapable properties *for me personally* being *within* that framework of creation, that I can’t know that *something* might exist outside of the water I swim in. It’s like God left that one fingerprint of his otherliness in my mind, the ability to think that one thought that—you know, there might be something more than I can even think or imagine. And as I pointed out Scripture does give us that thought.

        But again, you make another assumption about words, language and logic. You seem to try to argue that they are based in this logic (you didn’t address different kinds of logic, but I’m sure at your intelligence level you know many people admit that), that they are necessarily then contained within the framework. Of course you know, too, that there is relativity involved; many of our common words are obscene words in another language! Some people takes this relativity so far, that they argue we can’t even *know* what the Bible would have been like to the original recipients in the original cultural contexts. I’m sure you don’t go that far—but once you’ve let slip in a little “help” from the Holy Spirit, where does logic end and the supernatural begin? I’m also sure you know if you studied philosophy at any length that many people feel even words themselves can be essentially metaphysical, being expressions of thought that carry ideas beyond any one plain easily understandable definition.

        So when you say I can’t say “I feel strongly” without utilizing some deep philosophical concepts about identity and personality, you may be true in one sense—although I would argue people could know what they mean even if they can’t quite ultimately describe it in detail, and they can know what they mean by “I” without a full-fledged philosophical framework understanding levels of consciousness and identity. So I could make the counter-argument that words can be metaphysical, indeed that our very interaction here and now in this blog could have a metaphysical quality or component to it, one that is beyond words and goes straight, even, to the metaphysical “spirit.” And could that be what Christ meant when he said “my words are spirit and life,” a metaphysical concept even a child could understand, but you could not fully explain in a 1,000 page essay or a lifetime of study.

        So for these reasons I think your defense of logic has failed a bit, although obviously the idea is quite strong and confusing when we feel that logic is inescapable. I even feel logic interfaces with a higher metaphysical logic, especially in Scripture. Because when I say Jesus I definitely mean something different than many other people when they say Jesus, yet if I feel they’ve “received a different spirit” how can I explain spirit or what that means exactly. We operate, from birth, in many, many things without fully understanding them, indeed the very bodies and minds we live in, I doubt we will even understand to any great degree even by the time we die. I hope I don’t come across too contrary however, and I appreciate that you write in a helpful tone, and are evidently capable of defending and explaining your views very well. I’m a person that really longs to increase my knowledge and get another’s perspective on things, so people like you are people I appreciate.

        God bless.

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    1. Phillip formerly “wingfooted1” writes:

      “Job 16:3 (NIV)…..
      Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing?”

      Odd, I have not interacted with Phillip at all in this thread: and I have completely ignored his last posts at this website.

      Others here are arguing for their views and against other views they disagree with. That is fine and that is the nature of this blog site. **Everybody** here is arguing for and against certain points: so why is Phillip singling me out here?

      Since I was not discussing anything with him in this thread, it would seem that he was offended in the past by something that I have said. I have noticed that lately Phillip has posted these short little sniping posts aimed at me here at this site. The last few times I have ignored them figuring that was the best thing to do. What would it profit me or others here for me to respond to these kinds of sniping attacks?

      But as “Phillip/wingedfooted1” **keeps engaging** in these sniping comments I want everyone else to know exactly what bothered him in the past and appears to motivate him to make these short sniping comments.

      In the past in interactions with him here and at SBC Today, when Phillip used to post as “wingedfooted1” I showed that he holds to the Pelagian position regarding the grace of God prior to a person being saved (Phillip doesn’t believe that the grace of God is necessary in order for a person to become a believer, he attacks the Calvinists on their belief that irresistible grace is necessary for a person to be saved and he also attacks Arminians for their belief in prevenient grace, the common denominator is that he attacks all who believe that some sort of grace is necessary for a person to become a believer in Christ). I don’t think that “Phillip/wingfooted1” appreciated being exposed in the past about this view that he holds, so ever since then apparently he holds a grudge against me and so he repeatedly engages in these little sniping comments here at this blog.

      He needs to deal with his bitterness and anger in a biblical way instead of posting his little sniping posts here. His sniping posts are not having any positive effect, they contribute nothing to the discussions here, and they are only revealing his bitterness publicly. He needs to repent of his behavior and deal with this bitterness. As I said recently to an inmate who is dealing with anger and bitterness: you better deal with it properly or it will eat you alive. Besides being emotionally painful it also provides ground for the devil to play on (cf. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Eph. 4:26-27 and “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Eph. 4:31).

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  9. Matthew 21:45……
    Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.

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  10. I really appreciate your bringing this topic up, Dr. Flowers. Thank you. This is one of the ideas that led me out of Calvinism, also. That a person cannot be assured of salvation according to John Calvin’s ideas. I am so glad to be able to trust God’s character completely now. Praise Him.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “One thing I did take issue with is about miracles. You seem to really gloss over them, as if they could be integrated into natural law somehow.”

    I didn’t gloss over them, I said that when you define a miracle as a violation of natural law you are using the definition of the unbeliever, such as David Hume. We ought not to operate by the presuppositions of nonbelievers when speaking of miracles. That is why I said previously that the Bible never views miracles as violations of natural law. In fact the Bible does not view them as violations of anything.

    “I suppose, that natural laws are not fully known, you could argue that, say, there is some natural law of “miracles” where a miracle happens every so often, but still how could anything non-repeatable, measurable or explainable full under any kind of scientific explanation.”

    Science is a tool, a very good tool, when it comes to physical reality. Due to this tool we have incredible technology, longer life spans, cures and treatments for serious diseases and ailments. That being said, it also has limitations, science can say nothing about the spiritual, and that would include miracles.

    “You tackled logic quite admirably. You did seem to admit it was a self-contained and self-referential system, but then seemed a bit dismissive about it’s lack of external reference, implying that just because we have to use it, or need it like oxygen, that implies a kind of overarching inescapable quality for any reality. We need oxygen to live, yes, but we’ve discovered places without oxygen—it’s true *we* couldn’t live in those places. We are confined… the one thing that I would say God, is not.”

    I was in a class one day, and I saw these absolutely brilliant people taking diametrical sides on something. I kinda fazed out on what their positions were and focused on one single thing: their use of logic to support their view and attempt to refute the other view. What was deafeningly obvious was not which view was right and which was wrong, but that both could not escape the use of logic! I got to know a Christian linguist at this time, and he explicitly pointed out how all language use inescapably uses logic. Once I had those two experiences I have been observing the inescapability of logic ever since. Things that are inescapably true are also universally true.

