Does God Bring About the Abuse of Children for His Own Glory?

I recently came upon this question in my twitter feed.  In case it isn’t obvious, my answer to this shocking question is unapologetically, “HELL NO!”  And I mean that quite literally. Hell, the place were creatures go who “BRING ABOUT” such atrocities, screams what should be the obvious answer: NO! Our perfectly HOLY God does not bring about the sins for which people suffer for in Hell!

However, as obvious as the answer to this question may seem, John Piper, and other notable Calvinistic scholars, teach a highly controversial perspective:

“God . . . brings about all things in accordance with his will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory (see Ex. 9:13-16; John 9:3) and his people’s good (see Heb. 12:3-11; James 1:2-4). This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child…” (Link)— Mark R. Talbot, “’All the Good That Is Ours in Christ’: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do to Us,” in John Piper and Justin Taylor (eds.), Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 31-77 (quote from p. 42).

So, look at the two different beliefs side by side:

  • Traditionalism affirms that God works to redeem man’s morally evil choices and bring about good from the heinous consequences of those autonomous choices. God is seen as most glorious because of His redemptive grace in overcoming evil.
  • Calvinism, according to Piper, affirms that God “isn’t just managing to turn the evil aspects of our world to good; it is rather that He Himself brings about these evil aspects for His glory.” God, according to this perspective, is seen as most glorious for His power and control of the evil itself.

So, is God bringing about the very moral evil that He works to redeem? Why is that perspective of God viewed as “most glorious” by some? Since when is cleaning up your own mistakes deemed as more glorious than graciously cleaning up the messes of those who are fully responsible and woefully undeserving?

Now, to be clear, a Calvinist would not “blame” God for the mistakes of men outright. They would rely on a very complex philosophical explanation of “second and third causes” which has become known as “Compatibilism.”

Let me forewarn you, this explanation can become as convoluted as the lapsarian controversy and has as many various approaches as it does syllables. Objective observers can see how this leads to much confusion and the endless accusation of misrepresentation against anyone who dares to speak out against the systematic’s questionable conclusions… conclusions such as:

Nothing that exists or occurs falls outside God’s ordaining will. Nothing, including no evil person or thing or event or deed. God’s foreordination is the ultimate reason why everything comes about, including the existence of all evil persons and things and the occurrence of any evil acts or events. And so it is not inappropriate to take God to be the creator, the sender, the permitter, and sometimes even the instigator of evil… Nothing — no evil thing or person or event or deed — falls outside God’s ordaining will. Nothing arises, exists, or endures independently of God’s will. So when even the worst of evils befall us, they do not ultimately come from anywhere other than God’s hand. (Same Link as Above)

Here is the problem with this approach.  It denies the permissive aspect of God’s decree.  To say, “God isn’t just managing to turn the evil aspects of our world to good; it is rather that He Himself brings about these evil aspects for His glory,” is to suggest that God is not merely permitting evil people to freely act and managing to turn what they intend for evil into something good, but instead that God is actively “bringing about evil” Himself. He is the root cause (or “author”) of moral evil under this system. That is unacceptable, not only to our consciences as born again believers, but it is wholly unbiblical. Compatibilists, while intending to protect their understanding of Divine sovereignty (i.e. complete control), undermine God’s supremely self-glorifying characteristics of holiness and love.

I’ll allow John MacArthur, another notable Calvinistic pastor, bring some much needed balance to this approach:

If God is sovereign, is He responsible for evil?

No. Scripture says that when God finished His creation, He saw everything and declared it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Many Scriptures affirm that God is not the author of evil: “God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13). “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33)—and if that is true, He cannot in any way be the author of evil.

Occasionally someone will quote Isaiah 45:7 (KJV) and claim it proves God made evil as a part of His creation: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

But the New American Standard Bible gives the sense of Isaiah 45:6-7 more clearly: “There is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” In other words, God devises calamity as a judgment for the wicked. But in no sense is He the author of evil. …

Romans 5:12 says that death entered the world because of sin. Death, pain, disease, stress, exhaustion, calamity, and all the bad things that happen came as a result of the entrance of sin into the universe (see Genesis 3:14-24). All those evil effects of sin continue to work in the world and will be with us as long as sin is.

First Corinthians 10:13 promises us that God will not permit a greater trial than we can bear. And James 1:13 tells us that God will not tempt us with evil.

God is certainly sovereign over evil. There’s a sense in which it is proper even to say that evil is part of His eternal decree. He planned for it. It did not take Him by surprise. It is not an interruption of His eternal plan. He declared the end from the beginning, and He is still working all things for His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:9-10).

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

Please re-read that last paragraph that I emboldened. He says, “He simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends,” while Piper’s article says the opposite, “God isn’t just managing to turn the evil aspects of our world to good; it is rather that He Himself brings about these evil aspects for His glory.”  So, which is it? Is God bringing about evil or simply permitting it?

Ironically, on this point, I agree with John Calvin when he wrote,

“We should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity-which is closer to us-rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination” [Institutes, 3:23:8].

Do you see the contradiction as it exists even within the ranks of Calvinism?  On the one hand you have prominent Calvinists saying, “so it is not inappropriate to take God to be the creator, the sender, the permitter, and sometimes even the instigator of evil…even the worst of evils befall us, they do not ultimately come from anywhere other than God’s hand.” While, their own namesake teaches his followers not to “seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination” for the moral evil in this world.

What does Piper, Talbot and Taylor mean by teaching that God is “sometimes even the instigator of evil?”  Does that mean God ceases to be “sovereign” in those times He is not “instigating evil?”  I only ask because it appears that these types of Calvinists insist that for God to be considered “sovereign” then He must  be in absolute meticulous control over every thing (which I presume includes every instigation of evil). It seems inconsistent to provide a qualification for God being the instigator of evil sometimes but not all the time given that God presumably has the same level of control over every instance of evil.

How should we look at these apparent inconsistencies among Calvinists?

This all boils down to what a Calvinist means when he uses the word “PERMIT.” Like so many other words in our vocabulary, the Calvinist is forced to put a bit of a spin on the clear meaning of this term in order to maintain their systems presumptions. (Read this for more on the inconsistency of Calvinists in use of this term)

The dictionary states:

PERMIT: verb (used without object)permitted, permitting. 

  • to grant permissionallow liberty to do something
  • to afford opportunity or possibility
  • to allow or admit

That sounds like Libertarian Free Will (LFW) at its very core. LFW is the belief that God has created free moral creatures with the categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from any given moral action. In other words, God permits man to choose (selection between available options) and suffer the consequences of those choices.

Compatibilism, on the other hand, teaches that man is justly punished for their choices even though those choices are ultimately predetermined by God.

Not long ago I had an twitter encounter with Phil Johnson, President of Grace to You (John MacArthur’s Ministry), and when I quoted the article written by John MacArthur above, he assured me that MacArthur “does not believe God merely permits anything.”  To rebut the idea that God “simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends,” as MacArthur wrote, Johnson sent me a link to this article from John Hendryx of monergism.com:

God ordains all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11) and it also teaches that man is culpable for his choices (Ezek 18:20, Matt 12:37, John 9:41)…In order to understand this better theologians have come up with the term “compatibilism” to describe the concurrence of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice. Our choices are not coerced …i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God’s sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph 1:11). 

In light of Scripture, (according to compatibilism), human choices are exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices occur through divine determinism. …

We should be clear that NEITHER compatibilism nor hard determinism affirms that any man has a free will. Those who believe man has a free will are not compatibilists, but should, rather, be called “inconsistent”. Our choices are our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures, nor seperately from God’s meticulous providence. (Link)

In short, he is saying that men make choices according to their greatest desire in a given circumstance, but “the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices occur through divine determinism.” Put another way, men always do what they want but what they want is determined by God.  I explain in detail why I believe this article falls short HERE.

Compatibilists bristle at the accusation that their systematic turns people into puppets on strings, but one would be hard pressed to show how the claims of their systematic can logically avoid that accusation. It appears that as long as the puppets are described as liking their strings then Compatibilists would have no reason for rejecting such accusations.  After all, the string attached to my desire (if Compatibilism is true) has ironically been pulled in favor of Libertarian Free Will.

288 thoughts on “Does God Bring About the Abuse of Children for His Own Glory?

  1. Leighton,

    I have been aware of this problem in Calvinist theology for a long time. It is, simply stated: if God ordains all things as some Calvinists maintain (I say some, as some will deny this because they do not believe that God ordains every event without exception) then that includes every evil that occurs.

    Leighton you brought up the Holocaust and child abuse as examples.

    But it extends far beyond that to EVERY EVIL AND SIN that occurs: if God ordains whatsoever comes to pass without exception.

    Now I can understand (though I disagree with this too) how someone might argue that God ordains the sin and evil of nonbelievers (e.g. through ordaining their unbelieving and evil thoughts as unbelievers). But where it really gets troublesome is with believers.

    Are we to believe that God ordains every divorce involving believers?

    Or that God ordains every false teaching that deceives and has harmful consequences in the lives of believers?

    Or that God ordains every time a believer gives into temptation?

    Or that God ordains that some in the church remain immature and become divisive forces in churches or harm other believers through gossip, false accusations, and divisions?

    It makes much more sense to believe that people freely choose to commit these evils and sins, that while God knows they are happening he does not preplan them and then ensure they occur through people controlled like puppets.

    I also work in prison ministry and the same thing is true, should we believe all of these crimes and evils inmates have committed are ordained by God or freely chosen by them?

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    1. Robert, you are right. It puts a huge strain on 1 Cor 10:13 to attempt to understand how God might work in this way. I have had some conversations with Calvinistic friends who have to admit that when they sin it is ultimately bc God has chosen (for some unknown reason) to refrain from granting them the needed grace to refrain from that sin. So, if they, as a believer, cheat on their wife (for example) it is because God chose not grant them sufficient grace to resist that temptation. They come to this conclusion in order to avoid “taking any credit” for their own abilities to resist temptation. They can’t simply teach (as we would) that God does grant sufficient grace to resist but its your responsibility to do so. That would be stealing God’s glory somehow to suggest that one believer resisted and another one didn’t. But what about the glory diminished by putting our sin back onto God for not granting us what was needed to resist?

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    2. Les Prouty,
      You wrote: “But I cannot escape that God rules over every aspect of His creation. Could He have scripted things differently? Of course. But those who recoil at predestination are in no better position.” You point out that God allows bad things to happen. But are these things as bad as we would believe, and is it because God allows rather than decreeing? You would have God decree ALL THINGS. The scriptures seem to me to show that God allows those things that He has decided in His foreknowledge are right for His world and His people. This does not take from Him His sovereignty.
      You and I know that the scriptures say that God works all things together for good to those that love God. Is it not a possibility that God actually CAN weave and place people, (knowing exactly what each will do in every possible scenario) into an incredibly complicated tapestry of history – such that every freely-made choice made by man is a part of His plan and serves His will? We limit Him in our imaginations as we seek to fit God’s power, prescience, love and creativity into our limited understanding. Some even force Him into being limited by time so that He cannot know what the future holds, apart from a determination to step in when necessary to shape time to His will. In fact He created time, space, and matter and is not limited in any way by any of these existences as many believe.
      We make rather foolish claims about Him by saying that His sovereignty means that He must make all the real choices and that He cannot allow men to make those choices because it would mean that He is not sovereign. Thus we limit Him in our imaginations – in His power, in His love toward mankind and in other ways. Then we claim that His love is only toward those that He chooses to save, and not the world as the scriptures tell us, and we thereby overlook the myriad (and obviously insincere if Calvinists are correct) calls to people in scripture to repent.
      We pretend that Romans 8 and other misunderstood passages prove His hate toward specific men such as Esau and Pharaoh, and that He hardens the hearts of men so that they are not saved. Thus the majority of people are created for Hell. And sadly, we pretend all of this is FOR HIS GLORY. God gets glory from mankind’s eternal unavoidable suffering???? If this is so, then He NEEDS men to become all that He wants to become. He is therefore limited again in this fact – that men must suffer in order to bring Him glory. He NEEDS US.
      Your understanding of predestination needs to be re-examined. You pretend that God predestines men to salvation when in fact it is those that are His through faith who are PREDESTINED TO BECOME CONFORMED TO HIS IMAGE – to become like the Son of God in His holiness. First the faith, then the conforming. You twist words such as “believed” which ensured Abraham’s righteousness, and ignore that the RESULT of that BELIEVING was righteousness.
      We need to have the courage to seek truth in the whole of scripture and not be led by the limited teachings of specific doctrines set out by men. We need to have the courage to pray earnestly about all we read in the scriptures and seek GOD’S guidance rather than fit in with the expectations of the particular group to which we belong.

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  2. John Calvin: “First, then, let the reader remember that the providence we mean is not the one by which the Deity, sitting idly in heaven, looks on at what is taking place in the world, but one by which He, as it were, holds the helm and overrules all events . . . Hence it appears that providence consists in action. What many talk of bare prescience is the merest trifling. Those do not err quite so grossly who attribute government to God, but still, as I have observed, a confused and promiscuous government which consists in giving an impulse and general movement to the machine of the globe and each of its parts, but does not specifically direct the action of every creature. It is impossible, however, to tolerate this error. For, according to its abettors, there is nothing in this providence, which they call universal, to prevent all the creatures from being moved contingently, or to prevent man from turning in this direction or that, according to the mere freedom of his own will. In this way they make man a partner with God . . . The thing to be proved, therefore, is that single events are so regulated by God, that all events so proceed from his determinate counsel, that nothing happens fortuitously.” — Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 16, Section 4.

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  3. Calvin: “Men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what He has previously decreed within Himself, and and brings to pass by His secret direction.” Book 1, Chapter 18, Section 1.

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  4. John Calvin said these and many more things, in many ways, to argue beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is the cause of all events. His sovereignty depends upon it, in Calvin’s opinion. It comes out all through Calvin’s writings. If Calvin says something which seems to imply that God is not the cause of all things, he is either being misunderstood or is contradicting the main thrust of his various writings which prove otherwise. Therefore, it is no surprise that those who follow John Calvin would adopt the same opinion. Anybody who does not believe that God is the author of all things, whether good or evil, does not follow John Calvin and should not consider themselves a Calvinist.

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    1. Debroah writes, “…to argue beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is the cause of all events.”

      I don’t think that this is correct. God certainly ordains/determines all things. Does God cause all things? God is the first cause of all things having created the heavens and the earth. However, it was Judas who betrayed Jesus and did so of his own free will and God did not cause Judas to betray Jesus – yet God determined that it be done as God decreed not to intervene to prevent that outcome.

      Yet, look at God’s involvement in the life of Judas. It is God who decreed the day of his birth, the day of his death, and sustained his life to the end. It was God who knew every moment of Judas’ life before He decreed his birth. It was God who had the power to stop Judas at any moment and was actively involved in deciding not to intervene for God had ordained Judas to be the instrument of His will to bring about the death of Christ. Satan does not enter into Judas unless and until God decrees it to happen. So, it is that God unleashes Satan to enter into Judas to bring about the betrayal.

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      1. John Calvin: “The hand of God rules the interior affections no less than it superintends external actions; nor would God have effected by the hand of man what he decreed, unless he worked in their hearts to make them will before they acted.” From “Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God”
        There are so many quotes from Calvin like this that I don’t know how he could be misunderstood by anyone. He says in many varied ways that God makes people do what they do, because he is working in their hearts to make them will before they act. If God is working in my heart to make me will to beat my children or to cheat on my husband or to disrespect my parents, or any other sin, then God is causing me to want to do it so that I will do it — because He wants me to do it. How incredibly ridiculous. God hates sin. He doesn’t make people sin.

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      2. Deborah writes, “He says in many varied ways that God makes people do what they do, because he is working in their hearts to make them will before they act.”

        Calvin understood a corrupt heart bent on evil. God need not encourage men to evil as they are naturally inclined to it; God need only restrain their evil for His purposes.

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      3. No. You can’t defend Calvin that way. He believed God works in men’s hearts to make them do what they do, whether for good or for evil. For Calvin, it could not be any other way because otherwise God would not be sovereign (according to Calvin’s idea of sovereignty). It was even God who decreed the very Fall of man. God who decrees everything. Things don’t happen just by God’s consent. But by His decree!. Calvin is very clear! Definition of the word “decree”: to order something. Synonyms: order, command, rule, dictate, pronounce, proclaim, ordain. You are attempting to confuse the clarity of what Calvin taught.

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      4. What does Calvin say about the depravity of people?

        Deborah writes, ” It was even God who decreed the very Fall of man. God who decrees everything. Things don’t happen just by God’s consent. But by His decree!. Calvin is very clear! Definition of the word “decree”: to order something. Synonyms: order, command, rule, dictate, pronounce, proclaim, ordain. You are attempting to confuse the clarity of what Calvin taught.”

        The issue is not whether God decrees everything – all Calvinists agree that God does. The issue is the extent to which God must “cause” people to do either good or evil actions and not whether God decrees those actions. God not only decreed the fall of man, God opened the door so that Satan could enter the garden but God did not have to encourage or influence Satan to enter the garden – Satan was straining at God’s restraint and eagerly entered the garden when the door opened.

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      5. Deborah,

        Can you cite this quote from Calvin himself? I have searched and all I can find is others quoting Calvin. Now I do not doubt these are the words of Calvin. Not at all. But I would sure like to read them in their original context. Here’s one reason why. From Calvin is this:

        And assuredly this signal for the expedition to advance depends on the declaration which is subjoined in ver. 30, as we may readily gather from the context; for Moses there repeats what we here read respecting their passage in somewhat different words; and again does God testify that He has given Sihon into the hands of the people, and exhorts Moses to go down boldly to the battle. Moreover, the cause is there specified why (Sihon) had been so arrogant and contemptuous in his rejection of the embassy, viz., because God had “hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate.” From whence again it appears how poor is the sophistry of those who imagine that God idly regards from heaven what men are about to do. They dare not, indeed, despoil Him of foreknowledge; but what can be more absurd than that He foreknows nothing except what men please? But Scripture, as we see, has not placed God in a watch-tower, from which He may behold at a distance what things are about to be; but teaches that He is the director (moderatorem) of all things; and that He subjects to His will, not only the events of things, but the designs and affections of men also. As, therefore, we have before seen how the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, so now Moses ascribes to God the obstinacy of king Sihon. How base a subterfuge is the exception which some make as to His permission, sufficiently appears from the end which Moses points out. For why did God harden the heart of Sihon? thalt “He might deliver him into the hand” of His people to be slain; because He willed that he should perish, and had destined his land for the Israelites. If God only permitted Sihon to grow hardened, this decree was either nought, or mutable, and evanescent, since it depended on the changeable will of man. Putting aside, then, all childish trifling, we must conclude that God by His secret inspiration moves, forms, governs, and draws men’s hearts, so that even by the wicked He executes whatever He has decreed. At the same time it is to be observed that the wicked are not impelled to hardness of heart by extrinsic force, but that they voluntarily harden themselves; so that in this same hardness of heart God may be seen to be a just judge, however incomprehensible His counsel may be, and however the impiety of men may betray itself, who are their own instigators, and the authors of their own sin. Emphatically does Moses inculcate the same thing twice over, viz., that the spirt of Sihon was hardened by God, and his heart made obstinate, in order that God’s paternal favor towards His chosen people might be more conspicuous; because from the obstinacy of the blinded king He afforded them a just cause for war, and an opportunity for victory. Calvin, Deuteronomy 2:24.

        Notice how clear Calvin is. He is careful to ascribe to God what is God’s and to man what is man’s. (Debt. 2:30 “But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day.”)

        And Calvin,

        From this passage Augustine very properly and ingeniously shows, that those events which appear to us unreasonable not only occur simply by the permission of God, but also by his will and decree. For if our God doeth whatsoever pleaseth him, why should he permit that to be done which he does not wish? Why does he not restrain the devil and all the wicked who set themselves in opposition to him? If he be regarded as occupying an intermediate position between doing and suffering, so as to tolerate what he does not wish, then, according to the fancy of the Epicureans, he will remain unconcerned in the heavens. But if we admit that God is invested with prescience, that he superintends and governs the world which he has made, and that he does not overlook any part of it, it must follow that every thing which takes place is done according to his will. Those who speak as if this would be to render God the author of evil are perverse disputants. Filthy dogs though they be, yet they will not, by their barking, be able to substantiate a charge of lying against the prophet, or to take the government of the world out of God’s hand. If nothing occurs unless by the counsel and determination of God, he apparently does not disallow sin; he has, however, secret and to us unknown causes why he permits that which perverse men do, and yet this is not done because he approves of their wicked inclinations. It was the will of God that Jerusalem should be destroyed, the Chaldeans also wished the same thing, but after a different manner; and though he frequently calls the Babylonians his stipendiary soldiers, and says that they were stirred up by him, (Isaiah 5:26;) and farther, that they were the sword of his own hand, yet we would not therefore call them his allies, inasmuch as their object was very different. In the destruction of Jerusalem God’s justice would be displayed, while the Chaldeans would be justly censured for their lust, covetousness, and cruelty. Hence, whatever takes place in the world is according to the will of God, and yet it is not his will that any evil should be done. For however incomprehensible his counsel may be to us, still it is always based upon the best of reasons. Satisfied with his will alone, so as to be fully persuaded, that, notwithstanding the great depth of his judgments, (Psalm 36:6) they are characterized by the most consummate rectitude; this ignorance will be far more learned than all the acumen of those who presume to make their own capacity the standard by which to measure his works. On the other hand, it is deserving of notice, that if God does whatsoever he pleases, then it is not his pleasure to do that which is not done. The knowledge of this truth is of great importance, because it frequently happens, when God winks and holds his peace at the afflictions of the Church, that we ask why he permits her to languish, since it is in his power to render her assistance. Avarice, fraud, perfidy, cruelty, ambition, pride, sensuality, drunkenness, and, in short, every species of corruption in these times is rampant in the world, all which would instantly cease did it seem good to God to apply the remedy. Wherefore, if he at any time appears to us to be asleep, or has not the means of succoring us, let this tend to make us wait patiently, and to teach us that it is not his pleasure to act so speedily the part of our deliverer, because he knows that delay and procrastination are profitable to us; it being his will to wink at and tolerate for a while what assuredly, were it his pleasure, he could instantly rectify. Calvin, Psalms 115:3

        Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens;
        he does all that he pleases.”

        Notice, “But if we admit that God is invested with prescience, that he superintends and governs the world which he has made, and that he does not overlook any part of it, it must follow that every thing which takes place is done according to his will. Those who speak as if this would be to render God the author of evil are perverse disputants. Filthy dogs though they be, yet they will not, by their barking, be able to substantiate a charge of lying against the prophet, or to take the government of the world out of God’s hand. If nothing occurs unless by the counsel and determination of God, he apparently does not disallow sin; he has, however, secret and to us unknown causes why he permits that which perverse men do, and yet this is not done because he approves of their wicked inclinations. It was the will of God that Jerusalem should be destroyed, the Chaldeans also wished the same thing, but after a different manner; and though he frequently calls the Babylonians his stipendiary soldiers, and says that they were stirred up by him, (Isaiah 5:26;) and farther, that they were the sword of his own hand, yet we would not therefore call them his allies, inasmuch as their object was very different. In the destruction of Jerusalem God’s justice would be displayed, while the Chaldeans would be justly censured for their lust, covetousness, and cruelty. Hence, whatever takes place in the world is according to the will of God, and yet it is not his will that any evil should be done.”

        One must read Calvin in the context fully. Now you may still reject his theology. So, if you can help locate the original place of your quote that would be helpful.

        Thanks do much.

        SDG!

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      6. And this from your own quote: “Putting aside, then, all childish trifling, we must conclude that God by His secret inspiration moves, forms, governs, and draws men’s hearts, so that even by the wicked He executes whatever He has decreed.” Yes, Calvin is very clear. And as we know, nothing happens that has not been predestined by God (according to Calvin) from before the world was ever born. Yet, God is pure and holy, but he predestined every child abuse, even though he could has scripted it another way? I know you love children, Les. How could you believe that? It is . . . I don’t have words.

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      7. Les, quoting Calvin, “…that the spirt of Sihon was hardened by God, and his heart made obstinate, in order that God’s paternal favor towards His chosen people might be more conspicuous;…”

        We may then ask, “How does God harden men or influence them to the evil that He intends?” God does not do anything to Adam/Eve to cause them to sin. God removes His protection over the garden; thereby, Satan enters to deceive Eve – the end result never being in doubt. Satan is God’s agent to test Adam/Eve and bring about their sin. Thus, Satan is God’s agent to tempt David to number Israel and it is Satan who enters Judas to bring about the betrayal.

        People are hardened by sin. It is only by God’s restraint of evil people that their sin is not greater. Thus, God softens (restrains) or hardens (loosens His restraint) to move Pharaoh to act upon his heart’s desires in whatever fashion Pharaoh and God want. Pharaoh seeks to destroy Israel so he leads His armies against Israel. God seeks to destroy Pharaoh by withholding His restraint on Pharaoh’s wickedness so as to drown Pharaoh and his army. By this Calvin says “…the destruction of Jerusalem God’s justice would be displayed, while the Chaldeans would be justly censured for their lust, covetousness, and cruelty.”

        It is difficult to content with child abuse, but the Scriptures are clear that God knows what is happening and is in absolute control of the situation. Shall we complain about that which God is doing or teach our children to cry out to God for help in time of need?

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      8. Hi Deborah. This is the quote I was wondering about the source.

        “John Calvin: “The hand of God rules the interior affections no less than it superintends external actions; nor would God have effected by the hand of man what he decreed, unless he worked in their hearts to make them will before they acted.” From “Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God”

        Thanks,

        SDG!

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      9. Deborah,

        “Yes, Calvin is very clear. And as we know, nothing happens that has not been predestined by God (according to Calvin) from before the world was ever born. Yet, God is pure and holy, but he predestined every child abuse, even though he could has scripted it another way? I know you love children, Les. How could you believe that? It is . . . I don’t have words.”

        Yes I do love children. I have five and five grandchildren. My ministry in Haiti revolves around children and keeping them with their families. I know we all on these sites love children.

