Reflections on my discussion with Matt Slick

Matt Slick, the founder and president of Carm Ministries, is an accomplished apologist and fine man of God.  He is one of the most intelligent men I have had the privilege of debating over the doctrines of grace.  He and I do not see eye to eye, obviously, but I do feel he means well and has a unique ability to argue his perspective.

Last night I was invited to a Google Hangout by Tim Hurd, better known as “The Bible Thumping Wingnut.”  The invitation was in response to a recent podcast I released critiquing Matt’s denial of clear biblical teaching regarding man’s responsibility to humble themselves (see podcast page).

In this hangout, Matt Slick and I engaged in a thoughtful discussion over Calvinism (or Compatibilism) and Traditionalism (my non-Calvinistic Southern Baptist perspective). As I have noted, following other debates, there are often things that come to mind long after the discussion has ended that you wish were said.  Here are some of those points of reflection:

1. At the 37 minute mark Matt says, “I don’t believe in determinism. I use determinism against Atheists. I’m not a determinist. You are misrepresenting my position… And I’ve talk with James White and he is not either. We do not believe in determinism…”

We go on a couple of tangents but I made a note of this and later brought it back up by introducing the article by John Hendryx from monergism.com that was sent to me by Phil Johnson and James White in a previous discussion.  Here is what I read verbatim (at the 1:07 mark in our discussion):

“In order to understand this better theologians have come up with the term ‘compatibilism’ to describe the concurrence of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice. Our choices are not coerced …i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God’s sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph 1:11). In light of Scripture, (according to compatibilism), human choices are exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism.”

Matt, after just denouncing determinism, says of this quote, “That’s good Calvinism.” (1:09)  Do you see my frustration? On the one hand he denies being a determinist and then he affirms quotes like this which clearly state that Compatibilism “is a form a determinism and is not less deterministic than hard determinism.” What are we to do with this type of equivocation except continually call it out when we see it, as we did with Dr. James White HERE?

Later, in reference to the passage out of 2 Chronicles 12:7, which states:

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

I asked Matt, “Do you believe God irresistibly humbled them and that’s why God didn’t destroy them, or do you believe they freely humbled themselves?”

And Matt answered, “I believe both are in action there, I think God enabled them to freely do it…” (1:12). This is exactly what I argued earlier, which Matt labeled “idolatry.”  (more later on this point)

2. Throughout the discussion Matt continually insisted that the continual call to humility found in scripture (see verses below) are only for those who are already regenerated, not directed toward the lost. At the 45 minute mark I asked Matt if one has to repent in order to be forgiven and saved. I asked this to show that one has to be humble to admit they are a sinner and repent so as to be forgiven, which would be a clear indication this call is for the unregenerate prior to being forgiven.  So, when I asked if one has to humbly repent in order to be forgiven, Matt said:

“Yes and no. A baby for example. I believe God can grant belief to infants. That’s Psalm 22:9, ‘You made me believe in you at my mother’s breast.’ So I believe that is possible. Now, could a baby have a cognitive repentance aspect of various sins he has committed? I don’t believe that’s possible…that’s just my opinion. I don’t know if that’s right or not. But I don’t believe in that situation you have to have an attitude of repentance in order to become a Christian. Or to become regenerated and saved. Because if you said this is what you have to do then it doesn’t apply to all situations then the statement has to be modified.”

So, here Matt seems to argue that in most normal salvation experiences one does have to humbly repent in order to be saved, but not in other special cases with infants who are made to believe? Is that what he meant by “yes and no?” I wish I had asked for more clarity because that point was a major contention in this discussion. God clearly calls the lost to humble themselves so as to be saved and it seems obvious that one would have to humble themselves in order to repent of sin so as to be forgiven.

3. At the 50 minute mark Matt talks about the “aseity of God,” which he seems to equate with the ‘inability of God to create contra-causally free moral creatures.’

(i.e.  It is impossible for God to give man a quality that only He possesses…which begs the question that God designed a world where He alone possesses the ability to make contra-causally free choices.)

We all agree that God is not dependent upon anyone, but that fails to address the point of contention regarding the ability of God to create free moral creatures. James White denied that God has such an ability saying, “This is like asking if God is able to create a rock so big that he cannot move it.” And I rebutted, “No, it like asking if God is able to create a rock that He, in His Sovereign wisdom, chooses not to move, but instead grants the ability to move itself.”

For a better view of God’s aseity, lets consider what A.W. Tozer wrote in the classic book Knowledge of the Holy:

Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God, that is precisely what we see.

Twentieth Century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God’s free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity…

God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, chapter 22 “The Sovereignty of God”

Matt goes on to speak of the “communicable and non-communicable characteristics of God,” saying:

 “There are communicable attributes like, God can love — we can love; God can hate — we can hate; God can think — we can think. He does it perfectly, we don’t do it perfectly. The non-communicable, or incommunicable attributes of God are such as: God is all knowing — we are not all knowing; God is everywhere — we are not everywhere; God is independent and Has aseity, but we do not. Now, whenever we take a non-communicable attribute of God, a quality that belongs to God alone and attribute it to a created thing we call that idolatry. If we were to say a created thing is independent of all things, that is idolatry.”

So, Matt PRESUMES (without biblical proof or even a logical argument) that the ability of contra-causal, or autonomous libertarian freedom, falls under the non-communicable attributes of God.  Which is odd given that Matt later in the discussion admits that Adam, prior to the fall, may have been libertarianly free (1:06). Does that mean God granted Adam a non-communicable attribute of Himself but it was just lost in the fall? How is that not as equally “idolatrous” as what he accuses of me of believing?

Throughout the rest of the discourse Matt dismisses my view as “idolatry”on the basis that I am attributing to man a quality that is unique only to God, all the while equivocating on whether Adam himself was created with the very ‘non-communicable’ attribute in question…which would make his perspective equally as ‘idolatrous.’ (Maybe he does want to retract that statement after all?)

Wouldn’t it simplify things to include “FREE CHOICE” in the list of communicable attributes?  There are no shortage of passages which clearly indicate that God has granted man the ability to make choices (the selection between available options). On what basis does Matt bring the presumption that God could not grant that attribute to man?  And is it really idolatry to interpret the scripture to mean that mankind makes evil choices independently or autonomously of our perfectly Holy and Righteous God?

Consider the Word of God:

Jer. 7:31: They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.

Is. 1:18-20:  “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
19 “If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
20 “But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

1 Peter 5:5-6: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Isaiah 66:2: “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Matthew 18:4: Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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

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

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

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

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

443 thoughts on “Reflections on my discussion with Matt Slick

  1. I had a ton of discussions with Matt earlier this year, and while I think his heart is in the right place, I think sometimes his quickness to make bold assertions — “That’s idolatry”; “That’s heresy” — goes a bit “faster” than his patience and self-critical earnestness to untangle these issues and give his opponents fair hearing, in a way that genuinely admits what we all know: He might be wrong. I might be wrong. You might be wrong. On compatibilism, on the duration of hell, on God’s nitty-gritty attributes, etc.

    I think part of that might be that he runs a behemoth of a very bold, very confrontational Calvinist theology web site. The more bold and confrontational, the more something’s credibility becomes tied to its immovability. I don’t want to psychologize, but… one ponders these things.

    I loved your correct definition of “choices,” which lives happily in the land of compatibilism (which I assert). Maybe we can one day discuss what a compatibilistic Arminianism might look like.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Leighton. I listened to Dr. James White and you on Romans 9, and I remember James White saying “regeneration has to come first” and I thought of Matthew 7.

    Jesus Instructs the Disciples and the Crowds

    “7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!…28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:7-11&28-29)

    Jesus instructed them to ask, seek, knock, and told them that their Father in heaven would give what is good to those who ask Him. Jesus also stated they were evil, and even in that they knew how to give good gifts to their children. Jesus stated that the Father will give what is good to those who ask Him. Can there be anything more “good” than a person asking to receive Jesus? That is the heart of the matter right? That people turn to Jesus, and in that the Father gives what is good to them, and that they become children of God. (born again, regenerated)

    If regeneration has to come first before believing in Jesus as Dr. James White (Calvinists) state, then why did Jesus teach the unregenerate crowds to ask the Father for what is good and that the Father would give it? Could the unregenerate ask the Father to receive Jesus (that is something good) and be saved? (Matthew 7:7-11)

    What do you think Leighton?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The confusion over this questions arises when one doesn’t properly understand what Scripture means when it refers to that which is “good” or “righteous.”

      There is a distinction between doing something that is relatively good as compared with something else (to lie vs tell the truth) and doing something meritoriously “good” (earning or deserving of salvation). Anyone can do the former but no one can do the latter.

      God chooses to impute the righteousness of Christ onto those who freely admit they are not righteousness enough to earn salvation. He doesn’t have to do this. It is all of grace. So even in our system one cannot rightly claim that man is meriting grace because he freely chooses to trust in the righteousness of Christ. Faith and repentance is not GOOD enough to merit or earn salvation. God chooses to grace those who humbly trust in Christ. And while it is better to believe and repent than to trade the truth in for lies it still isn’t a meritorious act. Even those who humble themselves and trust in Christ deserve hell due to their sin and need the atoning work of Christ.

      Make sense?

      Liked by 2 people

    2. “Could the unregenerate ask the Father to receive Jesus (that is something good) and be saved? (Matthew 7:7-11)”
      …………………………
      Or, ask the Father to help their unbelief; also not meritorious good work.
      Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Leighton

    if you were talking to me I understand that. I would like to hear your feedback on what I shared in regards to Matthew 7. It is a very interesting point I think is very valid when talking to an Calvinist who believes a person cannot be humble enough to ask for salvation, and somehow that equals being some form of merit. Look over what I shared and share some thoughts. Thanks.

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    1. you say:
      why did Jesus teach the unregenerate crowds to ask the Father for what is good and that the Father would give it?

      I think the Calvinist could merely argue that asking for Jesus is something only God can irresistibly cause the unregenerate to do. The frustrating thing is they can superimpose mongerism on any passage by simply assuming “God made the person do it.”

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      1. Leighton,

        the issue as you know though is pressing the context of a passage. The crowds were also in this group, and unless the Calvinist goes as far to state they all were regenerated, (which they cannot prove in any sense) the clear connection is that the unregenerate were instructed by Jesus to ask, it is that simple. The problem is the Calvinist has to figure out how that works within their system of thought, but it can’t. I like this text along with the fact that the Calvinist cannot prove in any way that there was a single person before the work of the cross and resurrection that was regenerated/born again, and that is really a huge point. Some texts that in context prove this are John 1:12-13, John 7:37-39, John 14:16-17, and John 20:19-22.

        Kelly Powers
        Berean Perspective
        http://www.rootedinchrist.org

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      2. you say:
        the unregenerate were instructed by Jesus to ask, it is that simple.

        The unregenerate are instructed to repent to. The Calvinist has no problem with that, because God either irresistibly enables them or doesn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi diz

        “The unregenerate are instructed to repent to. The Calvinist has no problem with that, because God either irresistibly enables them or doesn’t.”

        I understand. But if pointing this over a discussion the Calvinist might see something they have not before. Calvinism is a big web of set perceptions and it takes time and consistent points being shown to demonstrate something.

        Thanks for your thoughts.

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      4. Leighton,

        another thing maybe I could share with you, if interested is I have had run in’s with James White in the past. He has done his dividing line show on me a couple times, challenged me to a debate that never happened. And I have had many debate chats with Matt Slick in the past. We have a lot in common though you have the coming out of Calvinism part which I find awesome and would love to talk more about that one day. ttyl

        Kelly Powers
        Berean Perspective
        http://www.rootedinchrist.org

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  4. Leighton, I’d like to make a quick comment without really getting into it. Your frustration with Matt’s argument is justified. Both groups may disagree with me but I believe that much of this Calvinist/Arminian Debate is philosophical. John Hendryx does not understand Compatibilism. Matt Slick also does a bad job of articulating Compatibilism and staying consistent. James White does a little better but none of these guys are very good philosophers. Your arguments were strong and you revealed legitimate inconsistencies. Incidentally, I thought your article on Homosexuality was very good and I wish James White had treated it with more serious thought. I think you do a good job at shooting holes in the opposition–now if you could only fill the holes in your own argument I’d be totally with you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t have all the answers. But I’ve done a lot of reading over many years on this debate. There are a a few of reasons that I switched from an non-Calvinist position to a Calvinist position. (I say non-Calvinist because like many Christians I really didn’t know too much about the particulars of real Arminianism. I’ve studied it since then). One of the main reasons was poor answers to questions. And many of the answers consisted of—”well, this is what the Calvinists believe and it is obviously wrong so whatever we say must be right.” Though this did force me to study the debate. I have problems with the way some Calvinist apologists defend the system and I have problems with Calvin himself—he’s too Presbyterian for me. 😉 I don’t know if I’m a “moderate” or not but I’d be happy to talk to you about it some time. Perhaps I could join you on a Google Hangout some time (I’ve never done one but I’m game.)

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  5. The argument that compatibilism makes Calvinism non-deterministic is just as incoherent as their argument of first and second causes removing the responsibility of sin from God who they claim “ordain whatsoever comes to pass;” (WCF) Like many Calvinists. Matt Slick and James White seem to have their own brand of logic. It goes along with their special definitions of words. It is very convenient for them in their debates and arguments which allows them to insist to the non- calvinist “You just don’t understand”.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly Diz, if the meaning of words interfere with their arguments/theology they will unashamedly “adjust” it to fit. Notice how Slick tries to redefine Leighton’s use of autonomy and make it mean the aseity of God. He then refers to this as idolatry. The man is using a bullying hominem while smiling claiming of course I am not saying you are engaging in idolatry! Leighton is too much of a gentleman to ask just what does he mean.

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      2. I do think the fact that decisions are created ex-nihilo seems confusingly god-like to Calvinists, because a choice is something literally created out of nothing by fiat of the sovereign over the will. I see confirmation of that in Jesus saying we are like gods, and that we are made in God’s image. I don’t think we could be in God’s image unless we shared at least one trait with God, and some people think the imago dei as reason, but I see it as autonomous will. It’s funny that although Jesus never clearly claimed to be God (but did indirectly), he was constantly accused of blasphemy. Perhaps the Calvinist’s reaction is similarly based in a desire not to make too much of us human beings having such a godlike trait. It is interesting that the Calvinist might accuse me of idolatry for belief in free will yet I would accuse them of blasphemy for belief in determinism. bless

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      3. Calvinists confusion cannot be limited to just decisions but to all thought in general. Even saying “I think” puts me in jeopardy of Idolatry based on their (at least Slickian) theology.Perhaps, based on their argument of first and second causes, they are also guilty of idolatry when I say “I am confused”

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      4. “Very weird to hear a Calvinist say they are not a determinist.”

        Probably reflects the definition of the term, “determinist.” If “determine” is defined as compelling a person to act against his will, then Calvinists are not determinists. If “determine” is defined in terms of God necessarily exercising sovereign control, then Calvinists are determinists.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. you say:
        If “determine” is defined as compelling a person to act against his will

        I’ve never heard that definition of determinism anywhere.

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      6. The CARM website has this definition: “Determinism it the philosophical view that every event in the universe is caused and controlled by natural laws. This would dictate that there is no free will in humans and that all events are the result of natural and physical laws.”

        By that definition, a Calvinist is not a determinist.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. dizerner writes, “Calvinists say the will is not free but want to call it free. Why don’t they stop that???”

        Calvinists denote different types of freedom. Adam had “Libertarian freedom” in the garden and lost that freedom when he sinned. Adam was still free but now that freedom was constrained by a sinful flesh. Calvinists say that the will that is slave to sin but still has freedom however, sinful man has no desire for good things except as they benefit him. In that sinful “freedom” man has no desire for God or the things of God.

        When God regenerates a sinful person, God restores to him the “libertarian freedom” that Adam lost when he sinned. A person who has “libertarian freedom” has greater freedom than the person who is slave to sin.

        Some people, perhaps you, say that all people have “libertarian freedom” regardless of there condition and are always able to exercise “libertarian freedom.” Calvinists say that Paul speaks against this in Romans as does Jesus when He describes the unsaved as being deaf and blind.

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      8. Yes, yes, I know Calvinists have different kind so “freedom” one that’s free and one that’s not free. Why don’t that stop that? Why label something the opposite of its definition? It makes no sense and I wish they would stop.

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      9. dizerner writes, “…I know Calvinists have different kind so “freedom” one that’s free and one that’s not free.”

        I think you are confused on the issue of “freedom” of will. A blind person is free within the constraints of his blindness but his freedom to choose is limited by his blindness to certain options because he makes decisions without the benefit of sight. The person who is not blind has greater information to deal with so he has more options from which to choose.

        Technically, only God has true freedom of will because God is omniscient and has infinite understanding of the choices and the impacts of individual choices. So, men are free within the constraints of their knowledge and understanding of the options from which they choose – they are not free in the same way that God is.

        As salvation is the only decision we care about, Paul tells us that a person is saved by grace through faith. Paul also tells us that the unsaved do not have faith. Thus, the unsaved cannot choose to be saved absent God’s help – to give them faith with which to believe unto salvation, convict them of their sin, bring them under the preaching of the word, etc. Nonetheless, the unsaved have free will and exercise that freedom to choose to sin.

        Is it your contention that all people are equally free in the libertarian sense of being able to choose otherwise especially with regard to salvation?

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      10. It’s like if Arminians defined determinism as “autonomously not under God’s control in any sense” and then said “We believe in determinism too, just a determinism that isn’t determined.”

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      11. dizerner writes, “It’s like if Arminians defined determinism as “autonomously not under God’s control in any sense” and then said “We believe in determinism too, just a determinism that isn’t determined.”

        Are you saying that the confused Arminian in your statements above is similar to a confused Calvinist because the Calvinist defines “free will” in two ways? If yes, I don’t understand the comparison. If no, then I don’t know what you are trying to say.

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      12. I’m trying to say I believe in two kinds of determinism, and one isn’t determined.

        Does that logically satisfy you? Because I know your definition of free will sure doesn’t satisfy me. This isn’t rocket science, man, it’s like saying “I believe in two kinds of blue, but one is red.”

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      13. dizerner writes, “Because I know your definition of free will sure doesn’t satisfy me.”

        Do you think that there is a “libertarian free will” is distinct from a “free will” that is not libertarian? Or do you think is there just one valid definition of free will?

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      14. say:
        Or do you think is there just one valid definition of free will?

        Yes a will that is really free and not fake free.

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      15. dizerner writes, “Yes a will that is really free and not fake free.”

        When we read Hebrews 11, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” and Romans 8, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God,” can we correctly conclude that the person who has libertarian free will – who lacks faith and is controlled by the sinful nature – cannot choose to please God?

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      16. dizerner writes, “No more than the fact that he can’t choose to lift 1,000 pounds takes away his free will.”

        That’s fine. Without faith and hampered by a sin nature, you are agreeing with the Calvinists that the person with free will cannot take any action – make any choice – unto salvation (salvation is the 1,000 pound weight). Despite this limitation, your position is that the person still has free will – whether we call it libertarian or anything else: it is all the same to you.

        Your complaint with the Calvinists is that the Calvinists make the distinction of defining Libertarian free will as incorporating faith and freedom from slavery to sin. You also make this distinction since you also differentiate between the person who cannot choose salvation and that person who can. As you said earlier, “…Calvinists have different kind [of] “freedom” one that’s free and one that’s not free.” That’s true (sort of), but you also make this distinction while using different language.

        You and the Calvinist recognize the problem with sinful humanity. Some have the ability to lift the 1,000 pond weight (choose salvation) and some do not. Calvinists merely say that one person has free will in the libertarian sense (because this includes the ability to choose salvation) and the other in free but not in the libertarian sense (having no ability to choose salvation).

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      17. It seems to me though rhuthin, that there is an even more subtle distinction than the one you are making, and this is the distinction I have a problem with. Calvinists are saying the man cannot even choose to walk up and *try* to life the 1,000 lb weight, because under Calvinist theology *trying* to lift the 1,000 lb weight is the exact same thing as lifting it—in their systematic, trying and lifting *are the exact same things*. This is why I appreciate Leighton’s efforts of late at bringing out this crucial distinction, and why God can command a sinner with Total Depravity (not Total Inability), to *not* lift the weight, but merely *admit* they can’t lift the weight, which would be akin to humbling oneself before God. But the Calvinists take this odd little paradox where they slip in a mere choice itself as actually a meritorious work, and yet I don’t think you can find me one Scripture that says righteousness is complete by *one* choice and not by living out a righteous life. And Calvinists will say *the very act of admitting you can’t* is somehow *doing it,* and that really is a paradox. As if to admit I’m a sinner makes me righteous? Chapter and verse please? Show me were merely *admitting* I’m a sinner is a righteous thing? There are plenty of sinners the whole world that at one point or another say “I know I’m a bad person,” and that didn’t make them righteous or erase their sins. Yet the Bible clearly says a *wise* man built his house on the rock and a *foolish* man built his house upon the sand, yet the Calvinists in their weird way of defining monergism say no one can be called wise because that’s boastful and self-righteous; againg, where’s that in the Bible. Can you blame me for comparing Calvinism to the Bible itself and saying hey, it doesn’t match up?

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      18. dizerner writes, “…here is an even more subtle distinction than the one you are making,…”

        What you are now doing is called deflection. Having no argument against Calvinism on the point you made, you shift gears. Why not just admit the obvious.

        So, now you want to make a distinction based on a person “trying” to lift the 1,000 lb weight, discovering that he cannot lift it and humbly crying out to God for the help he knows he needs. You are free to go down this path, but you a viable explanation for why everyone doesn’t try and cry out for salvation. If everyone has Libertarian Free Will, then everyone should analyze their predicament and come to the same conclusion – that they need to be saved and should at least try to lift the weight. How do you avoid universalism or the opposite outcome – none are saved.

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      19. Well I can avoid it. I don’t feel my logic compels me to follow the conclusion to this end, but I understand your concern; I’ve seen others go down this path, and I’m just as worried about it as you are. In fact I post against it quite often on here.

        I’m in no way trying to imply by saying everyone has LFW that everyone understands how to turn to God. This is the purpose of evangelizers and preachers. But not knowing about a choice you can make, does not mean you don’t have LWF any more than not being able to do something you choose. Suppose I go on a cruise ship, and thinking I only paid for the ticket, bring my own food. But I’m poor so I bring only crackers. Say on the last day of the cruise someone says to me, “I noticed you don’t eat much. Why not try the buffet?” I say, “Well, I couldn’t afford it.” They respond “But don’t you know? It comes with the price of the ticket.” Now I ask you: was my LFW gone all during that cruise because I didn’t think I had the option of eating? No my LFW wasn’t gone, there was just an available choice *I didn’t know about.* And that’s why we preach Christ to all nations.

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      20. dizerner writes, “…not knowing about a choice you can make, does not mean you don’t have LWF any more than not being able to do something you choose.”

        Why are you avoiding the issue? The idea behind LFW is that everyone has the ability to choose otherwise with regard to salvation – it’s an accept/reject situation. LFW says that people understand their options and the decision called for. The issue is to explain why a person with LFW rejects salvation.

        S far, you have agreed with the Calvinists that there are some people without faith and in slavery to sin who reject salvation. That’s easy to explain. However, if a person with LFW has faith and is not enslaved to sin, there is no explanation for them to reject salvation. That’s what the Calvinists contend. I don’t see you challenging this conclusion. Apparently, despite your opposition to Calvinism, you end up agreeing with them. At least, you offer no argument against the Calvinists.

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      21. LFW has nothing to do with knowing all choices you can make. That’s simply a category error. LFW states that, given two choices, A or B, you have the power to choose one or choose the other entirely from your own causality. It does *not* say you will always know all choices available. With this logical mistake you can avoid the issue—people can have LFW and not know choosing God is an option.

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      22. dizerner writes, “LFW states that, given two choices, A or B, you have the power to choose one or choose the other entirely from your own causality. It does *not* say you will always know all choices available. With this logical mistake you can avoid the issue—people can have LFW and not know choosing God is an option.”

        I think Pastor Flowers is correct in saying that LFW entails the ability to choose otherwise. To “choose otherwise” requires that one know what is “otherwise” and be able to distinguish one option from its otherwise option.

        Let’s apply this to the only decision that matters. The choice is to accept salvation or choose otherwise – reject salvation. One entails eternal life; the other eternal death. As you seem to have agreed already, a person with LFW who does not have faith and is slave to sin cannot accept salvation even if he has “his own causality.” Calvinists say that such a person is unable to accept salvation until God gives him faith and frees him from slavery to sin. You have yet to argue against that position.

        As has been argued, it is not that which one knows that is important but that which one has the ability to do. To date, you have conceded the argument to the Calvinists. It is simply this: a person without faith who is slave to sin has no ability to accept salvation; a person with faith and freed from slavery to sin has the ability to exercise his LFW to accept salvation.

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      23. Well you simply deny the fundamental definition of LFW because you insist all choices must be known at all times for LFW to exist. You made no logical point to back that up, but merely asserted. Apologies if I find that completely unconvincing, regards.

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      24. dizerner writes, “…you insist all choices must be known at all times for LFW to exist.”

        dizerner slowly slides into denial. We are no dealing with all choices; we are concerned with one choice and that concerns salvation. The LFW decision is to accept or choose otherwise – reject.

        However, definition is not even the issue at this point.

        You have shown yourself unable to deny the Calvinist contention – that a person not having faith and enslaved to sin has no ability to choose to accept salvation. You need to come to grips with that.

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      25. I’m in “denial” for sticking to definitions. It doesn’t matter if you insist all or one choice has to be known, you’re violating the definition, which you constantly do to pat yourself on the back and think you won the argument. Not interested in watching you spin spin spin, anymore.

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      26. dizerner writes, “I’m in “denial” for sticking to definitions.”

        Now you go hide behind “definitions” as if definitions were an issue. We are past that. If you were not in denial, you would address the issue of faith and slavery to sin as it relates to salvation. You don’t want to do that – that is denial.

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      27. I addressed it many times—so that makes me think that logically, you have to be the one in denial here. Unless we throw out logic and act like immature kindergartners— which you are welcome to do if you want.

        LWF — The ability to choose between A or B, given A or B as an option.

        LFW – Does NOT mean nor imply that given A or B where B is impossible, there is still the option to do either.

        LFW — Does NOT mean to imply that given option A but hiding option B and making option B unknown, both options are possible.

        I’ll continue to “hide” behind definitions and logic, and you continue to “hide” behind whatever it is you are hiding behind.

        regards.

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      28. Dizerner,

        You wrote:
        LFW — The ability to choose between A or B, given A or B as an option.
        LFW — Does NOT mean nor imply that given A or B where B is impossible, there is still the option to do either.
        LFW — Does NOT mean to imply that given option A but hiding option B and making option B unknown, both options are possible.

        This is a good definition of LFW. Now, let’s take Calvinism off the table. Let’s not even take it into consideration. Let’s simply examine your definition. If the two choices are to sin or not to sin and it is impossible for God to sin than given your definition God does not have LFW.

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      29. Sorry, but you will really have to unpack that because it looks like a dogg–it’s the Begging the Question Fallacy. To sin or not to sin are legitimate options for man and defines LFW. If you what to define LFW differently for God that’s fine but then you can’t demand FW consistency from those who disagree with you. I what to give you the benefit of the doubt but this kind of answer smacks of Double Standard.

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      30. I disagree. Even Spoul lays out what’s possible alternatives for pre-fallen man versus post fallen man versus post regenerate man versus glorified man. Each has different options, thus their choices are limited to what options are permitted within their natures.

        I may want to flap my arms and fly but I can’t. It’s not an option. That Doesn’t mean I don’t have LFW. LFW, as the definition above stated, is about the selection between AVAILABLE options not all options. Sin isn’t available to God BC sin is, by definition, going Against the will of God…or falling short of Gods glory. How does He fall short of himself?

        If u want to talk about the LFW of God u have to talk about two AVAILABLE options.

        Liked by 1 person

      31. So I guess RC Sproul trumps Matt Slick? 🙂 I’d like to look up the passages you are referring to by Sproul because I’m not sure that they really support your argument. But let’s go with the AVAILABLE options as defining LFW. If this is the case than LFW may legitimately be used by Calvinists. Calvinists define the nature of man as corrupted by sin. Therefore, the option to choose God without regeneration is not an available option within man’s nature. Now, you can disagree with this but you can’t now say that Calvinists are misusing the term!

        Liked by 1 person

      32. Dr. Flowers writes, “…Even Spoul lays out what’s possible alternatives for pre-fallen man versus post fallen man versus post regenerate man versus glorified man. Each has different options, …”

        I’ll guess, without knowing what you read to make to think this, that you are misunderstanding Sproul. Sproul would identify different scenarios based on the external factors affecting a person’s decisions. For example, post-fallen man is a slave to sin and while he has the true “option” to obey God, he has no desire to obey God and would always choose to disobey God. Sproul would, I think, say that post-fallen man has a free will just not a libertarian free will. Regenerate man has LFW whereby he chooses to obey God but still struggles with his sin nature whereby he can, and does, choose to disobey God. Pre-fallen man and glorified man are under the influence of different external factors affecting the choices they make but all of them would have the same basic option – obey/disobey God.

        I think you have defined LFW as the ability to choose otherwise. The issue for LFW is not that all options are available but that a specific option must be available – the option to choose otherwise. Thus, God has the true “option” to sin as He has LFW and can choose otherwise – God will not choose to sin because of His attributes that work in concert with His LFW.

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      33. rhutchin,

        As we our on the same side I, of course, appreciate your argumentation. I would just like to suggest one revision to your last statement. Scripture is clear that God cannot sin–I know you agree with this. Therefore I would not say that God does NOT “choose to sin” because of His attributes. I think this would compromise the Euthyphro Dilemma Response. God does not “choose” His nature or attributes. God’s nature is ontological. God’s nature is God.

        Liked by 1 person

      34. Also, there is a major problem for the LFW advocate if the definition is AVAILABLE options. The choices made within a deterministic framework are only those that are “available” or predetermined for the chooser. If the only options given or “made available” to the chooser are bad or manipulative, though these are choices, can they be considered true FLW choices? Was “Sophie’s Choice” a true LFW choice?

        If the definition of LFW is “The ability to choose between A or B, given A or B as an AVAILABLE option” than this definition is consistent, not only with Compatiblism but also Hard Determinism.

        It is understood that human beings are limited but how the extent of that limitation effects LFW is not clear. So as much as LFW is defended by its advocates, it is still a mystery term with no consistent definition!

        Liked by 1 person

      35. Excellent point Mike. When we think of God’s supernatural boundless power, we intuitively feel we should rule out the 2nd exception I gave, that one option might be impossible. There’s a couple of ways we could handle this problem. First we can simply say God can sin—he is completely free to sin. That is, there is nothing about his nature binding his free will from sinning, but rather his free will, and his free will alone, has chosen for him to never sin. I like that option personally and it makes sense to me. The second way we could handle it is by trying to prove that doing logically impossible things is an incoherent statement, that actually has no verifiable meaning attributed to it. If I say, “Aha! But it’s impossible for God to Kerfuffle isn’t it!” Then you say, “But what is that?” I say “It doesn’t matter what it is, just that God can’t do it.” We simple played with words a bit. This is like making a rock so big he can’t push it, or making a square circle, or making an autonomous yet determined will. So we could add one more exception to LFW—The ability to choose between A or B, as long as A and B aren’t juxtaposed as a meaninglessly illogical paradox. Now I personally do think God, being the Creator of logic itself, can accomplish pure paradoxes (and did so in the Person of Christ). But it’s another way to handle this dilemma.

        So to recap, God cannot sin could either be: 1. God never freely chooses to sin. OR 2. Sin is defined as the opposite of God’s will, and thus God choosing sin would make it no longer sin.
        regards

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      36. dizerner,

        Thanks for not dodging the question. There are two problems with your solutions. 1. The scripture (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2) states that God “cannot lie.” I’d have to do some translation investigation on the word “cannot” to see if it denotes complete negation but if just means He “doesn’t” than, 2. God choosing not to lie would contradict the Euthyphro Dilemma Response.

        Liked by 1 person

      37. you say:
        (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2) states that God “cannot lie.”

        I do take this objection seriously. The original languages I would grant are quite emphatic. I might make a weak argument that we speak idiomatically—I would say I can’t do something I decided I would never do, or would be abhorrent to me. Maybe a little strong is the logical argument that once a decision has been made, we can truly say we can’t choose the opposite decision. I can logically prove we can make future decisions now (we can decide that we will not take into account any future altering factors). If I’ve made up my mind, I think I can say I can’t do otherwise—not because I couldn’t do otherwise but because my choice has been made. It’s similar to our past choices. If you drank Coke for lunch yesterday, you cannot choose Pepsi now. If I say to you “You cannot drink Pepsi for lunch yesterday,” did I really nullify the fact that you had a free choice about it yesterday? So I would say God’s choice to never lie was like you drinking Coke yesterday, and can’t in this case merely means the choice has already been made, so it is impossible for both A and B to be chosen simultaneously. regards

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      38. Poor dizerner, who writes, “I addressed it many times..”

        The issue you are avoiding is faith and slavery to sin as it relates to salvation. Faith is a gift from God; all people are slaves to sin until God saves them. So, any person with LFW has no ability to be saved (whether in the Calvinist or non-Calvinist sense) until God gives them faith and frees them from the slavery to sin.

        As you have not argued against this, you agree with it. Correct? Are you really ready to stop hiding??

        After this, we can straighten out your thinking on LFW by looking at the meaning of “choosing otherwise.”

        Liked by 1 person

      39. No I don’t agree that Scripture teaches faith necessarily has to be irresistibly and monergistically applied. Faith is described as an actions humans do of free volition, and to whom God has offered the capacity to all who will accept the witness of his Spirit.

        I agree a person in slavery has their LFW limited. I argue that only an *autonomous* will even has the capacity to be enslaved. We don’t “enslave” non autonomous things, in a true sense (only an idiomatic sense); because slavery requires one will to be imposed over another. I can say a sock puppet is my “slave” because I can make it do whatever I want—but there’s nothing in the sock puppet to “enslave,” it is nothing but an inanimate object.

        I’ve never been “hiding” anywhere, and if I’m “poor,” I hope it’s “poor in spirit.” I might suggest you stick to arguments and not attempt to make it personal insults, because that really doesn’t help people see what you’re trying to say, and makes you look very immature.

        bless

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      40. dizerner writes, “I agree a person in slavery has their LFW limited.”

        Presumable lack of faith also limits LFW. Thus, you agree with the Calvinists on this – a person without faith and slave to sin cannot choose salvation. Paul adds in 1 Corinthians 1 that such people consider the gospel to be foolishness.

        Can a person who has no ability to choose to be saved be said to have LFW when LFW is all about having the ability to choose to be saved?

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      41. you say:
        Paul adds in 1 Corinthians 1 that such people consider the gospel to be foolishness.

        If you study that passage a little more closely you will see Paul says “the natural man” considers it foolishness. Even your natural man and my natural man consider the cross foolishness—that’s why we choose to be spiritual men, as Paul exhorts in that passage. Paul did not teach Total Inability here, in fact he taught the opposite:

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      42. dizerner writes, “If you study that passage a little more closely you will see Paul says “the natural man” considers it foolishness.”

        So, you are saying that a “natural man” is distinct from the run-of-the-mill unsaved who have no faith and are slave to sin. Are you saying that among the unsaved, there is a subset of people who are called “natural men,” and it is only they who consider the gospel foolishness?

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      43. I’m saying we all can be a natural or spiritual man, it’s a mindset of the flesh or spirit. We have a natural side to use—that doesn’t understand the cross—or do you deny it?

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      44. Ernest writes, “I’m saying we all can be a natural or spiritual man,…”

        In 1 Corinthians Paul defines the “natural” man as “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God,…”?

        One can be saved or unsaved, having the Spirit or not having the Spirit. So if you mean that we (humanity) can be either saved or unsaved, then you make sense. If you mean that we (believers) can be either natural (unsaved) or Spiritual (unsaved) then you don’t make sense.

        Perhaps, you are thinking of Romans 7 where Paul discusses the continuing influence of a sinful nature in believers.

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      45. Where did you get the translation “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God,…”? It’s an incorrect translation only adopted by the NIV that I know of. The Greek says “the soulish man” and nowhere says “without the Spirit.”

        ψυχικὸς δὲ ἄνθρωπος οὐ δέχεται τὰ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ θεοῦ (1Co 2:14 NA28)

        “But, a man of the soul, does not receive of the Spirit of God.”

        Please don’t make up your own Bible to prove your point, thanks.

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      46. dizerner writes, “Where did you get the translation “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God,…”? It’s an incorrect translation only adopted by the NIV that I know of. The Greek says “the soulish man” and nowhere says “without the Spirit.”

        Below are various translations. The most common translation in “natural man.” The NET translation has the obvious, Paul speaks of the unbeliever; the NIV also notes the obvious; unbelievers do not have the Spirit.

        Is it your contention that, within Paul’s context, the “natural” man is not an unbeliever and can have the Spirit?

        NET The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

        NIV The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

        NASB But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

        ESV The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

        NLT But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

        MSG The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit-God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion.

        BBE For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit.

        NKJV But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them , because they are spiritually discerned.

        NRSV Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

        KJV But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned .

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      47. I see Paul as saying we can all live as unspiritual or spiritual people, we all have an unspiritual side and a spiritual side. Which we pay attention to is our decision.

        Do you think a Christian can live an unspiritual/fleshly life?

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      48. Dizerner writes, “I see Paul as saying we can all live as unspiritual or spiritual people, we all have an unspiritual side and a spiritual side. Which we pay attention to is our decision.”

        Then we disagree on the understanding of 1 Corinthians 1-2.

        Dizerner writes, “Do you think a Christian can live an unspiritual/fleshly life?”

        As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 3, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”

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      49. But you think God himself decrees we be worldly, and our so-called “free” will is not our free choice but his decree?

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      50. dizerner writes, “you think God himself decrees we be worldly, and our so-called “free” will is not our free choice but his decree?”

        People are slaves to sin and thereby they are worldly. God may decree that He will not interfere in the lives of some people thereby leaving them to pursue freely their worldliness and sin. As God does not give such people faith and the Spirit does not convict such people of sin, they exercise LFW in all areas of their lives except with regard to salvation in which they have no interest. God may always intervene to restrict the sin that people do.

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      51. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.”

        Paul clearly says any man can become foolish, and thus experience the power of the Gospel. This also assumes what Paul teaches elsewhere that the Gospel has come to such a person.

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      52. dizerner writes, ““Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.”

        Paul clearly says any man can become foolish, and thus experience the power of the Gospel.”

        Paul says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?…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.”

        Paul is addressing believers and the “you” refers to them. Paul said the same thing in Romans 12 – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought [as wise in this age], but rather think of yourself with sober judgment [become foolish in faith], in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

        The contrast is between “wise in this age” and “foolish [in faith].”

        That which you claim Paul clearly said is clearly wrong.

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      53. I think Paul addressed anyone that would read his letters—including people in the 21st century. But that aside, you still have a verse directly contradicting monergism (but of course you don’t care about that do you?). Either way, Paul called the Corinthians men of the flesh, or natural man, qualifying them for thinking the things of the Spirit were foolish.
        14 But, a man of the soul, doth not welcome the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him…
        I, therefore, brethren, have not been able to speak unto you, as unto men of the Spirit, but as unto men of the flesh…
        3 For ye are yet fleshly.

        If you’re going to define fleshly as unsaved you’ve shot yourself in the foot, because Paul applied it to his recipients.

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      54. Paul writes, “I…have not been able to speak unto you, as unto men of the Spirit, but as unto men of the flesh…”

        The key phrase is “…as unto men of Flesh…” The word, “as,” is comparative. Paul compares the believers to those who are fleshly (worldly/carnal) saying “…are you not worldly?” He is not saying that they are worldly/carnal/fleshly in the sense of being unsaved. Paul’s point is that the behavior of the Corinthian believers is like that of the unsaved and that they need to be moving on, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”

        You have had to distort that which we find in 1 Corinthians to get your conclusions that Paul is not addressing believers or that I have shot myself..