    “So it does come down as always to some fundamental presuppositions, and that I see God as entirely other and indescribable in his essential nature. I would argue that’s what Scripture means when it says no man can see or know God’s essential nature—his complete otherliness. Logic, morality, truth, time, space, *nothing* can describe God’s essential nature, for all words and all thoughts are of this creation. This is, why, too, I think the name YWHW was not even pronounced as ineffable, representing God’s unknowable otherliness.”

    I agree with you that God in His essential nature, is in some senses wholly other, and so beyond our conceptual analysis/logic. I never said “logic was God” or capable of completely describing and conceptualizing God. I was also saying that logic and morality are not created things like time and space. They did not originate at the point when the universe was created and began.

    “But you adroitly point out that, without logic, we could not even think, or talk, or argue that logic is not all that it is. The problem I think is I can grant your point and still make mine. Logic is like a signpost, and it might say “Beyond this ye cannot pass!” and yes, I have to stay behind that sign, but underneath is written “Beyond this ye cannot know!” And that doesn’t mean that because, like a fish in water, I need logic to even think about being outside that water, that that means, merely by virtue of its inescapable properties *for me personally* being *within* that framework of creation, that I can’t know that *something* might exist outside of the water I swim in. It’s like God left that one fingerprint of his otherliness in my mind, the ability to think that one thought that—you know, there might be something more than I can even think or imagine. And as I pointed out Scripture does give us that thought.”

    I agree with you here, especially your last words about God leaving a fingerprint in our minds (cf. I believe that is what the Bible verse Ecc. 3:11 is speaking about when it says He has put eternity in their hearts). We have the imprint of eternity on us, and only God is eternal. So we may seek to fulfill this desire for eternity through money or power or status but they all fail. As Augustine put it, there is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart that is not fulfilled by any THING, any CREATED BEING, only by God himself.

    “But again, you make another assumption about words, language and logic. You seem to try to argue that they are based in this logic (you didn’t address different kinds of logic, but I’m sure at your intelligence level you know many people admit that), that they are necessarily then contained within the framework. Of course you know, too, that there is relativity involved; many of our common words are obscene words in another language! Some people takes this relativity so far, that they argue we can’t even *know* what the Bible would have been like to the original recipients in the original cultural contexts. I’m sure you don’t go that far—but once you’ve let slip in a little “help” from the Holy Spirit, where does logic end and the supernatural begin? I’m also sure you know if you studied philosophy at any length that many people feel even words themselves can be essentially metaphysical, being expressions of thought that carry ideas beyond any one plain easily understandable definition.”

    You make some good points here, my points in the earlier post were to not disparage logic, to not view it as a created thing like space and time and to understand that for much of our functioning logic is inescapably present.

    ‘So when you say I can’t say “I feel strongly” without utilizing some deep philosophical concepts about identity and personality, you may be true in one sense—although I would argue people could know what they mean even if they can’t quite ultimately describe it in detail, and they can know what they mean by “I” without a full-fledged philosophical framework understanding levels of consciousness and identity.”

    Again the point was about the inescapabilty of logic in much of our thinking.

    “So I could make the counter-argument that words can be metaphysical, indeed that our very interaction here and now in this blog could have a metaphysical quality or component to it, one that is beyond words and goes straight, even, to the metaphysical “spirit.” And could that be what Christ meant when he said “my words are spirit and life,” a metaphysical concept even a child could understand, but you could not fully explain in a 1,000 page essay or a lifetime of study.”

    I am not discussing the new age concept of words being metaphysical forces in the world that allow us to control reality and others.

    “So for these reasons I think your defense of logic has failed a bit, although obviously the idea is quite strong and confusing when we feel that logic is inescapable. I even feel logic interfaces with a higher metaphysical logic, especially in Scripture. Because when I say Jesus I definitely mean something different than many other people when they say Jesus, yet if I feel they’ve “received a different spirit” how can I explain spirit or what that means exactly. We operate, from birth, in many, many things without fully understanding them, indeed the very bodies and minds we live in, I doubt we will even understand to any great degree even by the time we die.”

    I think you are talking about two very different realities here: logic and the spiritual. There is a spiritual world that is not illogical but is beyond our logic and full comprehension. For those things we just take what God says on faith, just believe it and trust it, without fully understanding it.

    “I hope I don’t come across too contrary however, and I appreciate that you write in a helpful tone, and are evidently capable of defending and explaining your views very well. I’m a person that really longs to increase my knowledge and get another’s perspective on things, so people like you are people I appreciate.”

    I don’t think you are being contrary, I think we agree on a lot, we just are talking past each other a bit on some things. I don’t believe that we know or can know or will know everything that can be known, especially when it comes to God and spiritual realities. At the same time, I am also a realist about our use of logic and its inescapability when it comes to much of our thinking.

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    1. you said:
      I am not discussing the new age concept of words being metaphysical forces in the world that allow us to control reality and others.

      I never meant to imply that. Not all metaphysics is manipulative, but I was trying to say many philosophers see words as containing ideas or thoughts beyond just a dictionary definition.

      Like

      1. Dizerner,
        Just today I came across an article that conveys my view on miracles very well, written by a philosophy professor, I thought you might appreciate it, so here it is (Pay special attention to what he says about David Hume):

        Do Miracles Really Violate the Laws of Science?

        Dr. Timothy McGrew is professor and chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan University.

        The late Christopher Hitchens, in his debates with Christians, liked to put his opponents on the spot with a straight question or two, gravely asked. “Do you really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? Do you really believe that he rose from the dead?” If the Christian answered in the affirmative, Hitchens would turn to the audience with a theatrical flourish: “Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has just demonstrated that science has done nothing for his worldview.”

        It is always a shrewd move to paint one’s adversary as an enemy of science, and Hitchens rarely let slip an opportunity for good theater. But good theater is not always good reasoning. Did Hitchens really believe that first century Jews didn’t know where babies come from or that Roman soldiers didn’t know how to kill an unarmed man? Did he doubt that peasants in an agrarian society had seen enough death to know that in the natural course of things, men who are dead—completely dead, not just mostly dead—stay that way? Christians from Pentecost onward have been shouting from the rooftops the astounding message that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, had risen bodily from the dead. Did Hitchens really think he could show them up by suggesting that there is something out of the ordinary about the claim?

        The great skeptic David Hume presented the world with a false dilemma when he tried to pit reported miracles against the laws of nature. Science tells us what nature does when left to itself; miracles, if they occur at all, occur precisely because nature is not left to itself. Believers and skeptics agree that there is a stable causal order, a normal course of events in which virgins do not become pregnant and dead men stay dead. And precisely because they are agreed on this point, it cannot be a significant piece of evidence against the occurrence of miracles. A river must flow, as one of Hume’s contemporaries pointed out, before its stream can be diverted. Some conception of the ordinary course of nature is required for us even to make sense of the notion of a miracle, which otherwise could not be recognized for what it is.