        But I cannot escape that God rules over every aspect of His creation. Could He have scripted things differently? Of course. But those who recoil at predestination are in no better position. I mean, suppose I take the view that God has not decreed all things and that predestination is not true. i.e. that bad things are going to happen, but God had zero involvement in them happening. What are you eft with? Well surely He knew they would happen. But He allowed it? He allowed Joni Eareckson Tada to be paralyzed in an accident? He could have prevented it, we all agree. But He didn’t? How is that better?

        Or how about Pharaoh. God hardened him and he hardened himself. Why? God had a purpose in hardening Pharaoh and thus securing the mistreatment of His people. There’s Joseph and Job and read Habakkuk. God orchestrating His divine plan and sometimes using the evil deeds of evil men to accomplish His plans.

        And then there’s this from Matt. 2:

        Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

        16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

        18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
        weeping and loud lamentation,
        Rachel weeping for her children;
        she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

        The angel of the Lord came to warn precisely because God knew what Herod intended to do. Then Herod “killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.” Was God surprised by that? No, God’s own prophet had spoken it before.

        I firmly believe that the testimony of scripture is that not one single thing happens but what is part of God’s plan. He doesn’t ‘do the deed.” He didn’t kill all those babies in Bethlehem. Herod did. God knew full well what Herod had planned and did nothing to stop it when He could have. We must conclude then that it was all part of God’s predetermined plan, else He sure is getting surprised by tons of things.

        SDG!

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      10. He uses the evil deeds of men. Yes. But He doesn’t script those evil deeds from the beginning. God is outside time, so I have no problem with the prophecies. The time/future thing is more complex than we know. But no, God did not work in the heart of Adam and Eve to disobey Him. It came of their own free will. I can deal with the mystery of not knowing why God doesn’t prevent certain atrocities from happening. That is far better than being comfortable with the idea that God predetermined them. Anyway, Leighton is very clear about this subject, so I am closing my comments. I have 4 daughters to take care of, not to mention my husband. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Deborah,

        Thanks for the kind interaction. Certainly the doctrine of predestination has some mystery to it and good brothers and sisters can disagree over it. As the WCF says, “The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.”

        Have a blessed day.

        SDG!

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  5. I want to also say that, in having been raised a Calvinist, and having read some of Calvin’s writings, I can understand why he adopts this opinion. However, I believe he errs. In an effort to protect God’s sovereignty, he has undermined God’s very holiness and separateness from sin, and has cast blame upon God’s person where blame should be cast on angels and men alone.

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  6. There is a genuine permissive form under compatibilism.

    For example — and I’ve used this example with you before — consider the faces of coastal cliffs around the world. Surely you agree that these are the results of adequately deterministic processes. And yet, they are highly complex and ever-changing.

    But it would sound weird to say that God “ordained” them, or that they are the result of his deliberate teleology (as if, at the outset of the universe, he contemplated the cliffs north of Lincoln City, Oregon, and said, “On October 27, 2015, I want this to have these precise nooks and crannies down to the subparticle, but have this other set of nooks/crannies the day after, and this other set, the day after, and so on”).

    Another example would be mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, I’m sure you’d agree, are adequately deterministic creatures that are functionally biological machines. And yet, we would not say that God went out of his way to orchestrate every single mosquito bite from the emergence of the mosquito until it goes extinct.

    In other words, you — I hope — already admit that there are adequately deterministic systems in the world that you would NOT say are authored by God, but rather are byproducts of a natural creation combined with God’s permissive will.

    Compatibilists say, simply, that human decisionmaking is also a system like this.

    Now, it’s possible to use bizarre, strong, objectionable language about God’s superordinate responsibility for everything that happens. Calvinists, like John Piper, are notorious for this kind of “too far” language.

    In defense of compatibilism — I believe that there can exist an Arminian compatibilism — I wrote this to Arminian theologian Roger E. Olson:

    It’s September, and a strong wind breaks against an oak tree. It yields an explosion of yellow leaves, each falling in indescribably unique ways, various movements across various axes, changing and twisting, one by one coming to rest upon things in vicinity.

    (A) Did God micromanage the intricacies of this event down to the molecule? Do each of these leaves (and their subparticles) course with deliberate divine teleology?

    or

    (B) Do the leaves have some sort of libertarian freedom that makes their activity non-deterministic? Are they defying the laws of physics? Is that the only way to divorce their near-random activity from God’s micromanagement?

    OR…!

    (C) Are the intricacies of this event just a chaotic (hyper-complex under orderliness) byproduct of God’s initial set-up and mostly hands-off-ness? Since he is the God of Theism and not Deism, perhaps he tilts one leaf exceptionally against the window of a house, catching the attention of the man within; he stands up and approaches the window, taking a moment to look outside, forgetting his worries for a few minutes, appreciating nature, the change of seasons, and how flexibility and adaptation keep creation ticking and interesting, and how he’d better wear a coat this evening.

    Can’t we assert “C”? And once we have this “C-maneuver” in our pockets, can’t we apply it to anything adequately deterministic under theism, like (we propose) creaturely choices?

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    1. you say: (A) Did God micromanage the intricacies of this event down to the molecule? Do each of these leaves (and their subparticles) course with deliberate divine teleology?

      Do you agree with R. C. Sproul when he says:

      “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”

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      1. I think his attempt at a reductio ad absurdum is a non sequitur.

        Nothing is “TOTALLY free of God’s sovereignty”; this fact proceeds analytically from his classical attributes. If God can affect something arbitrarily, then it is under his sovereignty, even if he allows it to proceed unimpeded.

        Under those classical attributes — in fact, even if he lacks certainty of a single future — things can be free of God’s sovereignty in a formative (“pattern we find meaningful per our interests”) sense only: The sense in which we say that God allowed something to proceed unimpeded and “not-undone.” In other words, God “gives freedom” when he doesn’t smash through the wall like Kool-Aid Man and impose his perfect will as a jarring exception to natural processes.

        However, if we dispute one of those classical attributes — for example, we could posit that God is not almighty, or that he doesn’t exhaustively know the present state of things — then it could be possible that some things are totally free of his sovereignty (that is, he could will that certain kinds of things not be the case, but that something is the case anyway, because he lacks the power to change it, or is unaware of some instances thereof, or what have you).

        Under this “lesser God” antecedent, it MAY be that we have no guarantee that a single promise of L-God will ever be fulfilled. HOWEVER, this is not foregone. In some “modally possible world,” L-God lacks a little bit of power, and a little bit of knowledge, but when he makes a promise, he works at it and works at it until it comes about. So I would not agree with Sproul’s reductio ad absurdum; it is a non sequitur, since there are “modally possible worlds” in which L-God lacks TOTAL sovereignty and can yet guarantee that certain promises shall come to pass.

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      2. you say: it is a non sequitur, since there are “modally possible worlds” in which L-God lacks TOTAL sovereignty and can yet guarantee that certain promises shall come to pass.

        thanks yea, I’d agree.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Stan,

      You continue to present this non-Calvinist determinism/compatibilism:

      “In other words, you — I hope — already admit that there are adequately deterministic systems in the world that you would NOT say are authored by God, but rather are byproducts of a natural creation combined with God’s permissive will.
      Compatibilists say, simply, that human decisionmaking is also a system like this.”

      Well see there is the problem that I pointed out regarding your determinism before, in the first words here you speak of “deterministic systems in the world” that are not authored by God. Actually these non-human deterministic systems *are* authored by God (e.g. the tides in the oceans) and were set up by God to provide for an orderly universe for mankind to inhabit. Science studies these deterministic systems and has been quite successful in understanding them. These deterministic systems are things, non-mental, non-spiritual and hence can by studied scientifically.

      The problem is with your conclusion that “human decision making is also a system like this”. It is not, this is a category error, as human PERSONS are not THINGS, nor are we to be mechanistically explained like scientific explanations. We choose based upon what is important or valuable to us, and we who choose are spirits not things or mechanisms.

      “(C) Are the intricacies of this event just a chaotic (hyper-complex under orderliness) byproduct of God’s initial set-up and mostly hands-off-ness? Since he is the God of Theism and not Deism, perhaps he tilts one leaf exceptionally against the window of a house, catching the attention of the man within; he stands up and approaches the window, taking a moment to look outside, forgetting his worries for a few minutes, appreciating nature, the change of seasons, and how flexibility and adaptation keep creation ticking and interesting, and how he’d better wear a coat this evening.”

      If God tilts one leaf more, that is an intervention by God, a personal choice, not mechanistic at all. That is not determinism, nor is the decision of the man to stand up and approach the window a mechanistic system in operation. Rather it is a person making a choice, a choice he did not have to make, but freely chose to make. And this brings up the reality we experience. Yes there are mechanistic systems in nature all around us, including the wind and leaf being blown by the wind: but there are also personal agents, God, humans, angels, who make choices within this environment. So reality consists of both mechanistic deterministic systems (which Science studies very well) and also personal agents choosing to act for reasons.

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    3. Stanrock writes, “we would not say that God went out of his way to orchestrate every single mosquito bite from the emergence of the mosquito until it goes extinct.”

      Of course we would. God is sovereign over all His creation and over every action in His creation. No sparrow, we are told, falls from the sky except by the will of God. No mosquito exists but by the will of God and every movement of that mosquito in its short life is by the will of God. No mosquito bites any person but by the will of God.

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      1. Rhutchin,

        “By the will of God” is something softer than “goes out of his way to orchestrate.” By “goes out of his way to orchestrate,” I meant the idea that all mosquito bites are architected via micromanagement, rather than being largely byproducts of natural processes for which God is superordinately responsible and sovereign.

        If you think that God meticulously micromanages all mosquito bites and coastal cliffs, then you may double-down on that assertion, and you and I can cease our discussion as we’ll be at an impasse. When I said “We would not say,” the “we” was “myself and Professor Flowers.”

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      2. stanrock writes, “By “goes out of his way to orchestrate,” I meant the idea that all mosquito bites are architected via micromanagement, rather than being largely byproducts of natural processes for which God is superordinately responsible and sovereign.”

        I am not sure what you mean by this. Do we both agree that God is omnipotent and has the power to do as He wills? Do we also agree that God is omniscient and nothing is hidden from His sight? If we do, then we must agree that God rules over the mosquito and knows every time the mosquito sets upon a person to bite – as God made the mosquito, He knows that this is what mosquitos do.

        God is sovereign (the consequence of His omni character), God rules over the mosquito, so He has the final say in what the mosquito does – thus, there is no such thing as a byproduct of natural processes if you have in mind a process independent of God’s rule. Natural processes proceed as God decrees – God decrees that the waters stop flowing so Israel may cross and then decrees that the waters flow again when Pharaoh follows. A river flows only because God decrees not to interrupt that flow. If not, then that river is independent of God’s control and God cannot be sovereign.

        So, what do you mean in saying, “goes out of His way”? In what sense would God “go out of His way” as all things are always before Him and in His way so that His decision regarding any event – to do nothing or to intervene – .necessarily reflects His will and would be what you call micromanagement. How could God avoid being a micromanager?

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      3. Rhutchin,

        Rhutchin, Ctrl-F on this page for “flywheel” for an explanation. Interrupting the river is “going out of his way.” Letting the river flow as it has for centuries is “letting natural processes tick.” These are meaningfully distinct even under exhaustive sovereignty. We don’t call it a miracle when somebody gets a mosquito bite.

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      4. stanrock writes, “Letting the river flow as it has for centuries is ‘letting natural processes tick.'”

        From the psalms we learn that it is God who causes rain, snow, and hail. God makes the grass to grow where He will. Do natural processes just tick all by themselves. If God did not sustain gravity such that we perceive it to be and so regular as to be a law in our minds or regulate the orbits of the planets or even the movement of electrons within the atom, all would be chaos – the earth would be without form and void. God does decree that evil people pursue their evil desires – that which comes naturally to them – but under restraint of His will. God may stand aside while natural processes tick along but this is by His design to accomplish His purposes and never outside His control or will.

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      5. Rhutchin,

        You said, “God may stand aside while natural processes tick along but this is by His design to accomplish His purposes and never outside His control or will.”

        This is exactly what I am saying, although I would add, “or by His design according to his interests”; it’s possible to have an interest in an interim process for its own sake. In fact, without this being an interest of God, there’s no reason to have a creative process at all; God would just snap his fingers and have the end arrive immediately.

        Under God’s exhaustive sovereignty, there are different ways he deals with his creation, and those different ways are meaningful to us. We can even categorize those different creative forms. One meaningful way to categorize them is according to primary causes vs. secondary causes. This is what I am fighting for. When I do this, I am not in any way downplaying God’s exhaustive sovereignty.

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      6. stanrock writes, “One meaningful way to categorize them is according to primary causes vs. secondary causes. This is what I am fighting for. When I do this, I am not in any way downplaying God’s exhaustive sovereignty.”

        I agree. We need to be careful not to think of God being passive in His rule over His creation. God is always actively engaged in His creation. A river does not flow through passive inaction by God (the natural result of the laws God put into place) – suggesting that it might do something (flood) not really intended by God and to which God must then react. A river flows by the providence of God – the result of God’s active decree that the river flow to accomplish whatever purposes God intends – God is never in the position of reacting to anything that happens in His creation as if He had not intended what came about. As primary cause, God brings about His desire (e.g., destruction of Sodom; impregnation of Mary). Secondary forces are God’s agents to bring about His desire (e.g., the sin of Adam/Eve; Noah’s drunkenness; the sale of Joseph into slavery, the betrayal/crucifixion of Jesus).

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      7. Rhutchin,

        I agree with the meat of what you’re saying, but we’re divided on which taxonomy we think ought be preferred. I think “active/passive” is a GOOD taxonomy to use when delineating between primary and secondary causes under the superordinate sovereignty of God. This is not to say that God is ever “run over” by the world, or that something ever happens that he could not have prevented or undone had he pleased, but only that his form of interaction is of a kind that suffers a thing to occur rather than exceptionally forces a thing to occur against its natural vector.

        I want to say again that you and I have the same theology. Where we disagree is on how to express it; it becomes a discussion of semantics, which is an important discussion because something “technically correct” within one’s own taxonomy may be idiosyncratic, confusing, and — lamentably — cause people to reject it needlessly.

        For example, you wrote:

        “A river flows by the providence of God — the result of God’s active decree that the river flow to accomplish whatever purposes God intends — God is never in the position of reacting to anything that happens in His creation as if He had not intended what came about. As primary cause, God brings about His desire (e.g., destruction of Sodom; impregnation of Mary). Secondary forces are God’s agents to bring about His desire (e.g., the sin of Adam/Eve; Noah’s drunkenness; the sale of Joseph into slavery, the betrayal/crucifixion of Jesus).”

        I would write the following:

        “A river flows by the providence of God — the result of God’s determination that the river flow to accomplish God’s ancillary purposes and/or express God’s interests in things for their own sake. God is never in a position of reacting to anything that happens in His creation as if He had not intended what came about, although his interaction may anthropomorphically take the form of a reaction (like “changing his mind” with Moses). As primary cause, God brings about His desire actively. Secondary forces make the optimization of his will manifest in a more passive form — that is, he consciously suffered the sin of Adam & Eve, consciously suffered Noah’s drunkenness, consciously suffered the attack upon Joseph, and consciously suffered the Cross, all for fruitful yields in his global plan (even such that Joseph proclaimed that God sent Joseph to Egypt).”

        Our only disagreement is how to put it. I think it is important to say that secondary forces are a passive form of God’s sovereignty that is nonetheless fully his superordinate responsibility (and gameplan).

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  7. I think that to say God permits evil may go too far. The Bible describes God as being patient. He will judge evil in His time, He does not permit evil.

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      1. I’ve seen folks get hung up on “permit” before. I wonder what a non-controversial alternative word would be; some folks get upset at “allow” as well.

        Maybe archaic “suffers?” e.g., “God suffers bad things to occur.”

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      2. I think the point is determinism simply doesn’t permit “permit” if you’ll pardon the redundancy. Under determinism can God ever put something beyond his control? I’d say no. If I open the cage of a bear, I may have “permitted” the bear to escape, but I’m the indirect causal agent. It doesn’t matter how many “degrees of separation” we try to make between the one that pushes the button and the bomb going off, we simply can’t avoid the fact that permit requires a second causal agent. If they try to turn that logic back on LFW, we simply say God pushed the button that causally resulted in button pushers.

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      3. Dizerner,

        All things reduce to the ultimate superordinate responsibility of God. But radical reduction kills our forms, where all meaning lives. We find meaningful the distinction between things that eventually come about as a strict function of — ultimately — God’s distant-past creative decisions vs. the jarring, exceptional interventions he chooses — rarely — to impose against natural processes. When he chooses not to impose himself, we say he is being permissive/passive/etc., and the results may not look so “Godly,” since they are emergent patterns of immeasurably chaotic (orderly but complex) processes over long periods of time. Google “stanrock sun rises” for how reduction/formation solves our problem without making appeals to libertarian substance-breaks.

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      4. Yep, I understand that viewpoint. But under a deterministic framework is denied even the *possibility* that God could create something not under his control—little gods. Without little gods nothing is truly “permitted” by big God, for their is no true counter to his causality.

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      5. Dizerner,

        Real quick: Thanks again for being such a civil, good faith, and thought-provoking discussion partner, as you’ve been in the past.

        Reply:

        Rather than “counter to causality,” we just go with “not in perfect accord to his entire interest set.” By instantiating an astounding and amazing natural cosmos that is “powered by” laws, he deliberately created a machine that ticks-on “without him” in a form-sense, that is, he is the father who lets the child’s bike go, jogging alongside, and intervening only when absolutely necessary.

        It’s important to remember that, even with LFW, if God knows the future exhaustively and altering formative conditions can change libertarian-free decisions (a thing that the Molinists admit), then it remains the case that everything is under his control; he’d have created littlegods that are nonetheless in complete conformity to his causality. There are only two ways out of this: Reject classical omniscience (as the Open Theists do), or embrace the compatibilist, form-driven solution above.

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      6. you say: altering formative conditions can change libertarian-free decisions (a thing that the Molinists admit), then it remains the case that everything is under his control; he’d have created littlegods that are nonetheless in complete conformity to his causality.

        This is true. I’ve been thinking about it. I’m beginning to reject this kind of Molinistic world with “seed” starting possibilities.

        The LFW must be god-like, and thus the LFW of the god-mirror must choose some of the same choices *in all possible worlds*. That is, the LFW being independent of being influenced through”tweaking” the starting conditions, would choose the same most essential choices (for or against God) no matter what possibilities or factoring influences may be brought to bear on the LFW choice making apparatus.

        Thus just as God has made a one-time LFW choice to be who he is (in my view) so all LFWs will choose some essential choices regardless of any Molinistic middle knowledge variable tweaking (which I would see as manipulating and thus contaminating the real LFW core god-like ex-nihilo choice apparatus).

        you say: Rather than “counter to causality,” we just go with “not in perfect accord to his entire interest set.”

        I get this. Shakespeare has the right to make his play “look” a certain way out of artistic license, even if behind the scenes it isn’t technically the way it looks. In that sense we can use the word “permit” as a colorful brush of the artist to add some “variety” in how his painting “appears,” creating subtle interplay of light and darkness. When us non-determinists look at that we would say, yes, that’s a possibility, and a very nice one to someone with OCD like me, for example, in that everything is neat, purposeful and in order. But real evil, were it to exist, could not in my view be part of a painting like this, for real evil is chaos, it is something that should never exist in any world for any reason, it is truly “anti” God and it has no purpose but to twist, reverse and damage the “painting.” It cannot be a part of its beauty.

        Some days I wish I could be a determinist, but instead God drops a paradox in my lap, like Job, and still commands me to honor him as God. Everything within me wants to scream “I don’t know how this system could be just” yet the Father says “Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” and the Son says “Does this hard saying offend you?” Yet he alone has the words of eternal life, and presents them in the midst of an ocean of paradoxes in the unknown.

        bless

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      7. Dizerner,

        To circumvent my argument, I think I agree that one is forced to assert what you just asserted: “The LFW of the god-mirror must choose some of the same choices *in all possible worlds*. That is, the LFW being independent of being influenced through ‘tweaking’ the starting conditions, would choose the same most essential choices (for or against God) no matter what possibilities or factoring influences may be brought to bear on the LFW choice making apparatus.”

        However, I suspect this assertion causes more problems than it solves.

        (1) It insists that large amounts of my qualitative identity are not “really me”; the “true me” is this uncaused thing. This is unacceptable because I strongly, intuitively, and observationally conclude that “really me” consists of thoughts, propensities, and skills with in-theory formative explanations — sometimes even discernible explanations. “I get W from my mom,” “I get X from my dad,” “I used to do A, but overcame that using mundane disciplinary strategies and now do B,” “I found S fun but got bored of S-like things after a while, and now prefer T,” etc. These things are not only who I am, but they are decisive to my choicemaking.

        But more problematic is:

        (2) We wonder why George would deny God in all possible worlds, that is, absolutely nothing in any possible world would influence him to accept God, whereas Susan would accept God in all possible worlds, that is, absolutely nothing in any possible world would influence her to reject God. If George and Susan are created beings, then the only possible “why” is: God made them that way.

        This is not a “consensus” reductio ad absurdum, because I don’t find it absurd that God is superordinately responsible for all such decisions (and further assert that they are part of a Romans ch. 9 through 11 plan of ancillary stumbling).

        But you do. As such, your assertion — an assertion I think you must make in response to my previous argument — leads analytically to a conclusion you consider absurd.

        I think the only way to prevent this analytical conclusion is to again invoke libertarian free will as a logical wildcard (Google ‘stanrock logical wildcards’) to “bridge-break.” I don’t think you can disembark this train without the use of a wildcard like LFW. I’d challenge you to find a way.

        You said, “But real evil, were it to exist, could not in my view be part of a painting like this, for real evil is chaos, it is something that should never exist in any world for any reason, it is truly ‘anti’ God and it has no purpose but to twist, reverse and damage the ‘painting.’ It cannot be a part of its beauty.”

        But you agree that it is part of the beauty, insofar as it is a byproduct of freedom, a thing we both posit God finds beautiful. It must be “meta-beautiful” under both positions. Under both positions, it must be the case that God has — within his interest set — an axial interest in the freedom of creation, such that in God’s garden there emerge thorns and weeds alongside the fruit and blossoms.

        So, this is not our dispute. We agree in the meta-beauty of emergent evil (even as it is hideous). We just disagree on how it comes about. I posit that freedom-from-God is the degree to which a pattern has formative independence from interventions of God; the more distant in time and space those interventions, the more a pattern’s uniqueness is owed to intra-systemic interactions and chaos (complexity under orderliness).

        On Job: It is important to recognize that none of the theodicies proposed in Job are libertarian, neither the proposals of the rebuked “Three Stooges” (Eliphaz, Zophar, Bildad — karmic folk explanations, total depravity, etc.), nor the misguided grumblings of Job (God being distant, God being unjust), nor those of God’s introducer Elihu, nor those from the Storm of God. In other words, nobody says, “I bet Satan did this to you, not God.” Rather, Elihu and the Storm of God uphold God’s locality, justice, and ancillary purposes. God doesn’t say, “Why are you looking at me? Satan did this to you.” He took superordinate responsibility and boasted that the Leviathan is roped to his hook. The conclusion was ancillary; there were purposes “too wonderful to know” cried Job, repenting in dust and ashes.

        Google “stanrock theodicy” for a video of my take on Job and how it fits into natural theodicy within deterministic compatibilism.

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      8. you say: If George and Susan are created beings, then the only possible “why” is: God made them that way.

        Well, I couldn’t possibly agree with this conclusion. The definition of LFW says there is something we create about ourselves.

        you say: the “true me” is this uncaused thing.

        LFW says it’s caused by yourself and not God. You can really and actually choose to be a certain way. And this takes away the excuse for a right action: “well that’s just not me.” It’s adds an element of real, and not illusory, responsibility.

        you say: I don’t think you can disembark this train without the use of a wildcard like LFW. I’d challenge you to find a way.

        I don’t need another way. I’m comfortable saying that not all wild cards are a cop out. I believe in a real wild card. God created jokers in the deck.

        you say: But you agree that it is part of the beauty, insofar as it is a byproduct of freedom, a thing we both posit God finds beautiful.

        I couldn’t possibly agree with that. The possibility to do evil is not a beauty at all—it’s only a beauty if it’s never chosen. Then why create it? For that I would argue something different.

        you say: On Job: It is important to recognize that none of the theodicies proposed in Job are libertarian

        Hold up. For me the number one theodicy in Job *is* libertarian—God can choose to do whatever he wants. If that’s not libertarian, I don’t know what is. But there’s a subtler underlying thread throughout Job—that of original sin and a redemption. God himself delivering us from a sinful nature that we never indeed chose to have. Obviously the simplistic karma system of Job’s friends is roundly condemned (if you do right, you are blessed, if you do bad, you are cursed). And Job’s attitude about his predicament is condemned (you cannot question God even if he seems unjust). But the solution is not determinism. And remember—God never said “Satan *didn’t* do this to you.” God simply said “It’s not your place to know why, it’s your place to honor me.” I don’t think God’s point was “my will always happens, Ala Calvinism.” I think God’s point was “you don’t need to know why.” That’s not the same thing. In Adam, Job died. But Job tried to live righteously. The book of Job is an amazingly New Covenant book of faith alone in grace alone. Because Job was serious with God “all these commandments have I kept.” But Job lacked one thing—he hadn’t sold all and followed Christ. And the entire story is to take away Job’s self-righteousness and replace it with the righteousness of Christ. Because he knows his Redeemer lives. But what in the end does that mean? It means Job’s whole understanding of justice has to be upended, Job has to wrestle with God allowing things he feels are unjust. Because one of those “unjust” things God wants to do for Job—is give him a righteousness he could never earn or deserve. Ever thought about how ironic it is that Job begins the book “a righteous man” and ends it with “behold I am vile”? But in God’s eyes, Job went from being vile to being righteous. Job had to take off those “filthy garments” and have his iniquity take away, so that he could be clothed with fine garments (Zech. 3:4). But this means Job can’t pursue a “righteousness by works” or by Law, but rather a righteousness that counts all things as dung compared to the surpassing excellency of knowing the grace of God. And how could God making him who knew no sin become sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God ever be attained if we hold on to a “fair” system? What Job failed to do was trust God, when there was no other course of action to take. He began his race well (Gal. 5:7) with “The Lord takes away, blessed be his name,” but someone threw a hex over him (Gal. 3:1). When he attempted to find his justification in himself, after all his pages of rummaging around in self-examination, he ended up with “in my flesh dwells no good thing” and “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Original Sin and The Cross is God’s theodicy, and it will never seem just in our eyes. He alone has the words of eternal life.