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      55. RHutchin, Here is an example of A promise made by God that is contingent on the action of man. It is consistent with many other verses and even covenants we find in scripture which shows that God has not created a deterministic world but one in which His creatures have been given dominion and freedom to be the agent of their actions.
        Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (HCSB)
        13 “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the LORD your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14 I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and oil. 15 I will provide grass in your fields for your livestock. You will eat and be satisfied.

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      56. Ernest writes, “Here is an example of A promise made by God that is contingent on the action of man…Deuteronomy 11:13-15”

        Such verses are straightforward declarations by God: If you do A, I will do X, but if you do B, I will do Y. This does not address the issue of God’s knowledge of a person’s actions before the person acts.

        We know from the Psalms that God knows the thoughts of a person so, at the least, God knows what a person will do before the person acts to do it. Thus, God can always change the outcome to fit His purpose – If the person desires to do A, God can turn his will so that he desires to do B; if the man desires to do B, God chooses to do nothing and the person does B. By knowing the thoughts of a person, God is able to exercise His sovereign control to gain the outcome that fits His purpose.

        If God sees the thoughts of a person only as he thinks them and only then learns what the person is thinking, then God is not omniscient. If God knows the thoughts of a person before the person thinks those thoughts, then God is omniscient. I hold that God is omniscient. What is your position?

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  6. Leighton,

    You are wasting time with Matt Slick, the guy does not know what he is talking about when it comes to compatibilism at all. As was noted by a prior commentator, it is a philosophical term and Slick really does not understand it. Many Calvinists try to adopt the term to explain their views on God’s providence.

    Anyone familiar with discussions of compatibilism among contemporary philosophers knows that COMPATIBILISM IS A FORM OF DETERMINISM.

    This is evident in the standard distinction made between “hard” and “soft” determinism (with compatibilism being seen as a version of “soft” determinism, but nevertheless it is a form of determinism). Slick is not a good representative of the meaning of compatibilism. On the other hand, there are good representatives of compatibilism among Calvinists.

    One of the most famous books on the subject of Calvinism, sovereignty, and free will is the book PREDESTINATION & FREE WILL: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty & Human Freedom. John Feinberg a Calvinist philosopher who does understand the terminology, presented the Calvinist position in that book.

    Look at what Feinberg says **of himself** in the book:

    “Instead, like MANY OTHER DETERMINISTS (emphasis mine), I claim that there is room for a genuine sense of free human action, even though such action is causally determined. . . .According to DETERMINISTS SUCH AS MYSELF (emphasis mine), an action is free even if causally determined so long as the causes are non-constraining. This view is often referred to as **soft determinism** or ** compatibilism**, for genuinely free human action is seen as **compatible** with non-constraining sufficient conditions which include the will decisively in one way or another.” (John Feinberg, p.24-25).

    Note Feinberg self identifies as a ***determinist*** and he holds to compatibilism. Feinberg is a much more reliable and authoritative source on compatibilism than Slick is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To say compatiblism IS determinism is the same as saying compatiblism is non-compatiblism. It simply isnt. Determinism makes people out to be automotrons like a computer executing a script – it will always occur as it does with no internal influence (as a computer isnt sentient). Its a completely materialistic perspective.

      The reason compatiblism is called compatiblism is the fact that it admits a will…sentience. it just doesn’t admit libertarian (i can always choose everything) will. Which is a denial of total depravity. If anything its just partial depravity. Or go full blown semi-pelegian and deny original sin all together – Charles Finney did for the sake of libertarian freedom. For as he put it, one cant be held responsible for their actions if they are not perfectly free. Id know…i used to be a semi-pelegian. Loved Finney.

      “Compatibilists often define an instance of “free will” as one in which the agent had freedom to act according to his own motivation. That is, the agent was not coerced or restrained. Arthur Schopenhauer famously said (as paraphrased by Einstein) “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.”[6]

      In other words, although an agent may often be free to act according to a motive, the nature of that motive is determined. Also note that this definition of free will does not rely on the truth or falsity of Causal Determinism. This view also makes free will close to autonomy, the ability to live according to one’s own rules, as opposed to being submitted to external domination.”

      – Compatibilisms Wikipedia Entry

      I like what Eisenstein said and do agree: “man can do as he wills (choice) but cannot choose what he wills (nature)”

      It is possible that upon regeneration maybe man has more of a free will – being able then to choose to yield to God or the flesh. But before the new birth i definitely hold a man would never seek God until He gave them a new heart to (due to original sin/total depravity)

      Plz forgive spelling /grammer im on my phone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aaron, you’re equivocating hard determinism as determinism generally. There are two kinds of semantic responses to adequate determinism: deterministic compatibilism (“soft determinism”) and deterministic incompatibilism (“hard determinism”).

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  7. Your patience is beyond my comprehension. Matt’s not “slick.” He’s a “jerk.” I am only a third way through it, but I can barely endure him. I only thought James White was arrogant and abusive. This guy’s a real piece of work.

    >

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Prof Flowers you asked:

    “What is human freedom “compatible” with if you deny determinism? Why do suppose they called it compatibilism?”

    My initial response was to a guy who said: “Anyone familiar with discussions of compatibilism among contemporary philosophers knows that COMPATIBILISM IS A FORM OF DETERMINISM.”

    That simply is incorrect. Compatibilism is not a subset of determinism nor is it a subset of libertarian freedom.

    Non-compatilists believe that the issue between determinism and free will is a dichotomy. So you can be a determinist who denies anyform of will or choice or you can believe in Libertarian Freewill but whatever side you take, the very fact you’ve taken a side means you are a non-compatibilist. Ie you believe the systems are not compatible and you see it as a dichotomy.

    Compatibilism denies this dichotomy. It says that both can be true. It may be that the definitions may need slight modification but it says that man has a will and is thus a responsible agent yet God is sovereign and all will occur as he has planned.

    As ive stated previously – i dont know how anyone can believe in true libertarian freedom if God knows the future in detail. Because everything will happen that God forsees will happen. How can you choose otherwise? If you could choose differently to what God forsees then He isnt omniscient and open theism is correct. You will take him by surprise.

    Am i right to assume that you hold God merely foresees and doesn’t intervene so we are in that sense free? Not because tomorrow we could act differently to what he foresees rather the source of our actions are internal (our will) not Gods decree (hard determinism/hyper calvinism) nor external influences (Compatibilism) eg mans nature, personality, upbringing, tastes etc.

    I just dont see mans will as an island unaffected by his surroundings. I am what i am today because of the sum of experiences prior to this day. Hell, i would still endorse semi-pelegianism.

    You do realize pelagius had good motives but erred into heresy? He reasoned God would not require of us anything that we couldn’t do in our own power. Seems fair enough. To not be held accountable for things you cant do of your own accord. Therefore we must be able to do all God commands out of our own God given ability. But this is the Pelegian heresy. It denies the role of the Holy Spirits work in man. Semi paganism states a man can come to God of his own free will untainted by the fall (ie he is able) but once he comes to God then the Holy Spirit will operate and assist him.

    Disclaimer: i dont think arminians are heretics i just think they are logically inconsistent or vague when it comes to total depravity. Ie they believe in partial rather than total depravity. Or some strange hybrid of actual total depravity whereby God regenerates all on hearing the gospel but people have the power to resist his pull. I dont buy either philosophies though my humanity wishes the latter were true.

    Gtg train is at my station

    Liked by 2 people

    1. you say:
      the definitions may need slight modification

      I think this idea is a real problem. If we start changing definitions to explain a new variant of a belief we are creating unnecessary confusions by moving goalposts all around. And I do see this done a lot.

      Now you claim compatibilism is *not* determinism, because it is both determinism and some form of “free” will. But say that I have a furry and fat cat. Then say you don’t believe this cat is fat, you say “no I don’t think it’s fat.” Now the question is, does it not being fat affect it’s furriness? Just because you add a form of “free will” on does not make it one tiny bet less deterministic, because you are believing *both* are true; anymore than you saying the cat *isn’t* furry, because it’s really “furry and fat.”

      you say:
      I just dont see mans will as an island unaffected

      Libertarian free willers don’t deny the will can be influenced, they simply deny the influence is “irresistible,” that is, the choice is then lost to do the contrary. So environment and nature can affect you, but you can go against both.

      you say:
      God regenerates all on hearing the gospel but people have the power to resist his pull.

      The Bible clearly says grace and be resisted and grace can be in vain. What I’d like to know from you is, if grace is monergistically irresistibly applied, how could it *ever* in *any* sense be resisted or in vain?

      you say:
      To not be held accountable for things you cant do of your own accord.

      Arminians have no problem with God holding us accountable for things we cannot do, but we have a problem with God telling us to *do* things he then *prevents* us from doing.

      bless

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Calvinists are their own worst enemy sometimes. In a strict sense compatibilism is a form of determinism, most simply because it retains determinism within its system of thought. The point is that the merging or combining (or compromise) of both determinism and free will construct a new idea of thought which is opposed to strict or hard determinism. The cat analogy is a bad one because fat and furry don’t define a new species of cat. As for the democrats analogy this is humours because this happens all the time. How often do we hear democrats and republicans speaking opposite to the party line?

        Be that as it may, the real issue–and it was stated by Matt Slick and ignored by Leighton Flowers–is this: God does not have libertarian free will. God can not sin and therefore is unable to choose the contrary to the good and the holy. God can not make choices apart from His nature. This is why the Arminian and the Traditionalist have no response to the Euthyphro Dilemma, and why stating that because God displays libertarian free will, libertarian free will is possible and coherent is fallacious.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. you say:
        The cat analogy is a bad one because fat and furry don’t define a new species of cat.

        Maybe rather that’s why it’s a good one, because compatibilism isn’t a new species of theology it’s merely asserting logical nonsense. Were we to accept that we just postulate logical contradictions, we could say two opposite theologies that directly contradict could both be true in every sense. Say I wanted to find the magic mix of two seemingly opposite beliefs, pacifism versus just wars. I say look, I’ve found the middle road, the true mix of them both, the ultimate synthesis! Sometimes wars are good and sometimes pacifism is good! Well that’s simply not pacifism anymore. I didn’t really mix anything at all, I just denied one side, because one side is making an absolute claim (war is never good).

        you say:
        God can not sin and therefore is unable to choose the contrary to the good and the holy. God can not make choices apart from His nature.

        Saying “God can not” is not inferring that God has not the power nor ability to do so, but simply saying God never will freely choose to do so. God is not bound by something, he always freely chooses one way.

        you say:
        This is why the Arminian and the Traditionalist have no response to the Euthyphro Dilemma

        It is easily solved. It is simply wrong to put God’s nature first, but rather to put God’s sovereign will first. If God decides his own nature, we have no problem at all. The common teaching that implies God somehow has a nature that came before his will, means that God’s will then had to be subject to something external to it. But if all begins with the will of God, the problem simply dissolves, for he has chosen freely to forever act according to a certain nature. And in like manner, there is a way we can choose what kind of man or woman we will be: we can decide our character if and when our will is free. Some then mistakenly equate that to achieving a meritorious action, but that’s another debate.

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      3. Sorry, Leighton, but are you saying that God’s rejection of sinners is not good? I’m not really following your line of reasoning. And you are ignoring my main premise that God can not sin and therefore can not choose the contrary.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. If that is all you mean by libertarian free will than we are in agreement. And that definition is not contrary to Calvinism or Compatibilism.

        Compatibilism: In philosophy of action, the view that causal determinism is logically compatible with free will. The compatibilist who accepts both determinism and free will is called a soft determinist. Compatibilism usually defines free will as an action that is caused by the individual’s own desires or wishes, rather than being coerced by some external power. The alternative possibilities that seem necessary for genuine free will are interpreted by compatibilists as hypothetical in character. For example, the individual who freely gave money to a charity could have refrained from giving money if the individual had wished to do so or if the situation had been different. Critics of compatibilism argue that genuine freedom requires an individual to have more than one possibility that is actually possible at the time of choosing, not merely possibilities that would be open if certain facts that do not obtain were to obtain.1

        1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 25.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. But who controls those desires and wishes? The nature? And that’s controlled by whom?

        According to compatibilism animal instinct is a free will choice (acting in accordance with predetermined set of desires given a peseta circumstance/stimuli)

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Leighton, those are legitimate questions and I can see where you are going with them. And I also think animal instinct should be addressed but if you’ll forgive me I think I’m all argued out at this point. Perhaps it would be interesting to have a round-table discussion of free will, determinism and compatibilsm with some phone-in bloggers (kinda like Theology Unplugged). Might make an interesting podcast. Take care.

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      7. The ability to make or not make a certain choice is not exclusive to libertarian freedom.

        For example,

        (1) “At T=0, Stan can choose black socks to wear today or can choose white socks to wear today.”

        (2) “At T=1, Stan chose black socks.”

        Both under libertarianism and compatibilism, #1 and #2 can be true.

        Under compatibilism, #2 was a strict function function of antecedent causes. So compatibilism would additionally say:

        (3) “At T=0, Stan must choose black socks (for white socks are contrary to his desires, conscious and unconscious).”

        But #1 and #3 are completely compatible. That’s the magic of “or.”

        A great way to think about it is not in terms of a veiled future, but in terms of a veiled cup. Take an opaque cup and put a coin in it. Shake the coin around, then slam it on a table, and listen to the coin fall underneath, its result hidden. We can assert two things as simultaneously true:

        (A) “The coin within is ‘heads’ or it is ‘tails.'”

        (B) “The coin within is certainly only one result, and cannot be the other result.”

        “B” feels contrary to “A,” since we feel like “B” eliminates an option, while “A” floats two options as “possible.” But we have to fight back this nag of intuition, because our reasoning agrees that both “A” and “B” are true.

        Our own decisions, behind a veil of uncertainty, are like coins underneath cups. We can speak of them as “ors/possibilities” and we can speak of them as “determined certainties — to which we don’t yet have access.”

        These two perspectives exist in “heterophroneo” — a noncontradictory simultaneous assertion of two different vantage points. And this is why both perspectives can be “proof-texted” in Scripture.

        The former perspective is good for:

        (1) Recognizing our own wills and dispositions and how they can be turned in various directions.

        (2) Deliberation among multiple imagined prospects.

        (3) Recognizing when we are being subverted, coerced, or exceptionally manipulated by things we consider meaningfully oppressive.

        (4) Assigning responsibility without feeling like we have to do a radical backward reduction. ‘Talking about your house and my house, even though God owns the universe.’

        (5) Reframing our uncertainty into prospective hopes and fears, and using those vivid images to aid in our decisionmaking. This helps us make choices in better service of our higher-order interests.

        The latter perspective is good for:

        (1) Humbling ourselves.

        (2) Praising God, and recognizing his attributes (his power, wisdom, dominion, and will).

        (3) Helping us fight through suffering, Elihu-style.

        (4) Taking comfort in God’s grand plan of reconciliation.

        (5) Recognizing over what things we do not have control, and sacrificing that anxiety and uncertainty, converting it to faith in God and his promises.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Aaron, many leading Compatibilistic scholars would disagree with you, which is fine, but you should acknowledge that fact when making such assertions. It would be like me speaking for democrats believe when the most notable democrats disagree with my views. I should say, I know most of the leaders in this field believe this but I think they are wrong and here is why…

      Also, when one defines freedom as acting in accordance with ones greatest desires even when those desires are under the control of another, I see no rational basis on which to call that freedom.

      If I physically force you to do something you don’t desire or I cast a spell on you to make you desire what I want you to desire, the effect is the same. You aren’t free even if you desire the action if that desire is controlled by another.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Hi Aaron! Just jumping in here to propose an alternative to your idea of open theism.

      You said – “If you could choose differently to what God foresees then He isn’t omniscient and open theism is correct. You will take him by surprise.” Might it be possible that the Scriptures reveals a definition of divine omniscience concerning the future as God knowing fully everything that has been predetermined, but since not everything has been predetermined, He knows everything else as possibilities, including knowing all the possible outcomes and choices He and man is free to make according to their natures? Nothing would take Him by surprise in this view! The Scripture, with all its conditional statements, invitations, and facts about God still having decisions to make in the future, goes directly against any idea of everything already predetermined (planned) before creation, though some things certainly were. God certainly had free-will to create or not create, and when He chose to create, He certainly did not have to predetermine everything that would happen in that created scenario, including all of His future choices, removing His own free-will through-out all of human history. The Scripture clearly reveals He hasn’t done so, and to philosophically propose that He has, as Calvinism does, rejects that doctrine of Scripture’s perspicuity (clarity) for important matters.

      Also, your idea that free-will exists in someway different after regeneration than before must be jettisoned if you want to be consistent with your deterministic view of compatibilism. There is no real freedom to choose differently from what God foresees, since He is only able to foresee everything as He has predetermined, in your view. And if He can foresee some kind of free-will after regeneration, there is no inconsistency with Him foreseeing free-will before regeneration, though somewhat limited by what He would have graciously allowed to exist as free-will in the nature inherited from Adam. I hope this helps.

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      1. Just out of curiosity, as a believer in some form of openness, what’s your take on the prophecies in Revelation: do you see them as necessarily having to take place?

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      2. Dizerner, I’m going to try to respond to this but honestly it is not well thought out and it is very confusing.

        1. You’re auguring against yourself. I’ll use your words and substitute free will for pacifism: “I wanted to find the magic mix of two seemingly opposite beliefs, free will versus determinism. Sometimes we have free will and sometimes we’re determined. Well that’s simply not free will or determinism anymore.” Well I agree with you! All you’re saying, without really considering the theory, is that compatibilism is nonsense. Well, you’re entailed to your opinion I guess, but writing off the majority of philosophers (59%) who hold to compatiblism as fools is quite irresponsible.

        2. “CAN NOT not does not mean, does not have the ability.” Wow, that is so convoluted especially on this blog where “responsible” means “response-able.” So you are saying the God can sin if He chose to but He never does?

        3. You simply don’t understand the Euthyphro Dilemma or the Christian response. God choose His nature?! This is just silly but for the sake of agreement let’s look at the obvious question: Does God sovereignly will His morally good and sinless nature because it is morally good or is His morally good nature morally good because He sovereignly willed it?

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      3. Wow. So you say I’m “not well thought out” then you say “Well I agree with you!” then you just make a claim to authority. Consider me underwhelmed, man, no offense.

        you say:
        So you are saying the God can sin if He chose to but He never does?

        Exactly. And here you had me thinking I wasn’t clear but you understood perfectly! Not sure why that is “convoluted” or what you even mean by that. Just seems like a random inflammatory word for saying you don’t like the conclusion or something.

        Sign. More meaningless inflammatory words like “silly.” Why don’t you give me a logical argument instead of simply spouting “Wow, convoluted, silly, not well thought out, somehow I’m calling people fools (what?? lol).” It just really makes me think you have no actual logical substantive arguments and so resort to huffing and puffing (and I mean no offense).

        you say:
        you simply don’t understand… Does God sovereignly will His morally good and sinless nature because it is morally good or is His morally good nature morally good because He sovereignly willed it?

        I really made myself clear and answered this very clearly. Something is good because and only because God wills it. There is no ethereal “goodness” that God woke up and discovered one day (metaphorically speaking). Next time you have difficulty understanding someone’s point, instead of huffing and puffing with meaningless words about fools and “wow” and “silly” and the ubiquitous “you just don’t understand,” why not ask for clarification and explain what you think I’m saying to the best of your ability?

        It would really be far more productive.

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      4. I’m really trying to be patient with you but it’s very hard.

        Look, if I disagree with the Free Will Theodicy but I recognize that the majority of theological philosophers hold to this theory I’m going to treat it seriously and not just consider it “logical nonsense” (your words). I listen to this podcast, even though I disagree with the views because I’m open to hearing the other side. I don’t consider the views “logical nonsense” especially when I recognize that the majority of Christianity hold to some form of Arminianism. (And I can agree with the few points you made that made some sense and still scratch my head at the rest.)

        Yeah, I guess I did understand you… and wow! You are way out on this with not a shred of biblical support and I would hope that this is not the view of Leighton and other Arminians and Traditionalists.

        Once again, you need to study the Euthyphro Dilemma, you just don’t understand it–and I’m too busy huffing and puffing to explain it to you.

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      5. Your post is so convoluted I don’t know where to start. You never really make any logical arguments yet you stand back and say I’m nonsense while still clearly showing you understand the building blocks of my arguments. I guess that’s a compliment to me in a way, but it shows that perhaps you aren’t capable of fair and rational interaction. Your posts don’t have a shred of Biblical support, yet you just make wild sweeping claims with no effort to back it up. I’m really trying to be patient with you—taking the time to explain why what you say makes no sense. Then you just echo that back and say the same thing but that you’re too busy “huffing and puffing” to explain anything. You may have meant it as sarcasm, but I sure don’t see any attempt by you at explaining anything at all, only constantly saying all kinds of baseless silly claims that you never attempt to even defend. I’ve met that kind of person just a few times… rutchin certainly has done it a few times on here. I guess I’ll just let you “win” since that’s all you seem to care about.

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      6. I read it. I think I was avoiding writing too much off-topic if possible. So it sounds like you believe in the major prophecies like the antichrist. With technology we now see ways to fulfill that 1st century Christians never dreamed. I’ve talked to an Open Theist who thought the whole book could be avoided, so I’m glad your not that far afield.

        Why couldn’t prophecy more specific? Well I don’t think it’s because God can only be a good guesser. If you think about how simple it would be to write an ancient prophecy that would come true beyond all doubt—and something everyone could know it was impossible to predict—you come to realize that’s not how God planned to affirm faith. If in the Holy Scriptures was written merely the scientific equation for combustion or what date and hour a person named Abraham Lincoln would be shot, no one anywhere could deny it was at least supernatural. Even the prophecies of the Messiah were generic in nature.

        I still feel like the only reason people embrace openness is some kind of defense of free will, and for me, it’s the opposite pole of the mistake of determinism. Since each of our free choices, once they are known, could thereafter never be any other choice, does not mean they are not free, for the freeness is not in the “uncertainty” of the decision, the freeness is in the “authorship” of the decision. If my future actions can be truly autonomous yet 100% known (just like my past actions can be defined as) what reason do I have any more to limit God’s foreknowledge? Because it feels more exciting for God to “hope” the way I as a creature “hope”? But God can do all things, like “change his mind” or “hope” from the Eternal state. He changes his mind surely, he simply does so outside of time. Perhaps it’s similar to what the Calvinists term “divine baby talk” although I wouldn’t go that far. God can be in the eternal now changing his mind about something in my life 10 years from now due to my prayers, or surprised at something I did 10 years ago. To put the Father in earth time seems to be, to make a god in my own image, no less limiting than saying he has to be in a certain physical location.

        But it’s interesting to think about conditional prophecies and what that means. Certainly perhaps, we live “as if” the future were not set and God were not set, and that’s what really counts, whatever elaborate ways it works behind the scenes. That’s why I don’t think a particular doctrine is as important as how it affects the outworking of the day-to-day walk of our Christian faith.

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      7. Thanks for responding David! I appreciate your thoughtfulness. You put God in an “Eternal state” or “eternal now” but still have him make sequential decisions in relation to human experience – “changing His mind about something I did 10 years from now.” The eternal now idea is only logical if the human future is already completed in God’s reality, which would then be the only true reality, and God’s own decisions in it would also be already completed, in order to be known “now”.

        And there is the rub! God was evidently unable or unwilling to truly reveal all this about Himself clearly in the Bible and in fact reveals clearly His eternality as being linear – “from everlasting to everlasting”. Why would He need to keep the masses living “as if” it’s not completed, using a duplicitous Scriptures, though it already is completed in God’s experience (and in reality, completed in theirs as well since they already exist in the real future), but still allow those few “smart” theologians to really understand God’s nature.

        I totally agree that how our theology effects our walk is what’s important. Some prophecies of the Messiah were very specific, really God’s sovereign control of the future, but any conditions, generalities and symbolisms in prophecy confirm both God’s and man’s freewill and a future partially open. There is no dishonor to God to have His omniscience be defined this way including knowing the future completely as it actually exists, partially determined and partially open. There is no need for Him to be a guesser… He understands the out-workings of all possibilities as if each was a certainty.

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      8. I think you’re conflating several things. To say we “already exist in the future” is logically wrong, because only our future selves exist in the future. Our present selves do not exist in the future. I don’t really understand the difference, in your mind, between guessing and “understanding possibilities,” because in my mind that’s what guessing means. However, I agree that Open Theism does not dishonor God in any way, and I’ve often been tempted to believe Open Theism or Determinism simply because both somehow in my mind make me feel better about God allowing evil—either God simply hoped it wouldn’t happen or God made it happen exactly as he wanted. But I’m left with a complicated mess like Job, where things don’t make sense—something God doesn’t want happens, yet God knew it would.

        you say :
        The eternal now idea is only logical if …

        Well, I think you’ve made a mistake already. The eternal now is *not* logical, it’s completely above logic. Because unlike presuppositionalists, I don’t see logic or morality as emanations of God’s actual character, but rather reflections of them as creations. The reason I do this is because there is an infinite gap between creation and Creator, and just because something is an all pervasive law in the universe, does not make it God, anymore than I think God is inherently containing the laws of physics.

        you say :
        My smeller is probably not as good as yours in the morning! 🙂 But do I smell a contradiction or equivocation…

        What your smelling, my friend, is an ineffable mystery. 🙂 The moment we make God explainable by working parts and classic logic, is the moment he ceases to be supernaturally transcendent.

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      9. You are free to choose to feel that logic is a created thing and that God is “above” logic. 🙂 And you are free to feel that such a view brings more glory to God. My view is that such a view is illogical, for it would also make all knowledge (omniscience if you will) a created thing (with a beginning) as well as truth which is inseparable from knowledge. I believe God had all knowledge as far as understanding completely all possible futures before He decided to create, and He that knowledge was true and logical.

        The question still remains, why God would have revealed things so differently about His nature, His knowledge, in Scripture than the determinist and eternal now views propose, even revealing them in what might be described as an almost deceptive way when compared to those views?

        And God became man! That sounds logically like a change (working part) of His nature to me. But however He did that, I am so glad He did! Praise His name!

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      10. Doesn’t Scripture condemn us for thinking God is like us? The way some people talk, I feel like they almost give God a human mind. That aside I think you have a fairly strong point that God acts in Scripture as if for all intents and purposes he doesn’t know what people will do or how he will respond to them. I think there are pretty strong hints of an omniscience transcending immediately relational actions and interactions, for example God exhibiting clear knowledge of hypothetical conditionals. The question is, is it necessary to understand/believe this and how would it affect us day-to-day? Should we modify the Calvinists own phrase into “Everyone prays like an Open Theist,” and doesn’t it seem to lessen the quality of a relationship once there are no longer true uncertainties to it in our minds? To be honest, Brian, those are questions I can’t answer and questions any philosopher should respect. I began thinking deeply about this only 4 years ago, and I came to these conclusions after countless hours—but in the end I often wonder if and how they might practically help me. As King Solomon said, of making many books there is no end and much study is wearisome; and with more knowledge only comes more sorrow. Perhaps it’s better to live feeling a dynamic and open relationship with God, and that might get one more into the heart and less in the head, so to speak. My high and serious thoughts hold me back from limiting his omniscience, even still… but I’m not closed minded and I ponder all these things in my heart.
        blessings brother

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      11. David, I think we are like God, being in His image, so to that extent He is “like” us or else we are forced to believe that all language is equivocal or at least analogical, and not univocal in any way. And God’s revelation is therefore not really true, just relatively true.

        For me, this (my) understanding of God’s omniscience as being the biblical understanding has only strengthened my relationship with Him. I don’t believe I am limiting His omniscience, but defining it more fully as it actually exists. And I feel more personally responsible to pray and evangelize because of it. And I desire to love Him with all my mind even though I know His ways are past finding out, which in my thinking is not total transcendence but partial transcendence.

        But since this is our attempt to fill in where God is silent about His nature, I commend you for your honor of Him with your understanding of His omniscience, and I receive you warmly as a brother with no limits based upon our individual reasonings about doubtful things! (Rom 14:1)

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      12. Thanks man. When you said “partial transcendence” I’ll be honest with you—I almost wanted to cry. You’re quotation of Rom. 14:1 was completely applicable, however. Satan has better doctrine than us both, but none of the grace of God. You’ve challenged me for sure, and that’s what we should do as iron sharpening iron.

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      13. lol… don’t cry, David! I only meant that especially because of the incarnation and the promise of physical everlasting life, like Christ’s, God is forever “tied” to creation (which is now everlasting) though outside of created space also… His experience of reality is partially in and partially outside of creation, though He is omnipresent in both. Is that better?

        However, I don’t see Scripture revealing in any way that His experience of reality was non-sequential before the creation, not even in the title “I Am” though I can appreciate those who attempt to infer simplicity from that title and non-sequential experience of reality. It just undermines the normal reading of the rest of Scripture, in my view.

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      14. Great question David! Did you ever wonder why many prophecies have so much symbolism? And of course, some have clear conditional elements attached to them. I think it is because everything in the future has not been predetermined, that it’s still fuzzy in some matters, though some things are determined, and they are predicted more clearly. So that’s how I read Revelation. There will be an Antichrist with some sort of control on mankind’s buying and selling, and he will effectively persecute to death believers in Jesus until Jesus comes and defeats Him and reigns on this earth 1000 years. There will also be many specific plagues as described before Jesus comes. But there are many possibilities still open for God and man to freely interact during that future time, because it all has not been predetermined!

        An associated question to yours would be, if everything has been predetermined down to every detail, why is prophecy not more specifically revealed in more clear detail?

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    4. Aaron, are you saying that compatibilism doesn’t entail determinism because you could believe in libertarian free will, while simultaneously asserting that there can be a meaningful kind of free will under determinism? I suppose that’s true.

      Generally by “compatibilism” philosophers are using shorthand for “deterministic compatibilism,” that is, people who both assert adequate determinism and assert a meaningful kind of free will (of some sort).

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      1. Stan,

        Do you think its a fair position to take? I guess i mean what you just stated. I may not be the best representative of compatibilism or calvinism because im open minded. I dont just blindly follow theories as stated by the scholars.

        My perspective is calvinistic in soteriology (i hold to tulip) but in every day actions i hold to a modified molinism. I say modified because people assume many arminian beliefs into molinism that don’t necessarily need to be there. I think tulip is compatible. I believe tulip because thats what i sincerely believe scripture is teaching.

        So in terms of the gospel and salvation God only will regerate and save those he chose graciously before time – NOT because he forsaw that they would choose him…rather we desire God because he chose us, gave us a new heart in time and gave us desires to seek Him and follow. But in terms of just living life i believe in free will. As in i am the source of my actions (with exception to saving faith). That said i believe any good I do is God operating in me and any sin i do is my own actions. I believe thats in line with scripture.

        Do you suppose free will is compatible in that sense? No arminian or calvinist would say the will is free initally. Both endorse total depravity with the necessity of the Holy Spirit acting on the man before he can ever desire God. Its in that sense i hate the term libertarian freedom as it seems to me that implies pelagianism – man has the ability to come of his own accord. If we all deny that im happy.

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      2. I still hold to soft determinism because i think foreknowledge necessitates it. But that in no way diminishes the abilty for a person to act as they wish.

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      3. The root problem is a failure to coherently positively define “free will.” This creates a spin cycle of philosophical “loudness” that is continually resurrecting and continually confusing.

        Imagine if I said, “I think your home is a ‘home with,’ while Steve thinks your home is a ‘home without.’ Who is correct?” You’d naturally respond, “With what? Without what? I can’t answer until you tell me exactly what my home is purported to have or lack.”

        Even though we throw around the term “free will” willy-nilly, it doesn’t actually mean anything except through implication (by the writer) or inference (by the reader).

        That’s because “free” doesn’t mean anything in a vacuum — “free” is always “free from X” or “free of X.” “Buy one, get one free,” for example, really means “buy one, get one free of cost” or “of charge.” It can also mean “free to X” with an implicit reference to some abstract oppressor, e.g., “I am now free to see the world, since by acquiring a Hoveround, I am no longer bound by my mobility issues.”

        A “free will” means “a will free from [some set of potential oppressors/coercers/manipulators/etc.].” That “some set” requires definition.

        This is further complicated by the fact that definitions of things like “oppression/coercion/manipulation” have fuzzy boundaries. There’s no objective source that tells me the “truth” of, “impactful thing A is an oppressive influence, but impactful thing B is not oppressive,” any more than there’s an objective source that tells me the “truth” of, “temperature A counts as ‘warm,’ but temperature B counts as ‘hot.'”

        Typically, under compatibilism (which I use as shorthand for “deterministic compatibilism,” whereby adequate determinism is true, and we also have meaningful senses of free will), we say, “‘Free will’ means ‘free from X to degree Y.’ As such, there are innumerable ‘free wills,’ for every possible X and Y combination and variety, some I have, some I lack.”

        Flatly rejected is the idea that “free will” is some coherent Boolean object that we just “have” or “lack” without explication of X and Y.

        The issue is that when we rightly recognize “free will” as a function that’s missing variable definition — and thus refuses to spit out meaning until its referents are defined — most of these discussions become boring and trivial. Boring/trivial discussions lead to silence. This creates memetic selection bias toward people and books and other media that (despite their best intentions) promulgate the most confusing and unsatisfying and incoherent treatments of the subject — and this includes many writings of Christian luminaries, modern and historical. I suspect traditional veneration is why Christians haven’t largely gotten-on-board with philosophers in the broad acceptance of compatibilism.

        Ctrl-F on this page for “heterophroneo.” I think “heterophroneo” aligns with what you’re getting at with your compatibilism: Living day-to-day with contingencies and hypotheticals and possibilities and imagination, while understanding that “I don’t knit myself in my mother’s womb” and “a man’s steps are not his own.”

        For the record, I’m not a Calvinist because I reject the notion that God ultimately hates anyone (all in-time hatreds are ancillary), and take seriously Romans ch. 11 which says that the unelect have hope (Calvinists typically stop reading at ch. 9, failing to ascertain ch. 9’s ancillary “point” in ch. 11).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Mike,

    Your post starts out good because at least you realize that compatibilism is a form of determinism when you write:

    “Calvinists are their own worst enemy sometimes. In a strict sense compatibilism is a form of determinism, most simply because it retains determinism within its system of thought. The point is that the merging or combining (or compromise) of both determinism and free will construct a new idea of thought which is opposed to strict or hard determinism”

    In philosophical discussions the distinction is made between hard determinism (which does not allow for free will) and soft determinism/compatibilism (which claims that determinism and free will are compatible).

    But then you went off the rail with your completely unsubstantiated claim that God does not have libertarian free will:

    “Be that as it may, the real issue–and it was stated by Matt Slick and ignored by Leighton Flowers–is this: God does not have libertarian free will. God can not sin and therefore is unable to choose the contrary to the good and the holy. God can not make choices apart from His nature.”

    Libertarian free will does not require that we always are able to choose one option and its opposite, or that libertarian free will requires that we be able to choose evil or make a sinful choice (this is a misrepresentation foisted upon libertarians by calvinists wanting an easy debate win by defining LFW so that it HAS TO INCLUDE EVIL OR SINFUL CHOICES)).

    Usually as presented by prominient libertarians (including folks like Alvin Plantinga) it is presented as the ability to make a specific choice or refrain from making that choice. If that is the case, then one does not need to be able to choose the contrary to be experiencing LFW. For example, in the eternal state we will have choices, and we will make them freely, we will be able to make a choice or refrain from making that choice, but none of our choices will involve sin, so we will have libertarian free will, while being incapable of sin. It is not required that we be able to choose to sin in order to have libertarian free will.

    The same is true with God. Libertarian free will at its most basic meaning means that a person (whether God, angels or men) can choose between two different choices when both are available. Put simply it means that an individual has a choice and can then make a choice between two differing options. Those options do not have to be total opposites. In some cases both choices may be good choices (say I am choosing between two healthy salads, I can choose either one, both are healthy, neither is unhealthy or bad, it is not necessary for me to have the choice of choosing a bad and unhealthy salad in order to have libertarian free will when the options present before me are both healthy salads, both good choices; I may have two different job prospects, with both being good jobs, neither being an evil or sinful choice, so having free will in regards to choosing a job does not require that I only have free will if one of the options is an evil job a sinful job).

    There are some very obvious and easy to see examples of God having libertarian free will in this sense. One is creation, He had the genuine choice of either creating or not creating the world, his choice was not necessitated by any factor including His own nature. He chose to create, He also could have chosen to not create. He does not need the creation, but freely chose to create it. And regarding the creation there were different worlds that God could have created, with the actual world that He ended up creating being His choice.

    A second example ought to be more obvious to even Calvinists, God has the choice to have mercy upon whomever He wants to have mercy upon (He says this explicitly to Moses and Paul repeats this point in Romans 9 a passage calvinists often proof text from). If God has to have mercy on a person and has no choice but to have mercy upon that person then His Word is not true, He is a liar. But God is not liar and His Word is true, so His assertion that He can have mercy upon whomever he wants presupposes that He has libertarian free will.

    One last clear example of libertarian free will in the case of God is His sovereignty. When we pray for say the healing of some person and we genuinely believe that God is sovereign, we are praying knowing that God could choose to heal the person or choose not to heal that person, it is His choice, it is a genuine choice, and He is not necessitated to make either choice. This is the heart of His sovereignty, that He does as He pleases, He makes the choice that He wants and His choices are not necessitated (whether it is creating the world, having mercy on an individual, or answering a prayer). Any view that denies that God has this ability to choose whichever choice He wants in any and all situations is a denial of the sovereignty of God and denial of what He himself affirms in multiple scriptures.

    Lastly your claim that:

    “This is why the Arminian and the Traditionalist have no response to the Euthyphro Dilemma, and why stating that because God displays libertarian free will, libertarian free will is possible and coherent is fallacious.”

    Is completely false, the Arminian and the Traditionalist have the same way out of the Euthyphro Dilemma as Christians have taken for centuries (i.e. God chooses in line with His nature, but His nature does not necessitate particular choices though it sets parameters on what choices are available to God; thus God always chooses to do good and He will not choose evil). Christians have responded in this way to this dilemma for centuries and that includes both calvinists and non-Calvinists making the same response. This response is not unique to calvinists or exclusive to calvinists so your claim is false.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert, I’ll say the same thing I said to Leighton regarding libertarian free will. If that is your definition of free will than Calvinists and Arminians have no disagreement. With regard to the Euthyphro Dilemma Response you are correct based on this definition of libertarian free will.

      So I guess we just solved the age old debate. Hallelujah! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mike R. You wrote
    /Be that as it may, the real issue–and it was stated by Matt Slick and ignored by Leighton Flowers–is this: God does not have libertarian free will. God can not sin and therefore is unable to choose the contrary to the good and the holy. God can not make choices apart from His nature. /

    You do not seem to understand what libertarian free will is. As referred to man it says man is an autonomous being, one who operates independently, not controlled by others or by outside forces.

    Your example of God being unable to sin fails to show what forces or others outside of Him prevent His choice not to sin.

    Slick tried to counter this argument by redefining autonomy as aseity and then calling this view idolatry. The argument was absurd and really not worthy of a response.

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    1. Ernest, I think what Slick was saying is that God is the only being with absolute autonomy of nature. Man’s nature and character is subject to and formed over time by a plethora of physical, psychological and external stimuli.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike,

        What does it mean to say that “God is the only being with absolute autonomy of nature”? That sounds impressive but what exactly does it mean?

        With regard to God’s nature (contrary to Dizerner who mistakenly believes that God chooses His nature, the rest of us believe that God does have a set nature, an unchanging nature). What would it mean to say of God if his nature is unchanging, that he has absolute autonomy of nature? God does not have control over His nature so that He can change it any time He wants to, rather, He is what He is as He said to Moses: “I am”. Meaning I just am what I am, I don’t change. Throughout scripture God’s faithfulness to HIs promises is predicated upon his unchanging nature. So again what does it mean to say he has absolute autonomy of nature?????

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    2. I have no problem with divine aseity meaning without cause and without necessity, but when hard immutability is added to the definition of aseity, one runs into the problem of how to factor in “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The incarnation has to be defined as some kind of “change” for God that He never had experienced before, we assume. 😉

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  11. Mike,

    I happen to love stage magic and even know some professional magicians. I also know some real life con men, so I am quite familiar with ways that some folks try to pull the wool over the eyes of others! 🙂 One thing I have noticed that sometimes happens with Calvinists is that they will feign agreement with non-Calvinists when they really do not agree at all. It appears that this is exactly what you are doing in your reply to Leighton and your citation of Evans.