        Science itself places no limits on what may happen when nature is not left to itself. It can neither demonstrate that nature is always left to itself—that the physical universe is “causally closed”—nor legislate what might occur if it is not. Scientists may have their personal opinions on these matters; in fact, they often do, and sometimes they count on their scientific expertise to give weight to those opinions. But that involves stepping out of their own fields of specialization and into the realm of philosophy. And in that arena, one’s having a degree in zoology or microbiology does not, per se, entitle one’s opinions to any particular deference.

        One of our best tools for investigating hypotheses is to ask what we should expect if they were true. If we try this with theism, a cosmic ban on divine intervention is hardly what we would predict. What a strange thing it would be if the creator of the universe were somehow locked out of his own creation, unable to do what even the least of his creatures may do, to make his presence known! St. Paul’s rhetorical question is still pointed today: Why should anyone think it incredible that God should raise the dead?

        But isn’t all of this too quick? Many people disbelieve in the existence of God, either in the Judeo-Christian sense or in any other. A non-existent deity raises no one from the dead. On their view, the creator is not locked out; there was never a creator to begin with. If atheism is true, miracle claims (insofar as these involve reference to a deity) must be false. So why should an atheist even bother looking into a miracle claim?

        The short answer is that atheism might be wrong. Even those who strongly suspect that there is no God should not close themselves off from contrary evidence. It might take a lot to shift them from comfortable non-belief to the uneasy suspicion that there may be something to the God idea after all. But if nothing could, even in principle, count against their atheism, then something like Hitchens’ complaint comes back around with a vengeance: evidence does not appear to make any difference to their worldview.

        Still, life is short, and miracle claims abound. It is all very well to speak of being open to evidence, but no sensible person goes haring off after every supernatural claim to inquire into it in detail. Even thoughtful religious believers rarely bother to look into miracle claims in any tradition other than their own. Why should the irreligious be expected to do more? And if they were, then why, it may be asked, should they begin with one religion rather than another?

        The question is reasonable, and it may be as reasonably answered in terms that make no appeal to any particular religious tradition. In some circumstances, we have prima facie reason to doubt a miracle claim: when it is reported only long after the alleged event happened or at a great distance from the place where it happened, or when the report would have been permitted to pass without examination, either because such examination would have been impossible in the nature of the case (say, with regard to an event that would leave no public traces) or because the local population would have had no motive to inquire into its truth or falsehood (because, for instance, it fell in with their own prevailing religious prejudices). And it is also reasonable to doubt a miracle claim when no remotely worthy end could have been served if it had really happened—no deep questions about our origin and destiny answered, no striking teachings confirmed, no divine commission endorsed. “Let not a god intervene,” as Horace wrote, “unless there be a knot worthy of a god’s untying.”

        These criteria cut a wide swath through claims of the miraculous, not because they show them definitely to be false (for a claim might fail on one or more of these points and yet be true) but because they offer a plain reason for suspicion of fraud or muddle or the growth of legend. If honest skeptics would ask the proponent of any particular miracle claim to provide some evidence that it meets the criteria, there would seldom be any serious takers. On the other hand, claims still left standing after we have applied these criteria may fairly be said to deserve a closer look. And if those skeptics would follow up with equal honesty and with the seriousness that the issues seem to merit on any that really do appear to meet the criteria, then let the epistemic chips fall where they may.

        “I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity,” C. S. Lewis once wrote, “if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it.” Nor am I. Nor should anyone.

        Dr. Timothy McGrew is professor and chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan University

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      2. I mean no offense, but i really can’t see a solid logical argument anywhere.

        The atheists are right when they say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be scientifically proven. And they are right that there is such a thing as natural law, it is not made up. And they are right that *by definition,* miracles are not natural law—by definition. Miracles are *defined* as that which violates natural law. I don’t make a sandwich and cry out “It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!” But if a sandwich appeared out of thin air, you better bet I would. I don’t see any refutation of these basic logical truths in anything that you pasted or wrote. A huge problem with miracles is they generally could not be scientifically studied, since they don’t usually have repeatability. There are several million dollar or so prizes currently outstanding for *anyone* who can prove to do *anything* supernatural. It would also seem the majority of intellectuals agree they have not witnessed a violation of natural law.

        This is not some David Hume or atheist thing. It’s just straight up logic.

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  12. Dizerner,

    I shared that article with you and apparently you missed the points about Hume and science that are especially important and which you have been missing. I will repost that short section here for you to look at again:

    [[“The great skeptic David Hume presented the world with a false dilemma when he tried to pit reported miracles against the laws of nature. Science tells us what nature does when left to itself; miracles, if they occur at all, occur precisely because nature is not left to itself. Believers and skeptics agree that there is a stable causal order, a normal course of events in which virgins do not become pregnant and dead men stay dead. And precisely because they are agreed on this point, it cannot be a significant piece of evidence against the occurrence of miracles. A river must flow, as one of Hume’s contemporaries pointed out, before its stream can be diverted. Some conception of the ordinary course of nature is required for us even to make sense of the notion of a miracle, which otherwise could not be recognized for what it is.
    Science itself places no limits on what may happen when nature is not left to itself. It can neither demonstrate that nature is always left to itself—that the physical universe is “causally closed”—nor legislate what might occur if it is not. Scientists may have their personal opinions on these matters; in fact, they often do, and sometimes they count on their scientific expertise to give weight to those opinions. But that involves stepping out of their own fields of specialization and into the realm of philosophy. And in that arena, one’s having a degree in zoology or microbiology does not, per se, entitle one’s opinions to any particular deference.”]]

    “The atheists are right when they say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be scientifically proven.”

    Actually the person who argued that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be scientifically proven” was Clifford. And he was wrong, note what his statement assumes (this is an atheistic assumption not a Christian one, it assumes that a miracle COULD be “scientifically proven” which is impossible, it also assumes scientism, the belief that only things established by science can be true, a false assumption in the thinking of Christians).

    “And they are right that there is such a thing as natural law, it is not made up.”

    And note in the article that I provided, the author deals with this specific point when he writes:

    “Believers and skeptics agree that there is a stable causal order, a normal course of events in which virgins do not become pregnant and dead men stay dead. And precisely because they are agreed on this point, it cannot be a significant piece of evidence against the occurrence of miracles.”