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      9. Dizerner,

        You said, “Well, I couldn’t possibly agree with this conclusion. The definition of LFW says there is something we create about ourselves.”

        But under your proposal, we are bound and locked, even logically, to create ourselves in a specific way. This is the only way George would reject God in ALL modally possible worlds, and Susan would accept God in ALL modally possible worlds.

        You said, “I don’t need another way.”

        I know, but I’m asking for another way. When all of these logical problems are only ‘solved’ by appeals to libertarian free will, that looks extremely suspicious to me, because I already fear LFW as a powerfully dangerous logical wildcard.

        You said, “I couldn’t possibly agree with that. The possibility to do evil is not a beauty at all — it’s only a beauty if it’s never chosen. Then why create it? For that I would argue something different.”

        Apologies, by “meta-beautiful (but it’s still hideous)” I intended to assert that evil is not beautiful. The term I used is probably bad. I’d like to try a rewording, and see if you agree: “We agree that evil is a byproduct of freedom, and yet God found it justifiable to supply that freedom anyway, even knowing for certain what evil would result thereby. Under both positions, it must be the case that God has — within his interest set — an axial interest in the freedom of creation, such that in God’s garden there emerge thorns and weeds alongside the fruit and blossoms. So, this is not our dispute. We agree that emergent evil is hideous, but the byproduct of something good and ‘worth it.’ We just disagree on how it comes about. I posit that freedom-from-God is the degree to which a pattern has formative independence from interventions of God; the more distant in time and space those interventions, the more a pattern’s uniqueness is owed to intra-systemic interactions and chaos (complexity under orderliness).”

        Regarding Job, I think there are a number of problems with your reading that need to be fixed.

        First, the omniscient narrator of the Book of Job proclaims that he WAS INDEED righteous at the beginning of the story (Job 1:1). It says this explicitly, not as “Job’s perspective,” but as a matter of fact. He falls into error when he begins questioning God, multiplying words in ignorance (Job 35:16), as you correctly mentioned. He is then forgiven when he repents of this, in ch. 42.

        Second, “I know one lives who can vindicate me” is not about Jesus Christ. Job is saying, “I am righteous; you guys are accusing me, but there’s somebody out there who can show that I’m actually innocent.” “I know my Redeemer lives” is a very virulent out-of-context phrase among Christians.

        Job 19:21-22, 28-29

        “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you pursue me as God does? Will you never get enough of my flesh? … If you say, ‘How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him,’ you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.”

        He is disputing “the root of the trouble lies with him,” the karmic folk theodicy. He is faulting Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad for “pursuing/hounding” him “as God does.”

        You said, “I don’t think God’s point was ‘my will always happens, Ala Calvinism.’ I think God’s point was ‘you don’t need to know why.'”

        I am not a Calvinist. My assertion is that there is a “why.” The “why” is either a secondary cause for which God is superordinately responsible (like the natural freedom God seldom curtails) or it is a prospective purpose, or both. But it’s not a passing-the-buck. God’s superordinate responsibility for everything is continually assumed and never contradicted. Job correctly proclaimed (ch. 12):

        “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
        or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
        Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
        In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
        Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?
        Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
        To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.
        What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; those he imprisons cannot be released.
        If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
        To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his.
        He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges.
        He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth[b] around their waist.
        He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established.
        He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders.
        He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty.
        He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.
        He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them.”

        Never do Elihu nor God say Job is wrong about owing his calamity to God’s superordinate “hand.” The revelation was that Job didn’t know God’s hidden “Why” and was multiplying words in ignorance.

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      10. Hi Stan – I agree that Job attributed the calamity that came into His life as coming from the hand of God, but not the moral evil. What Job or Elihu understood about the origin of guilt for the sin behind the calamity may not be clearly taught in their discourses, though Job did come to recognize his own guilt for questioning God’s bringing of calamity into his life. But Job did not charge God foolishly (1:22) for those calamities, and Elihu exhorted concerning God’s universal enlightenment to deliver his soul not just from calamity, but from “the pit” (33:30).

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      11. you say: But under your proposal, we are bound and locked, even logically, to create ourselves in a specific way. This is the only way George would reject God in ALL modally possible worlds, and Susan would accept God in ALL modally possible worlds.

        This is true, but it’s a logical fallacy to insist uncertainty must mean freedom in choice. I chose pizza for lunch yesterday, and there is now no uncertainty associated with. This does not prove the choice was not causally free (made from within through a God-like choosing apparatus that has the power to decide between options).

        you say: I already fear LFW as a powerfully dangerous logical wildcard.

        I think most determinists do.

        you say: We agree that emergent evil is hideous, but the byproduct of something good and ‘worth it.’

        I don’t think God ever wanted evil to be chosen. In fact I know everything within God did not want evil to be chosen.

        you say: that he WAS INDEED righteous at the beginning of the story

        My defense would be that was externally imputed righteousness (me in Christ) and not inward sanctification (Christ in me).

        you say: Second, “I know one lives who can vindicate me” is not about Jesus Christ. Job is saying, “I am righteous.”

        Yet he ended with “Behold I am vile.” I do think Job at that moment may not have realized the prophetic significance of his need for a Redeemer—his self-righteousness was still being worked out of his system.

        you say: He is disputing “the root of the trouble lies with him,” the karmic folk theodicy.

        But Job also admitted that even if he were innocent God could make him guilty (God has that power: and a hint of original sin).

        you say: Never do Elihu nor God say Job is wrong about owing his calamity to God’s superordinate “hand.”

        True. But the real missing key in all this, is Job’s question of “Why does evil exist at all.” And the only answer is a libertarian choice of evil that ruined the inherent equilibrium of justice in the world.

        For distress does not grow out of the soil,
        and trouble does not sprout from the ground.

        But mankind is born for trouble
        as surely as sparks fly upward.

        Job 5:6-7

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  8. Thanks Leighton for addressing the main issue of predeterminism. My understanding is that it is important to discuss the question – Is the story of human history forever already viewed as finished in God’s mind? If so who wrote it, when was it written, or is it still being composed even though some decisions have already been made for future chapters?

    For Calvinism God has had this one book eternally in His mind, and it had to be chosen to be written by Him (though the C will not admit this necessity). God determines all the evil already that will certainly happen, but He carefully writes that He should not be seen as culpable for it.

    The Molinist God has had eternally many possible books that He could write. He chooses one that states certain created agents freely choose evil. But whatever evil they choose, He has only one predetermined response for each one, so actually these agents will only make one seemingly free choice, and all His predetermined responses guarantee the book is written in only one way in His mind.

    The fact that this story is going on forever doesn’t seem to bother the Calvinist or Molinist. It is still finished in His mind… nor does the fact that the finished story of all God’s involvement in it undermines what most would understand as God’s free will. He must have given it up so that His story could be complete in His mind forever.

    Another big problem is that the finished story of all of God’s choices into the future forever makes what He decided to tell us in Scripture about the future and His free involvement in it sound deceptive.

    But your post is correct, if the story is all finished, the author is responsible for any and all evil written into it.

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    1. I think I understand the attraction of openness. I remember when I first started thinking seriously about God knowing the future exhaustively. Somehow it seemed to take the magic out of something—like analyzing the biological parts and movements involved in a kiss, or thoroughly dissecting all the parts of a frog. By over analysis it feels something of the life and magic of the kiss and the frog have gone… there comes no prince anymore :P. Taking away the mystery of the unknown and the uncertainty and the spontaneity of the future of events or choices, saying God’s omniscience makes all of history and all the future certain and unchangeable, seems to render everything in stone, to add a Midas touch that turns the whole world to a sparkly golden, but take away the spark of organic life, the realness and rawness of relationship and existing over time.

      Even if we say “but LFW makes the system non-deterministic” we don’t feel comforted that our LFW choices are so exhaustively known and categorized as if in a museum of certainty that we cannot ever change. It’s like the old time paradox—to know our future is to change our future. What if a particularly contrary person could know their future? They would always choose the opposite of what they knew they would do, just to “puck” with the system, so to speak. This gives them the feeling they are really writing their own story, forging their own destiny. God could pull back the curtain and say “aha! I knew you’d see your future choices and change them!” and then she might say “well please let me go back in time and change them then!” And could God say “I knew you’d say that.”

      It takes something away, we don’t see how a real relationship can occur if every word is known before and as we say it, or if God only speaks what he planned before eternity in every instance. Doesn’t that in some way seem just as deterministic as Calvinism? I suppose we who believe in it, must say that LFW is the determiner, and in some sense, since we can only choose one course of action out of the available, our future must be determined and deterministic—yet not by God, but only by our own LFW. Is this simply trying to think about things we were never meant to think about? Is all our lives really a Truman Show, a spectacle of the angels, what feels to us an unchangeable farce? “If you do this… then this. If you do that… then that.” But God already knows what I’m going to do.

      It’s proven that, ironically enough, preaching fatalism to a person most often makes them more passive. Because there is this feeling that “nothing I do can change anything anyway.” We want our LFW to make a real difference, not be something scripted in stone from eternity. This is a psychological oddity in a way—it shows how illogically we naturally think. Why not under hearing fatalism respond with incredible aggression—”well then it must be determined for me to do my very, very best!” We feel like it’s no longer really us that’s doing it. And in all this, I actually agree, that the idea of all things being known, does take away the magic of real time spontaneity and uncertainty that adds a living and unpredictable dynamic to a relationship. I’ve had moments—with God and with others—that I certainly feel would be cheapened and lessened if they weren’t originating in real time from a dynamic interacting relationship of unique individual decisions.

      And I’m honest enough to say that’s the way the Bible reads to me most often. I don’t really have a way to resolve the tension in this. Sometimes I think and hope omniscience is something God *has* but he doesn’t ever look at. It’s in a box in heaven somewhere, and if the need arises, it can always be accessed, but when I say “this is the day the Lord has made” and dedicate the day to God, I surely hope he walks with me dynamically and gives his blessing without opening up that old box and saying “Oh so, this is what we both do today.” It’s a doctrine, a doctrine I espouse, yet I’m sympathetic to the reasons people intuitively feel it becomes too dry a doctrine that has no help or relevance to a daily devotional faith. Perhaps it’s peering into a behind-the-scenes mystery we were never meant to see.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you David for your thoughtful, candid reply. We applaud those in the sixteenth century that reclaimed biblical definitions away from “orthodox” ones. Why is there the fear to reassess biblical evidence concerning what it says about omniscience?

        No one would say that believers are omniscient, but the Scripture says that if you have the anointing of the Spirit, “you know all things.” 1John 2:20. So if we must make sense of this “omniscience” statement in a biblical context, we should do the same with those relating to God’s nature.

        But should we rely on philosophy to have the final say on that definition? Should we assume our theology statements are so much more clear than what God revealed in Scripture?

        I am constantly surprised how often I read on this subject that God uses “anthropomorphic” language in Scripture for premises the theologian must “clear up” for the reader of those Scriptures, even if the meaning ends up being rather opposite of the normal, contextual reading of those words. Why didn’t God choose “bright” men like them to write His Word! 😉

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      2. brianwagner writes, “I am constantly surprised how often I read on this subject that God uses “anthropomorphic” language in Scripture for premises the theologian must “clear up” for the reader of those Scriptures,…”

        What happens is that people read that “God’s understanding is infinite,” and use that as the foundation for the way in which we are to understand God’s knowledge. Charnock does this, as you will be reminded when you read him. Having established that God is omniscience on the basis of His infinite understanding, we understand that the other verses must necessarily be in the context of God’s omniscience. Those who maintain that God does not know all the future seem to have ignored the issue of God’s infinite understanding and thus, have ignored Scriptural context to get to their conclusion.

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      3. We have talked about this before, Roger. You know that I also believe God’s understanding is infinite. He infinite understands the future that He has planned as partly determined and partly open.

        Remember, the future goes on forever, and God still maintains freedom of will to decide things in the future. His understanding of all that is indeed infinite. There is no necessity in that verse to have God predetermine everything before creation, which indeed does cause Scripture to be read full of anthropomorphisms!

        Actually, I am putting a response together for you on Charnock. I was right that he bases predetermination of all things on his definition of omniscience which he bases on his definition of eternality which is on immutability which is on simplicity which has not Scriptural proof whatsoever but is directly from Aquinas, from neo-platonism!

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      4. brianwagner writes, “I also believe God’s understanding is infinite. He infinite understands the future that He has planned as partly determined and partly open.”

        You can argue against Charnock on this point. It will be interesting to see how you counter Charnock’s argument for linking infinite understanding to infinite knowledge and your counter argument against this.

        If you want, I am willing to review a draft of your effort to help you hone in on the major issues dividing you and Charnock if you want – just to make sure you stay on track and don’t slip away to argue strawmen who are easier to argue against than Charnock. If you pull it off, the Open Theists will praise you as it does not seem that any of them have dared to do such.

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      5. When I am done with my brief evaluation, you can send me an email address to send it to. I am surprised that you haven’t recognized how Charnock’s house of cards to prove the predeterminism of all things is built upon the doctrine – simplicity of God – which has no clear Scripture support.

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      6. “you can send me an email address to send it to”

        rhutchin1948@yahoo.com

        Let me know when you send it as I use this email to protect against spam. For private conversations between the two of us, I will switch to another email – for friends and all around nice guys.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Pastor Flowers writes, “Put another way, men always do what they want but what they want is determined by God.”

    By “determined” is not meant “caused.” God decrees/determines all things; God does not cause all things. However, everything that happens is necessarily according to God’s will as God is sovereign.

    Satan does not enter the garden no matter how badly he wants unless God decrees that Satan enter the garden. When God stands aside enabling Satan to enter the garden, God knows the end result – Adam and Eve will sin and God has already prepared for that having also decreed the death of Christ as the remedy for that sin.

    God is present observing everything that happens in the garden as Satan tempts Eve and Eve offers the fruit to Adam. At each point, God actively decides/decrees that He will not intervene to change the inevitable outcome – such is the burden of sovereignty to be involved in all the activities of His creation.

    When David is tempted to number Israel, we are told that God did it and that Satan did it. We understand that Satan does nothing but that decreed (allowed) by God and God decrees (allows) Satan to do nothing except as an agent of His will. Satan willingly pursues his evil desires and unwillingly accomplishes God’s purpose. So it is in all the actions of the wicked in all their wickedness.

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  10. Someone asks…..

    “Why do you think the Westminster Divines stated that God ordained whatsoever comes to pass and then also stated that God is not thereby the author of sin?”

    To which Vincent Cheung replies….

    “It seems that, like most theologians, they assumed that to cause evil is to commit evil; therefore, they had to distance God from evil. However, the assumption that to metaphysically cause evil is to morally commit evil is false, and rarely even mentioned or defended. It is taken for granted, but these are two separate issues. One deals with how something can happen at all, and the other deals with what moral laws God has declared to define what is good and what is evil. If he has not declared that it is evil for himself to metaphysically cause evil, then how dare men say that it is evil for him to do so?

    To say that God is not the author of sin necessarily means that his sovereignty cannot be direct and exhaustive. That God is totally sovereign is something that the Bible clearly teaches. On the other hand, that God is not the author of sin is something that men wish to maintain against the Bible. Therefore, they affirm both, and most theologians attempt to work around it with permissive decrees (but the concept makes no sense), secondary causes (but does God directly cause and control these “secondary” causes or not?), and compatibilism (but this is irrelevant, since if God controls all things, then the fact that men make choices and what choices they make are also controlled by God, so that this means only that God is compatible with himself; thus the idea is a red herring that does not address the question).

    When you refuse to accept nonsense and press the issue, they throw up their hands and call it a mystery, and call you a heretic if you insist that the biblical doctrine is clear. But if this is permitted, then anyone can hold any position on any issue, and just call it a mystery.”

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      1. Leighton,

        I think “hyperism” is a notion created by Calvinists to avoid taking Calvinism to its logical conclusion. As the scriptures say “a little leaven…”

        That said, Cheung is very painful to read. Its disturbing. Even more disturbing is he has a following.

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      2. What do you assume the Devines meant by the term, “author of sin”? Something more than that God causes a person to sin?

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    1. God does not directly cause and control secondary causes; they are indirect, such that they are more meaningfully owed to intra-systemic interactions vs. the exceptional imposition of God.

      God set up a bunch of physical rules that supported interaction, and then “let the flywheel spin,” so to speak. Any system with interactive elements will yield patterns of virulence and resilience over time. It goes without saying that some of these virulent and resilient patterns will not look so “Godly.” It goes without saying that there are successful strategies of virulence and resilience that are not very loving, just, or peaceful. The more God stays “hands-off” in the sense of nonintervention, the more we should expect that evil naturally emerges.

      When God set up those initial rules, he knew exactly where and when evil would inevitably emerge as a function of (1) the natural emergence of evil from any interactive system, and (2) his preference to largely give natural freedom to his creation. These events are wholly owed to his superordinate sovereignty and creative acts, but we maintain them to be meaningfully distinct from his exceptional interventions. So we call them “secondary causation” rather than “primary causation.”

      This is a MEANINGFUL distinction. We compatibilists reject Vincent Cheung’s radical reduction.

      For more about rejecting radical reduction and capturing meaningful forms, and how this solves the “sovereignty problem” under compatibilism, Google “stanrock sun rises”.

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      1. stanrock writes, “God set up a bunch of physical rules that supported interaction, and then “let the flywheel spin,” so to speak.”

        I’d appreciate the Scriptural argument developed to support this conclusion. Because, He is sovereign, God cannot just let the flywheel spin. Consider a feather drifting along on the wind. God decrees where that feather goes not because He let the flywheel spin but because He exercises total control over the path of the feather. It may be that God allows the wind to blow (or the flywheel spin) the feather where it may, but it is God who decides at each point along the way whether to intervene or not intervene to affect a different path than that which might naturally occur. The flywheel can only spin under the sovereign vigilance of God and by His decree. Thus, we are able to say that God decrees the path followed by the feather.

        Stanrock writes, “The more God stays “hands-off” in the sense of nonintervention, the more we should expect that evil naturally emerges.”

        By evil, you mean evil actions of people. God defines what we call, evil, by saying, “Thou shalt not…” Had God not said, “Thou shalt not…,” nothing would be evil except as compared to His goodness. However, God is never hands-off – as sovereign, it is impossible for God to be hands-off. No one engages in any evil activity without God first decreeing that He will not intervene to prevent that activity. Satan does not enter the garden, or tempt David to number Israel, Judas does not betray Christ, Stephen cannot be stoned except God decree that such should occur.

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      2. Rhutchin,

        You said, “God cannot just let the flywheel spin.” But then you said, “It may be that God allows the wind to blow (or the flywheel spin) the feather where it may, but it is God who decides at each point along the way whether to intervene or not intervene to affect a different path than that which might naturally occur.”

        The second quote is precisely what I’m asserting. God’s “allowances” after his initial impositions are “letting the flywheel spin.” I think you are used to debating with libertarian folk, which I am not. I am not asserting anything less substantial than what you are asserting. Rather, I am asserting a maintenance of form discrimination in the ways in which God chooses to act or allow.

        God set up physical rules by which feathers typically behave. Whether the feather acts according to those rules — flywheel spinning per God’s allowance — or is exceptionally redirected is an important discriminatory form. I am asserting that we must maintain this form discrimination. As I said before, we would not say that every mosquito bite is a miracle.

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  11. Calvinism makes divine permission incoherent, since it amounts to God not stopping Himself from accomplishing what He has unconditionally decreed.

    Ultimately, divine permission in Calvinism means that God scripted things to take appearance is if He was permitting someone to exercise self-determination, when in fact, God was determining their “self-determination” for them. By contrast, Arminianism and non-Calvinists depicts God as allowing independent agents to self-determine unscripted events, but only so far, until God intervenes. Calvinists say that that means that God is no longer sovereign. I think God’s sovereignty is expressed in allowing it. It’s His choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Richard Coords writes, “…divine permission in Calvinism means…I think God’s sovereignty is expressed in allowing it. It’s His choice.”

      Divine permission in Calvinism means that it’s God’s choice.

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      1. Rhutchin, by tearing up my quote, it provides a misleading outcome. Remember that Calvinists say that *if* God were to allow a person to make a choice that God did not decide for them (by decree), then that would necessarily cede God’s sovereignty, and my reply that was that God chose (out of His sovereignty) to allow people to do things that He did not decide for them.

        One Calvinist explains it this way: “Suppose that I have a hamster in my hand. I am completely sovereign because the hamster must do what I demand it to do. If I put it down on a table, it can now make free choices, but I am no longer sovereign, because I cannot determine what the hamster will do.” (Peter Pike and The Illogical Arminian)

        But what if that’s exactly what God wanted, that is, to allow the hypothetical hamster to make free, unscripted choices that were not decreed? That’s what I was saying was God’s choice, and Calvinists are saying that such a thing would violate His sovereignty. Anyway, that’s where the two sides obviously disagree.

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      2. Richard Coords writes, “what if that’s exactly what God wanted, that is, to allow the hypothetical hamster to make free, unscripted choices that were not decreed? That’s what I was saying was God’s choice, and Calvinists are saying that such a thing would violate His sovereignty. Anyway, that’s where the two sides obviously disagree.”

        The Calvinists are right.

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  12. I like this quote as well:

    Matt from A Theology in Tension explains: “Bad theology always survives by clothing itself in the garb of good theology whenever convenient in order to keep the controversial dissimilarities as hidden as possible from public view.” (Tim Keller: Private Calvinist, Public Arminian)

    This is what some Calvinists do when trying to cloak Determinism with Divine Permission, and the best way to eliminate the trickery is to ask whether God is permitting something that may or may not happen, because if God was only permitting what is internal to Himself, then it is no longer authentic permission, since real permission implies the allowance of an external, independent party to render a self-determined choice.

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    1. Instead of just “clothing itself in the garb of good theology” I think it is sometimes like making a Christianized Freudian slip, defaulting to the wisdom of the Father that is inherently in them by the Spirit, even though their theological mindset often takes a stand against it. I heard Sproul ask rhetorically once on the radio, “What is every man’s greatest need?” And then he answered – “to be saved!”

      I shouted back – “Please be consistent… that is only your ‘elect’s’ greatest need… it is necessary for everyone else to burn in hell forever for God to get the proper glory He has planned of Himself in your view, RC.” Of course, I yell at Sproul a lot when I listen to him on the radio! But I do thank the Lord that He uses many Calvinists to win souls!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Man’s greatest need is to be saved whether they are elect or not. That God chooses to save some but not others does not negate the need.

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      2. Roger, you are better at logic! Is it not necessary for the non-elect to burn in hell? Does God’s decree in that area not NEED to be fulfilled? Their lack of salvation is not a need, it is a condition through which they will glorify God. It is only a “need” from a humanistic, man-centered perspective according to Calvinism, and I am sure you do not want to undermine the Calvinist perspective on that.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “Does God’s decree in that area not NEED to be fulfilled? Their lack of salvation is not a need, it is a condition through which they will glorify God. It is only a “need” from a humanistic, man-centered perspective according to Calvinism, and I am sure you do not want to undermine the Calvinist perspective on that.”

        Scripture says, “All have sinned…” Thus, all are in need of salvation. People can choose to accept Christ as a remedy for their sin or God can save them. I don’t see an issue w/ Calvinism here.

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      4. But you didn’t answer the question, Roger… Does God’s decree that the reprobate burn in hell NEED to be fulfilled? If the NEED to be saved, that would be two conflicting needs. How can that be possible in the plan of God, to have two conflicting needs? Any thoughts?

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      5. brianwagner writes, “Does God’s decree that the reprobate burn in hell NEED to be fulfilled? If the NEED to be saved, that would be two conflicting needs. How can that be possible in the plan of God, to have two conflicting needs? Any thoughts?”

        God’s decrees need to be fulfilled – necessarily so – else God has not decreed them. God has decreed that the soul that sins shall die with the exception, believe on the name of Christ and live.

        So what has God decreed? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? 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?

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      6. You answered one question… Roger, now let’s try to get the other finally answered. How can it be possible in the plan of God to have two conflicting needs for the reprobate… to be saved and to burn in hell?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. brianwagner writes, “How can it be possible in the plan of God to have two conflicting needs for the reprobate… to be saved and to burn in hell? ”

        You’ve created another apples and oranges scenario. There is that need arising from God’s decrees. If God decrees X, then it is necessary (a need) for X to occur. There is also a need arising from man’s condition. Sinners are in need of salvation. They are two different types of needs: (1) a need created by God, and (2) a need created by man. Sproul had in mind the need created by Adam’s sin – that people were then in need of salvation.

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      8. Roger, you are not saying that man’s need was not also decreed, are you? Two conflicting needs, both decreed, according to Sproul… Why are you avoiding the obvious, Sproul was inconsistent in declaring salvation as a universal need? You don’t need to defend him on this one, my friend!

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      9. brianwagner writes, “you are not saying that man’s need was not also decreed, are you? Two conflicting needs, both decreed, according to Sproul”

        When Adam/Eve sinned, a “need” was created for all of mankind – a need to be saved, As God decreed the temptation and fall (it could not have happened had God not decreed it), we can say that God decreed the fall of man. That created the universal need for salvation to which Sproul refers. From that universe of people who have a need for salvation, God choose/decreed whom He would save – that created a second need: the fulfillment of God’s decree to save.