    Leighton had written:

    “How is that not a libertarian free choice? It’s the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given action, thus its libertarianly free”

    Leighton gave a very common definition of LFW (i.e. the ability to refrain or not refrain from a given action or choice). But note carefully, LFW and determinism are incompatible, they are irreconcilable. If LFW is present in regards to a particular choice then that choice is not determined. Leighton speaks of LFW and says it means that you can choose a particular action or refrain from that particular action. If that is true, then both choices are live possibilities, you really could choose either option. There are no necessitating factors present (including desires) that make you choose one option and not the other. Non-Calvinists believe in the reality of this kind of free will, calvinists generally do not (there are some exceptions).

    In response to what Leighton wrote you responded with:

    “If that is all you mean by libertarian free will than we are in agreement. And that definition is not contrary to Calvinism or Compatibilism.”

    No, you are not in agreement because you don’t hold to libertarian free will so don’t pretend that you do.

    Compatibilism involves determinism (as you acknowledge yourself), LFW does not. They are opposites, both cannot be simultaneously true. The definition of LFW as choosing or refraining from a particular choice ***is** contrary to compatibilism. In compatibilism both options are not live possibilities, you have to make the choice that you are determined to make. If you can actually choose either possibility then your choice is not determined and so compatibilism is not involved.

    What is both comical and ironic is that Mike you even cite Evans who makes the exact points that I just made:

    “Compatibilism: In philosophy of action, the view that causal determinism is logically compatible with free will. The compatibilist who accepts both determinism and free will is called a soft determinist. Compatibilism usually defines free will as an action that is caused by the individual’s own desires or wishes, rather than being coerced by some external power. The alternative possibilities that seem necessary for genuine free will are interpreted by compatibilists as hypothetical in character. For example, the individual who freely gave money to a charity could have refrained from giving money if the individual had wished to do so or if the situation had been different. Critics of compatibilism argue that genuine freedom requires an individual to have more than one possibility that is actually possible at the time of choosing, not merely possibilities that would be open if certain facts that do not obtain were to obtain.1”

    I will unpack this citation a bit and show how Evans does understand the difference between LFW and compatibilism and apparently you do not.

    First Evans provides a good description of compatibilism in the first words you cited:

    “Compatibilism: In philosophy of action, the view that causal determinism is logically compatible with free will. The compatibilist who accepts both determinism and free will is called a soft determinist. Compatibilism usually defines free will as an action that is caused by the individual’s own desires or wishes, rather than being coerced by some external power.”

    Evans is correct here and that is the nature of compatibilism.

    But in the next line Evans differentiates compatibilism and LFW:

    “The alternative possibilities that seem necessary for genuine free will are interpreted by compatibilists as hypothetical in character.”

    When he says the “alternative possibilities that seem necessary for genuine free will” he is speaking from the perspective of a libertarian. Because according to the libertarian with respect to a particular choice, the alternative possibilities, choosing A or choosing B, or choosing to do an action or refrain from doing that action are genuine possibilities NOT HYPOTHETICALS. You really could choose to pick up that book or choose to not pick up that book.

    But note that Evans recognizes that under compatibilism, alternative possibilities are not genuine possibilities but HYPOTHETICALS.

    Evans also says of libertarians who are critical of compatibilism that “Critics of compatibilism argue that genuine freedom requires an individual to have more than one possibility that is actually possible at the time of choosing”. See for the libertarian since our choices are not determined, not necessitated, we really could choose A or choose B, so both of these alternative possibilities are actually available, either one can be chosen by the person.

    If instead determinism is true, then we must make the choice we make and it is impossible for us to choose the alternative (if A is determined then we must choose A and it is impossible for us to choose B, if B is determined then we must choose B and it is impossible for us to choose A, that is why for compatibilists as Evans correctly notes, the choice not made is hypothetical, if the circumstances were different then we could choose the choice that was not made, but for the Libertarian the circumstances do not have to be different for both alternative possibilities, A or B to be available choices, either one could be chosen). With all forms of determinism there is some sort of necessitating factor that makes you make the choice that you make (for some it is your brain, for others it is your genes, for others it is your environment, for many calvinists it is our desires, but regardless of the necessitating factor there is always something that makes you choose A rather than B and makes the choice of B impossible under those circumstances, you could [hypothetical] choose otherwise only if the circumstances were different).

    So No Mike your view of free will (i.e. compatibilism) and Leighton’s view of free will (libertarian free will where we can choose to do something or refrain from doing something) ARE NOT AT ALL THE SAME. Nice try, so your claim that:

    ““If that is all you mean by libertarian free will than we are in agreement. And that definition is not contrary to Calvinism or Compatibilism.”

    Is completely false, if we understand what LFW and compatibilism entail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert, I was just riffing off of Slick’s use of autonomy as aseity. God’s nature is exactly as you describe: I am what I am.

      Hey man, gimme a break here. I’m not trying to deceive or mislead. Why would I give you the entire Evans’ citation if I was trying to trick you?

      What you are saying is: You can call it compatibilism if you want but it’s really just hard determinism, so pick one–hard determinism or libertarian free will. Well, thanks buddy, I think I’ll use my free will and choose neither!

      I guess I’m just a dirty Calvinist scoundrel trying to pull-the-wool over you sweet simple minded Arminians. Shame on me!

      I don’t entirely agree with you assignment of Evans but let me ask you, honestly, you really don’t believe that genes or environment, or desires have any affect on our choices? And not only our choices but you believe that physical, psychological and external stimuli have no affect on who we are? Is this how normal people think? Do average people never ask why someone did something? Isn’t the whole of psychiatry base on the idea that there is a cause for why we do what we do? In the law courts lawyers must show motive in order to prove their case. When there is no motive the accused is deemed insane and sent to the hospital rather than prison. Why isn’t no cause the epitome of contra-causal free will? Even by saying, “the cause of a choice is the chooser,” is self-contradictory!

      You’re a competent exegete. Try these on for size:

      The compatibilist defends his view by arguing that the contrary of ‘free’ is not ’caused’ but ‘compelled’ or ‘coerced’. A free act is one where the agent could have done otherwise “if” she had chosen otherwise, and in such acts the agent is morally responsible even if determined.
      – The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Page 144

      …Soft determinists are compatiblists who insist that determinism does not undermine any free will or responsibility worth having
      – Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Page 24

      In “A Promising Argument,” Peter van Inwagen reconsiders an argument he initially put forward in an essay that appeared in the first edition of “The Oxford Handbook of Free Will”–Free Will Remains a Mystery”–purporting to show that libertarian free will is impossible. Some explanation is necessary here because van Inwagen is known as a libertarian about free will and is perhaps the most well-known proponent of the Consequent Argument. Nonetheless, though he continues to defend the Consequent Argument and continues to believe libertarian free will is the correct view of it, van Inwagen also believes there are strong, as yet unanswered, arguments suggesting that libertarian free will may be impossible. Hence, in his view, a libertarian free will “remains a mystery.” … Van Inwagon now distinguishes between strong and weak versions of libertarianism; and he argues that the revised version of the promising argument works against the stronger versions, but not all versions. Nonetheless, the argument is important in his view because it shows that many forms of libertarianism (including ones that many libertarians hold) are indeed impossible.
      – Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Page 28

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      1. Mike,

        Libertarian free will and the compatibilist position are very different. Leighton clearly presented LFW and yet you said you agree with him. But you cannot agree with a libertarian and retain your compatibilism! My point was that I have often seen calvinists say there is agreement with non-Calvinists when they cannot be agreeing. I think they do this to present some sort of unity when there really is not, if we understand what each view holds. And this is definitley true of the libertarian and compatibilist views. One view says the alternative possibilities are genuinely avaiable (LFW) and the other says these alternative possibilities are hypothetical or even imagined (i.e. you think you could choose either option, but unknown to you if God ordained that you choose A then you must choose A and it is impossible for you to choose B). To say that you agree with libertarian view when you do not, is just not accurate. This kind of feigned areement is something that con men will use to get in with their vicks. I didn’t say you provided the Evans quotation to trick me or anyone else here.

        In my past experience when the determinism or calvinism is strongly challeged and denied, the determinists will often then declare with great emotion: don’t you believe that genes, environment, etc have any influence on our choices? As if the libertarian is completely ignorant of how these kinds of things can and do influence choices! Not surprisingly Mike you went into exactly this amazement mode when you wrote: “Let me ask you honestly, you really don’t believe that genes or environment or desires have any affect on our choices? And not only our choices but you believe that physical, psychological and external stimuli have not affect on who we are?”

        I think you unwittingly commit a logical fallacy called false dilemma (when two possibilities are presented as if they are the only two possibilities when other possibilities which may be better, more accurate or more true are actually available). Mike in your thinking the only two possibilities are (1) determinists who realize that genes, environment, etc. influence our choices, or (2) libertarians who must believe that genes, environment, etc. do not influence our choices at all. Is there possibly a third possibility, (3) libertarians who do believe that genes, environment, etc. influence our choices?? Mike I believe your mistake is that as a determinist you believe there is a necessitating factor that necessitates a particular choice. For some determinists that factor is a person’s genes, for others it is their environment, for many calvinists it is our desires. The point is that according to the determinist these factors make us do what we do, given necsssitating factor x, then the person must make the choice that they make. Libertarians reject this believing not that necessitating factors necessitate our choices, but that when we are acting freely, these factors may influence our actions but they do not necessitate them. I know people who grew up in a very bad environment, and they became criminals: I also know people who grew up in the exact same environment who did not end up becoming criminals. I also know genes make a difference: for some their Father is tall and extremely athletic so they ended up being tall and picking up sports easily. That is definitely genes in action. There are in fact lots of things that may influence our choices. Where the libertarian disagrees with the determinist is whether or not these factors influence or necessitate particular choices.

        The p. 144 citation says nothing interesting: it merely asserts that in compatibilism, a person could choose otherwise if the circumstances are different. Thus doing otherwise is hypothetically possible. But again that is very different from LFW where the person can actually choose to do otherwise, they really have a choice. In compatibilism you may make choices but you never have a choice.

        The p. 24 citation says that compatibists believe that free will and responsibility are compatible under determinism. So! That is merely a statement of the view.

        The last citation is reference to Peter Van Inwagen who takes the position that LFW is true but has some mysterious aspects in connection with it. Again, So! Van Inwagen also formuated the consequence argument which remains unanswered by determinists. So while Van Inwagen says there is some mystery, his consequence argument still refutes determism.

        So MIke you bring up these citations that don’t really say much, what is your point? Do you want me or others to just provide citations of our views? What will that accomplish?

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      2. Robert, thanks you your response.

        First let me say one thing. The big problem with blogging, and I’ve said this to you before, is that everyone is not only talking past each other and refusing to answer questions directly, but now people are not only assuming what their opponents believe but they are telling them what they believe and then arguing against that assumed belief–what’s that called? Strawman?

        Anyway, you say Leighton clearly presented LFW. Well I’ve listened to every podcast and I hear him say contra-causal free will all the time and this is the first time I’ve heard a real explanation. And it took a long time to get to it. And I’m still a little unsure that I’ve understood. So I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned from this blog steam.

        Here is what I think Leighton’s definition of libertarian free will is: simple non-coercive choice, as opposed to the ability to do otherwise. Is this correct? If so, that is compatibilist free will–I suggest you reference The Oxford Companion to Philosophy and The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.

        Also, when you explain the difference between LFW and compatibilism, you may think that you are helping but to me, all you are saying is, you don’t understand where I’m coming from. It’s frustrating! Hello, I’ve read The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, all 576 pages and a number of other books on Free Will–I know what the difference is!

        What I said was “if” this is the way you define libertarian free will “then” we agree. If you take the time to read the larger compatibilist literature you will find that non-coercive choice is the free will that both compatiblists and Calvinists hold.

        I’m going to ignore the accusations of me being some trickster or trying to deceive as a laps of charity on your part. You’ve taken the Evans quote and latched on to the the word “hypothetical” and missed the point entirely. You’re accusing me of creating a false dilemma but I’m the one who is presenting all the options! I’m debating free will, determinism “and” compatiblism. It’s you guys that are equating compatiblism with determinism and then only debating free will against determinism! That’s why you call me a determinist–it’s easier for you to debate a person who thinks God creates robots than to really think about the issue seriously.

        You get mad at me that my agreeing with your definition of free will is ingenuous. How do you think I feel? It is impossible to make any relevant point against your position because everything is an exception. I can’t ask you what causes anything because that would assume causation. But of course you do believe that things are caused but I’m not allowed to discuss that. You say, well we believe things are caused, but not all the time, only sometimes. God would never violate our free will–except sometimes. Our wills are not affected by external causes, but are wills are affected by external causes but those causes really don’t affect us. And of course, once we get to heaven then God determining or forcing our wills is perfectly okay. On earth love can’t exist without LFW but in heaven we don’t need LFW to love. I really, really don’t think you understand the full implications of “necessitating factors.”

        You’re right, it doesn’t matter what philosophical citation or scripture I reference. It’s all meaningless if you are not willing to use your God give free will and think deeply.

        Good night.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. A major problem the Calvinists have with their deterministic system is that it makes God an agent of sin. Some are consistent and accept it. Others (WCF) choose to be inconsistent and merely deny it. Others have chosen an incoherent solution and deny there is a conflict between determinism and freewill and argue they are compatible. They use the tactic often used by the Calvinist – They redefine the will.
        The compatibilist understanding of free will says that though the free will of man seems irreconcilable with the proposition of determinism, they both exist and are “compatible” with one another. Many (some/all ?) contend that man’s will is free from outside influence but is subject to the individuals desire. Compatibilist argue that God only effects man’s desire but never man’s will. This is nothing more than verbal gymnastics. They never explain how you can separate man’s desire from his will nor how this somehow leaves mans will free. This revised definition of man’s will is nothing more than begging the question.
        I have never seen scripture that would support such a notion. Scripture recognizes and even assumes mans freedom often explaining his actions by his willingness or unwillingness. There are also examples of man’s action being done without any consideration of God.

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    2. you say:
      (contrary to Dizerner who mistakenly believes that God chooses His nature, the rest of us believe that God does have a set nature, an unchanging nature).

      I don’t mind you giving logical arguments, but that’s just a spin statement if you ask me. Might show better Christian character not to make those. Also, obviously in my view God can choose to have an unchanging nature (the unchanging part is not removed by the will being the origin.) I think you “guys” need to work on less spin statements and more just sticking to logical arguments. Saying “the rest of us” and “mistakenly believes” without either referring to full arguments of both sides, or defining who “the rest of us” is and why it matters is pure spin.

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      1. Dizerner,

        Mike seemed to see your view as strange and he expressed the hope that the rest of us do not hold your odd view. I made my comment to assure him that we don’t hold your view: that that view is held only by you. Your view that God chooses His own nature was discussed previously on this blog, you presented your arguments for it and everybody else presented their arguments against it. You did not persuade anyone to adopt your view then, nor will you successfully persuade us now. So there is no need to rehash the arguments again regarding your view. That issue is really not what this thread is about anyway. Instead of trying to resurrect a discussion of your view, why not stick to the issues of this thread instead?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well it’s annoying that you try to insinuate that I’m trying to bring an off-topic discussion in. I never once said that, I said to refer to it, that is give a link or synopsis. So by making your response all about something I never said you evade my entire point, which was this: you made a spin statement that was not based on just argument and didn’t give a fair representation. You may be very comfortable doing that, but it’s not a Christ-like way to respect those who differ with you. At this point I don’t feel like you really give a rat’s ass about actually listening to the point I’m making because if you did, you’d realize it had nothing to do with making this off-topic, but rather you unfairly representing me and creating a bizarre “us versus them” thing instead of just how good is an argument. I only take the time to explain all this because I’ve seen you take the time to do something similar, and that makes me think, “Does this person practice what he preaches? Does this person really care about fair representation, or only when it affects himself?”

        And that’s just something I’ll have to wait and see.

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  12. Mike

    you wrote /Ernest, I think what Slick was saying is that God is the only being with absolute autonomy of nature./
    No, what Slick was doing was building a straw man in responding to Leighton’s assertion that God could create a man who could make autonomous decisions. He attempted to redefine autonomy as God’s aseity and then argue against it. Its a common Calvinist (especially Slickian – his words, not mine) debate tactic employed to change the focus of the debate. Either Slick doesn’t understand the difference between aseity and autonomy or he was purposefully being deceptive in his argument.

    I agree with a former poster – debating Matt Slick brings nothing to the table. It is a waste of time.

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  13. I’m not a great theolgian or philosopher, but I can’t see how any Calvinist can deny libertarian free will across the board and be true to scripture. If God predetermined Adams sin in the garden in any sense, then God is the author of every sin since.

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    1. I’m not a Calvinist, but I am a deterministic compatibilist who denies libertarian free will. The response is to call your second sentence a non sequitur. This is done by resisting radical reduction in order to sustain a meaningful-in-form difference between indirect causation and authorship of evil.

      For example, most of us would accept that the formation of a certain ocean cliff face is the result of adequately deterministic processes, traceable ultimately to initial causation of God. But we intuitively reject the idea that God “micromanaged” every ocean cliff face. We intuitively “get” that God’s teleology isn’t smothering and oppressive over something merely virtue of that something being adequately deterministic. Under compatibilism, God can still practice “hands-off-ness”; indeed, God having such an interest is required for any workable theodicy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stanrock, I would agree with you. I don’t see the need for micromanagement.

        But there seems to be some confusion with the definition of libertarian free will on the blog. Many define it as the ability to do otherwise in all circumstances. Theologically this would mean the innate ability to accept or reject God. But on this particular blog people want to define it simply as non-coercive choice. What do you think?

        And, perhaps this is an assumption, but how do you hold to compatibilisim and remain an Arninian or non-Calvinist? Just curious.

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      2. you say:
        But we intuitively reject the idea that God “micromanaged” every ocean cliff face.

        This confuses me. What is the opposite of micromanaging? Does creation run itself? Wouldn’t that be deism?

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      3. Mike, I don’t think there exists a definition of libertarian free will that is both positive and coherent. It is a feeling of spontaneity and an assertion that mutually exclusive prospects — which “live together” only in imagination — are both completely realizable (an assertion that does not cohere). As a meme, it is defended by folk responsibility, which needs this spontaneity as an ascription-stopper. This defense takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum, “Without libertarian free will, we can’t hold people morally responsible.” Google “stanrock powerful meme” for more.

        I’m neither Arminian nor Calvinist. I reject the idea that God ultimately hates anyone; all “in-time hatreds” are ancillary, Esau-style. The theodicean “point” of Romans ch. 9 is Romans ch. 11. As unrebuked Elihu revealed, “God is mighty, and despises nobody; God is mighty, and firm in purpose.” Google “stanrock sovereignties” for more.

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      4. Dizerner,

        Creation “runs itself,” for the most part, according to the natural cause-and-effect processes God instituted. Deism is the belief that the Creator never intervenes, whereas we theists assert that God occasionally intervenes with “miraculous exceptions” to the natural procession of events.

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      5. you say:
        I don’t think there exists a definition of libertarian free will that is both positive and coherent.

        I hear this a lot. But to me then it sounds only like the atheists crying that theists don’t really ever have a coherent definition of God. So obviously those who define libertarian freedom think they gave a “positive and coherent” definition and theists think they give God a “positive and coherent” definition, so I step back, scratch my head and say, “why does the opposing view not think it’s positive and coherent?” And one reason I think that seeps in is, when we define something metaphysical, we can’t think of it only in physical terms—God and free will both have elements that transcend normal logic. So we say “it’s the ability to choose between two options” or we say “God is an all-powerful personality” and we know what we mean—but we also know that nothing physical can depict what we mean, because we are describing something metaphysical. So if we approach libertarian freedom like a mathematical equation we may say it never adds up—but how could the image of God, the ineffable, ever add up? We’ve got to believe free will is not just something that can be split apart into parts that we can then explain and predict, but rather—it’s something supernatural (there is, admittedly, a natural way to view it as simply indeterminacy, but I mean under a religious view).

        you say:
        to the natural cause-and-effect processes God instituted.

        Okay, so the opposite of micro-managing, is “natural cause-and-effect processes.” Those processes are pretty intricate though, and you also said you’re a determinist. If I set up a chain of tiny little dominoes that all hit each other in complicated ways, and end up always a certain way, it seems to me I’m just as much a micro-manager as if I set them up in one specific pattern. It’s not like something happens to the dominoes I didn’t plan or realize, and I’d have to imagine there isn’t an ocean cliff anywhere that takes God by surprise and he says “weird how that turned out!” So even if creation runs itself (which might seem dubious Biblically) we’ve still, under determinism, got a very micro-managing God on our hands, it seems to me.

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      6. Dizerner,

        You can bite the bullet on this issue being an ineffable mystery — something without coherent and positive entailment. Or you can wonder, “Why does the opposing view not think it’s positive and ocherent?” I don’t think you can do both. You should pick whether you think libertarian free will is a thing that can be discussed in a coherent way, or whether you think it is an ineffable mystery.

        There is no ocean cliff that takes God by surprise. All adequately determined things are exhaustively foreknown by God. But we say that this does not mean it is micromanaged, because God’s deliberate nonintervention (for the most part) allows portions of creation to be “self-managing.” The more he “lets go,” the more creation becomes “its own,” even though it traces ultimately to his creative decisions and exhaustive foreknowledge. Google “stanrock sun rises” for more about radical reduction and the appropriate Christian response.

        I must ask you: Do you disagree that ocean cliffs form by means of adequately deterministic processes? I assumed this would be a shared premise.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. you say:
        You should pick whether you think libertarian free will is a thing that can be discussed in a coherent way, or whether you think it is an ineffable mystery.

        Oh, how I love the smell of false dichotomies in the morning. If you start a priori with the insistence that ineffable mysteries can’t be coherently discussed, I guess we sure won’t get far. It’s the old adage of Calvinball: if you set the rules, you can always make sure you win. Now: give me a clear positive and coherent definition of God that doesn’t entail any ineffable mysteries, please, or else I can say God has no meaning?

        you say:
        Do you disagree that ocean cliffs form by means of adequately deterministic processes?

        I’m actually not entirely sure if God put any true randomness in the universe. It seems, especially in the light of discoveries in quantum mechanics, that indeterminacy might exist at the subatomic level. I do think God established the laws and materials, and know how they would turn out. God can predict the unpredictable, because he’s, you know, supernatural.

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      8. Good morning David! My smeller is probably not as good as yours in the morning! 🙂 But do I smell a contradiction or equivocation – “God can predict the unpredictable.” I am guessing you mean God can predict what is unpredictable for man. But would you agree that He can only “predict”, which in my mind means reveal in prophecy to man, or, know as certain a future event, only those things He has already determined to happen?

        I am glad you brought up the issue of randomness! This helps others a lot imo to consider the idea of partial “openness” in the future (i.e., God has allowed randomness within the confines of the determinations, laws, and ends that He has already established for the future). He knows all the possibilities for the future perfectly for each of those random events within those established “boundaries”. But both He and man are “free” within the confines of those same established boundaries to interact with any of those random events.

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      9. Dizerner,

        It is generally well-accepted that ineffable mysteries can’t be coherently discussed, since “ineffable” means “can’t be described.” There are aspects to God that are revealed in a relatively coherent way, and there are aspects that we still can’t positively noodle-out. With libertarian free will, however, we don’t even know what we’re discussing, and yet discussion continues (it’s one of the most egregious violations of philosophical quietude, which it is why it is so notoriously evergreen).

        Your response to the cliffs question didn’t help. Do you agree with the premise that ocean cliffs form by adequately deterministic processes? Do you agree that God does not micromanage ocean cliff formation? If you agree with these two things, then you can begin to comprehend how God does not author evil under adequately deterministic human behavior. Otherwise, you need to answer “no” to one of those questions.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. you say:
        It is generally well-accepted that ineffable mysteries can’t be coherently discussed, since “ineffable” means “can’t be described.”

        Wouldn’t you say then, if that were the meaning, the word becomes virtually meaningless? Yet I think the word has a meaning, and the reason is, because words can express metaphysical ideas. To say we understand something of a thing, is not to say we understand everything. We can understand something of what ineffable means to us, and thus I’d argue it has a coherent meaning.

        you say:
        With libertarian free will, however, we don’t even know what we’re discussing, and yet discussion continues

        You merely set a level of description the believer in LFW feels is unnecessary to understand the concept. We can write pages on the meaning of it from all angles, and obviously that means something to us. And again the same concept applies the definition of God himself.

        you say:
        Do you agree with the premise that ocean cliffs form by adequately deterministic processes?

        I’m uncertain about that, however I would most definitely say free will is not a deterministic process.

        you say:
        Do you agree that God does not micromanage ocean cliff formation?

        I think God does indeed micromanage it, by however means, because only the free will of man is beyond God’s control.

        you say:
        If you agree with these two things, then you can begin to comprehend how God does not author evil under adequately deterministic human behavior.

        I honestly would like to understand that, but it just feels like a cop out so far. I don’t see any compelling evidence for that yet. Unless there is indeterminancy in creation, God is the intentional author. In all cases God is the author of the possibility of evil.

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      11. Dizerner,

        Real quick, earlier you accused me of presenting you a false dichotomy, but when I said, “I don’t think you can do both,” I meant that in a sincere tone and not a sarcastic tone. Tone is easy to lose on Internet discussion so apologies if I’m coming across as anything less than good-faith.

        You said,

        “To say we understand something of a thing, is not to say we understand everything. We can understand something of what ineffable means to us, and thus I’d argue it has a coherent meaning.”

        I think you’re more correct than me on this point. I concede that many concepts, especially spiritual concepts, have (1) parts that are easily discussed coherently, (2) parts that are discussable only by means of abstractions and vagueries, and (3) parts that are completely ineffable. The dichotomy I presented earlier was indeed false.

        Please allow me to reframe what is my issue with “the definition of libertarian free will.”

        There’s common rhetorical pattern we observe called a “motte-and-bailey maneuver” in all sorts of discussions. A motte claim is a claim that would be considered very acceptable and benign to the audience; it is “safe.” A bailey claim is that which truly and wholly represents the speaker’s more brazen/bold position, which might not be considered so acceptable to the audience; it is “dangerous.” Motte-and-bailey maneuvers are when somebody flips from one to the other — often not on purpose — in order to advance or retreat in terms of rhetorical “force.”

        The common motte-and-bailey we observed in LFW vs. CFW debates is this. LFW folk will say that there is no meaningful sense of free will under determinism; that given determinism, we cannot hold people accountable; that given determinism, morality goes out the window; etc. These are not “benign and acceptable” claims to CFW folk, and we wonder how the LFW fan would define “free will” such that things like morality, accountability, etc. are precluded under determinism.

        What commonly happens, then, is that the LFW person will define free will in a circularly-abstract way, e.g., “The ability to choose in a morally significant way,” but sometimes in very safe way, e.g., “The ability to make decisions without coercion.” The problem with the first is obvious (it contains a persuasive stipulation). The problem with the second is that the REASON it is so acceptable and benign is because you can do that under determinism!

        So the common reply from CFW fans is, “Please refine your definition of libertarian free will until it is incompatible with determinism.”

        From here, the common reply from LFW fans is that you must be able to choose “otherwise,” a rhetorical labyrinth that Harry G. Frankfurt explored and conquered. To put it briefly, there are 5 starkly philosophically distinct interpretations of “The ability to choose otherwise.” Two of them are analytical falsities. Two of them are compatible with determinism. And one of them contains indeterminism only incidentally and non-meaningfully.

        And thus the “labyrinth’s exit” is the treasure troves of compatibilism. Here we nail down what we mean by choicemaking, and refine what we mean to hold someone culpable. And we can do all of this successfully — indeed, VERY successfully, so remarkably successfully that we compatibilists get very, very excited and want to spread the word.

        But at this point, we’ve ventured pretty far from “default feelings” of spontaneity and prospect realism. And thus, compatibilism can feel alien to experience. The magnetic pull of those feelings is so strong that the debate often simply resets and begins anew, way back from the beginning.

        When we compatibilists watch that happen, it feels like watching progress slip away. And this regression is in terms of “coherence to incoherence,” because the journey that brought us to compatibilism was one of deliberate, plodding, rigorous question-asking and definition-tempering.

        After watching this “spin cycle” occur literally hundreds and hundreds of times over the last 20 years, one gets exhausted, and searches for ways to shortcut the process. This shortcut looks like this: Put the burden on the LFW fan to define their terms in a coherent way. If they’re resting on the laurels of incoherence, then be satisfied with a silent victory.

        You said,

        “I think God does indeed micromanage it, by however means, because only the free will of man is beyond God’s control.”

        Do you think animals like mosquitoes and chimps have libertarian free will, or do you think they are adequately deterministic such that God micromanages their behavior like he micromanages ocean cliff faces?

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      12. Thanks for taking the time to explain it on a simpler level for me. Perhaps I should have admitted sooner I needed some help with that, and I know it might seem frustrating to you to explain some basics again. I liked learning of the principle of mott and bailey, and I’m sure we’ve all seen it at times.

        you say:
        The problem with the second is that the REASON it is so acceptable and benign is because you can do that (“The ability to make decisions without coercion”) under determinism!

        But we object that all forms of determinism equals coercion in one respect or another!

        you say:
        Put the burden on the LFW fan to define their terms in a coherent way. If they’re resting on the laurels of incoherence, then be satisfied with a silent victory.

        But see there is a problem here, in that the source of the choice is necessarily God-like, because it is created in a mystical way ex-nihilo. It has to be, for it to be autonomous and (although influenced) not fundamentally determined by anything else.

        you say:
        Do you think animals like mosquitoes and chimps have libertarian free will, or do you think they are adequately deterministic such that God micromanages their behavior like he micromanages ocean cliff faces?

        I think the higher animals have some free will. I would say there is a gradual cutting off point at some point, with lesser amounts of free will associated with lesser complexity in consciousness.

        you say:
        we compatibilists get very, very excited and want to spread the word.

        I think the pure idea of compatibilism, although logically contradictory, is actually quite interesting. It reminds me of that old cliche in sermons “on the outside is written ‘whosoever will’ and on the inside is written ‘all whose names were written,'” or something like that. Usually in discussions with Calvinists, anyway, the determinism side of the coin always seems to be the “trump card” and that’s kind of what has bothered me about it. Like you pressure them “Well, it’s not truly autonomous right?” And then comes the huge verbiage to put a pin in that balloon, “Well, not such that it’s free of the nature and such that God did set in motion what would guarantee the action but only through secondary means so as not to actually do it, but still not such that it’s truly free, but free such that it is free insofar as the nature is doing what it wants”—and all I can hear, if you can imagine it, is the air coming out of the balloon “WhheeEEEEeeeeeEEEEee” such that by the time it’s over you are thinking “but… there’s no true autonomy in that.” If we could formulate some kind of compatibilism where the autonomy side had just as much weight and equal right with the determinism side, I’d be far more interested and willing to say it’s no longer a “fat and fluffy cat” but maybe some new species of “fluffat” or something.

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      13. Dizerner,

        You said,

        “But we object that all forms of determinism equals coercion in one respect or another!”

        Word. And we compatibilists say that’s a radical reduction. Google “stanrock sun rises” for thorough explanation of formation and reduction and how I’m using it here (including a comic!).

        You said,

        “But see there is a problem here, in that the source of the choice is necessarily God-like, because it is created in a mystical way ex-nihilo.”

        It’s perfectly fine for a person to make this assertion, as long as it’s understood that such a thing cannot be used as a coherent premise if we’ve agreed that it is not coherent. And only coherent premises can be employed in the process of reason in order to derive further claims. If we forget this discipline, then such premises act as “logical wildcards” which are extremely dangerous for philosophy and theology.

        You said,

        “I think the higher animals have some free will. I would say there is a gradual cutting off point at some point, with lesser amounts of free will associated with lesser complexity in consciousness.”

        Alright; so, would you agree to this: “Every time a mosquito bites somebody, it’s God’s micromanaging, deliberate will”? I suspect we’d agree this absurd, and yet, it seems to follow from the positions you’ve asserted (that lower animals lack libertarian free will, and that anything without libertarian free will is micromanaged by God).

        This is a reductio ad absurdum, which is somewhat bold because I risk (1) misrepresenting your answers, and/or (2) assuming you’d agree to the absurdity of God micromanaging all mosquito bites. So please give me extra latitude and forgive me if I’m misrepresenting or making a bad assumption.

        You said,

        “And then comes the huge verbiage to put a pin in that balloon…”

        Hah! I loved this analogy.

        Calvinists have a big problem: They need some sort of libertarian vestige in order to wash-God’s-hands of double predestination to a forever-doom, and/or they have to bite the bullet that God just ultimately hates most of what he made. They’ll never really get around this.

        Google “stanrock sovereignties” for more about their libertarian vestige.

        I don’t think the answer is to fight for exclusive autonomy, but a subordinate autonomy that is meaningful in form. For instance, there is a meaningful-in-form way to say that I own my house, and do not own my neighbor’s house. But we say, superordinately, that God owns both houses. But when my lawn is overgrown, we don’t get to blame God for that, even though it’s “really his lawn.” It is not necessary to deny God’s superordinate ownership of all lawns in order to blame me and compel me to keep the grass tidy.

        Ctrl-F in this comments page for “raah” for some further remarks along these lines.

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  14. Exactly, it’s a distinction without a difference. The determinists make a big deal about how much more sovereign God is in their view, and somehow don’t see the little box they’ve tried to shove Him into. If God can do anything, why can’t He decide to create man with a truly free choice and why can’t God decide not to know the result of that choice, but only all possible responses?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Remember that “truly” is a red flag for persuasive stipulation.

      The trick with “possible” is that it is subject to Bayesian probability. God doesn’t have to know anything about the future; if he exhaustively knows the present, then he can guess with near-perfect accuracy how things shall proceed from there. Remember that decisions are expressions of brains and spirits, and God knows precisely how they work to the tiniest detail. An uncertain future nonetheless takes a single practically certain course for a God with such wisdom. Google “stanrock jumping ships” for more about how Open Theism doesn’t actually accomplish those victories it claims, and why Open Theists should switch to compatibilism.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I honestly have an inclination to think that it would be inconsistent for a reformed soteriology that affirms TULIP, to maintain any form of compatibilism (if by compatibilism we mean that at least some choices originate solely from the created person rather than all choices originating either directly or indirectly from God’s predeterminations.)

    If compatibilism allows for any sort of true libertarian choice, how do subscribers to this sort of compatibilism explain God’s ability to foreknow all things if He hasn’t determined all things? Seems like that sort of compatibilism would just be a more deterministic form of libertarian freedom, in that most (or some) choices directly or indirectly originate with God alone. I would still reject this form of compatibilism, because I think don’t think Scripture teaches that actual human choices (at least evil choices) originate with God.

    I think a scriptural understanding of freedom could be simply that humans, like God, have the ability to make choices. The moral value of the choices themselves are distinct from the function of making choices, because (theoretically) not all choices are simply either “good” or “bad”. For an example of the graded morality of actual choices, I think 1 Cor. 7:36-38 presents this idea – though I don’t think we, as fallen humans, have the perfect ability to know whether something is just a “lesser” good rather than a “lesser” evil. See here for more elaboration on the concept: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graded_absolutism

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Correction: I would still reject this form of compatibilism, because I don’t think Scripture teaches that actual human choices originate solely from God’s predeterminations and in an illusory fashion appear to originate from the human individual (though I think God may influence the individual choices of men in order to achieve a predetermined outcome).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Another correct: because (theoretically) not all options are simply either “good” vs. “bad”. Theoretically an option set could include a greater good option, and a lesser good option, etc.

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    3. Compatibilism doesn’t allow for libertarian choice, if by libertarian you mean “disconnected from prior causation.” Compatibilism says that what libertarians commonly call “true choice” is not actually very “true” at all, because it’s not something we do; rather, human choicemaking is electing one of several Bayesian-plausible prospects as a strict function of who we are (which is reducible to that of which we’re constituted).

      Whether we’re discussing the matter of our brains or the spirits we’ve been given, it SHOULD be benign to assert that all we have has its ultimate origination in God. We owe everything to God because he gave us everything we have, including who we are. The problem, of course, is that evil finds its ultimate origination in God, and this is considered unacceptable.

      We compatibilists say that we should bite this bullet, and deal with the fallout in a way that maintains our belief in a good and wise God. First, we should bite this bullet because Scripture thrice reveals that God really is ultimately responsible for the Heb. ‘raah’ that occurs. ‘Raah’ is “the bad stuff” broadly. It is often rendered “calamity,” but also entails moral evil, e.g., “They repaid me evil (‘raah’) for good.”

      We deal with the fallout by denying that God authors that evil. We do this by refining our view of authorship as something in direct proximity that is morally loaded with things like malice, gross self-service, recklessness, and blameworthy negligence. Here it is very, very useful to do a “boring deep dive” into the semantics of “wanting/willing.” For just such a deep dive, Google “stanrock authors evil.”

      This special view of authorship also solves the “temptation paradox,” where Scripture tells us that God tempts nobody, but that there are temptations universal to mankind (and, as such, are God’s superordinate responsibility). Indeed, we find that gullibility, greed, irrational loss-aversion, and excessive curiosity — the ingredients of the Fall — are emergent expressions of dopamine stimulation common to many mammals.

      St. Isaac of Nineveh:

      “You should see that, while God’s caring is guiding us all the time to what he wishes for us, as things outwardly appear, it is from us that he takes the occasion to providing things, his aim being to carry out by every means what he has intended for our advantage. All this is because he knew beforehand our inclination towards all sorts of wickedness, and so he cunningly made the harmful consequences which would result from this into a means of entry to the future good and the setting right of our corrupted state.”

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      1. Hi Stanrock! I respect your diligent study in these things! I will need to read the Bayesian probability arguments you mentioned. Do you hold that God presently has libertarian freedom to make choices that change the course of events in human history or that He predetermined all His choices for all of human history before the moment of creation?

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      2. Stan,

        You began your post with:

        “Compatibilism doesn’t allow for libertarian choice, if by libertarian you mean “disconnected from prior causation.” Compatibilism says that what libertarians commonly call “true choice” is not actually very “true” at all, because it’s not something we do; rather, human choicemaking is electing one of several Bayesian-plausible prospects as a strict function of who we are (which is reducible to that of which we’re constituted).”

        Who believes that our choices are “disconnected from prior causation”?

        Libertarians do not believe that events occur without any causes (this is a common misrepresentation made by determinists, especially Calvinists). Rather we believe that some events result from necessitating causes (e.g. given these chemicals meeting together, this result must then follow as a result of those chemicals meeting together) and some events result not from necessitating causes but from the choices of personal agents. For the libertarian if I have to do X, and it was impossible for me to do Y, then my action was determined, necessitated. The libertarian does not deny that some events do result from necessitating causes (e.g. chemical reactions, processes in nature, etc.): we do however believe that in some cases, where genuine choices are involved, the cause is a person and the resulting event was not necessitated. If you prefer, you could say some events are necessitate, but some events are not necessitated, but all events involve some sort of causation as no event occurs without any cause.

        Your claim that “what libertarians commonly call ‘true choice’ is not actually very ‘true’ at all, because it’s not something we do” is false. We all experience the having and making of our own choices, choices that are not necessitated but freely chosen by us, EVERYDAY. We experience the reality of choice every day, and that includes the determinist who claims we do not.

        Ironically, the determinist even in denying that we experience genuine choices daily, contradicts himself because in making this very claim he/she is engaging in ordinary language us. And ordinary language use presupposes genuine choices (e.g. which words to use, what argument to present or not present, whether to speak or not, when to respond or not respond, even which language to use if we are multilingual). Chomsky wrote some devastating papers on this in showing the deterministic views of B.F. Skinner to be completely false and out of touch with the way ordinary language use actually operates.

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      3. Brian,

        I assert that God’s actions are functions of two things (1) who he is, that is, his nature, which has no shadow of changing, and (2) the world, which is constantly changing. This yields the dynamism of his actions (he intervenes here, doesn’t intervene there, etc.) even as his nature is stable.

        Some people say that this assertion entails a lack of libertarian free will in God. Some say that it does not. It depends on how one defines the term, and there’s a variety of proposals.