    This you understand the author’s point here?

    That there is a “stable causal order, a normal course of events” that BOTH believers and skeptics agree exists.

    “And they are right that *by definition,* miracles are not natural law—by definition. Miracles are *defined* as that which violates natural law.”

    Defined BY WHOM as a violation of natural law?

    That is the definition of atheists.

    If you are going to go by the definitions of atheists then your thinking will be skewed in the area of miracles. It is like if you go by the calvinist definition of “free will” your thinking in the area of free will will be skewed.

    “I don’t make a sandwich and cry out “It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!” But if a sandwich appeared out of thin air, you better bet I would.”

    Remember what the author said about the virgin birth and Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead:

    “Believers and skeptics agree that there is a stable causal order, a normal course of events in which virgins do not become pregnant and dead men stay dead.”

    Likewise, if a sandwich appeared out of thin air, both the believer and the skeptic would understand that that event is not following the stable causal order, the normal course of events that occur. The Bible defines miracles as “great works” and in the narratives where miracles occur, people recognize that these events are not following the normal course of events (but none of them is clamoring that the miracle violates natural law, because science and Hume did not come along for centuries after).

    “I don’t see any refutation of these basic logical truths in anything that you pasted or wrote.”

    What you are calling “these basic logical truths” is the thinking and definitions of atheists. You better see a problem with THEIR DEFINITIONS for miracles, THEIR VIEWS.

    A friend of mine once illustrated the importance of not accepting false and alien presuppositions from others and how they will harm your thinking this way. My friend said: “don’t put your manure in my water and then expect me to drink it!” His point with this folksy illustration was that the believer has the pure and clean water.

    When the nonbeliever comes along with their false concepts and definitions and presuppositions it is foolish to allow them to put their false premises/their manure into your nice clean water. Or to use a more recent example, I will continue to maintain the biblical definition of marriage: I will not allow the nonbeliever to determine the definition of marriage no matter how others may wrongly define it. If you allow them to dictate the definition of marriage you mess up the Christian water. Likewise if you allow atheist to dictate the definition of miracle then they will mess up your Christian water.

    “A huge problem with miracles is they generally could not be scientifically studied, since they don’t usually have repeatability.”

    So what! The incarnation, Jesus coming in the flesh was a miracle, and that cannot be repeated for the sake of science either. Does it then follow that it did not occur or is not true since it cannot be scientifically studied. There are things that science cannot study, such as morality, the laws of logic, meaning, etc.

    “There are several million dollar or so prizes currently outstanding for *anyone* who can prove to do *anything* supernatural. It would also seem the majority of intellectuals agree they have not witnessed a violation of natural law.”

    Do you really believe that God will step into a laboratory in order to reveal himself?

    Besides God does not do miracles for the sake of some sort of monetary prize, that is ridiculous.

    “This is not some David Hume or atheist thing. It’s just straight up logic.”

    Actually IT IS a David Hume thing as he was the first one who tried to argue against miracles claiming they violate natural law. In the article note what the author said about Hume directly:

    “The great skeptic David Hume presented the world with a false dilemma when he tried to pit reported miracles against the laws of nature. Science tells us what nature does when left to itself; miracles, if they occur at all, occur precisely because nature is not left to itself.”

    Notice he says that Hume tried to pit miracles against the laws of nature.

    Especially notice the next line: Science tells us what nature does when left to itself. That is the key, again the author made the point this way: “a stable causal order, a normal course of events in which virgins do not become pregnant and dead men stay dead.” Science can ONLY study the normal course of events: or put another way, science can only study non-miracles. Miracles do not follow the ordinary course of nature, and so they cannot be studied scientifically. But just because they cannot be studied scientifically does not mean they are not real, do not occur, or are impossible. Science studies what the ordinary course of nature looks like and how it behaves. If I throw a ball up in the air, assuming no miracle occurs, it will come down because of the force of gravity. But if I throw up a ball, and God catches it, it remains in the air, does not immediately come down, that would be a miracle and by its nature would be not capable of scientific study.

    As my friend said it is a major mistake to allow the false ideas of nonbelievers to enter into your thinking: if you do so, your water will have the manure of the nonbeliever in it. If that is the water you want to choose to drink, that is your choice, but it sure isn’t wise or healthy! :-)

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    1. you say:
      Does it then follow that it did not occur or is not true since it cannot be scientifically studied.

      Yes but, you could use that to defend literally any metaphysical claim. In this realm there is no method of external verification. Our internal witness may satisfy you and me, but why should we expect it to satisfy an unbeliever?

      you say:
      There are things that science cannot study

      I agree and that’s a very important point I often emphasize myself. I don’t think it proves your point though, that miracles are somehow just another form of natural law.

      you say:
      And precisely because they are agreed on this point, it cannot be a significant piece of evidence against the occurrence of miracles.”

      I suppose it’s an argument from absence or regularity. How is that not a “significant piece of evidence.” It seems to me the argument is being made that because you can’t prove anything at all is absolutely true, you can’t ever decide what is probabilistically true. You agree there is regular natural law, but you argue that because miracles (as the atheist defines them) wouldn’t ever happen under natural law, that this means natural law can’t disprove them. I don’t think any atheist believes in absolute universal proof or disproof of something, merely that to positively believe something (such as miracles) you need positive evidence, not simply an absence of any evidence at all. How could our courts of law ever hold trials with that kind of logic? The prosecution could argue the defendant is always guilty because no amount of evidence could disprove that the murder happened through miraculous means.

      you say:
      But just because they cannot be studied scientifically does not mean they are not real, do not occur, or are impossible.

      I’m fairly certain I never implied miracles were not real, could not occur, or were impossible.

      you say:
      But if I throw up a ball, and God catches it, it remains in the air, does not immediately come down, that would be a miracle and by its nature would be not capable of scientific study.

      If it stayed there you could study some of its effects.

      you say:
      As my friend said it is a major mistake to allow the false ideas of nonbelievers to enter into your thinking

      I’m not afraid of logic. Nor am I afraid to follow logical conclusions. As a Christian, I believe following logic is an honest thing to do, that shows character. I don’t see how logical thinking could ever be compared to some kind of corrupting manure.

      Like

      1. You say:

        “Yes but, you could use that to defend literally any metaphysical claim. In this realm there is no method of external verification. Our internal witness may satisfy you and me, but why should we expect it to satisfy an unbeliever?”

        Our goal is not to satisfy the unbeliever. If that were so then we should just accept their theory of evolution that everything has evolved from a single entity. Regarding verification of claims, Paul said to test all spiritual claims things via the Word of God. So we test a nonbelieving theory, such as that miracles violate the laws of nature and therefore do not and cannot occur, with the Bible and find THAT theory to be false.