        I don’t see a conflict between the two “needs.” Salvation is a need created by man’s sin. God’s decree to save is a different need created by God’s choice to save. What is the conflict? Adam chose to sin in the one instance; God choose whom to save in the other – the one leads to the other.

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      10. Ok Roger, I tried my best to help you see the inconsistency. All men are in the condition of being lost, but not all men are in the condition of needing salvation according to Calvinism, if God decrees all things.

        He decrees that the reprobate stay lost. They have no need for something that was never decreed for them. It is only humanistic sentimentality to think they actually need salvation.

        They lack it, but they don’t need it. A need is only truly defined as that which, when met, accomplishes God’s will. It is God’s will according to Calvinism for the reprobate to burn in he’ll. That is what they truly need to do, stay lost, and be damned, according to Calvinism.

        You are welcome to see it otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. brianwagner writes, “…They have no need for something that was never decreed for them….”

        In Matthew 6, “seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Things here refers to needs. God has decreed to provide basic needs to those who seek His kingdom. All people have need of food, water and clothing even though God has not decreed to provide such to all people. So, it is by God’s decree that those who seek Him are to have their needs met; not so for those who do not seek Him. Similarly, by Adam’s sin all are in need of salvation, even though God has not decreed to save everyone. But, Romans, “There is none who seeks God.” So, who really seeks God? Is it not him whom God has saved? So, God has decreed that a person seek Him to have their needs met, but only those whom God has decreed to save will seek Him. We still speak of people needing food and water to live and needing salvation to live.

        brianwagner writes, “A need is only truly defined as that which, when met, accomplishes God’s will.”

        All people have needs. Whether God fulfills those needs is up to God. Unmet needs are God’s will, also.

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    2. Richard Coords writes, “… real permission implies the allowance of an external, independent party to render a self-determined choice.”

      Nothing is, or can be, independent of God. God decrees the date of a person’s birth, the day of his death, and then sustains his life in between. God may give a person freedom to choose but never independence from God. How can a person dependent on God for life ever be independent of God?

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      1. say: How can a person dependent on God for life ever be independent of God?

        Rebellion through a LFW choice.

        ” I have raised children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me ” — Isa. 1:2

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  13. …in the Westminster Confession it is stated: “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.”

    “Arthur W. Pink wrote in a book about the sovereignty of God: Once more, it needs to be carefully borne in mind that God did not decree that Adam should sin and then inject into Adam an inclination to evil, in order that His decree might be carried out. No; ‘God cannot be tempted, neither tempteth He any man’ (James 1:13). Instead, when the Serpent came to tempt Eve, God caused her to remember His command forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and of the penalty attached to disobedience! Thus, though God had decreed the Fall, in no sense was He the Author of Adam’s sin, and at no point was Adam’s responsibility impaired. Thus may we admire and adore the ‘manifold wisdom of God’, in devising a way whereby His eternal decree should be accomplished, and yet the responsibility of His creatures be preserved intact.”

    Vincent Cheung writes…

    “If I am right, then they must be wrong. The question is, how can they be right without self-contradiction — that God controls all things, but he really doesn’t, that God causes all things, but he really doesn’t? The Reformed is fond of appealing to ‘mystery’, ‘paradox’, and ‘antinomy’, which are nothing but more dignified and deceptive terms for saying, ‘Clearly, I contradict myself, but I don’t care.’ Instead, it seems to me that divine sovereignty is an altogether clear and coherent doctrine. It is so easy to understand. I have also answered the almost universal abuse of James 1:13. Temptation and causation are two different things, and the topic is causation, not temptation…

    ….I believe that if a person is a Christian and somewhat intelligent, then if we were to repeat, ‘If God is not the direct metaphysical cause of something, then something else is’, to his face over and over again, eventually he would realize what this really means and would become just as alarmed and repulsed at the notion as we are. But perhaps both faith and intelligence are rare, and the combination even less likely.

    As for secondary causation, I have addressed this a number of times. If all else fails, I can say that I did not write the books, but my computer did. The fact that I was typing on it when the books appeared does not nullify the authorship of the computer or its moral responsibility, but only establishes it. If the reply is that the computer is not an intelligent mind but a dead object, I would insist that Dual Core is superior to a lump of clay (Romans 9). In any case, if God’s authorship is only so distant (I did not make the computer, the software, nor did I make or control the electricity), he might not be so clearly the author of sin.”

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    1. Philip, I think that another great example is that of David and Uriah, where God did not agree to “buffers” of causation, as alleged by Calvinists. If David were a Calvinist, then he could say, “Although I decreed the murder of Uriah and rendered it certain by King’s Orders, I am not responsible since secondary agents performed the event. Now if someone were wishing to blame me, then all I can say is that it’s a mystery.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The correct view is a dynamism of responsibility, and separating the question of blame/credit from the question of ascription. Surely you would not deny responsibility for Uriah’s death to those who killed him directly. Rather, you would ascribe to every contributory cofactor, by commission or omission. You would ascribe to the direct killer. You would ascribe to David. You would also ascribe to God, who by omission of action of which he was capable also catalyzed the death of Uriah.

        But it does not follow from this ascription that God is blameworthy. Blame and credit are expressions of expectation for moral change or encouragement. God set expectations for David, and David failed them, and so David’s ascription is blameworthy; David is henceforth punished in one of the worst imaginable ways as ancillary to compel his reform.

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      2. Richard Coords writes, “If David were a Calvinist, then he could say, “Although I decreed the murder of Uriah and rendered it certain by King’s Orders, I am not responsible since secondary agents performed the event. Now if someone were wishing to blame me, then all I can say is that it’s a mystery.”

        The Calvinist would say that God knew exactly what David was doing and God choose not to intervene thus decreeing that David proceed. Are you saying that God was ignorant of that which David was doing?

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    2. Chueng is practicing a bizarre degree of radical reduction; I suspect he deems himself brave thereby. He is the “Apollos” character in “The Sun Also Rises; Or, the Heterophroneo of Everything” (Google “stanrock sun rises”).

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    3. Richard,

      I think this shines a new light on the Genesis 3 account.

      When the Lord turned to Adam he blamed it on the woman.

      When the Lord turned to the woman, she blamed it on the serpent.

      And when the Lord turned to the serpent, the serpent said “Seriously!?!”

      Blessings!

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    4. Phillip writes, “… if God’s authorship is only so distant (I did not make the computer, the software, nor did I make or control the electricity), he might not be so clearly the author of sin.’”

      God can be identified as the author of sin so long as authorship does not mean that God tempts a person to sin nor that God coerces a person to sin and the person freely pursues the inclinations of his corrupt heart without encouragement or restraint by God.

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  14. Ok, this might have been covered somewhere, but it always seems to me that a deterministic world makes miracles meaningless. Because in that world either everything is a miracle or nothing is-God actively controlling every molecule leaves no room for divine intervention in the natural world because everything is divine intervention.

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    1. In a deterministic world under Calvinism, man has free will (but not LFW) so decisions are determined by a corrupt heart (thus, people reject Christ because they have no faith) and God’s actions (extension of saving grace to His elect) determine who is saved.

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      1. Decisions are not determined by a corrupt heart if God has not made any way for those people to have faith. If that is the case, then all decisions are determined by God, including evil ones.

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      2. Thank you. And rhutchin, did Adam have a corrupt nature? I have to ask. Because I can’t imagine God making Adam corrupt. So why did he sin? Only explanation is that God made him free.

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      3. Deborah writes, “did Adam have a corrupt nature? … So why did he sin?”

        God did not make Adam with a corrupt heart – “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.”

        No one, as far as I know, has figured out why Adam sinned – free or not.

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      4. wildswanderer writes, “Decisions are not determined by a corrupt heart if God has not made any way for those people to have faith. If that is the case, then all decisions are determined by God, including evil ones.”

        All people are born with a corrupt heart and without faith. As it is God who wills the birth of people, we can say that God determines the decisions that people make. To change this, God must prepare the heart so that it is good soil and then plant faith in the good soil of the person’s heart and that faith will grow and manifest itself in a life lived for Christ..

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      5. You just told us that: “man has free will (but not LFW) so decisions are determined by a corrupt heart” and now you’re saying “God determines the decisions that people make.”
        Obviously, you want to have your cake and eat it too. It makes not one iota of difference to appeal the corrupt heart if LFW is not a reality. Why run all the way around Robin Hood’s barn instead of just being admitting that in your view God is the author of even evil decision every made by every human who ever lived?
        In your system, God does not hate evil, He causes it by creating damned people who He never intends to give the opportunity for salvation.

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      6. wildswanderer writes, “…in your system, God does not hate evil, He causes it…”

        In the Calvinist system, determine does not mean cause. God determines everything, even the evil actions of people, but God does not cause those actions. The heart is deceitful and from the heart comes the evil actions of people.

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      7. Determine means determine no matter what position you hold to. Words cannot change mean to fit belief systems.

        People do not reject Christ in Calvinism. You cannot reject what you cannot believe. A man that is born blind does not reject the ability to see if there is no possibility of him seeing. So, if people are reprobated by God, by His will, before they were even born (for His glory), it is God who has rejected them, it is one way. Now, the bible does not teach this, but one ought to be consistent.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. Paul-N writes, “Determine means determine no matter what position you hold to.”

        “Determine” does not mean cause. God determines all things; God does not cause all things.

        Paul-N writes, “So, if people are reprobated by God, by His will, before they were even born (for His glory), it is God who has rejected them,…”

        People became reprobate as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Adam freely choose to sin and mankind suffers because of it. Only God can reverse that reprobate nature.

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      9. Who determined, Roger, that the blinding consequence of sin should pass on to Adam’s children because of his sin, and why? And could He have freely determined a different consequence, and why didn’t He if He was free to?

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      10. brianwagner asks, “Who determined, Roger, that the blinding consequence of sin should pass on to Adam’s children because of his sin, and why?

        God did, didn’t He. Did God not enforce the penalty – that Adam would die if he ate the fruit? Didn’t God kick them out of the garden, make life harder for Adam in growing food and for Eve in childbirth? So, the question is, “What did God mean that Adam would die?” Adam did not die on the spot even though he did die eventually – as now all his children do. Adam’s sin passes to his children as a consequence of his sin. That is the system God put into place when He created the world.

        Why did God do this? Because He wanted to.

        And then, “And could He have freely determined a different consequence, and why didn’t He if He was free to?”

        God could have done anything He wanted. The exercise of freedom results in decisions being made; a decision having been made does not negate the freedom with which it was made or one’s freedom to make other decisions.

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      11. So, Roger, you agree that the penalty is God’s determination, and that He wasn’t obligated by His justice to pass it on to individual souls born from Adam, don’t you? But He freely chose to make all Adam’s seed guilty for his sin, in your view, and wanted most of them to burn in hell forever, never enabled to have an opportunity to trust His mercy for salvation. Really?

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      12. Thank you for your candid reply, Roger. Would you say that your view of determinism is rooted in your view of omniscience and your view of omniscience is rooted in your view of immutability, plus in definitions of perfection and infinity?

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      13. brianwagner writes, “Would you say that your view of determinism is rooted in your view of omniscience and your view of omniscience is rooted in your view of immutability, plus in definitions of perfection and infinity?”

        My view of determinism is made certain by God’s omniscience and necessary by God’s sovereignty.

        My view of omniscience, following Charnock, is derived from God’s infinite understanding which dictates perfect knowledge. It is the infinite character of God’s understanding that makes God’s understanding immutable; immutable understanding requires that God’s knowledge be immutable.

        So, I think my answer to your questions is, Yes.

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      14. Thank you Roger, I want to do my Charnock review especially with your thinking in mind, so that helps a lot! Charnock’s thinking has already been changed by the truth! 🙂

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      15. brianwagner writes, ” Charnock’s thinking has already been changed by the truth! :-)’

        Boy, this is really getting exciting. Kinda like Christmas eve for a 10-year old.

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    1. In his blog, blakodeel writes, “Leighton Flowers is a pastor and staunch opponent of Calvinism, …”

      Actually, Dr. Flowers agrees with Calvinism on some things and not others. I would not call him a staunch opponent; a somewhat confused opponent, perhaps. Like a lot of people, he has become enamored with people having free will.

      Otherwise, you are correct in noting that Dr. Flowers constructs a strawman (the active/passive dichotomy) to argue against Calvinism. I tend to think that Dr. Flowers is still trying to figure out what Calvinism is all about. I think he is using his blog to present the goofy stuff he reads from the non-Calvinists in order to get reaction from Calvinists and thereby get the true scoop.

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      1. You really think that about Leighton? Wow, Roger! I appreciate your candid opinion about him. I would never have assumed such an idea from reading everyone of his posts on this site. IRoger personally don’t think Leighton’s character is that prone to hide his true motives from us for why he is posting!

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      2. brianwagner writes, “You really think that about Leighton? Wow, Roger! I appreciate your candid opinion about him.”

        People who write blogs have to excite the imagination else no one will read them. Such is life.

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      3. I request you present direct quotes from me which you deem as strawmen. Before doing so I recommend you reread the blog “5 reasons for the accusation of misrepresentation”

        Also, you will need to demonstrate that no mainstream Calvinist or scholar believes the form of Calvinism that I’m representing. BC not representing your form of Calvinism is not equal to strawman fallacy or my being ignorant (as you seem to assume).

        You will also need to give specific instances of “goofy stuff”. These types of unfounded accusations aren’t helpful Robert. You can do better to bring the conversation up instead of down into the mud. Thx

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      4. Hello Leighton,

        I post as “Robert” at this blog and I posted at the very beginning of this thread (you also agreed with my comments). I have not posted in this thread since (though RHUTCHIN has posted multiple times, including his completely unfounded attacks of you to which you are now responding).

        Leighton you wrote:

        “You will also need to give specific instances of “goofy stuff”. These types of unfounded accusations aren’t helpful Robert.”

        It was RHUTCHIN making these comments, not me, just wanted to be clear on that.

        For the record I have said of rhutchin in the past that he acts like a Calvinist troll (he goes from blog to blog repeatedly making false accusations and claims about non-Calvinists like us, e.g. that we are “universalists” for affirming unlimited atonement and that we deny that God has foreknowledge of all events, that we are always misrepresenting his view, that we do not understand Calvinism, etc. etc. etc. etc. he never apologizes for these comments though corrected on these things repeatedly, and shows no evidence of remorse or repentance for any of these false accusations and false claims that he makes).

        Leighton I encourage you to ignore rhutchin’s comments directed towards you as they are completely unfounded and baseless.

        You are doing an excellent job at this blog of presenting the non-Calvinist alternative (i.e. Baptist Traditionalist) to Calvinism and pointing out the many problems and issues connected with Calvinism. You do so in a gracious and appropriate manner.

        Keep up the great job you are doing and don’t let folks like rhutchin get you down.

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      5. Pator Flowers writes, “Here is the problem with this approach. It denies the permissive aspect of God’s decree. To say, “God isn’t just managing to turn the evil aspects of our world to good; it is rather that He Himself brings about these evil aspects for His glory,” is to suggest that God is not merely permitting evil people to freely act and managing to turn what they intend for evil into something good, but instead that God is actively “bringing about evil” Himself. He is the root cause (or “author”) of moral evil under this system. That is unacceptable, not only to our consciences as born again believers, but it is wholly unbiblical. Compatibilists, while intending to protect their understanding of Divine sovereignty (i.e. complete control), undermine God’s supremely self-glorifying characteristics of holiness and love.”

        How does Pastor Flowers create a “strawman”? He does this by making statements like – “He is the root cause (or “author”) of moral evil under this system.” What does Pastor Flowers mean to convey by this statement. Obviously, that there is something wrong and he wants to tie that “wrong” to Calvinism. He seeks to create a mindset in the reader. He reinforces his opening line, “NO! Our perfectly HOLY God does not bring about the sins for which people suffer for in Hell!” I contend that such statements create a strawman in that they seek to convey an image that he will then attribute to Calvinism and thereby argue against Calvinism. Pastor Flowers excites the imagination – saying “root cause.” What does “root cause” mean and what does it have to do with Calvinism? A phrase like that is designed to created a certain picture in the mind of the reader – a picture that is a strawman.

        Does Pastor Flowers really understand Calvinism? I have my doubts. Let me contrast Pastor Flowers with brainwagner. brianwagner knows Calvinism and rightly concludes that a person cannot hold that God knows the future and then argue against Calvinism. Pastor Flowers seems to believe that God is omniscient with regard to all things, including the future. If that is true, how can he argue against Calvinism? If Pastor Flowers believes that God is omniscient, then I maintain that he cannot argue against Calvinism except by creating strawmen against which he can argue.

        If one is to argue against Calvinism, one must first argue against omniscience as brianwagner does. Otherwise, one has no argument against Calvinism.

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      6. Appeal to philosophy. Infinite knowledge is mysterious, as is any infinite attribute. All guesses as to the relation of Gods infinite knowledge to our own decisions are just that…guesses….philosophical speculations. Compatibilistic Determinism, Molinism, Open Theism, The Eternal Now View, etc etc…they all speculate as to how the mechanics of it works.

        If you read “The 5 reasons for the accusation of misrepresentation” you find your answer to this charge. Pitting me against Brian won’t work. I already know he is smarter than I am. 🙂

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      7. Pastor Flowers writes, “Infinite knowledge is mysterious, as is any infinite attribute.”

        What does “infinite” mean? To subtract from “infinite” produces “finite.” Nothing can be added to that which is “infinite” else it was not infinite. Where is the mystery in that?

        So, what message/concept do you intend to convey by saying, “All guesses as to the relation of Gods infinite knowledge to our own decisions are just that…guesses….philosophical speculations.” The issue of relationship comes up because some people have a hard time with God knowing what they will do before they choose to do it. The mechanics are not really irrelevant in Calvinism. The Calvinist merely maintains that God knows – that He is omniscient – regardless how He knows. Thus, when God tells us that He created the universe (Genesis 1), God knows everything that will happen from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Because God knows, the conclusion is that everything that God knows has been determined – without regard to mechanics – and it is the presumption of God’s omniscience that underscores Calvinist theology. To argue against Calvinism, one must argue against the presumption that God is omniscient and this is what Brian understands and why he is able to present a consistent argument against Calvinism (even though it is a false argument because his premise is false).

        If you begin with the premise for arguing against Calvinism that “they all speculate as to how the mechanics of it works,” then everything that follows is a strawman – because the mechanics of God’s knowledge is not the basis for the Calvinist system; it’s the existence of God’s knowledge that underlies the Calvinist system. If you have never come to grips with God’s omniscience, then you cannot understand Calvinism. That might explain why Brian is smarter than you (on this point, at least).

        I’ll go back and re-read your “Five Reasons…” but if you don’t address omniscience in that article, what will we have accomplished?

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      8. I have observed that smarter people often still believe and teach many stupid things! 😏 But thanks for the compliment.

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  15. Brian, Robert, Paul-N, etc. I refuse to respond to Roger. I was wondering if you noticed that he says that all men are born corrupt, and thereby “determined” to be sinners. But he admits that Adam was not born corrupt. Since Adam and Eve were not born corrupt, they could not have been determined to be sinners by virtue of having been born with a sinful nature. Roger says that nobody knows why Adam and Eve sinned. That is true. But I don’t think he got my point. If people are determined to sin by way of an in-born sinful nature, how is it that God created Adam and Eve good, but that they still sinned? Roger stated that people sin because of their nature. But then the reverse would also be true, wouldn’t it? If someone was born with a perfectly good nature, he would be incapable of sin. Roger says that Adam and Eve had a perfectly good nature. Wouldn’t it follow, then, that Adam and Eve were incapable of sinning — on the flip side of the coin? What do you folks think about this?
    Calvin: “it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before He made him, and foreknew, because He had so ordained by His decree.”

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    1. Deborah writes, “I was wondering if you noticed that he says that all men are born corrupt, and thereby “determined” to be sinners. ”

      I hold to Total Depravity.

      Deborah writes, “But he admits that Adam was not born corrupt. Since Adam and Eve were not born corrupt, they could not have been determined to be sinners by virtue of having been born with a sinful nature.”

      I admit to Adam and Eve being created by God; therefore, not born. God declared His creation, Very Good.

      Deborah writes, “Roger says that nobody knows why Adam and Eve sinned. That is true.”

      Not exactly. We know why Eve sinned; she was deceived. The Scriptures do not tell us why Adam sinned except that we are told that Adam was not deceived.

      Deborah writes, “But I don’t think he got my point. If people are determined to sin by way of an in-born sinful nature, how is it that God created Adam and Eve good, but that they still sinned? Roger stated that people sin because of their nature. But then the reverse would also be true, wouldn’t it? If someone was born with a perfectly good nature, he would be incapable of sin. Roger says that Adam and Eve had a perfectly good nature. Wouldn’t it follow, then, that Adam and Eve were incapable of sinning — on the flip side of the coin? What do you folks think about this?”

      Adam and Eve exercised Libertarian Free Will. However, that Eve was deceived points to a weakness in LFW – LFW decisions are only as good as the information on which LFW decisions are made.

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  16. I mention the above quote by Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 23, section 7) to show that according to Calvinists, God determined that a perfectly good creature like Adam should sin — and not just by foreknowledge, but by decree. Even though clearly, God hates sin and holds Adam and Eve mortally responsible for it. I find that unsustainable, considering the nature of God.

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    1. Deborah writes, ‘according to Calvinists, God determined that a perfectly good creature like Adam should sin — and not just by foreknowledge, but by decree. Even though clearly, God hates sin and holds Adam and Eve mortally responsible for it. I find that unsustainable, considering the nature of God.”

      Unsustainable?? I’d like to see the argument for that conclusion. From anyone.

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      1. God is the antithesis of sin. If there is something God could not do, it would be to so arrange things to make sure that Adam would sin — and throw the entire human race into sadness and destruction. The only explanation is that he foreknew they would sin, because he knew the weakness, as you say, of LFW. But Calvin wants us all to understand that God only foreknew things would happen because he made sure they would happen — decreed them — from the beginning. It is unsustainable, in my opinion, that God would determine for Adam and Eve to sin by decree, because God clearly communicates his hatred for sin and his inability to even tempt people to sin, let alone determine for them to do it. That is my opinion, based upon my knowledge of God, which I find in the Bible, and I don’t care if you disagree with it. I hope Leighton keeps writing, because he is a great encouragement to me. And I praise God for Leighton’s part in helping me see these things more clearly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Deborah writes, ” If there is something God could not do, it would be to so arrange things to make sure that Adam would sin — and throw the entire human race into sadness and destruction.”

        It was God who put Adam into the garden and gave him the one prohibition. It was God who stood aside form the gate, so that Satan could enter the garden and try to destroy Adam/Eve. God was standing beside Eve as she was tempted and did nothing to prevent her sin. God stood beside Adam as he took the fruit to eat and again, He did nothing to stop it.

        All of this was known to God even as He created the universe. When God created the universe, He set in motion all that was to happen from Genesis to Revelation and it was all known to Him. By God’s decisions, God determines all that happens. If God did not want events to play out as they have, He could easily have intervened to change things. He didn’t – Nothing has happened that God did not intent to happen.

        What of the above can a person deny to be the truth?

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  17. I also find it in good character with Calvinists to attack the opponents and call them stupid. Why should Roger point out Brian being smarter than Leighton? Who cares? But, since Calvin called his opponents all manner of insulting things, like “dog” “stupid” and the like. He accuses his opponents of all manner of sins, like insolence, slothfulness, lust, etc. He calls them perverse. So I guess Roger is just following the leader.

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    1. Deborah writes, “Why should Roger point out Brian being smarter than Leighton?”

      I was just playing off Pastor Flowers original statement. If Pastor Flowers says that Brian is smarter than he is, who should I be to call him a liar??

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  18. I’m going to post another quote here so that anyone bothering to read this knows exactly what Calvin taught: “Now, since the arrangement of all things is in the hand of God, since to him belongs the disposal of life and death, he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction. . . If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.” Book 3, Chapter 23, sec. 6.

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    1. Great quote from Calvin. As brianwagner has figured out, to argue against Calvin, one must deny omniscience. If Deborah opposes that which Calvin explained, then necessarily, she also must deny that God is omniscient.

      This is where we need Dr. Flowers to write an article on omniscience and sort out Calvin’s statement. brianwagner can help him as he is sorting out Charnock on omniscience. Hey, they can collaborate on this.

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      1. How sad that you find this a great quote. I do not think that you understand the heart of Christ at all. Babies born for the purpose of certain eternal destruction, for the glory of God? What a disgusting thought. God was glorified in perfection through the Cross of Jesus Christ, where all of His wrath against sin was satisfied. He has no need to create babies for hell in order to glorify Himself!

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      2. Deborah writes, ” I do not think that you understand the heart of Christ at all. Babies born for the purpose of certain eternal destruction, for the glory of God?”

        That is the Universalist position. I think the Scriptures are clear in saying that all will not be saved. Of course, God does as He wants and if God chooses to save all, then – GREAT.

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      3. I have said repeatedly that rhutchin acts like a Calvinist troll, he keeps lying about non-Calvinists and intentionally misrepresenting them over and over. Two of his most frequent lies and misrepresentations is that non-Calvinists deny omniscience and are “universalists” holding to universalism that all will eventually be saved.

        Note he writes here:
        “Great quote from Calvin. As brian wagner has figured out, to argue against Calvin, one must deny omniscience. If Deborah opposes that which Calvin explained, then necessarily, she also must deny that God is omniscient.”

        So if you argue with Calvin you necessarily deny omniscience, there is the LIE of rhutchin yet again.

        To Brian and Phillip and others who were upset that I used the label troll for rhutchin, doesn’t his lying about non-Calvinists bother you? Haven’t you seen it?

        If rhutchin is going to act like a troll and keep lying about non-Calvinists he ought to be ignored.

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      4. Thank you, Robert. I’m glad someone noticed. I didn’t think it was worth it for me to point out to Roger that it is ridiculous to suggest I am taking the universalist position.

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      5. Robert writs, ‘Two of his most frequent lies and misrepresentations is that non-Calvinists deny omniscience and are “universalists” holding to universalism that all will eventually be saved.”

