Interesting Comments From John MacArthur on the Nature of Prevenient Grace and the Ordo Salutis

When a notable scholar of the Calvinistic framework denies the concept of pre-faith regeneration other Calvinists should at least pause and reconsider their own view of the subject. Dr. MacArthur is not biased against the claims of Calvinism, yet he recognizes (as did Spurgeon) that their is simply no biblical support for this resurging perspective.

Arminian Perspectives

A Concise Description of Prevenient Grace From a Surprising Source (spoiler: It’s John MacArthur)

Excerpt:

I don’t think…particularly I don’t think that regeneration precedes anything except the fruit of regeneration which is a righteous life. I do not think that regeneration precedes saving faith.

Now I know that that’s becoming a…that’s a strongly Calvinistic…I shouldn’t even say Calvinistic, it’s a bit of a hard line Calvinistic viewpoint, I’m hearing it quite a bit nowadays. I had a two and a half hour discussion last week with a man who tried to convince me that regeneration occurs first and after you’re regenerate, then you can believe. So I said to him, “Show me the verse….just show it to me.” Well, he wanted to argue logic but he couldn’t find a verse. I do not find anywhere in the Scripture that the Bible says you will be saved and somewhere along…

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223 thoughts on “Interesting Comments From John MacArthur on the Nature of Prevenient Grace and the Ordo Salutis

  1. As Paul writes, in 2 Thessalonians 3, “pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.” Those who do not have faith are wicked and evil men whom we can call unsaved. Then in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul writes, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

    So one person to whom the gospel is foolishness and is unsaved and having no faith changes to called by God and being saved where the gospel is now the power of God. Somewhere between the two, regeneration and faith appear. At the least, regeneration and faith seem to appear at about the same time regardless which comes first.

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    1. As per 2 Thessalonians 3, yes those who are not believers are not saved. How is this relevant? No Arminian denies this.

      As per 1 Corinthians 1, “To those who are perishing”. Those are unbelievers. This is contrasted with those “who are being saved.” Who are those who are being saved? Believers. This is obvious and is made explicit in 1 Cor 1:21. So why are some being saved and some perishing? Because of faith or unbelief. Those who remain in unbelief are those who reject the message of the cross. For them it is foolishness. But if they were to accept the message of the cross, they would then be believers and would transition from those who are perishing in their rejection of the message of the cross to those who are “those who believe” (1:21) who are “being saved” as a result.

      In 2 Cor. 3, Paul uses a similar way of describing the Jew’s ignorance of who Christ is (compare 2 Cor. 3:14 with 1 Cor. 1:23). He describes this ignorance as the result of a “veil” over their eyes that prevents them from understanding this important reality about Jesus In 1 Cor. 3:16 Paul explains the remedy to the problem. How is this veil removed? For the Calvinist, the answer should be that irresistible regeneration is what removes the veil so one can see who Christ truly is and turn to Him as a result. But Paul describes it differently. The veil being removed is the result of turning to the Lord in faith, not faith the result of the veil being removed,

      “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

      There is also a lot of confusion about what “called” refers to being read into your reading of these passages. Being “called” has reference to being named as belonging to God and His covenant people (who bear His name). It is to be understood in the naming/designation sense rather than the summoning sense. That is why Paul asks them to remember their circumstances when they were “called” (vs. 26). Called here means designated as belonging to God. It is a reference to their conversion when they became a part of God’s covenant people through faith. It is not referring to a summons. What sense would it make to say “remember when you were summoned”. One would have to add “and responded to that summons in faith”.

      This is typical of Paul. He often refers to believers as “called” or “the called.” This is never a label given to unbelievers in Paul. And in Romans 9 Paul uses this same word to specifically refer to God’s designation of Isaac as the child of promise and His descendants as a result. “It is through Isaac that your seed will be called” (reckoned/designated/named). This same concept is crystal clear in Rom. 9:24-26,

      What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—
      even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
      As he says in Hosea:
      “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
      and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
      and,
      “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
      ‘You are not my people,’
      they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”

      This is also how Paul uses the word in Rom. 8:28 and 30. Those who “love Him” are “called” (named/designated) “according to His purpose” (His purpose to designate all believers as belonging to Him as members of His chosen covenant people, and to bear His name as a result) which leads into verses 29-30 which describe the fact that God “foreknew”, i.e., formally acknowledged them (believers/those who love Him) as His covenant people and “called” (named) them His people as a result (verse 30).

      And this is of primary concern in Romans 9 where the question is largely a matter of what ultimately marks out people as belonging to God? Is it a matter of Jewish ethnicity and covenant markers (like circumcision and law keeping), or is it a matter of faith in God’s chosen Head of the new covenant (without regards to ethnicity, etc.), Who, by God’s free and sovereign choice, supersedes those who were likewise chosen as the Heads of the old covenant that Christ now fulfills (cf. Gal. 3:6-4:7, 28-31). For this reason, the Gentiles are being accepted as God’s people through faith while many of the Jews are now being rejected because they have rejected God’s chosen Head who alone can make them righteous/accepted in God’s eyes (Rom. 9:30-10:13, cf. Gal. 5:1-6)

      Seeing “called/calling” in the naming sense takes away the Calvinist idea that “calling” is synonymous with an irresistible summoning for the elect (often equated with a pre-faith regeneration) and an ineffective “general” call for everyone else. Since naming fits the context and language better when Paul uses it in reference to believers, this should be the default interpretation with seeing it as a “summons” only when context demands it. And as we noted before, even where the Bible does use “called” as a “summons”, like in the parable of the wedding banquet, it still does not fit the Calvinist narrative.

      You write: So one person to whom the gospel is foolishness and is unsaved and having no faith changes to called by God and being saved where the gospel is now the power of God. Somewhere between the two, regeneration and faith appear. At the least, regeneration and faith seem to appear at about the same time regardless which comes first.

      This is correct. Faith and regeneration do happen at the same time and being “called” does as well since being called is a reference to conversion when someone is named as belonging to God as a member of His covenant people at the moment when faith in Christ is exercised. But which comes (logically) first still has huge ramifications for both theological views, and the Arminian view enjoys the support of Scripture, while the Calvinist view does not.

      For more on calling as “naming” see the following articles:

      http://evangelicalarminians.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Abasciano-on-calling.pdf

      http://evangelicalarminians.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Klein.-Pauls-Use-of-Kalein.pdf

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    2. The simple answer to where regeneration appears is found in Acts 2:37-38. After you believe and repent, God forgives your sin and regenerates you with the Holy Spirit.

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      1. Acts 2
        37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
        38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

        Elsewhere, we read:

        Ephesians 1
        13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

        2 Corinthinas 5
        1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands….
        5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

        So, we see that the Holy Spirit is given to God’s elect as they come to believe and is the guarantee of salvation. That is not what concerns the issue of regeneration. Regeneration concerns the work of the Holy Spirit on the unsaved prior to belief and prior to being given to the believer after they believe.

        Regeneration is in view in John 3
        3 …Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
        5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

        Here one must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven where we know that entry into the kingdom of heaven is by faith (or believing). Being born again (i.e., regenerated) allows a person to see the kingdom of heaven and in seeing, he is able to believe and thereby, enter the kingdom of heaven.

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  2. Paul writes: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Col. 2:13 ESV). The phrase “having forgiven” is an action that precedes the phrase “God made alive,” or regenerated, the individual “together with him,” that is, Christ. Since we are forgiven of our sins by faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:7; cf. also Rom. 3:24, 25, 26), and this forgiveness precedes regeneration, then faith precedes regeneration. The matter is quite simply exegetically.

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    1. I’m not sure that really proves order. Sure the having forgiven is past tense, and the being made alive together is also past tense, but the verse doesn’t really imply anything about them in relation to each other. It could easily be read as happening all at once. The clearest proof for faith before regeneration I’ve found is Romans 4: Abraham believed while still ungodly. No one would say that an ungodly person is a regenerated person.

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  3. Actually, “He made you alive” is aorist active indicative, and the aorist tense does not necessarily indicate time; whereas the aorist middle deponent participle “having forgiven” grants us a time sequence by nature of the participle itself. If you care to read further: <a href="http://evangelicalarminians.org/on-the-ordo-salutis-and-colossians-2-13-as-presented-by-brian-n-daniels/"link.

    I do agree with you about Romans 4, though!

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    1. Thanks for the link. I especially noted this; We must also take note that, as Wallace says, “if the main verb is also aorist, this participle may indicate contemporaneous time.”6 And indeed, sunezōopoiēsen is aorist.

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    2. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath [God] quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

      By what means had God forgiven the sins of the believers – God blotted out the law by nailing it to the cross, thereby the law can no longer condemn them. Christ’s death on the cross makes salvation possible as Christ’s death deals with our sins. Having dealt with sin, God then proceeds to give life to His elect in the course of time.

      “…having forgiven…” refers to those actions God took to forgive believers of their sin and not any action required of believers to appropriate that forgiveness.

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      1. So, when the apostles told a man what he must “do” to be saved/regenerated/forgiven of his sins — believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) — were they wrong?

        You just wrote that there is “no action required of believers to appropriate that forgiveness.” Did you mean to write “of believers,” or did you mean to write “of the unconditionally elect”? The difference is paramount.

        If we are saved and thus regenerated by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, as Scripture teaches (Eph. 3:5, 8), then both grace and faith precede salvation and thus regeneration.

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      2. William Birch writes, “So, when the apostles told a man what he must “do” to be saved/regenerated/forgiven of his sins — believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) — were they wrong? ”

        Obviously, we both accept that the Scriptures tell us truth. What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” There is a need to overcome this mindset of unsaved man. How does the gospel go from being foolishness to those perishing (the unsaved) to “the power of God” to believers. Even Arminians recognize the hand of God in this through prevenient grace.

        “You just wrote that there is “no action required of believers to appropriate that forgiveness.” Did you mean to write “of believers,” or did you mean to write “of the unconditionally elect”? The difference is paramount.”

        Colossians 2 does not speak to the issue of action required by believers (who are God’s elect; unconditionally elect); Colossians describes that which God has done with regard to sin and forgiveness. God dealt with the issue of sin and forgiveness on the cross – to which the believer then responds on being enabled to hear the gospel – and not consider it foolishness.

        “If we are saved and thus regenerated by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, as Scripture teaches (Eph. 3:5, 8), then both grace and faith precede salvation and thus regeneration.”

        The issue is what we call the transformation/change in the unsaved from one who regards the gospel to be foolishness and one who responds in repentance and faith. Or how does prevenient grace affect the unsaved such that they are able to respond positively to the gospel?

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      3. RHUTCHIN writes: “There is a need to overcome this mindset of unsaved man. How does the gospel go from being foolishness to those perishing (the unsaved) to ‘the power of God’ to believers. Even Arminians recognize the hand of God in this through prevenient grace.”

        Yes, “even Arminians” recognize the hand of God by the grace of the Holy Spirit in prevenient grace aiding one to believe. That is not the question. The question is which precedes which: regeneration or faith?

        “Colossians 2 does not speak to the issue of action required by believers (who are God’s elect; unconditionally elect.” Yet other passages do. We cannot isolate one text, expecting to find all pertinent components of our theology within, and ignore other texts. Whom has God elected to save? Paul emphatically states: those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21). How does one believe? By the gracious activity of God through through the Holy Spirit by means of the Gospel of Christ.

        “Colossians describes that which God has done with regard to sin and forgiveness. God dealt with the issue of sin and forgiveness on the cross — to which the believer then responds on being enabled to hear the gospel — and not consider it foolishness.”

        I actually agree with this statement, with this qualifier: “to which the PERSON then responds with faith, being enabled to hear the gospel and not consider it foolishness.” We cannot state, “to which the believer then responds,” because the person is not a believer until he or she responds with faith in Christ.

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      4. William Birch writes, “Yes, “even Arminians” recognize the hand of God by the grace of the Holy Spirit in prevenient grace aiding one to believe. That is not the question. The question is which precedes which: regeneration or faith?…How does one believe? By the gracious activity of God through the Holy Spirit by means of the Gospel of Christ.”

        The question is “What action does the Holy Spirit do to aid one to believe – can we label that aid as regeneration? If it can be called “regeneration” then regeneration precedes faith.

        I wrote “Colossians 2 does not speak to the issue of action required by believers (who are God’s elect; unconditionally elect.” William Birch responded Yet other passages do. We cannot isolate one text, expecting to find all pertinent components of our theology within, and ignore other texts.’

        Agreed. Colossians deals with God’s actions regarding forgiveness. It does not address the response of a person to the gospel.

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      5. William birch writes, “Whom has God elected to save? Paul emphatically states: those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21). How does one believe? By the gracious activity of God through through the Holy Spirit by means of the Gospel of Christ.”

        An interesting verse, “…in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

        We have the progression from “belief” to “hearing the gospel preached” to “faith” to “salvation.” There seems to be a separation of “belief” from “faith” with belief preceding salvation.

        Your statement – “How does one believe? By the gracious activity of God through through the Holy Spirit by means of the Gospel of Christ,” does not reflect this verse. You should have written, “How is one saved? By the gracious activity of God through the Holy Spirit working on those who believe by means of the Gospel of Christ.” The verse seems to assume that one believes and then says that God saves such people through the preaching of the gospel.

        So, your question – How does one believe? – is not answered by this verse. Context tells us that those who believe are contrasted with those who consider the preaching of the gospel to be foolishness.

        No one would deny the hand of God in bringing a person to belief as well as bringing a person to faith.

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      6. RHUTCHIN writes: “The question is ‘What action does the Holy Spirit do to aid one to believe — can we label that aid as regeneration?’ If it can be called ‘regeneration’ then regeneration precedes faith.”

        That’s a big IF — meaning, you have not supplied one text actually stating we are permitted to refer to the Spirit’s action as “regeneration,” while the contrary position has been briefly proof-texted here. Again, if grace and faith are conditional aspects to God’s salvation, than both grace and faith precede salvation and thus regeneration.

        “Colossians deals with God’s actions regarding forgiveness. It does not address the response of a person to the gospel.”

        Actually, it does implicitly, and I’m surprised you keep missing and denying it. No one, not within the context of the New Testament, is forgiven of sins apart from faith in Jesus Christ. If you suggest otherwise, then you have abandoned the gospel.

        Again, the construction, briefly stated: Being dead in sins, God made you alive, having forgiven us. We cannot simply ignore the participle “having” related to forgiveness as if it is meaningless. The apostle could have written, “Being dead in sins, God made you alive, and forgave you all your sins.” He did not. Words have meaning and inform our theology. Having forgiven us our sins, He made us alive, us being dead in our sins. Again, if you suggest that God forgives people of their sins apart from faith in Christ then you have adopted another Gospel. Faith precedes forgiveness of sins. Grace and faith, then, precede salvation and regeneration.

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      7. Your parsing faith from belief is entirely unwarranted, as though the two are *not* synonymous. You have philosophized your way into an unsubstantiated doctrine. I know: I used to be a Calvinist and had to do the same thing. You keep alluding to the state of Total Depravity, to which all classical Arminians subscribe, and force that truth into a philosophical doctrine that regeneration must precede faith without any exegetical basis whatsoever.

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      8. William Birch writes, ‘Your parsing faith from belief is entirely unwarranted,…”

        As you said earlier, “…those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21). How does one believe? By the gracious activity of God through through the Holy Spirit by means of the Gospel of Christ.” A person hears the gospel preached and believes – thereby, we say he is saved. Not that God saves a person on the condition that they believe – separating belief in Christ from salvation – but that those believing are the ones God is saving.

        Two people hear the gospel preached; one believes and the other does not. What’s the difference? If a person is thinking rationally, hearing the gospel will result in belief. How then does one person not believe – he is still thinking irrationally meaning that he is still wrapped up in his depravity. The person who believes does so by the grace of God – a grace extended only to His elect.

        However, this verse says nothing about election. At least I did not see it. Nonetheless, a reasonable conclusion is that God’s hand is in this, explaining why one person comes to believe where none believed before and all others continue in unbelief. God elects whom He will bring to belief through the preaching of the gospel. Thus, election precedes the person’s believing because nothing else explains how it is that one person believes while all others do not.

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      9. What Leighton’s post on MacArthur is supposed to show you is that you do not have to adopt the ill-proven philosophy that regeneration must precede faith in order to be a Calvinist.

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      10. William Birch writes, “What Leighton’s post on MacArthur is supposed to show you is that you do not have to adopt the ill-proven philosophy that regeneration must precede faith in order to be a Calvinist.”

        The cited explanation by MacArthur is from 1987. Over the years, his perspective has changed. He addresses the doctrine of regeneration differently in 2005: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-297/The-Doctrine-of-Regeneration-Part-1

        We know that no one understands everything all at once from the point in time when God saves us. The Scriptures are understood over time as one reads and studies. We can jump start our study by reading Calvin, Edwards, Owens, Sproul and others but even then there is a gap between reading the arguments of others and understanding those arguments.

        So, what Leighton’s post on MacArthur is supposed to show us is that a person can be a believer but not understand fully all that has happened to bring them to belief. One solidifies his understanding of the Scriptures over time through personal study and discovers that he has come to embrace those things taught in Calvinism, Arminianism, etc. and thereby identifies as a Calvinist, Arminian, etc. As the regeneration faith relationship can be difficult to understand – the Scriptures not seeming to be that concerned with it – we should not be surprised that a man of MacArthur’s reputation starts out with one conclusion and comes to a different conclusion over time as he spends more time reading and studying the Scriptures.

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  4. Two other verses that I think say faith preceeds regeneration:
    Ephesians 1:12-13 KJV
    That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] In whom ye also trusted , after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

    Romans 6:17-18 KJV
    But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. [18] Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

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  5. What convinced me that faith leads to regeneration was my reading of John’s gospel (1:12-13) which states:

    “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (ESV)

    I also think that the conversation with Nicodemus has been long misinterpreted by Calvinists (John 3:1-15). Most interpretations stop short at verse 8: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with evereyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    I take that to mean that we see the effects of those who are born of God (i.e. fruit or true faith), which the Pharisees did not prove to be (c.f. verse 11 “you [plural] do not receiver our testimony). Then Jesus (or John) goes on to say in verse 16 that belief in the Son of God leads to eternal life, which in these first chapters seems to be closely associated with becoming a child of God.

    More thoughts here: https://thegraceapparatus.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/the-heart-of-r-c-sprouls-reformed-theology/

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  6. Rhutchin, you are correct to point out that link to 2005 and JM’s teaching on regeneration. Specifically he says in 2005:

    “Now to cut to the very important bottom line, if you will, this idea of regeneration or being born again or new birth is unmistakably presented in the Scripture as the first divine act in salvation. It is primary, theologians say, in what they call the ordo salutis, the order of salvation. It is the first thing God does to save us. The only feature that comes before regeneration is election, and that was in eternity past before the foundation of the world. In time, in life, in reality the first thing God does when He sets to save His elect is to regenerate them. God calls the elect to Himself, we saw this last Sunday night, with an unyielding summons. Maybe the best thing to call it is power grace…power grace draws the sinner. John 6:44, Jesus said, “No man comes unto Me except the Father draw him,” that’s the effectual call, that’s the irresistible grace. Or I like it better, that’s the power grace, that’s the unyielding summons, that’s the divine subpoena. And all whom the Father calls come…as we saw in our study.”

    Big oops for using JM as a proponent of faith preceding regeneration.

    Blessings brother. SDG!

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    1. Les Prouty spends most of his time defending his cherished Calvinism on Baptist sites (when he is a Presbyterian who has renounced Baptist beliefs for the erroneous beliefs of Presbyterians, including covenant theology and infant baptism). Prouty is an evangelist for Calvinism. I find it interesting that he is so quick to cite MacArthur here. Let’s assume that is now MacArthur’s current position. We need to keep in mind his earlier comments, that were also cited by Leighton:

      “Now I know that that’s becoming a…that’s a strongly Calvinistic…I shouldn’t even say Calvinistic, it’s a bit of a hard line Calvinistic viewpoint, I’m hearing it quite a bit nowadays. I had a two and a half hour discussion last week with a man who tried to convince me that regeneration occurs first and after you’re regenerate, then you can believe. So I said to him, “Show me the verse….just show it to me.” Well, he wanted to argue logic but he couldn’t find a verse. I do not find anywhere in the Scripture that the Bible says you will be saved and somewhere along…”

      If THAT is what MacArthur held to before, he was right in the past, but has now changed his view.

      And consider what he says here, he says the regeneration precedes faith is “a hard line Calvinistic viewpoint”. so apparently he has become a “hard line” Calvinist. 🙂 But more importantly consider his argument against this view:

      the Bible does not teach it.

      He says he argued with someone for two and a half hours on this one issue and his main argument against the person, was show me in scripture where it teaches that. The other person could not do so. And Calvinists cannot do so today.

      Those who desire to be Biblicists (i.e. only hold to what the Bible explicitly teaches will never adopt the regeneration precedes faith position). The fact that MacArthur may have changed his view is due not to exegesis but to him being more committed to the calvinistic system then he used to be. someone like Prouty who is fully committed to the Calvinistic system has no problem holding to regeneration preceding faith. But as MacArthur said before, show me in the Bible where it says that. It cannot be done, it is not there. I have seen the proof texts people like Prouty will use, but none of them even gets close. And as some commentators have already pointed out in this thread, if you do proper exegesis of the text you find faith preceding regeneration and THAT can be shown and has been shown in this thread.

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      1. Hi Robert,

        “spends most of his time defending his cherished Calvinism on Baptist sites (when he is a Presbyterian who has renounced Baptist beliefs for the erroneous beliefs of Presbyterians, including covenant theology and infant baptism). Prouty is an evangelist for Calvinism.”

        Well I do after all hold to the Reformed faith and it is good news to those who do not, if they will but see it. As to my “erroneous beliefs of Presbyterians, including covenant theology and infant baptism, not so Robert. I came out of my previous erroneous beliefs in Congregationalism, including dispensationalism and credo only immersion. I’ve been set free brother!!

        “someone like Prouty who is fully committed to the Calvinistic system has no problem holding to regeneration preceding faith.” Right you are Robert.

        When one calls another to his side and defense of one’s position, one should be certain that said other person actually holds the position one is calling him to as a defense. In this case, no cigar.

        Blessings brother.

        SDG!!

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  7. Appreciate the rich content you provide on your website on soteriology. I have never been a Calvinist, because I always felt there was something not quite right about it, however I also felt that the classical Arminian position is silly as well. Even with my reservations about Calvinism, my friend tried hard to convince me of it, and almost became one, because I felt this is the only way to interpret scripture. I didn’t realize that often times I have been listening to strawmen from Calvinist brothers on what they said, the corporate view was, and was almost going to write it off. I really appreciate you breaking down the corporte view on a different post, and I even talked to a Calvinist and he is considering the view seriously. I now can engage with a Calvinist in brotherly love, the alternative view (corporate view) with enough confidence. I’m still learning to overcome certain objections Calvinist raise (iron sharpening iron).

    I often find myself listening to your podcast while I am doing some coding work on my computer. Thanks for everything, and look forward to future podcast.

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  8. Les Prouty wrote:

    “Well I do after all hold to the Reformed faith and it is good news to those who do not, if they will but see it.”

    The Reformed faith is not good news, and this is known to the majority of believers who reject it.
    It was not good news to the Anabaptists nor to others who have been persecuted by those who hold to the Reformed faith.

    It is especially not good news to nonbelievers who according to this false ideology, never had a chance to be saved, were chosen for eternal damnation by a god who hated them from eternity, during their brief lives here and for eternity after they die.

    “if they will but see it” sounds like a gnostic cult where only the privileged few are allowed to know the truth: this is opposite to the God of the Bible who desires for all to know the truth and be saved.

    “As to my “erroneous beliefs of Presbyterians, including covenant theology and infant baptism, not so Robert. I came out of my previous erroneous beliefs in Congregationalism, including dispensationalism and credo only immersion. I’ve been set free brother!!”

    You are a person who once held the truth and has openly rejected it, that is why I do not trust you nor the things that you post.

    You have not been set free from error but are now enslaved by a false theology.