        “I agree and that’s a very important point I often emphasize myself. I don’t think it proves your point though, that miracles are somehow just another form of natural law.”

        “that miracles are somehow just another form of natural law” was NEVER my point.

        My point was that miracles ought not be viewed as violations of natural law.

        If that were so then God would be denying himself, contradicting himself. God set up the natural laws and the order and nature of the universe: if He contradicts his own set up, he denies himself (and scripture says he cannot deny himself). There is a reason why in scripture miracles are called “great works”: because there is God’s ordinary providence which operates in line with natural law and there are miracles which are greater works than His ordinary providence.

        “I suppose it’s an argument from absence or regularity. How is that not a “significant piece of evidence.” It seems to me the argument is being made that because you can’t prove anything at all is absolutely true, you can’t ever decide what is probabilistically true.”

        You are changing the subject here, we were never talking about probabilities here. If you want to get into Bayesian statistics we can do that, but I am guessing that you are not familiar with that.

        “You agree there is regular natural law, but you argue that because miracles (as the atheist defines them) wouldn’t ever happen under natural law, that this means natural law can’t disprove them.”

        Natural Law from a Christian perspective means **when God does not intervene miraculously**. If God does not do a miracle, then what happens when you throw a ball in the air?

        “I don’t think any atheist believes in absolute universal proof or disproof of something, merely that to positively believe something (such as miracles) you need positive evidence, not simply an absence of any evidence at all.”

        Have you even read Hume on this Dizerner?

        It seems you are talking off the seat of your pants here. Hume formulated the argument that miracles violate natural law. Christian apologists have been dealing with this atheistic argument ever since. I think you need to do some research on Hume and the response of Christians to his argument. I am not going to review that for you here, you can research that yourself on your own time.

        “How could our courts of law ever hold trials with that kind of logic? The prosecution could argue the defendant is always guilty because no amount of evidence could disprove that the murder happened through miraculous means.”

        I am quite aware of how evidence functions in the legal system, but lack of evidence was not Hume’s argument.

        You misunderstood when you quoted me and responded:

        [[“you say:
        But just because they cannot be studied scientifically does not mean they are not real, do not occur, or are impossible.
        I’m fairly certain I never implied miracles were not real, could not occur, or were impossible.”]]

        I was making the point that science cannot by its nature decide whether miracles can or cannot occur.
        I was not saying that YOU deny miracles.

        My corollary point is that you don’t want to imbibe non-Christian unbelieving thinking into your own thinking (that is the point of the manure in the water analogy). A mistake that some Christians make is that in order to be accepted or fit in, they will hold the same ideas or beliefs as nonbelievers do.
        I pointed out the example of the redefinition of marriage by nonbelievers, that we should not accept that or redefine marriage based on what nonbelievers say (you did not say ANYTHING about that point). I made that point because it is analogous to accepting nonbelieving thinking regarding miracles (if THEY define miracles as violations of natural law, should we? No, unless you want to operate by their definitions, which is a mistake, just as it is with operating by their definition of marriage).

        [[“you say:
        As my friend said it is a major mistake to allow the false ideas of nonbelievers to enter into your thinking
        I’m not afraid of logic. Nor am I afraid to follow logical conclusions. As a Christian, I believe following logic is an honest thing to do, that shows character. I don’t see how logical thinking could ever be compared to some kind of corrupting manure.”]]

        You misunderstood the water and the manure analogy. So I will explain it further, using the redefinition of marriage as an analogy. The Bible presents the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. THAT is the definition that believers ought to be operating by. That is the premise we ought to be operating by. But the world, nonbelievers come along, and they want to redefine marriage so it is not just between one man and one woman (that is a false premise, that is the manure). So the believer is faced with a choice: do I continue to hold the biblical definition/premise (keep my water which is untainted and pure), or do I modify or change my definition/premise (accept the nonbeliever’s definition, allow their manure to be put into my water)? Accepting false premises of other people is like accepting their manure into your water. It will mess up your water. If you allow their definition of marriage to be the definition of marriage that you operate by, there will be problems in your thinking regarding family and marriage. The same goes with accepting nonbelieving definitions of miracles: if you do so, there will be problems in your thinking.

        “I don’t see how logical thinking could ever be compared to some kind of corrupting manure.”

        The problem is not logical thinking per se, it is allowing false premises into your thinking.
        Those false premises if you operate by them will cause problems in your thinking.

        To use an infamous example there was a biblical “scholar” named Rudolph Bultmann who accepted the nonbelieving concept of miracles (i.e. that they are a violation of natural law, that science has proved that these violations of natural law cannot occur thus miracles cannot occur). So Bultmann went to the New Testament and every time he found a miracle, since he knew miracles could not occur, that modern people do not accept them, he threw them all out and argued that the biblical writers invented these stories (he called this “demythologizing”). Bultmann’s approach destroys the New Testament. And what is at the root of it? A false understanding and definition of miracles.

        Whenever Christians adopt the false definitions/premises of nonbelievers (their manure) they end up with problems. The problem is not logic, the problem is false premises that you then build your logical argument upon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. quote:
        If you allow their definition of marriage to be the definition of marriage that you operate by, there will be problems in your thinking regarding family and marriage. The same goes with accepting nonbelieving definitions of miracles: if you do so, there will be problems in your thinking.

        Marriage for the Christian is an institution based in their faith derived from the Bible. However I disagree that Christians should impose their morality onto government, and I disagree that government should even define or support marriage at all. So that point seems to fly past me—because I understand the logic of the unbeliever and I understand that they are unregenerate. Why in the world would I expect them to understand or adhere to my own point of view, when my point of view is supernaturally obtained and a reflection of the life of Christ within me, that they do not have? So it seems like apples and oranges to me, to compare the unbelievers morals, to the unbelievers logical arguments.

        quote:
        To use an infamous example there was a biblical “scholar” named Rudolph Bultmann who accepted the nonbelieving concept of miracles (i.e. that they are a violation of natural law, that science has proved that these violations of natural law cannot occur thus miracles cannot occur)…. Bultmann’s approach destroys the New Testament.

        But science can’t prove anything, and even deep thinking atheists agree completely with that. Bultmann’s approach is illogical.

        quote:
        A false understanding and definition of miracles.

        Absolutely not. The root of his problem was the illogical assertion that science can prove an absolute truth NOT his definition of miracles.

        quote:
        Have you even read Hume on this Dizerner?