        I maintain that one can only argue against Calvinism by denying omniscience. If one holds to omniscience, I do not see how one can argue against Calvinism.

        There are two basic theologies – either God saves all people (Universalism) or God does not save all people (Calvinism). To argue against Calvinism is to argue against the conclusion that God does not save all. If a person agrees with the Calvinist that God will not save all, then any complaints against Calvinism must also argue that God is not omniscient.

        So, are you saying that I don’t understand Calvinism? If not, then, from what I see, you must not understand Calvinism.

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      6. Hi Robert! As you can probably guess, I have my own definition on what a troll is on this site. 🙂 I like connecting my definition for internet trolling with the mythical creatures by that name and their characteristics of being antisocial, quarrelsome and prohibiting travelers from crossing bridges.

        Internet trolls on this site tend to come out of nowhere seeming more argumentative and prone to fear-mongering than being desirous to encourage and to be helpful towards crossing bridges to arrive at sound teaching. They seem to prefer addressing what a person has said without addressing the person directly, or even reading completely what was said before starting to reply. And they show little or no affirmation of Christian brotherhood towards those they are responding to. They also seem to lack the ability to show civility and forgiveness towards those who have not interacted with them according to their expectations.

        I also think part of internet “trolling” is labeling others by name as a “troll”! Christians should always have their speech be with grace (Col. 4:6). I hope my brothers and sisters, and you Robert, on this site will point out to me when I act like a troll! I am sure that I have done so, but I am thankful for this forum and Leighton’s example to help me practice being a better encouragement for the truth of Scripture.

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      7. brianwagner writes, “Christians should always have their speech be with grace (Col. 4:6).”

        In Acts 15, we read of a dispute that arose within the church and “This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.”

        We engage in “sharp dispute and debate,” where people ought to be passionate about their views. Calling people trolls is a substitute for advancing a reasonable argument.

        Colossians 4 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,…” What do you Paul was thinking when he wrote, “seasoned with salt”? Perhaps accommodative!! – of wrong theology!! Maybe salt to rub into an open wound of false teaching?

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      8. Hi Roger, You are aware that the context of Acts 15 is a false gospel. I don’t think I have read where you feel my views or Leighton’s or Robert’s represent a false gospel! Is that what you think of our views?

        If so, then let me know. But even if that’s what you think, the nouns in Acts 15:2 have been given a rather interpretative translation by the NIV, which you quoted, and could still involve very gracious speech. I also think a word study of “salt” in the NT will reveal, not your modern application, but as a “seasoning” for the sake of good taste!

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      9. brianwagner writes, “You are aware that the context of Acts 15 is a false gospel. I don’t think I have read where you feel my views or Leighton’s or Robert’s represent a false gospel! Is that what you think of our views?”

        The overriding context is that of believers not agreeing on theology. This is a turbulent time for the Jews since Christ, through His death and resurrection, has basically turned the OT law on its head – now making the beliefs of the Jews a false gospel where before, they were the gospel. Gentiles were being saved and now the role of circumcision – and by extension, all the law – needs to be settled. Later, we see Paul writing in Galatians on this issue, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” That is gracious because Paul does not accuse them of being unsaved – but he is direct and to the point.

        brianwagner says, “I also think a word study of “salt” in the NT will reveal, not your modern application, but as a “seasoning” for the sake of good taste!”

        In the past, I briefly looked at the use of the term, “salt,” in the Scriptures. It seemed to me then that the term was not consistently identified with “seasoning” and that people who advocate such do so by presuming such to be the case – thereby engaging in circular reasoning.

        I know that Levitcus 2 reads, “Season all your grain offerings with salt,” but I don’t see how this is connected to Colossians. Then there are the verses that are more hard hitting, “The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulphur…” (Deut 29). “Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.” (Judges 9) “Put salt on Moab, for she will be laid waste;” (Jeremiah 48). When Paul uses the phrase, “seasoned w/ salt” in Colossians, I read it as a contrast with “full of grace” – as if to say “Be graceful but forceful – always press hard with the truth.”

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      10. Two things Roger! First, Paul does identify those who are giving the Galatians a false Gospel as being unsaved, though he doesn’t mention their names (cf. 3:10). Paul does name some who teach a false gospel in 2Tim 2:17f) and he points out in Galatians that Peter and Barnabas were acting according to a false gospel.

        I wish you would tell me if I (or Leighton or Robert) am teaching a false gospel, or acting in accordance to a false gospel, if for no other reason so that I can determine how much you care for my soul and the souls of those I am influencing on this site. I would especially wish you would clarify where my false gospel, if you think such exists, goes against the gospel in the NT. I want to know, obey, and teach the truth!

        Second, have you looked more carefully at the word “seasoned” in Col 4:6? I don’t see a hermeneutic principle that would support a contrast between “full of grace” and “seasoned with salt”, since “seasoned” does not appear to ever have the negative connotation. The OT contexts for salt that you pointed to are not relevant therefore to interpreting this verse in Colossians.

        I do agree though that something can have a strong taste and still be acceptable to the one partaking of it. We should try to discern what our hearers are able to handle, and we should then be firm and clear when speaking the truth to them with love.

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      11. brianwagner writes, ‘I wish you would tell me if I (or Leighton or Robert) am teaching a false gospel, or acting in accordance to a false gospel,…”

        As far as I can figure, Dr. Flowers and Robert just don’t like Calvinism but don’t seem to have sorted out what it is that they object to other than that it has to do with free will.

        You have taken a position on omniscience that is unique. Necessarily, either you are correct and everyone else wrong (and promoting a false position) or everyone else is correct and you are wrong (and promoting a false position). I don’t see this issue being a salvation issue (no one is saying that a correct understanding of omniscience is necessary to salvation), thus I would not call it a false gospel – I think all of us agree on the basic issue of salvation disagreeing on the extend of God’s involvement in salvation.

        Nonetheless, we engage in “sharp dispute and debate” and I think that is proper as we seek to sort out what the Scriptures say on many issues.

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      12. Hi Roger, I don’t mind if you put “You said” – in front of my quotes to be less formal! 🙂 And thank you for your kind and candid reply, affirming that you believe I am representing the true gospel.

        The only other comment I would make is that I know that you know that I am not the ONLY one professing my position concerning a future partly settled and partly open! In fact I would think that if given the choices – 1. The future is completely predetermined and 2. the future is partly determined and partly open – most would chose the latter!

        That is my position, and I believe that the definition of omniscience should be logically made to conform to that definition of the future, since the Bible is logically consistent (right and truthful) in describing all things.

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      13. It may have to be a Christmas present, Roger! I most likely will have to finish up this semester’s teaching and grading first. But I have done about half of my research already, and have selected some good, primary Charnock quotes to respond. I hope you are ready for a reasoned critique to be presented to your teachable spirit! 🙂

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  19. Note here that rhutchin also engages in his other common and repeated lie here that non-Calvinists are universalists:

    “That is the Universalist position. I think the Scriptures are clear in saying that all will not be saved.”

    Non-Calvinists such as Deborah and the rest of us are not universalists simply because we challenge and deny and reject Calvinism.

    Again, rhutchin acts like a troll. Again, if he continues to present these lies and misrepresentations then he ought to be ignored, don’t waste time interacting with him.

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    1. Robert writes, “Non-Calvinists such as Deborah and the rest of us are not universalists simply because we challenge and deny and reject Calvinism.”

      If you are not an Universalist, then don’t use the language of the Universalists. If you are not Universalist, and you oppose Calvinism, then admit the obvious and deny omniscience. Stop using the language of the Universalists and start using the language of the Open Theists.

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  20. Roger, are you saying that since God knew all that would take place, He must have predetermined it? And therefore, Calvinism is the only option? (I apologize if I missed something above — I haven’t read all the comments.) I don’t see it that way. It seems reasonable to me that God, knowing that Adam and Eve would sin, still created the world and set things into motion because He also knew that Christ would defeat the consequence of sin (death) and that many would put their faith in Christ and be saved — and He felt it was worth it. This is still a hard thing to come to grips with; God, while knowing the pain and destruction that would befall most people, still chose for them to be born and experience that. However, this is a far cry from what Calvin taught. Calvin said that God only foreknew all events would take place because He predetermined for them all to happen exactly as He wanted. It was the predetermining that came first — and the foreknowledge of God for Calvin was only the result of the predetermining. Calvin said God knew all things would happen the way they do BECAUSE GOD DECIDED that they should happen in that manner. I am saying that God knew all things would happen the way they do and set them into motion anyway IN SPITE OF the loss that it would involve. Does that make sense to you?

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    1. Deborah writes, “Roger, are you saying that since God knew all that would take place, He must have predetermined it?”

      We seem to agree that God knew everything that was to happen at the point where He created the universe. When we read Genesis 1:1, we know that everything will play out according to God’s omniscience till the end. Thus, everything in the future is “certain” and thereby determined. However, God’s omniscience does not make everything “necessary” as His omniscience is not the cause of all that happens.

      Deborah writes, “And therefore, Calvinism is the only option?”

      OK, let’s look at your alternative–

      “I don’t see it that way. It seems reasonable to me that God, knowing that Adam and Eve would sin, still created the world and set things into motion because He also knew that Christ would defeat the consequence of sin (death) and that many would put their faith in Christ and be saved — and He felt it was worth it. This is still a hard thing to come to grips with; God, while knowing the pain and destruction that would befall most people, still chose for them to be born and experience that. However, this is a far cry from what Calvin taught.”

      You have expressed a less intimidating version of Calvinism. You say the same thing that the Calvinists say.

      Deborah writes, “Calvin said that God only foreknew all events would take place because He predetermined for them all to happen exactly as He wanted. It was the predetermining that came first — and the foreknowledge of God for Calvin was only the result of the predetermining. Calvin said God knew all things would happen the way they do BECAUSE GOD DECIDED that they should happen in that manner. I am saying that God knew all things would happen the way they do and set them into motion anyway IN SPITE OF the loss that it would involve. Does that make sense to you?”

      It doesn’t make sense to me. You first write, “Calvin said God knew all things would happen the way they do BECAUSE GOD DECIDED that they should happen in that manner.” Then you writes, “I am saying that God knew all things would happen the way they do and set them into motion anyway IN SPITE OF the loss that it would involve.” I don’t see your explanation being different than Calvin’s. You are saying the same thing that Calvin said – except that you don’t seem to like the way Calvin phrased it.

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      1. Roger, you do not understand the difference? If I predetermine that I am going to shave my head today, then I have the foreknowledge that shaving my head is going to happen. I only know it’s going to happen because I have decided to do it, and I have the power to make it happen, and I have all the tools at my disposal. That is Calvin’s position on God. But you are saying that the Calvinist position is different. You are saying that omniscience is the basis for predetermination. You are saying (correct me if I’m not getting this) that God knew what people who choose to do and permitted it to happen by setting it all into motion anyway, thereby determining for it to happen. But Calvin said that God knew all things would happen the way they do because He chose to make them happen that way, by His own wisdom and power. It was all scripted out. That’s why God has the foreknowledge. Because He has already scripted it. I’m saying that it is a reasonable alternative to suggest that God knew what people would freely choose to do and decided to PERMIT THEM TO DO IT. Completely different idea. I don’t know how to explain it any better.
        However, I agree with what Brian said above, that the future could be partly open and partly not. I do not understand why this would compromise the Biblical account, and I agree with Brian that a party open and a partly decided future is more in rhythm with the Biblical narrative anyway. Why the Calvinist has to insist that the future is all decided and closed it beyond me. It is either open, or it is known by God, because perhaps He interacts with time in a way that we cannot understand, as if all times are the present for him.
        I really do not understand what you are trying to accomplish, Roger, by finding all the blogs you can opposing Calvinism and constantly trying to defend it. There are compelling options, and nobody on here is going to be convinced by what you say. I read Leighton’s blogs to be encouraged. I am drawing closer to the Biblical God this way. What are you trying to do? Why do you have to spend so much time convincing people that Calvinism is the only way? Please tell me why you are doing this and what you hope to accomplish by it. Thanks.

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      2. Deborah writes, “You are saying that omniscience is the basis for predetermination.”

        Not exactly. Omniscience is the evidence of predetermination. God has knowledge of what He has decided to do. As God makes decisions in every matter, no matter how small or insignificant to us, God is omniscient.

        The you write, “You are saying…that God knew what people who choose to do and permitted it to happen by setting it all into motion anyway, thereby determining for it to happen. But Calvin said that God knew all things would happen the way they do because He chose to make them happen that way, by His own wisdom and power. It was all scripted out. That’s why God has the foreknowledge. Because He has already scripted it.”

        To what extent is God involved in our lives? God determines the date of our birth and the date of our death. God sustains our lives from beginning to end. No thought enters our minds except God decide that it should do so. Satan does not tempt us except God remove His protection – His hedge around us. God is intricately involved in our lives and that is why we constantly talk to Him about the things we see and feel. Because of this, we can say that God scripted it; if not, then we would be saying that God is ignorant of some things and must react to them as they occur.

        Then you say, “I’m saying that it is a reasonable alternative to suggest that God knew what people would freely choose to do and decided to PERMIT THEM TO DO IT. Completely different idea.”

        No, it’s not. The problem is when you write, “…and decided…” God doesn’t just “permit,” God “decides to permit.” So long as you have God deciding beforehand what He will permit, you are espousing Calvinism. If God decides, then God controls.

        Then you write, “I agree with what Brian said above, that the future could be partly open and partly not.”

        This is to deny omniscience and it is the only way to argue against Calvinism. However, this means that instead of having God “decide to permit,” you must make God reactive to events that do not result from His deciding to permit.

        You write, “Why the Calvinist has to insist that the future is all decided and closed it beyond me. ”

        This is because Calvinists maintain that God is omniscient.

        You ask, “Please tell me why you are doing this and what you hope to accomplish by it.”

        I do not support Calvinism as much as oppose false notions of God – e.g., that God is not omniscient. I think God should be glorified in everything, even in His omniscience.

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  21. And I would also ask, along with Brian, that you say, “You write” instead of using “Deborah writes” when addressing me personally.

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    1. Now we are getting somewhere. What’s wrong with God responding to choices people make? Is anything too hard for him? I think your definition of omniscience is based on Calvin, not the Bible. It is a piece of cake for God to juggle all the free choices made by all the people in the world every second. I think the Calvinist view of God is too small. Refer to Leighton for further thought on this matter.

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      1. Deborah asks, ” What’s wrong with God responding to choices people make?’

        Nothing wrong with this. God tells us how He will respond to choices we make.

        Examples:

        1. Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [that you need] will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6)
        2. How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7)
        3. The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. (Proverbs 15)

        God responds to people even as He knew from eternity that He would respond.

        My definition of “omniscience” is based on sound Scriptural teaching – that God is perfectly wise and His understanding is infinite. If God were not “omniscient,” then He would not be perfectly wise or have infinite understanding. Do you argue otherwise?

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      2. Hi Roger – To help support Deborah’s thoughts – Let me list the verses I gave to you once before on this site, but you did not respond –

        Best verses that show God has made choices, decisions of His will, and plans after creation. He could have easily revealed that all these choices had already been made before creation, if that were the case, and as Calvinism demands must be the case. But revealing them as He has shows that was not the case, else He is being deceptive to us in His revelation.

        Deut. 12:5 But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses…
        2 Chr. 6:5 ‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city … nor did I choose any man …. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem… and I have chosen David
        Psa. 25:12 Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
        Psa. 47:4 He will choose our inheritance for us…
        Psa. 65:4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.
        Psa. 75:2 When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.
        Isa. 14:1 For the LORD … will still choose Israel
        Ezek. 20:5 Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day when I chose Israel
        Dan. 5:21 …the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
        Jer. 18:11 …‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you.”
        1 Cor. 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (decides).

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      3. Even in your scheme of “possibilities,” you have God having already decided what He will do. Thus, as I see it, even you have God knowing what He will do under all future possibilities and then implementing that which He has already determined to do as possibilities become realities. So, what does God making choices have to do with anything given that both of us believe that God made those choices in eternity past?

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      4. Actually, Roger, I think you may have me confused with Robert or someone else on that one! 🙂 In my understanding, God infinitely understands all the possibilities that are still available to Him to freely choose from, now and in the future, in agreement with His nature and in agreement with all the things He has already determined. He has not already decided all His choices, as all these verses clearly demonstrate in those instances. I do not believe like you or Molinists that all the divine choices have to be made at some point in the everlasting past or be a part of some immutable divine nature in that way!

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      5. brianwagner writes, “…God infinitely understands all the possibilities that are still available to Him to freely choose from, now and in the future, in agreement with His nature and in agreement with all the things He has already determined. He has not already decided all His choices,…”

        If God infinitely understands all possibilities, then what is there to influence His choices such that He must wait to decide? If God knows the possibility that Joe may chose to do A or B, then God can decide that His response will be X to A or Y to B. You don’t want God to know whether Joe chooses A or B, but you seem to allow that God knows that Joe will choose either A or B. There is no need for you to deny God the ability to decide that which He will do in response to Joe’s decision. Infinite understanding should at least encompass the ability to make decisions based on future events before those events occur where all the possibilities are known.

        Are you now wanting to deny that God can know all future possibilities under your philosophy?

        You then say, “I do not believe like you or Molinists that all the divine choices have to be made at some point in the everlasting past or be a part of some immutable divine nature in that way!”

        Then, are you opposed to the concept of God being immutable? If not immutable, how do you see God changing as people make decisions – given that God knew those decisions as possibilities so there are no surprises. Or perhaps you want to incorporate surprises for God into your philosophy – possibilities unknown to God?

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      6. Hi Roger. Thanks for the questions. Even with omniscience of all the choices possible, and the freedom to predetermine His choices for each possibility ahead of those events, I believe that His nature does not require Him to have only one choice to make for each possibility.

        So it is possible that He waits and freely decides between a number of “good” responses that He could make. I am not dogmatic about this, but open to it. I understand how Calvinists have difficulty with thinking there could be more than one “perfect” choice for anything with God, and I am fine with discovering later through revelation that they were right in that the case! 🙂

        He knows all the possibilities as they truly are at this point – true possibilities. God is immutable only to the extent that Scripture defines it. He became flesh! That is a change that must help define our view of immutability, and cannot be ignored!

        God’s knowledge therefore “changes” when He makes free choices, changing in His mind something He understood infinitely as a possibility to something He now understands infinitely as a determination.

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      7. brianwagner writes, “He became flesh! That is a change that must help define our view of immutability, and cannot be ignored!”

        Actually, God did not change as He was spirit before and spirit after. God took on the form of a man – Jesus Christ – but God did not stop being what He was – I am that I am. God also took on the form of a man to speak to Abraham about the destruction of Sodom. In taking on the form of a man, God does not change – He can present Himself in different forms but He remains God. In being immutable, God is omnipotent and His power does not wax and wane; God is all-wise and not smarter sometimes than others; God is omnipresent and not here or there or maybe not.

        In the unique action of taking on the form of a man – Jesus Christ – we don’t think that all of God became Jesus Christ and all of God was confined to that human body.

        You also say, ” I understand how Calvinists have difficulty with thinking there could be more than one “perfect” choice for anything with God,…”

        Even allowing that there can be two or more equally wise decisions (an unnecessary encumbrance) in response to anything a person decides to do, the choice among those equally wise decisions can be made unless God must wait to get more information on which to decide. To say that God “waits” to make a decision means that God has to wait because, something must happen before He can act. You have God waiting to act in time because you have God responding to Joe’s choice regarding A or B. God does not have to wait to decide His response to Joe’s decision; God has to wait only to implement His decision.

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      8. Thank you Roger for your intelligent and “gentle” discussion of these things, making comments that you understand and a willingness even to concede the reasonableness of things you might disagree with.

        I think “became flesh” is much stronger than just “took the form”, even though that also is true. And the “fullness of the Godhead” did dwell bodily in Christ! But even if you limit the activity to taking on forms… that is still a change from no form to one form, or from one form to another. Those changes would have to be factored into the definition of immutability.

        And I see the Scripture clearly teaching the God’s nature includes also the freedom to sovereignly choose to wait before making divine decisions.

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      9. brianwagner writes, “Those changes would have to be factored into the definition of immutability.”

        Immutability applies to God’s essence. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, of infinite understanding, all wise, etc. and these things never change. God does not change who He is even as He varies the manner in which He communicates Himself to His creation. God cannot not be omnipotent or omnipresence or dumb. God can take the form of a man but He himself does not change – He is still inhabits all of eternity and is omnipotent etc. Taking the form flesh and blood does not confine God to that flesh and blood body. The flesh and blood body can be the fullness of the Godhead but cannot change anything about God.

        Then you say, “And I see the Scripture clearly teaching the God’s nature includes also the freedom to sovereignly choose to wait before making divine decisions.”

        “…before making divine decisions,” or “…before implementing divine decisions.” Certainly, God can, and does, wait before implementing His decisions. Can God delay making decisions? God lacks no information that He needs to make a decision. His decisions would be the same regardless when he makes it. Even if God only knows that it is possible for Joe to choose A or B, He knows the ramifications of each decision and a choice of A does not change the situation with B. For God to wait to make a decision serves no purpose as He always knows what He will do in any situation.

        I always engage in intelligent and “gentle” discussion of issues. People get upset when they have no argument against what I say, so they resort to an ad hominem approach. Such is life.

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      10. Maybe its me, Roger, I think I see a contradiction when you say – “The flesh and blood body can be the fullness of the Godhead but cannot change anything about God.”

        Unless for God it was necessary to His nature to eventually inhabit that body from all eternity past, it was definitely a change. And it was certainly a change to His experiential knowledge.

        Calvinism has defined immutability so that there remains no actual free-will with God. In fact their position on it, and on omniscience, makes all free-will impossible for God’s nature forever into the future!

        Your statement Roger – “His decisions would be the same regardless when he makes it” confirm what I just said is the problem with the Calvinist view of God’s will. Your statement would only be true if His nature is not free to decide between possible good things.

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      11. brianwagner writes, ” I think I see a contradiction when you say – “The flesh and blood body can be the fullness of the Godhead but cannot change anything about God.” Unless for God it was necessary to His nature to eventually inhabit that body from all eternity past, it was definitely a change. ”

        God can change His creation to accomplish His purposes. How God uses His creation cannot change who or what He is.

        Then you voice your opinion, “Calvinism has defined immutability so that there remains no actual free-will with God. In fact their position on it, and on omniscience, makes all free-will impossible for God’s nature forever into the future!”

        When you develop an argument to establish this as true, I would enjoy seeing it. Otherwise, I have no idea how you come to that conclusion.

        Finally, you say, “your statement Roger – “His decisions would be the same regardless when he makes it” confirm what I just said is the problem with the Calvinist view of God’s will. Your statement would only be true if His nature is not free to decide between possible good things.”

        Making decisions has nothing to do with timing except as the decision is information dependent and that information must be gathered over time. With God, gathering information is not an issue, so timing is not an issue. God is free to choose among possible good things by virtue of having complete knowledge of all such possibilities and and infinite understanding of those possibilities. Thereby, God is able to choose among them. As to timing, God may decide at the point where He has knowledge of all possibilities and understanding of them. That would be in eternity past. The timing of God’s decisions has nothing to do with the freedom that God enjoys in making decisions.

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      12. Hi Roger – You said – “God can change His creation to accomplish His purposes. How God uses His creation cannot change who or what He is.”

        I agree that who He is in most aspects of His nature cannot change. But He did not just change or use creation in His incarnation, He became joined forever to it! Do you really not see this as a significant change for God?

        You said – “As to timing, God may decide at the point where He has knowledge of all possibilities and understanding of them. That would be in eternity past.” I am glad you said “may decide” and confirm that God still “enjoys” freedom in making decisions.

        That is what the verses I listed clearly show, and contradicts your statement that it “would be in eternity past” that He had to make all His decisions. He is free to leave possibilities as possibilities within His omniscience as long as He wishes! He did that with the possibility of creation, itself. IT was only a possibility in His mind during the everlasting past, and then He decided to make it a certainty that He would create a human history that would be partly determined and partly open.

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      13. brianwagner writes, “Do you really not see this as a significant change for God?”

        So, what is it about God that you see as having changed?

        Then you write, “That is what the verses I listed clearly show, and contradicts your statement that it “would be in eternity past” that He had to make all His decisions. ”

        The verses you cited do not speak of when God decided on the particular course of action. They do speak of the manner in which God implemented His decisions or of the manner in which God treats certain people. You need to tease out a time element in those verses without assuming it.

        Then, ” IT was only a possibility in His mind during the everlasting past,…”

        Only by assumption. You are binding God to time such that He thinks in possibilities and then makes decisions from those possibilities. When you write the paper on Charnock, you can address this.

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      14. Hi Roger, You never had someone joined to your body, like the Holy Spirit, and then He came to indwell you forever. You would call that a dramatic change to your person. You would even call yourself a new creation. And that is only indwelling.

        The incarnation was more than that, with one person of the Godhead joined forever to flesh to form one new everlasting person. It was certainly a change for God.

        I am not binding God to time in the sense of how creation measures it. But God describes Himself clearly in His revelation as experiencing sequence (before and after) in His life. To say He is experiencing sequence and never experiences sequence is logically impossible. The Scripture is undermined by philosophy when the assumption is chosen that God never experiences sequence.

        The verses say God is making choices, not implementing choices made before creation. He could have said in each of those passages – “As I have chosen before creation”, but He didn’t, because He hadn’t.

        If God doesn’t think in possibilities, then He had to create this world, and He actually makes no decisions! And then the Scripture does not reveal Him accurately, in fact it reveals Him falsely, and only philosophy adopted by Calvinism and Charnock reveals Him accurately.

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      15. brianwagner writes, “The verses say God is making choices, not implementing choices made before creation.”