    What’s worse is that you now exult in holding error.

    “When one calls another to his side and defense of one’s position, one should be certain that said other person actually holds the position one is calling him to as a defense. In this case, no cigar.”

    The quotation of MacArthur cited by Leighton makes a very valid point which you ignore, because you cannot handle it, if we examine the Bible as MacArthur said to the person who tried to argue your position with him for 2 ½ hours: we won’t’ see it. One can only hold this false idea if one is committed to a system of theology more than scripture. If MacArthur has become more committed to the Calvinistic system (which I believe that he has) then this is not a good thing, it is a departure from the truth that he once held (i.e. if we go by the Bible we reject this idea as it is not found in the Bible, it can only be read into the Bible by those committed to the system of Calvinism).

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    1. Robert,

      “The Reformed faith is not good news, and this is known to the majority of believers who reject it.” Of course those who willfully reject the truths of the Reformed faith think it’s not good news.

      “It was not good news to the Anabaptists nor to others who have been persecuted by those who hold to the Reformed faith.”

      Non Reformed views are not good news for those who are bound up under that erroneous teaching. I’m thinking of all the followers of [insert any prosperity gospel preacher name here].

      “It is especially not good news to nonbelievers who according to this false ideology, never had a chance to be saved, were chosen for eternal damnation by a god who hated them from eternity, during their brief lives here and for eternity after they die.”

      No, my brother, it is good news for any who will repent and believe in Jesus. “never had a chance to be saved.” You mean like people who never hear the gospel under the non Reformed system? Your erroneous belief system has God creating people He knows full well will never hear about Jesus.

      “You are a person who once held the truth and has openly rejected it, that is why I do not trust you nor the things that you post.” You are a person who apparently has never held to the truth and “that is why I do not trust you nor the things that you post.”

      “You have not been set free from error but are now enslaved by a false theology.” No my brother, you are the one “enslaved by a false theology.”

      “What’s worse is that you now exult in holding error.” No I exult in God that I hold to the truth now. I wish the same for you.

      “One can only hold this false idea if one is committed to a system of theology more than scripture.” That’s how I feel about your views Robert. You seem more committed to a man centered system than to scripture.

      SDG!!

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    2. Now, Robert, you say – “erroneous beliefs of Presbyterians, including covenant theology and infant baptism” And then you say about Les – “…that is why I do not trust you nor the things that you post. You have not been set free from error but are now enslaved by a false theology. What’s worse is that you now exult in holding error.”

      You are forgetting Robert, I think, that Les belongs to a major part of your view of “orthodoxy” that holds to the truths that really matter in your eyes, and that you don’t think he would not be disqualified in God’s eyes from being a pastor based just on the “false theology” you accuse him of holding! You really should speak more kindly to Les about things that you might disagree about, but that really don’t make that much difference concerning the gospel or qualification for leadership in your view!

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      1. Brian,

        Thank you for this comment to Robert. Just if is not so clear, I have responded to Robert using his very words he wrote to and about me back to him. I have done that to make a point. Robert has a habit of speaking harshly and unkindly, especially to me. For some reason Robert loves to point out that I have “erroneous beliefs of Presbyterians, including covenant theology and infant baptism” Why that matters so much to him I may never know. It almost seems to be done in a manner so as to disparage me.

        Robert seems to have no problem (as he has stated before) being friends with and engaging in friendly conversations with others who have similar views as mine. But pounce he does when I comment. Now I’ve been around the block a few times in my 58 years and over 30 years as one who holds to the Reformed faith. So Robert’s harshness doesn’t hurt me at all. It just remains curious, especially since we hold to much more that we agree on than we disagree.

        Oh well.

        SDG!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Brian,

        Just a reminder. Here is a quote from Robert with Michael, who also held to Covenant Theology, back in June….

        “That all sounds very good: and no I will not claim that you are disqualified from being an elder simply because you do not hold to believer baptism. It occurred to me that there is something very ironic going on here. From reading your posts it appears to be that we are opposites on some of our theological beliefs (me – believer baptism, you –paedobaptism; me- premillennial, you – amillennial) and yet we agree on omniscience and we agree on the essentials (e.g. the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the Bible as the Word of God, etc.). We also have no problem getting along and interacting! We may disagree on some things and yet we can respect each other convinced in our own beliefs. And we don’t play games with each other, there is no subtlety present to hide or mask our views. We can be very open about both what we believe as well as what we do not believe. And this seems to me to be exactly how it ought to be with genuine believers. From what you have said I would have no hesitation in working together with you in the prisons to lead people to Christ.”

        I’m sure Les holds to the essentials of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the Bible as the word of God, etc…etc…

        However, Robert seems to struggle to “get along and interact” with Les and yourself (or anyone else who might ruffle his feathers). If one didn’t know better, it would seem Robert’s only intent is to cause division and chaos between brothers in Christ.

        But, then again, maybe the problem is with everyone else, since we don’t stroke his ego like Michael did.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Phillip writes, “I’m sure Les holds to the essentials of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the Bible as the word of God, etc…etc…”

        I kinda think most of us agree on 90 percent of doctrine (maybe less). Comments tend to get down to technical issues that most people don’t want to spend the brain power to sort through.

        I read Arthur Pink and A. W. Tozer who both wrote through the first half of the 20th century – 1920-1950 or so. They both lament the spiritual deficiency of the ordinary church goer. I think Robert can be a little hard to take at times but I find some of his arguments thought provoking and compared to discussions with atheists, he is a softie. The major problem I have with Robert and some others is the proclivity to write many words expressing little of substance. I prefer short and to the point comments so as not to waste the time – an increasingly precious commodity – that each of us must spend to participate here.

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      4. We nice old guys have to help each other out Les, even though we disagree about what the Scriptures teach about election and other related doctrines! 🙂

        I am 60, was trained under a number of reformed professors, but confirmed in my non-sacramental theology after serving in the gospel in Ireland for a dozen years and after further grad work in Christian History and Theology.

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      5. Brian,

        “We nice old guys have to help each other out Les, even though we disagree about what the Scriptures teach about election and other related doctrines!”

        Agreed brother. I need all the help I can get.

        Rhutchin, agreed also. We all probably agree on way more than disagree. It just sees that the areas where some of us disagree tend to be the hottest areas and lead to some of the hot comments that happen here and other sites.

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      6. I hope we agree on more than we disagree, especially in areas of the practical outworking of our testimony for Christ. But it’s not that I don’t think some doctrines on which we disagree are unimportant. Some, in my view are disqualifiers for pastoral qualification, which shows how important I think they are.

        But none of them part of defining what’s necessary to believe to be recognized as a brother (at least I hope not 🙂 )! And much is in the category where Scripture is unclear so that each of those ideas must be held as doubtful matters (Rom 14:1) until Jesus returns and answers all our questions, showing the rest of you that I had guessed right on most of those matters! 🙂

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      7. Roger (Rhutchin) writes….

        “The major problem I have with Robert and some others is the proclivity to write many words expressing little of substance.”

        True, but it is more than that. It’s not just Robert’s lengthy sermons, but his language and tone.

        Gas bag (defined) – wind bag, pompous, talkative, bloviator. One who bloviates – constantly talking, often in a longwinded pompous manner. Many of these folks like the sound of their own voice – often unaware of those around them who are often laughing at them behind their backs. These folks are often very vain and conceited – impressed by their own self importance.

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      8. Brian,

        “But it’s not that I don’t think some doctrines on which we disagree are unimportant. ” I have the same posture.

        “Some, in my view are disqualifiers for pastoral qualification, which shows how important I think they are.” And here we may or may not agree on which of these are disqualifiers.

        “And much is in the category where Scripture is unclear so that each of those ideas must be held as doubtful matters (Rom 14:1) until Jesus returns and answers all our questions, showing the rest of you that I had guessed right on most of those matters!’

        And many of the things that are doubtful matters, we may or may not agree on. While I don’t think that immersion vs sprinkling (or pouring) are of the “doubtful matters,” I do think too much can be made by both sides over the mode water applied to people in the ordinance or sacrament of baptism. To be sure there are aspects to baptism which are essential, but dunking or pouring? I don’t think that falls into the category of absolute one way or the other. But that’s a topic for another day.

        You may enjoy this excerpt from The Calvinist International (surprised that I read that?) and I encourage all here to click over and read the whole thing. But this excerpt is good to point out one way we should interact on these hard matters.

        “Whatever positive answers we come up with to understand election and suffering, we must hold the answers gently and know that we only know in part. Our intuitions break down precisely because the world which we attempt to process and the God compared to whom it is all but a drop in the bucket are not easily grasped by these intuitions – even if they do not, as such, violate them. There are similar breakdowns in our intuitions about the nature of the physical universe once we get beyond the level at which we interact with the world. When the frame of reference is shifted, the fabric of the physical universe can be very counter-intuitive (even if it does not, again, violate a sort of factical three-dimensions of our experiential interaction).”
        https://calvinistinternational.com/2015/10/14/election-and-the-goodness-of-god-a-reply-to-roger-olson/

        SDG!

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      9. Hi Les, I am not sure that article is using the word “intuitions” the way I would normally use it. I would also disagree that “the world… and… God… are not easily grasped” in our understanding. Though not fully grasped, revelation about this world and God is truly apprehended and apprehendable.

        I am also wondering what he/she is getting at with “breakdowns… once we get beyond…” It appears to be discounting the value and certainty of truth that came only through divine revelation in Scripture. I will have to read the whole article, but so far, I am not impressed. 😉

        Actually my dissertation was on a related subject – “Differentiation in the Perspicuity of Scripture and its Effect on the Application of Scripture’s Authority.” Doctrines can be categorized based on the objective clarity of Scripture even though there is much that is objectively unclear, which must not be used in any authoritative application because of that lack of objective clarity.

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      10. Brian,

        “I will have to read the whole article, but so far, I am not impressed.”

        I do recommend that you read the whole thing for context. I can tell you that he is very far away from “discounting the value and certainty of truth that came only through divine revelation in Scripture.”

        SDG!

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      11. Hi Les, I would be interested in your opinion of that article. It seems to me to be an attempt to defend the undefendable in Calvinism by a clever way of the ole argument, “It’s a mystery, just trust God.”

        His argument appears to be “His reality is so much bigger, and in that reality these seeming inconsistencies in His character work out fine, even the election of most to damnation.” But what intrigued me more, was how much it seemed that the author took non-Calvinist positions concerning free-will and divine impassibility.

        Anyway, his illustration of God permitting a girl to be killed by a bus is not an adequate illustration to refute divine ordination of everlasting damnation for most who bear His image but never were enabled, or planned for enablement to freely accept or reject His saving grace. The little girl, according to Scriptural presumption, had received that opportunity before her “untimely” death.

        I also hope this author looks into open theism a little more. He seems at least congenial towards it, though he shows his misunderstanding of the best forms of it when he said it means – “that God does not foreknow all things.”

        God does foreknow all things as they truly are. He foreknows all the possibilities and how they can be played out, including His and man’s freewill decisions. He is just not locked in to following one series of predetermined decisions, all made before creation. That might have been philosophically possible for Him to ordain, like it was possible for Him to ordain macro evolution, but He chose instead to create the heavens and earth and all that is in them in 6 literal days. He is interacting with it freely according to certain predetermined laws, events and ends, but with many undetermined possibilities still in existence according to the normal reading of His revelation.

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      12. Brian,

        Your write: “It seems to me to be an attempt to defend the undefendable in Calvinism by a clever way of the ole argument, “It’s a mystery, just trust God.” I don’t see that. How do you see that in his writing?

        “His argument appears to be “His reality is so much bigger, and in that reality these seeming inconsistencies in His character work out fine, even the election of most to damnation.” But what intrigued me more, was how much it seemed that the author took non-Calvinist positions concerning free-will and divine impassibility.”

        I disagree with your assessment of his argument. Can you be more specific? And how do you see him taking “non-Calvinist positions concerning free-will and divine impassibility.””

        “Anyway, his illustration of God permitting a girl to be killed by a bus is not an adequate illustration to refute divine ordination of everlasting damnation for most who bear His image but never were enabled, or planned for enablement to freely accept or reject His saving grace. The little girl, according to Scriptural presumption, had received that opportunity before her “untimely” death.”

        I don’t think we are viewing the illustration as having the same intent. It seems to me you are seeing the illustration as trying to prove one thing while I see it as trying to prove a different thing. Here he says what he is trying to prove or the point he is trying to make, “But let us say that open theists were correct– that God does not foreknow all things. Surely God knows enough to prevent an enormous amount of suffering.”And then says in conclusion to the illustration: “What would we think of any human person standing right next to the girl who could help her with ease, but just watched the whole event unfold? Here, once again, our moral intuitions can easily break down. I know what I’d think about the human being in such a situation. And it is tempting to think the same thing of God. It is the oldest question. “Why, God?” “How long, O Lord?”” So it seems to me to be saying that even if we suppose the open theist is correct and God does not know all things, “Surely God knows enough to prevent an enormous amount of suffering.” That is, even if God doesn’t know for sure whether the little girl will be hit by the bus, surely He knows enough to believe it might happen and could easily just cause the bus to swerve and miss her. Just in case. And thus the problem Olsen and others who believe as he does: “Here is the point. The way Dr. Olson has framed the problem has a parallel problem which is an unavoidable aspect of reality itself.”

        “I also hope this author looks into open theism a little more. He seems at least congenial towards it, though he shows his misunderstanding of the best forms of it when he said it means – “that God does not foreknow all things.””

        “God does foreknow all things as they truly are. He foreknows all the possibilities and how they can be played out, including His and man’s freewill decisions. He is just not locked in to following one series of predetermined decisions, all made before creation. That might have been philosophically possible for Him to ordain, like it was possible for Him to ordain macro evolution, but He chose instead to create the heavens and earth and all that is in them in 6 literal days. He is interacting with it freely according to certain predetermined laws, events and ends, but with many undetermined possibilities still in existence according to the normal reading of His revelation.”

        Is this your answer to then author’s misunderstanding of open theism? You write, “”God does foreknow all things as they truly are. He foreknows all the possibilities and how they can be played out, including His and man’s freewill decisions.”

        How do you reconcile that you say He knows all things “AS THE TRULY ARE” with “how they CAN be played out?” That seems contradictory.

        Maybe it would help me if you would:

        1. State if you are or are not an open theist

        2. State what you believe to be the open theist doctrine of God’s knowledge

        Gotta go. Full day ahead.

        SDG!

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      13. Hi Les, The author of the article – Joseph Minich, I believe, said – “Calvinists go to great pains to argue that God’s sovereign decree over these matters is consistent with a genuine human freedom and responsibility, as well as God’s desire to save all.” He gives the impression that “genuine human freedom” and “God’s desire to save all” are phrases the reader will think are consistent with Calvinism and their own understanding of those words, which I believe are not consistent.

        He also said – “And His reasons are not that He does not care, or that He does not weep with those who are weeping or save the suffering from their enemies.” Once again the reader is led to believe that this article is saying God loves all the reprobate even if they end up in hell. This goes against the normal “Esau I have hated” component of Calvinism, let alone what I think is a majority view of Calvinist scholars that the Bible’s expressions of God’s emotions are all anthropomorphic, since they go against their idea of His immutability which must include true impassibility.

        You don’t see the apples/oranges problem between talking about a girl allowed temporal suffering and the reprobate given everlasting suffering? If she was saved and the Lord used her suffering and death to enlighten and convict others towards salvation, I am sure she is rejoicing in heaven for having her short life and suffering to be used that way. If she was unsaved (and older than the age of accountability), she will remember before the judgment the times she rejected the gospel and would confirm that she was without excuse. The reprobate according to Calvinism in my view will always have the excuse – “I am suffering everlasting torment because I rejected something I was never truly offered or able to accept.”

        I am not sure why – “AS THE TRULY ARE” with “how they CAN be played out?” seems contradictory unless perhaps you believe the future already exists in reality, meaning you and I are already there and this conversation is finished. 🙂 But I believe it does not yet exist, based on a normal reading of Scripture. SO that which can be known concerning it must be that which has been, and is being, ordained to be known (planned and allowed) by God. So consistent with the normal understanding of Scripture with all the predictions, conditional statements, invitations and verses about God still making decisions, God ordained the future as partly determined with many undetermined possibilities consistent with what has been determined.

        Many would call that an open theism view, but I have seen many varieties of what has been labeled or understood as open theism, so I do not like to be labeled by that term, but would rather explain each time what I believe Scripture teaches about the future, omniscience, and especially foreknowledge. I hope this helps.

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      14. Brian, I am walking out the door to take my wife out for a day at one of the beautiful Missouri wineries. I’ll be back to this sometime in the next 24 hours hopefully. That will give you time to deal with Robert’s comments about open theism and the ETS.

        SDG!

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Brian,

        You have several things going on but I only have time to deal with these. You said about the author:

        “He gives the impression that “genuine human freedom” and “God’s desire to save all” are phrases the reader will think are consistent with Calvinism and their own understanding of those words, which I believe are not consistent.”

        Well yes of course. That’s because the Reformed faith teaches those things. I won’t say every Reformed teaches God’s love for all, but most I know and have read do. But not in a saving manner. But you know that already. God loves all in a sense, but not in another sense. Sort of like I love my brothers on our session, but not in the same as I love my wife which is not in the same way I love my children

        As for genuine freedom, remember that the Reformed faith teaches that”

        “1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.
        2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom, and power to will and to do that which was good and well pleasing to God; but yet, mutably, so that he might fall from it.
        3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
        4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin; and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so, as that by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
        5. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone, in the state of glory only.” WCF 9 “Of Free Will

        This human free will gets quite misunderstood. Look at what the WCF teaches, “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:”

        That is where we stand. But thank God for point 4 above. God doesn’t leave us in such a helpless state.

        I still think you are missing the point of the little girl illustration. I may have missed it, but I think he was using it to point out that Olsen solves no problem. The author says,

        “But let us say that open theists were correct– that God does not foreknow all things. Surely God knows enough to prevent an enormous amount of suffering.”

        He goes on to say, “Imagine that God was not totally sure that the bus would hit the girl, but that He could, without much trouble, render it such that she moved out of the way of the bus. Is He too bothered to send a gust of wind, to play with her neurons in such a way that her legs spontaneously walk away, or send a nail to give the bus a flat tire?”

        “What would we think of any human person standing right next to the girl who could help her with ease, but just watched the whole event unfold?”

        So it seems to me that he is simply pointing out that the open theist solves no problem. To wit, suppose God doesn’t know for sure if the bus will hit her. But surely He is present and watching Omniscience & omnipresence). And surely He can adjust things to make absolutely she won’t get hit by the bus (omnipotence). You know, just in case. But He doesn’t. So the open theist position solves nothing really. What would we think of such a God who could stop it from ever occurring but doesn’t?

        Last, you say: “I am not sure why – “AS THE TRULY ARE” with “how they CAN be played out?” seems contradictory unless perhaps you believe the future already exists in reality, meaning you and I are already there and this conversation is finished.”

        So I wrote, “He knows all things “AS THE TRULY ARE” with “how they CAN be played out?” Actually ARE (certain) and “CAN be played out” don’t seem to me to be equal. Things either ARE or MAYBR are.

        That’s all I have time for tonight.

        SDG!

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      16. Hi Les, I hope you had a nice afternoon with your wife yesterday! I am a little surprised at the lengths you are willing to go to defend someone else’s article. I wonder if you consider yourself open minded enough to go where the evidence will lead.

        For God to desire all to be saved is not a part of His universal benevolence that the Calvinist defines as His love for all. And the free will that the elect will receive in glory is not what readers are thinking of when they read this article’s mention of free will.

        God permitting or even causing the suffering of the bus accident, because He knows and can control all the possible outcomes from it, is exactly why His justice cannot be impugned, whereas mine can if I stand by and do not attempt to save the little girl’s life.

        Finally, it is interesting that when I defined the future as being known as the way things truly are in the future, both with some certainties and many possibilities, you thought “truly are” could only mean all certainties. All the conditional statements in Scripture reveal the future as uncertain in many details, even though all the predictions show that there is much in the future that is certain. God has perfect foreknowledge of all of both things, possibilities and certainties, all as they truly are.

        I hope this helps.

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      17. Brian,

        WE did in fact have a great time. Enjoyed a wonderful Missouri red Chambourin. Very smooth.

        As to the article, I think I am where the evidence leads. In addition, the desire for all to be saved is perfectly consistent with unconditional election. I’ll not recite the passage which state this as you have seen them many times.

        I’m probably just slow, but I suppose I don’t know what you’re trying to prove with the bus illustration against what I have stated.

        Last, all things work according to God’s eternal decree. I’ll just remind you of what Reformed theology teaches:

        “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

        2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.”

        SDG!

        Like

  9. Since Phillip wants to present “reminders’ I will present my own reminders concerning Phillip.

    I will briefly respond to his current post and also repost some things that I have said regarding Phillip in the past that continue to have application now.

    Phillip writes
    :
    “Just a reminder. Here is a quote from Robert with Michael, who also held to Covenant Theology, back in June….
    “That all sounds very good: and no I will not claim that you are disqualified from being an elder simply because you do not hold to believer baptism. It occurred to me that there is something very ironic going on here. From reading your posts it appears to be that we are opposites on some of our theological beliefs (me – believer baptism, you –paedobaptism; me- premillennial, you – amillennial) and yet we agree on omniscience and we agree on the essentials (e.g. the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the Bible as the Word of God, etc.). We also have no problem getting along and interacting! We may disagree on some things and yet we can respect each other convinced in our own beliefs. And we don’t play games with each other, there is no subtlety present to hide or mask our views. We can be very open about both what we believe as well as what we do not believe. And this seems to me to be exactly how it ought to be with genuine believers. From what you have said I would have no hesitation in working together with you in the prisons to lead people to Christ.””

    Phillip quotes from a time when I was getting along fine without any problem with someone who held views very opposite my own.

    Note it is PHILLIP who provides a clear example where I had no problem getting along with another believer who held different beliefs than what I hold.

    Apparently, he wants to set up some sort of inconsistency (Well Robert got along with Michael who held opposite beliefs than Robert does, therefore he should also be able to get along with Les Prouty as well:

    “I’m sure Les holds to the essentials of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the Bible as the word of God, etc…etc…”)

    My problem with Les Prouty is that I have seen him posting at some of the same sites that I post (Baptist sites). When I first saw Prouty post he was extremely arrogant and condescending and hostile and wrote these incredibly inappropriate posts. He came across as a very hostile and divisive person. That was bad enough, but then it came out that he is someone who professed Baptist beliefs at one time, but now he is Presbyterian and proud of it and proud of his Calvinism. So you’ve got a guy who held the truth, has renounced it, but now instead of posting at Presbyterian sites befitting his beliefs, he posts at Baptist sites always arguing for Calvinism and exhibiting the same sarcasm and pride that I have seen from the beginning.

    Multiple people that I know described this behavior as that of an internet troll. So I do not view Prouty as just this innocent blogger, No, I view him as a person who appears to fit the profile of a “troll”. I have noted that he has tried to cover this, but it still comes out if you look at his posts carefully (e.g. just look at his interactions at SBC today with a person named “Lydia”).

    And Phillip wonders why I can get along with no problem at all with Michael but have problems with Prouty. One did not act like a troll, one does, and I don’t respect or appreciate this “trolling” behavior.

    Phillip wrote:

    “However, Robert seems to struggle to “get along and interact” with Les and yourself (or anyone else who might ruffle his feathers).”

    Actually that comment cannot be true (it cannot be true that I seem to struggle with “ANYONE else who might ruffle his feathers” because Phillip HIMSELF cites an example of an occasion when I did get along fine with someone who holds opposite beliefs than mine.

    Surprisingly even Les Prouty admits this on this very thread when he writes:

    “Robert seems to have no problem (as he has stated before) being friends with and engaging in friendly conversations with others who have similar views as mine.”

    I have said in the past that two individuals appear to be trolls from my observations of their posts (Les Prouty and “rhutchin”). I have seen both post many, many times (e.g. rhutchin’s repeated and false claim that those who deny Calvinism hold to universalism and deny that God has foreknowledge, he has said this over and over again, been corrected on this over and over again, THAT is the behavior of a troll).