        To be honest I’ve heard of him and seen him quoted here or there, but I really don’t care that much about what he says. I listen to a lot of current day atheists and their arguments. I know you think he started some trend, and that may be so, but if he made good arguments than people can still use them today. I argue with arguments, not names.

        quote:
        Natural Law from a Christian perspective means **when God does not intervene miraculously**

        That’s a very interesting and unique definition of miracles, lol. Almost as if you want to make miracles the norm, and natural law is just when God isn’t busy working miracles. I wouldn’t say your definition is incorrect, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best definition either, becuase it sounds like special pleading.

        It is not un-Christian to admit there is such a thing as natural law, that by definition excludes miracles, is regular and mutually verifiable. This is simply a convention that makes logical sense.

        It is not un-Christian to define miracles as a suspension or violation of that natural law, because that is what the miraculous acts always do. This is not somehow giving atheists ground or conceding that miracles are impossible.

        quote:
        Our goal is not to satisfy the unbeliever. If that were so then we should just accept their theory of evolution that everything has evolved from a single entity.

        The unbeliever has no motive to “skew” the scientific results, unless of course, they somehow either want fame badly, or have some extreme inner hatred for God. Those last two motives may be the case, but I don’t think it’s godly to assume they are the case, because that is character assassination and judging someone’s heart, and also reflects badly on the Christian as if he had some kind of stubborn extreme prejudice that kept him from believing any scientific person could simply be honest about the data.

        quote:
        So we test a nonbelieving theory, such as that miracles violate the laws of nature and therefore do not and cannot occur, with the Bible and find THAT theory to be false.

        That’s what miracles are by definition, because otherwise they are not a miracle (conform to natural law). It’s merely a matter of definition, so we can say what is a miracle or not. The definition itself is not a proof whether miracles can occur, it has nothing to do with that.

        quote:
        My point was that miracles ought not be viewed as violations of natural law.

        I mean on offense, but your point is difficult to discover. I read your arguments closely and still think that seems to be your point…

        quote:
        God set up the natural laws and the order and nature of the universe: if He contradicts his own set up, he denies himself (and scripture says he cannot deny himself).

        That is a very unusual interpretation of that verse… I just don’t see how it follows logically. If God sets up one system of laws, that doesn’t mean that system of laws is the total reflection of all that he is. This creation may reflect the glory of God, but it also reflects a deep marring from sin.

        quote:
        You are changing the subject here, we were never talking about probabilities here. If you want to get into Bayesian statistics we can do that, but I am guessing that you are not familiar with that.

        We don’t need to get into “Bayesian statistics” simply to talk about probabilities or to make my point. I’m not changing the subject at all, and I can’t understand why you think that. The subject is miracles and how atheists view them, how could probability in any way be off-topic? It makes no sense to me. I feel like, perhaps you feel the strength of the atheists’ logic in their determination about miracles, but want to somehow meet them on their own playing field, and still be able to prove that they should believe in miracles, so you have formulated some word-play and semantics shifting, to make miracles into something that then doesn’t match their definition.

        I have no problem with the atheists’ definition of a miracle. A miracle is a miracle is a miracle. Science never has shown or proved that it can lead us to ultimate reality or proof, and many deep thinking atheists readily agree. So there is no real threat there, in fact me and the atheist are on the same page logically; just in different kingdoms spiritually.

        God bless & thanks for the discussion.

        Like

  13. Upon recently reading George Whitefield’s letter to John Wesley: “No, dear Sir, you mistake,” I was interested to find an indication of yet another Calvinist who realized and recognized no matter his best efforts or the indication of God working in his life, he truly has no assurance at all.

    “Just thus it is as to the doctrine of election. I know that it is unalterably fixed (one may say) that I must be damned or saved; but since I know not which for a certainty, why should I not strive, though at present in a state of nature, since I know not but this striving may be the means God has intended to bless, in order to bring me into a state of grace?”

    In other words, he doesn’t know what God’s plan for him is, but he may as well try just in case. It’s a funny thing for a determinist to say (and they often do say oddly self-refuting things). He may as well just have said, logically:

    “…why should I not strive, though at present in a state of nature, since I know not but this striving may be the means God has intended to curse, in order to bring me into a state of damnation?”

    There really is no difference at all, since he admitted the end of his soul does not depend on anything he does but is already fixed.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dizerner,

    I am not going to go over all of your points, only a couple should suffice. I think we are about done with this topic.

    “Marriage for the Christian is an institution based in their faith derived from the Bible. However I disagree that Christians should impose their morality onto government, and I disagree that government should even define or support marriage at all. So that point seems to fly past me—because I understand the logic of the unbeliever and I understand that they are unregenerate.”

    My point was simple, just as in the definition of marriage, we should not go by the nonbelievers’ definition but by the biblical definition. Likewise we should not go by the nonbelievers’ definition of miracle, but by the biblical definition (i.e. great works, nothing about being a violation of natural law). We disagree and that is Ok, we will have to agree to disagree agreeably.

    [[quote:
    A false understanding and definition of miracles.
    Absolutely not. The root of his problem was the illogical assertion that science can prove an absolute truth NOT his definition of miracles.]]

    I never discussed the concept that science can prove an absolute truth, I said that science has nothing to say about miracles, whether they occur or don’t occur, whether they are possible or impossible, because science is concerned only with natural, ordinary phenomena.

    [[quote:
    Have you even read Hume on this Dizerner?
    To be honest I’ve heard of him and seen him quoted here or there, but I really don’t care that much about what he says. I listen to a lot of current day atheists and their arguments. I know you think he started some trend, and that may be so, but if he made good arguments than people can still use them today. I argue with arguments, not names.”]]

    Hume is the one who first began arguing that miracles are a violation of natural law and atheists have been using his arguments ever since. Christian apologists have shown his argument is both circular and question begging. It may benefit you to actually study Hume, his arguments and the response by Christians for yourself (there is plenty of it available on the web).

    “I have no problem with the atheists’ definition of a miracle.”

    That is the problem, there are problems with the atheist’s definition of miracles. That is again allowing them to put manure in your water. You don’t undertand this analogy and I am not going to explain it further.

    Thanks for the interaction and I hope you to investigate Hume further so that you will be ready when you run into non-believers who continue to parrot his arguments.

    Like

    1. Be it known today that I agree with Robert on something. To quote:

      “n many respects, much of the controversy in Reformed circles on this matter has risen from the complexities of terminology. The term “miracle” itself derives from the Latin miraculum, which refers to something that evokes amazement or wonder. The Scriptures, however, use many different terms and phrases (“sign,” “wonder,” “great work,” “mighty deed,” “power,” etc.) to describe what most people today mean when by the broad term “miracle.” As a result, we should not expect to find precise terminology in the Scriptures describing the continuation or cessation of everything that we might consider a “miracle.”