        Man thinks in terms of rough and uncertain contingencies; we roughly imagine mutually-exclusive futures, we imagine alternative pasts that did not occur, etc. It is very useful, in relationship with man, to speak in hypotheticals and counterfactuals, to instill holy fear and prudent regret. The second assertion is that verses about the “uncertainty” or “capriciousness” or “correction” of God are anthropomorphic ways of leveraging this kind of communication and resonance. (Open Theists typically acknowledge that some measure of this is necessary, but I don’t know your take.)

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      4. Stanrock… I may be a little slow but I don’t think you answered my two questions as to what you personally believe about God exercising free will now or having predetermined all His choices before creation.

        I got the impression that you think most of Scriptures’ revelation about changes that God makes is anthropomorphic, but that the statements about His immutability are thoroughly clear. How do you factor in the incarnation with God’s immutability? That seems like a massive change to His nature, or at least to His experience, in my thinking.

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      5. Robert,

        You said,

        “Who believes that our choices are ‘disconnected from prior causation’? Libertarians do not believe that events occur without any causes (this is a common misrepresentation made by determinists, especially Calvinists).”

        Views of libertarian free will are diverse. When asked, “What is the will free from, in your view of ‘free will’?” a common response is, “To some degree, substantially free from prior and/or external causation.” The answer to “Who believes…?” is “Lots of people.”

        You are clearly not among that cohort of LFW advocates. But that is why I couched my response with a hypothetical antecedent: “Compatibilism doesn’t allow for libertarian choice, if by libertarian you mean ‘disconnected from prior causation.'” That “If by libertarian” implied “You could mean several different things by libertarian,” which is indeed the case. LFW is not a united front.

        The impasse with determinism is that all events necessarily proceed, so it makes no sense to say, “Some events are necessary, others are choices of personal agents.” To us, this sounds like, “Some cars are small road-going vehicles, and others are Volkswagen Beetles.” The burden is to articulate a more refined or reduced definition that can be commonly discussed without assuming one paradigm or the other.

        You said,

        “We all experience the having and making of our own choices, choices that are not necessitated but freely chosen by us, EVERYDAY.”

        Every clear, starry night, when we look up, we see very obviously that the stars are laid out on a dome. This is what we all experience.

        Now, we can admit the universality of this experience, but we can also posit that reality is otherwise. If we do that, we need both an explanation of that reality, but also a pretty darn good explanation of why our eyes are plainly telling us that all stars are equally far away, laid out on a sky-dome.

        If supplied with this explanation, however, then we can subject it to our heuristics and assign warrant to competing proposals accordingly.

        Under determinism, libertarian free will entails three things: (1) A lack of sensation of the emergence of our thoughts from that by which they’re caused, (2) apparent mental and behavioral spontaneity in ourselves and others, and (3) the vivid sense of prospect/retrospect realism; that is, I imagine my options, and they all seem to be floating out there, in my mind’s eye, even if they’re mutually exclusive, and they all have a heft of tangibility even as they’re ephemeral (in fact, I assign them Bayesian weight according to how tangible/plausible/solid they feel).

        Those 3 things are what you and I experience every day. They no more prove that our personal choices are non-necessary any more than my naked eyes prove that stars are laid out on a dome.

        You need to stop using persuasive semantics, e.g., “genuine choices.” Every argument that employs such terminology is noncogent. Ordinary language use doesn’t at all presuppose the falsity of determinism and decisionmaking thereunder.

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      6. Robert, forgive me on my very last sentence there. I realized that you could merely be asserting that the human language game is riddled with libertarianism. If so, then I agree with that assertion.

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      7. High level – I’ll respond briefly:

        “if by libertarian you mean “disconnected from prior causation.”” I only mean,when we make choices, it’s entirely not synonymous with a choice God makes. I submit that it may be highly intertwined, in the sense of “A man’s heart plans his course, but Yahweh directs his steps.” Though, I maintain we are the terminus of our actual choices (when not under compulsion).

        So, imagine a tinkerer/engineer who builds highly customized novelty mechanisms for a living of the kinetic automata variety. He marries a woman he met while displaying one of his productions at a town fair. They move in to a house together and, full of love, he decides to build an intricate bedroom for their future children. The room is replete with fascinating sculptures that move along pre-defined tracks and knick-knacks that pop out of hidden places and all sorts of animated mechanisms that were built and set in motion by the highly-skilled up-and-coming dad. Some of the animations are so complex and detailed, they won’t finish playing until the children grow old and move out on their own.

        In this (rough) example, the children are distinct from the father’s other creations, because the children are not mere mechanistic automata that the father engineered, but they are his actual children, and share many of his qualities. Of course this probably has many holes and dissimilarities when compared to God’s creation and His relationship to us – but the point is that I think our ability to make actual and rational choices is a trait that we are endowed with simply because we are created in God’s image and reflect His nature – rather than our choices being just a sequential process of natural phenomenon analogous to leaves falling from trees in autumn. I believe God, as the sovereign, has supreme authority and governance over all that happens – He may use persuasive measures and He may employ methods (always morally good) that we’re not always aware of – but I don’t think that necessitates an irresistable, entirely mechanistic, and meticulously deterministic system and I don’t think God ever performs evil acts by means of his creation.

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      8. “entirely not synonymous” doesn’t sound right – I guess I mean that our choices are distinctly and actually separate from God’s choices in the meaningful sense – maybe even somewhat metaphysically? Though a choice of God’s could be to utilize one (or some) of our choices for a higher purpose (Isaiah 10).

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      9. Brian,

        I don’t think God’s decisions are spontaneous or capricious, and believe in a single real history and single real future (not multiple real histories and not multiple real futures). I don’t think libertarian free will is a coherent “thing to be had” and so doubt that God “has it.”

        The Incarnation is enormously mystery, but I break with the ECFs a bit here and assert that Jesus Christ had gnomic will as a function of him being limited in knowledge. This is how he could grow in wisdom as he aged, this is how he could fail to know eschatological details that the Father knew, etc. Having a gnomic will (choicemaking from earnest contemplation, basically) is perfectly compatible with determinism.

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      10. Thank you stanrock for answering my questions. I am wondering two more things. Do you therefore believe God had to create this human history in its completed form? And why did He choose to make His revelation of His involvement in so illusory of the true reality that only “smart” philosophers like you could figure out?

        Don’t you think your view of the incarnation makes Jesus join in believing as truth – that illusion, that is, not smart enough to understand it like you? When He said, “Do you not think that I can now pray….” (Mt 26:53), He mistakenly thought it was possible to get 12 legions of angels sent to rescue Him.

        So God was not free to choose between creating or not creating in your view. But if He was, if He truly was, then the reality of all the freewill choices depicted in Scripture, and a partially open future also then becomes legitimate, one that even a non scholar can understand as truth and not an illusion!

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      11. Brian,

        I believe God set out to make history manifest in the way in which it became, and is becoming, manifest, and in no other way. We know this because it has become manifest in only one way, and God had “final say” arbitration over everything that has happened and “stuck.” Indeed, he has shown the willingless to selectively intervene when things are in dire need of course-correction. This is not just to “mix things up” but to align the world to the optimization of his intereset set. This sovereign “hand-holding” — a very real and exhaustive “filter” on all of history — remains the case even if God has no clue about the future.

        I trust that Jesus had a pretty good understanding of destiny and God’s sovereign plan. He foresaw that he must die and rise again on the third day. He may not have known the precise time of Judgment, but he knew the Father knew. I’m sure he was quite well-equipped to resolve the issues at play.

        All statements of raw ability are hypotheticals with the implicit antecedent, “If I chose to do so.” A hypothetical can be true if the antecedent is false. “I could pray and summon legions (if I wanted to)” remains true even if the actualization of such summons were impossible due to his unwillingness to make them.

        Ctrl-F for “here’s the trick” to see what I think of “free to create or not create,” and read onward to the coin/cup thought experiment to see why — and when — we intuitively use the language of openness for closed systems.

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      12. Thank you stanrock again for your response. I must however state clearly, of my own free will, my strong opposition to your view that God’s and man’s choices were all predetermined before creation. It is not just “we” who are using the illusory false language of openness for what you have chosen to believe is a closed system. It is also God, in your view, both in His incarnation, but more importantly, through His inspiration of Scripture! Even Jesus’s words, “Your Word is truth” and “If it be possible…” (1st class condition) become accomodation word games, in your view. Every biblical invitation, every conditional statement, every verse that speaks of God still making choices is a false projection of what you and a few others have cleverly figured out is the real truth that God was unwilling or unable to reveal in His Word, in your view. And you are ok with that?

        As I view and interact in this discussion, and pray for God to change hearts and minds to conform to His truth I wonder… has each person’s chosen view of determination, compatibilism, and freewill encouraged them to pray more to God? I know that for me personally, the more I entertain as possibly true that the future, my future, is all predetermined, the less I fall on my knees and beg God to change things, to change me.

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      13. Brian,

        I don’t mean “language game” pejoratively; rather, absolutely all language is a language game. The “game” is playing tennis over a epistemic gap of shared meaning; it’s a recognition that language isn’t about direct transfer of information, but a volley of implication and inference, and requires ascertaining and utilizing listener expectation and resonance.

        As I’ve already posited, God speaks in the contingent language of uncertainty in order to resonate with mankind, and especially to compel mankind. And as I’ve already asserted, even Open Theists must admit a large measure of this and cannot take certain passages of Scripture at flat, face value in this regard.

        The easiest example is this: We know that, many times, God through prophets and visions made guarantees not only about divinely-vectored fates, but about human action that shall be taken. Even if God isn’t certain of a single future, he knows the possibilities exhaustively enough to make far-off promises, even with regard to things over which he is not exercising invasive control. I assume we agree on all of this. But then read Genesis 6:7. Here, God expresses that he not only regrets having made humans, but even beasts and birds. Taken at face value, this is not compatible with a God who who both called his creation good and who is wise enough to make far-off predictions about creaturely behavior. That’s why we don’t take it at face value! Rather, we broadly take it as an anthropomorphic expression of God’s genuine sorrow over the interest troughs necessitated by the optimization of his interest set over time.

        In other words, let’s not accuse one another of infidelity to Scripture. Face-value Scripture, as we discussed earlier, portrays a capricious God, which is why neither of us accept its face-value expressions of God’s lack of foresight and excessive reactivity. Rather, we treat these as God communicating with mankind — uncertain and capricious mankind — in a resonant way.

        Google “stanrock prayer” for my view of prayer. In short, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and praying for personal passions is “praying wrongly.”

        It is not necessary to insert “of my own free will” subclauses into your remarks. I already assume that nobody is putting a gun to your head and coercing you to make these posts.

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      14. Thank you stanrock for replying! My opinion is not changed that you have a low view of the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture and that your view promotes a God who uses illusions untrue to his own nature to communicate with the masses of humanity. And you have figured it out!

        But you do show an infidelity to Scripture by saying things like you just said — “Face-value Scripture, as we discussed earlier, portrays a capricious God, which is why neither of us accept its face-value expressions of God’s lack of foresight and excessive reactivity.” I don’t believe there are in Scripture any “face-value expressions of God’s lack of foresight and excessive reactivity.” And did I understand you correctly when you said – “In short, ‘Not my will, but yours be done,’ and praying for personal passions is ‘praying wrongly’”? Are you indeed saying that Jesus was wrong to pray this prayer? I truly hope you will pursue developing the same high view of Scripture, its truthfulness, and its perspicuity for the gospel and for all necessary sound doctrine that Jesus and His apostles had.

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      15. Brian,

        You said, “My opinion is not changed that you have a low view of the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture.”

        I doubt this is actually your opinion. I suspect that you are getting more personal with your angle of attack because of an unwillingness to go after the issues at play. I have little choice but to conclude this, particularly due to the fact that you avoided addressing the example I cited. Perhaps we could return to good-faith debate if you drop the personal insinuations and address the passage I offered as evidence. If not, we can go our separate ways, as bad-faith discussion is fruitless.

        You misunderstood my comment about prayer. I again suggesting Googling “stanrock prayer” for my opinion (which would have corrected your misunderstanding), but I understand if you cannot be bothered. Jesus prayed correctly when he said, “Not my will, but yours be done.” James admonished correctly when he said, “You pray wrongly, to spend on your passions.” The correct view of prayer is not about surprising God or jarring him into action, but to give a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and appellate expression, and that he would use such expression to prove himself, for he is invisible and must be sought, but is not far from any of us.

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      16. Good morning Stan. I am sorry you are not taking my words at face value. I am speaking passionately, and praying passionately for God to enlighten you on how harmful your view is, of seeing anthropomorphisms in biblical narratives, especially when God’s own words about Himself are recorded, judging the face value of those words as “portray[ing] a capricious God,” giving “expressions of God’s lack of foresight and excessive reactivity.”

        Your view results in the layperson giving up on personally be able to understand his Bible, because the scholar has told him it really doesn’t mean what it says, even when God speaks about Himself in historical narrative! The wisdom of man and science, falsely so-called, is being elevated over the perspicuity of Scripture and God’s profession of not being a God of confusion. I did respond to your Gen 6 example when I said, “I don’t believe there are in Scripture any ‘face-value expressions of God’s lack of foresight and excessive reactivity.’”

        But to counter your view concerning the Genesis flood that – “Taken at face value, this is not compatible with a God who both called his creation good and who is wise enough to make far-off predictions about creaturely behavior” let me be more specific. It is compatible. God’s free will to allow His good creation to fall into sin and to be almost thoroughly corrupted does not impugn His justice or mercy. Neither does His destruction of all animal and human life except for those chosen to survive. His proper judgment in the after-life of all souls which perished in the flood is assumed, and who knows how many may have freely repented and trusted in His mercy, agreeing with the preaching of Noah, moments before the flood ended their physical lives. I believe we will see multitudes in glory from among those multitudes that died that day.

        I didn’t read your discussion on prayer that you recommended because I thought you were adequately giving its conclusion when you said – “In short, ‘Not my will, but yours be done,’ and praying for personal passions is ‘praying wrongly’”? The two clauses were seen as connected with the conclusion. I have since looked through your article and see that my evaluation was faulty as I had hoped and that’s why I asked you about it. Praying like Jesus prayed is indeed for everyone. And since His will was good as well as the Father’s, though opposite of each other at that moment in the garden, this, at face value, shows true undetermined possibilities do exist, which motivates us all to pray more. Strong determinists have a lot of difficulty dealing with the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. This reads at face-value that God freely hears and answers prayer and that all things are not previously predetermined. I hope you don’t think this verse is anthropomorphic also. I noticed that you did not include it in your article on prayer.

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      17. Brian, real quick, to clarify, you take Scripture at face-value — rather than anthropomorphically and figuratively — when it says that God regretted making birds and beasts?

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      18. Hi Stan. Don’t know how “real quick” I can be while at work today! 🙂 But it’s lunch now. The answer is yes! We do not know why God regretted making the animals, but we can rest assured that He had a good reason. A reasonable idea would be that animals were greatly suffering harm from the evil of man’s choices.

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    4. Jimmy,

      I like your simple but accurate description of free will as:

      “I think a scriptural understanding of freedom could be simply that humans, like God, have the ability to make choices.”

      It should be viewed as HAVING choices, that we like God, have the capacity to have and make our own choices. Are there influences on our choosing? Sure. Are there instances where our choices are severely limited? Yes. And yet are there occasions when we actually can choose either of two different alternative possibilities present before us and available to us? Yes. Unfortunately what all variations of determinism lead to is a world where we make choices but we never have choices. This is the imaginary world of the determinist, as conceived by the determinist, it is not the actual world that God created and we find ourselves in. If we properly view free will as involving the having and making of choices, we find lots of evidence of this reality in our daily experience as well as finding lots of instances of it in the scriptures.

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      1. I saw your comment above about some events being determined by physical processes, etc. while others are determined by rational creatures (us) – I could largely agree – when it comes to human choices, I might say that if a choice is under compulsion or a choice is the result of a handicap of the brain, etc. I might make an exception and say that those are not entirely genuine – i’m not sure at that point – maybe some human choices do not wholly originate from themselves only – but I’m not sure at that point. I think when constructing a view of simply “freedom” or “free will”, I think it’s simple to propose that it’s just the actual, physical, real and true ability to choose based on a set of options rather than being forced and determined to choose with the illusion of having a real set of options. I imagine i’m falling short in explaining this or maybe fully grasping the compatibilist’s philosophical position.

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  16. BRIANWAGNER
    Your view of God not knowing because He has left some things undetermined is interesting but I am having some problems understanding some of the consequences. Maybe you can help me. How do things become determined in particular things like men’s decision? Is this just a delayed determinism where God eventually decrees all things, or are there things that God “learns” at some point in time when other undetermined things become determined leading to the determination of other things sort of a domino effect (please excuse my poor analogies) I am not discounting your view just trying to fill in some holes in my understanding. Thanks for your posts.

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    1. Thanks Ernest for the questions. First, I do not have the “view of God not knowing” anything, though it may be a matter of semantics. He knows all that can be known. He does not know that I am a Calvinist, because I am not one. 🙂 The future does not yet exist so He knows it with the same omniscience (infinite understanding, Ps 147:5) that He had before He decided to create. Since He did not have to create, He knew the future creation at that “point” only as a possibility among perhaps an almost infinite number of possible creations that would conform to His nature, that He was able to create.

      I believe the Scripture supports that the creation that He freely choose to create from all those possibilities was one with certain limits, laws, and ends, but not one were everything was predetermined, which would have included the determining of all His free-will choices and man’s free-will choices. So the future that He now knows, with the same omniscience He had before freely deciding to create, is partially determined and partially open. The open part is fully known as to all the possibilities, and yes they all become further limited as He makes new determinations for the future or permits choices to be made by man that would limit them. But since His understanding is infinite, no possibility that eventually becomes a certainty takes Him by surprise. You could say that He sees all future possibilities as clearly as if they were all certainties.

      So yes, in one way God gains knowledge through experience, but does not gain knowledge because of His infinite understanding, and on a significant level we can both understand that about God as well as not understand fully. The incarnation is instructive in this matter, for God, as far as it has been revealed, never experienced becoming flesh before. So His experiential knowledge “increased” in some way in the incarnation, but not His understanding. He will never know by experience “sin”, like we do. But we do not consider His omniscience diminished for that lack of knowledge. I hope this helps.

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      1. Thanks, Brian.
        Gonna take me some time to wrap my pea brain around a future of possibilities that do not exist. Seems like this assumes the undetermined possibilities are so disconnected from each other and reality that each one becomes an autonomous event sort of an effect without a cause – a true random event. Am I missing something or making a wrong assumption. Maybe another way of asking this is – Will/ can there be future events that are completely disconnected from the present? Its hard to frame a question about this

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      2. I don’t know if this helps, Ernest, but no future possibility is disconnected from God’s already predetermined boundaries, laws, and ends and they all will be connected to His future predeterminations and permissions. But that they exist is hard to deny if we take the Scripture literally with all its conditional statements, invitations, and statements about God’s choice making still continuing now. They reveal the possibilities for our will and His will to interact with.

        The promises and predictions tell us what has been predetermined. The mistake Calvinists make is in extrapolating that since some things are predetermined all things must have been predetermined. And they are just trying to be logical, according to their belief in individual pre-creation election. For if individuals were truly elected for salvation before creation, than it would be hard not to see all human history as predetermined, in order to bring each of those individual lives into existence as designed and chosen before creation and then save each one. But individual election is hard to square with human responsibility which requires possibilities to truly exist. So I believe the Scriptures teach corporate election in Christ before creation, and individual divine election at the moment of individual faith.

        Don’t worry about your pea brain! I have one too! 🙂

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    2. Ernest,

      I hope you don’t fall for Brian Wagner’s arguments for his **open theism**. We have been through them here before. For the longest time Brian was very reluctant to admit to being an open theist. He kept evading it and evading it, finally admitting to his view. If I held this unorthodox and false view I would be reluctant to admit it in public as well.

      Fact is in Wagner’s thinking God does not know the future exhaustively, he only knows part of the future.

      The traditional and orthodox teaching on God’s knowledge is that He knows all possibilities and all actualities so He knows everything including the future events that have not yet occurred that involve freely made choices. This is the view of Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants (both Calvinists and non-Calvinists) Independents (only the Socinians in the past and the open theists such as Wagner in the present deny this view).

      Wagner throws in some of his pet arguments in his response and he can engage in very subtle semantic game playing (e.g. God only knows what can be known = God cannot know the future events involving free will because that future does not yet exist). Don’t fall for any of this sophistry, just look at your Bible and all of the prophecies of the future that God gives demonstrating that He does in fact know the future exhaustively.

      In Wagner’s false thinking God only knows all possibilities: He does not know everything. Many of these possibilities that have not yet occurred as they are future, will be LEARNED by God just like the rest of us, if Wagner and his open theism were true. Wagner’s conception of God makes God into a finite and limited God, not the transcendent and all-knowing God the majority of Christians have believed in.

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      1. As I understand him, Brian is not denying Gods omniscient but says God has created a universe that by His choice somehow left it partly undetermined. God is sovereign and can create in any manner He chooses. Two questions – How does this work and How does this fit with what He has revealed in His word?

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  17. Ernest,

    “As I understand him, Brian is not denying Gods omniscient but says God has created a universe that by His choice somehow left it partly undetermined.”

    Sad that you cannot tell the difference between open theism and Orthodox Christianity. Apparently, Brian’s “arguments” have already fooled you. I guess that is a rhetorical victory for open theism.

    I also believe that: God created a universe that He has chosen not to completely determine, a universe in which he allows genuine choices by us at times, a universe that is partly undetermined. The difference is where I believe that God *****knows***** what every person will freely choose to do tomorrow, next week, next year, decades from now, centuries from now, for the rest of history: Brian does not believe that God knows these things (he argues they are unknowable because they do not exist). Hence I believe that God is omniscient and Brian does not (unless we are allowed to redefine omniscience as Brian does so that it does not include knowing the future freely made choices that people will make). Another thing to keep in mind Earnest is that Brian believes that God is in time just like the rest of us. Again the normal view, the traditional view is that God is transcendent, He created time and space and so is beyond it though he can and does interact in time and space.

    Ernest have you read much on open theism or by open theists? It seems that if you had you would immediately recognize the differences between what an orthodox Christian believes and what an open theist such as Brian believes.

    “God is sovereign and can create in any manner He chooses.”

    Ok, and what kind of world did He in fact choose to create? It seems to be a very orderly world, a world where genuine free will exists, a world where He can and does intervene: a world where no matter what happens He knows what will happen before it occurs.

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  18. Robert,
    I have not agreed with Brian but have shown an interest in what he believes and am trying to understand it. I am curious about such things as is it logical and is it scriptural. I find Calvinism fails on both points.

    I try not to label people but leave it to them “to choose their sign”. I hate to be called an Arminian when I disagree with Calvinism.

    You wrote and I agree that //The traditional and orthodox teaching on God’s knowledge is that He knows all possibilities and all actualities so He knows everything including the future events that have not yet occurred that involve freely made choices// I have not seen where Brian disagrees with this. I’m not sure how you can speak about a future that does not exist which Brian appears to be defining. At first blush it seems to be a contradiction in terms akin to God creating a rock that He cannot lift, but maybe not. The transition from not knowing to knowing a future event which was previously non existent still is problematic for me. I’m not even sure you can call it transitional.

    There seems to be passages in both the OT and NT that speak of God acting contingently – even salvation itself. Does this imply that God knows contingently? I don’t know. I am confident that God does not act deterministically in all things nor does compatibility solve the Calvinist problem.

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    1. It depends on whether future events can be called actualities. The thing that I think Open Theists miss, is that time is both relative and contingent. How can a description of something relative and something contingent be a description of something that contains the very nature of the thing that Created all that exists. It is far better not to take something that regulates this world, like logic or time or space or physics, and make that something out to be a part of the Person of God himself. There is an infinite gap between Creator and creation, and that’s where I think openness loses its way. If there is not an infinite gap, than the Creator is remade in the image of the creation—sure God is still super big and super powerful, but he’s just a really, really, really big version of us—and that’s something we can wrap our minds around and feel comfortable with, that it doesn’t truly go beyond our understanding. There are severe Biblical warnings for making a god in our own image, or even one we feel fits within the box of our own thinking and mind. Sure openness allows God to be supernatural—but only supernatural in a way that makes sense to us. How is that not limits and boxes? To us, that is from our perspective, the past doesn’t exist just as much as the future doesn’t exist (although all of our experiencing the present, our “nows,” are slightly different and interfaced with consciousness in a mysterious way no one has figured out yet). But the past has effects on the present and the past can be stored in the memory (imperfectly for our minds; perhaps perfectly for God’s mind). But even if we say God was everywhere watching everything so that all past events are perfectly stored in his memory, the truth is the past no longer exists, just as much as the future no longer exists. So how is something “not existing currently” an argument for its unknowableness? We have to move on to phrase it “the future has never yet existed, so no memory of it can be made.” But even an Open Theist will say “well God can predict all possibilities since he is the one that created all contingencies.” And you see above that when pressed, in a moment of lucid honestly, Brian had to call God “semi-transcendent.” That right there should raise red flags for you and be very telling. When Scripture speaks of the pantakrator, the all-powerful, the angels cry out a special description in exaltation of him: “He who was, who is, and is to come,” Now think about this: if all this means is, God used to exist once, he is existing now, and he will exist in the future, this designation could literally apply to anything. I could walk up to a snail and cry out “Behold! The snail! It who was, who is, and who is to come!” I really think the angels meant something more than that. When Revelation speaks of God as “the beginning and the end,” I don’t think it means God just bookends creation. When Isaiah speaks of God “tabernacling eternity,” I don’t think he means that God has to look at his watch to see what time is it now. Brian above says that he can’t see God ever not existing linearly in time, like us. Is that to say there was no “in the beginning God?” Are we really going to say God didn’t at some moment “start” time, but always existed within it? When Yahweh the Father expressed himself as the “I am” to Moses, did that only apply at that moment? Is God a continual series of “I ams,” like the cat food? When Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am,” did he really mean “I was back then anyway, and right now I am again?” When Christ said “for all people exist to God,” did he mean, except those not born yet? How are all names written from the foundation of the world, if God is just a good guesser of the indeterminacy he put in creation? How can the name “I am” apply universally if it’s constantly pinned to a moment of time? How are God’s thoughts higher than mine, as the heavens are above the earth, if right now I can say, “Oh! I get it! God experiences time just right along the same as I do!” How can “all knowledge” be anything but “all” knowledge, even of things that don’t currently exist? We can define all as “not really all but just all that is right now”? God is “omni-now-scient”? When God expresses knowledge of a future conditional action of a human being, if the free will is not determined by God, how can God know it? God said “But I know Pharaoh, that he will not let this people go,” and God said to Peter “Before the cock crows thrice you will deny me,” but according to openness “the future doesn’t exist yet,” and they still deny choices are deterministic, so how?! They are left with nothing but God getting lucky, in my opinion, and that’s why as of yet nothing has convinced me of openness.

      bless

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      1. Good morning David! I was a little surprised that I had not made my view of God’s “openness” clear enough for you. I was trying to say that I understand God’s transcendence as being “partial” since it can never be disconnected from His immanence, because of the incarnation, which guarantees the everlasting nature of creation. There is no “infinite gap” between creator and created, though there are infinite aspects to God’s nature that will never be communicated to the creation, so if you want to say that there is an “infinite gap” between God and creation in some areas, I am fine with that.

        Some who propose “openness” may think God is “only supernatural in a way that makes sense to [them]”, though I haven’t heard any say those things. But I hope you are not implying that there is nothing true that can be stated about His supernatural nature that makes sense, which would deny the clarity of Scripture. You believed that you were describing His supernatural nature as an ever present now in a way that makes sense to you, based on the title “I Am”! I believe I was describing the linear nature of God’s eternal nature that makes sense to me, based on “from everlasting to everlasting”. I am not saying God’s eternity in the past or future can be adequately described in infinite minutes into the past and infinite minutes into the future. “Minutes” are measurements based on our creation. But God has revealed His reality before creation as consisting of events, like choices, making sequence, before and after, a necessity. So “before” creation is reasonably seen as an infinite series of sequences. “To everlasting” is a series of sequences for God, so why not “from everlasting”?

        The snail “who is to come”! Come on David, I think you are trying too hard to infer “eternal present” is still possible from a passage that clearly points to linear existence. Angels are describing God’s nature relative to themselves, and they are pointing to God’s non-caused, truly existent, and indestructible nature, in my view, by their praise in these words. Don’t step on any snails today, or your illustration falters! 🙂

        I thought you and I have talked about the Books of Life already! We should co-edit a book made up of all the conversations on this site! lol The phrase “written from the foundation of the world” can easily be understood the same way that the phrase “shed from the foundation of the world” is understood (Luke 11:51). Names of those who accept the righteousness of God have been added to that book since the dawn of creation. There is another book of all the physically alive, whose names are added when they are conceived in the womb, in my view, from which they are blotted out, at death, though they may never have been written in the spiritual book of life (Ps 69:28, Rev 17:8).

        Some open theists may “deny [any] choices are deterministic”, but from most that I have read, and my own view is that God can and does force some choices to be made. But that does not logically necessitate that all choices be predetermined. Nor is it necessary to the honor of God, imo, for Him to know every future event as “completed” in His mind, but to see those events that He has predetermined as completed, and to see those events that He has not predetermined as fully understood as possibilities, including fully understanding all the ramifications from each possibility, including all His and man’s free choices in them.

        God is not “getting lucky”. And openness does not have to be pushed into that corner! I hope this helps.

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      2. you say: There is no “infinite gap” between creator and created, though there are infinite aspects to God’s nature that will never be communicated to the creation, so if you want to say that there is an “infinite gap” between God and creation in some areas, I am fine with that.

        This statement rather confuses me. There either is, or is not, an infinite gap between Creator and creation. Indeed this *is* the point of Christ—he’s the only one who could close that infinite gap. Are you saying “there is no infinite gap…. if you want to say that there is… I am fine with that”? So basically you see it as an unessential doctrine that I am in error on?

        you say: I believe I was describing the linear nature of God’s eternal nature that makes sense to me, based on “from everlasting to everlasting”

        I would say “from everlasting to everlasting” as an idiomatic way to express an Eternal Now in limited and linear creation, just like the cry of the Seraphim. It only make sense to describe God living in time from *our* perspective, yet we have to describe God as living in all moments of time, indeed outside of time. This does not mean we are currently living in the past and future relative to our now, because with every moment we change who we are, since we live in a dynamic, non-static stream of continuum, while “I, Yahweh, change not” and “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” That does not logically lead to a lack of response from God to autonomy, nor that God is “impassable” in the sense of a stone. I don’t know if you saw my brief study on the etymology of Olam and Ad, a way Hebrews used to express an indefinite continuance drawn from their view of the “horizon” and adding after the word Ad meaning “again.”

        you say: So “before” creation is reasonably seen as an infinite series of sequences. “To everlasting” is a series of sequences for God, so why not “from everlasting”?

        It is interesting that an infinite future logically seems possible, but an infinite past seems illogical: if we posit an infinite past, by definition, we simply never arrive at “now” because there was always one moment prior. Could this be another indication that there really was a beginning to time, like Genesis 1:1 tells us?

        you say: There is another book of all the physically alive, whose names are added when they are conceived in the womb, in my view, from which they are blotted out, at death, though they may never have been written in the spiritual book of life (Ps 69:28, Rev 17:8)

        Well this is just a convenient way to avoid the heavy implication that OSAS is wrong, in my view, to which all Scripture testifies loudly and clearly in a united front. Christ said people can live their entire lives spiritually dead and there is no way those people were written in any Biblical book of life.

        you say: my own view is that God can and does force some choices to be made

        But that’s not my point. Did God force Pharaoh’s choice and Peter’s choice? Then you’re sounding Calvinistic, but if not you have a real logical conundrum.

        1. Choices are unforced by God.
        2. God does not know future choices because they “do not exist.”
        3. God could not have a means of knowing Peter’s or Pharaoh’s future choices, since they literally “did not exist.”

        Indeed God would have to phrase it, “For I know Pharaoh, that he will most likely not let this people go,” and to Peter “Before the cock crows you have a really high probability of denying me three times.”

        Indeed you say practically just this: “and to see those events that He has not predetermined as fully understood as possibilities, including fully understanding all the ramifications from each possibility, including all His and man’s free choices in them.”

        Wouldn’t it have been embarrassing if the future choices turned out differently, since they didn’t exist at the time? And I won’t let you use examples of people repenting from a forecasted doom to show God didn’t know this doom would not happen!

        you say: God is not “getting lucky”. And openness does not have to be pushed into that corner!

        I’d love to see how that logically is not true, yet a simple syllogism clearly shows it’s inevitable.

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      3. Thank you David for responding. I still am not sure why I am not making sense. So I will just close by saying again just because God predetermines any thing for the future, like limiting the possibilities to only being Pharaoh’s stubbornness and Peter’s denials before the next morning, and then reveals ahead of time that those events will happen DOES NOT make it necessary that all future events are predetermined or even that those two examples were predetermined before creation.

        And God’s knowledge of all the yet undetermined possibilities and the contingencies that flow from them is perfect and complete and will never result in being lucky for Him, for He sovereignly interacts freely with them to limit them and permit them to accomplish what He continues to choose to create from them for the praise of His glory.

        Finally, if Jesus did “close that infinite gap” as you have suggested, than the infinite gap no longer exists! Right? Though I do concede that there are still infinite aspects to God’s nature that He could never share with the created. So if you want to call them infinite gaps between aspects in God’s nature and aspects in man’s nature, but there is no infinite gap between God and His creation or there would have to be an infinite gap in the Godhead between the Father and the Son.

        Thanks again, my friend.

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      4. Well I’m sorry I pressure your point of view so much it’s the nature of online dialogue I guess. As someone I posted with online said, if we were all in a coffee shop chatting we’d most likely be smiling and laughing.

        I still have a couple questions if you’re up to it. First in your last post you almost seemed to indicate that you thought that Pharaoh and Peter, rather than making an autonomous choice, were actually somehow influenced by God to perform those actions, and that gave God a basis for knowledge of those future actions. Would I be correct in thinking that’s your view?

        Secondly about Jesus I’d just point out: it’s not an infinite gap between Jesus and the Father, for I believe in the classic dual nature of Christ. He would, then, be defined as having an infinite gap within his own nature—and that’s how God closed the gap in Christ.

        Blessings

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      5. Hi David! I hope we will get a chance to have that cup of coffee before Jesus returns… though after He comes will be fine too! Yes, you could say that I agree with determinism on the local level, that every event becomes determined when the choice is made by God to either allow a free will decision to be made or plans before the event that a certain decision must be made. That God can take away freedom of choice and cause only one option to “choose” from to exist is proven in Scripture in passages like 2Thess 2 where God sends a “strong delusion so that…” Every time a divine unconditional prediction is stated in the Scripture, all free-will choices that would prevent that from happening are thus removed.

        But the prediction itself does not necessitate that God made that predetermination before creation. He could have freely made that limiting determination to His overall plan moments before revealing it to the prophet that proclaimed it.

        Your view about an infinite gap between the two natures in Christ to affirm an infinite gap between God and man is interesting, and had I never heard it before. But how can you say God “closed the gap in Christ” if that gap existed in Christ? And that gap would have to still be open in Christ, in your view.

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      6. you say:
        is interesting, and had I never heard it before. But how can you say God “closed the gap in Christ” if that gap existed in Christ? And that gap would have to still be open in Christ, in your view.

        Well that’s like asking “how does a bridge connect both sides if there’s still a gap under it.” It’s the nature of a bridge to be over a gap—it has to be to fulfill its function. I do think the humanity of Christ is a separate nature as per the hypostatic union. I seriously considered eutychianism for awhile, and still consider it viable but haven’t embraced it. Then there is the version where Christ had deity but gave it up, however I don’t think Christ can fully fulfill his function without deity, so I never gave that one serious consideration (called kenotic theology). We can see the proof texts in God reconciling all things (even things in heaven!) in Christ, and of course that only applies for things found in Christ (for us, it is through faith, in my view).

        Now I realized the other day when you made me think about my post (and that’s what I love about sharing—showing each other our blind spots, forcing us to think from different angles), that in the Creator / creation distinction, pre-fall, we could describe Paradise as a oneness with God, in that, sin is really the gap Christ closed. So I think sin manifested the infinite gap between creation and Creator were-as previously it was covered by grace (a Christless grace, no sin or need for redemption) and after redemption is covered again by grace in Christ.

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      7. Illustrations sometimes fall short David, as you are aware. A bridge is of a different nature than the two sides it connects. It might be nice to say in the hypostatic union two natures were united and still divided at the same time, but as you pointed out, our redemption required they be united in some way. I have no problem with them still being divided in some ways, but a total infinite unbridged gap between the two natures in every aspect is not biblical, imo. And where they have mixed, they remain mixed forever. PTL

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      8. you say:
        but a total infinite unbridged gap between the two natures in every aspect is not biblical, imo.

        This is a very strong statement. Can you give your arguments here for it? So I can compare them to what I’ve seen in the Word. Bless

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      9. David, Of course, it probably goes without saying to you, but for those who might read this thread between us, I repeat that I am not dogmatic about anything that has to be built from inference and extrapolation from Scripture. And God has not defined clearly in detail how the incarnation actually exists. But I would say the strongest verses I would lean on that suggest that the incarnation proves there is no longer a total infinite gap between God and man are John 1:1, 14. The Word “was” God, and then something happened, and the Word “became” flesh.

        I think you can also factor in verses like Act 20: 28 (“His own blood”), 1Tim 3:16 (“manifested in flesh”), Heb 5:8 (“Son…learned…suffered”), and 1John 5:6 (“by water and blood”).

        Some part, if you will, of the Godhead is now not only God but also man forever completely joined in one person, not in the same way as we are partakers of the divine nature, and separate from the other parts of the Godhead, if you will, but without an infinite gap between the divine and human natures in that one person in all their aspects.

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      10. Well I guess the question I would ask myself is, what is the difference between the statements “the infinite gap between God and man has be bridged” and “there is no longer an infinite gap between God and man.” Both acknowledge the same truth, that something great had to be accomplished. bless

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      11. How do you interpret Ps. 139:16 in the light of openness. It seems to me particularly strongly worded against it.

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      12. Not only would I not mind, I’d appreciate it. 🙂 I somehow suspected we would be taking a little journey to the Hebrew, because it’s quite a threatening verse to openness as translated by most English versions, but wow that looks like an in depth study. Thanks.

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      13. It’ s definitely a complex enough verse we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about. The DSS reading to me supports some kind of understanding of the gestation period (the companion being the mother), which has the context of 3 entire verses (13-16). We do have other overriding considerations in the Psalm, such as no word spoken being unknown to God, no location beyond God’s reach, no darkness beyond his light, etc. An Open Theist defended verse 4 to me with “God knows what we are going to say right as we say it,” and even though I pointed out this was not very remarkable to him, we know how difficult temporality can be in Hebrew. I’m a fair man even if I have the highest regard for inspiration, and the Psalm’s not clear enough to make a case. (Btw, Keil & Delisch is interesting on this passage). kind regards

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      14. Thanks for taking a look, David! Wasn’t it interesting how my pastor friend, who runs that site, wanted to hold on to “all of them” as pointing to “days” in spite of the strong evidence pointing in the other direction, and also the unwillingness to even concede any possibility that it wasn’t pointing to an antecedent? That reluctance also extended to the word “written”, which as being in imperfect would normally be translated as a future, like the LXX and Vulgate did. And if not future, the incomplete action should be expressed either as, “are being written” or “were being written”. As you correctly point out, the context is God’s knowledge of the infant’s formation in the womb, not pre-creation determinism.

        As far as “no word spoken being unknown to God”, 139:4, the Hebrew supports the idea of the “nothing I say is not also completely understood by God.” The prepositional phrase “on my tongue” (NKJV) is also translated “with my tongue” (39:3), and there is an uncommon word for “word” here, mostly used in Job, meaning “speech”.

        K& D, imo, are just a good example of how someone can speak with technical authority without any clear supporting evidence, or only weak correlated evidence, for the point they are making. The idea of this verse having an example of cataphoric reference, a pronoun point to a succeeding word instead of an antecedent, without showing that this happens elsewhere in the OT makes this choice highly suspect. Even Calvin didn’t choose that idea. Delitzsch then proceeded to let his theological bias known how he wanted this passage to prove divine determinism. Blessings as you worship tomorrow my friend!