    Some reminders for Phillip. Phillip wrote:

    “For what its worth, I understand your point about “sound doctrine”, but if Robert doesn’t hold that view, it isn’t “sound doctrine” in his hypocritical eyes.”

    I am no hypocrite, unlike you I don’t lie in wait and then pounce on someone to attack them. Your behavior is both hostile and cowardly. If I disagree with someone I will do so openly and without playing the game that you do. I am open about what I believe and forthright I don’t play semantic games like some do.

    Phillip wrote:

    “Discern, brother!”

    Amen, we should practice discernment. If we do so we will recognize that Phillip acts like a sniper. Frequently in the past at this blog, when I posted Phillip quotes verses from Proverbs claiming that I am a fool or verses from the New Testament claiming that I am a Pharisee or hypocrite. I have been blessed in my ministry to see many come to the Lord and be saved. I have seen many changed in positive and productive ways. If that is being a fool, or a Pharisee or a hypocrite as Phillip claims I hope it just keeps increasing. And who is “Phillip” anyway? Just a bitter and hostile guy who snipes on the internet. Instead of sniping at others why don’t you cease the sniping and get involved in real ministry and do some real good.

    In the past I said:

    Since I was not discussing anything with him in this thread, it would seem that he was offended in the past by something that I have said. I have noticed that lately Phillip has posted these short little sniping posts aimed at me here at this site. The last few times I have ignored them figuring that was the best thing to do. What would it profit me or others here for me to respond to these kinds of sniping attacks?
    But as “Phillip/wingedfooted1” **keeps engaging** in these sniping comments I want everyone else to know exactly what bothered him in the past and appears to motivate him to make these short sniping comments.

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

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

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    1. Hey Robert. You said of me, “When I first saw Prouty post he was extremely arrogant and condescending and hostile and wrote these incredibly inappropriate posts. He came across as a very hostile and divisive person… always arguing for Calvinism and exhibiting the same sarcasm and pride that I have seen from the beginning.”

      Robert, could you just reproduce such comments by me? I can then own them as you describe them and apologize for them or, well you can’t produce such comments. Thanks brother.

      “I have noted that he has tried to cover this, but it still comes out if you look at his posts carefully (e.g. just look at his interactions at SBC today with a person named “Lydia”).”

      Yes please look at my comments and interactions with a person named Lydia. Please.

      Or instead of all this, Robert you could just try to “grow up” in your internet interactions and leave all this “troll” and “extremely arrogant and condescending and hostile” kind of accusations behind and drop the pointing out of my Presbyterianism and “no longer a Baptist” nonsense let’s have manly and gentlemanly discussions. Let’s elevate the conversations and stop making it personal. That’s what children do and we are not children.

      Can we do that Robert?

      SDG!

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      1. Les writes:
        “Or instead of all this, Robert you could just try to “grow up” in your internet interactions and leave all this “troll” and “extremely arrogant and condescending and hostile” kind of accusations behind and drop the pointing out of my Presbyterianism and “no longer a Baptist” nonsense let’s have manly and gentlemanly discussions. Let’s elevate the conversations and stop making it personal. That’s what children do and we are not children.

        Can we do that Robert?”

        Sounds good to me, I want to see you acting as a “gentlemen” with Lydia. When I see that then I will believe these words are sincere. I hope you are sincere here, that would make things much nicer. It would also make for more healthy interaction.

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      2. Robert,

        “Sounds good to me, I want to see you acting as a “gentlemen” with Lydia. When I see that then I will believe these words are sincere. I hope you are sincere here, that would make things much nicer. It would also make for more healthy interaction.”

        I think if you look at my interactions with Lydia (diminishing as they are since I hardly comment anymore over where she is most active) you will see that for some time now I have been gentlemanly with her. I have lately found commenting over there to be hugely unproductive. So I comment less and less. I have found in limited interactions here to be more congenial even when disagreeing.

        So, with that let’s go forward in a new and more cordial manner, disagreeing in some areas to be sure, but able to disagree without impugning the other’s motives or character. Amen!

        SDG!

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  10. Brian Wagner writes:

    “You are forgetting Robert, I think, that Les belongs to a major part of your view of “orthodoxy” that holds to the truths that really matter in your eyes, and that you don’t think he would not be disqualified in God’s eyes from being a pastor based just on the “false theology” you accuse him of holding!”

    Hmm, perhaps Wagner should share what he really believes with Prouty (i.e. Brian Wagner not only rejects infant baptism, as I do, but he goes way further, according to Wagner, anyone who teaches infant baptism is unfit to be an accepted pastoral candidate, Wagner rejects all persons who do not hold to believer baptism as ordained pastors).

    Now I admit that I find certain theologies and beliefs to be false (e.g. infant baptism).

    But I also recognize that each group/denomination has its own standards and if a person fits those standards and displays godly character they can and should be ordained as pastors in those respective groups.

    Now that is my view, that is not Wagner’s view.

    Brian Wagner not only rejects infant baptism, he ALSO REJECTS ALL DENOMINATIONS. We have discussed this before on this blog, Wagner believes Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans etc. etc. who hold to infant baptism, that their pastors are ***not qualified*** to be ***ordained pastors*** because of their belief in infant baptism. This is radical and wrong. Wagner also endorses the false theology of open theism: a false belief/theology rejected by nearly everyone from every Christian tradition (including Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants).

    So Calvinism and non-Calvinism are both part of Christian orthodoxy, as are believer baptism and infant baptism. What is not part of Christian orthodoxy is open theism and Wagner’s rejection of all denominations. Wagner may hate that, but it is the reality among Christians.

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    1. I think you might need to rethink your “nearly everyone” assessment, Robert. The Evangelical Theological Society dealt with Open Theism about a decade ago and has no problem with its members holding to it as long as they also hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. So it must not be so unorthodox or called a “false theology” in their corporate view. But you have used those words of Les’ infant baptism which you also just stated is a part of “Christian orthodoxy”.

      So I guess you are saying that it is more important to hold unto Christian Orthodoxy which contains much that you call “false theology” than to welcome a view that the ETS has confirmed as within Christian Orthodoxy, even though you don’t, and which you also would label as false theology, I am guessing. Should we listen to you to define for us Christian Orthodoxy, or ETS? Or might it be even better to rethink “orthodoxy” and define it only by the clear teaching of Scripture so that it contains no “false theology”?

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    2. I think you might need to rethink your “nearly everyone” assessment, Robert. The Evangelical Theological Society dealt with Open Theism about a decade ago and has no problem with its members holding to it as long as they also hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. So it must not be so unorthodox or called a “false theology” in their corporate view. But you have used those words of Les’ infant baptism which you also just stated is a part of “Christian orthodoxy”.

      So I guess you are saying that it is more important to hold unto Christian Orthodoxy which contains much that you call “false theology” than to welcome a view that the ETS has confirmed as within Christian Orthodoxy, even though you don’t, and which you also would label as false theology, I am guessing. Should we listen to you to define for us Christian Orthodoxy, or ETS? Or might it be even better to rethink “orthodoxy” and define it only by the clear teaching of Scripture so that it contains no “false theology”?

      (this may get posted twice, since I logged in with another account by mistake)

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      1. Now Philip… please try to consider what will help and encourage positive change! I know I miss that mark often, so please always feel free to point out how I can present things better. I don’t think “bloviation” fits that objective in this context. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Phillip you may want to skip this as it may be too long for your liking. 🙂

        Brian Wagner the open theist wants us to believe that his open theism is orthodox Christianity. He is now trying to defend this false and aberrant theology by presenting a revisionist account of what occurred at the Evangelical Theological Society meetings concerning open theism.

        As I have pointed out repeatedly, the fact is, nearly everyone from all Christian traditions including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestants rejects open theism as a false and aberrant theology. Wagner wants to challenge that by bringing up ETS and open theism as if that is somehow proof that open theism is accepted by ETS.

        Wagner writes:

        “I think you might need to rethink your “nearly everyone” assessment, Robert. The Evangelical Theological Society dealt with Open Theism about a decade ago and has no problem with its members holding to it as long as they also hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. So it must not be so unorthodox or called a “false theology” in their corporate view.”

        Is Wagner’s statement that “The Evangelical Theological Society dealt with Open Theism about a decade ago and has no problem with its members holding to it as long as they also hold to the inerrancy of Scripture” TRUE???

        I will primarily quote others on what happened at ETS when it had a major controversy regarding open theism (i.e. they were originally voting whether or not two members, two open theists, Clark Pinnock and John Sanders ought to be removed from membership due to their open theism views).

        Here is the beginning of an article describing that event:

        [[“Evangelical society rejects concept of ‘open theism'”

        By Eric Gorski (RELIGION NEWS SERVICE, November 24, 2001)

        COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Taking a stand in line with their conservative core, members of the Evangelical Theological Society have approved a resolution rejecting “open theism” – the belief that God does not fully know the future because people have been given the freedom to help shape it through their decisions. The society was far from united, however, on how to deal with the small number of scholars in their ranks who advocate open theism, which has been called heretical by some and enlightening by others. The issue dominated discussion at the society’s 53rd annual meeting Nov. 14-16 in Colorado Springs.

        The resolution, approved by about 70 percent of the 360 society members who cast ballots on Nov. 16, states, “We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate and infallible knowledge of all events past, present and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents.” About 18 percent of the voting members opposed the resolution and another 11 percent abstained.

        The resolution’s supporters characterized it as a “snapshot” of the society’s opinion that would be used to guide future decisions on a critical issue. Critics called it an attempt to run open theists out of the society and a precursor to a vote to exclude them. Still others complained that the open-theism movement is far too new for members to take a stand on, and that the resolution would stifle discussion on an evolving issue.

        Wayne Grudem, a member of the society’s executive committee, which wrote the resolution, called it a “gentle nudge” for open theists to either change their minds or “seriously consider leaving.” Grudem, of Phoenix Theological Seminary, and others say that open theism undermines the central evangelical belief of biblical inerrancy.]]

        A few things that I want readers to note from this description.

        First, by no twisting of the events can this be seen as an endorsement of open theism as orthodox Christianity by ETS as Wagner falsely claims.

        Note the title: “Evangelical society rejects concept of ‘open theism'”.

        Hmm, so ETS as a whole rejects open theism: not at all what Wagner falsely claims.

        Second, note the intent of the resolution they came up with: “Taking a stand in line with their conservative core, members of the Evangelical Theological Society have approved a resolution rejecting “open theism”. A resolution to REJECT open theism, again not what Wagner falsely presents about the event.

        And look at the wording of the resolution itself, it is a clear denial of open theism and affirmation of the ordinary view held by billions of Christians across all theological traditions: “”We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate and infallible knowledge of all events past, present and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents.”

        Note what the critics of the resolution believed about it:

        “Critics called it an attempt to run open theists out of the society and a precursor to a vote to exclude them.”

        I believe that the critics were correct, it was “an attempt to run open theists out of the society”.

        And why would it be seen as “precursor to a vote to exclude them” if ETS accepted open theism as orthodox Christianity as Wagner falsely claims?

        This is further confirmed by what Wayne Grudem at the time on the executive committee said:

        “Wayne Grudem, a member of the society’s executive committee, which wrote the resolution, called it a “gentle nudge” for open theists to either change their minds or “seriously consider leaving.”

        A “gentle nudge” to change their minds or “seriously consider leaving” does not suggest that ETS views open theism as orthodox or acceptable theology.

        Here is some more about this event, and note what Bruce Ware and others said about open theism:

        [[“Bruce Ware of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., countered that open theism undermines the deity of both God and Jesus. He argued that under the openness view, substitutionary atonement–the belief that Jesus by his death on the cross took the place of sinful humans and the punishment they deserve–wouldn’t be possible because Jesus could not have known at the time of his death who would be conceived and live in the future.
        ___Ware, author of “God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism,” said the death and resurrection of Jesus as part of God’s plan would be uncertain under open theism. He said lack of exhaustive knowledge of human affairs and future events renders God “strikingly similar to pretender deities.”
        ___Ware called open theism “unacceptable as a viable, acceptable model within evangelicalism.” . . . . One society member called open theism a “cancer.” Others quoted Scripture and talked about the importance of making a statement against what they called dangerous theology.”]]

        A “CANCER”, a “DANGEROUS THEOLOGY”, again, this is how members of the ETS viewed open theism.

        William Lane Craig also saw the resolution adopted by ETS as a way of getting rid of open theists from ETS:

        “One member, William Lane Craig of the Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., called the resolution “a transparent attempt to set the table to throw these folks out later”.

        And we should note what John Sanders one of the two open theists who was voted on said about the events surrounding that ETS meeting
        :
        “Sanders said he thinks the executive committee will use the resolution to make it harder for open theists to gain faculty posts and be ordained.”

        Sanders was correct, I happen to know that some seminaries also made changes to their doctrinal statements to exclude open theists from faculty positions. Even denominations have taken steps to exclude open theists and their aberrant and false theology. Just recently the Nazarene denomination fired Thomas Oord for his evolution and open theist views (it was presented as “budget cuts” but I have seen reliable sources indicating it was his theology/open theism that was the real reason for his firing).

        In an article written about ten years later dealing with the aftermath of that ETS meeting here is the description:

        [[“In the wake of the controversy, members adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in 2006, a move aimed at safeguarding membership from those who hold aberrant theological positions such as open theism. Adoption of the Chicago Statement ended the ETS debate.
        “I don’t recall it being discussed at ETS for a number of years,” current ETS president Tom Schreiner said. “I believe a small minority advocated the view, and once the debate simmered down, people were tired of discussing it and talking about it.”
        The debate may have lost any remaining momentum in the death of the two figures at the forefront of the ETS controversy. Pinnock, open theism’s best-known scholar, and Roger Nicole, the Reformed theologian and founding member of ETS who brought charges against Pinnock and Sanders, died within four months of each other in 2010.
        Bruce Ware, who served as ETS president in 2009 and was intimately involved in defending the classical view of God, said that openness adherents seem to have virtually disappeared from ETS, and that publishing from open theists seems to have dried up as well. But, he added, the view itself remains alive and growing within some pockets of evangelicalism.
        “Since the ETS vote took place, the issue of open theism, which had been dominant for a decade, came to an end as a pressing issue,” Ware said. “Interestingly, there has been less presence of members (if they still are) who would advance an openness position since that vote. I suspect that even though the vote was in their favor, the vote was also very close . . . this did send a signal.”]]

        I agree that the death of Pinnock and Nicole has taken away much of the momentum of the controversy. And note what Ware said: “Bruce Ware, who served as ETS president in 2009 and was intimately involved in defending the classical view of God, said that “openness adherents seem to have virtually disappeared from ETS, and that publishing from open theists seems to have dried up as well.”
        So they have “virtually disappeared from ETS”.

        THAT does not fit Wagner’s’ revisionist account of what happened at all.

        It makes much more sense to conclude that the resolution adopted by ETS which explicitly affirms the ordinary and traditional understanding of God’s foreknowledge effectively got rid of open theism from the ETS.

        Brian Wagner’s post misleads concerning what really happened at the ETS meetings in 2003. Those meetings by no stretch of the imagination may be viewed as an endorsement of open theism. They were not, the ETS was at first trying to remove two open theists from its society. Then as things progressed they sought to deal with open theism and excluding it by adopting the resolution. As Grudem says it was a nice nudge to get open theists to change their views or leave ETS. And why did all of this occur? Because again, the majority of Christians reject open theism, see it as an aberrant, false and unorthodox theology.

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      3. Thank you Robert for your contribution. You have a lot of the facts correct. At the 2001 national business meeting the resolution you quoted was passed. What you did not point out was that it did not settle the issue because of how the words “accurate knowledge…all events… future, including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents” could be understood by both traditionalists and open theists.

        So the next year, 2002, charges were brought against Pinnock and Sanders as a test case of their open theism positions whether or not they were compatible with ETS membership. In the following year, 2003, the executive committee voted in favor of Pinnock and against Sanders. Their decisions were brought up for confirmation before the full session with 67% for Pinnock, 63% against Sanders, but even Sanders’ membership was retained since it did not receive the 2/3 vote needed for removal.

        As you pointed out by Ware’s own words – Ware said. “Interestingly, there has been less presence of members (if they still are) who would advance an openness position since that vote. I suspect that even though the vote was in their favor, the vote was also very close . . . this did send a signal.”]]

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      4. So, you can hold to even the view of open theism that Sanders holds, which view I reject, and still be a member of ETS! I think I was reflecting the history of the situation accurately Robert. I am sorry you don’t see it that way. Actually my view is even right of Pinnock! 🙂

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  11. I often wonder if the reason can be discovered why evangelical men of renown in biblical study leave a theological position they once held and join a theological position they once stood against. I try to think of why John Stott moved from teaching everlasting punishment to taking a position against it, and also why John MacArthur became a strong 5 point Calvinist, including a clear affirmation of limited atonement. (His quote above should probably not be used, since it is from 1987, before he took his strong position.

    I wonder how much comes from bowing to the pressure of scholasticism and wanting to be exalted in those circles, or becoming impressed by how many books have been popularized that hold a certain position, while your view is only a minority report, even though it appears to you to have the tenor of Scripture in its favor. Can one really start a non-denominational seminary that he will want to be renowned in large evangelical circles if it’s not clearly also reformed in its theology?

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  12. kangaroodort writes, “As per 2 Thessalonians 3, yes those who are not believers are not saved. How is this relevant? No Arminian denies this.”

    Yep – Both Calvinists and Arminians say that God must extend grace to a person prior to them being able to respond to the gospel. 2 Thess 3 tells us that grace seems to prepare the soil to receive faith – which is conveyed through the preaching of the word. The issue then becomes the meaning of regeneration and whether it must precede the word being able to convey faith to a person.

    While the issue of grace preceding salvation (prevenient or effectual) is not a matter between us, it may be to Dr. Flowers who says this, “Does not the insistence of the need for a “prevenient” (prior) working of enabling (or irresistible) grace assume that the gospel revelation itself is not sufficiently gracious and enabling?” and then “I don’t see that Adam (or anyone for that matter) lost their ability to freely respond to God’s gracious revelation either.” – His blog: Disabled from Birth by God’s Design?

    Dr. Flowers argues that faith precedes regeneration because the preaching of the gospel is sufficient to convey all that is needed for a person to save himself (or, perhaps as Dr. Flowers might put it, “choose to save himself”)

    Nonetheless, the real issue is why only some are saved and not all. If prevenient grace is sufficient that one person coemes to salvation, why not all? If the preaching of the gospel is really sufficiently gracious and enabling, so that one is saved, why are not all saved? The Calvinists argue that regeneration by God prior to the extension of grace or the preaching of the gospel is one way to explain the difference. Has anyone come up with an alternative explanation.

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    1. Roger, do you mean a reasonable biblical alternative that you won’t reject, because you want to hold onto this unbiblical view that a person can be regenerated, born again spiritually, and not have everlasting life yet? 🙂 birth equals life

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      1. brianwagner writes, ‘…do you mean a reasonable biblical alternative that you won’t reject,..”

        Just an alternative that makes sense in light of the Scriptures.

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      2. Ok Roger, Give me one verse reference that you believe is the best one to clearly teach regeneration before faith.

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      3. Thank you Roger, So you have no problem disassociating the meaning of “born again” from the possession of spiritual life? Birth does not mean life in the Scripture to you in this context, and you don’t feel that is twisting the word “born” away from its normal meaning?

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      4. brianwagner writes, “So you have no problem disassociating the meaning of “born again” from the possession of spiritual life?”

        We have two types of people in the world, unsaved and saved. The unsaved have the sinful nature of Romans 8 and are hostile to God. They do not submit to God’s law, nor can they do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Their response to the preaching of the gospel is that it is foolishness, so they cannot receive faith from that preaching.

        Something has to change for the unsaved to be saved. That change is the spirit induced new birth resulting in spiritual life and salvation and this leads to the manifestation of faith through the preaching of the gospel. So, I would associate spiritual life to being born again. Thus Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1, “…to us who are being saved [the preaching of the gospel] is the power of God.” I would identify those who “are being saved” as those who have received the new birth as it it to those that the preaching of the gospel becomes the power of God.

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      5. Thank you Roger for clearly stating that the Calvinistic view of regeneration cannot just be a change in will, but that it has to include the actual reception if salvation life, and that all before personal faith is placed in Christ. So just to confirm, you believe and the life of Christ, His salvation, is given before personal faith is placed in Him. Is that correct?

        So how do you handle all the verses that place salvation after the personal faith being expressed? Thanks.

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      6. brianwagner writes, ‘So just to confirm, you believe and the life of Christ, His salvation, is given before personal faith is placed in Him. Is that correct?”

        Salvation is a process that begins with the new birth and is consummated with the reception of the glorified body. The issue is the role of faith in this process. Peter tells us, “…you love him;…you believe in him…for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” And, “In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth…into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Faith is given by God to seal the new born to preserve the person until he receives his glorified body.

        “So how do you handle all the verses that place salvation after the personal faith being expressed?”

        I would view the reference to salvation as reference to a process with personal faith manifesting within that process in a life lived in Christ.

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      7. Sorry Roger, I didn’t think your reply was clear enough to help me understand. Indwelling life of Christ before faith in Him, yes or no? I do understand the sanctification process by faith and the final redemption of the body as being called salvation. But what I am hearing is that you believe that Christ’s Spirit is received inwardly before faith is personally expressed. Is that correct?

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      8. Brian, if I may…

        Sam Storms succinctly states why we (we of the Reformed persuasion and you of the non-Reformed persuasion) will likely never agree on the logical priority of regeneration over conversion. He writes:

        “The doctrine of man’s total moral depravity, the bondage of the will, the teaching of Scripture on faith and repentance as God’s gifts to his elect, as well as the doctrine of grace, all suggest that regeneration is prior to and therefore the cause of faith.”

        The fact is, or correct me if I am mistaken, that you and other non Reformed deny,

        1. man’s total moral depravity
        2. the bondage of man’s will
        3. that faith and repentance are gifts from God

        Is that right? I think it is. So I see no way that either is ever to be persuaded to jump over to the other’s view of this debate. It’s interesting to go back and forth I suppose. But as long as we are polar opposites on the moral condition of man in his natural state and polar opposites on the origin of faith and repentance, I cannot see an agreement on the horizon.

        Have a blessed Lord’s day.

        SDG!

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      9. Hi Les, Actually, I do not deny your three points and can give a qualified yes to all three, though I am guessing that my explanations may not be satisfying.
        1. man’s total moral depravity – Yes, by God’s permission, at the moment of accountability (Rom 7:9), I believe everyone is confirmed in disobedience (Rom 11:32) and will not begin searching for God without God first taking some merciful initiative.
        2. the bondage of man’s will – Yes, though I see it more as a bondage of opportunity for the will, than an inability of the will to make free choices within the limits of its nature and choices provided. But thankfully God promises to give that opportunity of choice for His salvation (John 1:9, 16:7-8) to all.
        3. that faith and repentance are gifts from God – Yes, the revelation of the gospel (“the faith”) along with the enlightenment and conviction needed for true repentance has to be presented as gifts to an individual who is already able to express faith unto salvation, but did require information and conviction to made as a divine offer, though not an irresistible one! (2Pet 3:9, Heb 3:7-8). The gifts are not presented to a passive faith or will that are unable to reject the offer.

        Ultimately our disagreement is not over these things primarily, but, in my view, it is over the reformed teachings that are foundational to how to understand these things and all the rest of reformed soteriology. They are the views, without clear Scripture statements in support, that all things, even God’s and man’s decisions were ordained before creation, and that only a limited number of already recognized as completed lives were chosen before creation for salvation (leaving the rest assuredly damned).

        I understand if you wish not to discuss further. I would rather, in the future, that our discussion focuses on Scriptures that reform theology tries to use to teach those two foundational things to its system.

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      10. Brian,

        “Hi Les, Actually, I do not deny your three points and can give a qualified yes to all three, though I am guessing that my explanations may not be satisfying.”