      [esp. here] ***Some branches of the Church define miracles as events that violate or supersede natural law. When considering the question of miracles today, it is important to remember that Reformed theology teaches that the universe is constantly upheld not by natural laws, but by the providence of God.*** So, Reformed theologians have tended to distinguish between God’s ordinary and extraordinary providence. Normally, God works through creaturely or second causes to accomplish his ends. For example, he normally uses rain to water the ground so that plants will grow. Yet, he is also free to work without, above and against second causes as he pleases (WCF 5:2-3).

      In general terms, both the Scriptures and Christian theologians tend to apply words expressing the miraculous to examples of extraordinary providence more than to ordinary providence. Even so, at times the timing and placement of very ordinary events are also described as miraculous. In this general sense, therefore, it is proper to say that the miraculous continues even in our day.”

      http://thirdmill.org/studybible/note.asp/id/40933

      Like

      1. you say:
        Even so, at times the timing and placement of very ordinary events are also described as miraculous.

        I guess in the end this really seems to be the main point of contention. I believe that life, creation, existence, is all a miracle in itself, but I’ve had really hard time seeing a “very ordinary event” as a miracle in any case. Sure a mother can describe a new birth as a miracle, or we can look up at the stars and say their arrangement is miraculous, but that all points back to the initial miracle of creation that set up the order and regularity we see today. Could someone list all the miracles that were “very ordinary events” yet still considered a miracle? I understand that some things that seem to follow natural law can seem miraculous, and in that case, they are so rare or unusual as to leave room for doubt that they would have indeed happened without some violation of natural law somewhere, even if it is only in influencing the will and choice of a human being doing something they wouldn’t normally do. Was Peter’s catch of fish a miracle or just a providential coincidence completely in accord with natural law? Being a fisherman all his life he still was greatly impacted at the unlikeliness of the event. As much as I want to understand this point of view, that we should see miracles somehow as only providence, I find it difficult then to separate that with intellectual honest from “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” Regularity itself may be the one greatest initial miracle (as per Deism) but only Cessationism would have the motivation to call that regularity a “miracle” thereafter, or at least I can’t see another reason to do so. I’d honestly consider, for example, the providence that led to Joseph being a ruler of Egypt as “miraculous” but not because it’s just really unusual and worked out for good. I’d have to truly believe God actively worked in some way to make something happen that otherwise, under strict natural law, would never happen. I don’t see winning the power ball lottery as a miracle, or being hit by lightning or a meteor a miracle, simply because they are rare. To me a miracle has to meet two conditions: 1. under natural law it would not happen. 2. some supernatural influence played a part. Otherwise why call it a miracle? If something is a “sign or portent,” that’s more a prophetic signal, Biblically, so we should be careful about grouping all of that type of language into one category.

        Like

  15. Well, I read about half of the comments on this topic.. there is a lot going on here, but I want deal with something in regards to what Pr. Leighton is presenting. Firstly, God bless you for your work and love. I can really see your love and passion for Jesus, Leighton, so praise Jesus!

    Anyways, your reason for approving the teaching of OSAS seems to place yourself in the same conflict of not being able to have assurance of salvation as you have presented in “WHY CALVINISTS CANNOT HAVE ASSURANCE.” In simple, if I am understanding you, a Calvinist cannot have assurance of salvation because they cannot know whether or not they are being “self deceived” (deceived by God) into believing that they are children of God for a time though they are actually not, proven by their falling away. This person looked no different than that of a believer and even considered himself the same way a believer does. (I agree here; they cannot logically have assurance).

    I am sure that you would not deny that the woman at the church at least thought that she loved her husband (I disagree with your conclusions of love and will explain later). In the same way then, it refers to salvation. I would assume that you believe that there are people that genuinely believe that they are children of God though end up being cast into hell and find themselves to have been deceived. So, what is the difference in your stance compared to the Calvinists’? Don’t you, in the same way, conclude that a person can be deceived that seemed secure in their salvation? Therefore, how can a person actually know if they are being deceived or if they are actually saved if it is merely up to “if it lasts its real”? Well you cannot know that it will last if we are honest, with this perspective.

    So, what is the problem with your interpretation in my opinion (not that my opinion means much haha)? It starts with your misunderstanding of mans application concerning love. I agree that love never fails, but what you are looking past that is evident throughout scripture is that man can love as well as fail love after having loved. So, it isn’t love failing, it is man choosing to not love. A person’s commitment to love someone or something doesn’t prove loves trueness by the person remaining loyal to love. By love remaining, it proves that the person continued to love..Simple. Love doesn’t fail, man does. Love will always hold up its end of the stick, but will man?? It is the same with a relationship with Jesus! “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, KEEP YOURSELVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Man is responsible through the grace of God to feed off of God’s power and promises to respond in faith and remain in love, through his relationship to God. God doesn’t make this happen though he may use persuasive measures occasionally. If a man, after knowing and responding to God’s call of repentance through the gospel of Jesus loves God and turns away, love didn’t fail..the man did.

    This is why I believe that man can indeed fall away from God, after gaining it, and end up in eternal punishment..punishment worse than if he had never believed.

    Like

    1. I’m glad you brought up OSAS, because as some people point out, there is a logical connection between all points of the TULIP as Calvinists present it. OSAS as a chain in the Calvinist theology, leads to three of similar conclusions Calvinism does, and I believe it is a grave error.

      1. OSAS denies free will.
      Sure they teach that you can deny Christ, but Christ will stay faithful to you as long as you said a magic prayer at some point. So they might seem like they are arguing you have the free will to reject Christ after salvation, but it just doesn’t lose your salvation. Why do I still say it denies free will? Because to have a free autonomous choice, you have to have the actually consequences of your choice, otherwise it’s something of a limited game. If I offer you an apple or and orange, and you say I’d like the orange please, and then I say “Hah, but you’re still getting an apple,” you in effect, had no free choice about whether to have an apple or an orange.

      2. OSAS makes a mockery of Biblical warnings.
      I understand that in the Calvinist system all the warnings are “irresistibly effectual means” to either prompt the elect to holiness or prod on the reprobate to sin, because the do not allow any autonomous choice, so all warnings are just for show to sort the two classes or castes of people into their slots God appointed for them—reprobate or elect, as God alone decides. Now Arminian OSAS doesn’t go so far as saying God decides who believes, but it does say once you believe these warnings are essentially meaningless because they can never apply to you. Typically the OSAS Arminian tries to build an elaborate category of “almost Christian still deciding” that they can then apply every passage about falling away from the faith to. The Bible makes no such distinction.