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      15. Well, to be fair, we should all be careful enough to know that in exegesis none of us are free from bias. I don’t fault him for his conservative translation, I would say it’s the best sense that could be made of it in English. What we have to determine is the likelihood that something a bit incomprehensible was corrupted at some point. I mean the Psalm is as highly poetic as it gets. It was the DSS reading and the LXX reading that really convinced me the difficulty in meaning might mean we are missing something somewhere. But thanks again, I love studying the originals.

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      16. Do you mean David, “a conservative translation” theologically or grammatically! I don’t think the most normal grammar choices were made for theological reasons. But I’m ok if you don’t agree. 🙂 I think we agree that since the poetry in this verse is difficult, it should not be used to prove predeterminism before creation.

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      17. Yea, we absolutely do agree with that at this point.

        What I’m saying is: take a Hebrew scholar with no theological motivations (even subtle ones) put him in a room with just this verse, tell him to come up with what would be the most reasonable English way to express it, and it would be something like this. Because the last half doesn’t really seem to be a coherent thought, it necessarily takes some squeezing. A translator has to decide when a passage simply should be considered incomprehensible and some try to literally translate anything. The NJB will often use […] for a verse, but you will almost never get that in the KJV or something along those lines. But the argument for saying the embryo could be plural and the referent of “all being written in a scroll” seems a bit weak. IF we postulate corruption then it could be reasonable. We can notice that, the more a verse varies in differing major English translations, the more we can speculate the original meaning is relatively unclear. Here’s a sampling of some translations, and I’d say there’s three main philosophies: 1. make it understandable. 2. make it fit a theology and 3. make it literal, even if it’s confusing.

        Some that fit 1:

        16 Your eyes could see my embryo. In your book all my days were inscribed, every one that was fixed is there. (Psa 139:16 NJB)

        16 Your eyes saw my unformed limbs; they were all recorded in Your book;in due time they were formed, to the very last one of them. (NJPS)

        Thou didst see my limbs unformed in the womb, and in thy book they are all recorded; day by day they were fashioned, not one of them was late in growing (NEB).

        Some that might fit 2:

        You perceived my shapeless substance; in your record were assessed the days that were intended for me, before they ever existed. (Harrison)

        Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being. (Basic English)

        Thine eyes saw the sum total of my days, and in thy book they were all written; they were formed when there was not one among them. (American)

        And 3.

        Mine unfinished substance thine eyes beheld, and in they book all the parts thereof were written, the days they should be fashioned; while yet there was not one among them. (Rotherham’s which I often particularly like as taking a literal approach that still conveys the multiple meanings you could take from the originals)

        Your eyes saw my embryo, and my days, all of them were written upon your scroll; the days were formed when there was not one of them. CLV

        Your eyes saw my unfinished, and on your book all shall be written; days formed and not one to them. – LXX (which to their credit the LXX didn’t exercise interpretive liberty here but seemed quite literal).

        So we can see it hinges around the first “all of them,” whether “days” is the right meaning, and the final “not” and “in them.” This kind of awkward phrasing is a verse ripe for conjectural emendations.(and that’s not a bad thing I think, as long as we only use it as a last resort).

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      18. Thank you David, I like your three approaches and examples, and summation. If you ever run across an example of a pronoun in OT Hebrew pointing forward instead of backward let me know. I am open to it, for even if God writes out a plan for all of our days at the moment we’re conceived and when He sees our embryo, that still wouldn’t discount that His sovereign permission exists, in my view, for us to deviate from that plan to some extent. Hezekiah comes to mind.

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      19. I couldn’t find one where the verb comes first and I see what you’re saying. It feels like we are missing a subject in “all of them are being written,” and some versions add days in twice, and even the KJV assumed it was referring to the embryo. There’s a lot of stylistic things we can write that are unusual (especially in a poetic mood), but I admit this one doesn’t feel right. Things like this make me wish I knew some Hebrew. 😛

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      20. Thanks for looking. I am teaching our grad Hebrew course right now… only because I’m the best our small school could find. 🙂 You’ll have to take it with us next time, unless you want to audit second semester! We only offer it every other year. I use Jonah in our second semester. It’s got everything, narrative, poetry, and poses some great theological questions that you know I like! 🙂

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      21. That’s cool maybe some day. With some intense Googling I found that Lev. 25:33 may be a Cataphora, but it seems like scraping the bottom of the barrel. Another book said Cataphora are not well studied, but we can see they were not commonly used in the OT anyway.

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      22. Thanks David for your diligent search. Yes, I think Lev 25:33 is a little bit of a stretch, for it seems similar to a predicate nominative construct “it is their possession”. But I guess you could say it is an example of cataphora since the pronoun comes before the noun that it is referring to. K&D tried to point to Isaiah 43:14 as an example, especially since it used the “all of them” combination. But in that verse there is a conjunction before the noun that is supposed to be the one being pointed forward to. There is a plural substantival adjective with a preposition, “among the ones fleeing”, immediately before this pronoun phrase “all of them” that could easily work as its antecedent, and the composite noun – Babylon, the subject of the sentence, could also be the antecedent. NKJV “…For your sake I will send to Babylon, And bring them all down as fugitives– The Chaldeans, who rejoice in their ships.” It is interesting that this verse also has a funny last phrase without a main verb! I personally think “with cries of anguish” fits better than “who rejoice”. 🙂

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      23. I did find Isaiah 56:10 when I was looking around “all of them dogs, mute, not being able to bark.” But I think the verb is the big issue in 139.

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      24. Btw it’s interesting that in Isa 56:10 he uses the literary device of “blind ones all of them… all of them dogs” reversing the order.

        And yea, rejoicing and anguish can be mixed up since the base meaning is making a loud noise I think? I’ve noticed that in a few places.

        Liked by 1 person

      25. Great find, David! You should post it on the forum where I was discussing this. Daniel would love to see it, though you are right, the verbs before and after “days” in 139:16 truly makes cataphora a hard choice for that verse, unless we can find another example like it.

        Also, you don’t need to be a paid pastor or teacher to join that forum, just gifted and serving in one of those ministries to the body. You certainly have the gift for teaching!

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  19. Stan,

    “Views of libertarian free will are diverse.”

    As they are with compatibilists as well.

    “ When asked, “What is the will free from, in your view of ‘free will’?” a common response is, “To some degree, substantially free from prior and/or external causation.” The answer to “Who believes…?” is “Lots of people.””

    I meant who (among libertarians) believe that events occur uncauses. People like Plantinga and Searle don’t believe that events occur uncaused, they believe as I do, that some events occur deterministically and some do not. But that is not at all like claiming that events occur uncaused.

    “You are clearly not among that cohort of LFW advocates.”

    How so? My best friends who are libertarians (including Kevin Timpe, Alvin Plantinga, J.P. Moreland) hold the same view that I do (i.e. LFW primarily involves choices that are not necessitated, where the person can choose or refrain from choosing and where all events are caused).

    “LFW is not a united front.”

    Again, neither is compatibilism (e.g. there is the standard type of compatibilism of Hume and the semi-compatibilism of another person that I know John Martin Fischer).

    “The impasse with determinism is that all events necessarily proceed, so it makes no sense to say, “Some events are necessary, others are choices of personal agents.” To us, this sounds like, “Some cars are small road-going vehicles, and others are Volkswagen Beetles.” The burden is to articulate a more refined or reduced definition that can be commonly discussed without assuming one paradigm or the other.”

    It may sound odd and make no sense to you, but it makes sense to us, not all events are necessitated for a great presentation of this check out John Searle discussing this distinction and these two kinds of events, one necessitated, one not necessitated:

    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=john+searle+on+free+will&FORM=VIRE1&adlt=strict#view=detail&mid=3DBE04CFE69D888A71E93DBE04CFE69D888A71E9

    “Every clear, starry night, when we look up, we see very obviously that the stars are laid out on a dome. This is what we all experience.
    Now, we can admit the universality of this experience, but we can also posit that reality is otherwise. If we do that, we need both an explanation of that reality, but also a pretty darn good explanation of why our eyes are plainly telling us that all stars are equally far away, laid out on a sky-dome.”

    I don’t think this is a good analogy at all as it deals with the appearance of seeing stars as if they are in a sky dome. When I speak of a genuine choice, I mean that both alternative possibilities are available, both can be chosen, both are real options that can be chosen. It is not illusion or mere appearance, you really can choose either option. If the choice is illusory and you really cannot choose either option, then you don’t HAVE A CHOICE. And that is one of my major problems with compatibilism, if it is true and all choices are necessitated by some necessitating factor (such as our brain, “who we are”, our desires, etc. etc.) then we may MAKE A CHOICE, but we never HAVE A CHOICE.

    “Under determinism, libertarian free will entails three things: (1) A lack of sensation of the emergence of our thoughts from that by which they’re caused, (2) apparent mental and behavioral spontaneity in ourselves and others, and (3) the vivid sense of prospect/retrospect realism; that is, I imagine my options, and they all seem to be floating out there, in my mind’s eye, even if they’re mutually exclusive, and they all have a heft of tangibility even as they’re ephemeral (in fact, I assign them Bayesian weight according to how tangible/plausible/solid they feel).”

    That is just it, under determinism, having a choice is always an ILLUSION (we have to make the choice that we make, we do not have a choice, we only mistakenly believe that we have a choice). Our experience seems to involve us sometimes having a choice, scripture presents people (including God) as having a choice, and these choices are not illusory, they are real.

    “Those 3 things are what you and I experience every day. They no more prove that our personal choices are non-necessary any more than my naked eyes prove that stars are laid out on a dome.”

    Again your analogy is not a good one.

    “You need to stop using persuasive semantics, e.g., “genuine choices.” Every argument that employs such terminology is noncogent. Ordinary language use doesn’t at all presuppose the falsity of determinism and decisionmaking thereunder.”

    “Persuasive semantics”? Talk about semantic games!

    I speak of “genuine choices” to distinguish them from illusory choices (where you think both options are available but IN REALITY they are not). If I am going down a maze and both pathways are open and available, then I have a genuine choice. But say only one is available and open, the other is actually blocked off by an invisible glass so that we cannot choose to go down that path (in that case the choice is illusory not genuine, it is only genuine if it is accessible and available). In determinism only one pathway is actually available, it is the path that the necessitating factor necessitates you to go down. In libertarianism, as there is no necessitating factor, you can choose to go down either path in the maze, both are available and accessible, nothing is blocking you from going down either path. Stan check out Searle’s video and then get back to me, as his libertarian view is the same as mine.

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    1. Robert,

      You said,

      “How so?”

      I think we’re talking past one another on this, and that it is primarily my fault. I was sloppy in my framing of libertarian free will and mistook your rejection thereof as a full rejection rather than defending the “mix,” which it was.

      You said, “I don’t think this is a good analogy at all as it deals with the appearance of seeing stars as if they are in a sky dome.”

      Right. And this is — under compatibilism — analogous to the apparent experience of being partially spontaneous and the apparent experience of prospect realism. Libertarian choice is an illusion, I am asserting.

      But choice is not an illusion. Choicemaking is a non-magical, non-spontaneous process (though it can feel spontaneous sometimes) whereby we commit to one of several prospects that are Bayesian-plausible (“a sense of alternative possibilities open” as Searle said in the video). This is what real choices are, in the same way that a real jog is a swift trot for some testing stretch, the same way that a real road trip is a lengthy drive with buddies, a real housepainting is covering my house with new paint, etc. It is a very, very, very cool but non-mystical, non-spontaneous biological process.

      The compatibilistic assertion is that libertarian choice (partial spontaneity; non-necessity of choice) is the illusion, but CHOICE is not an illusion. This is why calling libertarian choice “genuine choice” is persuasive; because, under compatibilism, only deterministic choice is genuine (akin to the stars being at a variety of distances, even though our eyes cannot sense it), while libertarian choice is an illusion (akin to the stars all being equally far away, as our naked eyes tell us).

      I really like Searle’s renegade approach to metaethics, but for over 6 years have been critical of his metaphysics.

      At 13:45, Searle erroneously claims that the illusion of libertarian choice cannot be shaken-off, and that this is asymmetric with other illusions, like optical illusions.

      But this is incorrect. Indeed, recognition of the SYMMETRY thereof could help him to pave “progress” past where he feels stuck in a dilemma (and puts a ‘sacred hope’ in a future QM savior therefrom):

      You CAN train yourself to shake-off the feeling of libertarian choice in a partially convincing way, in the same way that you can train yourself to “unsee” — in a partially-convincing way — the trick of the checkerboard shadow optical illusion. For choicemaking, this training involves a large degree of perpetual self-evaluation and retrospective choice critique. You can start to feel how neurotransmitter-driven states are having the “deciding vote” within you, like when you succumb to pornography or let flashes of anger “get the better of you.” This is the case with states of arousal and anger, but also whimsy, fear, anxiety, anticipation, and anything else. In fact, an essential part of refining your decisionmaking is to train yourself to recursively self-affect, to change your conditions in a gradual way to enable your will to be free from undesired direction. You won’t be able to shake-off libertarian feelings entirely, but you can do so partially. And this is COMPLETELY symmetrical with optical illusions. There are some optical illusions you can completely shake-off, some you can partially train yourself to “unsee,” and some that we are tricked by innately and cannot “unsee” even when you KNOW that it’s an illusion, like the rotating triple-spiral illusion.

      At 27:00, Searle admits that quantum indeterminacy is practically moot “for purposes of baseballs”; we say the same for the purposes of decisionmaking. This is why we use determinism as a euphemism, these days, for “adequate [baseball- & decision-level] determinism.”

      At 35:00 he mentions chaos theory, but doesn’t think this does the trick, since things are still determined. But he fails to remember that “the trick” is “explain this feeling of real conscious agency ‘in the gap,'” not “explain how things are not determined.” And chaos theory goes miles toward explaining this feeling. My decisions feel partially spontaneous. The roll of the die feels random. Chaos helps explain both. “Chaos” plus “lack of complete internal sensation of decisionmaking” yields the feelings of partial spontaneity.

      Did you notice Searle’s brain scribbles? It might help him to think of brain activity not as something static, but as a flowing and recursive dynamic:

      Imagine that, on the mountain, there is a series of cannons aimed at ships approaching the nearby shore. Those firing the cannons cannot get a good view of the ships, nor can they truly see where their volleys fall. That’s why, for every cannon, there is a runner down near the shore. The runner observes the result of a cannon’s fire, then runs up the mountain and relays the results to their appointed cannon, advising redirection or what have you.

      This process is laborious. But furthermore, the messengers sometimes forget their proper cannon appointments appointments, or a cannon-firer — in his eagerness — will try to take tips from another cannon’s messenger. There is chaos, there is confusion, but there are also discrete results. The record book only cares about, and only HEARS about, whether the shore was invaded, or whether the ships were repelled. THIS is the why there appears to be the gap; there is a gap between the assault’s onset and the results. But the process of returning a result was one of innumerable cannons and messengers, in wave after wave of activity — activity of which the record book knows NOT the particulars.

      This is a rough analogy, but shows how “start – gap – result” starkness can be emergent of underlying fluidity, and how both the imperceptibility and chaos therein makes appreciating the connection between that fluidity and those results almost impossible to ascertain. But wholly connected they are, as sufficient causes to determined results.

      (Note that — for the future — I generally don’t have time to invest in these kinds of lengthy videos, but made an exception this once. Work, kid, wife, etc.)

      You said, “When I speak of a genuine choice, I mean that both alternative possibilities are available, both can be chosen, both are real options that can be chosen.”

      Only one of two mutually exclusive options can be chosen. This is true under both libertarianism and compatibilism because of the word “mutually exclusive.” If the two options are not mutually exclusive, then they can both be chosen under both libertarianism and compatibilism.

      Under modal logic, given the prospect, at T0, of two mutually exclusive options at T1, having chosen one them at T1 reveals the impossibility of the other, AS LONG AS the accessibility relations are strictly maintained from T0 to the two prospects at T1. That’s why this debate is about where decisions come from (or don’t); it is NOT about whether you can do both of two mutually exclusive things (this is a very common error).

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      1. Re: “Biological processes”; I should say that choicemaking is an abstract description of a process that is potentially “made of” a number of substances, not just biological.

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  20. Stan,

    “Views of libertarian free will are diverse.”

    As they are with compatibilists as well.

    “ When asked, “What is the will free from, in your view of ‘free will’?” a common response is, “To some degree, substantially free from prior and/or external causation.” The answer to “Who believes…?” is “Lots of people.””

    I meant who (among libertarians) believe that events occur uncauses. People like Plantinga and Searle don’t believe that events occur uncaused, they believe as I do, that some events occur deterministically and some do not. But that is not at all like claiming that events occur uncaused.

    “You are clearly not among that cohort of LFW advocates.”

    How so? My best friends who are libertarians (including Kevin Timpe, Alvin Plantinga, J.P. Moreland) hold the same view that I do (i.e. LFW primarily involves choices that are not necessitated, where the person can choose or refrain from choosing and where all events are caused).

    “LFW is not a united front.”

    Again, neither is compatibilism (e.g. there is the standard type of compatibilism of Hume and the semi-compatibilism of another person that I know John Martin Fischer).

    “The impasse with determinism is that all events necessarily proceed, so it makes no sense to say, “Some events are necessary, others are choices of personal agents.” To us, this sounds like, “Some cars are small road-going vehicles, and others are Volkswagen Beetles.” The burden is to articulate a more refined or reduced definition that can be commonly discussed without assuming one paradigm or the other.”

    It may sound odd and make no sense to you, but it makes sense to us, not all events are necessitated for a great presentation of this check out John Searle discussing this distinction and these two kinds of events, one necessitated, one not necessitated:

    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=john+searle+on+free+will&FORM=VIRE1&adlt=strict#view=detail&mid=3DBE04CFE69D888A71E93DBE04CFE69D888A71E9

    “Every clear, starry night, when we look up, we see very obviously that the stars are laid out on a dome. This is what we all experience.

    Now, we can admit the universality of this experience, but we can also posit that reality is otherwise. If we do that, we need both an explanation of that reality, but also a pretty darn good explanation of why our eyes are plainly telling us that all stars are equally far away, laid out on a sky-dome.”
    I don’t think this is a good analogy at all as it deals with the appearance of seeing stars as if they are in a sky dome. When I speak of a genuine choice, I mean that both alternative possibilities are available, both can be chosen, both are real options that can be chosen. It is not illusion or mere appearance, you really can choose either option. If the choice is illusory and you really cannot choose either option, then you don’t HAVE A CHOICE. And that is one of my major problems with compatibilism, if it is true and all choices are necessitated by some necessitating factor (such as our brain, “who we are”, our desires, etc. etc.) then we may MAKE A CHOICE, but we never HAVE A CHOICE.

    “Under determinism, libertarian free will entails three things: (1) A lack of sensation of the emergence of our thoughts from that by which they’re caused, (2) apparent mental and behavioral spontaneity in ourselves and others, and (3) the vivid sense of prospect/retrospect realism; that is, I imagine my options, and they all seem to be floating out there, in my mind’s eye, even if they’re mutually exclusive, and they all have a heft of tangibility even as they’re ephemeral (in fact, I assign them Bayesian weight according to how tangible/plausible/solid they feel).”

    That is just it, under determinism, having a choice is always an ILLUSION (we have to make the choice that we make, we do not have a choice, we only mistakenly believe that we have a choice). Our experience seems to involve us sometimes having a choice, scripture presents people (including God) as having a choice, and these choices are not illusory, they are real.

    “Those 3 things are what you and I experience every day. They no more prove that our personal choices are non-necessary any more than my naked eyes prove that stars are laid out on a dome.”
    Again your analogy is not a good one.

    “You need to stop using persuasive semantics, e.g., “genuine choices.” Every argument that employs such terminology is noncogent. Ordinary language use doesn’t at all presuppose the falsity of determinism and decisionmaking thereunder.”

    “Persuasive semantics”? Talk about semantic games!

    I speak of “genuine choices” to distinguish them from illusory choices (where you think both options are available but IN REALITY they are not). If I am going down a maze and both pathways are open and available, then I have a genuine choice. But say only one is available and open, the other is actually blocked off by an invisible glass so that we cannot choose to go down that path (in that case the choice is illusory not genuine, it is only genuine if it is accessible and available). In determinism only one pathway is actually available, it is the path that the necessitating factor necessitates you to go down. In libertarianism, as there is no necessitating factor, you can choose to go down either path in the maze, both are available and accessible, nothing is blocking you from going down either path. Stan check out Searle’s video and then get back to me, as his libertarian view is the same as mine.

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  21. Stan,

    “I think we’re talking past one another on this, and that it is primarily my fault. I was sloppy in my framing of libertarian free will and mistook your rejection thereof as a full rejection rather than defending the “mix,” which it was.”

    Well unfortunately in a context such as this, it is very easy to talk past each other.

    “Right. And this is — under compatibilism — analogous to the apparent experience of being partially spontaneous and the apparent experience of prospect realism. Libertarian choice is an illusion, I am asserting.”

    Well now that is a clear assertion, it is also what determinism leads to: “Libertarian choice is an allusion, I am asserting.”

    My problem is that if “Libertarian choice” is not real, is an illusion, then this means that we NEVER HAVE A CHOICE. I see no proof for this radical suggestion and it fits neither our daily experience (of having and then making our own choices) and scritpure which is filled with clear instances of people or God having and making their own choices.

    “But choice is not an illusion. Choicemaking is a non-magical, non-spontaneous process (though it can feel spontaneous sometimes) whereby we commit to one of several prospects that are Bayesian-plausible (“a sense of alternative possibilities open” as Searle said in the video). This is what real choices are, in the same way that a real jog is a swift trot for some testing stretch, the same way that a real road trip is a lengthy drive with buddies, a real housepainting is covering my house with new paint, etc. It is a very, very, very cool but non-mystical, non-spontaneous biological process.”

    Again, under determinism, we MAKE choices, we go through the process of selection, but we never HAVE a choice (we do not have access to two different alternative possibilities in respect to a particular choice).

    “The compatibilistic assertion is that libertarian choice (partial spontaneity; non-necessity of choice) is the illusion, but CHOICE is not an illusion.”

    Again, compatibilism allows for making a choice, but never having a choice, and that is why it is wrong.

    “This is why calling libertarian choice “genuine choice” is persuasive; because, under compatibilism, only deterministic choice is genuine (akin to the stars being at a variety of distances, even though our eyes cannot sense it), while libertarian choice is an illusion (akin to the stars all being equally far away, as our naked eyes tell us).”

    I explained why I use the language of “genuine choice”/libertarian free will versus “illusory choice”/compatibilism (or both having and making a choice/libertarian free will versus making a choice but not having a choice/compatibilism).

    “I really like Searle’s renegade approach to metaethics, but for over 6 years have been critical of his metaphysics.”

    I don’t agree with Searle on some of his metaphysics as He is a materialist not a Christian. He does however explain and frame the libertarian view very well.

    “At 13:45, Searle erroneously claims that the illusion of libertarian choice cannot be shaken-off, and that this is asymmetric with other illusions, like optical illusions.
    But this is incorrect. Indeed, recognition of the SYMMETRY thereof could help him to pave “progress” past where he feels stuck in a dilemma (and puts a ‘sacred hope’ in a future QM savior therefrom):”

    I disagree, you cannot shake off the “illusion of libertarian choice” because it is present both in our actual experience and in our all of our linguistic expressions concerning our choices and actions. For example consider the use of the word “should”. If I say “Stan should have done X instead of what he did (i.e. Y)” My statemetn presupposes that Stan could have done X and done Y, but in fact chose X. Statements including “should” presuppose the libertarian conception of free will. I am sure if we listened to you talking to your wife or children about what should or should not be done, none of us would conclude you were a determinist!

    “You CAN train yourself to shake-off the feeling of libertarian choice in a partially convincing way, in the same way that you can train yourself to “unsee” — in a partially-convincing way — the trick of the checkerboard shadow optical illusion.”

    I disagree, again if I just listen to you in conversation, your linguistic expressions would give you away. Determinism goes out the window when we are using ordinary language expressons.

    “For choicemaking, this training involves a large degree of perpetual self-evaluation and retrospective choice critique.”

    Again you can claim that you could do this, but I doubt that you can.

    “You can start to feel how neurotransmitter-driven states are having the “deciding vote” within you, like when you succumb to pornography or let flashes of anger “get the better of you.”

    I disagree with this as well, this is a cop out, your claming that our choices are driven by “neurotransmitter-driven states” completely by-passes the individual soul. We are persons, souls, not just a materialistic brain/body mechanism. This is why in the Bible we are spoken to as persons, not things. No one including you has every proven or gotten close to proving that our choices are merely caused by “neurotransmitter-driven states”. This is another problem that I have with compatibilism, human persons become things that are determined in exactly the same way as a chemical reaction. This materialistic reductionism is completely contrary to the Bible.

    “This is the case with states of arousal and anger, but also whimsy, fear, anxiety, anticipation, and anything else. In fact, an essential part of refining your decisionmaking is to train yourself to recursively self-affect, to change your conditions in a gradual way to enable your will to be free from undesired direction.”

    You sound like you view yourself as a machine here. I don’t view human persons in this way. So I think we are at a major impasse here. I will continue to treat you as a person not as a machine! 🙂

    “You won’t be able to shake-off libertarian feelings entirely, but you can do so partially.”

    But this statement shows what I said earlier, that you cannot escape libertarian free will entirely (no matter what you tell yourself or “train yourself to recursively self-affect” you will continue to use the word “should” in the same way the rest of us use it. As Searle said the presupposition of LFW is inescapable, we all engage in it, and we do so everyday.

    “And this is COMPLETELY symmetrical with optical illusions. There are some optical illusions you can completely shake-off, some you can partially train yourself to “unsee,” and some that we are tricked by innately and cannot “unsee” even when you KNOW that it’s an illusion, like the rotating triple-spiral illusion.”

    You just keep trying as hard as you wish to get rid of the “illusion” of libertarian free will, you will fail. The explanation that makes sense to me is because LFW does in fact exist, God created us with this capacity, so no matter how you attack this reality, you will keep living (like the rest of us) as if it is in fact a reality, not just an optical illusion.

    “(Note that — for the future — I generally don’t have time to invest in these kinds of lengthy videos, but made an exception this once. Work, kid, wife, etc.)”

    I appreciate that you watched it as I thought Searle makes some helpful distinctions and frames the discussion in a useful way.

    “You said, “When I speak of a genuine choice, I mean that both alternative possibilities are available, both can be chosen, both are real options that can be chosen.”

    “Only one of two mutually exclusive options can be chosen. This is true under both libertarianism and compatibilism because of the word “mutually exclusive.” If the two options are not mutually exclusive, then they can both be chosen under both libertarianism and compatibilism.”

    I think you know what I meant, not that both AP’s can be actualized simultaneously, only that both are available, accessible. If two opposite AP’s (e.g. lifting my arm up to ask a question; no lifting my arm up to ask a question) were actualized at the same time, then we would have the ability to actualize contraditions in the real world which I do not believe that we can do (I cannot both lift my arm up to ask a question and keep my arm down at the same time in the same context). I was getting again at the major difference that in libertarian free will we actually have choices, while in determinism we make choices but NEVER HAVE CHOICES.

    “Under modal logic, given the prospect, at T0, of two mutually exclusive options at T1, having chosen one them at T1 reveals the impossibility of the other, AS LONG AS the accessibility relations are strictly maintained from T0 to the two prospects at T1.”

    Again, I understand fully that you cannot actualize two mutually exclusive options at the same time. That is not LFW nor compatibilism nor even possible by us.

    “That’s why this debate is about where decisions come from (or don’t); it is NOT about whether you can do both of two mutually exclusive things (this is a very common error).”

    Disagree, it is both whether the two options are accessible or available, it is also how the choice comes about (deterministically or non-deterministically, by means of some sort of necessitating factor such as through ““neurotransmitter-driven states” or by means of a person acting as an agent who selects one option rather than another available and accessible option). I work with folks who need to learn to make better and more productive choices and one of the things we try to convey to them is that they need to increase their range of healthy and good choices (but this means that those options really exist, they really are accessible, they really can be chosen, these options can be selected). So I am concerned both with the accessibility of multiple options and also how these choices are coming about.

    For the sake of others who want to hear John Searle explain the issue of free will in a shorter video, check this one out:

    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=john+searle+on+free+will&FORM=VIRE1&adlt=strict#view=detail&mid=8D5AFDA8F9B3CB7BFD4A8D5AFDA8F9B3CB7BFD4A

    Like

    1. Robert,

      (1) I did not say we could shake-off feelings of LFW entirely. I said that the LFW illusion is like certain optical illusions in that we can shake-it-off somewhat — but not entirely. Consider the “blue/gold dress” illusion from earlier this year. A person who genuinely sees it as a gold dress is, often, genuinely unable to see it as a blue dress, even though it IS a blue dress, and that person can be convinced of the fact of it being a blue dress. They can assent to this fact even as their senses tell them fully otherwise.

      This is a specific rebuttal of a claim Searle made, that if LFW is an illusion, then it is asymmetric vs. optical illusions. That claim was wrong.

      To be absolutely clear: My rebuttal did not entail, “LFW is illusory like various optical illusions.” Rather, my rebuttal is, “The claim that ‘If LFW is illusory, then it is fundamentally unlike optical illusions due to the inability to shake-it-off’ is false, since there are a number of optical illusions that we cannot shake-off, and must begrudgingly assent to the truth in dissonance with our senses.” “LFW is illusory” is an antecedent Searle grants — hypothetically — to construct his reductio ad absurdum.

      (2) I’m happy to hear that you agree that under determinism, we make choices. It seems that you find fault with the idea that, under determinism, we HAVE choices.

      Here are three definitions of “have a choice” that I’ll show by example:

      (a) In this situation, I could choose vanilla or I could choose chocolate, one or the other, but not both. This situation IS a choice (an event wherein I have Bayesian-plausible prospects before me, and wherein I am making the choice between them). As such, I have a choice (I am undergoing such an event).

      (b) In this situation, I could choose vanilla or I could choose chocolate, one or the other, but not both. Because there are two Bayesian-plausible prospects before me, there are two choices. As such, I have a choice (that is, two of them).

      (c) In this situation, I could choose vanilla or I could choose chocolate, one or the other, but not both. I crave vanilla so strongly, and detest chocolate so deeply, that I have only one choice: Vanilla. But, one is greater than zero. As such, I have a choice (exactly one choice).

      All three of these are perfectly valid under determinism. But it can be confusing when we pretend as if there’s only one definition of “have a choice” or, indeed, “choice” itself. Notice, for example, how some people say they “have no choice” and “have only one choice” and yet mean exactly the same thing by both phrases (though they contradict when parsed, since 0 < 1). This is evidence of how corrupt the language game of volition has become over time.

      Further, it can be confusing when we forget the magic of "or." Consider the following sentence: "I am a mere human or I am a galaxy." This sentence is true, even though I am not a galaxy, and it is impossible for me to be a galaxy.

      We can and do talk about accessible futures in terms of Bayesian-probability WHEN and ONLY WHEN we don't know which future shall come about. If we know, for absolute certain, that X will happen — such that its BP is 100% and everything else is at 0% — then we talk about how only X is accessible. If, however, X has BP 50% and Y has BP 50%, and X and Y are mutually exclusive, then we talk about how both are accessible, even though they're mutually exclusive.

      Here's the trick: Once we ascertain the result — let's say, X happened, rather than Y — then we know in retrospect that Y was impossible. "We thought X and Y were both 50%," we say, "But it turns out that X was 100% and Y was 0%, a thing we could only know by watching what turned-out." This is the definite conclusion under modal logic as long as the accessibility relations are strictly maintained. The only way out of this is to do one of two things:

      (a) Remove X and Y's mutual exclusivity, or

      (b) violate the accessibility relations from T0 to T1.

      This is the complaint we have against the idea of libertarian choice: It doesn't actually maintain accessibility, but must violate accessibility relations in order to preserve the idea that, at T1, the thing-that-did-not-happen "was possible at T0."

      I already mentioned this thought experiment to Professor Flowers, but it might be useful here, too.

      Imagine a coin in an opaque cup. You shake the cup around and slam it on the table, and hear the coin fall flat underneath. What can we say about the coin?

      We say:

      (a) "It's possible (50% BP) that it's tails, and it's possible (50% BP) that it's heads."

      (b) "The coin really could be tails. But it really could be heads, too."

      Note that we use this "language of possibility" EVEN THOUGH we KNOW that the result is already set!

      And, indeed, we can talk about the result in exclusive terms, too:

      (c) "It cannot be heads and tails."

      (d) "The coin is only one result, and it is definitely not the other result."

      Notice how A & B "feel" way different than C & D. The former set feels like we're talking about something open — opportunity, potentiality. The latter set feels like we're talking about something closed — exclusivity, already-happened.

      This shows WHEN we use libertarian language even when we know, for sure, that the result has already fallen: When we don't know what the result shall be!

      The passage of time, and events coming-to-pass, is analogous to opening the cup and unveiling the coin. Even though the future is determined, we don't see what single shape it's taking until that unveiling takes place. And so, like we do with the coin and cup, we talk about stuff in terms of real possibility and probability. This wholly explains the ubiquity of the libertarian language game and undercuts any argument that wishes to use this language ubiquity as evidence of multi-choice realism.

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      1. you say:
        (c) “It cannot be heads and tails.”
        (d) “The coin is only one result, and it is definitely not the other result.”

        This points out something that seems to really influence people. People seem to associate uncertainty with autonomy, that is a lack of knowing the result is the only way a result could be either of two choices. If we think of it simply like this: Only one choice will eventually be made under any system, that means necessarily no other choice could possibly be made, we lose that illusion that uncertainty is what produces the freedom. It’s really the source of all the problems, because if I can freely choose a thing with certainty, it might even seem like a form of determinism. As long as in some metaphysical way the opposite really was available to me, not necessarily at a point in time, but almost timelessly. When we put the choice into time we have problems, because then we can argue under any system, only the choice chosen was ever truly available merely because it was the only choice that ever was going to be chosen. So time gives our mind this illusion of an unnecessary paradox that seems like determinism. Perhaps our choices are made outside of time? It would solve this logical dilemma.

        Like

      2. “Our choices are made outside of time” is surely one way to wreck the strict accessibility relations. I think you’re absolutely correct that uncertainty is the key… it’s what prompts the “multiple futures” to “materialize” in our frontal lobes. When a future event is absolutely certain, the contrary events “dematerialize.”

        I don’t see a good reason to scramble for a “way out” of determinism. Compatibilism requires some reframing and dictionary-editing, but it not only captures and maintains things like responsibility, morality, choice, volition, and agency, but it makes them even more coherent and robust. Google “pattonpatterns compatibilism semantic issues” for a video of mine that serves as an introduction to the “semantic solution.” Also Google “stanrock freedom heterophroneo” for an article that discusses why I think compatibilism is the very best way to approach Scripture, by means of “heterophroneo.”

        Like

      3. Stan,

        “(1) I did not say we could shake-off feelings of LFW entirely. I said that the LFW illusion is like certain optical illusions in that we can shake-it-off somewhat — but not entirely.”

        Well that is just it, the “feelings of LFW” cannot be shaken off because LFW is part of the reality that God created and we experience daily. I don’t have to hear anymore about optical illusions because LFW is not an illusion but an inescapable reality.

        “(2) I’m happy to hear that you agree that under determinism, we make choices. It seems that you find fault with the idea that, under determinism, we HAVE choices.”

        Well that is again the problem with determinism, we MAKE choices, go through the process of selecting from alternative possibilities (but the AP’s are not actually available, not accessible because if determinism is true some sort of necessitating factor makes us select one option making the other option (s) impossible.

        “Here are three definitions of “have a choice” that I’ll show by example:
        (a) In this situation, I could choose vanilla or I could choose chocolate, one or the other, but not both. This situation IS a choice (an event wherein I have Bayesian-plausible prospects before me, and wherein I am making the choice between them). As such, I have a choice (I am undergoing such an event).
        (b) In this situation, I could choose vanilla or I could choose chocolate, one or the other, but not both. Because there are two Bayesian-plausible prospects before me, there are two choices. As such, I have a choice (that is, two of them).
        (c) In this situation, I could choose vanilla or I could choose chocolate, one or the other, but not both. I crave vanilla so strongly, and detest chocolate so deeply, that I have only one choice: Vanilla. But, one is greater than zero. As such, I have a choice (exactly one choice).”

        (C) brings up non-resistible cravings that force the person to choose vanilla, that is an example of determinism. It is not an example of having a genuine choice as the cravings eliminates the possibility of choosing chocalate.

        (B) seems closer to what we mean by “having a choice”, but I would need to know exactly what “two Bayesian-plausible prospects before me” means. Most of us speak in terms of different options not “Bayesian-plausible prospects”! 🙂 Most of us when speaking of having a choice mean that both options are accessible, that both options could be actualized by the person (though not simultaneously if they are mutually exclusive).

        (A) Here you speak of this being a **situation** being a choice. I don’t think that is quite accurate. It seems to me that when a choice is present it would be better to speak of it as being a situation in which a choice is present (not the situation itself being a choice). That might be nit-picking but it seems to be a better description to me.

        In determinism we make choices but never have choices because some sort of necessitating factor forces you to make the choice that you make (whether it be God’s ordination of events and control of events for the calvinist; or some neural based determinism as with you, there is something that forces the choice by the person so they have to choose the vanilla and it is impossible for them to choose the chocolate, but if this is the case they do not have a choice, they only make a choice).

        “All three of these are perfectly valid under determinism.”

        Well in (C) the person is forced to make their choice by cravings, in (A) the situation is a choice but no choice is present in the situation and in (B) it is only plausible, it is not accessible or available: so your three examples don’t say much and do not get at all close to what most people mean by having a choice.

        “But it can be confusing when we pretend as if there’s only one definition of “have a choice” or, indeed, “choice” itself.”

        Well if we are going to play semantic games then we can always redefine things to suit what we want to believe. That is one of the major problems with standard compatibilism it redefines things so that free will is merely a non-coerced choice (but that is not enough, for the choice to be genuine there have to be available and accessible options).

        “Notice, for example, how some people say they “have no choice” and “have only one choice” and yet mean exactly the same thing by both phrases (though they contradict when parsed, since 0 < 1). This is evidence of how corrupt the language game of volition has become over time.”

        I don’t think this so-called “language game” is totally corrupt, it does reflect some realities including the reality of having access to both options when we choose. Now you may want to claim the whole thing is “corrupted” but is because you don’t accept what the language game reflects (i.e. that LFW is in fact part of reality).

        “Further, it can be confusing when we forget the magic of "or." Consider the following sentence: "I am a mere human or I am a galaxy." This sentence is true, even though I am not a galaxy, and it is impossible for me to be a galaxy.”

        Well again when we say for example that “Katie you can choose this dolly Or that dolly, but I will not buy both for you”: even a child understands that “or” to be referring to a genuine choice (Katie actually can choose this doll or that doll and the choice is up to her; similar to when God said to Adam that he could name the animals any name he wanted to name them, Adam had multiple genuine choices and the choices were up to him, Adam and Katie are directly experiencing LFW).

        “We can and do talk about accessible futures in terms of Bayesian-probability WHEN and ONLY WHEN we don't know which future shall come about. If we know, for absolute certain, that X will happen — such that its BP is 100% and everything else is at 0% — then we talk about how only X is accessible. If, however, X has BP 50% and Y has BP 50%, and X and Y are mutually exclusive, then we talk about how both are accessible, even though they're mutually exclusive.”

        I think you are making a mistake here in speaking of future choices that we will have, because LFW only exists in the present time frame. When we face a choice it is in the present, the moment we make the choice it becomes a past event and is fixed. We project our understanding of choosing into the future, believing that the future will be like the present and the past (i.e. we will face genuine choices where we can select this or that). Accessibility refers to options available now, in the present, when we face a choice. We may hope or think that we will have access to such and such choices (e.g. social security) but we do not know for sure nor are we experiencing these choices now.

        “Here's the trick: Once we ascertain the result — let's say, X happened, rather than Y — then we know in retrospect that Y was impossible.”