        Correct. Your answers are less than satisfying, in that you agree with the statements that a Reformed person would make and then redefine them to be acceptable for the non Reformed view. That’s ok. Your choice.

        “I understand if you wish not to discuss further. I would rather, in the future, that our discussion focuses on Scriptures that reform theology tries to use to teach those two foundational things to its system.”

        Maybe from time to time we can discuss these things and use scripture in our answers rather than only our personal or denominational confession. But for ow I’m content to leave this part o the thread where it is. We both already know the verses we would each use to bolster our respective positions.

        God bless and SDG!

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      11. FYI, I am not Greek scholar. But I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last year. 🙂

        1 John 1:5 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…”

        Now this seems to indicate that faith (believes) occurs after the being born of God. Being born from above. Being regenerated. “has been born” translates the verb γεγέννηται. I think that is a perfect indicative middle or passive verb. One Greek scholar says of the perfect, “The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect.”

        So the one believing has been born again. Not the other way around. Not, “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ will be (future) born of God.”

        Further, how could an unregenerate man produce faith apart from regeneration? (since non Reformed folks I see on these sites say that faith is not a gift so it must be from within man if it’s not a gift from God)

        As one preacher said, “Jesus said, “Unless a man is born again,” and this means that regeneration was a necessity for Nicodemus personally precisely because regeneration is a necessity for all men universally. It derives from the fact that by nature every man is defiled, deadened and corrupted by sin. This is what Jesus is referring to in verse 6: “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Flesh here means human nature as it is dominated and polluted by sin. So what Jesus is telling us is that unrenewed human nature dominated by sin can only reproduce itself. Regeneration is a universal necessity because man by his own fleshly effort has a universal inability to produce anything except the flesh.”

        Unless of course flesh can in fact produce faith leading to regeneration.

        Just a few thoughts.

        SDG!

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      12. Hi Les, You are right that 1John 5:1 is about someone how has been born again will be identified by their expressing faith (present tense) as a characteristic of their life in Christ. This verse and the whole epistle are about how to recognize if one is truly saved, not about how one enters salvation.

        The faith (the revelation of the gospel) along with enlightenment and conviction are God’s part, His gifts if you will, providing the opportunity (enablement) to everyone, at least a few times, to accept or reject that invitation in their heart. But they are warned not to harden their heart. They may not get another opportunity of God’s enablement. But now they are without excuse.

        The only reason the Calvinist rejects this biblical explanation for the process for entering into salvation is because he has to defend his ideas of the predetermination of all things before creation, including especially a closed group of individually elected persons to salvation. Though there are verses in Scripture that admittedly hint in support of his ideas, the tenor of Scripture must be violated, in my view, concerning the nature of God’s explanation about His salvation throughout Scripture, and the truth of its offer for every man.

        Those verses that the Calvinist tries to use to support the notion of the predetermination of all things, including individual election of a few, leaving the rest to be damned, can be easily shown in context to have a reasonable alternative explanation that supports instead the tenor of Scripture that I just described. The verse 1John 5:1 above, I hope you will admit, was given a reasonable alternative explanation that fits the context, and does not support Calvinism’s idea of regeneration (life) before personal faith is expressed..

        I would love to go through other such passages to show how a Calvinistic explanation was brought to those contexts and yet other reasonable contextual explanations, even better in my view, exist that don’t force much of Scripture to be deemed anthropomorphic or understood as contradictory sounding accommodations made by God to the ignorant masses, as if He had trouble explaining what the “smart” Calvinist does not!

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      13. Brian,

        You wrote, “Hi Les, You are right that 1John 5:1 is about someone how has been born again will be identified by their expressing faith (present tense) as a characteristic of their life in Christ. This verse and the whole epistle are about how to recognize if one is truly saved, not about how one enters salvation.”

        Indeed. But the tenses in verse 1 are not insignificant. S. Lewis Johnson wrote, “So what we have here is a magnificent spiritual confirmation of the fact that the salvation that God gives begins with God. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ has already been the recipient of a regenerating work of God. He is born of God. That is so plain, taught in our historic Christian confessions, that it’s one of the astonishing things today that in evangelicalism as a whole it’s largely a lost truth. Not entirely, but largely a lost truth, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

        Some years ago I had a discussion of this with a well known Christian theologian. We had been having some discussions and this became an issue and in the course of our discussion I ask him, “How do you explain, if you hold your view, how do you explain 1 John 5:1, ‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God’?” Now he had had four or five years of Greek but it had largely fled from him through the years as has happened, as does happen, with so many biblical students.

        So anyway, he had the necessary tools in the past and I simply reminded him, I said, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, the ‘believeth’ is present tense and the ‘is born’ is perfect tense.” And he said, “That doesn’t really mean anything other than simply that every believer is a person who is born again.” [your view Brian??] And I must confess that is primarily what John has in mind here. He does say that a believer is a person who has been born of God. I don’t question that at all. I think that is John’s principal point, but in expressing it he makes this other point as well. So I said to this individual, “Well, we have a present tense and we have a perfect tense, and the perfect tense would indicate that that represented by the perfect tense is an event that occurred previous to the other, ‘Whosever believeth,’ present tense, ‘has been born of God.’” Well after he made the statement it doesn’t mean anything other than that they’ve had both of these experiences, believing in and been born again I said, “Well let me ask you a question. If that is true today, ‘Whosoever believeth has been born of God,’ was it true of that individual yesterday?”

        And he’s a very competent man and he immediately saw what I was going to say next. I was going to say next, “Well now if it was true yesterday, was it true the day before that and so on until finally we come to the very day, the very moment, at which he comes to faith in Christ. Is it true that he has been born of God?” He wouldn’t let me get that far, he said, “Well, I don’t want to discuss that anymore.” [Laughter] That was one argument that I clearly won. I’m not sure I’ve won many arguments in my life but that was one I clearly won. He totally avoided it. But that’s what I was going for. I was going to say, “At the very moment when you believed in Christ, wherever you were, in a church, reading a Bible, listening to someone, at the very moment that you first committed yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, is it true that you had been born of God? Because if that’s true then of course regeneration precedes faith.” And that’s what John says, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.””

        “The faith (the revelation of the gospel) along with enlightenment and conviction are God’s part, His gifts if you will, providing the opportunity (enablement) to everyone, at least a few times, to accept or reject that invitation in their heart. But they are warned not to harden their heart. They may not get another opportunity of God’s enablement. But now they are without excuse.”

        Faith is God’s part? Or “the faith is God’s part? What are you saying? What, in your opinion, does man contribute when he/she is being saved?

        “The only reason the Calvinist rejects this biblical explanation for the process for entering into salvation is because he has to defend his ideas of the predetermination of all things before creation, including especially a closed group of individually elected persons to salvation. Though there are verses in Scripture that admittedly hint in support of his ideas, the tenor of Scripture must be violated, in my view, concerning the nature of God’s explanation about His salvation throughout Scripture, and the truth of its offer for every man.”

        I could turn that around and say similarly about you Brian. “The only reason the NON-Calvinist rejects this biblical explanation for the process for entering into salvation is because he has to defend his ideas of the supreme controlling factor in man’s salvation–man’s libertarian free will. Further, the NON-Calvinist must protect his notion that man is not totally unable to assist himself apart from God’s Holy Spirit in being saved.”

        Finally, a bit more from SLJ on the 1 John passage (the ***** are mine for emphasis):

        “You see, this is – what is at stake here is ultimately the finished work of Christ. And that salvation is holy of God. Robert Law, one of the finest of the students of this epistle has written, ****“Christian belief, which is essentially the spiritual recognition of spiritual truth, is a function of the divine life imparted to men.”*****

        Hence, a man must be born again to even see the kingdom of God. He must be enlightened, quickened, birthed to be able to see that Jesus is desirable.

        “One of the other commentators who’s written a commentary on the Greek text of this epistle, a well known commentator, has made the point, “The writer does not state whether faith is the cause or the result of the new birth,” but then he goes on to say, “but incidentally ****the tenses make it clear that the divine begetting is the antecedent, not the consequent, of the believing.***** That is true. Everyone one or whosoever has been who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

        And finally Brian, you seem to be really hung up in your discussions here on the priority of faith or regeneration it seems in some sort of time frames priority. You said to rhutchin, “But what I am hearing is that you believe that Christ’s Spirit is received inwardly before faith is personally expressed.”

        You are aware, are you not, that Reformed theology teaches (generally I think) that we look at this as a logical priority (regeneration before faith) not a temporal priority?

        SDG!

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      14. Hi Les, Let’s break this down further. I think you and I agree that when regeneration takes place something irreversible happens in the nature of that man, guaranteeing all the rest of the benefits of everlasting salvation. This is what I agree with you about in 1John 5:1, that one of those benefits is that the individual will not stop believing, but continue to believe after being born again.

        Where your logic breaks down is thinking that this description makes any kind of personal faith decision impossible or unnecessary before the moment God causes the new birth to take place. The term “believe” and other terms are used in the aorist as an expression of that commitment of faith in Scripture, listed prior the regeneration moment and the reception of benefits that come with that moment, including that change in nature that will never stop believing.

        John is known for his use of the present tense to describe the benefits of being born again, like practicing righteousness or not practicing sin. Those descriptions do not discount any righteous acts happening before salvation or sinful acts happening after. He’s just not dealing with those other ideas in those contexts. He deals with those elsewhere making sinless perfection and regeneration before faith untenable. For instance, John 1:12 puts the reception of Christ clearly before “the right to become” born of God. That reception of Christ by an act of personal commitment, faith if you will, after being enlightened and convicted by God, but not irresistibly, and only temporally. If that commitment is made, God keeps His promise to give the new birth, which causes that nature to change and a everlasting trust to begin, that needs disciplining of course at times to help it grow.

        Paul also clearly describes this act of trust before the reception of the Spirit which guarantees the everlasting change in nature that will continue to believe until the day of resurrection (Eph 1:13-14). Now this commitment of faith, though necessary, is not meritorious in anyway, just like any personal reception of an undeserved gift is not meritorious.

        Again, I still think the rejection of this biblical understanding by Calvinists is only because of their tenacity for the idea of the predetermination of all things, especially the election of a few individuals for salvation.

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      15. Brian,

        “Where your logic breaks down is thinking that this description makes any kind of personal faith decision impossible or unnecessary before the moment God causes the new birth to take place.”

        No it is not my logic standing or breaking down. It is the fact that fallen man cannot muster faith on his own. Natural man hates God and is in rebellion against God and is a law breaker. His fallen state, his nature refuses to believe on Jesus as his savior. He is spiritually dead and as John said, cannot see the kingdom, in all it’s beauty. This concept is where the “faith before born again” is crushed. It is as Robert Law said, “Christian belief, which is essentially the spiritual recognition of spiritual truth, is a function of the divine life imparted to men.”

        As to the other passages you reference, none teach against the biblical idea that one must be made alive from above before one can exercise faith in the Savior whom he hates. In fact, for example, John 1 teaches as we Reformed believe. The order in John 1 is clear. Those who receive (that is believe) are the ones who have been born not of….

        Have a blessed day. I have much Haiti work to do and will pop back in as time permits.

        SDG!

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      16. Thank you Les for the reply. You are ducking dealing with the necessary divine enablement through enlightenment and conviction that I have outlined as necessary and universal, sufficient but not irresistible. You are stuck because in your system the fix is in on who must get salvation irresistibly. The problem is that the Scripture does not clearly support that, and it does support what I just explained.

        I hope your trip to Haiti goes well. Did you know the missionary woman that was just murdered?

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      17. Brian,

        You write: “You are ducking dealing with the necessary divine enablement through enlightenment and conviction that I have outlined as necessary and universal, sufficient but not irresistible. You are stuck because in your system the fix is in on who must get salvation irresistibly. The problem is that the Scripture does not clearly support that, and it does support what I just explained.”

        I’m surely not ducking anything intentionally. I’m not overloaded on time today, so succinctly please state this “necessary divine enablement through enlightenment and conviction.” Succinctly please.

        As to the missionary lady, no I don’t know her. Her ministry I think was in the PaP area and in the worst part of PaP at that. Very sad. And actually I am not leaving for Haiti this week as planned. I was scheduled to take a group Wednesday but we cancelled it due to a US Embassy warning we received last Wednesday actually forbidding travel on a stretch of highway we have to travel to get to our location 3 hours north of PaP. It looks like I will be going with another colleague the week prior to Thanksgiving.

        SDG!

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      18. Hi Les, Have you ever run into a Baptist pastor from VA, Carey Lane, who has taken a number of trip to Haiti, or a young woman, Jessica Martin, from VA who worked their a couple of years, a couple of years ago? I hope an pray the door reopens for you and your partner to get back in!

        And here I thought I was being succinct! 🙂 Here are two paragraphs from two of my posts above where I mentioned this necessary divine enlightenment and conviction. You may have to tell me what needs to be said more succinctly. Thanks.

        1. The faith (the revelation of the gospel) along with enlightenment and conviction are God’s part, His gifts if you will, providing the opportunity (enablement) to everyone, at least a few times, to accept or reject that invitation in their heart. But they are warned not to harden their heart. They may not get another opportunity of God’s enablement. But now they are without excuse.

        2.For instance, John 1:12 puts the reception of Christ clearly before “the right to become” born of God. That reception of Christ by an act of personal commitment, faith if you will, after being enlightened and convicted by God, but not irresistibly, and only temporally. If that commitment is made, God keeps His promise to give the new birth, which causes that nature to change and an everlasting trust to begin, that needs disciplining of course at times to help it grow.

        SS! 🙂

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      19. brianwagner writes, “John 1:12 puts the reception of Christ clearly before “the right to become” born of God.”

        John 1
        10 Jesus was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
        11 Jesus came unto his own, and his own received him not.
        12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
        13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

        The situation in v10-11. The world did not know Jesus; Israel rejected Him.

        An exception: Some received Him. How – they were born of God.

        Those who received Jesus did so because they were born of God and thereby they received power to become the sons of God.

        The question is where to insert faith into the above. One place is to identify faith as the “power” exercised to become a son of God – to believe on His name. This puts faith (believing Jesus – an act of the will) after regeneration (receiving Jesus – an act of God during rebirth).

        If faith is made to precede receiving Jesus and is made the cause of receiving, then receiving by faith becomes an act of the will of the flesh excluded in v13.

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      20. Roger, you are really doing some grammatical twisting of 1:12 to hold onto the idea of personal faith as after the rebirth. First you said – “Those who received Jesus did so because they were born of God and thereby they received power to become the sons of God.” Do you really not see that you are saying that they become the sons of God after they were born of God, not WHEN they were born of God. Second, the will of man, even the decision of personal faith that receives Jesus after being enlightened about Him (1:9, which you should have quoted also) does not cause the new birth! God causes it in fulfillment of His plan to give the new birth to those who receive His Son. Man’s reception might be called a secondary cause or prerequisite, but God causes the new birth.

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      21. brianwagner writes, “Do you really not see that you are saying that they become the sons of God after they were born of God, not WHEN they were born of God.”

        “…as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,…”

        We have, first, that a person receives Christ. After the person receives Christ, only then does he receive power to become a son of God.

        Do you see the verse telling us something different? If not, then the issue is to determine what it means to “receive Christ.” I am taking “receive Christ” to be synonymous with being “born again.” If true, then “receiving Christ/being born again” precedes one becoming a son of God.

        brianwagner writes, “Second, the will of man, even the decision of personal faith that receives Jesus after being enlightened about Him (1:9, which you should have quoted also) does not cause the new birth! God causes it in fulfillment of His plan to give the new birth to those who receive His Son.”

        So here you have a person receives Christ and then is pronounced born again. Are you saying that “being born again” is the power that then enables a person to become a son of God? As the terms, “born again” and “faith” do not appear here, we insert them where we understand them to occur. Can you rewrite the verse to show where you think “born again” and “faith” to come into play?

        1:9 – That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
        OK, but then the result after this enlightenment in v10-11, “…the world knew him not…his own received him not.” Then, the exception, “as many as received him…were born…of God.” So, was enlightenment sufficient for a person to receive Christ or did it require that the person first be born of God? How do you understand this?

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      22. Thank you Roger for confirming that you believe being born again happens before becoming a child of God in your thinking. I think you would agree that goes against the normal understanding of birth and being a son. Do you have other biblical evidence in support of this distinction between these terms that are normally seen as identical? Doesn’t Rom 8:15 mitigate against your seeing new birth (spiritual life) before becoming a son?

        To rewrite John 1:12 to from my perspective – “To as many as received Christ by a personal decision of faith, having been enabled sufficiently, but not irresistibly, by the enlightenment of God to make such a choice, God seeing their faith decision, He gives them the new birth and they immediately become His child, because they have started trusting in the name of Jesus, which is His reputation of all He is and what He has done according to God’s revelation about Him.” How’s that for a paraphrase or amplified version! 🙂

        Enlightenment enables sufficiently to receive Christ, but not irresistibly, and that enablement is temporal and must be acted upon while it is present. (cf. Heb 3:7-8)

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      23. Brian,

        No I have not run into the two people you mention. But Haiti has 10 million people and is the most NGO’d country in the world. There are thousands and thousands of ministry people there.

        Ok, let’s take this a bit at a time. Please tell me more about this: “The faith (the revelation of the gospel)…” This is one thing you said is God’s part. Please explain more about what you mean by that.

        SDG!

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      24. Les, Bit number one – “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried…” is a declaration of the gospel that is God’s part, His revelation – “the faith” as the NT puts it, once delivered to the saints, and that needs to be preached to every person, since it is good news for all of them! I have a minority view as to how He actually reveals His mercy for salvation (the gospel) for every person, but I have no problem with the majority view that He sufficiently enlightens and convicts all to search for it. But the revelation of it is His gift and called “the faith” in Scripture (almost always the noun πιστις with the definite article).

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      25. Brian,

        You wrote… “the will of man, even the decision of personal faith that receives Jesus after being enlightened about Him (1:9, which you should have quoted also) does not cause the new birth! God causes it in fulfillment of His plan to give the new birth to those who receive His Son. Man’s reception might be called a secondary cause or prerequisite, but God causes the new birth.”

        I couldn’t agree more. Many brothers believe we are “born again” BECAUSE we believe. NO! We are “born again” AFTER we believe, but NOT because we believe.

        We believe unto righteousness (Romans 3:22, Romans 4:3), but that is all. The OT believers, like Abraham, were only declared righteous, but weren’t made righteous until the shed blood of the Saviour and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I maintain that none of the OT believers were “born again” until after Christ preached the gospel to those in captivity. Only then were they made righteous (instead of declared righteous) and only then were they “born again” and allowed to follow the Saviour into heaven. That’s what I believe Romans 8:10 is referring to…..

        Romans 8:10 (Phillips)…..
        Now if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive (via the new birth) because of the righteousness he (the Spirit of Christ) brings with him.

        I agree with my Calvinist brothers that the new birth is solely a monergistic work of God. I just disagree with them when it occurs.

        All we do is believe. God does the rest.

        Blessings, brother!

        Liked by 1 person

      26. Phillip writes:

        “Many brothers believe we are “born again” BECAUSE we believe. NO! We are “born again” AFTER we believe, but NOT because we believe.”

        There are two errors to be avoided in this area, one made by some calvinists, the other made by some non-Calvinists.

        The Calvinist error which is a major issue in this thread is the claim that regeneration precedes faith or produces faith.

        The non-Calvinist error is the claim that faith produces or brings about regeneration.

        Regeneration is a miraculous action that God alone can perform, we cannot do it, and our faith does not produce it. Faith involves putting your trust in some person or object. We trust God, and God alone regenerates a person.

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    2. Roger,

      I would add that not even all Calvinists affirm “regeneration precedes faith”. I personally know several who don’t.

      That said, our ability, or inability, to provide an acceptable alternative explanation is irrelevant given “regeneration precedes faith” isn’t biblical. The scriptures, themselves, shoot down that notion.

      Reflect on these verses….

      John 6:53-57 (NKJV)….
      Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

      Colossians 2:13 (KJV)…
      And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

      Romans 8:10 (NKJV)…..
      And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

      For further clarity regarding Romans 8:10, please consider these other translations….

      Romans 8:10 (NIV)…..
      But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

      Romans 8:10 (NASB)…..
      If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

      Romans 8:10 (Barclay)……
      But if Christ is in you, even if because of sin your body is mortal, your Spirit has life through righteousness.

      Romans 8:10 (Phillips)…..
      Now if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him.

      Romans 8:10 (Hendriksen)…..
      “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is life because of your justification.”

      Romans 8:10 (Amplified)…..
      But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

      Romans 8:10 (NLT)…
      And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

      See a pattern? I pray so, brother.

      Blessings.

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      1. Rhutchin AGAIN presents what he thinks is a problem that only calvinism solves via its regeneration precedes faith doctrine:

        “Nonetheless, the real issue is why only some are saved and not all. If prevenient grace is sufficient that one person comes to salvation, why not all? If the preaching of the gospel is really sufficiently gracious and enabling, so that one is saved, why are not all saved? The Calvinists argue that regeneration by God prior to the extension of grace or the preaching of the gospel is one way to explain the difference. Has anyone come up with an alternative explanation.”

        Rhutchin has made this same point in the past (i.e. it is the same old “what makes you to differ” argument of Owen). As this point has been repeatedly dealt with in the past on multiple blogs I will not say much here.

        I will say that rhutchin displays manifests and intentional and obstinate misunderstanding of the non-Calvinist notion of prevenient grace (whether it is viewed as the gospel and the Spirit working with the gospel or other preconversion work of the Spirit): the misunderstanding is this.

        Prevenient grace is sufficient to enable a faith response but it does not necessitate a faith response.
        A person can (and many do) still resist this preconversion work of the Spirit.

        Rhutchin seems to be intentionally incapable of grasping non-Calvinists’ thinking on this preconversion grace. A person can receive this grace and they still may not become a believer. It is not the irresistible grace posited by Calvinism which whenever given forces a person to believe. It is the resistible grace that non-Calvinists believe to be the case.

        Phillip completely misses rhutchin’s issue when he writes:

        “That said, our ability, or inability, to provide an acceptable alternative explanation is irrelevant given “regeneration precedes faith” isn’t biblical. The scriptures, themselves, shoot down that notion.”

        Rhutchin’s claim remains that non-Calvinists have not dealt sufficiently with his “what makes you to differ” argument (why if given grace don’t all people then believe?).

        Phillips’ Pelagianism will not help with this at all. And rhutchin has repeatedly rejected what others (including Arminians and other non-Calvinists) have said on this issue in the past.

        He just keeps bringing up this “problem” from blog to blog, and non-Calvinists just keep addressing it at these different blogs, **never to his satisfaction**. And people wonder why I view a few individuals as trolls (isn’t that troll like behavior? To bring up the same points and issues over and over despite the fact they have been dealt with and addressed by others repeatedly in multiple other places?).

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      2. Robert writes, ‘Rhutchin seems to be intentionally incapable of grasping non-Calvinists’ thinking on this preconversion grace. ”

        Fine, from the Scriptures, how about explaining what “prevenient /preconversion grace” is all about. (or perhaps a nice link to someone who can explain it.)

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      3. I feel like I’m not connecting the dots. Could you explain how you are understanding these verses to speak to the issue?

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      4. Phillip writes, “…our ability, or inability, to provide an acceptable alternative explanation is irrelevant given “regeneration precedes faith” isn’t biblical. The scriptures, themselves, shoot down that notion.”

        If “regeneration precedes faith” isn’t biblical, then there still must be something to explain why one person accepts salvation and another person does not.

        We read in Titus 3-

        3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
        4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared,
        5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
        6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
        7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

        The unsaved are described – we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

        God saves the unsaved through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

        So that, having been justified by his grace,… We might equate “being justified by grace” with the previous “washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

        Paul says in Romans 5, “we have been justified through faith.”

        We know that a person is saved by grace through faith (faith not being inherent to the person but conveyed through the preaching of the gospel and this by grace as all do not receive faith so all are not saved).