      3. OSAS has to say, if a believer falls away to the most severe degree, they are saved despite direct Scriptures saying what we currently do matters.
      In another similarity to Calvinism, the logic of OSAS has to say, to preserve their belief that one cannot ever fall away, that even if one completely denies Jesus, curses God, performs all manner of sin, evidencing absolutely no faith, respect for God or desire for holy living, one can be saved but only lose “eternal rewards” or some such. Calvinism handles this by saying the person was never saved at all, and that at least preserves the Biblical truth that you can’t live in unbelief and severe sin and expect salvation. Once we have absolutely no faith in Christ as Savior and absolutely no desire to please God, we are not alive, we are not saved and we are not God’s child. Scripture makes no bones about it—such will not inherit the kingdom of God; nor is there one single promise in all of Scripture that the unbelieving will still inherit the kingdom.

      you say:
      So, what is the difference in your stance compared to the Calvinists’? Don’t you, in the same way, conclude that a person can be deceived that seemed secure in their salvation?

      I can believe in present assurance, for three Biblical reasons.

      1. Even though Scripture teaches I can deceive myself, it also teaches that if I do certain things I will never be deceived. So if I am doing those things I don’t have to fear deception.

      2. I can make future choices today.
      By setting my will and seeking God’s grace and staying in the Word of God I can effectively make future choices right now. The reason I might fall away in the future, is because I left my future undecided in my heart—I took no thought for my spiritual morrow.

      3. God’s promises can apply to anyone who meets the conditions, not just the elect.
      I don’t ever have to wonder if I’m secretly chosen to be a vessel of wrath or deceived by God, because God promised that he is not a deceiving God but that his promises will apply to every human being that takes hold of them, and that God bars no one merely by fiat alone, but always based on some autonomous response to God.

      you say:
      This is why I believe that man can indeed fall away from God, after gaining it, and end up in eternal punishment..punishment worse than if he had never believed.

      Amen, this is what the Bible teaches.

      Like

      1. Thanks, Dizerner. I believe that a Christian can have present assurance in their relationship with God with the perspective that we hold, that man can fall from God. I was simply referring to Leighton’s perspective having the same issue as does the Calvinist perspective in not being able to have assurance. The bible certainly gives proof that the person in a love, obedient faith relationship with God can have assurance as you have continued.

        Like

      2. Logically, within their system, OSAS can have assurance…. just more assurance than the Bible gives.

        Like

    2. Wesley,

      Thanks for the comments.

      You wrote, “Don’t you, in the same way, conclude that a person can be deceived that seemed secure in their salvation? Therefore, how can a person actually know if they are being deceived or if they are actually saved if it is merely up to “if it lasts its real”? Well you cannot know that it will last if we are honest, with this perspective.”

      I can have as much assurance in my salvation as I have in my being married. Now, the draw back to that comparison is that my wife might sin and leave me, or I might sin and leave her (though I can’t imagine that happening). In our relationship with God, we know He isn’t going to sin and leave us so the only alternative is (as you pointed out) us deciding to leave him. Even in this view, this kind of “falling away” couldn’t happen by accident, as if someone lost salvation bc of their sinful missteps and finally God just has enough and casts them out of the family (where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more). No, even in this view of “falling away” it is a conscious walking away…a choice to leave the relationship behind. I wouldn’t fear that happening any more than I’d fear my leaving my wife because that would be up to my decision to remain. I might fear her leaving me, but it wouldn’t being rational to fear that I would leave her when that is my choice. No reason for me to fear making a decision I don’t want to make, right? So, even in this view the assurance is as strong as your perseverance in the relationship.

      But my argument (with regard to what some references as OSAS) has to do with the motivation for why someone would choose to walk away from a relationship with God. I think the only motive for this action is that the relationship never really existed to begin with…love was never present.

      See the article I wrote on OSAS several month ago for more on this point.

      You wrote, “Love doesn’t fail, man does.”

      I agree in that God is love and He doesn’t fail. The love of God which comes through faith and repentance will persevere bc it is of God. If it doesn’t persevere its because it wasn’t of God to begin with…

      You wrote, “Man is responsible through the grace of God to feed off of God’s power and promises to respond in faith and remain in love, through his relationship to God. God doesn’t make this happen though he may use persuasive measures occasionally.”

      I believe God’s grace with those who are born again will accomplish what ever is necessary to fulfill the guarantee and predestined outcome of all who truly believe (see Eph. 1:12-14)

      Like

  16. Thanks Prof. Leighton,

    I greatly enjoy your work and hope to help and encourage you..feel free to correct me if I am incorrect on a point.

    I am not trying to say that you cannot have assurance of salvation in reality…you can. I am trying to point out that it is inconsistent with your use of logic in saying that Calvinists cannot have assurance (of which I agree with).

    In saying that I don’t think you have dealt with my question yet..or I am misunderstanding you, though I don’t think this is the case. You replied to my comment by pointing to my series of questions:

    “Don’t you, in the same way, conclude that a person can be deceived that seemed secure in their salvation? Therefore, how can a person actually know if they are being deceived or if they are actually saved if it is merely up to “if it lasts its real”? Well you cannot know that it will last if we are honest, with this perspective.”

    The only thing you dealt with was my comment, “you cannot know that it will last if we are honest.” You seemed to answer this by how you have assurance in reality. As I said above, this isn’t my argument. But, while we are at this point I will mention what I disagree with about your statement and then get back to my initial question..quickly:

    You say that falling away cannot happen by accident. You say this as if a believer’s heart can never become hardened. Christians, by not listening to the Holy Spirit, can slowly be hardened to the point of being cut off. I believe this to be very biblical. So, it is not just as if a man in love with God suddenly decided to forsake God, it is that the deceitfulness of sin calluses the heart to the point of forgetting about ones initial love for God, and therefore denying Him.

    Back to my initial question that I previously asked:

    “Don’t you, in the same way, conclude that a person can be deceived that seemed secure in their salvation? Therefore, how can a person actually know if they are being deceived or if they are actually saved if it is merely up to “if it lasts its real”?

    I assume that you would answer my first question here with a “yes.” With this being said you seem to be in the same camp as the Calvinist trying to have assurance when they answer “yes” to the question:

    Can a person be completely deceived into thinking that they were actually saved?

    Therefore, how do you(by this logic) know that you are not being deceived?

    Like

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