        Deut. 12:5 But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses…

        v1 – “These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess…”

        In context, God has given Israel the promised land that they will soon enter; and says He will choose a place within that land for them to worship Him. In your scheme these amount to possibilities – giving the promised land vs not giving, choosing one place over another or not choosing. Also, in your scheme, God doesn’t really know whether Israel will enter the promised land because they had once before thwarted His plan when He had high hopes for them entering. You say that God has to wait to see if Israel will enter the promised land and only then can He choose a place. Your understanding of this verse presupposes that God does not know the future actions of people but, up to this point, you have allowed God to know the possibilities. Under those possibilities, God has decided on the place He wants (thus, has chosen). So, when does God know all possibilities? If you now intend to restrict God to making choices in the course of time, then you seem to be backtracking on God knowing all possibilities. If God knows all possibilities, then He knows His response in those possibilities – thus he implements the choices He has made made relative to possibilities.

        In your system, when God says, “I will choose…,” it is only because God does not know whether Israel will enter the promised land; God just knows it as a possibility. However, should Israel actually enter the promised land, God has already decided on a place – if He knows all possibilities – and He will direct Israel to that place – unless God does not actually know all possibilities and has not anticipated that Israel would actually enter the promised land.

        So, you seem to be doing in the other verses you cited.

        Do you want to deny God knowledge of all possibilities so that God makes choices in the course of time?

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      16. Hi Roger… I must admit what you just wrote was very hard to follow, and you usually are not so.

        First, you described my “scheme”, what I “say”, my “understanding”, what I “intend” and my “system” in ways I don’t recognize. I thought you understood my views better!

        Second, possibilities are just that – possibilities. You have a hard time, I think, with God knowing possibilities without also slipping in that He must have already determined which possibility becomes the eventuality.

        If God determines a future event, then all possibilities will thus be limited towards that event’s eventuality, but some possibilities will still exist until then. The verse and context you chose to discuss from my list should not be made to say more than it says.

        God gave them the land. Their enjoyment of it (even entrance, as you pointed out) would be up to their willing obedience to enter it. Once there, they were commanded to seek a place of worship that God chooses.

        He did not say “that I have already chosen” which He should have, could have, if that were the truth. But it clearly wasn’t. He indicates to His people that He freely wishes to interact with their free interaction with Him.

        I do not deny God knowledge of all possibilities so that God is free to make choices in the course of time. I deny that He has already made all His choices based on His knowledge of all possibilities. These verses clearly indicate that He had not made all His choices already.

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      17. brianwagner writes, “You have a hard time, I think, with God knowing possibilities without also slipping in that He must have already determined which possibility becomes the eventuality.”

        If God knows possibilities, then God is able to decide how to respond to those possibilities. Whatever God can do, He has done as there is no purpose served in not doing so. Ephesians 3:11 refers to God’s eternal purpose. Ephesians 1 adds that God works out everything in conformity with that purpose. Thus, there is no basis to think that God has not considered how He would react to any possibility in the future as His purpose is settled from eternity. I don’t see why you object to God planning ahead of time for His action in response to various possibilities What is your issue?

        Then you write, “some possibilities will still exist until then. The verse and context you chose to discuss from my list should not be made to say more than it says…He did not say “that I have already chosen” which He should have, could have, if that were the truth. But it clearly wasn’t. He indicates to His people that He freely wishes to interact with their free interaction with Him.”

        The form is, “If you do this (enter the promise land), I will do this (I will choose a place for you to seek Me). There are many possibilities depending on whether Israel enters the promised land and how much land they conquer. For each possibility, God is able to choose a place he wants. As God lacks no information, nothing impedes Him choosing from eternity as He is working out everything according to His purpose.

        Then “I deny that He has already made all His choices based on His knowledge of all possibilities. These verses clearly indicate that He had not made all His choices already.”

        Not necessarily. Some of the verses you cite are statements of fact describing what God can do, has done, or promises to do:
        Psa. 25:12 Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
        Psa. 47:4 He will choose our inheritance for us…
        Psa. 65:4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You,..
        Psa. 75:2 When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.
        Isa. 14:1 For the LORD … will still choose Israel
        Ezek. 20:5 Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day when I chose Israel
        Dan. 5:21 …the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
        Jer. 18:11 …‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you.”
        1 Cor. 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (decides).

        Two verses speak of actions God has taken or will take.
        2 Chr. 6:5 ‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city … nor did I choose any man …. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem… and I have chosen David
        Deut. 12:5 But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses…

        They are phrased in terms of informing the people of that which God is doing. This wording does not prevent God having an eternal purpose and knowing what He will do to bring about that purpose in light of future possibilities. Again, nothing prevents God making decisions in eternity past regarding any possibility and as God has infinite understanding of all things and is all-wise, we should expect that God has planned ahead.

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      18. brianwagner writes, “The incarnation was more than that, with one person of the Godhead joined forever to flesh to form one new everlasting person. It was certainly a change for God.”

        It was a change for God even as creating the universe was a change for God – God has changed His surroundings. This is God doing stuff. When God does stuff, He does not change who or what he is. Can you describe how you think God changes, in who or what He is, when He does stuff like taking on the form of a body of flesh and blood?

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      19. He was adding to His experiential knowledge, if nothing else. But I am sorry that you have a hard time conceding how being united forever to this creation through incarnation is not a significant change. And if He can change that aspect of His reality and experience, He can certainly change His mind and make choices, which is what He says He actually does do!

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      20. brianwagner writes, “He was adding to His experiential knowledge, if nothing else.”

        You seem to be saying that God cannot know the experience of being a person without becoming a person. So, not only does God lack knowledge of the future, He lacks knowledge of certain aspects of the things He creates. OK, your philosophy concerns a god who is not omniscient.

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  22. So we have this protracted and now becoming monotonous interaction between rhutchin the Calvinist and Brian Wagner the open theist with rhutchin stating:

    “So, not only does God lack knowledge of the future, He lacks knowledge of certain aspects of the things He creates. OK, your philosophy concerns a god who is not omniscient.”

    As if we did not all know that already, that Wagner denies that God is omniscient, that Wagner’s god lacks knowledge of the future and of the beings that he creates.

    You guys just keep going around and around and around and you aren’t saying anything new or challenging and neither is persuading the other to change his view, and none of these last posts has anything to do with the theme or topic of this thread and the original post by Leighton.

    Why don’t you guys just take your discussion of omniscience and Charnock off line so the rest of us don’t have to witness anymore of this useless discussion?

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    1. Hi Robert, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you and I worship the same God, and have both been saved through faith alone in the finished redemptive work of Jesus. Your language was just probably imprecise. But your inference that I have a different god could make someone wonder whether you think I am saved or not. If you don’t think that I am saved and that I am trusting the same God as you for that salvation, then I am truly grieved that you lack such discernment for who truly is your brother in Christ.

      As for the discussion that Roger and I are having, I hear your advice, but think it is unnecessary, nor would it be supported by Leighton, I think, though I could be wrong. As with any discussions that anyone has on this site, no one is forced to read everything someone else says. I know I personally sometimes do not read conversations you have, Robert. You are welcome to skip reading all of mine! 🙂 Others can decide if they are useless. Some have even listened in and made known what comments they have liked.

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    2. Robert writes, “You guys just keep going around and around and around and you aren’t saying anything new or challenging…”

      What is happening is that we are sorting out are the things that Brian believes about God’s knowledge. I don’t think I am going to persuade Brian to adopt a different position – but I want to clarify where he and I disagree. I have done the same with you when you have espoused goofy things. It can get tedious, but in this case, Brian is putting together comments on omniscience based on Charnock and these clarifying efforts will be productive toward that.

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      1. Rhutchin writes:

        “What is happening is that we are sorting out are the things that Brian believes about God’s knowledge.”

        But we all already know that he is an open theist and that he denies that God knows everything and that he denies what every other believer (who is not an open theist) thinks and believes on the subject of omniscience.

        To keep trying to ‘sort things out” on this subject is just beating a dead horse, that is why it is so tedious and monotonous to see.

        “I don’t think I am going to persuade Brian to adopt a different position – but I want to clarify where he and I disagree.”

        And we already know that too: you hold to the calvinist view that God foreknows future events because he predetermined them all. Again, there is nothing new to say about your position. So again it just becomes more beating a dead horse
        .
        “I have done the same with you when you have espoused goofy things.”

        As a point of clarification, what “goofy things” have I espoused?

        I have espoused very traditional and conservative views on omniscience and what non-Calvinists believe.

        “It can get tedious, but in this case, Brian is putting together comments on omniscience based on Charnock and these clarifying efforts will be productive toward that.”

        So do THAT off-line so the rest of us don’t have to see the same points made over and over and over and over.

        It really is tedious to see you guys beating the same dead horse over and over and over again.

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      2. There you go again Robert trying to regulate what other do in this open forum. You could probably spend your time more wisely! And you are also again showing off your own supposed omniscience when you say – “he denies what every other believer (who is not an open theist) thinks and believes on the subject of omniscience.” Do you really know what every other believer who is not an open theist thinks? How many are “open theists” according to my definition and don’t even know it?

        I dare make the hypothesis that if you took a poll of most believers and asked them if the future has only partly been settled by God and that God has left the rest open for His and man’s own free decisions to be made, most would think that is what the Scripture teaches. Just because they do not realize the logical implications of thinking that way, does not make them any less “open theists” according to my definition. And it is mostly for loyalty reasons to false philosophical notions of perfection that they have been taught that they should believe the contradiction that the future is partly open but also all settled at the same time in God’s mind, But our God is not a God of contradiction!

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  23. Brian the open theist writes:

    “There you go again Robert trying to regulate what other do in this open forum.”

    I was responding to rhutchin, I am not the moderator of this blog so I do not control what is allowed or not allowed here. But I do know from what is done at other sites, when two individuals keep beating the same horse over and over, others do not want to keep seeing this useless discussion and the two individuals (at other sites at least) are encouraged to carry on their discussion privately between themselves. This is considered common courtesy towards the other participants at a blog.

    “You could probably spend your time more wisely!”

    I do want to use my time wisely, that is why I don’t want to see you guys keep beating the same dead horse over and over at this blog.

    “And you are also again showing off your own supposed omniscience when you say – “he denies what every other believer (who is not an open theist) thinks and believes on the subject of omniscience.”

    I do not and never claimed to be omniscient. I am well informed on the views of differing Christian groups regarding open theism. I know that they all reject it, with some viewing it as error some viewing it as heresy. And again this includes all of the major traditions, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Independent, Calvinists, Arminians, Molinists, etc. etc. etc. etc.

    It is a fact that the vast majority of believers (at least those who take the Bible seriously) REJECT OPEN THEISM.

    The fact is what you teach Brian is a false theology ****rejected by the vast majority of Christians****.

    But you don’t accept that of course, you want to persuade everybody else to reject the truth and believe your false open theism instead. So you are trying to lead people away from the truth: from what I have seen at this blog you have completely failed. And yet you keep trying and trying at this blog.

    “Do you really know what every other believer who is not an open theist thinks?”

    Again, from reading and discussing this with people from all the major traditions (e.g. including Jesuits who are very sharp and informed on this subject) I know that everyone except for open theists such as Brian Wagner believe God to be omniscient and reject open theism. Incidentally, some of my friends who are professors at major Christian seminaries tell me that you could not be employed at their schools with your aberrant and false views concerning omniscience and church leadership.

    “I dare make the hypothesis that if you took a poll of most believers and asked them if the future has only partly been settled by God and that God has left the rest open for His and man’s own free decisions to be made, most would think that is what the Scripture teaches. Just because they do not realize the logical implications of thinking that way, does not make them any less “open theists” according to my definition.”

    This is just total garbage, now you not only deny that most believers reject open theism and believe that God is omniscient you want to tell us that many believers are actually open theists and just don’t know it. This is delusional thinking on your part. No, when people hear your aberrant views they will recognize them to be both false and unbiblical (or better stated: sub-biblical because you reject what the Bible teaches and adhere to a finite and limited god).

    “And it is mostly for loyalty reasons to false philosophical notions of perfection that they have been taught that they should believe the contradiction that the future is partly open but also all settled at the same time in God’s mind,”

    Yeh, Yeh, blah, blah, blah, we have heard your arguments for your open theism like this one before, they are just as useless and false as your open theism.

    “But our God is not a God of contradiction!”

    True, that is why God declares the end from the beginning because he knows both the beginning and the end and everything in between. That is why God states prophecies about the future that are fulfilled.

    The contradiction is between the true God who reveals Himself in scripture and the false god of your imagination, your false conception of God.

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  24. Just read this today for the first time. I had heard the commentator Adam Clarke (1760-1832) held to what is now identified as “open theism” by some, but had not read anything of his position in his own words. Here are his thoughts on omniscience found in his comments on Acts 2:47. I agree with them. Enjoy! I dedicate these to you, Robert, since you want more profitable reading material on this site! 😉

    “….Therefore it does not follow that, because God can do all things, therefore he must do all things. God is omniscient, and can know all things; but does it follow from this that he must know all things? Is he not as free in the volitions of his wisdom, as he is in the volitions of his power? The contingent as absolute, or the absolute as contingent? God has ordained some things as absolutely certain; these he knows as absolutely certain. He has ordained other things as contingent; these he knows as contingent. It would be absurd to say that he foreknows a thing as only contingent which he has made absolutely certain. And it would be as absurd to say that he foreknows a thing to be absolutely certain which in his own eternal counsel he has made contingent.

    By absolutely certain, I mean a thing which must be, in that order, time, place, and form in which Divine wisdom has ordained it to be; and that it can be no otherwise than this infinite counsel has ordained. By contingent, I mean such things as the infinite wisdom of God has thought proper to poise on the possibility of being or not being, leaving it to the will of intelligent beings to turn the scale. Or, contingencies are such possibilities, amid the succession of events, as the infinite wisdom of God has left to the will of intelligent beings to determine whether any such event shall take place or not. To deny this would involve the most palpable contradictions, and the most monstrous absurdities.

    If there be no such things as contingencies in the world, then every thing is fixed and determined by an unalterable decree and purpose of God; and not only all free agency is destroyed, but all agency of every kind, except that of the Creator himself; for on this ground God is the only operator, either in time or eternity: all created beings are only instruments, and do nothing but as impelled and acted upon by this almighty and sole Agent. Consequently, every act is his own; for if he have purposed them all as absolutely certain, having nothing contingent in them, then he has ordained them to be so; and if no contingency, then no free agency, and God alone is the sole actor. Hence the blasphemous, though, from the premises, fair conclusion, that God is the author of all the evil and sin that are in the world; and hence follows that absurdity, that, as God can do nothing that is wrong, Whatever Is, is Right. Sin is no more sin; a vicious human action is no crime, if God have decreed it, and by his foreknowledge and will impelled the creature to act it. On this ground there can be no punishment for delinquencies; for if every thing be done as God has predetermined, and his determinations must necessarily be all right, then neither the instrument nor the agent has done wrong.

    Thus all vice and virtue, praise and blame, merit and demerit, guilt and innocence, are at once confounded, and all distinctions of this kind confounded with them. Now, allowing the doctrine of the contingency of human actions, (and it must be allowed in order to shun the above absurdities and blasphemies), then we see every intelligent creature accountable for its own works, and for the use it makes of the power with which God has endued it; and, to grant all this consistently, we must also grant that God foresees nothing as absolutely and inevitably certain which he has made contingent; and, because he has designed it to be contingent, therefore he cannot know it as absolutely and inevitably certain.

    I conclude that God, although omniscient, is not obliged, in consequence of this, to know all that he can know; no more than he is obliged, because he is omnipotent, to do all that he can do.”

    Robert – I wonder how many have read and agreed with these words of Clarke over the centuries, not knowing they were agreeing with “open theism”, and as you think – a false god!

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      1. Hi Deborah! You’re welcome. I don’t agree with Clarke’s “eternal now” view of God’s nature, but I think he had good insights on omniscience! If, when I see Jesus, He explains how I really got it all mixed up, I’ll be fine with that! 🙂 Did you see my quote from 4th century Calcidius, which is very much the same view of omniscience as Clarke? I believe you will find it among the comments on the “Interesting Comments from John MacArthur” post. Just search Calcidius using “Find on Page”.

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      2. Brian, just read the quote by Calcidius. He’s obviously smarter than me, but I think I understand what he’s saying to a degree. Thank you.
        I have been reading through the Old Testament. I am in Jeremiah right now. This morning, I read about the fall of Jerusalem to the Chaldeans. God tells Jeremiah to prophesy that whoever goes out to surrender to the Chaldeans will live, and that whoever stays in the city will die. It seems to me that in this passage there are certainties and contingencies. The certainties are that everyone who surrenders will live and that everyone who stays in the city will die. The contingencies are that God is leaving it up to the people to decide which group they are going to be in. God doesn’t make the personal decisions for the people. He simply determines the consequences of the two choices. This happens All The Time as I’m reading through the Bible. It is wearying to read all these roundabout discussions on this blog post, because when you read the Bible itself, it is so very clear that God does not determine personal decisions for people. He always gives them choices, giving them warnings and promises, showing them the way He wants them to go, but never forcing them. Nothing a Calvinist ever says to me again will convince me otherwise. I spent many years believing in Calvinism, with negative consequences in many primary aspects of my spiritual life. I thank God for releasing me from that bad theology and for teaching me the simple truth through the reading of the Bible itself, and through others like Leighton helping me to understand. As a Calvinist, I believed I needed to defend God’s truth (Calvinism) and believed everybody else was blind to the truth — that they needed me to enlighten them. I felt a false sense of piety and purpose in doing so. That’s why I know Roger will continue to feel the need to debate this forever. He believes he is God’s messenger of truth, the knight in shining armor defending the Bible against false theologies. So he will never give up. But it doesn’t matter, does it? I am simply glad to know and believe the truth. Blessings.

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      3. deborah writes, “The certainties are that everyone who surrenders will live and that everyone who stays in the city will die. The contingencies are that God is leaving it up to the people to decide which group they are going to be in. God doesn’t make the personal decisions for the people. He simply determines the consequences of the two choices…when you read the Bible itself, it is so very clear that God does not determine personal decisions for people.”

        There is no conflict with Calvinism in this. Calvinists merely add that God is omniscient and knows how people will choose in those contingencies. The conflict occurs when people say that God cannot know what people will choose in those contingencies.

        Another issue is the extent to which a person’s sin nature drives a person’s decision making.

        You say, “Nothing a Calvinist ever says to me again will convince me otherwise.” No Calvinist should be trying to convince you otherwise.

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      4. Deborah writes, “That’s why I know Roger will continue to feel the need to debate this forever. He believes he is God’s messenger of truth, the knight in shining armor defending the Bible against false theologies.”

        Oh, Deborah!!!!!

        God is certainly capable of defending Himself and He has done this in the Scriptures. I merely state that which the Scriptures tell us.

        The issue here is omniscience. Do you believe that God is omniscient even to knowing all that will happen to the end of time, or do you reject the idea that God is omniscient?

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      5. brianwagner writes, “You’re forgetting Roger that there is no end of time!”

        Is that true? Peter writes, “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

        In Revelation, we read, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”

        I guess it depends on what you mean by “time.” Given that there will be no sun or moon and no night, we might wonder how “time” will be measured in the new heaven and earth. It would seem that “time” as we perceive in within this present universe will come to an end and it does not seem clear to me what new “time” will then exist.

        My point, of course, was to ask Deborah if she believes that God knows everything that is to happen in this present universe until it comes to an end. But then, you know that, and you just couldn’t control your rabbit trail reflex.

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      6. Not a rabbit trail this time Roger, though I do like rabbit trails! 🙂 You are correct that the future time keeping may be altered, though John was told about “months” in the next age (22:2). The main point is that predeterminism of all things either has to end at some point or it continues forever! Which are you proposing? Which seems logical to you? And if it ends… maybe there was never a beginning of a predeterminism of all things for this period.

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      7. brianwagner writes, ” The main point is that predeterminism of all things either has to end at some point or it continues forever! Which are you proposing? Which seems logical to you?”

        God’s attributes are not time-dependent. God is God regardless of any external factors. In eternity past God was and God is in eternity future and God is no matter how many universes He creates. He remains the same in all this. No matter when we perceive God to be, God is always God. God may create many things, but nothing God makes can change Him. It is God who calls things into existence out of nothing, sustains that which He calls into existence, and does all according to His purposes. Nothing God creates can change Him, teach Him anything, or provide counsel to Him. God is God and will always be God; God is and always is. Nothing is hidden from God and nothing can happen except by God’s decree.

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      8. You did not answer the questions Roger! It just seemed that you were pontificating! 🙂 Was there ever a moment in God’s experience of Himself and eternity when this human history was not determined and then it became determined by Him, in your view? And did He at that moment determine every aspect of it in a finite way (it ends) or in an infinite way (it never ends)? Can you handle those questions? 😉

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      9. Well, I do like to pontificate. I don’t think we can deny God the ability to have an original thought. Can an infinite mind ever conceive anything that it had not already been considered? I see it unlikely that we who are finite and creations of God could ever conceive anything new to God. A finite mind has nothing to offer to the infinite mind. So, was the creation of man ever an original thought in the mind of God? Hard for us finite minds to grasp otherwise. However, once God has a thought, He certainly would exhaust everything that could be thought about it at the same point. This would include determining everything about that creation without the benefit of any counsel from that creation.

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      10. Thank you Roger for answering my first question… I think! 🙂 If you do think God has an original thought at “times” which He never had before, I think you are saying that out of His infinite wisdom He is free to pick from a number of possibilities that all reflect His nature. If that is true, then you are at odds with Charnock, I think.

        Charnock makes all decrees an eternal necessity, I believe, and original thoughts therefore are an impossibility. He bases it on his assumptions about perfection and his philosophical view of simplicity in God, effecting a hard immutability. An original thought would be a change in God’s thinking, in Charnock’s view, I think.

        Now, if you could answer my second question, again, if I missed or didn’t understand your answer to it. Did God determine a finite future for humanity and every aspect of it, or did He determine an infinite future for humanity and every aspect of it? Thanks.

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      11. brianwagner writes, “Did God determine a finite future for humanity and every aspect of it, or did He determine an infinite future for humanity and every aspect of it?”

        God has determined all that is to happen until the destruction of this present universe. So, this present universe has a finite existence. For His elect, an infinite future awaits that only an infinite God can comprehend.

        Further, “Charnock makes all decrees an eternal necessity, I believe, and original thoughts therefore are an impossibility.”

        I don’t think our finite minds can comprehend the mind of God. When we finite beings say that God is eternal, we think in terms of time. I don’t think “time” can be used to describe the eternal nature of God. Under whatever conditions God makes decrees, they are eternal decrees.

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      12. Good Morning Roger! I do not think I have ever heard that opinion about God’s predetermination of a finite human history before. You said – “God has determined all that is to happen until the destruction of this present universe. So, this present universe has a finite existence. For His elect, an infinite future awaits that only an infinite God can comprehend.” Are you avoiding the obvious?

        Because of the resurrection, and promise of everlasting life in physical bodies, both God and man will continue in a sequential existence together (experiencing befores and afters). As you know, I believe reality has always been sequential for God, based on the clear description of His eternal nature given – “from everlasting to everlasting”.

        Any way, it sounds to me like you are saying that after this predetermined history is over, God will need to decree something new from His infinite wisdom of possibilities for man and Himself. Is that what your saying? You fudged on your “original thought” concession, which you made before, and fell back to a no original thought position when you said all decrees are eternal.

        Wouldn’t the infinite future after this “finite existence” also have to have been eternally decreed, in your view (and Charnock’s), otherwise you are opening the door again to God having original thoughts, which undermines your definition of omniscience. However, I still think the idea of a predetermination of all things forever, for God Himself at least in His relationship to man, who is in His image, is illogical and undermines the whole concept of God’s own free will.

        Of course the Scriptures clearly present God’s free will as being demonstrated during this sequential existence of human history, as I pointed out in the verses listed above. He is not tied to a predetermined script for Himself for all events, though He has already scripted many for Himself and mankind. And that free interaction within the limitations of determinations He has freely planned and will freely plan will continue forever!

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      13. brianwagner writes, “I believe reality has always been sequential for God, based on the clear description of His eternal nature given – “from everlasting to everlasting”.”

        The “reality” that was created in Genesis 1 plays out is sequential events as God brings those things to pass as He has decreed. Take away the universe when all that is, is God and I don’t think anything is truly sequential – although one might argue for logical sequence. I don’t see any way that finite humans can comprehend and infinite God – especially as it relates to God thinking.

        Then “You fudged on your “original thought” concession, which you made before, and fell back to a no original thought position when you said all decrees are eternal.”

        What I meant to say was that God can have an original thought and any thought God thinks is, necessarily, eternal. God is; God is not was or will be (as both would indicate that God is different from “is” with nothing to initiate a difference to enable movement from “God was” to “God is” or “God is” to “God will be). God calls Himself, I am, and never I was or I will be – God is always God and not God plus or minus something.

        Also, “you are opening the door again to God having original thoughts, which undermines your definition of omniscience.”

        I am not sure that we can describe God as being omniscient with respect to Himself. How an infinite God relates to omniscience is beyond a finite mind to understand. Nonetheless, God can be said to be omniscient with respect to anything He brings into existence. God spoke and the universe appeared out of nothing and that universe will exist as long as God has decreed and God sustains everything in that universe to accomplish His purposes. Not so much as a sparrow falls from the sky except by the decree of God.

        I think contemplating an infinite God as it relates to omniscience or wisdom is fruitless – no matter how interesting – simply because finite minds cannot grasp an infinite God who can create one or untold billions of universes all of which would be uniquely different and all would fit into the palm of His hand (so to speak) and all with for His purpose and pleasure.

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      14. Roger, three times you said our minds cannot grasp an infinite God, including also once how He relates to omniscience. So I guess you should stop being dogmatic about your definition of omniscience and concede that mine may just possibly be correct!

        You also said dogmatically – “God calls Himself, I am, and never I was or I will be” but isn’t that contrary to what He said in Rev. 1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” ?

        And you avoided commenting on the clear Scriptural evidence that God in His resurrected body has sequential experience forever, and therefore human history also continues sequentially forever. Is it therefore forever predetermined?

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      15. brianwagner writes, ” So I guess you should stop being dogmatic about your definition of omniscience and concede that mine may just possibly be correct!”