        Bringing a person to salvation involves several things: the person is washed (a product of regeneration), the renewal of the Holy Spirit, and the conveyance of faith through the preaching of the gospel. After this, one discovers that he believes that which was formerly foolishness to him and can be described as being “in Christ,” as in many of the verses you cite.

        Why is it that one is saved and another not saved? One person experiences the washing of regeneration, renewal of the Holy Spirit, and the conveyance of faith on hearing the gospel – all by grace. The person not saved experiences none of these as grace is not extended to him.

        Your position would seem to be that a person first hears the gospel thereby being given faith which faith then produces the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. As faith is a gift from God, even this process can be said to be by the grace of God as it requires nothing of the person other than to accept the change that God has worked in him.

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    3. you say: Has anyone come up with an alternative explanation.
      I’d simply say free will decisions don’t have to be based in rationality. Ever heard the saying “love is blind”? It’s not very rational for God to love a disgusting sinner that deserves hell is it? (From our perspective the Cross seems to be God acting irrationally, since we all deserve hell legitimately).

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      1. dizerner writes, “I’d simply say free will decisions don’t have to be based in rationality.”

        So, the person who acts rationally and has LFW accepts salvation and the person who is irrational thereby not having LFW rejects salvation?

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      2. LFW can choose to act rationally or irrationally. Just like God, who had everything he could need or want, still chose to act irrationally and love sinners he justly condemned to hell.

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      3. dizerner writes, “LFW can choose to act rationally or irrationally.”

        LFW chooses nothing. It is the person who chooses who is able to exercise LFW in choosing.

        Can a person with LFW make an irrational choice? I don’t see how. A person who makes irrational choices may do so with free will but not LFW.

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      4. God acts with an infinite understanding of all things and makes decisions that reflect His perfect wisdom. Nothing that God does – even suffering pain for an unworthy object – can be called irrational for perfect wisdom always results in rational actions. You are judging God’s actions by a human value system and humans have no authority to judge God.

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      5. Perfect love in combination w/ God’s holiness, wisdom, and other attributes, always results in rational actions. Adding God’s love to the mix does not change that which already exists.

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      6. Well, as I see it there are two ways to think about rationality. One is understanding and manipulating the world. This means a rational person is one who better understands and applies the laws of physics, and also logic, where it applies to the physical world (it might hard to verify immaterial logical thinking that has an application to the physical world).

        You seem to be using rational as “in the interest of your own well being.” But that adds some difficulties of figuring out some sophisticated morality. For example, say in Hitler’s regime I am offered a promotion to a high position and great material wealth, but at the sacrifice of knowing this regime stands for and enacts cruelty to some others. In that case I might feel it is rational to suffer myself, to protest against the sufferings of others.

        I see rationality as not speaking to motivations, but rather methods. If I want to kill a person, it’s rational that I learn ways to murder a person. If I don’t want to kill a person, it’s rational to not learn any methods of murdering a person. But whether I want to do something evil, is not a case of rationality in and of itself, but rather morality. I can be irrational yet a very moral person—for example I could go around slapping people in the head and truly thinking it helps them somehow. That is moral, but irrational.

        So if you think people having LFW always means they will act rational, I really have to question that, because you end up by asserting that, destroying the very definition of LFW. LFW by definition is not forced to choose one way or the other, but can decide, in a god-like way, to choose a choice for no reason at all, or can also evaluate and weigh reasons, and decide which reasons to value more.

        There is a study of children choosing whether to eat one marshmallow now, or two marshmallows later. Which is the more rational choice? Some might say two, since that is more marshmallows. But it also means you must suffer without marshmallows for a period of time. At this point it’s not a matter of rationality; it’s a matter of preference.

        Also equating rationality with pursuing well being for one’s self might be seen as immorally selfish, since grace teaches us to think of God above ourselves. Why shouldn’t we get saved, not to please ourselves or avoid pain, but to bring pleasure to God and please God? And what if pleasing God causes me to suffer, how is that rational, if I get nothing for it, under your understanding of rationality? This is the problem of Job—obeying God only to get something out of it, and not simply to please God alone.

        I think you need to rethink what rationality means, and see that people can choose good or evil with their LFW, just as the Bible teaches us.

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    4. Rhutchin,

      I responded to this a while back but it was never approved for some reason. It might be because I included several links to address your “Has anyone come up with an alternative explanation” question. I am still hopeful that Mr. Flowers will approve the comment, even if he removes the links (assuming that is the reason the comments were not approved). Unfortunately, I did not save what I wrote and do not desire to re-create my response. So again, hopefully, Mr. Flowers still has the comment and will be willing to approve it.

      God Bless

      Like

  13. Rhutchin,

    You write:

    kangaroodort writes, “As per 2 Thessalonians 3, yes those who are not believers are not saved. How is this relevant? No Arminian denies this.”

    Yep – Both Calvinists and Arminians say that God must extend grace to a person prior to them being able to respond to the gospel. 2 Thess 3 tells us that grace seems to prepare the soil to receive faith – which is conveyed through the preaching of the word. The issue then becomes the meaning of regeneration and whether it must precede the word being able to convey faith to a person.

    I think you are reading quite a bit into this chapter. While I agree that God must work in the heart to make faith possible, this is not really being addressed in Thess 3. It is peripheral at best. So it is strange that you are focusing on a text that doesn’t seem to be specifically addressing the ordo salutis at all.

    While the issue of grace preceding salvation (prevenient or effectual) is not a matter between us, it may be to Dr. Flowers who says this, “Does not the insistence of the need for a “prevenient” (prior) working of enabling (or irresistible) grace assume that the gospel revelation itself is not sufficiently gracious and enabling?” and then “I don’t see that Adam (or anyone for that matter) lost their ability to freely respond to God’s gracious revelation either.” – His blog: Disabled from Birth by God’s Design?

    Right, he disagrees with prevenient grace being necessary to believe outside of the preaching of the word. And I disagree with him. But that wasn’t really the point of the initial article that you responded to with 2 Thess 3 and 1 Cor. 1. The point was that MacArthur does not see regeneration preceding faith in the ordo salutis.

    Dr. Flowers argues that faith precedes regeneration because the preaching of the gospel is sufficient to convey all that is needed for a person to save himself (or, perhaps as Dr. Flowers might put it, “choose to save himself”)

    I can’t speak for Flowers, but I doubt he would typically refer to trusting in Christ for salvation as “choosing to save yourself”. The idea of “saving yourself” is a Calvinist misrepresentation of the Arminian view, seemingly deliberate spin on the Arminian view for the sake of painting it as works salvation (which it is not).

    Clearly, if one is trusting in Christ to save them, then they are not trusting in themselves. If they could save themselves, they wouldn’t need to trust in Christ to save them. Faith is relying on Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That is why the law of faith excludes boasting (Rom. 4), because it is receiving an unearned and unmerited gift from God. You can’t rightly boast in what you do not earn or deserve. If someone gives you a gift and you receive it, does that mean you earned the gift by simply receiving it (even if you had full power to reject it)? Of course not. Does it mean you gave the gift to yourself? Of course not. Does it mean you bought the gift? Of course not. It is just as absurd to say that by trusting in Christ to save us we are saving ourselves. The language itself makes that conclusion impossible. If we are trusting in Christ to save us then we are obvious not saving ourselves. If we could save ourselves we wouldn’t need to trust in Christ to do the saving.

    Nonetheless, the real issue is why only some are saved and not all. If prevenient grace is sufficient that one person coemes to salvation, why not all? If the preaching of the gospel is really sufficiently gracious and enabling, so that one is saved, why are not all saved?

    Because sufficiency and enabling are not the same as irresistible causation. That is clear from the meaning of the words themselves.

    The Calvinists argue that regeneration by God prior to the extension of grace or the preaching of the gospel is one way to explain the difference. Has anyone come up with an alternative explanation.

    Really? The difference is that one responds favorably to God’s divine enabling and one does not. Are you looking for specific reasons? That would vary depending on the person. But regardless of what the reason might be for a person to respond in faith to God’s enabling, the fact remains that it is still not a legitimate grounds for boasting since we are only receiving a free and unearned gift from the hand of God. But in Calvinism the difference is only irresistible causation. If that is the case then God could have just as well made works the condition for receiving salvation by simply irresistibly causing the elect to do the “works” necessary for salvation. And in traditional Calvinism, everything we do is caused by God. In that case it is hard to see why Paul would make a distinction between faith and works or how faith should exclude boasting and not works since both are irresistibly caused by God anyway.

    And just to be clear, while it is not proper to say that we “save ourselves” in Arminianism in the strict sense (as you seem to intend it as being self-saviors), there is a loose sense in which this true since Scripture sometimes uses this language (cf. Acts 2:40). But that just has reference to meeting the God ordained condition that God requires before He will save us.

    Assuming Mr. Flowers doesn’t mind me leaving these several links, these should help to further clear up the issue for you:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-fallacy-1-if-we-have-libertarian-free-will-what-makes-us-choose-one-way-or-the-other/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-fallacy-2-arminianism-entails-salvation-by-inherent-ability/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-%E2%80%93-fallacy-5-choices-apart-from-intent/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-%E2%80%93-fallacy-10-wait-now-faith-is-a-work/

    And there are many more related posts and links at my site. Just let me know if you are interested in reading them.

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    1. kangaroodort writes, ‘ While I agree that God must work in the heart to make faith possible, this is not really being addressed in Thess 3.”

      The reference to 2 Thess 3 was to this truth – “not everyone has faith.” I then referenced 1 Corinth 1 to show the effect – “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” 2 Thess 3 helps to explain why God must work in the heart to provide faith by which a person believes. Thus, an ordo salutis would reflect the work of God to provide faith as a prerequisite for one to believe the gospel.

      So, what is MacArthur talking about? I understand MacArthur to be arguing that saving faith and regeneration occur simultaneously and he does not get into the issue of which comes first.

      Then, “The idea of “saving yourself” is a Calvinist misrepresentation of the Arminian view, seemingly deliberate spin on the Arminian view for the sake of painting it as works salvation (which it is not).”

      That is because Arminians never really explain themselves.

      In your blog, “The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics – Fallacy #2: Arminianism entails salvation by ‘inherent ability’,” you state “Faith in Christ doesn’t require being smart or wise, but does require that sinners incline their ears at His gracious call and humble themselves under the Spirit’s conviction.”

      So, in your comments on this “Fallacy, ” you are not able to explain an Arminian position. You state a truth to which everyone agrees, “..sinners [must] incline their ears at His gracious call and humble themselves under the Spirit’s conviction.”

      That’s not the issue. The issue is to explain what causes some to humble themselves while some do not. It is on this point that Calvinists argue that Arminians retreat into some inherent ability of a person to decide their destiny. So, if you can develop an Arminian explanation for one person accepting salvation while another rejects it, we can determine if the Calvinist conclusion is true. I have seen Pelagian explanations – e.g., people are born inherently righteous, people are born with faith – but I do not recall seeing an Arminian explanation. While you complain about the Calvinist claims in your blog, even you cannot explain, from the Arminian perspective, how it is that one accepts salvation while another rejects it given that both are supposedly made equally capable through prevenient grace.

      You write, “Clearly, if one is trusting in Christ to save them, then they are not trusting in themselves….Faith is relying on Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves…If we are trusting in Christ to save us then we are obvious not saving ourselves.”

      No disagreement here with the Calvinist. The Calvinist says that faith is a gift of God by which a person believes. Thus, those to whom God gives faith will believe and those from whom God withholds faith will not believe. The Arminian disagrees on with this. Yet, we never see the Arminian posing an alternative explanation – Do we?? The Arminian seems to be saying that God gives all people faith and then some believe and some do not. They stop there not being able to explain how a person to whom God gives faith cannot believe.

      You argue in your comments, “Because sufficiency and enabling are not the same as irresistible causation. That is clear from the meaning of the words themselves.”

      By this you seem to be saying that faith is necessary (enabling) but not sufficient to produce belief. That’s fine, but you still do not explain why one person enabled through faith believes and another does not.

      In the end, you half-heartedly agree with the Calvinist in saying, “…[people must meet] the God ordained condition that God requires before He will save us.” If not by some inherent ability, how does the Arminian propose that one person meets this condition and another does not?

      Finally, you write, “in traditional Calvinism, everything we do is caused by God. In that case it is hard to see why Paul would make a distinction between faith and works or how faith should exclude boasting and not works since both are irresistibly caused by God anyway.”

      In this, you show that you do not understand Calvinism. Calvinism distinguishes between two forms of causation – active and passive (I think Sproul explains this in his book, “What is Reformed Theology.”). God is said to cause actively when He brings about a specific outcome (e.g., the destruction of Sodom, the impregnation of Mary) and to cause passively when He chooses not to impede the evil that people do (e.g., Adam eating the fruit, the stoning of Stephen, the crucifixion of Christ). In Calvinism, God ordains all things and brings all things about and does so through His own actions and through the actions of secondary agents (e.g., Satan, sinful people). It is in this context that God is said to cause all things and that Paul makes the faith vs works argument.

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  14. Brian, continuing on with Bit number one for a bit. 🙂

    You: ““Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried…” is a declaration of the gospel that is God’s part, His revelation – “the faith” as the NT puts it, once delivered to the saints, and that needs to be preached to every person, since it is good news for all of them!… But the revelation of it is His gift and called “the faith” in Scripture (almost always the noun πιστις with the definite article).”

    So it is your contention that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” is “the faith,” God’s revelation to all people? The same faith as a verb “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved?” And “The just shall live by faith?”

    I am seeking clarification.Is that God’s gift to all mankind forever and all time? Just trying to see if I understand you.

    SDG!

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    1. Hi Les, The verse you chose I would read this way – and this is an instance where the definite article with “faith” is not pointing to God’s revelation but to the expression of personal faith being discussed previously in this context – “how will they believe.” So – “This personal faith comes as a result of hearing, and this hearing must be through the experience of a message about Christ.” The message about Christ is elsewhere called “the faith” which God provides, and in this context it is called the “gospel” (10:15) and also connected with God speaking through creation and conscience (10:18).

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      1. I hope Les that this doesn’t sound too confusing… The ability for personal faith exists as part of the image of God in man, even after the fall. However, that ability is only “able” to be expressed in false choices that do not save, and even though the person may sometimes audibly hear information about Christ. But God does take this information (the faith) at least a few times and along with Spirit’s enlightenment and conviction makes that information “heard” giving the opportunity to the individual’s personal faith to be exercised in Christ, if he so chooses. But this hearing is not irresistible, forcing personal faith to be expressed in Christ, and thus the warning – Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart – Heb 3:7-8.

        So personal faith is an ability, but personal faith in Christ is only possible during gracious opportunities when they are presented, but those gracious opportunities are not irresistible. Again, Calvinism needs such opportunities to be irresistible because of its primary doctrine of predetermined elect few individuals before creation. I hope this helps.

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      2. Brian it does help me at least understand where you are coming from, even if you seem really confused about faith. And I mean no disrespect. One thing I appreciate is your refrain asking for biblical and exegetical support for Calvinist’s doctrines. So can you point me to the passages where you derive this view?

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      3. In answer to your question Les, personal faith has to come from the individual person. If it came from God, it would be God having faith in his own promises and words. But faith is not God believing in our place or instead of us, nor our parents, or friends believing in our place. It is US believing, it is US choosing to trust in God’s promises or words.

        I believe that many Calvinists view faith as **some sort of thing** that is given by God or not given by God. But it is not a **thing** it is a choice/decision to trust. In the OT the words for faith conveyed leaning upon a staff or rock. Whatever you put your trust in is what you lean upon, what you have faith in.

        I think that both Calvinists and non-Calvinists ought to agree that faith is a choice to trust.

        Where they differ is in how this faith comes about?

        So your question ought not to be does faith come from God or the individual, but how does the faith that a person has come about???

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      4. Robert,

        Thanks for weighing in. When I asked Brian that question, I was trying to discern from what he meant by his earlier statement: “The faith (the revelation of the gospel) along with enlightenment and conviction are God’s part, His gifts if you will…”

        I still don’t have a satisfactory answer from Brian (at least not satisfying to me). But it is true that I and most of the Reformed faith view saving faith as a gift from God. As our Reformed confession says, “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.”

        It is true that “faith” is not a thing or commodity in that sense. As Jim Kennedy used to say and put in his EE materials, one can have faith that a chair can hold you if you sit in it. Or that a plane will safely get you to your destination. But trust in Jesus for our eternal salvation is not something that fallen man has the ability to do apart from a gracious work of the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession calls it “The grace of faith.”

        SDG!

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      5. Les you write:
        “It is true that “faith” is not a thing or commodity in that sense. As Jim Kennedy used to say and put in his EE materials, one can have faith that a chair can hold you if you sit in it. Or that a plane will safely get you to your destination. But trust in Jesus for our eternal salvation is not something that fallen man has the ability to do apart from a gracious work of the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession calls it “The grace of faith.”

        The first part I agree with, I have used the same and similar analogies for faith (a chair that can hold you, you do not have faith/trust in the chair until you choose to sit in it, a car that accelerates when you push the gas pedal or decelerates when you push the brake pedal, etc.).

        I also agree that a “fallen man does not have the ability to trust “apart from a gracious work of the Holy Spirit”. And here we come to another major and irreconcilable difference. I view this gracious work of the Spirit as His work in leading people to faith in Christ by revealing to them who Christ is, what he has done, their sinful condition, that Jesus alone can save them, etc. AND that this preconversion work of the Spirit can be resisted. Determinists/Calvinists on the other hand, believer that the person is given irresistible grace, a form of grace that cannot be resisted that always results in the person choosing to trust. In one view, grace can be resisted in the other it cannot. My problem with irresistible grace is that it sounds nice, but has no scriptural support. Like the regeneration precedes faith doctrine it fits the Calvinistic system, but cannot be derived from proper exegesis of scripture. Like the regeneration precedes faith doctrine it is read into scripture, but cannot be read out of scripture by proper exegesis. If it was in scripture and this could be shown then a lot more Christians would believe it. But it cannot be shown from scripture, so only a few believers hold to it, those who hold to Calvinistic system. This is another place, where if people hold there views, neither will change, and no productive discussion will result. Put another way, both sides operate from diametrically opposed presuppositions regarding the grace of God.

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  15. Thank you for your kind words, Les.

    The last passage I mentioned and its context are important. Heb 3:7-8 states that if one hears God’s voice they should not harden their heart. The context reflects back to Israelites who are said to have heard the gospel, but did not mix what they heard with faith and therefore were not allowed into God’s rest for them. The warning of 3:7-8 can not be for the Calvinist’s elect, for they don’t resist when they hear, and it cannot be for the Calvinist’s reprobate, for they cannot hear, and such a warning would present a false illusion since they can only harden their heart.

    I would say John’s clear purpose expressed for His gospel in 20:31 places personal faith in the revelation about Christ (the faith) clearly before the reception of regeneration life! “These are written that you should believe (aorist subjunctive, simple action)… that you should have life (aorist subjunctive, simple action)”. Of course, John also records the promises of enlightenment (1:9) and conviction (16:7-8) for everyone. But the warning and context of Heb 3:7-8, and passages like the parable of the sower indicate that the word can be audibly heard or received, even in the heart of an individual, but not mixed with a decision of personal trust necessary for salvation to take place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brian, I still don’t think you are making your point. But this: “the word can be audibly heard or received, even in the heart of an individual.” How do you know this? Let’s take an easy one. Adolf Hitler. You contend that “the faith” came to him likely several times. And that he heard it “in his heart” but refused it? Now I agree that anyone can hear, with his ear organ…that thing on our heads that has a canal an all…but you are telling me that everyone can hear it in his heart? So he can be enlightened by the truths of the gospel that Jesus is the Christ and saves sinners and is ready to save him and if he refuses he sounds eternity apart from God in an eternal hell and he can understand all this clearly in his heart and walks away? Based on what passage again you know this?

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      1. Have fun studying French, Les! 🙂 We can stay on Bit #1 as long as we need to or you want to. Hitler “heard” with enlightenment and conviction at some point and yet refused. The hard soil, Jesus said, hears without understanding what was sown in his heart (Matt 13:20). So actually one can hear often in their heart without enlightenment and conviction. But enlightenment and conviction bring understanding, so at some point, at least a few times in my view according to Job 33:14-30, God sufficiently draws with enlightenment and conviction so that personal faith in His mercy can be expressed… but not necessarily, thus the warning of Hebrews 3:7-8.

        We can pick this up tomorrow if you want. You are asking for biblical support but you are not showing me where the biblical support I am offering falls short, or how you would understand those verses since I also specifically point out how they are incompatible with Calvinistic teaching in their context. Thanks.

        SS!

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    2. Good morning Brian. “Hitler “heard” with enlightenment and conviction at some point and yet refused.” How do you know that?

      The Hebrews passage. I’m still not exactly not sure what you are doing with the Hebrews passage, but my take is that the writer is simply and forcefully warning the visible church, exhorting, to not turn away from the better…Jesus. Of course one who is truly born again cannot ever fall away and be lost again. But those in earshot of the preaching/teaching who think they are part of the people of God surely can. They can go out from our midst since they were never part of us. But if they do, this tells me that their hearts were never changed. They were never given a new heart as in new birth.

      So you seem to be saying they can have had a heart change and then fall away from that. I’m still not sure.

      On John 20:31, I see nothing there to bolster your idea that believing occurs before regeneration. v. 31 makes a simple and general statement lime, “believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved.” Nothing to see there.

      One thing where we do agree is that the word can be heard audibly by all. Can be. May not be as in some live and die w/o ever being exposed to the word.

      Where does this leave us? Not sure. I have said that a dead person cannot hear hear God’s voice. You seem to say that they can (or else maybe you don’t think man before becoming a Christian is really spiritually dead) and in fact do hear God’s voice. You seem to say that man can exercise faith in Jesus while still dead and then if he does, God causes him to be born again. So in your view man’s heart of stone can believe and if he does, he is given a new heart.

      I see it more like this. “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.” They must have the new heart to know, recognize that He is the Lord. Otherwise they have blind spiritual eyes and deaf spiritual ears.

      SDG!

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      1. Les writes:

        “Where does this leave us? Not sure. I have said that a dead person cannot hear God’s voice. You seem to say that they can (or else maybe you don’t think man before becoming a Christian is really spiritually dead) and in fact do hear God’s voice. You seem to say that man can exercise faith in Jesus while still dead and then if he does, God causes him to be born again. So in your view man’s heart of stone can believe and if he does, he is given a new heart.”

        A major difference/problem between calvinists such as Les and non-Calvinists such as myself, is that we view “spiritual death” differently.

        Notice Les says here of the “dead” person that “I have said that a dead person cannot hear God’s voice.” Les views the nonbeliever as like a physically dead corpse (a dead body cannot do anything and has no reaction to anything said to the corpse).

        I view the nonbeliever as like the prodigal son, a person who is doing his own thing, living independently of God, SEPARATED from God, not in relationship with God.

        In scripture “death” usually means not INABILITY TO RESPOND but SEPARATION. So at physical death the spirit is separated from the body. At the second death the person is eternally separated from God.

        It is highly significant that in the prodigal son parable one of the things the Father says of his son is that “he was dead”. The father, who represents God in the parable, is not saying the son was incapable of hearing his voice or responding. He was describing the son who was out of relationship with him and separated from him, living a lifestyle of sin, that he was “dead”.

        I do a lot of witnessing and when interacting with nonbelievers I do not see people who are incapable of anything (like a physically dead corpse). Rather, I see people, like the prodigal son who are rebelling against God and involved in a sinful lifestyle. They are separated from God by their sin and need to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.

        As long as both sides operate from such very different perspectives, discussion of spiritual death and what it entails will not be very productive.

        So a lot rides on what we believe “spiritual death” means. Does it refer primarily to inability of response or does it refer primarily to separation of one person/the nonbeliever from another/God???

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      2. Robert,

        I agree this is a major if not the major difference in our views on when and how people are regenerated, converted, etc. We do view the fallen man is dead spiritually and unable spiritually to hear God’s voice. We agree that fallen man can hear a preacher’s voice with his ear organ. He can hear and in many if not most cases intellectually understand the words being spoken by the preacher, even the scriptures he hears uttered. Intellectually. But we think not spiritually. He is spiritually deaf and blind.