        I don’t agree with this at all. Once we “ascertain the result” we know which particular choice was made. But knowing which choice was made, knowing the actual outcome, it does not follow that “Y was impossible” (unless determinism is true, which is what we disagree about). If LFW is real, then after the choice is made and we “ascertain the result” we know that we in fact chose X, but we also know that we could have chosen Y. You cannot argue from the fixity of a made choice to the reality of determinism because there is fixity whether LFW is real or determinism is real (in either scenario, made choices are fixed events, irreversible, set).

        “ "We thought X and Y were both 50%," we say, "But it turns out that X was 100% and Y was 0%, a thing we could only know by watching what turned-out."”

        No, X could only be 100% and Y 0% if DETERMINISM IS TRUE. But that has not been established by you or anyone else.

        “This is the definite conclusion under modal logic as long as the accessibility relations are strictly maintained. The only way out of this is to do one of two things:
        (a) Remove X and Y's mutual exclusivity, or
        (b) violate the accessibility relations from T0 to T1.”

        LFW if it exists in a situation only exists BEFORE THE CHOICE IS MADE. If the person has a genuine choice then they have access to both options, both options are available, he/she could choose either option, but will in fact only choose one option (that is the nature of choosing, not an argument against the reality of LFW)

        “This is the complaint we have against the idea of libertarian choice: It doesn't actually maintain accessibility, but must violate accessibility relations in order to preserve the idea that, at T1, the thing-that-did-not-happen "was possible at T0."”

        You are making this assertion with no proof or demonstration. It might help if you elaborate upon what you mean by “accessibility relations” (I don’t want to be talking past each other on this).

        [[“Imagine a coin in an opaque cup. You shake the cup around and slam it on the table, and hear the coin fall flat underneath. What can we say about the coin?
        We say:
        (a) "It's possible (50% BP) that it's tails, and it's possible (50% BP) that it's heads."
        (b) "The coin really could be tails. But it really could be heads, too."
        Note that we use this "language of possibility" EVEN THOUGH we KNOW that the result is already set!
        And, indeed, we can talk about the result in exclusive terms, too:
        (c) "It cannot be heads and tails."
        (d) "The coin is only one result, and it is definitely not the other result."]]

        Actually (A) is false. We cannot say it is possible that it is tails and also possible that it is heads. As ***stipulated by you*** the cup HAS BEEN SHAKEN, HAS BEEN SLAMMED ON THE TABLE, and the coin HAS FALLEN TO A FLAT POSITION. I am capitalizing to emphasize that these are past events, hence past tense language is used. But if these are past events, then the coin is ACTUALY heads or ACTUALLY tails (it is no longer in the realm of possibility, possibility precedes actuality in time, if something is now actual it makes no sense to speak of it may possibly be this or possibly be that).

        (B) is also false because (B) like (A) speaks in terms of possibility (it COULD be tails, it COULD be heads), when the cup has already been shaken, already been slammed to the table and the coin has already FALLEN FLAT. To be blunt, both (A) and (B) make no sense as the event is already past.

        (C) is true because once the coin has fallen flat, it cannot simultaneously be heads or tails (cf. in a class if I did in fact raise my hand to ask a question, we cannot say of that past and now actual event that I both raised by hand and also kept my hand down when that past event occurred).

        (D) is also true, due to the nature of the case, the coin was shaken and then settled into a flat position, so it has to be either heads or tails (but not both simultaneously).

        “Notice how A & B "feel" way different than C & D. The former set feels like we're talking about something open — opportunity, potentiality. The latter set feels like we're talking about something closed — exclusivity, already-happened.

        But this is misleading because I don’t speak of past events that have actually occurred in terms of probabilities, that they may or may not happen (because it did in fact happen a certain way).

        Probabilities, it could be this or it could be that, again are present tense based. Which is again why I suggest that LFW if it exists only exists in the immediate present (before the choice is made, before the coin settles and is heads or tails).

        “This shows WHEN we use libertarian language even when we know, for sure, that the result has already fallen: When we don't know what the result shall be!”

        I disagree with you on this: we don’t use “libertarian language” when we know for sure the result has “already fallen”. We use past tense language when speaking of a CHOICE THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE (cf. she picked the dolly with the red dress not the dolly with the blue dress, I chose the filet mignon not the pasta, our linguistic expressions usually single out the choice that was made and then contrast it with options not chosen).

        “The passage of time, and events coming-to-pass, is analogous to opening the cup and unveiling the coin.”

        The process of selection, of choosing occurs in the present time frame, we deliberate between the two options (when we have a choice, when we are in the realm of possibilities and varying probabilities), we then make our choice/make our selection (when we actualize one option and not the other, we fix the event, the choice is settled, the options change from possibilities to one actuality and the other options being non-exemplified possibilities, options that could have been chosen before the choice was made, but now are impossible once the actual choice is made).

        “Even though the future is determined, we don't see what single shape it's taking until that unveiling takes place.”

        That is just a bare assertion, the future is not determined unless determinism is true. If determinism is not true, then the future consists of some events that will be determined (e.g. future chemical reactions) and some events that will involve LFW (future daughters who will choose one dolly rather than another dolly).

        “And so, like we do with the coin and cup, we talk about stuff in terms of real possibility and probability.”

        The problem with your coin and cup analogy is that we speak of “real possibility and probability” ONLY BEFORE THE COIN SETTLES, BEFORE THE ACTUAL OUTCOME OCCURS. Once the coin is flipped, the cup smashed on the table and the coin settles into one position (which is heads or tails but not both) then it is a past event, an actual event that has occurred (i.e. the past). It is a category mistake to speak of having choices as if they are PAST EVENTS, FIXED EVENTS. Just as it is a category mistake to speak of a choice made, a coin flipped being a settled and fixed event and therefore the PROCESS leading up to that choice also being fixed, also being settled. The proper way to talk about it is that possibilities precede actualities in time, some choice made is possible first before it becomes actual. And LFW exists in the realm of possibility BEFORE THE CHOICE IS MADE, before the coin settles (cf. for example the person who chooses to shake the cup with the coin in it, had a choice of shaking the cup or not shaking the cup, had a choice of putting the coin in the cup or not putting the coin in the cup). Once they had already chosen to put the coin in the cup, already had chosen to shake the cup, and the coin had already settled into its resting position, it is irrational to speak of it could be tails or could be heads or to speak of probabilities, it is now an actual event, actuality has replaced possibility.

        “This wholly explains the ubiquity of the libertarian language game and undercuts any argument that wishes to use this language ubiquity as evidence of multi-choice realism.”

        No it doesn’t because your (A) and (B) were not valid options, only (C) and (D) were true, but their being true is true whether or not LFW or compatibilism is true. And your representing the libertarian as agreeing to (A) and (B) is a misrepresentation. So your analogy fails to explain the “ubiquity of the libertarian language game” and does not undercut the argument that language use is evidence of multiple choices being real and present. We speak of how the young girl could choose this or that dolly because before she makes her choice she can in fact choose either dolly because she is experiencing LFW and our language clearly reflects that when we talk about her having that choice.

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      4. Robert,

        You said, “Well that is just it, the ‘feelings of LFW’ cannot be shaken off because LFW is part of the reality that God created and we experience daily.”

        The point is that you don’t know that. The inability to shake-it-off does not — “for free” — yield the conclusion that it is completely non-illusory. This is shown by the fact that there are optical illusions that we cannot shake off.

        You said, “I would need to know exactly what ‘two Bayesian-plausible prospects before me’ means.”

        It means you imagine multiple futures in your mind, and both seem like they could occur, but you know they cannot both occur because they are mutually exclusive. Your uncertainty about which one shall occur causes them both to seem very plausible to you.

        You said, “Well if we are going to play semantic games then we can always redefine things to suit what we want to believe.”

        That was a bad-faith remark. I explained that there are several existing, used definitions of the term “choice” and went out of my way to give examples. I wasn’t “playing semantic games” but sincerely seeking clarity. If you continue with bad-faith remarks I will cease discussion with you and continue with others exclusively.

        You said, “I disagree with you on this: we don’t use ‘libertarian language’ when we know for sure the result has ‘already fallen’.”

        Yes we do.

        Regular people DO speak of “unknown fallen coins” in terms of possibilities, contingencies, openness, and potentiality.

        Examples:

        (1) “Is Harriet already at the restaurant?” “It’s possible. But maybe she got held up.”

        (2) “I don’t know what the bug in the code is. It’s possible that it’s a null pointer exception.”

        (3) “Did you remember to feed the dog today?” “For the life of me, I can’t remember. It’s possible I forgot.”

        (4) “I didn’t speak to George before he left for vacation. Did he get those e-mails sent?” “Possibly. I saw him hurrying to get something done.”

        (5) “Did God use some degree of evolution to yield the diversity of life we see on Earth today?” “Possibly.”

        (6) “It’s possible that certain supposed Apostolic martyrdoms are legends and didn’t actually occur. We don’t know for sure.”

        (7) “Is Janice a double agent?” “Possibly! We’ll need to keep an eye out to find out.”

        See?

        We use open language to talk about our uncertainty of closed facts, and we do this all the time. My assertion conclusion remains true: Prospect realism does not follow from the ubiquity of open language about the future.

        Like

  22. Stan,

    [[You said, “Well that is just it, the ‘feelings of LFW’ cannot be shaken off because LFW is part of the reality that God created and we experience daily.”
    The point is that you don’t know that. The inability to shake-it-off does not — “for free” — yield the conclusion that it is completely non-illusory. This is shown by the fact that there are optical illusions that we cannot shake off.]]

    Actually I do know that, just as I know certain other things, that I am me and not some other person, that there is an external world, that there are other persons with other minds. In philosophy classes these kinds of things may be doubted but not by the rest of us in the real world. God made the world a certain way, when we are in touch with reality we know these things and know them directly and we really don’t doubt them, unless we start trying to overanalyze things. Seems to me that free will is one of these ubiquitous things, if you doubt its existence it is like doubting these other things. They are all inescapable realities, even when people argue against them, they necessarily are engaged in them. The guy who argues we do not have minds, uses his mind when he makes his argument that we do not have minds. The guy who argues against LFW, has and makes choices about what arguments he presents, what words he uses, so he engages in having and making choices even in his denial that he has and makes choices! 🙂

    [[You said, “I would need to know exactly what ‘two Bayesian-plausible prospects before me’ means.”
    It means you imagine multiple futures in your mind, and both seem like they could occur, but you know they cannot both occur because they are mutually exclusive. Your uncertainty about which one shall occur causes them both to seem very plausible to you.]]

    Thanks for the clarification, but it should be noted that you view these options as imagined not as real, they merely seem like they could occur. And this again shows that in determinism we do not have real choices, only imagined ones. That is a big, big difference between libertarianism and compatibilism.

    [[You said, “Well if we are going to play semantic games then we can always redefine things to suit what we want to believe.”
    That was a bad-faith remark. I explained that there are several existing, used definitions of the term “choice” and went out of my way to give examples. I wasn’t “playing semantic games” but sincerely seeking clarity. If you continue with bad-faith remarks I will cease discussion with you and continue with others exclusively.]]

    I didn’t say that YOU are actually playing semantic games, I said IF, I also made it all of us saying “we”. You are being way too defensive about that remark. And regarding “bad faith remarks” I am used to dealing with Calvinists who will in fact play all sorts of semantic games to redefine free will to make it into a form of compatibilism. I don’t appreciate when some redefine things merely to hold their view without arguing for their view or giving reasons or giving evidence. Stan you are not like this at all, you do provide reasons and try to argue your points. So don’t take the comment as applying to you.

    [[You said, “I disagree with you on this: we don’t use ‘libertarian language’ when we know for sure the result has ‘already fallen’.”
    Yes we do.]]

    My friends and I don’t talk that way! 🙂

    “Regular people DO speak of “unknown fallen coins” in terms of possibilities, contingencies, openness, and potentiality.”

    I guess that we are not “regular people” then! 🙂

    Besides if some are inaccurate in their verbal descriptions that does not mean that the majority of us are not talking about the same thing when we speak of having a genuine choice versus having merely an imagined choice.

    [[Examples:
    (1) “Is Harriet already at the restaurant?” “It’s possible. But maybe she got held up.”
    (2) “I don’t know what the bug in the code is. It’s possible that it’s a null pointer exception.”
    (3) “Did you remember to feed the dog today?” “For the life of me, I can’t remember. It’s possible I forgot.”
    (4) “I didn’t speak to George before he left for vacation. Did he get those e-mails sent?” “Possibly. I saw him hurrying to get something done.”
    (5) “Did God use some degree of evolution to yield the diversity of life we see on Earth today?” “Possibly.”
    (6) “It’s possible that certain supposed Apostolic martyrdoms are legends and didn’t actually occur. We don’t know for sure.”
    (7) “Is Janice a double agent?” “Possibly! We’ll need to keep an eye out to find out.”
    See?
    We use open language to talk about our uncertainty of closed facts, and we do this all the time.]]

    We were talking about the nature of having a choice, I thought. Speaking of people talking about their “uncertainty of closed facts” shows only that we sometimes do not know that a fact is “closed”/that it has already happened. This is very different from our talking about a choice we are facing, where the choice has not yet been made, the possibilities are still open and real and available. The fact that people may mistakenly speak of a past event that has already occurred as if it is open, does not mean that every time we speak of an open choice we are facing that we are mistaken. Not even close!

    “My assertion conclusion remains true: Prospect realism does not follow from the ubiquity of open language about the future.”

    I am not sure that our language proves the reality of “prospect realism” like a mathematical proof. Rather our language is like the evidence used in a legal trial where the weight of the evidence provides a preponderance of evidence suggesting that a particular claim is true. It is unfair to expect mathematical type proofs of LFW. Rather the argument is usually an abductive one: what is the best explanation for our ordinary language locutions and expressions regarding choice, possibility, actuality, present choices contemplated, past choices made, etc. The best explanation is that God made the world and that one of the features of the world that He made is LFW which we all experience daily. This is a better explanation of the available evidence than compatibilism is.

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    1. Robert,

      You said,

      “Actually I do know that, just as I know certain other things, that I am me and not some other person, that there is an external world, that there are other persons with other minds.”

      Okay. If only one person admits uncertainty about whether we are adequately deterministic or not, and the other person claims to “know” that we are not, it’s unlikely that further discussion will be fruitful.

      I already suspect this is unlikely because you keep regressing in our conversation. You just now asserted “The guy who argues against LFW… engages in having and making choices even in his denial that he has and makes choices!”

      First, you say that he who argues against LFW denies that he makes choices. This contradicts what you said earlier when, though you denied HAVING choices under determinism, you acceded that choices are MADE under determinism: “Again, compatibilism allows for making a choice, but never having a choice, and that is why it is wrong.”

      Second, it is a completely strawman to say that he who argues against LFW denies that he has choices. I’ve consistently asserted that I both have and make choices. You disagree that I have choices, but your disagreement does not morph into an assertive denial on my end. This was dishonest at worst, and reckless/sloppy at best.

      You said,

      “Thanks for the clarification, but it should be noted that you view these options as imagined not as real, they merely seem like they could occur. And this again shows that in determinism we do not have real choices, only imagined ones.”

      They are prospects that my mind is thinking about. Two mutually exclusive options cannot be simultaneously real. They can be simultaneously imagined, though.

      Once a prospect is elected, it is “realized.” It “becomes real.”

      Under compatibilism, “having a choice” is “considering multiple plausible prospects.” “Making a choice” is “actualizing/realizing one of those prospects.” These should be very benign, acceptable, non-alien definitions. It is the proclamation that 2+ mutually-exclusive options can be simultaneously “real” that is the strange notion, even though our imaginations can be so vivid that they trick us into think such a notion isn’t strange at all.

      You said,

      “I didn’t say that YOU are actually playing semantic games, I said IF, I also made it all of us saying ‘we’.”

      This is more bad-faith discussion. Coy and disingenuous. Proverbial “if we” is accusatory, especially since you followed it with an assertion that this is that of which compatibilists are notorious. You also explicitly accused me of semantic games in an earlier post.

      Productive discussion requires Nash equilibrium, but you are deliberately abusing that courtesy. This will be my last reply to you. Feel welcome to have the last word after this.

      You said,

      “The fact that people may mistakenly speak of a past event that has already occurred as if it is open, does not mean that every time we speak of an open choice we are facing that we are mistaken.”

      I did not make that assertion. I did not say, “People speak of past events — which are closed — using open language, and thus future events — of which we speak with open language — are closed.” That would be an obvious non sequitur.

      My argumentation here was in response to statements of yours like this:

      “I disagree, again if I just listen to you in conversation, your linguistic expressions would give you away. Determinism goes out the window when we are using ordinary language expressions.”

      My assertion is this: Just as the proposition of the “closed-ness of the past” doesn’t “go out the window” when we commonly use open language to discuss it, the proposition of the “closed-ness of the future” doesn’t “go out the window” when we commonly use open language to discuss it. That’s it. And that’s a rock-solid assertion. Your common-language-based argument is noncogent and has no evidential force whatsoever.

      God bless, and farewell.

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      1. This is a little bit off topic and sorry for that but I was just really curious: do you have a personal preference about it? Would you rather have a free will or rather be deterministic?

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      2. Dizerner,

        To clarify, it’s not “free will or deterministic.” There are roughly 3 big positions at play:

        (1) Libertarian free will. I don’t believe this has a positive, coherent definition and so struggle to talk about it and/or conceive it. The best I can do is talk about what I think it is: An incoherent conceptual “blob” that encapsulates my feelings of spontaneity, the vividness of multiple mutually-exclusive prospects in my imagination, and my lack of sensation of the emergence of my thoughts.

        (2) Compatibilistic free will. Here, determinism is true, and yet there are meaningful senses of free will: My will — the efficacious expression of my interests — is free from X to degree Y. X can be any number of oppressors, basic or abstract, or potential such oppressors; there is a “free will” for every variety of X and Y. The more self-evaluation and self-modification my will practices, the more I am recursively dynamic, and the more I experience a formative (not substantial) break from the past. In this way, I can be very efficacious, very unique, and very much a “co-writer of history” as a form of God’s creation.

        (3) Deterministic incompatibilism or “hard determinism.” A radical reduction where all meaningful forms of will-freedom are denied.

        Given my view of these three positions, #2 not only wholly satisfies me emotionally, but more robustly handles questions of ethics and justice than views that assert spontaneity and/or prospect realism, which makes it that much more preferable.

        But also, I really do think #2 conforms best to the Bible’s remarks on God’s sovereignty and human freedom. Google “stanrock freedom heterophroneo” for why I think this, and why I’m so excited to be a Christian compatibilist (though, again, not a Calvinist at all).

        Like

      3. Stan,

        Some responses to what is supposedly your last post to me.

        “First, you say that he who argues against LFW denies that he makes choices. This contradicts what you said earlier when, though you denied HAVING choices under determinism, you acceded that choices are MADE under determinism”

        Stan you are intentionally misrepresenting me here: I do not claim that those who argue against LFW deny that they make choices. This is completely false and can be shown by **your own words** from a previous post, when YOU wrote;

        “(2) I’m happy to hear that you agree that under determinism, we make choices. It seems that you find fault with the idea that, under determinism, we HAVE choices.”

        Don’t know why you are coming up with this false representation at this point. My view on determinism and having and making choices has been consistent: in determinism people MAKE choices, they just never HAVE choices (because to have a choice you have access to at least two different options before you choose, if some necessitating factor precludes one choice so that you have to make the choice that you make then you are making a choice but you do not have a choice).

        “Second, it is a completely strawman to say that he who argues against LFW denies that he has choices. I’ve consistently asserted that I both have and make choices. You disagree that I have choices, but your disagreement does not morph into an assertive denial on my end. This was dishonest at worst, and reckless/sloppy at best.”

        My claim is not that the determinist claims that he does not have choices (my claim is that no matter what he claims or professes, if his determinism is true then he never has any choices; we can only have genuine choices if determinism if false, if it is true, then we never have any choices). It is not dishonest nor reckless, because again, if the necessitating factor exists (in your case neuron firings in our brains that make us make the choice that we make precluding other options) then you do not have a choice. You choose X because you have to, and it is impossible for you to choose Y. If that is the case where one choice is necessary and the other impossible, not only is this determinism it also eliminates your having a choice with respect to these two options. This is pretty simple and straight forward though determinists such as you, do not like to admit it, they much prefer to speak of their “having choices” when in reality they never do if their determinism is true.

        “They are prospects that my mind is thinking about. Two mutually exclusive options cannot be simultaneously real. They can be simultaneously imagined, though.
        Once a prospect is elected, it is “realized.” It “becomes real.””

        These “options” by your own words are IMAGINED. You are equivocating on the notion of reality here declaring that options that we choose or do not choose are not real unless actualized. They are merely prospects in your mind that you are thinking about, you have no genuine access to them as choices.
        It is like a guy considering buying a house who has a million dollars but he is imagining the option of buying a 10 million dollar house. As he does not have the 10 million dollars this option is not available to him, not accessible to him, he can imagine it all that he wants but it is not a genuine or viable option for him.

        The same is true in every choice that is determined, you can imagine that you have access to the other option (that you do not end up choosing) but in reality you never did as the necessitating factor/the neurons fired in such a way as to preclude that option (it was conceivable to you, you could imagine it, but in reality selecting it as a genuine option is impossible for you).

        “Under compatibilism, “having a choice” is “considering multiple plausible prospects.””

        Here you are confusing deliberation (which is the considering of multiple options) and having a choice (which includes access to these options, that these options are available). In your determinism options are imagined prospects, but the only option that you can choose is the one the necessitating factor makes you choose. And again if the unexemplified possibilities/the options not chosen are impossible then you do not have a choice.

        “ “Making a choice” is “actualizing/realizing one of those prospects.””

        Ok, but if it is actualizing the only option that is available to you (as would be true in determinism), then the other “prospects”: are impossible for you to choose. As they are impossible for you to choose it is both misleading and disingenuous to speak of them as “prospects”. It would be like telling your daughter that she can choose either doll, when in reality you cannot afford the one doll, you can only afford the other doll, so her “choice” can only be the doll that you have sufficient money to pay for. You would be making a choice, actualizing one of those prospects, though you really do not have a choice as only that “prospect” is available or accessible to you.

        “This is more bad-faith discussion. Coy and disingenuous. Proverbial “if we” is accusatory, especially since you followed it with an assertion that this is that of which compatibilists are notorious. You also explicitly accused me of semantic games in an earlier post.
        Productive discussion requires Nash equilibrium, but you are deliberately abusing that courtesy. This will be my last reply to you. Feel welcome to have the last word after this.”

        I said some play semantic games I even directly specified them, calvinists I have dealt with. You ignored this and now try to apply it to yourself. Sorry about that, I thought I was clear, that I was not speaking of you, but you want me to be speaking of you. Ironic a determinist choosing to be offended, did those neural firings in your brain cause you to take offense? 🙂

        In looking at your interactions with others here you have a pattern of claiming that others are engaging in “bad faith discussions” (this appears to give you an easy out to evade points others are making, you just leave or threaten to leave, and attribute it to the other person’s “bad faith discussion”, and it is always the other person who is engaging in “bad faith discussions” not you). I have not discussed things in “bad faith” nor have others here. Your use of your own terminology (“Nash equilibrium”) makes interaction with you very difficult. I am sure that we have talked past each other due to some of these unique linguistic expressions that you are using. I know some professional counselors and I have never heard them speak of how “Nash equilibrium” is required for orderly, civil and productive discussions. 🙂

        “Your common-language-based argument is noncogent and has no evidential force whatsoever.”

        Actually quite a few people are convinced by the language based argument, including philosophers such as John Searle and Ludwig Wittgenstein and linguists such as Noam Chomsky, guys who are much better in philosophy and linguistics than you or I. It may not be persuasive to you, because you choose to believe in determinism despite reality, just as a calvinist chooses to believe in calvinism despite certain realities of scripture. You both can make these mistaken choices because you both have the free will to do so.

        And sorry you cannot blame your neural firings in your brain for these choices. In fact you cannot blame neural firings in your brain for your actions. That like any other form of determinism is just a big cop out. Instead of you the person being responsible, it is our neural firings, or our environment, or our genes, or our “strongest desires” etc. or whatever other necessitating factor you want to put in the slot of your particular preferred form of determinism. I don’t buy any of it, it is a game played by some intelligent folks who for various reasons want to argue against the reality of free will as ordinarily experienced.

        I find it extremely ironic and even humorous that you are a professional game designer. Games have rules and they also all presuppose that the participants have and make their own choices (i.e. they presuppose libertarian free will). So even your real life job attests to the reality of LFW continually and repeatedly, and yet you disregard the evidence and continue to maintain your false notions of determinism. It is really surprising to see you arguing so strongly against reality when that reality is so clear in both your daily experience and even your job.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I understand you think #2 is most logical. I was wondering not what you thought was most logical, but what you think you would like to have. Perhaps you have no feelings one way or the other?

        Like

      5. Dizerner,

        Here’s a quick thought experiment. Let’s say I have a choice before me: Vanilla or chocolate. I like both, but I finally decide on chocolate.

        Now imagine that God “rewinds” the universe — every particle and every spiritual thing — back to a moment before I made that decision, and presses “play” on the universe. Imagine he does this hundreds of times.

        Do I choose “chocolate” on each of those “rewind/play” iterations?

        If I choose “vanilla” on any of those iterations, this is horrifying to me. It means my decisions are not a dependably strict function of who I am. I want my decisions to be dependably strict functions. Compatibilistic freedom is the kind of freedom I want to have.

        Like

  23. I want to comment on Stan’s thought experiment as I have seen other determinists present this same scenario:

    “Here’s a quick thought experiment. Let’s say I have a choice before me: Vanilla or chocolate. I like both, but I finally decide on chocolate.”

    So you have personal preferences for both. But you also have different reasons for choosing each option. There are differing importances associated with each choice for you (e.g. perhaps chocalate is your favorite, perhaps vanilla is on sale, perhaps you have had chocalate the last five times and so want to choose something different, etc. etc.).

    “Now imagine that God “rewinds” the universe — every particle and every spiritual thing — back to a moment before I made that decision, and presses “play” on the universe. Imagine he does this hundreds of times.”

    A major problem with this hypothetical is that while I am not a determinist, I do believe that God has purposes, intervenes in people’s lives, etc. so He may have some very good reasons for not rewinding the tape, not allowing different choices to be made. But for the “fun” of it, let’s assume that God does rewind the tape hundreds of times.

    “Do I choose “chocolate” on each of those “rewind/play” iterations?”

    Maybe, maybe not. I will explain further in response to Stan’s next words:

    “If I choose “vanilla” on any of those iterations, this is horrifying to me. It means my decisions are not a dependably strict function of who I am.”

    That is completely false. Substitute myself for Stan, as I happen to like chocolate as my favorite but I also like vanilla with chocolate syrup, sprinklings of nuts, etc. I AM THE KIND OF PERSON who likes both chocolate and vanilla, and on different occasions I will choose either one, and each case for good reasons and in each case making either choice does not change WHO I AM whatsoever.

    The phrase “Who I am” is an abstraction as there is no entity in the world called “Who I am” that makes choices, deliberates or does anything. Instead we have individuals who have tendencies, preferences, even habitual practices. But even with individuals, their tendencies, preferences, and even habits is not what makes their choices, THEY are, the person makes the choices. And the same person can have different reasons for making different choices, and they are the same person whichever choice they end up choosing.

    “I want my decisions to be dependably strict functions. Compatibilistic freedom is the kind of freedom I want to have.”

    Or, I want my decisions to be my own decisions, which is only true under non-compatibilism (because in compatibilism/determinism, some necessitating factor causes our choices, Stan’s proposed necessitating factor is neural firings in his brain, given those he must make the choices he makes, so He as a person does not make these choices, the necessitating factor makes the person/Stan make his choices). Someone who wants genuine freedom wants LFW, if they want determinism to be true they are claiming they want the necessitating factor to be determining their choices/actions.

    Stan says he wants his decisions “to be dependably strict functions”: note again how Stan as a determinist appears to describe himself as a MACHINE not a person created in the image of God with a soul who is a person not a machine!

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    1. Dizerner,

      I ceased discussion with Robert because he flagrantly mischaracterized positions. I won’t be responding to his attempt to bait me back into conversation with him, but he is continuing to make egregious mischaracterizations, and his tangents should likely be ignored IF our goal is honest and precise discussion of the issues at play.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. For clarification, Stan writes:

        “I won’t be responding to his attempt to bait me back into conversation with him,”

        Don’t worry Stan I really am not interested in “baiting you back into conversation with me”.

        Didn’t you say earlier:

        “This will be my last reply to you. Feel welcome to have the last word after this.”

        If that statement is true, don’t worry Stan there is no need to respond back to me. As this is a public blog, I am free to comment on anything that you or anyone else posts here, if I freely choose to do so.

        Enjoy your interaction with Dizerner no need to respond back to me.

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      2. Stan, I really appreciate your reply. If we get a little too hostile as can happen it’s a little bit harder to let one’s guard down in various ways, and maybe give or receive a good point we normally wouldn’t be inclined to. Unlike Robert (not to denigrate him any way) I feel like I can easily see a deterministic world as possible that still looks intuitively to be free. This realization made determinism particularly daunting for me, and I think, any person willing to be a little philosophical for a moment. It’s like the problem of hard solipsism—everyone pretty much hates it intuitively, yet really there is no good logical proof against it. The rewind scenario is particularly interesting, and pertinent too. We could allow for room for personality, such as, factoring in probabilities based on inclinations. To settle your uneasiness, I think even under legitimate autonomous freed, vanilla could be chosen every single time, if one’s self-made character is more inclined to consistency and reliability. We can imagine someone factoring in 1. a love of variety or 2. a love of spontaneity or such things, and then we could give it a percentage chance like 10% vanilla 90% chocolate. But no one is obliged to be like that (under LFW), since one could choose to be a predictable person. But a lot of your objections remind me of an infinite regress—something along these lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joanVUoXY0s&list=WL&index=206 . Now these presupposes that whatever the “choice maker is” it is merely pushed back one level to the exact same state—that is, if desires influence choice, and we choose desires, than our desires will choose our desires… and there’s no way out. And notice how repulsed he is at the idea of freedom being “randomness” because then, it feels intuitively to people, it’s no longer a deliberate choice per se, but choices becomes merely pulling a slot lever—and who wants the crazy unreliability of being so unpredictable? But here I think the video misses it. Our choices may mysterious vanish in their casual chain backwards until we find where the buck stops, but that doesn’t mean they have to be random in a scientific definition of it. Because we can even choose the amount of randomness we wish to have—and ah! you say, but then it’s random how much randomness we choose! And the LFW holder intuitively says “ah! It’s not random because *I’m* the one choosing!” And at that point the response could be “But how do you know who you are!?” And as ridiculous as that sounds, it kind of makes sense. I know because I’ve struggled with problems with my identity—simply feeling passive or indeterminate about my own will. The LFW could say “Well you simply choose who you are!” but the response could be then “If I don’t know who I am, how do I know how to choose!?” See, I wouldn’t describe LFW as so simplistic because these problems can arise and I’ve felt them. Oftentimes I feel like I’ve gone to the very Word of God to derive my identity and choices because I felt so insecure in my own upbringing. Somehow now I feel more comfortable saying “I freely chose this or that,” yet no one could deny, even a Biblical version of FW has to be a bit more complex and subtle. Sometimes things can really impact us and I’ve felt at times a person with broken LFW—if there could be such a thing. If I say “I freely wish not to have free will” is that a paradox? or I say “God please make my choices for me” is that a choice? I think I’ve come to hold a more subtle position of LFW as “autonomy somewhere but not random in regard to the person, but perceived to be random from the outside, with many complex limiting factors.” Thanks for the discussion Stan, and I understand it may be more practical to not keep eliciting undesirable responses.

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      3. Dizerner,

        Thank you for the very constructive reply. I like how it’s making a genuine attempt at sifting away the noise in order to get at some of the root issues at play.

        I think agency is an emergent form of creation. I don’t think it is substantially disconnected from prior causes, but rather, a hugely incalculable number of prior causes come together to orchestrate and constitute a unique agent.

        I mentioned before, “I didn’t knit myself in my mother’s womb.” All sorts of things — genetics, prenatal hormones, other environmental factors — come together to bake me over 9 months.

        Then, the real fun began. At this point, there’s the obvious “gimmes” — parents, other children, teachers, mentors, family members, stories, media — but it turns out that at every infinitesimal moment, there’s ALWAYS new stuff happening to me. A lot of it is boring, but even the boring influences can, in confluence, radically affect my formation (which is ongoing!).

        Then multiply this vast universe of influential moments across minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, and decades.

        As time goes on, my formation becomes exponentially more unique, until there is a very meaningful difference between myself — as a formal subset of creation — and other stuff. And what I uniquely decide to do can properly be called agency, not because of a substantial independence, but a formative uniqueness.

        And yet, we’re STILL not done! That’s because I’ve omitted one of the most (second only to God, who obviously has “final say” on absolutely everything) influential formative factors of all: Myself, a moment ago. Indeed, any process of contemplation is not that of a static person, but a dynamic person, changing and morphing as he contemplates.

        This is how I can change my own desires — in a recursive way over time, not a transcendent way outside of time. We’ve already established that the chaos of creation (chaos = orderliness under extreme complexity, yielding surprising and unique forms) has supplied me (and you, and everyone, each) with mind-bending, inestimable uniqueness. We’re now MULTIPLYING that uniqueness by another order of magnitude by saying that this uniqueness is impacting and influencing its next timeslice of uniqueness at every moment across time.

        This final pattern of emergence is so unimaginably original that it qualifies as real agency and real individuality, even though we are creations a part of creation, each of us integral and ancillary beings in the beautiful, dramatic woven tapestry of God’s plan.

        (The above contains assertions that beg deterministic compatibilism as “granted.”)

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  24. I think we should be careful to frame this discussion about compatiblism/free-will within the realm of the scriptures and a biblical worldview, because I think this sort of discussion can break down for the following reason:

    I would guess that most ‘biblically-based’ libertarian free will (LFW) advocates would maintain that at least some events are determined, so in that sense I don’t think it’s very accurate for LFW advocates to be labeled as “incompatibilists” – because we (or most of us) would affirm the idea of a deterministic universe, but that part of what was determined (by God) was for humans to generally have the cognitive ability to autonomously select between possible (not just theoretical) personal outcomes. I assume most LFW advocates (at least not open theists?) would affirm that some parts of our universe (specifically human choices) may be “fixed” at the point of creation and “known” by God before they occurred in time, but that God built into that fixed system our autonomous abilities – I assume Christian theologians and philosophers have speculated greatly on how that actually works out physically and/or temporally and/or metaphysically. However, I don’t think that is a mystery which is less warranted by scripture compared to the mystery of how, the compatibilist’s view, our choices are blameworthy or praiseworthy if they are in effect not original to the creature being blamed or praised. Also, I’m a programmer (to some degree – I do web development predominantly), but if you think about creation being analogous a compiled program that God must run in order for it to temporally play out, couldn’t God pre-process certain variables (these certain variables being our choices – though I’m not arguing about how they originate now) and then compile the program, knowing what the set values of the variables themselves are after being pre-processed? The issue would be in that scenario, is how His interaction in sending His Son properly would intertwine with the pre-processing before compilation. This can be further teased out I imagine, though.

    Looking at scripture, Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and God sending the whale to swallow Jonah are examples of God manipulating aspects of sentient beings’ abilities (in the case of Nebuchadnezzar: his wits, and in the case of the whale: actually contorlling its actions?). LFW advocates affirm (or I think should affirm) this component of God’s soveriegnty. But if you think about it, don’t you think the scriptures specifically mention when this type of manipulation occurs, and thus it would seem out of the ordinary? Why would the scriptures go out of the way to specifically mention and make a huge point of Nebuchadnezzar being affected by God’s changing of his abilities if that sort of action by God (directly or indirectly controlling the actions of sentient beings) is commonplace?

    Also, assuming we pretty much all affirm the mystery as to how God’s free choices work without them being determined by something or someone preceding Himself, why can’t we allow the same kind of leeway when speculating about the nature of our wills? We all pretty much have to agree that a part of God’s sovereignty is the fact that He has supreme governance over the affairs of men, and if we aren’t open theists, we agree that He has exhaustive foreknowledge, so He can permit things to take place without actually desiring them or directly willing them, correct? However, I think where compatiblilists make their mistake is assuming that our wills are totally different from God’s in that the choices we make are completely derived from God’s direct predeterminations – unlike God’s will which arises from His being entirely (I assume, though it’s mysterious?).

    Also, fro ma programming perspective, if you think about the principle of inheritance in object-oriented programming – wouldn’t it make sense (in contraditction to what some propose) that autonomy can in some sense be a communicable attribute of God? That’s not to say that our autonomy isn’t governed or isn’t foreknown or isn’t subject to God’s manipulations – but that it mirrors/reflects God’s autonomy since we are made in His image and reflect some of His attributes (though imperfectly).

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    1. Correction:


      I assume most LFW advocates (at least not open theists?) would affirm that the events in our universe (specifically human choices) are in some sense “fixed” at the point of creation and “known” by God before they occurred in time, but that God built into that fixed system the unfolding of our autonomous actions – I assume Christian theologians and philosophers who subscribe to some sort of LFW have speculated greatly on how that actually works out physically and/or temporally and/or metaphysically.

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    2. Do you believe it is possible that God can create a man who can make a choice that is autonomous in that while he may be influenced by outside “forces” they do not determine the choice and that this same man could equally make a different choice. I guess another way of asking this is – is it possible for God to create a man who is the true agent of some of his choices.

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      1. Yes, I believe it’s possible and I believe that could be consistent with the idea of a deterministic universe. I think we may often look at this thinking from a post-creation perspective – but if we think of what role we played in the actions of God before day 1 of Genesis, it seems there is a lot more room to speculate on how exactly the self-determined actions of mankind could be a part of God’s pre-creation process from eternity. Though, that enters mysterious territory and I’m not sure any definitive answers could be drawn, especially when trying to gather data about it from scripture (which, I’m not sure there’s much the scripture addresses, if at all, about the nature of our wills before creation started).

        So, here I will speculate – I don’t think God being the creator and prime mover means that He is unable to incorporate the not-yet temporally/physically manifested actions of autonomous agents into His creation development process, even if the actions aren’t yet temporally/physically manifested. That’s another reason why a ‘compiled program’ might be a good example for demonstrating this concept – because when a programmer is let’s say, using all the tools required (SDKs, IDEs, emulators, etc.) when developing and prototyping a mobile application for the iOS platform, they have all they need in order to know exactly how the application will preform when time comes to push the application to production. Similarly, though creation began at a certain point and we are actually and currently experiencing the temporal and physical manifestation of creation, I don’t think that means that our actions are thus solely limited to and derived from the purely physical processes that initiated when creation physically began – I think there is some mystery there in understanding how we are regarded as just physical “dust” and yet we are endowed with “spirit” by God (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Maybe that has something to do with how our wills can have some metaphysical quality, though they’re still ultimately subordinate to God’s will.

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      2. I find it amusing how men like Matt Slick will tout the sovereignty, omnipotence and omniscience of God and at the same time deny that He can create a man who can make autonomous decisions. I believe He can and that the Bible reveals that He has and holds man responsible for these decisions. The Bible speaks of a few things as being determined by God but certainly not all things. The Bible speaks of many things contingently. Many of these contingencies are based on mans decisions. Do a Bible search on “if” and you will find some interesting examples to consider.
        The compatibilist has convinced himself (but few others) that he is either not a determinist or his determinism somehow can coexist with freewill. By claiming that God merely changes man’s desires but not his will is linguistic gymnastics that only a PT Barnum can appreciate.
        It seems to me that the presumed dichotomy between God’s omniscience and man’s freewill is false. It stems from our inability to understand God’s omniscience. I’m OK with that.

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  25. Hi JGray! Welcome to the discussion. I appreciate your desire to be biblical. I also appreciate your struggle with difficult variables like the incarnation, when discussing sovereignty and freewill. I wonder if part of the problem many have is in their seeing these two terms as mutually exclusive.