        Except that you deny omniscience and are only willing to agree that God knows a lot but not everything. However, when you figure out what it means to be infinite, let the rest of us know.

        Then you write, “You also said dogmatically – “God calls Himself, I am, and never I was or I will be” but isn’t that contrary to what He said in Rev. 1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” ?”

        Context, context, context. This speaks of “time” within the created universe and man’s perspective. God is “I AM.” As the “I AM,” God does not change from the past to the present to the future; thus, we humans are to see God as eternal without beginning; without ending.

        Finally, “And you avoided commenting on the clear Scriptural evidence that God in His resurrected body has sequential experience forever, and therefore human history also continues sequentially forever. Is it therefore forever predetermined? ”

        Human history must be sequential because humans are not infinite. Where God interacts with people, He does so in sequence. When God interacts with Himself, there is no sequence.

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      16. Hi Roger, Don’t you ever get embarrassed when you know you are misrepresenting someone’s position or when you can’t bring yourself to make concessions in the light of clear evidence? ☺

        You know that I believe God has infinite knowledge like you do. It’s how He knows everything is where we disagree. And you know that “I am” will not stop being a description of God’s nature after He makes the new heavens and earth… neither will “I was” and “I am to come.”

        God inhabits a body forever and thus sequential reality continues forever. Is it all determined? I don’t think so!

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      17. Hi Deborah. I don’t have Calcidius’ book On Fate, but copied that quote from it on Google Books. He was a Christian philosopher, so I do not know where he stood on theology or even the gospel. I was just showing that other Christians have always held to this view of God’s omniscience concerning the future. The RC denomination had a death grip – literally – for what would be preserved for a 1000 years to be declared “orthodox”.

        So very little that disagreed with Augustine’s theology was preserved from the days before the enlightenment period, or actually from before the reformation period. All else was literally burnt, if it could be discovered. Some opposing views did slip through from that survived from the edges of the RC empire during the Dark Ages… dark because of the RC false gospel and twisted orthodoxy! Calcidius’ view, did slip through.

        Jeremiah is a great book for revealing how God is freely interacting with a partly open plan of the future. Chapter 18 is so clear! God had an intention as the Potter for the clay, Israel. It was marred in His hand, counter to that divine intention, because of man’s free will. So because of God’s free will, and the open parts of His plan, and His sovereign power and ultimate goals, He makes them into another vessel.

        For Him to say that He is devising a plan (18:11), if Calvinism’s “all-things-already-determined” were true, would be unnecessary and even deceptive. Why not tell Israel, I am fulfilling what I have already planned for you from before creation?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. brianwagner quoting Clarke, “…if God have decreed it, and by his foreknowledge and will impelled the creature to act it.”

      This is a big “IF.” The part – “…impelled the creature to act it,” amounts to a false premise. As Clarke argues as if the premise is true, he is arguing against a strawman that he created. Hope you don’t use this strawman against Charnock.

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      1. You are taking, Roger, Clarke’s words out of context for he is stating “if God have decreed it [the future to be without contingencies], and by his foreknowledge and will [for such a future without contingencies] impelled the creature [who has no free will since there are no contingencies willed for him to choose from]…

        Thus there is no straw man, for Clarke is not even labeling Calvinism as something he is arguing against, nor is he choosing a false premise from Calvinism to set up and knock down. You must decide if the premise he is arguing against – that God decreed a future without contingencies in it – is a true or false premise from Calvinism. If a true one, he is not setting up a straw man. If a false one – he has not said it was Calvinism that he was attacking, and thus not a straw man.

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      2. Oh, Brian!!

        Leave out the phrase, “…impelled the creature [who has no free will since there are no contingencies willed for him to choose from]” and there is no problem. In what sense are we to say that God “impelled the creature”? The very word, “impelled,” is chosen to describe God’s action in the process. If not, what do you think impelled Clarke to use “impelled”? Clarke should have said something like this, “…and will [for such a future without contingencies] was inactive while natural events impelled the creature [who still exercises free will even though God’s knowledge effectively says that there are no contingencies available for him to choose from]… “

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      3. Roger, I think you are playing word games to avoid the obvious. You said – “God’s knowledge effectively says that there are no contingencies available…” To me this the same as God determined there would be no contingencies. Thus there would be no free will since there would be no real possible choices, “contingencies.” You use of the word “effectively” shows that all this determination by God has “impelled” whatever happened so far, to happen.

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      4. brianwagenr writes, “You use of the word “effectively” shows that all this determination by God has “impelled” whatever happened so far, to happen.”

        I guess this turns on the meaning of “impel.” I take the use of “impel” to mean that God causes or forces the conclusion. However, that God determines all things does not mean that God necessarily causes all things. For example, God determined – ordained – that Adam and Eve eat the fruit but God did not cause them to do so – they did so freely – not forced to do so by God.

        If you take “impel” to mean something different, then that might explain the confusion.

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      5. Good morning Roger! I will answer both thoughts you made in one. The traditional view of omniscience is illogical for it makes God the determiner of everything in the future from out of His infinite wisdom, and when He chooses to have no contingencies for the future, He is not culpable because He was able to determine man as making a free choice from no real possibilities available. Really?

        Clarke and I are on the same page, for I too believe God was able to make all the future certain by choosing from His infinite wisdom a future with no contingencies. But that is not what God did! Clarke truly is defining omniscience as both what God is able to know about the future based on His free choices, and what He does know about the future because of His free choices that still remain free to Him. I am sorry you can’t see it. But I still like you! 🙂

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      6. brianwagner writes, ‘Clarke truly is defining omniscience as both what God is able to know about the future based on His free choices, and what He does know about the future because of His free choices that still remain free to Him.”

        I don’t see Clarke being concerned about God having “free” choices in the future. I see his concern being that people have free choices and he sees omniscience being a hindrance to this. Perhaps, you will address this in your comments on Charnock.

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      7. Will do, my friend, because what Charnock says or doesn’t say about God’s continued freedom of will is crucial to understanding his view of God’s omniscience.

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    2. Then Clarke concludes, “I conclude that God, although omniscient, is not obliged, in consequence of this, to know all that he can know;…”

      In other words, Clarke concedes the argument the Calvinist makes on omniscient and then says, “OK. Let’s pretend that God can stop being God as it relates to knowing all things so that we don’t have to deal with omniscience.”

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      1. Nice try Roger on dismissing his reasoning. He was clearly defining omniscience in Biblical terms and saying it does not make sense to understand it in traditional terms. And I know you know that this is what he was doing. ☺

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      2. I understand his reasoning. He understood that there was a problem for him if he accepted the traditional view on omniscience. His only solution – let’s have God not be God. It is not that it did not make sense to him, but that it did not make sense in light of his desire for free will (“…not only all free agency is destroyed…”).

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      3. Now that is a straw man, Roger – “His only solution – let’s have God not be God.” You know Clarke is not denying who God is, or saying such a thing, but trying to define who God is consistently with how His Word reveals the truth about Him.

        You are unwilling to do that, it seems to me, but rather wish to impose someone else’s definition of omniscience, without critique, upon texts about the future, because of its popularity and traditional authority.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “You know Clarke is not denying who God is, or saying such a thing, but trying to define who God is consistently with how His Word reveals the truth about Him.”

        That’s not the way I understand that which Clarke has said. You deny that God knows the future – traditional omniscience. Clarke does not deny traditional omniscience. He accepts the view that God is omniscient with regard to the future and says, “God is omniscient, and can know all things; but does it follow from this that he must know all things?” Then he says, “By contingent, I mean such things as the infinite wisdom of God has thought proper to poise on the possibility of being or not being, leaving it to the will of intelligent beings to turn the scale.”

        Clarke seems to think that God’s omniscience of future events “causes” those events. Thus, “all created beings are only instruments, and do nothing but as impelled and acted upon by this almighty and sole Agent.”

        Clarke fails to distinguish between the certainty of that which God knows and the necessity of those events apparently thinking that they are one and the same. However, we understand (don’t we?) that God’s omniscience – traditional sense – makes future events certain but not necessary. Clarke’s solution is for God to choose not to be God, “…leaving it to the will of intelligent beings to turn the scale.”

        You and Clarke have offered two unique – but different – ways of dealing with the problem that you think omniscience presents for free will. Clarke is not advocating an Open Theism solution to the problem he sees with omniscience and free will – I don’t see it.

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      5. Actually Roger, you are welcome to think my view of omniscience is different than Clarke’s, but I am telling you they are the same! – Clarke said – “We must also grant that God foresees nothing as absolutely and inevitably certain which he has made contingent; and, because he has designed it to be contingent, therefore he cannot know it as absolutely and inevitably certain. I conclude that God, although omniscient, is not obliged, in consequence of this, to know all that he can know; no more than he is obliged, because he is omnipotent, to do all that he can do.”

        Clarke and I are in agreement with Calvinists… if God determines something to be certain it will be foreknown as certain. He was able to determine all things as certain, and therefore then foreknow them as certain. But God determined many things not to be certain, as clearly revealed by Him in Scripture, therefore He foreknows those contingencies only as they truly are, uncertain.

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      6. When Clarke writes, ” I conclude that God, although omniscient, is not obliged, in consequence of this, to know all that he can know; no more than he is obliged, because he is omnipotent, to do all that he can do,” I take him to be saying that he understands that God is omniscient, but that God can choose not to be omniscient, whereas you say that God is not omniscient in the first place.

        Nonetheless, you both realize the problem omniscience creates for free will so you both want to take omniscience off the table – as Calvinists hold fast to omniscience, arguing against Calvinism entails that one do something about omniscience. Clarke suggests one way to do this; you suggest another. The problems people have with Calvinism arise from omniscience yet most people hide their heads in the sand and pretend that Calvinism itself is the problem and not omniscience.

        There is a 3-part series over at SBC Today where Pastor Ronnie Rogers writes a defense of free will under omniscience. It has me scratching my head trying to figure out what he is saying. Since I have been excommunicated and unable to submit comments, I have not been able to clarify what Rogers is taking about. You might find it interesting.

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      7. Rhutchin,

        Quick — and pedantic — point of clarification. You said that people’s main problem with Calvinism is omniscience of a single, closed future. It is indeed the case that many detect problems for LFW tumbling out of this attribute of God. However, it is possible to assert God’s omniscience of a single, closed future, and indeed God’s superordinate responsibility, and indeed adequate determinism, while still finding fault with Calvinism. In particular, fault would be found with what Calvinism must do in order to maintain endless hell (vs. purgatorial hell) eschatology under complete superordinate responsibility: It must assert that God ultimately despises many, if not most people (as I mentioned before, this is contra Elihu, speaking on God’s behalf, Job 36:5), and it must assert that the unelect are beyond recovery (contra Romans 11:7+11).

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      8. stanrock writes, “In particular, fault would be found with what Calvinism must do in order to maintain endless hell (vs. purgatorial hell) eschatology under complete superordinate responsibility: It must assert that God ultimately despises many, if not most people (as I mentioned before, this is contra Elihu, speaking on God’s behalf, Job 36:5), and it must assert that the unelect are beyond recovery (contra Romans 11:7+11).”

        Job 36
        5 “God is mighty, but does not despise men; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose…
        8 But if men are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction,
        9 he tells them what they have done–that they have sinned arrogantly.
        10 He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil.
        11 If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.
        12 But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge.
        13 “The godless in heart harbour resentment; even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.

        I think you have focused on the term “despise,” when the focus is on “sin.” God does not despise men, but He does despise their sin. If a person is denied entry into heaven because of his sin, how is he ever to enter heaven so long as his sin remains? Purgatory does not provide a venue for the atonement of sins but for the accrual of “merit” to offset sin. Calvinism maintains that sins cannot be offset by merit (works) but must be atoned.

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      9. Thanks Roger for the tip on reading Rogers. I am sorry you were excommunicated! 😦 I haven’t visited that site before, and see that it is much like this one. It even has some of the same posters, who act the same way as they do here! 🙂 So it makes me wonder what your infraction was!

        I think Rogers holds the same illogical position on omniscience as people like Robert, in my opinion. And of course I think there is the similar logical disconnect as you have from logic in the premise of God knowing eternally everything as settled and yet human history is not necessary to God’s nature.

        He had to create this human history and only this one, which exists forever, if your view of omniscience is true! And of course Scripture reads differently!

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      10. brianwagner writes, “He had to create this human history and only this one, which exists forever, if your view of omniscience is true! And of course Scripture reads differently!”

        Does Scripture read differently?? This conclusion would seem to ignore, or greatly downplay, the extent to which God has involved Himself in human history. There are the obvious examples where God’s involvement in human affairs dramatically affected human history. These include the flood of Noah, the confusion of languages at Babel, the impregnation of Mary, the confrontation w/ Paul. In these instances, God was heavily involved in human history.

        God’s involvement continues. Satan could not enter the garden without God moving aside, as He did with Job, enabling Satan to tempt Adam/Eve to sin. You would say that God knew it was possible that Eve would eat the fruit but but not certain. Yet, God was present and certainly knew things were going downhill. Even as Eve started to take a bite, God could have intervened to prevent her actually eating the fruit and certainly prevent her offering the fruit to Adam. Clearly, God made a decision – not to intervene – and that decision affected human history. All human history results from similar decisions made by God. God steps in to prevent Abraham killing Issac even as Abraham is in the act of completing the sacrifice; but God chooses not to intervene to prevent Cain killing Abel. Similarly, God allows Stephen to be stoned and James to be killed but saves Peter until ultimately allowing Peter to be killed.

        So, who has even taken an action in human history without God first deciding that such action should be done. Can a rapist or psychopath perpetrate their evil without God first deciding not to intervene to prevent the act? Even in the absence of God knowing beforehand all that would transpire, God still knows in present time all that transpires and nothing ever happens without God, in present time, decreeing it to happen. Is that not so? If you disagree, then perhaps you can cite some event in human history of which God might have been ignorant or not present as the event unfolded or somehow lacking power to intervene to change the outcome.

        Regardless, how you and I view omniscience, it is God’s sovereignty over His creation that results in His absolute control of His creation – and absolute, meticulous, control over human history.

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      11. Actually Roger, thank you for stating a view of human history that is very consistent with my view of God’s omniscience and involvement in it. My view does not downplay those things at all, but aggressively upholds them. There is nothing that you described in your historical overview of events that I would not state the exact same way!

        It is easier to view God’s involvement as without emotion, or feigned emotion, if He is just responding to a script for Himself, planned before creation. But Scripture instead reveals, as you have written above, that He is intimately involved in every event, actively or passively, making decisions freely as things unfold.

        There are some things scripted from the the distant past and even some from before creation, but God planned for much improvisation, creativity, and personal interaction to continue also.

        If I may, let me alter your last paragraph to show you how much I do agree with you – “Regardless, how you and I view omniscience, it is God’s sovereignty over His creation that results in His absolute [supervision, interaction, and guidance] over His creation – and absolute, meticulous, [supervision, interaction, and guidance] over human history.”

        I hope you find yourself in a joyful time of worship this weekend, my friend!

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      12. Rhutchin,

        Purgatorial hell is different than Catholic Purgatory. Purgatorial hell is suffering the recompense of wrath, per Romans 2:6, and the Parable that parallels it, the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.

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      13. stanrock writes, “Purgatorial hell is suffering the recompense of wrath, per Romans 2:6, and the Parable that parallels it, the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.”

        Romans 2
        6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done”.
        7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life.
        8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

        Romans 2:6 appears to describe the ordinary hell to me – eternal life contrasted with wrath (hell).

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      14. Purgatorialism requires reading zoen aionion / aionios zoe not as “eternal life” but as “life of the age” — the Messianic “knowing God” under the Kingdom, as defined in John 17:3.

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      15. (It goes without saying that everybody gets endless perpetuity… unless you’re an annihilationist. The difference between zoen aionion and kolasin aionion is whether, at Judgment, Jesus will advocate for you or disown you, leading to remedial wrath.)

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      16. stanroack writes, “The difference between zoen aionion and kolasin aionion is whether, at Judgment, Jesus will advocate for you or disown you, leading to remedial wrath.)”

        Or as the Calvinist would say, God’s elect and the reprobate but remedial wrath?? – imaginative but not much more from my vantage point.

        Jesus is the advocate for God’s elect by virtue of His death:

        My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2)

        Hebrews 7-8
        27 Unlike the other high priests, [Christ] does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
        28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect for ever.
        8:1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
        2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.”

        Romans 8
        31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
        32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
        33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
        34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

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    3. Brian cites Clarke and Calcidius in support of his open theism. Two quotes over 20 CENTURIES of church history is not very impressive nor suggestive. While Brian quotes these two, I could quote hundreds of others who are/were Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Calvinist, Arminian, Molinist, Thomist, Ockhamist, etc. etc. If you want to engage in a citation war, Brian and his open theism will be completely annihilated.

      In the past when I worked with Walter Martin on counter cult ministry, one of the things that I learned/noticed/observed, was that people will believe virtually anything. So there is some representative of every false and kooky view out there (that is also why on talk shows they will always find representatives of strange and false views, not matter what the subject being discussed is). Being able to cite a single or two people for your view is not saying much.

      What you need is to cite what Christians across the board, from all Christian traditions say about a subject. When you do this with omniscience, open theism is an extreme minority view, rejected by every major Christian tradition.

      Now if you ignore that fact and the overwhelming majority who hold the ordinary and biblical view of omniscience, then really you can choose to believe anything that you want (and unfortunately people do tend to believe what they want, which accounts for the vast number of false and strange and kooky views out there). If Brian were citing people like Aquinas, Or Ockham or Augustine or Luther or Calvin to support his views then we should take notice. But two quotes in over twenty centuries of church history is not indicative or suggestive at all of what the Christian church believes on this subject. Brian ignores the vast amount of evidence that is against his open theism throughout church history, and puts the weight on two sources. That is desperation, not solid evidence or scholarship.

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      1. Robert how about all that “orthodox” scholarship that supports the kooky view of baptismal regeneration (a false Gospel) against the minority view that returned in the 16th century? It is a logical fallacy to say the majority view is always right! And my hypothesis is still that the majority believes the future is partly open, and known by God as such! Hide behind orthodox contradiction if you must.

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      2. brianwagner writes, “And my hypothesis is still that the majority believes the future is partly open, and known by God as such! ”

        “Hypothesis” being the key term here. My experience is that people believe that God is omniscient with a full knowledge of the future and that people still have free will understanding that prior knowledge of a future event is not the cause of the future event.

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      3. I agree with your assessment of most people’s beliefs as you do of mine (that the future is not completely set). When discussing how it is logical to state God only knows the future as it actually exists – not completely settled – they understand the logic of that, but they tend to still want to believe God knows it as settled even if it truly is not.

        I have run into many who want to believe illogical things… some on this site! 🙂 I choose not to, so I hope others will continue to point out logical fallacies, formal or informal that I might make.

        Defending philosophical definitions that contradict the normal understanding of Scripture’s presentation of God’s eternality, immutability, and omniscience is not wise in my view.

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  25. Brian continues his crusade for the false theology known as open theism, and writes:

    “Robert how about all that “orthodox” scholarship that supports the kooky view of baptismal regeneration (a false Gospel) against the minority view that returned in the 16th century?”

    No one has claimed that the majority is always correct, the majority has in fact been wrong, whether it is in the area of theology or science or whatever field you care to name. That is not my point at all, my point was never that since the majority hold to omniscience as ordinarily understood: that therefore the majority is necessarily right on this.

    Having studied and read many different theologies and traditions (both Christian and non-Christian) I know there are differences in beliefs between differing groups and individuals (even differing beliefs within groups). It is important to know and understand why these differences exist. Sometimes they exist merely because folks are following their traditions. Sometimes they exist because one person or group really has the truth, while the other group(s) for various reasons are advocating an error or making a mistake. Sometimes everybody is wrong on the same issue, with no group or individual having the truth on the subject. I can point out examples of all of this.

    I am quite aware that Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants have disagreements on various issues. I am also quite aware that in some areas they all appear to agree. Now these areas, though they are not many, are particularly interesting if our goal and desire is to know the truth on something. If they disagree on X, Y, and Z, but then we find they agree on A. We need to ask why do these folks who have obvious disagreements on X, Y, and Z, actually agree on A?

    Take the deity of Christ as an example. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants all agree that Jesus was God in the flesh (you find this in their confessions, doctrinal statements, and theology texts, everywhere and in all of their writings and discussions). Now what do we do with this kind of evidence, this kind of agreement? Seems to me that if all of the big three traditions agree on something this is strong evidence that that something is in fact true. If it were false, someone or even many in the traditions would have objected to it or fought it or questioned it. But we don’t find that with the deity of Christ in any of these traditions. The simplest and most reasonable conclusion is that they all believe in the deity of Christ, because that is the truth for a Christian.

    Brian tries to undermine this reality, minimize this reality by pointing out examples were the “majority” were wrong (and with the three major traditions that is very easy to do, they do disagree on some things where it seems that one is correct and the others are wrong on the issue). But that again is not the kind of majority that I keep bringing up. I am not talking about a majority view within Catholicism alone, or Eastern Orthodoxy alone, or Protestantism alone. No, I am talking about when ALL THREE AGREE on something. When they all agree on something that is not just a majority from one group, that suggests we are dealing with a truth that every Christian ought to accept.

    If the subject is omniscience and you carefully consider what the three traditions say on this subject, you find that this is like the deity of Christ, all three agree on the subject. They present a united front against open theism with all three rejecting it. Sure you can find isolated examples of someone who appears to be espousing open theism (Brian has given us two, Clarke and Clidius). You can add some twentieth century examples such as Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd, William Hasker, Richard Rice, John Sanders, some Wesleyans. But we are talking about an extremely small amount of people when the sample size is the entire Christian church across all three traditions for its entire history. This is why I find Brian’s attempts at undermining and challenging what the vast majority have believed to be disingenuous and unpersuasive.

    It is not rational to take the opinions of advocates that you can almost number with two hands, versus the opinions of literally billions of others.

    And Brian’s attempted explanations as to why the majority hold to the ordinary view of omniscience are unpersuasive and extremely weak. For example he claims that they have imbibed philosophical constructs (the simple counter to this is that folks such as my wife hold to the ordinary view of omniscience because they know their Bibles and see the ordinary view of omniscience taught in the Bible, they don’t even know what the philosophers have said on this topic, they base their view on what the Bible seems to be presenting).

    “It is a logical fallacy to say the majority view is always right!”

    Quite aware of that, you are saying nothing that none of us does not already know here.
    What you keep doing however is that you ignore and suppress and minimize the fact that with regard to omniscience the major three traditions all agree on it. This is strong evidence that this is the truth for Christians. We are not talking about merely what is a majority view among say Catholics, No, we are talking about what has been the view of literally billions of Christians across all of the major traditions.

    “And my hypothesis is still that the majority believes the future is partly open, and known by God as such! Hide behind orthodox contradiction if you must.”

    Well see this is where Brian’s semantic game playing comes in. If you ask most believers if they believe that people have free will (as ordinarily understood, technically called libertarian free will), they will answer Yes. If you ask those same folks if God knows the future? They will answer Yes. But then someone like Brian comes along and argues you cannot hold those two beliefs simultaneously: that they are contradictory according to the open theists. Because Brian defines “the future is partly open” as meaning that God has not determined it, and yet God does not know what people will in fact choose to do (because he also defines things so that if God does know what you will in fact freely choose to do then that event is settled and not open and you are not acting freely).

    But that is not how most Christians see it: most of us believe that God knows what we will freely choose to do and yet we are also freely choosing to do it. Brian by his definitions cannot allow for that reality. For Brian either it is “open” (meaning that the person acts freely and God does not know what they will in fact freely choose to do) or it is “settled” (meaning that God knows what you will in fact do but then you are not acting freely).

    The key presupposition/assumption that Brian holds is that if God knows what you will in fact choose to do in the future then you are not acting freely (but this is precisely what the vast majority of believers have believed, that God can know what you will choose to do in the future, and yet you are still acting freely.

    God knowing we did something (past) are doing something (present) or will in fact do something in the future (future) is not what determines the action: if we are acting freely, we determine the action, we actualize one choice and not the other.

    God knowing which choice we will actualize and which choice we will not actualize does not take away our freedom.

    God knows what choices of words are on my mind while I am typing this post, he also knows which post I am in fact choosing to use: His knowing what words I would possibly use and also knowing what words I actually am choosing to use, does not determine which words I choose or take away my free will whatsoever. The same is true of future choices, God knowing what I could possibly choose and what I will in fact choose does nothing to take my free will away.

    And that is just it, the Christian church across all three traditions has believed throughout its history that God knows all possibilities and all actualities. Open theists deny this, some will allow that God knows all possibilities, but when it comes to actualities they limit God to knowing only some actualities (the past, the present, but not what people will actually choose to do freely in the future, for them if He knows these actualities before they occur then according to open theists the people cannot be acting freely, it should be noted that many Calvinists believe this as well, i.e. if God foreknows what a person chooses to do then that person cannot be acting with libertarian free will). Incidentally I write the last paragraphs not for Brian’s sake, but for Deborah’s sake if she is reading.

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    1. you say: For Brian either it is “open” (meaning that the person acts freely and God does not know what they will in fact freely choose to do) or it is “settled” (meaning that God knows what you will in fact do but then you are not acting freely).

      Wouldn’t it be correct to say most Calvinists also insist on this dilemma? Oh, I see you mentioned it later. I think it’s fine to point out that openness has not ever been a mainstream view but I wonder—when we try to measure what to us is a deviation from the more fundamental things, how we measure 1. the amount the doctrine actually matters in practical day to day life and 2. the overall importance of what range of variation is at least permissible. For me the practical outworking of, for example, deterministic Calvinism is attributing evil directly to God and a passivity in one’s spiritual walk (which I address in more detail here https://dizernerblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/the-real-pascals-wager-or-does-determinism-actually-help-me/ ).

      But after much thought I honestly can’t find any practical harmful outworking in believing in a partially open future… thoughts?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. David/dizerner,

        You wrote:

        “I think it’s fine to point out that openness has not ever been a mainstream view but I wonder—when we try to measure what to us is a deviation from the more fundamental things, how we measure 1. the amount the doctrine actually matters in practical day to day life and 2. the overall importance of what range of variation is at least permissible.”