        What none of us can see, hear or discern is the invisible (to us) inner heart working of the Holy Spirit on the heart of sinners when it happens. We can see the result. But not that invisible working. So none of us can look at a man responding (like the prodigal) and know for sure when his spiritual eyes were opened or when his spiritual hearing ability came about. So when the father called, what had happened internally and invisibly to his son and when? We cannot know. We cannot see that. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

        So it is when witnessing. I have been privileged to share the gospel with many over the years. For a long time I was quite active as a trainer and participant in EE ministry. One thing we could never do was to see what was happening internally. We could see responses. Some were what we would call positive and some were negative. i.e. some said they wanted this Jesus and others said “hell no!” And not surprisingly, some who said yes later drifted away and though we cannot with certainty say there never truly believed, it sure looked that way. Their outward drifting away betrayed their outward confession of Christ. I’m sure you have seen the same thing.

        “As long as both sides operate from such very different perspectives, discussion of spiritual death and what it entails will not be very productive.”

        I think this is right on target. Though these discussions can be healthy and cause us to think and sharpen our own thinking, this one issue really sets the table. We really will never agree on the logical priority of regeneration or faith as long as our view of fallen man and his spiritual ability or non-ability remains opposite.

        SDG!

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      3. Hi Les, Thank you for interacting with the passages I mentioned.

        How do I know Hitler refused? God’s promise of enlightenment is for everyone, even Hitler (John 1:9). Did you look up Job 33:14-29. I would be interested in what you think. And I assume Hitler committed suicide as a final act of rejection of a God that he never professed to trust.

        I agree that the warning in Hebrews was for those professing but probably not yet possessing and who may eventually leave, showing they were never saved. But my evaluation of that warning still stands. You may have to read it again. It undermines Calvinistic thinking concerning irresistible grace.

        The truth of John 20:31 is being addressed to unbelievers. It is certainly to be normally understood by an unbelieving reader as telling them this book was written to help them make a decision of faith about Jesus and to promise them that if they do, life (which comes immediately at the moment of the new birth) will follow that decision of faith. I think there is indeed something “to see here” 🙂 !

        Have you considered that your medical understanding of death, inability, plus your use of God’s prophetic words to Israel as a nation may do injustice to what happens in personal salvation?

        Spiritual death is separation, being placed in a position under God’s wrath. But the spirit still functions. And though there limited choices and no desire to seek, God is able to present through His enlightenment a sufficient opportunity to each spirit to hear His offer of salvation. It is not irresistible and it is only temporal. But if they humbly receive it and not harden their heart against it, God will give them the new birth which will change their position of death to a reception of life. I hope this helps some.

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      4. Brian,

        Thanks but your statement about Hitler presupposes that your view of all men being enlightened sufficiently to then make a free will choice is correct. I contend it is not.

        Hebrews, no I see nothing there to undermine irresistible grace. You have yet to prove that point. BTW see my comments to Robert about man’s fallen condition to see where I think you would be misunderstanding these passages.

        John 1:9. I rather agree with this:

        “Tom Schreiner in The Grace of God, The Bondage of the Will (Baker, 1995), 2:365-82.
        Appeal is often made to John 1:9 “‘There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.’ This could as easily refer to (1) the influence of common grace, or (2) the operation of general revelation. Schreiner contends that ‘enlighten’ does not refer to inward illumination of the heart/mind/will, but rather means to expose the moral state.”

        John 20:31: “It is certainly to be normally understood by an unbelieving reader as telling them this book was written to help them make a decision of faith about Jesus and to promise them that if they do, life (which comes immediately at the moment of the new birth) will follow that decision of faith.”

        Of curse should an unbeliever read that and has sufficient intellect, he will understand that he must make a decision for Jesus. Again see my comments to Robert as to why he will not do so unless and until his spiritual deadness is dealt with by God.

        “Have you considered that your medical understanding of death, inability, plus your use of God’s prophetic words to Israel as a nation may do injustice to what happens in personal salvation?”

        Medical? My understanding of spiritual death comes not from medical books but from scripture. Fallen man cannot understand spiritual things unless his spiritual blindness is healed. When that occurs, he sees Jesus and places his faith in Hm.

        Oh and Job? I see nothing there to make your case.

        “Spiritual death is separation, being placed in a position under God’s wrath.” Yes. And spiritual blindness and spiritual deafness.

        “But the spirit still functions.” Man’s spirit, yes. But unable and unwilling to love Jesus.

        “And though there limited choices and no desire to seek, God is able to present through His enlightenment a sufficient opportunity to each spirit to hear His offer of salvation.” And that is our difference. He can hear with his ear organ, but not with his spiritual heart.

        “It is not irresistible and it is only temporal. But if they humbly receive it and not harden their heart against it, God will give them the new birth which will change their position of death to a reception of life.” And this is what you have still failed to prove, while I have ample scriptural evidence to the contrary. Spiritual blindness and deafness.

        Now let me ask you something. If, as you say, God enlightens all men sufficiently to receive Christ (God acting in a monergistic way I might add) and all that is left to occur for a man to be saved is for him to exercise his free will, what kind of God (who loves all and desires all to be saved) would let a person taste and see Jesus and leave him in an unsaved state?

        SDG!

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      5. Les,

        Maybe we should stop and let what each other has said soak for a while. So if you want to make a final comment to this thread, great! As we agreed about the people addressed in the warning of Heb 3:8, let me comment further, for I wish you would see the significance. Why warn someone to not harden their heart after they hear if they cannot hear, or if they can, they cannot harden their heart? These are the same professing, but unsaved, people that are warned in Heb 6:4f, who have tasted and have been enlightened and have even come to the place of repentance which God has planned to bring everyone (2Pet 3:9), and have, according to 10:26f, been sanctified (like the unsaved in 1Cor 7) and have received a mental assent to the knowledge of the truth, but never committed their hearts to it.

        Yes, there is a spiritual blindness and deafness that is overcome by this enlightenment, that is temporary, not because the eyes, ears, and heart don’t function on a spiritual level, but they do not function enough to make a free decision for or against Christ which will result in the new birth, salvation. But God overcomes this deafness so that they do hear, but no irresistibly, so that unless they make a faith commitment, they will return into that same deafness. Again, I believe that the only reason you do not want to accept this as a reasonable description of God’s method of salvation is because you are dedicated to a pre-creation elect few unto salvation which definitely would require irresistible grace for that few… for in the Calvinist’s view there hopefully can’t be any extra grace floating around that might help a non-elect person come to salvation! 😉

        You asked – “What kind of God (who loves all and desires all to be saved) would let a person taste and see Jesus and leave him in an unsaved state?” He is the kind that does not irresistibly make a few of enemies into His children, and damns the rest, but who also does not give the new birth to those who have, with full understanding which He provides, still rejeced His Son. Blessings, my friend!

        SS!

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      6. Brian, yes a break would be in order.

        You ask, “Why warn someone to not harden their heart after they hear if they cannot hear, or if they can, they cannot harden their heart?”

        Of course we preach and warn where there are believers and unbelievers, knowing the certainty that God’s elect will in due time have their eyes opened and ears unstopped and truly hear. That is why. And for the believers? of course we warn believers not to be tempted to go back. Be warned of an unbelieving heart, which believers are capable of having.

        “Again, I believe that the only reason you do not want to accept this as a reasonable description of God’s method of salvation is because you are dedicated to a pre-creation elect few unto salvation which definitely would require irresistible grace for that few…”

        The reason I will not adhere to your view is because I cannot escape man’s utter inability. Regeneration does not require irresistible grace. Regeneration requires a need, which is deadness and utter inability and unwillingness. Grace is irresistible because of the nature of it. There is the beauty of Jesus and a foolproof remedy for our sin suddenly in full view of the sinner and as MLJ notes in the quote, the sinner simply cannot resist what he now sees (where before the new birth he could not see). What fool would be so enlightened as to see the beauty of Jesus, the odious nature of his own sin and the torment that awaits him and the only remedy for his sin and then say, “Nope. No thanks.” No, the reason you hang on to your view seems to be your commitment to man having the last and final word.

        “for in the Calvinist’s view there hopefully can’t be any extra grace floating around that might help a non-elect person come to salvation!” A non elect will surely not come to salvation. Even you agree with that.

        You: “He is the kind that does not irresistibly make a few of enemies into His children, and damns the rest, but who also does not give the new birth to those who have, with full understanding which He provides, still rejeced His Son.”

        God loves them and has provided for them and wants deeply for them to be saved and yet allows them to bust hell wide open? And non Calvinists accuse us of worshipping an unloving and uncaring God because He doesn’t choose everyone but leaves some in the same end as your view?

        I have to be done for the day, or at least for a while. I am meeting with a long time friend at 3pm CDT who lost her son a few months back to an overdose. She is struggling mightily. Pray that God would give me words that will comfort her in her affliction and grief.

        SDG!

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      7. Thanks for praying. Difficult meeting. Many tears. But Hope.

        Now off to some Midwest deck time with good church buddies, smooth scotch, and good cigars.

        Later and SDG!

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      8. “What is it with reformed theology and cigars!” In a word? Freedom. Truth is I’m not a big cigar guy. Friends are. Now a good single malt scotch? Now there you’ve got something.

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  16. Saw this a few minutes ago in my FB feed:

    “[The] term ‘decide’ has always seemed to me to be quite wrong…A sinner does not ‘decide’ for Christ; the sinner ‘flies’ to Christ in utter helplessness and despair saying —

    Foul, I to the fountain fly,
    Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

    No man truly comes to Christ unless he flies to Him as his only refuge and hope, his only way of escape from the accusations of conscience and the condemnation of God’s holy law. Nothing else is satisfactory. If a man says that having thought about the matter and having considered all sides he has on the whole decided for Christ, and if he has done so without any emotion or feeling, I cannot regard him as a man who has been regenerated. The convicted sinner no more ‘decides’ for Christ than the poor drowning man ‘decides’ to take hold of that rope that is thrown to him and suddenly provides him with the only means of escape. The term is entirely inappropriate.” MLJ

    Enlightened, who wouldn’t?

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  17. An observation I have made during my short 60 years is that repentant older converts like Augustine, making a dramatic change from one religion to another (Manicheanism to Roman Catholicism), tend to warm up to the idea of sovereign election and irresistible grace, whereas catechized younger converts like Pelagius (in Roman Catholicism), hardly remembering ever thinking any different, tend to warm up to the idea of personal choice and responsible repentance. What many don’t realize is that both of these men held to the same faulty view of sacramental baptism and of foreknowledge. 🙂

    But for the sake of some fun – which interpretation of Rom 8:29 do you like better? –
    1. “Therefore God did not elect anyone’s works (which God himself will grant) by foreknowledge, but rather by foreknowledge he chose faith, so that he chooses precisely him whom he foreknew would believe in him; and to him he gives the Holy Spirit, so that by doing good works he will as well attain eternal life.” or —
    2. “The purpose according to which he planned to save by faith alone those whom he had foreknown would believe, and those whom he freely called to salvation he will all the more glorify as they work towards salvation.”

    These seem the same to me, but one of them is Augustine’s and one of them is Pelagius’! Both based election on foreseen faith, it would appear, and both held to works salvation, it would appear!

    Augustine On Romans, Society of Biblical Literature, 1982, p. 33.
    Pelagius’s Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Oxford Press, 1993, p. 112.

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    1. Wow those two views sound surprising like the simple foreknowledge view… which coincidentally seems to be held by the church fathers too. But apparently that view is not scholarly or robust. 🙂

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      1. My feeling David is that if we lived back in the early fifth century we would have run into all the same views we find on this site today! But the problem remains the same! Who defines what is orthodox and how close to the normal reading of the general tenor of Scripture does it have to be to be truly orthodox?

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      2. We surely see large groups of people getting into error. I completely agree the appeal to church history is overplayed. Only God knows who the real church was—people that walked with him and understood his word in a dynamic way. Those weren’t necessarily the most famous people or those whose writings we may possess. But we can still examine their thoughts for what they were.

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    2. brianwagner writes, “which interpretation of Rom 8:29 do you like better? –
      1. “Therefore God did not elect anyone’s works (which God himself will grant) by foreknowledge, but rather by foreknowledge he chose faith, so that he chooses precisely him whom he foreknew would believe in him; and to him he gives the Holy Spirit, so that by doing good works he will as well attain eternal life.” or —
      2. “The purpose according to which he planned to save by faith alone those whom he had foreknown would believe, and those whom he freely called to salvation he will all the more glorify as they work towards salvation.”

      The distinction is the definition of “foreknowledge.”

      To Pelagius, foreknowledge would be that knowledge God gains by looking into the future to discover who would believe. This view denies that God is omniscient as God looks into the future and gains information about who believes. To Pelagius, people believe apart form any direct influence of God – it was about the person and free will.

      Augustine is confusing, apparently still working through his theology. for he says, “God chooses” when the verse does not mention “choosing.” I wonder if Augustine’s thinking on this verse had yet solidified. But he does write like Pelagius. Later Calvin and then others would improve on Augustine’s theology.

      To the Calvinist, foreknowledge would be that knowledge God has as an omniscient God. Some hold to simple foreknowledge that says God knows and we can’t know how God knows – God just knows. The Calvinist says that God knows that which He decrees. So, what do we read here?

      28 …we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
      29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
      30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

      We might conclude that those “called according to his purpose” are those whom God foreknew. God foreknew them because He already had a purpose in mind for them – the purpose being to conform them to the likeness of his Son (to such they were predestined). Election precedes all the action of v28-29. It is in God’s election that He chooses whom He will save, thereby He foreknows them, and being predestined according to His purpose, they are called to that purpose.

      So, does God foreknow those whom He chose (Calvinist) or those whom He foresees will choose Him (Pelagius)? Is God omniscient (Calvinist) or not omniscient (Pelagius)?

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      1. brianwagenr writes, “God is omniscient (Wagner)! ☺”

        brianwagner writes, “if the general definition of all open theists would be limited to those who believe that “some future events are not yet known as predetermined because they all are not yet predetermined”, I would be fine with that.”

        The phrase, “…not yet known…” negates omniscience.

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      2. Some – Not yet known as predetermined… but known as contingent, which is what God truly decided in His thinking for them to be known as until the contingency ends, according to His sovereign free will to do so, and just as He has revealed to us.

        Would you really like your words taken out of context by someone who knows what you are saying, Roger?

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      3. Hi Leighton, My understanding of Molinism, which is probably deficient, is that all things were predetermined before creation, even all of God’s and man’s decisions, but based on God’s use of middle knowledge (the knowledge of all possible human histories, including the one we are currently experiencing with apparent free-will)

        I say “apparent”, because the future is still already determined, it is just that God played out every scenario in His head, including all the ones where man exercises free-will and His free reactions to it, and then chose the full scenario that we are experiencing, one that cannot ever be changed forever into the future, by true LFW being expressed by us or by Him).

        Loyalty to defining omniscience as must having a definite, “finished,” knowledge of the future is what drives Calvinism and Molinism. But if God’s knowledge changed once from being indefinite to definite (should I create to I will create), then there is no need to confine the future to being completely known as definite in God’s knowledge of the future.

        And not only is there no need, a future that is known fully as partially definite and partially indefinite is the most normal reading of Scripture. Calvinism and Molinism cause Scripture to be read, in my view, in an equivocal fashion… “It doesn’t really mean what it sounds like it is saying!”

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      4. So we have an open theist, Brian Wagner, telling us what Molinists believe. 🙂 Molinists hold to libertarian free will AND that God knows the future exhaustively (so they hold the ordinary view of omniscience). Molinism is an attempt at explaining how God knows the future freely made choices that people will make. They do this by positing some distinctions in God’s knowledge. There is God’s knowledge of all possibilities and all possible worlds(i.e. “natural knowledge”), God’s knowledge of what will in fact occur in a particular possible world that He creates (“actual knowledge”), and God’s knowledge of what each person would freely choose to do in any given situation (“middle knowledge”).
        So God knows that if He creates world X (i.e. X becomes the actual world), in world X, Judas will choose to betray Christ. God decides to create world X so in fact when the time comes Judas does in fact freely choose to betray Christ (could Judas have done otherwise? Yes if he had libertarian free will as Molinists believe, so Judas could have done otherwise but will in fact choose to betray Christ in world X). Say that in world Y Judas would not have chosen to betray Christ, if God creates that world then Judas could choose to betray Christ but will in fact choose not to do so.

        What the Molinist is trying to do is have God knowing the future, people having libertarian free will and God having things happen according to His will. Think of it as combining a strong Calvinistic view of providence but with LFW present.

        Let’s look at what Wagner the open theist says about Molinism:

        “My understanding of Molinism, which is probably deficient, is that all things were predetermined before creation, even all of God’s and man’s decisions, but based on God’s use of middle knowledge (the knowledge of all possible human histories, including the one we are currently experiencing with apparent free-will)”

        Wagner is already off here, as he is confusing natural knowledge and middle knowledge, he cannot even get the major categories in Molinist thinking straight: he says that middle knowledge is “the knowledge of all possible human histories, including the one we are currently experiencing”. But that is not middle knowledge, that is God’s “natural knowledge” (it is termed natural because as God is omniscient in the ordinary sense not the open theist perversion he knows what would happen in any particular possible world). Middle knowledge is about what a person would do in a particular set of circumstances.

        “I say “apparent”, because the future is still already determined, it is just that God played out every scenario in His head, including all the ones where man exercises free-will and His free reactions to it, and then chose the full scenario that we are experiencing, one that cannot ever be changed forever into the future, by true LFW being expressed by us or by Him).”

        Some major problems with what is said here. First, the future in Molinism is already KNOWN but not “already determined”. For example the Molinist will tell you that God knows what sins you will commit in the future (as he has middle knowledge and natural knowledge), but God does not predetermine for you to choose to do those sins, you choose to do those sins.

        Second, God did not ‘play out every scenario in His head” to learn what would happen in each possible world, as he has natural knowledge and is omniscient He knows everything at once and never learns anything as is true of the god of open theism.

        Third, Wagner says that God chooses the “full scenario” and that this means it is “one that cannot ever be changed forever into the future”. This is misleading and is his open theism talking. Calvinists and Arminians both affirm that God is omniscient (meaning that God knows what will occur in the future before it does in fact take place). Both also agree that the actual future is the future that will in fact take place.

        If you believe in LFW and ARE NOT AN OPEN THEIST then you believe that God knows how you will in fact choose in the future (though he may not be determining your choice, sin again being a perfect example, God knows what sins you will choose to do before you do them, but him knowing you will choose to do them is not the same as Him predetermining them to occur). Whatever we will in fact choose to do is what we will in fact choose to do in the future, and this is what God foreknows we will do. Wagner like many open theists cannot stand this idea, for him if we will in fact choose to do X in the future and God knows we will freely choose to do X in the future then we don’t have LFW. But Wagner and the other open theists are wrong here, something is going to occur in the future, that is what will in fact occur. What will in fact occur in the future includes what we will freely choose to do. God knowing our choice before it happens does not take away our free will. For those, including Molinists who believe in LFW, God both knows what we will choose to do in the future and we will experience LFW. If we choose to do X, God foreknows we will choose to do X, if instead we will choose to do Y, then God foreknows we will choose to do Y. We will in fact make some choice (either X or Y) and God knows what that choice will be if He is truly omniscient as understood by all except open theists.

        “Loyalty to defining omniscience as must having a definite, “finished,” knowledge of the future is what drives Calvinism and Molinism.”

        Actually that is not true, both Calvinists and Molinists, in common with virtually all believers hold to the ordinary understanding of omniscience because they both know the Bible teaches that God knows the future, they both know about biblical prophecy. It is their commitment to the Bible that drives them to hold the ordinary view of omniscience.

        “But if God’s knowledge changed once from being indefinite to definite (should I create to I will create), then there is no need to confine the future to being completely known as definite in God’s knowledge of the future. “

        This is a confusion of categories, God choosing or not choosing to create the world is a subset of his providence. God knowing the future completely is a subset of his omniscience. God is omniscient whether or not He chooses to create the world. Omniscience means that whatever world he creates He knows its entire future before He even creates it. This is why many find Molinism attractive, because you can have a strong view of providence, strong view of omniscience, and have libertarian free will at the same time, you need not sacrifice any of them. In contrast the open theist desires to keep LFW but is comfortable jettisoning omniscience.

        “And not only is there no need, a future that is known fully as partially definite and partially indefinite is the most normal reading of Scripture.”

        Wagner has to insert some open theist propaganda here: “a future that is known fully as partially definite and partially indefinite”. Molinists believe in LFW and believe that while God knows the future exhaustively, some future events are determined by persons acting with free will.

        “Calvinism and Molinism cause Scripture to be read, in my view, in an equivocal fashion… “It doesn’t really mean what it sounds like it is saying!””

        Yeh, in “his opinion”. The calvinist and Molinist both agree that the Bible teaches God is omniscient and knows the future exhaustively. They disagree on LFW with most calvinists holding compatibilism instead and Molinists holding to LFW. I believe if everything is predetermined as per calvinism, then LFW cannot and does not exist. But that is not Molinism where LFW is sometimes present (so God knows what you will do, e.g. sin, but he does not predetermine for you to do it, you could have done otherwise and should have done otherwise, but God via his middle knowledge knew what you would choose to do).

        We may or may not accept Molinism but it is superior to open theism, because the Molinist is attempting to hold to strong views of providence, omniscience and LFW. We may disagree on whether they have accomplished this, but they do not posit the god of open theism who is not omniscient and learns about future freely chosen choices only when they occur, not knowing them before. With its distinctions in God’s knowledge and especially its concept of middle knowledge, the God of Molinism is omniscient and does not learn about what the future will be as is true of the god of open theism.

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      5. Well Robert – Nice try! You said – “So God knows that if He creates world X (i.e. X becomes the actual world), in world X, Judas will choose to betray Christ. God decides to create world X, so in fact when the time comes Judas does in fact freely choose to betray Christ.”

        In God’s omniscience are you saying that before His decision to create X, He knew X only as a possibility, and then after He decided to create X, He then knew X as a certainty? Did His omniscience change by that decision or was X never really known as a possibility, like you said, but to have a consistent omniscience X was always known a certainty?

        Be careful how you answer… I don’t want to have to label you an open theist! 🙂

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      6. Thus, the Calvinist says that God’s omniscience results from His decrees. When God decrees X, it is with an infinite understanding of all that which the decision entails and is made with perfect wisdom – no other decision could have been made that was more wise and nothing later happens that might call the wisdom of that decision into question.

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      7. “the Calvinist says….” so what? What does the Scripture say?

        “No other decision could have been made…” Roger, you are stacking the deck and monopolizing the meaning of “perfect wisdom”. I don’t call His wisdom into question. That wisdom is clearly revealed in Scripture which affirms a future that is only partly determined and partly open with true possibilities.

        God, of course, knows it fully as such since that is how He sovereignly chose it to be, as revealed in the normal reading of Scripture.

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      8. The Calvinist recognizes that God can know the future by decreeing that future and thereby be omniscient. No one else has identified another method for God to know the future and be omniscient. The Scriptures identify some decrees of God. God tells Abraham what He will do with Sodom so God knew the future of Sodom. God told Jonah what He would do with Ninevah and then told Jonah to go tell them. Thus, God knew the future of Ninevah and God even knew that he would put into the hearts of those unrighteous people the belief in Jonah’s words and repentance. God decreed the coming of Christ and described many things about this coming in the prophets – born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, etc. Certainly God knows the future that He has decreed and knows that future because he decreed it.

        The issue is whether God decrees all things and is omniscient because of that.

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      9. Roger – “No one else has identified another method for God to know the future and be omniscient” that you accept!

        That God knows the completed future of things He determined for it is a given by both of us. There is, however, no clear Scripture that states that He has decreed every event of the future, and in fact such a Scripture would cause a contradiction when contrasted with all the conditional statements, universal invitations, and verses about His present and future choices.