    God’s sovereignty can perhaps be stated in this way – In Him we live and move and have our being. And LFW perhaps can be stated this way – Freely you have received (God freely gave), freely give (you can freely give). Eventually, I have seen that these discussions have to include an understanding of God’s foreknowledge, as you have done. And then it eventually goes on to a discussion of defining God’s experience of eternity.

    If God’s experience of eternity is a linear experience of choices (from everlasting to everlasting) and if His choice to create was an expression of His LFW, then His foreknowledge of that choice existed during His linear experience of eternity as a possibility and then, when He made that choice, it became known to Him as a fixed eventuality. The question follows, did He have to “program” a complete human history that would include all of His and man’s future “free” choices, or could He have “programmed” a more open future with certain unchangeable ends, boundaries, and laws that limit the possibilities but not entirely removing all of them. His foreknowledge therefore would consist at the moment of creation filled with all His predetermined eventualities and all His permitted possibilities, so that still exist for His and man’s wills to freely interact.

    I believe a normal reading of Scripture presents such an experience of the past and future. The Scripture’s conditional statements, its universal invitations, and the verses that declare that God is still making choices affirm this. If they didn’t they must be taken as illusory anthropomorphisms that God chose to use to hide the truth of His “fixing” of all of His and man’s choices before creation even began. The divine Programmer, in my view, can and does still interact with the original program, changing the code in response to how the individuals with free will interact with their knowledge of His unchangeable programmed ends, boundaries, and laws, and all of His historic freewill interactions that He has already made, especially in Christ. His knowledge is complete in the sense that He knows perfectly all the possibilities, limited by the already made determinations, which of course He also fully knows. His knowledge of all the possibilities is as if they all were each eventualities, so that nothing that will happen will take Him by surprise.

    I think if you search out conversations that I have had on this page with others on this site, you will get a pretty good idea of the variety of views on these things by those who post regularly on this site! Enjoy! We have a wonderful Savior – Jesus!

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    1. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response and it may be wise for me to read more about open theism in order to understand the different “openness” perspectives. However, a big alarm goes off for me when a view of the teachings of scripture is seemingly novel, or not well attested to throughout the history of the professing church. Though, I’m not versed in the history of open theism, so it’s my assumption that it’s relatively recent in its construction. Also, I think the testimony of scripture strongly affirms God’s omniscience in the meticulous sense – Psalm 139, Isaiah 46, Matthew 10.

      By the way, I do think it’s warranted to interpret some scriptural passages as being truly anthropomorphic – and that it wouldn’t make sense to try and understand them differently. For instance, Isaiah 65:5 – are these people literally physical smoke in God’s physical nostrils? That may be a poor example, but I think stepping back and thinking about the limitations of human language might be worth considering – and (speculating here) how it could be the case in some instances that the way we render the English based on the presumably more limited Hebrew vocabulary may contribute to a confusingly anthropomorphic view of some scriptural passages.

      On the conditional nature of God’s interactions, etc. I think middle knowledge perspectives may offer some interesting thoughts on the matter – but I still think it could be consistent with the way God chooses to interact with a completely “fixed” creation.

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      1. Thank you Jimmy for your further responses. I assume you would agree that Luther’s view of justification was viewed as novel in the light of the “orthodoxy” of his day. And though not novel, Hubmaier’s believer’s baptism and his rejection of the “orthodox” proxy infant baptism were viewed as well “attested” heresy. Orthodoxy should never be afraid to be evaluated again and again, against the perspicuity of Scripture. And if any part of it is declared dogmatically without having clear definition from Scripture itself, that part should be held as open to reasonable disputation. It should not be elevated to becoming part of the gospel or of the sound doctrine required for ordination.

        I would be glad to discuss with you any specific passage of Scripture. The ones you mentioned do not define omniscience in a way that would exclude the view of foreknowledge that I said fits well with all the conditional statements, invitations, or verses declaring that God is still making choices. To squeeze the orthodox view of foreknowledge from those passage, imo, forces the multitude of those other statements to become anthropomorphic, in order to fit that “orthodox” definition. That takes the Bible out of the hands of the lay reader, in my view, and makes him depend on the scholar to tell him which verses mean what they say, and which are anthropomorphic.

        Anthropomorphisms in biblical poetry are easy for a lay person to understand, since figures of speech are common in poetry, and clear dogma is not found in figures of speech. But to say when God speaks in narrative sections of the Bible and describes Himself, that He is using anthropomorphic expressions of His nature, I think that is somewhat dangerous. Surely He was not fully describing Himself, and yet He was truthfully describing Himself in a univocal way, in my view.

        Always feel free to ask me to clarify, if I sound confusing, which has happened much too often before! 🙂

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      2. Jimmy,

        You rightfully expressed your concern when you wrote:

        “However, a big alarm goes off for me when a view of the teachings of scripture is seemingly novel, or not well attested to throughout the history of the professing church.”

        An alarm ***should go off*** concerning open theism.

        Open theists deny that God can and does know what freely chosen actions people will in fact make in the future.

        They will speak of how God knows all POSSIBILITIES of the future, but this masks the fact they deny that He knows all ACTUALITIES of what will occur in the future.

        Brian Wagner has been advocating open theism as along as he has posted here. For the longest time he was not upfront about it, not admitting that he is an Open theist or espouses open theism. Finally after lots of prodding by others here, he “came out of the closet” on it, but with newer posters like yourself I doubt that he will be forthright about his holding this aberrant view. And it is an aberrant and false view.

        All of the Christian theological traditions including Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants and Independents reject open theism as a false theology.

        When you see ***all*** Christian groups rejecting something that should alarm you and give you great concern about such a movement and doctrine.

        If you survey church history you will find it was espoused by the Socinians a cultic group that had lots of problems and by a few people in the twentieth century including Greg Boyd, Richard Rice, and William Hasker. If you examine their writings you will find them redefining things including even the term omniscience to fit their aberrant and false views. They will present various philosophical arguments that God cannot know freely made choices that people will make in the future. Some will also attempt to argue from scripture for this view.

        In the case of Brian Wagner, not only does he espouse open theism but he attacks the orthodox view as “mere tradition” that he says needs to be questioned and rejected. This coming from someone who rejects all denominations and claims that virtually all Christian pastors are unqualified to be ordained pastors (that is another dubious view held by Wagner). We have discussed these things with Wagner here before and he will keep beating his open theism drum.

        Jimmy you deserved a warning about this man and his false doctrine as you are a new poster. There is disagreement about just how bad an error open theism is, with some considering it serous error and even heresy and others seeing it as an error made by some professing Christians. It is interesting that both Calvinists and Arminians are united in their opposition to and rejection of open theism. The church as a whole presents a united front against open theism.

        “Though, I’m not versed in the history of open theism, so it’s my assumption that it’s relatively recent in its construction.”

        Well you should get more versed on it, and you will find lots of material on the internet on it by both open theists and those who oppose and reject it.

        If you view the entirety of church history it **is** of recent construction (again only the heretical group the Socinians held it in church history and a few individuals in the twentieth century espouse it, including a few Methodists).

        “Also, I think the testimony of scripture strongly affirms God’s omniscience in the meticulous sense – Psalm 139, Isaiah 46, Matthew 10.”

        Jimmy you are correct scripture properly interpreted does strongly affirm God being omniscient in the meticulous sense, knowing everything that can happen and everything that will happen, with no exceptions. Be prepared for Wagner to try to reinterpret these passages and argue that God knows all possibilities (but this is insufficient for a correct view of omniscience which is not just God knowing possibilities but will in fact take place in the future, and knowing these things exhaustively).

        Jimmy I suggest you do some further research on open theism if you are not very familiar with it.

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    2. brianwagner writes, “…The question follows, did He have to “program” a complete human history that would include all of His and man’s future “free” choices, or could He have “programmed” a more open future with certain unchangeable ends, boundaries,…”

      The question admits to God’s ability to “program” the future exhaustively simply by His ability to make decisions that affect every event that is to happen. We see that God did this in the life of Joseph. When God gave Joseph the dream of his brothers bowing down to him, Joseph’s future was set – it would include his brothers bowing down to him. This future involved Joseph traveling to Egypt, gaining the confidence of Pharaoh for Joseph’s claim of a seven-year famine and Joseph’s appointment o oversee a program to ready Egypt for that famine. Was this future sequence of events set in concrete? The answer must be, yes, because God acts with infinite understanding of all His decisions and the decisions He makes reflect perfect wisdom. For God to establish two events in time that He will bring about entails one pathway from beginning to end that reflects perfect wisdom. There might be other paths that God could follow but they would be less optimal and entail greater involvement by God in the lives of people to bring about the designated end – perfect wisdom would chart out the the most efficient path to God’s appointed end.

      For God to program a more open future with certain unchangeable ends, boundaries is for God to chart out a path that is less optimal and not reflective of perfect wisdom (and the infinite understanding that underlies that wisdom).

      Paul writes in Romans 11, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things.” That no one has advised God or given to God something that God needed precludes God waiting for additional information as people make decisions in order to make decisions. God does not react to what people choose to do. People are always in the position of reacting to what God has chosen to do.

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      1. You wrote /For God to program a more open future with certain unchangeable ends, boundaries is for God to chart out a path that is less optimal and not reflective of perfect wisdom (and the infinite understanding that underlies that wisdom)./
        Who are you to say that. Remember Calvinists favorite retort from Romans concerning the Potter and the clay.

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      2. Ernest writes, “Who are you to say that.”

        Calvinists claim that God is perfect and everything God does reflects His perfect nature. If God programs a more open future with certain unchangeable ends [not all], boundaries, then God necessarily would not know all that will happen in the future. That would mean that God cannot be omniscient. It would also mean that His understanding of future events could not be complete meaning that it is not infinite. Lacking complete information of future events and an infinite understanding of the impact of His decisions means that His decisions will reflect wisdom based on a restricted knowledge but not perfect wisdom as omniscience would entail. brianwagner has described an imperfect god who does not know the future.

        You arte free to argue otherwise.

        What did you mean by the Romans comment?

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      3. His understanding of the future is complete because all the possibilities that He fully understands lead together to the same ultimate ends! It is a closed system in that sense. I hope this helps.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “His understanding of the future is complete because all the possibilities that He fully understands lead together to the same ultimate ends!”

        What you are saying is that God understands that Joe can say either Yes or No in a certain situation and God knows that He will do X if Joe says, Yes, and Y if Joe says, No. Since God has an infinite understanding and perfect knowledge of the infinite (or very large) number of decisions trees that exist in the future, God has all the bases covered – God understands that decisions can go different ways and understands the ramifications of every decision and He has decided what to do in every contingency. So, you have God responding with wisdom to every decision, and your claim is that each pathway, because it gets to the end God wants, can then be said to reflect perfect wisdom.

        To make this work, you need to define omniscience as knowing everything that could possible happen necessitating that God “learn” what will actually happen only as it happens and then God is able to take the action He determined in the beginning. If God is in the position of “learning” something, He cannot be omniscient. The distinction is whether God, in His essence is omniscient, or whether He can learn and thereby become omniscient at some point in the future.

        You need a system that preserves God to be omniscient, in His essence, and not redefine omniscience to enable your system to work – unless you tell everyone up front that you are forced to deviate from the classical view of omniscience in order to make your system work.

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      5. I think you would agree Roger that God’s omniscience included knowing the possibility of creating only as a possibility and then when He chose to create, He caused it to become known as a determination. If His omniscience functioned that way back then, which I wouldn’t call learning, but it is a change within His knowledge, like incarnation is also change, then His omniscience can continue to function that way, which fits the normal reading of Scripture.

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      6. brianwagner writes, “…God’s omniscience included knowing the possibility of creating only as a possibility and then when He chose to create, He caused it to become known as a determination…then His omniscience can continue to function that way, which fits the normal reading of Scripture”

        What is the normal reading of Scripture? From Ephesians 1, “God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” In Philippians 2, in the life of the believer, “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

        The issue you raise concerns the point at which God establishes His purpose. Prior to the creation of the universe, God certainly knows all the possibilities that exist. His decision to create is done with purpose, and He begins to work out that purpose starting with Genesis 1:1.

        Following creation, what possibilities could exist apart from God’s purpose? Can there be the possibility of an event that is independent of God’s established purpose/His will? That God works out “everything” as Ephesians says, excludes anything occurring independent of God’s purpose. Further, nothing can occur – being a possibility – as that would require God to incorporate that event into His purpose as this would negate “everything” in Ephesians. This excludes any possibilities – with God – after Genesis 1.

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      7. Hi Roger, Sometimes I think you really are trying to listen and sometimes I feel you do not try. But I keep praying for you either way. I hope you will continue to pray for me.

        I thought we went through Eph 1:11 before, but maybe not, or maybe you are repeating yourself for those who are reading our discussion only here. But you should recall what I believe about this verse, and you could have included it, to show the difference. My literal translation is “by whom we have been called according to a plan of the one who is working with all things according to the intention of His desire.” No way does this verse have to be forced to mean all things were predetermined before creation. How open or closed His plan is finds no definition in this verse. It presents only the guarantee that He is working that plan out in line with the intention of His desire.

        Your concession of God knowing possibilities before the moment of creation that then become known as a decision by Him is encouraging. I hope you will apply that belief to accept also the divine knowing of possibilities that continued to exist after the moment of creation. You asked – “What possibilities could exist apart from God’s purpose?” None, expect the many that could exist within His purpose. You asked – Can there be the possibility of an event that is independent of God’s established purpose/His will? No, but there are many possibilities for events that are in consistent with His established purpose/will?

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      8. brianwagner writes, “…My literal translation is ‘by whom we have been called according to a plan of the one who is working with all things according to the intention of His desire.'”

        You want the verse to say that God takes events as they arise not knowing what is coming until it happens and then God works such events into His plan. You want to have God reacting to events as they happen rather than have God controlling events so that events happen only as He decide they should happen. If God must react to events as they occur, He cannot be sovereign but He can be a despot. It is a creative translation, but I am curious as to whether you can made it fly. When you get an article supporting your translation published in a reputable journal, the world can deal with it. For now, it serves as an example of someone with an open theist mindset floundering in Ephesians.

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      9. If you can translate Greek, Roger, tell me where my translation is faulty, or my understanding of the words are not being taken normally, contextually? I never said your understanding was not possible, I just said it was not necessary or natural from this normal translation and the overwhelming evidence of conditional statements in Scripture, speaking truly and not anthropomorphically.

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      10. I don’t know Greek, but your translation isn’t really the issue. God created all things, so God necessarily works with the things He has created. The issue is whether God must react to some things as they happen – and as He learns of them – or is God always orchestrating things in order to make those things happen that He wants. Certainly, God can orchestrate things to make something happen, and He can be doing this in everything that happens.

        So, the issue is whether God is ever in the position of reacting to things as they happen and as He learns of them. The argument comes back to whether God is omniscient or still having to learn of some things as they happen.

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      11. If He “learned” that the possibility to create now was a decision of His, He can certainly “learn” (though I don’t like that word, for His understanding is infinite) as He freely orchestrates by permission and causation His purpose, plan, and desires in response to man’s limited free interaction that never takes Him by surprise!

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      12. brianwagner writes, “If He “learned” that the possibility to create now was a decision of His, He can certainly “learn” (though I don’t like that word, for His understanding is infinite) as He freely orchestrates by permission and causation His purpose, plan, and desires in response to man’s limited free interaction that never takes Him by surprise!”

        You are talking apples and oranges.

        Apples – God learns what He decides when He decides. We cannot deny God the ability to make decisions, so He knows what He decides. Omniscience relates to the actions of God’s creation, not to God himself (although I have read some who say that God has always known everything including His own mind but I don’t think we can deny God the ability to have an original/new thought even though such seems impossible to conceive).

        Oranges – God learns what people decide to do. By infinite understanding, you mean that God knows Joe can choose to do X or Y and God knows what either choice begets (sort of). You allow god to know that Joe can choose X or Y, but you do not allow God to know what Joe chooses until Joe actually makes his choice. Once God becomes aware of Joe’s choice (He learns what Joe decided), you then allow God to orchestrate His response which orchestration can be limited if He now has to wait for others to make choices arising from Joe’s choice.

        The bottom line is still the same. Under your system, God cannot be omniscient.

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      13. You are forgetting, Roger, that if God leaves open the option for Himself to make decisions within the future of creation history, then He can also leave open for the free interaction of those made in His image to choose from a limited number of possibilities according to His prescribed boundaries, laws and ends and their nature. It is oranges and oranges my friend!

        I think you are getting closer. You would affirm that the Scripture talks about God still making decisions, but I am guessing you think all those verses are anthropomorphic and don’t mean what a normal reading would lead one to think they mean, since in your view all of His decisions have been already made for this creation history.

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      14. brianwagner writes, “You would affirm that the Scripture talks about God still making decisions,…”

        Actually, I wouldn’t. I affirm that God is omniscient and when God creates the universe, He has made every decision and knows those decisions. Thus, God is implementing the decisions He made and not making new decisions. Your position is that God cannot make certain decisions before He creates the world, because while He knows Joe can choose between X and Y, He doesn’t know whether Joe chooses X or Y. It is only when Joe chooses and God becomes aware of that choice (learns of it) that God can then respond to Joe’s choice by then making any decision called for in response to Joe’s decision – this position says that God is not omniscient.

        Given that God is omniscient, we then seek to understand Scripture in light of that omniscience.

        “…if God leaves open the option for Himself to make decisions within the future of creation history,…” What would compel God to leave open the option to make decisions in the future. Nothing, unless God does not know that future. An omniscient God knows all the decisions He has made – all God’s decisions regarding His creation are known – thereby made – at once.

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      15. You are welcome to your circular reasoning, Roger, based on your limiting of God’s omniscience, which you see as fuller before He decides to create, including possibilities, but lesser after He decides to create, not including any possibilities for the free exercise of His will, let alone man’s. And this is all because you want to remain loyal to a traditional definition of omniscience that ends up making all conditional statements in Scripture, universal invitations in Scripture, and verses about God still making decisions, virtually all untrue, or anthropomorphic, false to the real reality that only you and a few scholars have professed.

        You said – “[My] position is that God cannot make certain decisions before He creates the world.” Just to clarify, you know that I believe God has the ability to create a human history just as you believe He has. So it is not a matter of what God “can” do. It is a matter of what He did as professed in the normal reading of the Scriptures and not high-jacked by philosophical definitions of His nature that end up twisting the Scripture away from its normal reading. Jesus prayed “if it be possible…” Either He was ignorant of God’s predetermination of all things, or He was praying based on His divine wisdom that all things had not been predetermined before creation!

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      16. brianwagner writes, “…you want to remain loyal to a traditional definition of omniscience…”

        Not only traditional, but a legitimate definition of omniscience. You do not adhere to a legitimate definition of omniscience. In your view, God does not know everything – certainly not the future. This is shown in the example of Joe who can say Yes or No to salvation but has not done so yet. You only allow that God knows that Joe is faced with this decision, but you do not allow God to know Joe’s decision until Joe makes that decision. It is only after Joe decides that God can know what Joe decides even though you grant that God knew Joe’s choice as a possibility.

        The point of disagreement concerns whether God can know the future. You hold that God did not know that Adam would eat the fruit until Adam ate the fruit (although God, being very smart, probably could have predicted it) but you allow God that knew this as a possibility, so God had devised a plan to save the world by sending His son to the cross which God had in His back pocket just in case He needed it.

        It is true that Christ prayed, “…if it be possible.” It is also true that Christ had been telling His disciples that He would be killed – not as a possibility but as a certainty.

        “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20

        In your system, Christ meant, “…it is possible that the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests.” That wasn’t possible since Christ said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” So, Christ knew God’s will, and He knew there was no possibility of any other outcome. We must understand Christ’s plea, “…if it be possible” in the context of His certain knowledge that there was no possibility of any other outcome. Granted, this is not easy to explain. However, your approach doesn’t solve anything but creates difficulties in understanding Christ’s other statements.

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      17. Good morning Roger! Are all the events of the future in existence in reality, or are they only in existence in God’s mind? If it exists in reality, it is completed and He is there and we are there. If we are in agreement that the future does not actually exist yet, as one should believe according to the normal reading in the Bible, then it only exists in God’s mind.

        Does it exist in His mind as completed? It could, if He had decided before hand for it to be completed in every detail even all of His and man’s decisions. But the normal reading of Scripture shows that He made no such decision, though He has decided many things to be completed in the future. All the conditional statements in Scripture speak the truth about the possibilities that still exist for the future.

        You’re right! Jesus’ death by crucifixion was already previously decided. But evidently the “cup” was something different. Perhaps it was the fullness of separation from the Father to purchase our redemption. Wherever it was, it was possible to pray for it to be removed and not a sin for Christ to desire it to be removed, but it wasn’t the physical pain and human rejection that Christ already knew was planned for Him to experience.

        You said that I believe that – “God does not know everything – certainly not the future.” I declare again. His understanding is infinite, including His understanding of the future. But that does not mean the future needed to be all predetermined for His understanding to be infinite. And He knows the future completely as He has chosen for it to exist, and as the Scripture clearly reveals, partly determined and partly undetermined. I hope this helps.

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      18. brianwagner writes, “[God] has decided many things to be completed in the future.”

        So, are we able to differ on the definition of “many.” I don’t think you can say “many.” In the beginning, you have God knowing only the possibility that Adam could either obey Him and not eat the fruit or disobey Him and eat the fruit. Depending on the decision Adam made, God could then react and decide certain things. Until Adam decided what to do, there wasn’t really much for God to decide except maybe how fast the fruit would grow on the trees. Even after Adam sins, God reaches another bottleneck for it was now possible that Cain would kill Abel requiring Adam to get Eve pregnant and establish a new line through Christ. I think you can only say, “”It is possible that God has decided many things that He would bring to completion in the future depending on how various possibilities played out.” Those things that God had decided to do in the case that Adam ate the fruit – such as sending Christ to the cross – would be iffy in terms of timing as timing would be determined as various possibilities became reality. For God to impose Himself in the affairs of people to get things accomplished on His schedule would require Him to rip LFW away from some people – Do you want that?

        brianwagner writes, “You said that I believe that – “God does not know everything – certainly not the future.” I declare again. His understanding is infinite, including His understanding of the future.”

        The distinction you make is between “knowing” and “understanding.” You do not believe that God knows everything in the future but you believe that God understands all the possibilities in the future. As those possibilities (e.g., Adam could eat/not eat the fruit) become realities, God’s knowledge increases (He comes to know that Adam ate the fruit). Now, you can declare how you distinguish between knowing and understanding.

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      19. I’m happy Roger with God’s freedom and sovereignty to “impose Himself in the affairs of people” for I know He will always be just and it will always be according to His infinite understanding! You are correct that I see “understanding” as a type of knowledge, where “determinations for the future” would be a subset of that knowledge within that understanding, as well as “undetermined possibilities” would be another subset within that infinite understanding.

        When possibilities become events His knowledge doesn’t “increase” it just changes, as you affirmed when you agreed that God knew of creation only as a possibility before He chose it to be a certainty, and then He knew it as a determination. Perhaps your knowledge will change, not increase, when my view goes from being a falsehood, to a possibility, to the most reasonable view in your knowledge, in line with Scripture’s teaching! 🙂 You’ve already “learned” it, you just haven’t apprehended it. I hope you will.

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      20. brianwagner writes, “…as well as “undetermined possibilities” would be another subset within that infinite understanding.”

        At least you know to ratchet “undetermined possibilities” down.

        brianwagner writes, “When possibilities become events His knowledge doesn’t “increase” it just changes,…”

        Would you call that change a positive change (having more knowledge than before) or a negative change (having less knowledge than before)?

        “…you affirmed when you agreed that God knew of creation only as a possibility before He chose it to be a certainty,…”

        Apples and oranges again. God obviously had many thoughts prior to taking action on one of those thoughts. Those thoughts were contained within Himself and part of Himself. When God creates and Genesis 1 begins, created beings come into play. Now we are talking about God knowing what something outside Himself does. Joe is outside God and God either knows everything that Joe will do (and is omniscient) or God’s knowledge of Joe changes as Joe makes decisions (and God is not omniscient).

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      21. I’ll stop trying for now, Roger… but the future possibilities for me and the Lord to help you understand this still exist! 🙂

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      22. Hi Roger!

        You said – “For God to establish two events in time that He will bring about entails one pathway from beginning to end that reflects perfect wisdom. There might be other paths that God could follow but they would be less optimal and entail greater involvement by God in the lives of people to bring about the designated end…”

        I believe it was optimal in the demonstration of God’s freewill, love, and mercy that He planned to allow “other paths that [He] could follow… [to have] greater involvement… in the lives of people to bring about the designated end.” It was not only optimal, but corresponds to the best normal reading of Scripture with all its conditional statements, invitations, and clear verses that God is still making choices!

        Blessings, my friend!

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      23. brianwagner writes, “I believe it was optimal in the demonstration of God’s freewill, love, and mercy that He planned to allow “other paths that [He] could follow…”

        Fine. The problem is that you do not take God’s other attributes – omnipotence, omniscient, infinite understanding – into account.

        If God learns new information as people make decisions in the future, then God cannot be omniscient. You could only say that God knows a lot of stuff but not everything.

        If God’s present decisions do not take into account all future impacts of those decisions, then God cannot be said to have infinite understanding. God can only have a restricted understanding because He cannot know how people will respond to His present decisions – thereby limiting His understanding of His decisions.

        Necessarily, God could not be sovereign as His control over future events is restricted by a lack of knowledge of those events resulting in a sovereignty – control – that is reactive and dependent on humans acting and He responding. To be sovereign, God must be in control of all things – including what people do – and not responsive to what people do. Where God commits Himself to respond as in telling us, Ask and you will receive, then God knows what we will ask before we ask and the outcome is certain (except as James tells us, we ask to fulfill our lusts).

        So the god you describe has freewill, love and mercy but is neither omniscient nor sovereign. The true God has free will love and mercy in addition to being omniscient and sovereign. You need a solution that preserves everything God is.

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      24. Good is omniscient and sovereign exactly as the Scriptures describe, not as neo-platonists have defined, whose definition was declared “orthodox” without biblical support, resulting in twisting the normal understanding of conditional statements, universal invitations, and verse about God making choices.

        I’ll stick with the Scriptures’ definition of omniscience and sovereignty. God exercises both, and I don’t appreciate being accused of denying both. If you want to affirm that I don’t see in Scripture the traditional definition of these as held by many Christian theologians, fine.

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      25. brianwagner writes, “God is omniscient and sovereign exactly as the Scriptures describe, not as neo-platonists have defined…I’ll stick with the Scriptures’ definition of omniscience and sovereignty…I don’t appreciate being accused of denying both.”

        So, you note that there are two different definitions of omniscience and sovereignty. What’s the issue – you actually do deny the one definition and hold to the other.

        So, you say, “If you want to affirm that I don’t see in Scripture the traditional definition of these as held by many Christian theologians, fine.” Unfortunately, I have no idea what Scriptures you have used to get to your definitions. Technically, I cannot affirm your biblical study on this issue. I can say that you deny the classical definition – held by theologians of the past. Even you say this.

        Why is it that this upsets you? I did not lie; I just didn’t say it the way you wanted thus raising your ire (which tells me you have a very strong ego but maybe somewhat fragile).

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      26. Thank you Roger for clarifying that you do understand that I do not deny that God is omniscient or sovereign, only that we have different definitions of what “all knowing” and “in total control” really means. Actually the “classical definition” (neo-platonic) could be said to view God’s omniscience as more limited than the one I am seeing in the Scripture.

        The RC definition has God only knowing the future as one set of eventualities and everything else as counterfactuals. But in line with the normal reading of Scripture, God knows the future as with certain eventualities already determined and with an almost infinite number of possibilities in agreement with those certain ends, boundaries, and laws that He has already sovereignly predetermined. That view of omniscience does not only coincide better with Scripture’s revelation of conditional statements, universal invitations and statements about God making choices, but it is less limiting of His glory in revealing His free-will, mercy, and love, in my view, than is the classical definition.

        As you probably would agree, the tradition definitions of other important biblical ideas have had to be retested and challenged by the Scriptures, such as justification by faith and believer’s baptism. And I would never say that you deny omniscience or sovereignty, but that we disagree on how the Scriptures defines those terms.

        And, Roger, we have discussed things long enough together for you to know that I do, like you, have a “strong ego” that I am trying to freely yield to the Spirit’s leadership. It certainly is not fragile. 🙂 I hope I can feel free to let you know when you say things that I may feel misrepresent me for which I am not thankful. I would think you would want our friendship to have such honesty. I would like you to feel free to do the same, my friend.

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      27. Thank you Roger for clarifying that you do understand that I do not deny that God is omniscient or sovereign, only that we have different definitions of what “all knowing” and “in total control” really means….I would never say that you deny omniscience or sovereignty, but that we disagree on how the Scriptures defines those terms.”

        O, Brian! There is one and only one true definition of “omniscient” and one definition of “sovereign.” We disagree on what that definition is, thus at least one of us necessarily denies that God is omniscient or sovereign based on the actual, official definitions.

        As to classical definitions, I don’t care much for the RC view. I think of that view of omniscience as classical as that which is consistent with the other attributes of God – in particular with God’s immutability – which I tend to read of in the reformed literature going back to Paul.

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      28. O, Roger! 🙂 You are logically correct that “at least one of us necessarily denies that God is omniscient and sovereign in the way that God Himself defines it.” That means we both could be wrong also! 🙂 So that’s why it behooves us to develop our definitions from Scripture and not “official” groups, like those from within Reformed theology, though their writings may help point us to Scriptures that we should consider. I go back to Paul too! 🙂

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      29. ” To be sovereign, God must be in control of all things – including what people do – and not responsive to what people do.” This reflects the Calvinist misunderstanding of what sovereignty is. Sovereignty describes God’s power not His control.

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      30. Sovereignty identifies authority which entails power of authority. If one who is sovereign is not able to control that over which he is sovereign, then he is not sovereign over that over which he has no control. Perhaps, you misunderstand the idea of sovereignty. How can a person who is sovereign be sovereign over that which he cannot control?

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  26. Brian, I think we can leave the discussion where it is – as I really wouldn’t want to delve deeply into a scriptural argument for or against open theism here and now – I’d rather do some of my own research on it first. By the way though, just in response, I’m just not sure open theism is like justification by faith – in the sense that it may be a “recovered” or “rediscovered” scriptural truth – I think that would have to be clearly and historically demonstrated (maybe it already has been – I’m not sure, though I would assume it has not been). Since I would imagine, like other theological areas, perspectives on open theism may vary substantially. So, I’m not quite sure it should all be labelled “heresy” – but I do want to take seriously the ramifications open theism might entail, and where it could be in fundamental conflict with the good news, I would not want to approve it. Though, that’s assuming open theism does in fact come in to conflict with the good news in that serious a way – which I’m not sure about yet.

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    1. That’s fine, Jimmy. We can talk later, any time you wish. Please notice, I did not mention the term open theism, but just listed a number of normal grammatical things found in the Bible that, based on inspiration and the truthfulness of God, profess a future that still consists of some, if not many, true possibilities, for each individual, fully known as such by God.

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      1. RHutchins The error is the assertion by Calvinists that God controls all things and unless He does so He is not sovereign God is sovereign because He has the power to control all things regardless of whether He chooses to exercise that power that power to control or allows men to have dominion over parts of creation and freely make decisions that may conflict with His will.

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      2. Ernest writes, “God is sovereign because He has the power to control all things regardless of whether He chooses to exercise that power.”

        Your view of God is that He is human. A human sovereign chooses whether to exercise his power only because he is finite and can only deal with a finite number of things at any given time requiring that he choose his battles and ignore the rest.

        God is not human and necessarily deals with everything that happens. God chooses to exercises His power to bring about directly that which He wants or He chooses not to exercise His power leaving natural events to bring about indirectly that which He wants. In the end, God gets the conclusion He wants. Nothing can happen without God deciding that it must happen and declaring that it will happen whether by His hand or by His creation.

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      3. No mistake, Jimmy! No misrepresentation! You are right always to question. And I still want you to feel free to ask me to clarify my view on any Scripture. Blessings!

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  27. Rhutchin actually understands the open theism of Brian Wagner very well as he writes:

    “To make this work, you need to define omniscience as knowing everything that could possible happen necessitating that God “learn” what will actually happen only as it happens and then God is able to take the action He determined in the beginning. If God is in the position of “learning” something, He cannot be omniscient. The distinction is whether God, in His essence is omniscient, or whether He can learn and thereby become omniscient at some point in the future.”

    Under Open theism God learns new things as they occur, but He does not know how these things will occur BEFORE they occur.

    Rhutchin goes on to say:

    “If God learns new information as people make decisions in the future, then God cannot be omniscient. You could only say that God knows a lot of stuff but not everything.”

    This is exactly right, if God learns new information as these future choices/decisions are made THEN GOD CANNOT BE OMNISCIENT. And as rhutchin says, he may know a lot, BUT NOT EVERYTHING.

    Rhutchin also says of this conception of God held by open theists that:

    “If God’s present decisions do not take into account all future impacts of those decisions, then God cannot be said to have infinite understanding. God can only have a restricted understanding”

    This is why I have said before of Brian Wagner’s aberrant open theism that his god is a finite god, a limited god, not the God of the Bible. Wagner also claims that God is in time just like we are, so his god is just a bigger version of us, not the transcendent God revealed in scripture.

    Wagner likes to attack the normal, orthodox, standard understanding of omniscience, his latest attack is the claim that Christians who hold to the correct understanding of omniscience are:

    “Good is omniscient and sovereign exactly as the Scriptures describe, not as neo-platonists have defined, whose definition was declared “orthodox” without biblical support”

    Neo-platonists, huh?

    This is a completely false and unsubstantiated claim.

    And Wagner’s claim that the orthodox view is WITHOUT BIBLICAL SUPPORT is a total misrepresentation and a lie by Wagner.

    Take my wife as an example. She is no “Neo-Platonist” and would not be able to even tell you what the Neo-Platonists believed. And yet she has studied the scripture for years, probably knows the Bible better than Brian Wagner does, and if you ask her if God is omniscient she will say Yes and THEN point you to lots of scriptures (mostly prophecies) that have God telling something that will happen before it happens. And many of these future events involve freely made choices made by men or angels. To claim as Wagner does that my wife’s view is WITHOUT BIBLICAL SUPPORT is just a complete misrepresentation. And my wife represents where most believers are, from their study, examination and searching of SCRIPTURE they come to their conclusion that God is omniscient in the traditional sense. These believers did not come to this conclusion through the vain philosophies of men, or through some novel interpretation of scripture, this is the ordinary understanding and conclusion that believers have come to from the beginning.

    This again explains why Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and Independents who disagree on many things, nevertheless hold the same understanding of omniscience. It is only the heretical Socinians and some individuals in church history who have promoted, maintained and defended this aberrant and false doctrine of open theism.

    My wife and literally billions of others represents what the church believes about omniscience, they represent the correct view of omniscience, not an open theist like Brian Wagner with his false and aberrant views.

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    1. You were correct to point out, Robert, that my use of the phrase “without biblical support” would be misleading. I should have said “without clear biblical support.” For I have never denied biblical prophecy as revealing that some future events are known as predetermined. And whatever fully known possibilities that truly exist until that event will eventually be brought into conformity for that event to take place. But just because some predeterminations have been made and revealed in Scriptures, one can not then say the Bible proves all future events are now known by God as if they all are predeterminations (even if they are not – your view) (or because they are – Roger’s view). The revelation of the Scripture is what it is, and though you may want to say that it supports God’s existence as being illogical and non-sequential, you have no “clear biblical support” for saying it.

      You are, of course, free to characterize my view wrongly – “his god is a finite god, a limited god, not the God of the Bible.” But you should try harder not represent my view correctly. You said – “Wagner also claims that God is in time just like we are, so his god is just a bigger version of us, not the transcendent God revealed in scripture.” Based on the incarnation, you also believe God, in Christ, is in time like we are. I have never said that He is only in time (creation) and have openly affirmed that the Godhead is also transcendent to creation. I have never implied that God is just a “bigger version of us”. I have affirmed that I believe God has revealed His experience of reality as sequential (before and after, from everlasting to everlasting) and that the Scripture does not clearly reveal or “support” the timelessness (non-sequential reality) of God as defined by neo-platonists and accepted as orthodox by RC and maintained as orthodox by many today, including yourself without clear biblical support.

      I hope this helps. I wonder if your wife has read any of our discussions, Robert, and that you are basing her views on her knowledge of those discussions. I would love to know what she thinks of your postings and mine. And I hope she does know the Bible better than I do! 🙂

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      1. Brian is now backpedaling from his original false claim:

        “You were correct to point out, Robert, that my use of the phrase “without biblical support” would be misleading. I should have said “without clear biblical support.””

        No, that would not be correct either
        .
        Brian started with the false claim that believers who hold the ordinary understanding of omniscience do so “without biblical support”. That is just outright false. Brian knows that most believers (and this is speaking for literally billions of believers) hold the view that my wife holds, that I hold, that our understanding of omniscience comes from the Bible.

        Now Brian is backpedaling and says that he should have said “without clear biblical support”. Again he fails and misrepresents the basis of people’s ordinary understanding of omniscience (it is based on their reading and interpretation of the Bible, and Yes the passages are CLEAR biblical support, that is why billions of people have come to this understanding rather than Wagner’s false and aberrant view of open theism).

        “For I have never denied biblical prophecy as revealing that some future events are known as predetermined.”

        Biblical prophecies are not just about predetermined events, they involve freely chosen actions and decisions. Again most believers are not Calvinists, so they do not view prophecies as a listing of predetermined events, but a revealing of ****pre-known**** events (i.e. events that God knows will happen before they happen, e.g. Peter was not predetermined to deny Jesus and yet Jesus knew before he freely chose to deny that Peter would choose to deny).

        “But just because some predeterminations have been made and revealed in Scriptures, one can not then say the Bible proves all future events are now known by God as if they all are predeterminations (even if they are not – your view) (or because they are – Roger’s view).”

        The issue is not that these future events are predetermined but that they are FOREknown, known before they occur by God. This has always been the church’s view, that God knows all events of history before they occur. It is precisely because he knows this, which explains how the scripture can be full of so much prophecy of future events that have not yet occurred.

        “The revelation of the Scripture is what it is, and though you may want to say that it supports God’s existence as being illogical and non-sequential, you have no “clear biblical support” for saying it.”

        Why would I want to say that the scripture “supports God’s existence as being illogical”???

        This is just a ridiculous claim on Wagner’s part with no basis at all. That makes no sense at all, that is just a bizarre statement by Wagner. God’s existence is perfectly logical and the Bible never says it is “illogical”.

        “You are, of course, free to characterize my view wrongly – “his god is a finite god, a limited god, not the God of the Bible.” But you should try harder not represent my view correctly. You said – “Wagner also claims that God is in time just like we are, so his god is just a bigger version of us, not the transcendent God revealed in scripture.””

        I am not characterizing Brian Wagner’s view wrongly, I make the ***same*** characterization of it that others including D. A. Carson, John Frame, Vern Poythress, Kevin Timpe, etc. etc. etc. etc. have said. We have all seen that Wagner’s false open theism view makes God into a finite and limited god who is in time just like us, who learns things just like we do about the future. Wagner may not like the characterization but it is how many describe his false theology. That is also why at most Christian schools Wagner would not be allowed to teach with his false and aberrant view.

        “Based on the incarnation, you also believe God, in Christ, is in time like we are.”

        This is a sneaky game Wagner now wants to play, Wagner knows fully well that when we speak of God being transcendent in his nature we are talking about in his essential nature, independent of the creation, prior to the creation, prior to the incarnation, when only God existed and time and space had not been created. Of course God “enters time” when He becomes incarnate as a human person. But it does not logically follow from the incarnation of Christ that in His essential nature He is in time just like us as you and other open theists wrongly believe.

        “I have never implied that God is just a “bigger version of us”.”

        This is what I and others see in Wagner’s view (God who is in time just like the rest of us, whose knowledge of the future is limited just like the rest of us, who learns just like the rest of us). Scholars who are both theologians and philosophers say this about open theism. That open theism denies God’s transcendence is a standard argument against open theism made by many, many people. An argument no open theists have answered. Instead they redefine eternity, the future, whatever needs to re-defined to maintain the open theism.

        “and that the Scripture does not clearly reveal or “support” the timelessness (non-sequential reality) of God as defined by neo-platonists and accepted as orthodox by RC and maintained as orthodox by many today, including yourself without clear biblical support.”