        The issue is whether omniscience can be defined as knowing all the future as it really is, partly determined and partly open.

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      10. brianwagner writes, ‘“No one else has identified another method for God to know the future and be omniscient” that you accept!”

        So, there I was looking for you to identify another method that I might consider. Then, nothing! So, if you do not know another method – one you feel comfortable sharing – why do you add, “that you accept!” at the end of your comment. What was your point?

        “The issue is whether omniscience can be defined as knowing all the future as it really is, partly determined and partly open.”

        No the definition of omniscience is established – as knowing the future as it is, fully determined. If any part of the future is open, then it cannot be known other than, as you say, a possibility and that can comprise different outcomes none of which can be known as the actual outcome.

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      11. Roger, other methods have been stated often, as you are well aware. To state that “no one else has identified” one is not an accurate expression of your knowledge.

        You said – “the definition of omniscience is established.” What do you mean by “established”? And have not and cannot and should not definitions change in your view to make them more in line with Scripture, if that’s possible?

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      12. Oh Brian! You keep teasing. You are like the sign on the road that promises “Deer Crossing” but you never see a deer cross the road. Can’t you give just give me a flavor for whatever else is out there.

        The definition of omniscience can be gotten from Charnock – which I am confident you have reviewed, if not read. Everyone uses the term to mean that described by him – I suspect even you did in the past. He does note the Socians in his write-up. As many people use the term, “omniscience,” as Charnock has expounded, we can say that his definition is the established one. Obviously, you define God’s knowledge to mean something different than “omniscience,” so if you want to hi-jack the term, I think you need to address Charnock’s explanation and show that he misunderstood those verse to which he appeals for God’s perfect knowledge of all future events. Otherwise, create a new term.

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      13. Hi Roger! I do like to tease… but I actually wasn’t there! Did Luther hijack the definition of justification? Did Zwingli hijack the definition of the eucharist? Did Hubmaier hijack the definition of baptism? Or did each of these return those definitions back to a biblical understanding away from their “orthodox” false definitions?

        Would giving you a quote from a fourth century Christian’s view of omniscience help you see that orthodoxy is not based on the age or popularity of a definition of theological words, but on that which best reflects the normal reading of Scripture the most.

        Here is one written example of an open theism view of omniscience from a Christian writer in the 300’s, refuting the Stoic, Platonic views of the predetermination of all future events.

        (162) “What are we to answer against these doctrines laid down contentiously and with even greater violence than fate itself possesses? Our answer is: That it is true that God knows all things. but that He knows everything according to its own nature : that which is subject to necessity as submissive to necessity, the contingent, however, as provided with such a nature that deliberation opens a way for it. For God does not know the nature of what is contingent in such a way as that which is certain and bound by necessity… but in such a way that he really knows the contingent according to its nature.”
        Calcidius 4th Century AD. On Fate, Boeft, p. 52.

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      14. It seems obvious that Calcidius did not have an influence on Christianity or theology.

        If you think the rendering of God’s knowledge as omniscient by Charnock is do for an overhaul, have at it.

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      15. So why Roger did you ignore my examples of definitions that changed away from popular so- called orthodox ones and not comment on them?

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      16. What did you mean to convey by your examples? That the same could be done for omniscience? If so, then why do your examples exist and nothing has been done about omniscience. Isn’t Robert correct in his analysis of omniscience and it’s almost universal acceptance to encompass God’s knowledge of the future? I don’t see where your examples say anything on this issue. However, perhaps they will encourage you to take on Charnock and dispute his analysis which has established the universally (with minor objection) accepted meaning of omniscience.

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      17. Roger, Wouldn’t there have been a sixteenth Roman Catholic theologian, using your same arguments, trying to dispute the biblical definitions of the words given by the men from the examples that I just gave you! He would have pointed to Aquinas perhaps as the last word against their “novel” definitions that they claimed were more Scriptural.

        Infant baptism is a great example of how a traditional definition for a biblical word is still being used, and called “orthodox” by “all” the major denominations that are usually mentioned – RC, Orthodox and Protestant, supported, they think, with using some inferences made from texts taken out of context,

        Infant baptism is a more harmful definition, in my view, than the Charnock definition of omniscience. But you would agree, I think, that Luther, Zwingli, and Hubmaier helped with a rejection of unhelpful and even harmful “orthodox” definitions of biblical concepts. Those rejected definitions are still held as “orthodox” by RC, but you and i are fine with calling their definitions unorthodox in light of biblical evidence.

        I am hoping that the traditional definition, borrowed from philosophy, for omniscience will be redefined back to a more biblical basis of understanding.

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      18. If I understand RC theology, it takes into account more than just the Scriptures – e.g., tradition – and it was this that the Reformers attacked through their focus on the Scriptures alone.

        As I read Charnock, he does use logical arguments (philosophy) to defend God’s perfect knowledge of the future, but these are on top of the Scriptural arguments that he develops. You keep deflecting, e.g., appealing to a no-name from the 4th century or so who may have been a Christian but seems primarily to have been a philosopher. You lump in the issue of omniscience with other issues. For what purpose? If no one dealt with omniscience other than as Charnock, then it seems that omniscience was not an issue as the others were.

        The point is that Charnock seems to be the best treatment on omniscience that those, like you, who have issues with God knowing the future must contend. Yet, no one has taken Charnock on and disputed his analysis. Such would be a major undertaking and it is more popular and must easier just to ignore Charnock and drag out a few verses that appear to support your view. Until someone takes Charnock head on and shows how he got it wrong, people are going to look at omniscience as being perfect knowledge that encompasses all future outcomes despite the efforts of you and others to claim otherwise.

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      19. So Roger, you really don’t see the comparison of someone appealing to Aquinas to reject redefinitions by reformers. The RC still holds on to Aquinas like you are to Charnock.

        I appreciate a lot your willingness to concede that Charnock also appeals to philosophy for support of his view. I will concede that I am not familiar yet with Calcidius’ Christianity, and he definitely was dealing with a view of omniscience made popular in philosophy. My guess is that Charnock wrote in response to other views that were being presented in Christian circles in his day.

        The main point I was making is that it is not whose view becomes poplar or preserved as “orthodox” that matters. It is which view is more Biblical. For you Roger I will do some critique of Charnock’s work, but it we won’t be done soon. ☺

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      20. Charnock cites the standard Scriptures to argue for God’s omniscience of the future; if you know those Scriptures, I doubt that Charnock says anything you don’t already know – most people repeat Charnock’s arguments, so you should have heard them from secondary sources. As the logical argument comes from philosophy, everyone, Charnock, me, and you, appeals to philosophy in their arguments because we all use logic.

        Open Theism would not work without appeal to philosophy. No rush on your analysis – I am just surprised that no one in the Open Theist world hasn’t already done it leaving you only to cite their work.

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      21. Hi Roger, I did just read much of an article on Charnock found on monergism.com. But I still like doing my own critique. It was interesting to discover that I was right in that Charnock was writing his view of omniscience in contrast to the debate being presented by Molinists and the Remonstrants view of it during his day.

        I also noted that it appears Charnock is basing much of his view of omniscience to be consistent with his view of the immutability of God which he bases on another attribute, called the simplicity of God. That foundational attribute to his theology, the simplicity of God, is purely from philosophy and seems to have infected all the rest, no matter what Scripture says! But that is just a hypothesis I have at this point.

        And I actually have not read much of Open Theists’ works, though I have read Boyd’s main book, and Erickson’s and Wilson’s books critiquing it. Maybe someone in the Open Theist camp has already critiqued Charnock. I’ll look.

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      22. brianwagner writes, “”I also noted that it appears Charnock is basing much of his view of omniscience to be consistent with his view of the immutability of God which he bases on another attribute, called the simplicity of God.

        I would just deal with his treatment of the Scriptures. I got the impression that he used immutability as reinforcement and not as the foundation for his arguments – although immutability plays a key role in how one treats knowledge. I’ll have time to read Thursday as I am traveling, so I’ll read it again.

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      23. Brian Wagner writes: “I am hoping that the traditional definition, borrowed from philosophy, for omniscience will be redefined back to a more biblical basis of understanding.”

        This is why I see Wagner’s comments to be both deceitful and misleading.

        The traditional definition is NOT borrowed from philosophy as Wagner claims.

        Ask my wife or myriads of others who hold to the traditional definition of omniscience (whether they are Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Calvinists, Arminians, etc. etc. etc. etc.) why they believe that God knows everything and they will answer because the Bible teaches this. If they know their Bibles they will even be able to cite clear and unambiguous scriptures on this. They will point to lots of biblical prophecies showing that God knows the future.

        WHAT THEY WILL NOT DO IS CITE SOME PHILOSOPHER OR SOME PHILOSOPHICAL WRITING.

        And Wagner knows this, so for him to claim that the traditional definition is borrowed from philosophy is a lie.

        And if we were to ask the students in Wagner’s classes who also hold the traditional understanding of omniscience where they got it from, they would answer from the Bible as well.

        So this repeated claim by Wagner that myriads of believers across all Christian traditions get their view from philosophy is a lie. Wagner repeats this lie because this is his only way of undermining the traditional view, by claiming that it is philosophy not the Bible. But he has it completely backwards, again, ask virtually any laymen and he/she will point to the Bible for their basis for believing that God knows everything.

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      24. Rhutchin provides a perfect example of the semantic game playing that Brian Wagner engages in.

        Rhutchin quotes Wagner twice and then concludes that this view negates omniscience:

        [[brianwagenr writes, “God is omniscient (Wagner)! ”
        brianwagner writes, “if the general definition of all open theists would be limited to those who believe that “some future events are not yet known as predetermined because they all are not yet predetermined”, I would be fine with that.”
        The phrase, “…not yet known…” negates omniscience.]]

        So according to Wagner in the first statement and second statements, God is omniscient and at the same time “some future events are not yet known”. If some future events are not yet known by God then He is not omniscient (unless we play semantic games as Wagner does so that God is supposedly omniscient even though He does not know some of the future events that are to occur. Wagner will add that he believes that God knows future events that he predetermines, but this still leaves out future events that will in fact occur that God does not predetermine (which is freely made choices in the future, which is precisely what open theists deny that God does know or can know).

        Now note Wagner’s response to rhutchin pointing this out:

        “Some – Not yet known as predetermined… but known as contingent, which is what God truly decided in His thinking for them to be known as until the contingency ends, according to His sovereign free will to do so, and just as He has revealed to us.”

        Now I am really wondering what a “laymen” would say to me if I said regarding God’s knowledge of future events that will take place:

        “Some – Not yet known as predetermined… but known as contingent, which is what God truly decided in His thinking for them to be known as until the contingency ends,”

        The laymen would say “what?”

        Who talks this way about God knowing the future?

        In contrast to Wagner’s playing with words, I would simply say to the laymen that God knows all future events before they occur.

        I wouldn’t’ speak in this kind of gobbledygook to a laymen.

        It is almost like speaking in a code, not plain and clear English. And yet this is precisely what Wagner has to do to try to **sound** orthodox though he is not orthodox but is an open theist.

        A lot of times in the past when dealing with cultists one of their favorite techniques to try to escape was to claim that we were only quoting them out of context. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this I’d be a millionaire. And this is precisely what Wager tries to do:

        “Would you really like your words taken out of context by someone who knows what you are saying, Roger?”

        I don’t think Roger took the words out of context, he pointed out yet another example of Wagner’s god who does not know all of the future like the God of the Bible does.

        And again if you are going to speak like this: ““Some – Not yet known as predetermined… but known as contingent, which is what God truly decided in His thinking for them to be known as until the contingency ends,”

        Who is going to know what you are saying? 🙂

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      25. Known as contingent means maybe this or maybe that – either of two or more outcomes is possible but unknown to God is which possibility prevails – God is anxiously holding His breath to see what happens. Omniscience means that the actual outcome is known as certainty.

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      26. You aren’t holding your breath Roger, I hope, waiting for me to freely change my mind and agree with you! 🙂 But I bet you are hopeful and have already planned to celebrate with me, if I do! The Scriptures indicate the same hope being expressed by God.

        He is not anxious, for He knows perfectly and fully all the contingencies, and all the responses that He can freely choose from.

        Your definition of omniscience is a philosophical one that does not line up with Scripture!

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      27. you say: So, does God foreknow those whom He chose (Calvinist) or those whom He foresees will choose Him (Pelagius)?

        False dichotomy. It’s both together simultaneously. God foreknows those to whom grace comes and God foreknows who in the end will reject grace (to which the Calvinist must fall back and say God “deceives” some to think they are elect). Arminians to do not have to teach that sufficient grace comes to all (such as Wagner and Leighton teach) and that leaves room for real personal election.

        God does not deceive people into thinking they are saved. There is no Scripture for it, and it’s a disgraceful doctrine.

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      28. dizerner writes, “God does not deceive people into thinking they are saved. There is no Scripture for it, and it’s a disgraceful doctrine.”

        God sees that people are deceived and doesn’t necessarily do anything to reverse that deception when He could.

        “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’” Matthew 7

        “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth…If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives…We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” 1 John 1-2

        Not specifically salvation but relating to those who are or might be saved.

        Judas – “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him,…” – John 13.

        “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21)

        Of course, Eve.

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      29. you say: God sees that people are deceived and doesn’t necessarily do anything to reverse that deception when He could.

        That’s not the same thing and you know it. God didn’t deceive those people to whom he said “I never knew you” God did not deceive those to whom 1 John were addressed, God did not deceive Judas and God did not deceive Eve. None of your arguments or Scripture has any relevance to the subject *at all,* and even if it did, it doesn’t prove your point.

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      30. No one can be deceived except by God’s decree. Satan is God’s agent to accomplish His purposes and acts willingly for his purposes thinking to destroy God’s creation and unwillingly for God’s purposes accomplishing only that which God intended of him.

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      31. Because God has given believers a promise: resist the devil and he will flee from you. God tells us that Satan roams the world seeking whom he might devour. To believers, God says that He will strengthen them to resist the devil and show them a way to escape temptation thus, believers are to resist the devil and thereby gain confidence in God. For unbelievers, God decrees that Satan sift them and justifying their final judgment.

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      32. Robert,

        You write of Brian’s statement, “So according to Wagner in the first statement and second statements, God is omniscient and at the same time “some future events are not yet known”. If some future events are not yet known by God then He is not omniscient…”

        I have to agree with you. If something, anything, is not known by God then God is not omniscience. I don’t know how anyone can argue otherwise. Omniscience has always been understood by Christians, theologians and the Christian church including creeds and confessions to mean there is nothing God does not know. 1 John: We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

        SDG!

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      33. Brian,

        If I may cut in briefly for a clarification and then I will follow along as you and Roger continue.

        You said “He is not anxious, for He knows perfectly and fully all the contingencies, and all the responses that He can freely choose from.”

        Has God always known which of “all the contingencies, and all the responses” you say “He CAN freely choose from (emphasis added)” He would in the future choose?

        SDG!

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      34. Thanks, Les, for the question of clarification! We are probably going to have to wait for Jesus’ return to get a fuller more accurate explanation! 🙂 But if Scripture means anything normally by the words – “His understanding is infinite” (Ps 147:5) then I believe God has always known all the contingencies possible that He could (can, in the sense of being able to) choose from, or allow, in the future, before even deciding to create anything.

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      35. Thanks Brian, but all you did wast restate what I asked for clarification about. I get that you say, ““His understanding is infinite” (Ps 147:5) then I believe God has always known all the contingencies possible that He could (can, in the sense of being able to) choose from, or allow, in the future, before even deciding to create anything.” So He as always known all contingencies possible that He can or is able to choose from in the future or allow in the future, from all time.

        What asked is, do you think He also knows WHICH ONE of the known contingencies possible that He can or is able to choose from in the future or allow in the future THAT He WILL choose or allow?

        SDG!

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      36. Sorry that I misunderstood your question, Les. I may still not have it right. But I think you are asking, Is God limited to only one response for Himself for each free choice that man, or angel for that matter, might make, and therefore He knows all the choices He will make for each situation that might arise. arise.

        I don’t know, but I am inclined to think He is not, but can choose between a number of free choices consistent with His nature. So He knows all those possibilities fully within the limits of the knowledge of what He has predetermined.

        But if you are just asking Can He know the future as complete. The answer is, no, because of how He sovereignly set it up to be partly determined and partly open. He knows it fully as He has chosen it to be. He cannot know it as something it is not.

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      37. Thanks Brian. You may have come close to answering what I was asking. Let me try one more time with an example.

        God knows before I was born that He will allow me to get online tonight at this time or not. He has not determined that I will or won’t. But He has determined to allow me to choose to or choose not to. But He doesn’t know which option I will choose?

        Further, if I decide not to get online and reply to you, He of course knew that was an option He allowed. He also knew an option I had was to not get online and reply to you, but rather get a gun and shoot my neighbor because he walked thru my yard. But He didn’t know way back at creation which choice I would make? Or, did He know it only as one of the options?

        Last and more to my question, of the many options of choices I had tonight, and He knew them all from creation, did He know which one I ultimately choose?

        You had said: “He is not anxious, for He knows perfectly and fully all the contingencies, and all the responses that He can freely choose from.”

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      38. Hi Les, I am glad you wrote to me and didn’t shoot your neighbour! Or did you… after you got done! 😉

        I think I did answer you in the last paragraph of my last post. No, God does not know which choice you will eventually make, as if it was the only one that will be made, unless, of course, He had predetermined to force circumstances so that you only had one choice.

        Before any unpredetermined choice is made, God knows the options as they truly are… as permitted possibilities that He understands the contingencies of fully. He cannot know them as something that is opposite of what they truly are, unless we want to assume contradiction in God’s knowledge, in my view.

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      39. Thanks Brian for hanging with me. To further clarify, you said,

        “No, God does not know which choice you will eventually make, as if it was the only one that will be made, unless, of course, He had predetermined to force circumstances so that you only had one choice.”

        The first part of that sentence does not make sense to me. “…as if it was the only one that will be made…” Ultimately isn’t only one choice made? I can’t choose to shoot my neighbor and choose not to shoot my neighbor at the same time, can I?Please clarify.

        Now, you said above somewhere:

        “I don’t know, but I am inclined to think He is not, but can choose between a number of free choices consistent with His nature. So He knows all those possibilities fully within the limits of the knowledge of what He has predetermined.
        But if you are just asking Can He know the future as complete. The answer is, no, because of how He sovereignly set it up to be partly determined and partly open.

        So according to what you said,

        1. God can choose between a number of free choices consistent with His nature
        2. He knows all those possibilities fully within the limits of the knowledge of what He has predetermined.

        So, So let’s say God in a given situation has choices consistent with His nature. We will call those choices A, B, C, and D.

        He knows those choices He has…A, B, C, and D.

        Does He (God) know beforehand which one of those 4 choices He (God) will choose/?

        SDG!

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      40. Hi Les, I think we are not on the same page about the nature of knowledge or the nature of the future. If you can fathom that knowledge can change for God, that may help.

        He knew all the possibilities of creation in eternity past only as contingencies… none of them as a necessity. When He chose one of those to create, His knowledge changed and that one became known to Him as a necessity.

        Same with your ABCD. All are known as possibilities, one becomes known as a necessity either when God determines that one to happen, or when it happens because of His permission.

        To limit knowledge of the future to mean as if it was already completed is unnecessary and unbiblical, in my view.

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      41. Brian,

        “Hi Les, I think we are not on the same page about the nature of knowledge or the nature of the future. If you can fathom that knowledge can change for God, that may help.”

        I think you are right that we are not on the same theological page. I believe that the scriptures teach that there is nothing that God does not know and that would also mean that there is nothing that He comes to know as new knowledge as time unfolds.

        I am off to worship and so back to your regular programming with Roger. Thanks for letting me cut in.

        SDG!

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      42. Brian is saying that God knows the choices that people can make in certain situations and God knows how He will respond to the particular choice that a person makes, but God does not know that which a person actually chooses until the person makes that choice.

        You are arguing that God knows what He will do. Brian agrees that God knows what He will do. However, Brian says that God does not know what people will do, but as people make decisions, God is then able to respond as He had already decided.

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      43. Robert,

        On this, “ask virtually any laymen and he/she will point to the Bible for their basis for believing that God knows everything” you are exactly right. We don’t have to have philosophy to be able to understand omniscience.

        “Lord, you have examined me
        and know all about me.
        2 You know when I sit down and when I get up.
        You know my thoughts before I think them.
        3 You know where I go and where I lie down.
        You know everything I do.
        4 Lord, even before I say a word,
        you already know it.
        5 You are all around me—in front and in back—
        and have put your hand on me.
        6 Your knowledge is amazing to me;
        it is more than I can understand.”

        “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

        “Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?”

        SDG!

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  18. Brian Wagner holds to open theism, recognized by most believers as a DENIAL of God being omniscient.

    Unless you play the semantic word games that Wagner plays, then a non-omniscient view can be defined as believing that God *is* omniscient, when He is not.

    I have often appealed to what the orthodox view on omniscience is here at this blog, not to get into debates about who defines orthodoxy, but because if we look at what other believers have believed throughout church history this is indicative of the truth, it strongly indicates what the church believes when the belief is held uniformly across all Christian traditions.
    Wagner now writes:

    “My feeling David is that if we lived back in the early fifth century we would have run into all the same views we find on this site today! But the problem remains the same! Who defines what is orthodox and how close to the normal reading of the general tenor of Scripture does it have to be to be truly orthodox?”

    This statement is not true at all, no one in the fifth century held open theism/Wagner’s view, they all held the ordinary understanding of what it means for God to be omniscient.

    It is those who defy the truth held by the church that always need to question orthodoxy, this has always been the same, every cult has questioned what is Christian orthodoxy, always claiming their perversion is the truth. Wagner questions what most other believers believe about orthodoxy but then has the gall to claim that he believes God is omniscient.

    I don’t like people who are deceptive and have to play semantic games to establish their views and defend their views (much of that distaste comes from having worked in counter cult ministry for years where the cults continually and repeatedly would challenge orthodoxy and redefine Christian terms to fit their aberrant views, it was sickening coming from nonbelievers, but you understood that they were nonbelievers defending unorthodox views, when professing believers engage in the exact same redefining of Christian terms it is in a sense worse, because they have no excuse).

    When Wagner says in his post facetiously that “”God is omniscient (Wagner)” that is a lie, because he does not view omniscience the way the rest of the church views it.

    He can keep playing his semantic redefining games but he has persuaded no one to adopt his unorthodox and aberrant view. It is interesting that we were not even discussing omniscience in this thread until Wagner brought it up. So he keeps pushing for his false and aberrant view here: and I will keep challenging this false view here as well.

    It is a lie if he claims to hold to the orthodox view of omniscience held by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants (including Calvinists, Arminians, SBC traditionalists).

    And this lie again comes from someone who rejects all denominations: and he wants to question what is orthodox?

    His views are both radical and unorthodox and most believers if exposed to them will reject them if they know their Bibles and know what the church has believed on this issue throughout its history.

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    1. Hi Robert! Is bowing and praying to the Eucharist in a Tabernacle, as if it is Jesus, orthodox? Was Luther’s view of justification by faith alone viewed as unorthodox by most of “orthodoxy in his day? Will you respond to my clarification of how the ETS responded with a 2/3 vote in favor of Pinnock retaining membership even though he held to open theistic views even “left” of mine? And are you omniscient to know what all those in the 5th century who were truly born again believed about omniscience? 🙂

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      1. One of the games that Brian Wagner likes to play (since he rejects all denominations, rejecting all pastors as not legitimately ordained by God if they hold to infant baptism, etc., basically any beliefs different than his own Baptist beliefs and is also an open theist): is to attack what certain groups hold to, in an attempt to undermine their claims about his open theism.

        I believe that when considering a particular doctrine we want to carefully consider what scripture says on this doctrine, we also want to consider what other believers have said on this same issue. We do this because we do not have a corner on the truth, we are not infallible in our interpretations and the Holy Spirit works through other believers (even those who hold differing views). If we are considering what the ****church as a whole**** has said on a particular issue it helps to look at what the major Christian traditions have taught and believed and practiced as these are indications of what is true, what we should hold to. Are there differences? Sure. There are also commonalities, areas where you find that Christians across all theological traditions have basically held the same things. In these areas you ought to particularly take note, as though they may disagree on this and this, if they all agree on this, then that is strong evidence that this is the proper view that believers ought to hold.

        Take the trinity for example. While Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants certainly have differences, on the trinity they basically all affirm it (and they all recognize that those who deny the trinity are not orthodox and sometimes not even believers, e.g. the Arians/JW’s). As I know the stance these three traditions have taken on the trinity this is strong evidence that the trinity is orthodox Christian doctrine. Now if someone came alone attacking the trinity, first by pointing out beliefs of say the Catholics that are wrong, I would not reject the Catholics view on the trinity because they hold some other view that I believe to be wrong. If someone came along attacking the trinity, first by pointing out beliefs of say the EO that are wrong, I would not reject the EO view on the trinity because they hold some other view that I believe to be wrong.

        I would note that while Protestants, Catholics and EO disagree on some things, they don’t disagree on the trinity. The same is true of the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, etc. If all three groups agree, despite their differences it is highly likely that what they agree on is true. This is also true on omniscience. Though the three groups disagree on some things, if you survey church history in all three traditions all the way up to today, they all agree on omniscience and they all reject open theism. Now Wagner can play his game of trying to pit their differences or even errors against each other in order to rationalize and justify his aberrant open theism and rejection of what the vast majority believe on omniscience, but his attempts ought to be quite transparent by now.

        Wagner writes:

        “Is bowing and praying to the Eucharist in a Tabernacle, as if it is Jesus, orthodox?”

        Hmm, so say the Catholics are wrong on this, does that mean they are wrong on the trinity, the deity of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and omniscience?

        “Was Luther’s view of justification by faith alone viewed as unorthodox by most of “orthodoxy in his day?”

        Hmm, so because Protestants and Catholics disagreed at that time on Luther, does that mean they are wrong in the areas they agree on, including the trinity, the deity of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and omniscience? Calvinists and Arminians agree on omniscience today, does that mean they are wrong about it since they disagree in other areas?

        “Will you respond to my clarification of how the ETS responded with a 2/3 vote in favor of Pinnock retaining membership even though he held to open theistic views even “left” of mine?”

        I already did respond, I responded by showing the further statement adopted by ETS, was by its own leadership intended to be a “gentle” nudge for open theists to change their view or leave the society. Apparently Wagner did not read that, do I need to repeat the negative comments from members of ETS again?

        “And are you omniscient to know what all those in the 5th century who were truly born again believed about omniscience?”

        I am not omniscient, never claimed to be, I do affirm that God is omniscient though, something Brian Wagner denies by his affirmation of open theism.

        I also affirm that all three major Christian traditions agree omniscience and on open theism, they reject open theism, some even call it and view it as a serious heresy. Should I quote some of them? Would that get Wagner to change his view? No, because it is Brian Wagner “against the world”, or in this case against all denominations and major traditions as he rejects them all and believes their pastors/leaders are not qualified to be God ordained leaders. It is Brian Wagner who holds the radical views here not me. In order to justify and rationalize his views he has to attack every church major tradition, question their leadership and believe it to be illegitimate. He rejects all denominations and yet he is allowed to be a professor at a Christian school, go figure.

        I know as a result of the controversy surrounding Pinnock and Sanders at ETS that some groups (seminaries, churches, even ETS itself made stronger statements in favor of the ordinary view of omniscience, they also will not hire open theists to be on staff at their seminaries, they have also taken steps to exclude open theists from faculty positions and pastorates). Apparently Wagner is unaware of all of this, actually I think he knows all about it, which is why he is so evasive about his unorthodox and aberrant open theist beliefs.

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      2. Robert, RC and the Orthodox do not believe the same definition of the Trinity. Which one has the orthodox one? Or perhaps you didn’t know that the EO split because one of their reasons was the definition of the Trinity. And RC does teach the deity of the Eucharist… if that doesn’t redefine the Trinity in your mind, you are deluded about how much more harmful their idolatry is compared to my attempt to define omniscience to be more consistent with Scriptures.

        Is there now no orthodox view of justification by faith alone since the time of Luther in your view, or are both the Protestant and Catholic views orthodox, though each side calls the other a false gospel?

        I am not sure, Robert, that you read my first response (above) to your quote of the ETS resolution made in 2001. The vote affirming Pinnock was in 2003. There has been no vote or resolution since. The 2/3 acceptance of Pinnock as within the camp and the permission to retain Sanders’ membership within ETS because there was not 2/3 approving his removal, were the society’s final public decisions affirming that any view of open theism that affirms inerrancy of Scripture is within Evangelical orthodoxy.

        I hope this helps you think more logically and more biblically about orthodoxy.

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    2. Robert and really Brian,

      I have not followed along in the past here to be able to say that I can clearly see that you Brian are an open theist. Some statements I have read in the past seem to paint you as one. But I think I have also seen you deny it. So question. Do you agree with Boyd here?

      Piper in his intro to “Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. BEYOND THE BOUNDS” says,

      “…open theism’s most obvious departure from historic Christianity is its denial of the exhaustive, definite foreknowledge of God.” Is that your position Brian?

      “In the Christian view God knows all of reality—everything there is to know. But to assume He knows ahead of time how every person is going to freely act assumes that each person’s free activity is already there to know—even before he freely does it! But it’s not. If we have been given freedom, we create the reality of our decisions by making them. And until we make them, they don’t exist. Thus, in my view at least, there simply isn’t anything to know until we make it there to know. So God can’t foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they, in turn, create their decisions.” Letters From a Skeptic

      Do you agree here with Boyd?

      SDG!

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      1. Hi Les, The reason I dislike being labeled is because of how omniscience is differently defined among a variety of open theists and how the worst definitions of such are used to define any who question the traditional definition of omniscience. I am more in that camp, which I have never denied, and if the general definition of all open theists would be limited to those who believe that “some future events are not yet known as predetermined because they all are not yet predetermined”, I would be fine with that.

        Of course that is not a denial that some future events are already determined and are known as such. Boyd’s explanation is faulty, for when he says – “there simply isn’t anything to know until we make it there to know” – he is misunderstanding, or at least not clarifying, that all the future possibilities within the parameters of anything that is already predetermined are there to be known fully, including all the possible choices that man and God can make (and not yet made) within the limits of their natures and to fulfill any preset divine ends.

        I am thinking that my definition will answer your question about Piper’s quote, since he is using the word “definite” to mean “known as complete” I would think, which is not possible logically, in my view, unless the future is all predetermined (whether in a Calvinist or Molinist understanding). I believe the Scripture normally reads as presenting a future that does not yet exist, but is already partially determined and is partially undetermined, and is known fully by God as such.

        Piper’s use of the words “historical Christianity” is unfortunate, because that usually means anyone that doesn’t agree with the records preserved and popularized by Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Reformed Protestantism. There is significant evidence for evangelical Christianity (especially when non-sacramental) that thrived throughout history outside those in control of what was allowed to be defined as “orthodox”. And there are significant errors of faith still promoted within those so-called “orthodox” groups, which, I think you would agree, God would label as “unorthodox”.

        The fact remains that 2/3 of the Evangelical Theological Society present at a national members meeting in 2003 voted to confirm Pinnock’s membership as consistent within the ETS. I wish I would be accorded the same vote of confidence by all in these discussion posts on this site!

        Like

      2. Hello Les,

        You wrote: “I have not followed along in the past here to be able to say that I can clearly see that you Brian are an open theist. Some statements I have read in the past seem to paint you as one. But I think I have also seen you deny it.”

        Brian Wagner is an open theist.

        However, for the longest time here on this blog he was evasive about it, saying he didn’t like the label, that he didn’t hold the same views as other open theists, etc. He also engaged in all sorts of semantic game playing, redefining “future”, “omniscience”, etc. etc. All for the sake of at first hiding his open theism and now defending it.

        As he is a professor of New Testament I found this ridiculous (he tried to claim theological labels are always bad, misleading, etc., more playing games) because philosophers and theologians commonly use terms descriptive of and in reference to various theological positions. No offense intended. I know some of these philosophers and theologians personally and they don’t hide their beliefs, play games preventing you from knowing their positions. And they readily use common labels to depict their own and other views.

        It may be true that some use labels pejoratively at times (especially on the internet among those who just want to argue and destroy others who hold differing views), but there is also a **perfectly acceptable use of labels** so that you know where someone is coming from.

        For a New Testament professor to try to avoid labels, is unnecessary and also shows he has something to hide. He fully knows that most Christians reject open theism, he fully knows it is strongly rejected by other believers, so he plays this game of hiding it. For the longest time he would not simply acknowledge himself to be an open theist, a ridiculous game to be played by a 60 yr. old man.

        If he would have been forthright and honest about his open theism from the beginning I would have less problems with him (I would still disagree with the open theism, but I could respect the honesty and non-evasiveness). But to play all these semantic games and hide it for the longest time, that is not respectable or honest.

        Even your words here Les show that he is not clear and forthright about his views. As you say at times now he seems to say he is an open theist and other times he seems to deny it.

        Like

      3. Les, At least Robert hasn’t called me a troll yet, like he has you! I wonder if he thinks that his labeling of you that way is “respectful and honest” or if he will push you to finally stop evading his “truth” and admit you are a troll!

        Robert, I would like to politely request that you stay out of conversations that I am having with someone else in the future. I don’t appreciate your feeling led to be a source of criticism of me and my views for them without their requesting of it. I am sure you would understand that you would not appreciate the same, but if you do not, I have uncharacteristically given an example for you above to Les. You are welcome anytime to confront me directly on my views, especially to discuss specific Scriptures where you think I could be helped.

        Like

      4. Troll (defined): a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.

        “Robert, I would like to politely request that you stay out of conversations that I am having with someone else in the future.”

        Amen!

        Like

      5. Thanks Robert. I just got home at almost 10pm CDT after a long work day and French class this evening. When I have time I want to read more of what Brian has said. From what I can see so far, Brian’s views certainly seem to me to be unorthodox, but I haven’t had the long history with him that you have had.

        I do like clarity. We have been having a battle in the PCA for some time now over Federal Vision issue. Getting clarity out of some on this issue is very difficult. Some like to play word games. Semantic gymnastics. It is very frustrating.

        Anyway, I’ll try to get up to speed.

        SDG!

        Like

    3. you say: This statement is not true at all, no one in the fifth century held open theism/Wagner’s view, they all held the ordinary understanding of what it means for God to be omniscient.

      For the sake of accuracy can we be sure to add the qualification “whose writings were recorded or whom we have record of.” It may seem like a small point but I think it’s important for precision.

      Like

      1. Actually Dizerner – “What are we to answer against these doctrines laid down contentiously and with even greater violence than fate itself possesses? Our answer is: That it is true that God knows all things. but that He knows everything according to its own nature : that which is subject to necessity as submissive to necessity, the contingent, however, as provided with such a nature that deliberation opens a way for it. For God does not know the nature of what is contingent in such a way as that which is certain and bound by necessity… but in such a way that he really knows the contingent according to its nature.” Calcidius 4th Century AD. On Fate, Boeft, p. 52.

        Here is one written example of an open theism view of omniscience from a Christian writer in the 300’s, refuting the Stoic, Platonic views of the predetermination of all future events.

        Like

      2. At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26″Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.

        I have no doubt God has revealed his wisdom to those who come to him in his Word, wisdom that the religious institutions often miss out on.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Brian Wager writes:

    “Les, At least Robert hasn’t called me a troll yet, like he has you! I wonder if he thinks that his labeling of you that way is “respectful and honest” or if he will push you to finally stop evading his “truth” and admit you are a troll!”

    Hmm, so Brian Wagner wants to bring up something that I said in the past, in order to attack me.
    That’s Ok, I admit that I called Les a “troll” in the past. To be honest when I first interacted with Les and saw his postings to others I really thought the “troll” term applied to him. I have also noticed that he seems to have changed his ways from what I first saw. So I have made efforts to change my interactions with Les in a more positive manner. I have attempted to interact with him in a better, more positive, more productive way recently. Others can judge whether or not my most recent interactions with Les have been respectful and acceptable or not.

    And Brian need not worry as I do not believe that Wagner is acting like a “troll”. 🙂

    Wagner says to Les, that “I wonder if . . . he will push you to finally stop evading his “truth” and admit you ae a troll”. For the record it was not just my subjective opinion (“his ‘truth’”), others agreed with me, but there is no need to have them comment here at this point.

    I can say this about Les, he does not play games evading the truth that he holds to Calvinism the way Wagner does with his open theism. And while I disagree with Calvinism and disagree with it strongly, Les never plays games pretending he is not a Calvinist or trying to hide it. I also do not hide my beliefs, most would label be an Arminian though I fit the “Traditionalist” Baptist position very well. I am not offended if someone called me an “Arminian” or a “Traditionalist” (as long as they use these terms by their commonly understood definitions).

    Brian Wagner continues:

    “Robert, I would like to politely request that you stay out of conversations that I am having with someone else in the future.” (comment 1)

    So let me see if I understand this correctly (comment 1), even though Brian Wagner is commenting ***publically*** on a ***public*** blog, he wants me to stay out of any conversations that he is having with someone else in the future? No, I won’t agree to that as this is a public blog with public conversations. If he is going to present his open theism (and his aberrant views on church leaders) publicly here these things can be opposed publicly here as well.

    Brian Wagner then writes:

    “You are welcome anytime to confront me directly on my views, especially to discuss specific Scriptures where you think I could be helped.” (comment 2)

    So first Wagner asks that I stay out of any public conversations he is having with someone else on this public blog. But now he says (in comment 2) I am **welcome** to confront him directly at **anytime** on his views. In response to these comments my response is that I will continue to post publicly on this public blog site.

    Sorry Phillip!!!! 🙂

    Speaking of Phillip, he kindly out of the goodness of his heart, shared with us the definition of “troll”:

    “Troll (defined): a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.”

    Again, I have to be honest, when I first read Les’ posts he appeared to fit this description. Especially when others that I know thought he was acting as a troll and the moderator got involved and issued the cease and desist kind of messages to participants in the discussion. As of late Les appears to have tried to tone down his comments and interact in a more respectful and positive way. So in **my opinion** presently Les is not acting like a troll over here at Soteriology 101.

    Phillip also wrote:

    [[“Robert, I would like to politely request that you stay out of conversations that I am having with someone else in the future.”
    Amen!]]

    Sorry Phillip I will happily interact in threads that I see you posting in here. Just as I will continue posting when Wagner posts here as well. In fact Phillip I will especially be on the lookout for your comments so that I can respond to them.

    Like

    1. So Robert – You said – “Hmm, so Brian Wagner wants to bring up something that I said in the past.” I was referring to something you said on this page, only one week ago, about Les. Is that what you think people will understand by your word “past” or are you being deceptive? You have during this week reset the conversation tone with Les, and for that I am thankful that you have humbled yourself and accepted Les’ invitation that you speak more civilly about him and with him.

      Having read the above definition on what is a troll, would you be surprised if there were any on this site who felt Robert that you fit some of that definition at times? I, for one, feel you do. And I hope that when I seem to fit some of that definition, that you will let me know.

      Like

      1. Brian,

        I want to publically apologize to you in regards to how Robert has treated you. I wish I could say I was shocked, but anyone who has “crossed” Robert in the past is well aware of his tactics
        .
        Honestly, it only continues to baffle me why Robert insists on continuing to treat others in this manner. As previously stated, Robert was banned from SBC Today earlier this year for precisely this kind of behavior. Other brothers in Christ cried for him to exhibit grace, but he only got worse. You have been nothing but gracious, but even that has led Robert to only intensify his remarks.

        Others on this very blog have shown their distaste for Robert’s language and tone (and long-windedness), but even that, apparently, has fallen on deaf ears.

        Obviously, communicating in this format is not one of Robert’s gifts.

        So let me get this straight, according to Robert……

        Phillip – a Pelagian

        Roger/Les – a Troll

        Brian – a lying Open Theist

        Stanrock – an Open Theist Sympathizer

        David – just give it time; wait till he finds out you reject “once saved, always saved”

        Leighton – your time is coming too; be patient; plenty of labels to go around!

        Psychological characteristics (of Trolls)……

        “Two studies published in 2013 and 2014 have found that people who are identified as trolls tend to have dark personality traits and show signs of sadism, antisocial behavior, psychopathy, and machiavellianism. The 2013 study suggested that there are a number of similarities between anti-social and flame trolling activities and the 2014 study suggested that the noxious personality characteristics known as the ‘dark triad of personality’ should be investigated in the analysis of trolling, and concluded that trolling appears ‘to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.’ Their relevance is suggested by research linking these traits to bullying in both adolescents and adults. The 2014 study found that trolls operate as agents of chaos on the Internet, exploiting hot-button issues to make users appear overly emotional or foolish in some manner. If an unfortunate person falls into their trap, trolling intensifies for further, merciless amusement.”

        He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

        Like

      2. I want to deal with what Phillip believes my view of certain people and their positions is, Phillip writes:

        “So let me get this straight, according to Robert……”

        Phillip then lists people and what he feels my concerns with them are regarding their theological beliefs. Since he brought it up, and I don’t play games, I want to be clear on this
        .
        “Phillip – a Pelagian”

        In the past Phillip who used to post as “wingedfooted1” has repeatedly attacked, mocked and ridiculed the doctrine of total depravity. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree that you have to hold to total depravity in order to be biblical (though they differ on their conceptions of depravity). Historically those who completely rejected and attacked total depravity were Pelagians.

        “Roger/Les – a Troll”

        In the past Les appeared to act like a troll from what I had initially seen. Les appears to have changed his behavior so that he is no longer acting as he did. Roger/rhutchin has exhibited no evidence of change and he continues to engage in unjustified attacks of non-Calvinists as “universalists” and deniers of God having foreknowledge.

        “Brian – a lying Open Theist”

        Brian is an open theist. If he had been upfront and forthright and honest about it from the beginning, I would disagree with his open theism but not have problems with him. But he has been so evasive and deceptive about his open theism that it comes across as dishonest and deceitful. Besides his open theism he also rejects all denominations which is a major red light.

        He also holds to believer baptism (as I do as well) however he goes further and believes that those who hold to infant baptism not only are wrong about baptism but their leaders are not legitimately God ordained as pastors. This means people like Les (and other Presbyterians) Methodists, Anglicans, Wesleyans, Lutherans, etc. according to Wagner ought not to be ordained as pastors. Well if they ought not to be ordained as pastors and yet they are, then their ordination is illegitimate.
        This is really radical and false.

        To use Les as an example. I disagree with him on baptism, but if he is a godly person, submits to the distinctives of his denomination/Presbyterian, then in my thinking he can be and ought to be ordained as a pastor. Brian Wagner disagrees, according to Wagner Les even if he is a godly person, submits to the distinctives of his group, because he holds to infant baptism, he ought not be ordained as a pastor. Wagner is wrong on this and this is serious error.

        “Stanrock – an Open Theist Sympathizer”

        The areas where I disagree with Stan are on his endorsement of determinism and rejection of libertarian free will and his universalism. Phillip perhaps you have not perused Stan’s website. If you do so, you will find that he does not believe the traditional and biblical view of hell as eternal punishment. According to Stan, the nonbelievers goes through a purgatorial punishment that is remedial with the end result being that the person is eventually reconciled with God. So according to Stan everyone will eventually be a saved person. Universalism is a serious error and ought to be rejected.

        “David – just give it time; wait till he finds out you reject “once saved, always saved””

        Actually I have noted that David/dizerner rejects eternal security. I disagree with him on this and have chosen not to get into it here on this blog. I understand that David views himself as a “classical Arminian” and I know that many (probably most) Arminians like David reject eternal security. Among Arminians there is disagreement with most believing as David does and some holding to eternal security. My bigger concerns with Dizerner has been his view that God chooses his own nature and his views on rationality and logic.

        And lastly:

        “Leighton – your time is coming too; be patient; plenty of labels to go around!”

        Actually you are absolutely wrong about this Phillip, you are not going to like this, as it takes the wind out of your sails completely, but, from what I have read and heard from Leighton. We seem to have almost identical theologies and beliefs 🙂

        (we both reject calvinism, we both hold to the ordinary view of omniscience, we both hold to libertarian free will, we both hold to corporate election, we both affirm depravity though not in the same way that calvinists do, etc. etc.). If Leighton and I sat down and talked we would agree on virtually everything! So sorry Phillip, Leighton’s “time is not coming soon”. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Interesting that Brian and Phillip in the past seemed so upset and concerned that I actually thought that some people were acting like “trolls”. I was rebuked by both of them for using this terminology (do I need to reproduce these past comments?). so according to them saying somoene was a troll was extremely bad internet behavior.

        Now the same two are calling me a troll. Brian Wagner writes:

        “would you be surprised if there were any on this site who felt Robert that you fit some of that definition at times? I, for one, feel you do.”

        OK, so according to Brian Wagner I am a troll. Then Phillip piggybacks on Brian’s accusation and writes:

        [[“Psychological characteristics (of Trolls)……
        “Two studies published in 2013 and 2014 have found that people who are identified as trolls tend to have dark personality traits and show signs of sadism, antisocial behavior, psychopathy, and machiavellianism. The 2013 study suggested that there are a number of similarities between anti-social and flame trolling activities and the 2014 study suggested that the noxious personality characteristics known as the ‘dark triad of personality’ should be investigated in the analysis of trolling, and concluded that trolling appears ‘to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.’ Their relevance is suggested by research linking these traits to bullying in both adolescents and adults. The 2014 study found that trolls operate as agents of chaos on the Internet, exploiting hot-button issues to make users appear overly emotional or foolish in some manner. If an unfortunate person falls into their trap, trolling intensifies for further, merciless amusement.”
        He who has ears to hear, let him hear.]]

        In the past Phillip has quoted scripture at me declaring me to be a fool, a Pharisee, a hypocrite, and in each case he would quote scripture and then end with “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”. So I have already been declared to be a fool, Pharisee, and hypocrite by Phillip. Now he has upped the ante a bit, he now declares me to be a troll with psychological problems including having “dark personality traits” showing signs of “sadism, antisocial behavior, psychopathy and machiavellianism”.

        All of these are false accusations by Phillip.

        I expect in the future Phillip will claim that I am unsaved and going to hell, as there are not much more nasty and false things available for him to say.

        I feel sorry for you Phillip, your hatred of me appears to consume you. You don’t post much here except to bring up your false accusations against me. You remind me of Ahab and his hatred for Moby Dick, like Ahab you are consumed with hatred and want to destroy me verbally in any way that you can. I am confident that you will fail as the Lord is watching all of this and He will deal with you.

        I should show your latest claims to my wife who is a professional counselor, she would be very surprised that she has been married to a fool/Pharisee/hypocrite/having dark personality traits/a sadist/and a machiavellian for all of these years and was apparently unaware of these things until Phillip brought this to all of our attention.

        I was just talking to someone recently about how they were reluctant to be involved in a local church with the verbal sniping and abuse they found in past experiences. Apparently they must have received this treatment by someone just like Phillip. I think it is sad that sometimes people are turned off about Christianity because of the kind of treatment they have received from people like Phillip.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. you say: I can say this about Les, he does not play games evading the truth that he holds to Calvinism the way Wagner does with his open theism.

      Sorry to butt in, this is pretty interesting. It seems to me that Brian may have “appeared” to be evasive, but that’s you judging his heart. Because how can you know his motivations? If he says here he was not evasive to hide his beliefs, but because he saw a real distinction between the belief he held and those you wished to group him with, why can’t he be afforded the chance to make that distinction himself, even if you or I disagree with? To me, that’s not truly dishonest, even if we disagree with him or his belief that his take on openness is distinct. I think perhaps too much is being made of this. regards

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Mike! You may feel misunderstood, but if you hang around some more, I think you’ll find some pretty nice fellows who understand Calvinism pretty well.

      If you have a Scripture you think needs to be discussed more to help understanding, feel free. It would be great to see if we have missed one! ☺

      Like

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