        There it is again, the lie that the ordinary understanding of omniscience is not based on scripture (“clear biblical support”). I really don’t appreciate Wagner presenting the truth as mere tradition, to be rejected as “neo-Platonism”. Wagner is the one holding the false and aberrant doctrine not us.

        Should we call his view “the Socinian view” since it was the heretical Socinians who first proposed it in church history?

        “I hope this helps. I wonder if your wife has read any of our discussions, Robert, and that you are basing her views on her knowledge of those discussions. I would love to know what she thinks of your postings and mine. And I hope she does know the Bible better than I do! :-)”

        That is the problem the lay people know their Bibles and know Wagner’s view to be false because they know their Bibles. And yet Wagner is allowed to teach at a Christian college. Wagner is allowed to mislead students with his false teaching on omniscience. My wife finds his view novel and false (I know what she thinks of open theism and that is before I ever posted on this blog). Wagner’s view represents what is problematic in our present day theological/educational system (i.e. professors with novel views who are allowed to teach and mislead others, whether it is open and aggressive atheism, moral relativism, or in Wagner’s case open theism).

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      2. Robert, you are aware, aren’t you, that the Evangelical Theological Society accepts open theists as members as long as they adhere to the inerrancy of Scripture? And that you would seem to rather want to side with RC that teaches the idolatry of Eucharist worship and a false sacramental gospel, only because they also hold your view of omniscience, than you would side with me who believes in salvation by faith in the finished work of Jesus our Lord.

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  28. I want to make comments about a post that Brian Wagner wrote that perfectly demonstrates the problems in his defending of open theism and thinking.

    He really likes to play a game of definitions. So a false view is not a false view, it is merely a different definition than what everybody else believes.

    I used to work with Walter Martin in counter cult ministry and this is exactly how non-Christian cultists played the definitional game as well. We believe that Jesus is God, that he was God in the flesh. The JW’s/modern Arians redefine Jesus as God’s Son the first creation of God. It is just a different definition right? No, it is heresy, it is false doctrine, it a reconceptualization of the nature of Jesus. And cults do this kind of redefining of Christian terms all over the place. They use the same terms but with very different definitions and they will tell you with a perfectly straight face that their views are based completely on what the Bible teaches! Wagner does this with his open theism, he wants people to believe that it is not false doctrine, just a different and better definition than that of other believers.

    “Thank you Roger for clarifying that you do understand that I do not deny that God is omniscient or sovereign, only that we have different definitions of what “all knowing” and “in total control” really means.”

    It is only different definitions.

    “Actually the “classical definition” (neo-platonic) could be said to view God’s omniscience as more limited than the one I am seeing in the Scripture.”

    The traditional understanding is attacked as “neo-platonic”. Cultists do the same with the trinity, it is merely a Platonic invention, not a biblical doctrine.

    “The RC definition has God only knowing the future as one set of eventualities and everything else as counterfactuals.”

    Here he attempts to restrict the ordinary, the traditional view of omniscience to ***just Catholics*** (as he knows that many reject Catholicism). But this is deceptive because it is not just Catholics who hold the ordinary view it is also Eastern Orthodox and Protestants. Actually it is a strong indication that this is the correct understanding of omniscience when folks who disagree on so many other things all agree on omniscience!

    “But in line with the normal reading of Scripture, God knows the future as with certain eventualities already determined and with an almost infinite number of possibilities in agreement with those certain ends, boundaries, and laws that He has already sovereignly predetermined.”

    In line with the normal reading of Scripture, billions of Christians such as my wife, myself and others have come to the ordinary understanding of omniscience. If we went and interviewed ordinary believers across all theological traditions we would find they hold their view of omniscience not because of some philosophical argument but because the scripture presents God as knowing future events, knowing how people would choose in the future before these future events occur. It cannot be any more simple than that, and yet this simple and biblically based understanding is denied by Wagner.

    “That view of omniscience does not only coincide better with Scripture’s revelation of conditional statements, universal invitations and statements about God making choices, but it is less limiting of His glory in revealing His free-will, mercy, and love, in my view, than is the classical definition.”

    Most believers are not Calvinists or theological determinists, and these believers are quite aware of scripture containing conditional statements, universal invitations and statements about God making choices; and because these believers are not Calvinists they have affirmed for all of church history both the reality of free will as ordinarily understood and the reality of omniscience as ordinarily understood.

    “As you probably would agree, the tradition definitions of other important biblical ideas have had to be retested and challenged by the Scriptures, such as justification by faith and believer’s baptism.”

    The ordinary understanding of omniscience does not need to be “retested and challenged” because it is both simple and true.

    “And I would never say that you deny omniscience or sovereignty, but that we disagree on how the Scriptures defines those terms.”

    There it is again, it is JUST a difference in definitions. By this method any error or false teaching can be rationalized as mere differences in definitions.

    “And, Roger, we have discussed things long enough together for you to know that I do, like you, have a “strong ego” that I am trying to freely yield to the Spirit’s leadership.”

    I strongly doubt that Brian Wagner yields to the Spirit’s leadership on this issue. All of these other believers yield to the clear and plain teaching of scripture and conclude that God is really omniscient. They don’t have to play definitional games, attack the correct view as “neo-Platonic” attack the truth as a mistaken definition, etc. etc. etc. Brian Wagner is the one attacking what all other believers hold to. It is doubtful that the others who number in the billions have rejected the Spirit’s teaching and leadership while a few isolated individuals like Brian Wagner have it right. The Spirit inspired the scripture and He has led billions of his people to hold to the ordinary understanding of omniscience.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Robert,
    I appreciate and share your concern for the truth. You feel that Brian has a different and perhaps unorthodox definition of God’s omniscience. He seems to affirms that God knows everything both as it existed, exists, will exist and contingently as it may or may not exist. Do you disagree with this definition? I hope I have not mis- characterized this. He also postulates that God has created a future that remains as yet at least partially undefined (my words, not his). I i am willing to concede that God could do that. I’m not sure that He has. So far I have not seen how this contradicts what God has revealed to us in Scripture. There are numerous verses in the Bible that seem to speak contingently about the future. Do you agree with that and if you do, how do you understand how God can reveal contingently?
    Blessings

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    1. Ernest,

      Are you an open theist?

      And if not, why are you defending someone who holds an aberrant and false theology?

      I know we are in a time when as Rodney King put it “why can’t we all just get along”: meaning that we are supposed to tolerate every view, everything is OK as long as the person holds it sincerely. But some things are false and to be rejected: open theism is one of those things.

      “You feel that Brian has a different and perhaps unorthodox definition of God’s omniscience.”

      No, it is not just me, Christian scholars across the board from every theological tradition have rejected open theism as error (and for some even heresy).

      Ernest are you aware of church history on this issue?

      Do you know that only the Socinians a heretical group, and some individuals in all of church history have held open theism?

      Do you know that despite the many differences between Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants on various issues, there is unanimity that open theism is rejected by them all as false theology?

      Does it even matter to you that literally billions of believers have come to the ordinary understanding of omniscience from their study and understanding of scripture?

      Do you really believe that literally billions of people are wrong on this and a few individuals such as the heretical Socinians in the past and Brian Wagner in the present have it right?

      “He seems to affirms that God knows everything both as it existed, exists, will exist and contingently as it may or may not exist.”

      Ernest, Wagner claims that God knows all possibilities regarding the future, he just does not believe that God knows what will in fact take place (unless God forces it to occur). We have been through this many times on this blog, none of this is new, and Wagner has made the same arguments over and over and engaged in the same redefinitions of things over and over, and attacked the ordinary view over and over as mere tradition, now as Neo-Platonism.

      “There are numerous verses in the Bible that seem to speak contingently about the future. Do you agree with that and if you do, how do you understand how God can reveal contingently?”

      When God speaks of future events He does not say that such and such event may or may not occur, He states it as it will in fact occur, and then it does in fact occur as He said it would. Innumerable Christians throughout church history see this kind of thing and correctly conclude: Hmm, if He says it will occur before it does occur, then He must have known this event would occur as it will, BEFORE IT OCCURS. This is not rocket science, which is again why so many believers have held and hold this view.

      In Isaiah one of the characteristics that distinguishes the true God of the Bible from other false gods is that he knows the future and they do not. If Isaiah were around today seeing the kind of open theism espoused by people like Brian Wagner he would declare them to be idolaters as they present a false god, a limited god, a god that is like all the other false gods not knowing the future and so not the true God of the Bible.

      Now there are occasions in the Bible (and God’s dealings with Israel are a good example) where God tells them you have this choice, if you make this choice then this will happen, if you make the other choice this will happen. The people have a genuine choice, their choice is not predetermined. And yet the ordinary understanding is that in these cases, they have a choice and God knows which choice they will make before they make the choice. In other words, the Bible presents both the existence of free will AND God knowing future events/what choices they will in fact make. The same is true for those who hear the gospel, they have a choice, some will choose to believe it, some will choose not to believe it, and God knows who will make what choices before those choices are made.

      If you have problems with that, then you have problems with Christian orthodoxy, and again this is not just the view of Catholics, but of all Christians (except for a few individuals who espouse open theism). Christians have known about the promises, conditional elements, contingent elements, and the prophecies in the Bible for centuries, none of this is new. What is new is the claim that God does not know what choices people will in fact make before they make these choices.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ernest writes, “There are numerous verses in the Bible that seem to speak contingently about the future.”

      “…seem to…” being the operative evaluation. That such verses exist is not disputed. These verses must be understood in the context of the totality of the Scriptures and this relegates our understanding of these verses to “…seem to…” and nothing stronger.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RHutchin, “seem to” is my irenic way of saying they DO SPEAK contingently and I am glad you agree and offer no other alternative way to understand them. Because we can agree on the contingency of some events of scripture, we are left with no alternative but to declare the heresy of the view that God decrees all that happens.

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      2. Ernest writes, “Because we can agree on the contingency of some events of scripture, we are left with no alternative but to declare the heresy of the view that God decrees all that happens.”

        That things are contingent in the sense that God promises reward or punishment for obedience or sin, says nothing about whether God decrees all that happens. That God decrees all that happens is consistent with His continent obligations. What you appear to be saying is that the contingency of some events means that God does not know what a person will do in those situations – that God is not omniscient – and has to learn what a person will choose and then can respond to that choice. Apparently, you have bought into brianwagner’s story line.

        That God decrees all that happens is based on God’s sovereignty which God exercises with omniscience, infinite understanding, and perfect wisdom. Whatever contingent situations exist reflect man’s choices and do not negate God’s knowledge of the choices a person makes before they are made.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That God decrees all that happens is inconsistent with scripture that teaches God is just and holds man responsible for the free choices he makes.
        A just God can not hold man responsible for things that He decrees and man has no ability to do otherwise.

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      4. Ernest writes, “That God decrees all that happens is inconsistent with scripture…A just God can not hold man responsible for things that He decrees and man has no ability to do otherwise.”

        Fine, now you just need an argument to prove this to be the case.

        Christ told Peter that Peter would deny Him three times; thus God had decreed that outcome (else Christ would not have said it). Yet, God does not make Peter deny Jesus and Peter could have chosen not to deny Jesus. Now, show us how God’s decree that Peter would deny Jesus three times is inconsistent with Scripture.

        As God decreed Peter’s denial, so God decrees all things.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. RHutchins,
        Jesus did not decree that Peter would deny Him. He prophesied that Peter would deny Him. Knowing the future is not causing the future. To claim that is to diminish God’s omniscience. God knows the future just as we know the past and present.

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      6. Ernest writes, “Jesus did not decree that Peter would deny Him. He prophesied that Peter would deny Him. Knowing the future is not causing the future.”

        If God knows the future then necessarily, God has decreed that future else He is not God.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. rhutchins
        It is not necessary for God to decree in order to know. This view diminishes God’s omniscience. Scripture says God knows all things. Scripture only tells us only a few things that God decrees and never says God decrees all things.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I wrote, “If God knows the future then necessarily, God has decreed that future else He is not God.”

        Ernest wrote, “It is not necessary for God to decree in order to know.”

        If God decrees an outcome, then obviously, God would then know that which He has decreed. The question is whether God can know something that He has not decreed.

        As God is sovereign, nothing can happen independent of His sovereign oversight. That God is sovereign means that God exercises control over all that happens. That control means that nothing can happen unless God decide that it should happen, so God decrees all outcomes.

        What does it mean to diminish omniscience? Either God is omniscient or he is not – a diminished omniscience would no longer be omniscience.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. rhutchin,
        The Bible says you are wrong when you say “As God is sovereign, nothing can happen independent of His sovereign oversight.”
        The Bible says Jeremiah 7:30-31 (HCSB)
        30 “For the Judeans have done what is evil in My sight.” ⌊This is⌋ the LORD’s declaration. “They have set up their detestable things in the house that is called by My name and defiled it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom in order to burn their sons and daughters in the fire, a thing I did not command; I never entertained the thought.
        God cannot decree that which is against His nature. He does not decree sin. He does not even ENTERTAIN THE THOUGHT.
        God’s sovereignty is His power to control all things it is not His controlling all things.
        God’s knowledge is not dependent on Him decreeing. God knows prior to any decree that He makes.

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      10. Ernest writes, “God knows prior to any decree that He makes.”

        Certainly God must know that which He decrees for His creation. That seems obvious. The question is whether God had decreed everything regarding His creation prior to creating. If He is waiting to decree something, and God knows what He will decree, then what’s the difference – that which He decrees or knows that He will decree is His knowledge. As God is omniscient, there is no real difference in terms of His knowledge between what He decrees and what He knows He will decree in the course of time.

        Ernest writes, “God’s sovereignty is His power to control all things it is not His controlling all things.”

        Sovereignty refers to God’s rule over His creation made possible because of His omni attributes – omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. Absolute sovereignty is exercised absolutely – God must control all things or He is not a sovereign God,

        Liked by 1 person

      11. rhutchins,
        You wrote “Absolute sovereignty is exercised absolutely – God must control all things or He is not a sovereign God,” This is False. God does not have to do anything to be sovereign. Rather than parroting Calvinist talking points, Why not focus your attention on what the Bible says?
        You can begin by explaining how God decrees something when he never entertained the thought.

        Jeremiah 7:30-31 (HCSB)
        30 “For the Judeans have done what is evil in My sight.” ⌊This is⌋ the LORD’s declaration. “They have set up their detestable things in the house that is called by My name and defiled it. 31 They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom in order to burn their sons and daughters in the fire, a thing I did not command; I never entertained the thought.

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      12. Ernest writes, “God does not have to do anything to be sovereign.”

        God exercises sovereign control over everything because of His omni attributes. Do we have to rehearse those verses that tell us God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-wise, infinite in understanding etc. The sum of all this is that God has say in everything that happens – either God decides to intervene to change the natural course of events or God decides not to intervene and allow natural events to proceed without interference from Him. Jesus expressed this when He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” Nothing, not even a sparrow falls to the ground, apart form the will of God – this means that God must decree everything that happens before it can happen.

        Ernest writes, “You can begin by explaining how God decrees something when he never entertained the thought.”

        Jeremiah says that Israel was doing things that God had not commanded them nor even thought to command them. Israel was doing what it wanted and not what God wanted. Nonetheless, God knew what Israel was doing and God decreed that He would not intervene to prevent Israel doing it.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. rhutchin, You ignored what the passage said
        Jeremiah 32:35 (HCSB)
        35 They have built the high places of Baal in the Valley of Hinnom to make their sons and daughters pass through ⌊the fire⌋ to Molech—something I had not commanded them. I had never entertained the thought that they do this detestable act causing Judah to sin!

        and wrote
        “Nonetheless, God knew what Israel was doing and God decreed that He would not intervene to prevent Israel doing it.”

        There is nothing in the passage about God decreeing He would not intervene. Its about God entertaining the thought that they do the detestable thing. God is saying they did this outside of His commanding or even considering they would do it. How could God decree that they do this detestable thing as Calvinism suggests without Him entertaining the thought?

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      14. That God did not entertain the thought does not mean that God did not know that Israel entertained the thought. As David wrote, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”

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      15. Its not that God did not know the thought. Its that God could not decree their action without entertaining the thought of their action unless you think God decrees without thought.

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      16. I see a difference between God entertaining the thought of X and God knowing the thoughts of others. God can know the evil you conjure up in your mind without having to conjure up such evil Himself.

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  30. Robert, Thank you for your response. No I am not an open theist nor am I defending Mr. Wagner. He seems quite capable of defending his position. 🙂 I am trying to understand it and evaluate it with what Scripture tells us. I appreciate your position on what the church has held as orthodox but orthodoxy has changed over the years. I don’t think that anyone disagrees that God knows the future or that He predicts the future. It seems to me the question we should be asking is – Is it possible that God could create a future that is left partially undefined and does this contradict what scripture tells us. Being God, He is limited only by His nature, so does an undefined (or open) future represent a contradiction in terms or does it contradict scripture?

    I don’t think your statement ” He states it as it will in fact occur, and then it does in fact occur as He said it would. ” accurately reflects all of God’s statements. Examples include His statements like Luke 10:13 (HCSB)
    13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes!

    So I will ask again. does Mr Wagner’s premise about an undefined future contradict scripture? If so, which ones and how? If you can prove His premise wrong then his conclusions become moot. Arguing over what omniscience is proves nothing about what he postulates.

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    1. you say:
      So I will ask again. does Mr Wagner’s premise about an undefined future contradict scripture? If so, which ones and how?

      I agree this should be the heart of things. God expressed knowledge of future actions of Peter and Pharaoh, these were direct free will decisions made in the (according to openness) non existent future. Brian’s only way out (and I do hope you noticed this) was to say some choices of humans are directly caused and compelled to happen by God (in other words, God had to make Pharaoh and Peter resist him, it was the only way he could know a non-existent future choice). I really have problems with that explanation.

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      1. No, because they received not the love of the truth. God didn’t take away their free will decision, he reinforced it, and that’s the definition of judicial hardening—God reinforcing a free will decision. You could make the argument that Pharaoh and Peter were judicially hardened. That’s actually a pretty good argument that as of now I have no answer for. I will continue to meditate on it.

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      2. Dizerner
        I have to admit some confusion concerning “judicial hardening” or the reinforcing of a free will decision. And let me say that your explanation is clear and it is supported by Leighton and most Arminians and Traditionalists.

        What I don’t understand is that no one who believes in LFW has a problem with it.

        it seems that what is being said is that a person makes a bad LFW decision and then God intervenes, locks in the bad decision, and removes the FW ability for the individual to change their mind.

        First, it proves that God does violate man’s FW sometimes. Second, it seems to ignore the fact that as people grow in knowledge and experience they may change their minds. Now, if the response is that God only temporally hardens in order to accomplish a specific task than one wonders, first, what is the point of the hardening and, second, couldn’t the person hardened complain that he or she might have acquiesced if God had not temperately remove their FW? Pharaoh can be blamed for his initial rejection of God’s will but his continued rejection is God’s determination!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It does seem like going into slightly Calvinistic territory, doesn’t it. Scripture does say something like “how long will you wobble on two different legs.” Perhaps it’s partly God forcing people to make up their mind in a way. No doubt it’s a complex theological idea.

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      4. you say: If the definition of LFW is “The ability to choose between A or B, given A or B as an AVAILABLE option” than this definition is consistent, not only with Compatiblism but also Hard Determinism.

        What?! How is any autonomous choice, no matter how limited, consistent with hard determinism? LFW is a choice *not imposed from anything external* no matter how limited the choices are. Oddly, it *sounds* like from many Calvinists writings they allow LFW in everyday mundane things but not in salvation. They often write contradictory and confusing things, but it’s always our problem that we don’t understand (lol).

        you say:
        It is understood that human beings are limited but how the extent of that limitation effects LFW is not clear. So as much as LFW is defended by its advocates, it is still a mystery term with no consistent definition!

        All spiritual terms are mystery terms, let’s not be disingenuous. If we say people (in certain instances) create choices ex nihilo, and no matter the influence upon them, their ultimate autonomy can override it and choose either way, we are describing something that is the polar opposite of determinism. Most people seem to realize that. I could go the passive aggressive route and say “determinism is just a mystery word with no clear definition,” but I understand both determinism and free will are metaphysical concepts. You can’t deny that many (perhaps even the majority) of people experience subjectively what they would call the ability to choose between options, or free will. It could all be an illusion overridden by God’s decrees—but that certainly doesn’t mean it has no coherent meaning. Some Calvinists will go so far as to say God himself is determined, and has no real autonomy. Isn’t God himself a “mystery term”? (I’d sure hope so.) If so then we’d have to assume he’s able to create mysteries, and LFW is one of them.

        regards

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      5. Perhaps I shouldn’t have included Hard Determinism in that statement. I am not a Hard Determinist so I should probably not speak for them. Although, you guys like to simplify things and lump Compatiblists in with Determinists.

        One can see, throughout this blog post, that those in the Flowers camp have a very narrow view of determinism, and a very broad and “fuzzy”—and sometimes contradictory—view of LFW. It seems that the only definition of Compatiblist/Calvinist choice that you guys will accept makes humanity into robots or puppets.

        Are animals determined? Hard Determinists would say that they are, but they would not say that animals are robots or puppets. Compatibilsts can see choice as part of the individual’s nature and therefore not necessarily imposed by external forces. Now, it is true that God creates the nature and allows its sinful corruption but this would be an internal process and not necessarily an overt external action. And I hope you would agree that obviously when we talk about God’s creation of an individual some mystery is involved—especially when positing an individual’s personality and nature.

        I called LFW a mystery term because no one on this blog is able to give a consistent definition. If you want to define all metaphysical concepts as mystery terms that is fine but that misses my point. What is a “limited autonomous choice”? Look, the issue here is that human choices do not spring forth ex nihilo, no matter the influence. All human choices are made because of a lifetime of influences!

        I don’t deny that people experience subjectively the ability to choose between options—which is one simple definition of free will—which I agree with! My point is that this simple definition is not what is being defended by advocates of LFW.

        Y’know, I really think that sometimes the main difference between Calvinists and non-Calvinists are the understanding or misunderstand of terms. Yes, I believe that FLW is a mystery, and so are God’s decrees, and certainly God Himself is a mystery. And I will argue this point with determinist Calvinists as well!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. you say:
        Although, you guys like to simplify things and lump Compatiblists in with Determinists.

        I tried not to—I said most compatibilists seem to think the of the two things that are supposedly “compatible” one always trumps the other (they veer towards determinism being the real determining factor). I said on here that a find the idea a true and pure compabilitsm intriguing (as a true logical paradox, as it should be).

        you say:
        and sometimes contradictory—view of LFW.

        And no Calvinists ever disagree on determinism??

        you say:
        Are animals determined?

        I believe most complex animals have a soul (not a spirit—the human is tripart) and limited free will (limited by lack of intelligence and spirituality).

        you say:
        Now, it is true that God creates the nature and allows its sinful corruption but this would be an internal process and not necessarily an overt external action.

        I have no problem with the idea of God “letting things happen” but I do if we talk about Divine determinism.

        you say:
        I called LFW a mystery term because no one on this blog is able to give a consistent definition.

        This is just your assertion. We certainly did give a consistent definition. Even if you don’t agree that definition is coherent, it’s still consistent. So be more careful about how you phrase things. When can ascribe concrete properties to LFW choices, such as “not determined nor caused by God.” Do you find even that description as incoherent? I’ll be honest thought; compatibilism sounds as incoherent and inconsistent to me as LFW apparently seems to sound to you. So in that sense we have a commonality.

        you say:
        Look, the issue here is that human choices do not spring forth ex nihilo, no matter the influence. All human choices are made because of a lifetime of influences!

        A lifetime of influences doesn’t have to completely determine a choice. We can all choose to go against influences (the Bible even exhorts us to go against the influences in this world).

        you say:
        …the main difference between Calvinists and non-Calvinists are the understanding or misunderstand of terms.

        Sure, I agree. What I think might be helpful is for you to take the long and detailed descriptions and definitions of LFW that have been given, and try to explain in as much logical detail as possible why you feel they are incoherent and inconsistent. Just saying that they are feels very unhelpful to us, since we take great pains to make sure our definitions are as detailed as we can possibly make them.

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      7. dizerner,

        Sorry if I lumped you with the others concerning Compatiblitsm. I think I have given clear reasons why I don’t think that the definitions of LFW give are consistent. I liked and commented on the A-B definition that you gave. And I followed up with a comment on the revised A-B AVAILABLE definition.

        Obviously I wasn’t very convincing and I’m not sure what else I can say. If I think of anything I will certainly write in.

        I will say that I have found yours and some of the others arguments challenging and I will think on them. Thank you for your willingness to discuss these difficult issues.

        God bless.

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      8. Dizerner,
        I don’t believe it is necessary for God to compel men’s decisions. I believe in His omniscient knowledge of the individual, He knows the choice the individual will make. An example is the Crucifixion. I believe God entered history at the exact time when He knew that certain men would freely decide to crucify. I believe that God influenced the decision by teaching in parables so that some would not understand but it was those who were already denying Him.
        I am not sure how this fits with open theism.

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      9. I don’t think any theology really knows why God waited around so long and didn’t just make Adam and Eve’s first son Jesus Christ. There’s some small clues about “times and dispensations” and “the fullness of time” and some other indications of something like a spiritual progression that takes real time to occur. bless

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      10. dizerner writes, “(in other words, God had to make Pharaoh and Peter resist him, it was the only way he could know a non-existent future choice)”

        This is incorrect. God can generally be said to restrain sinful humanity to keep people from being as evil as they want. Thus, God restrained Pharaoh sufficient to keep him from doing greater evil to Israel and allow the progression of the ten plagues. When God lessened His restraint, the result was the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, an action that God took especially at the end when God wanted to destroy Pharaoh and his army in the sea. In Peter’s case, God would have had to intervene to strengthen Peter to keep him from denying Christ. It would not be far-fetched to think that it was God’s providence that the three people challenged Peter.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. rhutchin I was postulating logic under the systematic of Open Theology, where God does not know non-existent future choices.

        I am well aware, I assure you, of how Reformed Theology handles the texts.

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    2. Ernest,

      “No I am not an open theist nor am I defending Mr. Wagner.”

      It looks like you are defending Wagner and have been doing so in multiple posts now, because you have not spoken positively nor affirmed the ordinary understanding of omniscience.

      “I appreciate your position on what the church has held as orthodox but orthodoxy has changed over the years.”

      No, it really hasn’t in the area of omniscience which is what we have been discussing. You minimize the extreme consensus of the church on omniscience. It is this overwhelming consensus that should alert those with discernment that open theism is a novel and aberrant theology.

      “I don’t think that anyone disagrees that God knows the future or that He predicts the future.”

      This is not true, open theists deny that God knows what people will freely choose to do in the future. If you have not read their own literature on this perhaps you should. People are not opposing open theism merely due to semantics but due to their denial that God exhaustively knows the future (specifically choices that people will freely make in the future).

      You speak of God **predicting** the future. If God **predicts** the future then he is not omniscient, He would only be **predicting** the future if He did not know the future.

      Ernest you also are very confused about biblical prophecy. I spoke of PROPHECY and said that: “He states it as it will in fact occur [note the clear language about the future], and then it does in fact occur as He said it would”. Trying to counter this simple point you responded with:

      [[“I don’t think your statement ” He states it as it will in fact occur, and then it does in fact occur as He said it would. ” accurately reflects all of God’s statements. Examples include His statements like Luke 10:13 (HCSB)
      13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes!”]]

      Ernest I was speaking of prophecies concerning future events where God tells people what will occur before it occurs. The passage you cite to contradict my point IS NOT EVEN A PROPHECY, it is a STATEMENT OF A ******PAST***** EVENT. Jesus says that if X had occurred in the past then they would have done Y. It is a counterfactual statement, about how the past could have been different if some things had occurred differently. Ernest you cannot refer to a statement about the PAST as a prophecy about the FUTURE. Prophecy refers to future events.

      I suggest you study the abundant literature on the issue of open theism for yourself: you might also want to take some time to study actual prophecies in scripture that have been fulfilled and ask yourself if this is evidence that God knows the future before it occurs.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Robert,
    Thank you for your response. I will take you at your word for what you say you believe. Please give me the same courtesy when I say I am not an open theist. I believe God is omniscient in that I believe God knows all that was, is, will be, could have been, could not have been, can be and can not be. If I have missed a category please let me know and I will consider it.
    I fully agree that God has prophesied about the future but this does not speak to what Brian contends.
    I believe the Calvinist teaching of a fully deterministic creation is wrong and when taken to its logical conclusion becomes heretical.

    I am willing to concede that God could have created in such a way that some of the future is undetermined. I have never said He did that.

    If you will reread my counter-example you will see that I did not call it a prophecy but a STATEMENT from scripture which is an example of one that does not “accurately reflects all of God’s statements.” This was addressing your comment that “He states…” The original comment I made was about contingent statements in the Bible not prophecy. The premise might address such statements.

    I am looking forward to you addressing the premise – that God can create in such a way that some of the future remains open/undefined/incomplete. If this contradicts scripture, please quote it. If it is illogical, please show the fallacy.
    If the premise is wrong, I suspect that it is somehow illogical in that it seems to speak of a contradiction. How do you speak of an open future? By that I mean can you draw any conclusions from what isn’t? Is this linguistically or philosophically analogous to dividing by zero?
    I don’t know.

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    1. Ernest,

      “I believe God is omniscient in that I believe God knows all that was, is, will be, could have been, could not have been, can be and can not be. If I have missed a category please let me know and I will consider it.”

      Nice to hear you affirm that God is omniscient here.

      “I fully agree that God has prophesied about the future but this does not speak to what Brian contends.”
      I wasn’t speaking about what “Brian contends”, I was speaking of the ordinary understanding of God foreknowing a future event (i.e. He says it will happen like this, because He knows the future exhaustively).

      “I believe the Calvinist teaching of a fully deterministic creation is wrong and when taken to its logical conclusion becomes heretical.”

      To take the three major categories from logic (i.e. the universal positive = always, the universal negative = never, and the particular = sometimes). The vast majority of Christians have rejected the claim that God never determines future events (because there are clear scriptures where he says he predetermines an event, the crucifixion being the best example) and the claim that God always determines every event (i.e. Calvinism). So the majority view has been that He determines some events and some events He does not determine.

      “I am willing to concede that God could have created in such a way that some of the future is undetermined. I have never said He did that.”

      This is the view of most believers, that he determined some of the future, some of it is not determined (i.e. it involves events that involve libertarian free will, freely made choices) at the same time He knows what all of these freely made choices will be before they occur (i.e. God is omniscient and has foreknowledge all future events).

      “If you will reread my counter-example you will see that I did not call it a prophecy but a STATEMENT from scripture which is an example of one that does not “accurately reflects all of God’s statements.” This was addressing your comment that “He states…” The original comment I made was about contingent statements in the Bible not prophecy. The premise might address such statements.”

      I already said that the Bible contains conditional elements, I will repeat it yet again:

      “Christians have known about the promises, conditional elements, contingent elements, and the prophecies in the Bible for centuries, none of this is new. What is new is the claim that God does not know what choices people will in fact make before they make these choices.”

      Note I say here that Christians have known about these conditional elements for centuries, this is no new insight or discovery.

      “I am looking forward to you addressing the premise – that God can create in such a way that some of the future remains open/undefined/incomplete.”

      It depends what you mean by the future “remaining open”? If you mean that people will freely make some choices and these choices are not determined by God, then the future certainly will have these kinds of events that comprise the future. And yet, and this is key, they are all known to God already. Put another way, the standard view of Christians is that both free will as ordinarily understood (existed in the past, exists now, and will exist in the future, that not all events are determined by God) AND that God is omniscient and knows what these future freely made choices will be before they occur.

      “How do you speak of an open future?”

      An open future is one which is not completely determined by God.

      To use the best example of how the future is open, God does not determine everything and God is omniscient: consider the example of our own sins. We will freely choose to sin in the future, these sins are not predetermined by God, they are freely chosen by us: and yet God knows what sins we will commit before we commit them. So God is omniscient regarding sin, yet he does not determine us to sin, our sins involve our freely made choices. If God determines everything then God would be determining our sin too. But He does not determine our sin, we freely choose to sin, which is why we are responsible for our own sin and are called to repent of our sin. If our sin was predetermined then we have no choice but to sin and it is odd for God to bring about our sin by determining it and THEN telling us to repent of the very sin that He determined for us to commit! Again most believers reject the claim that nothing is determined (that is atheism) and also the claim that everything is determined (that is Calvinism). Stay clear of these mistaken claims, and affirm that some things are determined and some things are not, and you will be biblical and will be fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Robert,
    Thank you for your response. When I speak of an undetermined future it seems to me that it must go beyond just the choices that men make but it must also extend to the events that will occur as a result of those choices. I think that God knows both. I believe all of God’s knowledge is foreknowledge. I think that some mistakenly link God’s knowledge with future events, arguing that events will happen because God knows or God knows because events will be. Perhaps both are wrong.
    Blessings

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    1. Ernest,

      “When I speak of an undetermined future it seems to me that it must go beyond just the choices that men make but it must also extend to the events that will occur as a result of those choices.”

      I emphasized freely made choices because it is these events that open theists deny is part of God’s omniscience. If you want to claim that an “undetermined future” includes other events that are not predetermined by God, that’s fine.

      “I think that God knows both.”

      Well again you appear to be affirming the ordinary understanding of God’s omniscience, that He knows everything, all possibilities, all actualities (whether they be past, present or future).

      “I believe all of God’s knowledge is foreknowledge.”

      This is an odd claim because “fore” means “before” (cf. the Greek word proginosko = know before). God’s knowledge of past events is not “fore” knowledge. It seems better to reserve **fore**knowledge to the reality that God knows events that will occur before they happen. Another problem I have with this is that as God is transcendent, beyond time and space, having created both, He does not exist in time as we do (contrary to the claims of open theists). Some have likened this to God being in an “eternal now” where everything is known to him at once, simultaneously, so “fore” knowledge is from our perspective since we are in time and experience past, present and future time frames.

      “I think that some mistakenly link God’s knowledge with future events, arguing that events will happen because God knows or God knows because events will be. Perhaps both are wrong.”

      The first is the calvinistic view in which God’s foreknowledge causes future events.

      The second is the view that God knows what future events will be because they will in fact occur as He knows they will occur (i.e. his belief about the future correspond correctly with what will in fact occur).

      This common conception of truth is known as the correspondence view in which a belief is true if it corresponds with reality (e.g. If I believe it is raining outside and if it is in fact raining outside then my belief corresponds correctly with the external reality that it is in fact raining, if it is not raining outside then by belief is false as it does not correspond properly with reality). Philosophers have correctly pointed out that in the correspondence view of truth, the true belief does not cause the true reality that it corresponds with, nor does the true reality cause the true belief. Rather the two have a LOGICAL and not a CAUSAL relation.

      To take another mundane example. If I believe that 2 + 2 = 4, my belief is a true belief and corresponds with the reality that 2 + 2 = 4 (but my belief does not cause the reality of 2 + 2 = 4, nor does the reality of 2 + 2 = 4 cause my belief, rather, my belief correctly corresponds with the reality, my belief has a LOGICAL relation with this reality).

      God’s knowledge corresponds perfectly with reality and has a logical not a causal relation with reality.

      So for example God knows what sin I will commit tomorrow (so his true belief about that sin corresponds with what will in fact occur tomorrow, but his true belief does not cause my sin, I cause my sin, and my committing that sin does not cause his true belief about my sin tomorrow).

      Calvinists and others sometimes forget this logical/causal relation distinction and so they will claim that (1) either God’s foreknowledge causes future events or (2) future events cause God to have the foreknowledge that He has of these events. Both of these claims are false because God’s knowledge does not have a causal relation with events but a logical relation with events.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robert,
        You wrote It seems better to reserve **fore**knowledge to the reality that God knows events that will occur before they happen. ”
        Well that would include all that God knows. There are no events that occur that God did not know before they occur. This is why I say all of God’s knowledge is foreknowledge.

        “Calvinists and others sometimes forget this logical/causal relation distinction and so they will claim that (1) either God’s foreknowledge causes future events or (2) future events cause God to have the foreknowledge that He has of these events. Both of these claims are false because God’s knowledge does not have a causal relation with events but a logical relation with events.”

        I agree to a point. I’m not sure its necessary to say that God’s knowledge has a logical relation with events. I think we can say “God knows” and just leave it there.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Robert wrote, “Calvinists and others sometimes forget this logical/causal relation distinction and so they will claim that (1) either God’s foreknowledge causes future events or (2) future events cause God to have the foreknowledge that He has of these events. Both of these claims are false because God’s knowledge does not have a causal relation with events but a logical relation with events.”

        Ernest responded, “I agree to a point.”

        1. Calvinists do not claim that God’s foreknowledge causes future events. Calvinists say that future events result from God’s decrees. That which God decrees, then becomes part of His knowledge.

        2. Calvinists do not say that future events cause God to have the foreknowledge that He has of these events. Calvinists say that future events result from God’s decrees. That which God decrees, then becomes part of His knowledge.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Calvinists such as Piper argue that God knows all things because He decrees all things. This is false and has no scriptural support. God omniscience is not dependent on any of His other attributes. The Bible affirms that God knows all things. It does not say He decrees all things. This is an invention of the WCF,

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    1. Ernest writes, “Calvinists such as Piper argue that God knows all things because He decrees all things…The Bible affirms that God knows all things. It does not say He decrees all things.”

      If God decrees X then God must know that He will do X. You aren’t denying that are you? If God decrees the creation of the universe, then certainly, God then knows that He will create the universe.

      The issue is whether God decrees all things and then, how can God know the future other than by decreeing that future. How do you explain God’s knowledge of the future?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. God knows the future equally and in the same way that He knows the past and the present because he is omniscient. His knowledge comes from what true. From His perspective, the future is as true as the past. Truth is what all knowledge is based on. His knowledge precedes any decrees. All that He decrees is based on His knowledge. Much of Calvinism is based on their errors of chronology.

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      2. Ernest Strauss writes, “All that He decrees is based on His knowledge. ”

        You still are unable to explain where God’s knowledge of the future comes from. Can we assume that you consider that a mystery?

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      3. RHutchins
        You wrote //You still are unable to explain where God’s knowledge of the future comes from.//

        It seems that you are assuming that God’s knowledge comes from something/someone/some process that is external to God. That would imply that God learns and is therefore fallacious making your accusation nonsensical. There is no explanation required to “explain where God’s knowledge comes from” because it does not. God is omniscient. He does not need a source of His knowledge. He does not need to decree in order to know. That is another Calvinistic teaching that has clouded your understanding of God. I suggest you give up on all the inconsistencies and errors that this theistic determinative system brings with it. It distorts almost every aspect of God that scripture teaches.

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      4. Ernest Strauss writes, “It seems that you are assuming that God’s knowledge comes from something/someone/some process that is external to God.”

        I think we both agree that God’s omniscience comes from within Himself. I say it results from His decrees – God knows what He will do. Your position seems to be that the source of God’s omniscience is a mystery given what you say in your comment.

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      5. RHutchin writes
        //God knows what He will do. Your position seems to be that the source of God’s omniscience is a mystery given what you say in your comment//
        No, what I said is there is no source for His knowledge. Omniscience is one of His attributes. Yes, God does know what He will do. I think you are beginning to understand. He does not decree what He does not know but He decrees what He knows. See how foolish Calvinism is. To say He decrees before He knows limits His omniscience.

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      6. Ernest Strauss writes, “No, what I said is there is no source for His knowledge.”

        In other words, It’s a mystery because Ernest doesn’t know the source of God’s knowledge.

        Then, “Yes, God does know what He will do.”

        If God knows that He will do X, then necessarily, God has decreed to do X. So does God know what He will do before He decides what He will do OR does God know what He will do because He has decided what He will do? Ernest advocates the former; I advocate the latter.

        Then, “To say He decrees before He knows limits His omniscience.”

        It limits God’s knowledge to God’s knowledge of His decrees. So, what knowledge of an X does God have where He has not decreed X?

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      7. Nice try RHuthin,
        But God does know before He decrees – To say that God does not know what He decrees is nonsense.
        God is the agent of what He knows. He does not need a source. That’s what it means to be God. There is nothing mysterious about it.