        I think you are completely missing a major point. In discussing the error of open theism, what we are talking about is a false conception of God. This is what idolatry involves, a false conception of God. While many can easily see some forms of idolatry (e.g. a religion that worships cows as sacred beings): there are also more subtle forms of idolatry. For example the guy who believes that God is a God of love (which is true) so that means to him his conception of God is that this God of love could therefore never send anyone to hell. From my observation this sentiment is actually growing. Well the Bible teaches **both** that God is a God of love, it also just as clearly teaches that for some they will end up eternally separated from God. So this guy’s conception is a form of idolatry. His conception is different from, and actually contradicts the conception of God presented in scripture.

        In scripture false conceptions of God often stem from people’s imaginations (i.e. instead of taking God at His Word and forming their conception of God from what He reveals in scripture, they decide, they imagine in their own minds what God must be like, so for the one guy **His** God could never send anyone to hell, that conceptualization of God as one who would never send anyone to hell does not stem from scripture but from what the guy wants to believe about God). In scripture idolatry is repeatedly condemned and challenged (e.g. one of the 10 commandments directly forbids worshipping a false god). Scripture does not ask: well does this guy’s idolatry have less practical consequences than this other guy’s form of idolatry? Instead it condemns them all and speaks strongly against all forms of idolatry. I believe a major reason for this is that as God **is** a God of love and desires for all to be saved, to the same extent He hates all idols and misrepresentations of Himself that lead people away from Him (similarly, the admonitions about hell are strong because God again desires for all to be saved, so conversely he strongly warns people about hell).

        Now in our **politically correct era**, where we are all supposed to “coexist” as the bumper sticker proclaims, people like to speak about all religions being the same, all in their core beliefs being peaceful and harmless (but that is not how scripture talks about idolatry and false gods and false conceptions of God).

        “For me the practical outworking of, for example, deterministic Calvinism is attributing evil directly to God and a passivity in one’s spiritual walk”

        Well see here you speak of a conception of God that bothers you personally (i.e. one in which evil is attributed directly to God). So THAT form of idolatry offends you, bothers you, but apparently open theism which also involves a false conception of God does not bother you. So you pick and choose which mistaken conception of God bothers you. Scripture does not do that, it does not say, well this form of idolatry is Ok while this one is really bad, this one is just a little bad, it says instead that all of them are bad and to be avoided.

        Now to preempt certain responses that I can predict may occur in response to what I just said. Could a believer have idolatrous thoughts and conceptions of God? Yes, we are all prone to having our own idols (Calvin said that the “human heart is an idol making factory”, cf. ““From this we may gather that man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols…Man’s mind, full as it is of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to its own capacity; as it sluggishly plods, indeed is overwhelmed with the crassest ignorance, it conceives an unreality and an empty appearance as God.” –John Calvin, Institutes, 1.11.8 and on that point at least he was right, it is extremely easy for us to develop our own false conceptions of God). That is one of the reasons we are told to guard our hearts. Guard against what? Well one thing to guard against is false conceptions and representations of God.

        As church leaders some of us have run into many of these false representations of God in the church. Some examples, the “blab it and grab it” prosperity teaching that says if you have faith and confess it properly you will receive every blessing that you want (car, house, finances, etc. etc.) No, God is not our personal genie who grants our wishes. Or the conception of God that he would never allow any evil or sin to happen in someone’s life (that is actually a very common one as many people prayed about some evil or bad experience things did not go the way THEY wanted so they have been holding it against God ever since). Or as already mentioned the “my God would never send anyone to hell” conceptualization (Yes YOUR GOD would never do so, but that is a god of your imagination not the God of the Bible).

        How do we avoid these false concepts of God? Primarily by knowing His Word. By fellowshipping with other believers who hold us accountable and have discernment. This is why when I consider something, if all three major traditions agree then it is highly likely that this is something a believer ought to believe because it is likely true. Example if you look at all three major traditions they all hold to a final judgment and to heaven and hell/eternal separation from God being a possibility for those who reject God. So from studying scripture and considering what other believers have thought about these things, it is safe to say that there is a final judgment, and there is heaven and hell as eternal destinies.

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      2. Hi Robert! How about God defined falsely by tradition or philosophy so that His character is stated in illogical terms, and terms that take a way a normal understanding of Scripture? The largest, oldest of the three traditions that you believe is more important to follow then logic and a normal reading of Scripture not only has a false Gospel, but worships a piece of bread as God!

        Talk about idolatry! And you want to trust their “orthodox” understanding of omniscience which they borrowed from Plato and which remains infected in the theologies of EO and Reformed Protestantism!

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      3. Wagner your emotional rants are intentionally ignoring and twisting things that I have said. This shows both desperation on your part and that you are becoming deceitful in your presentations.

        I have **never** said that the teachings of the Catholic Church take priority or that they are higher than scripture in authority and importance. I am not Catholic and do not agree with some of their views on authority, sacraments, etc.

        I have said that when all three major traditions agree on something that is a strong indicator that this is something that Christians ought to believe.

        Those are two very different propositions, the fact that you ignore one and try to put the other one on me, shows you are being deceitful on this and suggests that you are willing to twist things in any way that you can to defend your cherished false conception of god known as open theism (your limited and finite god who is in time just like us and does not know the future just like us, a very sub-biblical conception of God, e.g. in Isaiah one of the main ways the true God distinguishes Himself from false gods is that He knows the future and they do not)
        .
        Wagner writes:

        “How about God defined falsely by tradition or philosophy so that His character is stated in illogical terms, and terms that take a way a normal understanding of Scripture?”

        The ordinary understanding of omniscient and God being omniscient in this way is neither philosophy or “stated in illogical terms” (the most ordinary believers understand it quite well, they derive their views not from philosophy or tradition but from scripture, for you to lie about them and claim they get their views from philosophy and tradition is intentional misrepresentation on your part).

        I have used my wife as an example of what most believers believe about omniscience. She does not know, nor has she studied philosophy or theologians, but she knows what the Bible says about God knowing the future so she believes both that we have free will and that God is omniscient in the ordinary sense. She represents literally billions of believers across church history. You malign her and others when you falsely claim they derive their view of omniscience from philosophy or tradition and not from scripture.

        Wagner makes the following false and completely unsupported claim:

        “The largest, oldest of the three traditions that you believe is more important to follow then logic and a normal reading of Scripture”

        WHERE did I ever say that the teachings of the Catholic Church “is more important to follow then logic and a normal reading of Scripture??

        *****Show us***** Wagner where I said this. Just one example will suffice.

        But you cannot do this, because I have never said this, so stop lying and misrepresenting my position and what I have said. You are intentionally mispresenting me on this, and that is deceitful on your part.

        “not only has a false Gospel, but worships a piece of bread as God!”

        I have not talked about Roman Catholic views on the sacraments, or how a person is saved, etc.. And while I disagree with them on some of these things, I feel no need to mock and attack them ****as you do.****

        I think I know why you have such an intense hatred of Catholics and Catholicism and feel the need to attack them and mock their beliefs (i.e. you spent 12 years in Ireland a strongly Catholic country, supposedly as a missionary there, I don’t think you accomplished much there, overall you probably saw very little fruit for your 12 years of efforts, due to this experience you now have an intense hatred of Catholicism and Catholics, if you used the rhetoric you now use against Catholicism on this blog you would have failed to get them to even hear you on anything regarding the gospel, I doubt you went around telling them they had a “false Gospel” and that they “worship a piece of bread as God”).

        But see it is all about defending your false theology of open theism and your false conceptions of God, so to do that, **anything goes** against the other Christian traditions (and people should keep in mind that you reject all Christian denominations and believe that only those who have the same beliefs as you ought to be ordained as pastors).

        Anything to defend your cherished open theism: open theism uber alles!

        Your final line is just another lie and misrepresentation you have used multiple times on this blog (i.e. that the ordinary/orthodox understanding of omniscience is not derived from the Bible but from philosophy):

        “And you want to trust their “orthodox” understanding of omniscience which they borrowed from Plato and which remains infected in the theologies of EO and Reformed Protestantism!”

        I did not get my understanding of omniscience from Plato or Catholicism, nor did my wife, nor did BILLIIONS of other believers throughout church history.

        We got it from the plain and intended meaning given by scripture.

        A plain and intended meaning that you reject in favor of a man made and imagined conception of God as just a bigger person than us (in time just like us, limited just like us, not knowing what people will choose to do in the future just like us, a god who learns about the future just like we do/not knowing what people will freely choose to do until they do it). Your finite and limited conception of God is just another idol, more philosophically sophisticated than other idols but an idol just the same.

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      4. I’m not mocking RC, or attacking Catholics, Robert. I hope that is clear. I was exposing the false gospel and idolatry of RC in a blunt way, since I knew you are well able for bluntness. You will have to ask the believers and non-believers in Co. Kerry, Ireland for an accurate opinion of how I conducted myself as a testimony for Christ from 84-96.

        And you will have to judge with more level heading thinking whether your source of confirmation (the three traditions) for your view of omniscience is from philosophy instead of clear Scripture. And finally, you will need to judge if logic is necessary in defining the true God of Scripture, and whether knowing something that is truly contingent and at the same time knowing it as truly certain is logical or a contradiction.

        You and I do agree on God predicting certain things for the future and knowing those certain things as certain. That is all Isaiah says. You might like to extrapolate Isaiah’s meaning to include “and God knows as certain (settled) also everything in between every event He has predicted (planned) for the future”, but that is not what Isaiah said. All the conditional statements of Scripture prove that many things in the future are not yet certain but are truly contingent, and God knows them as such, and does not know them in a contradictory way to that! The God of Scripture is not illogical. What does you wife think about that last statement? 🙂

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      5. you say: For example the guy who believes that God is a God of love (which is true) so that means to him his conception of God is that this God of love could therefore never send anyone to hell. From my observation this sentiment is actually growing.

        Man I’m completely on board with you in that. It’s a serious heresy for sure, and growing among lukewarm Christians. But this doctrine has practical serious ramifications affecting salvation and clear Scriptures against it. I have a hard time seeing that for openness.

        you say: well does this guy’s idolatry have less practical consequences than this other guy’s form of idolatry?

        Hm. But don’t you think none of us have a perfect understanding of God? There has to be some room for deviation from a perfect understanding of divinity then. I don’t think someone is going to hell for openness or for Calvinism, because they still believe in a Supreme Being who incarnated and suffered for faith into salvation. Could openness or Calvinism be labeled a minor form of idolatry? Perhaps. We all commit idolatry in various ways and by grace strive to overcome it, but our failing does not forfeit our salvation. So in that regard, I really do think the practical effect is actually a significant factor, because if our form of idolatry say, doesn’t cause us to reject some cardinal truths of faith in grace and such (since all men are sinful and will stumble without grace) we haven’t been “cut off from Christ.” I’m sure for all my attempts at having a grand and great conception of God, my imagining of him often falls far short of his true greatness—I would agree I am an idolator because of that, but I don’t reject a fundamental truth of salvation by grace or the Biblical attributes of God as best I can understand them (Be real for a second, could we know if Abraham really ever even considered in detail omniscience the way we do today?).

        you say: bothers you personally (i.e. one in which evil is attributed directly to God)

        I didn’t mean to imply it bothered my personally. I think that fits under the Biblical category of blasphemy, a sin we are instructed to avoid (blasphemy being either severe disrespect of God or expressing evil of God). But I can’t really see how openness is blasphemy (on any more serious level than say, I had too much affection for an expensive car I own, and I realize I’m an imperfect being trusting in grace). Especially if, in my best estimate, I don’t feel it lowers the power and dignity of God, but rather expresses some truth about how he made the world. Again did God say that righteousness is understanding his attributes perfectly? Who can be sure of that without divine help?

        you say: Some examples, the “blab it and grab it” prosperity teaching that says if you have faith and confess it properly you will receive every blessing that you want (car, house, finances, etc. etc.) No, God is not our personal genie who grants our wishes

        Again though, this error has serious real practical results in our daily lives, plus I think Scripture is a bit more clear on it (asking according to your lusts).

        you say: Example if you look at all three major traditions

        I don’t entirely discount major traditions or church fathers, but for me if the Bible is clear on something it’s way, way above them. Still on unclear things I weigh in on them. For example I believe the Bible is clear that OSAS is false but I’d still weigh in slightly the fact that the early church fathers also rejected OSAS ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wGrURBOnB8 )

        regards

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      6. David,

        “Man I’m completely on board with you in that. It’s a serious heresy for sure, and growing among lukewarm Christians. But this doctrine has practical serious ramifications affecting salvation and clear Scriptures against it. I have a hard time seeing that for openness.”

        All ideas have “practical serious ramifications” or as it has been famously put: ideas have consequences.

        Perhaps you have a hard time seeing how open theism may have bad consequences, but I and others, do not.

        “Hm. But don’t you think none of us have a perfect understanding of God?”

        Didn’t I just say in my previous post that the human heart is an idol factory?

        Did you even read my comments about this propensity of humans to make idols?

        Fact is, we are prone to making idols, all of us, without exception. One of my seminary professors used to remind us that all of us have some error somewhere, we just may not know it!

        “There has to be some room for deviation from a perfect understanding of divinity then.”

        Sure, I think God WHO KNOWS ALL THINGS including our hearts knows that we are fallible and have some of these errors in our thinking. Especially as new believers we tend to have all sorts of worldly baggage that needs to be eliminated and replaced by something better
        .
        “I don’t think someone is going to hell for openness or for Calvinism, because they still believe in a Supreme Being who incarnated and suffered for faith into salvation.”

        We don’t go to hell for mistaken theology, we go to hell because we are not in a saving relationship with Jesus and because we keep rejecting God and his grace towards us for an entire lifetime. I never said that all open theists are hell bound, I believe most of them are saved individuals. Same goes for Calvinism, I never said they are hell bound, and again I believe most of them to be saved individuals.

        “Could openness or Calvinism be labeled a minor form of idolatry? Perhaps.”

        Well see there you go again, thinking and talking in nonbiblical categories: the Bible does not speak of MINOR forms of idolatry versus MAJOR forms of idolatry.

        No, it condemns all forms of idolatry and strongly warns us to avoid them all.

        It goes to faithfulness, and our faithfulness to God which is why it is so serious.

        To use an analogy, if a guy said to his wife “well I have only been a little unfaithful to you, I have just engaged in minor forms of unfaithfulness to you”. Would we say that’s OK, as long as they are just “little forms of unfaithfulness” you’re alright? No, we’d say stop playing games, all forms of unfaithfulness are sin and need to be avoided or repented of. In the scripture there are clear examples where individuals felt they were just sinning a little bit (e.g. Achan had been told not to take anything, he just took a few things . . .) It is relevant that Jesus when speaking of this though using a strong metaphor, spoke of cutting your eyes out and your hands off, if it helped you deal with certain sins. He didn’t say well it is only minor forms of lust, just little lusts, so you are OK. Part of the problem in the modern church is that many want to make these kinds of false and unbiblical distinctions between little and harmless sins and big and serious sins (with of course the sins they are committing being the little and harmless ones while the others are committing the big sins).

        “We all commit idolatry in various ways and by grace strive to overcome it, but our failing does not forfeit our salvation.”

        Again, I was very clear that Christians do commit the sin of idolatry in my previous post.

        “So in that regard, I really do think the practical effect is actually a significant factor, because if our form of idolatry say, doesn’t cause us to reject some cardinal truths of faith in grace and such (since all men are sinful and will stumble without grace) we haven’t been “cut off from Christ.””

        David where in the Bible does it make your distinction between sins that have small practical effects versus sins that have greater practical effects?

        Where does the Bible talk this way?

        Seems this is your distinction but it is not a biblical distinction.

        It may be your pragmatic outlook on things, but it is not the Bible.

        “(Be real for a second, could we know if Abraham really ever even considered in detail omniscience the way we do today?).”

        I can’t speak for Abraham, but most people when they think of God, think of a being who knows everything including the future. This idea is held by virtually billions of Christians, certainly is held by Jews and Muslims as well, held by Calvinists and Arminians, just seems to be held by everyone except for open theists (which are very, very few in number). To my knowledge no Calvinist has ever been an open theist. That is significant because while I disagree with them on some things, on most things they are always orthodox. Speaking of “being real” why don’t you ask ordinary believers if they believe that God knows everything? Do your own little testing, your own sampling of the available evidence.

        “you say: Example if you look at all three major traditions”

        I am well aware of the differences in beliefs between the three traditions, my point remains when you consider that they do disagree on some things, it is very significant when they seem to all agree on something. The fact they all agree on that something suggests that something is something that all Christians ought to believe.

        To put it another way, can you think of something that all three agree with, that is not true?

        Can you think of something that all three agree with, and they are wrong about it?

        “I don’t entirely discount major traditions or church fathers, but for me if the Bible is clear on something it’s way, way above them.”

        And what you say here is the view of many believers. And they believe that the Bible is clear on the subject of God being omniscient. You know the verses that are the basis of their conclusion so I don’t have to go over them with you.

        Regarding the major traditions and church fathers, again my point is not just on anything they say or believe, but ***********on things they all seem to agree on***********. They all agree that Jesus was God in the flesh and all agree that this is what the Bible properly interpreted presents. Could they all be wrong on this?

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      7. Hi David – I think Jesus’ words “least commandments” and “greater sin” point to some kind of differentiation, though any sin without Christ’s redemptive forgiveness is damning!

        Also – all three major Christian traditions believe in the false doctrine of infant baptism which has corrupted their view of the gospel in many cases and has corrupted the doctrine of the church in all cases. Those corruptions are more harmful than my attempt to see God’s omniscience in a more logical way!

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      8. Are some sins worse than others? Sure, e.g. in the law there is the distinction between murder and manslaughter/intentional and unintentional killing of a human person.

        But degrees of sin is not what you were suggesting. You suggested that some forms of idolatry are not really that bad so they are OK (in your thinking open theism) because you imagine they don’t have bad “practical consequences”: while others (in your thinking the positive confession theology) are much worse and do have much worse “practical consequences.

        Your criteria is ***your own thinking*** and what YOU think are the “practical consequences”.

        But where in the Bible do we see this distinction between sins that are not really that bad and others that are really bad ACCORDING TO WHAT WE THINK THE PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES ARE?

        Fact is, as a limited and finite human person, you don’t know what the practical consequences are to various forms of idolatry, that is just speculation on your part.

        And the fact is the Bible makes no such distinction regarding idolatry with some forms being lesser idolatry with lesser practical consequences and others forms being greater idolatry with greater practical consequences: depending upon what WE think the practical consequences are. It is significant that this distinction comes down to what YOU think. I don’t see the Bible saying that it comes down to what we think of various forms of idolatry.

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      9. Well I think the Bible makes a distinction about some sins being worse. It talks for example about unintentional sins and things like that. I’m not just making it up. Also Scripture says to pursue the more important things and guard the issues of life. I think it’s pretty Biblical to prioritize your spiritual focus. I don’t know why you insist I’m making it up.

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      10. “Well I think the Bible makes a distinction about some sins being worse.”

        And I agree on this.

        ” It talks for example about unintentional sins and things like that.”

        True, but intentionally holding and promoting a form of idolatry is not an “unintentional sin”.

        ” I’m not just making it up.”

        And I agree that some sins are worse than others.

        “Also Scripture says to pursue the more important things and guard the issues of life.”

        True, and one of the ways you guard the issues of life is by eliminating idolatry from your thinking, not rationalizing it as a lesser sin in your opinion.

        ” I think it’s pretty Biblical to prioritize your spiritual focus.”

        Again, no problem with that.

        ” I don’t know why you insist I’m making it up.”

        What you are making up is your claim that ACCORDING TO YOU open theism does not have really bad practical consequences
        .
        How do you know this to be true?

        Because THAT is what YOU think about it.

        But where in the Bible does it present us as being the judges who sit in judgment over which forms of idolatry are less harmful and which are more harmful?

        In scripture all forms of idolatry are to be viewed as sin and avoided. We don’t sit in our theological rocking chairs deciding: “well open theism is really not that bad as a form of idolatry while X, is worse than open theism.” No, we root out and eliminate all forms of idolatry from our thinking. That is part of what it means to take every thought captive. That is what spiritual warfare is concerned about, combatting and eliminating the false ideas that come up against the truth of scripture.

        We don’t disagree on the fact that not all sins are the same.

        Is open theism a form of idolatry, is it a false conception of God? If it is not, then no reason to be concerned about it. But if it is false, if it is a false conception of God, then it must be rejected and opposed.

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      11. I don’t know. I’m still not convinced that pondering some abstract way God views the future as partially made up of contingencies is really what could be called idolatry. I’ve not completely made up my mind about it; it’s just really hard to see that. I mean, okay, technically we can argue that philosophically then God doesn’t really know all things, they can argue there’s nothing there to know yet, we can argue but that’s still a thing of some sort God doesn’t know, and I’m not at all convinced of openness. It just honestly seems so inconsequential because they don’t really deny omniscience they just kind of have a stunted view of it. They would say with a clear conscience “I don’t think there is anything God doesn’t know” since they see contingencies as inherently unsettled things. I mean they have decent arguments for the uncertainty of contingencies in Scripture, they don’t convince me, but I feel there is a enough of a hint of uncertainty about it that it falls into Romans 14 non-essentials things. So my argument is: 1. Scripture does seem to have some support 2. It doesn’t truly mar an essential attribute of God (just gimps one a little) and 3. it has no practical negative effect in believing it. I just can’t put that into the category of serious error personally, maybe I’m still not thinking straight about it though and that’s why I asked if someone could convince me. regards

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    2. Hi Robert, is baptismal regeneration a false Gospel, which was the position of all major Christian traditions before the reformation in your view?

      Is open theism a false Gospel? I only ask because you identifying me with cultish character, makes me think you believe I hold to a false Gospel. Will you ignore these questions?

      Like

    3. Robert writes, ‘… it should be noted that many Calvinists believe this as well, i.e. if God foreknows what a person chooses to do then that person cannot be acting with libertarian free will).”

      I disagree. Calvinists believe that the sinful nature precludes a person exercising LFW with regard to salvation. Thus, the need for grace. God’s knowledge has nothing to do with negating LFW – that was accomplished by Adam’s sin.

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  26. By the way, even rhutchin knows what the majority of Christians have believed regarding free will and omniscience as he writes:

    “My experience is that people believe that God is omniscient with a full knowledge of the future and that people still have free will understanding that prior knowledge of a future event is not the cause of the future event.”

    Exactly, God is omniscient and people still have free will, that is the majority view across all three major traditions. And rhutchin also correctly notes: “that prior knowledge of a future event is not the cause of the future event”

    Now rhutchin may disagree with this view, but at least he recognizes this is the view that billions of Christians have held throughout church history in all three major traditions.

    Like

    1. It’s absolutely the case that most Christians, now and throughout history, believe in libertarian free will. LFW is the default human feeling — a combination of our lack of a sensation of the emergence of our thoughts from our states of being, the fact that we surprise one another (and ourselves), and the fact that most of us use our vivid spatiotemporal faculties to project multiple “futures” to aid decisionmaking. Not only that, but it supplies an “ascription break” under folk responsibility; for subscribers to folk responsibility, this is necessary to “keep God’s hands clean.” Finally, a belief in endless hell requires folk responsibility (and thus LFW), unless one wishes to assert that God ultimately despises many, if not most, people (contra Elihu, speaking on God’s behalf, Job 36:5).

      Google “stanrock folk responsibility”

      Open Theists have the erroneous idea that limiting God’s “certain knowledge of a single, closed future” does anything “different” for the discussion of the theodicy of suffering, evil, and (especially) endless hell. It turns out that these same dilemmas emerge even if God only “exhaustively knows the present” but nonetheless has complete omnipotence and an occasional willingness to intervene.

      Google “challenge for open theism”

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      1. stanrock writes, “It’s absolutely the case that most Christians, now and throughout history, believe in libertarian free will.”

        If true, it is an erroneous belief. Paul describes the unsaved in various places.

        Romans 3:
        10 As it is written: “There is no-one righteous, not even one;
        11 there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God.
        12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one.”
        13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practise deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
        14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
        15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
        16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
        17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
        18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

        Ephesians 2
        1 …you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
        2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
        3 …gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

        Ephesians 4
        17 So I tell you this…that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
        18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
        19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

        1 Thessalonians 4
        4 …each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
        5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;

        Romans 8
        5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires…
        7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
        8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

        The unsaved exercise LFW only under very restricted conditions, if at all, being able to choose only between one evil and another.

        Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It is only the disciple of Christ who can come to know truth and thereby exercise LFW in any meaningful way.

        Like

      2. Hi Roger,
        I can’t find a way to reply to you above, so I’m here at the bottom of the comment line. I am not sure what I believe about omniscience. I believe in the God revealed in Scripture, that He can prophesy anything and make sure it will come to pass. I am really still just thinking about the idea of what omniscience involves by reading this comment line. I’m not much interested in a debate about the definitions of what omniscience involves. What I do NOT believe is that God predetermined every event, both good and evil, in the way that CALVIN wrote about it. I know you consider yourself a Calvinist, but I don’t find you to believe in the kind of Calvinism that I oppose. If you are asserting that God knew what was to happen and set it all into motion anyway, and thereby could be said to have “predetermined” every event in history, then I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but neither do I find you to be a strict follower of Calvin then. My purpose in quoting Calvin in the first place was to show people that he really did teach what has been called “hard determinism.” Calvin believed that God didn’t just foreknow all things were to take place, but that He has worked/still works all things out in such a way that His guiding hand makes sure they happen — whether good or EVIL. Leighton takes pains to illustrate this kind of thinking in his quotes above. It is no wonder that Piper and other Calvinists come to these conclusions. After call, they got their ideas from Calvin himself! So . . . to conclude, I’m not interested in continuing to debate the essence of omniscience. I am strongly opposed to the insinuation that God had ANYTHING to do with ANY SIN ever committed other than PERMITTING it. And sin can NEVER be linked to God’s pleasure, plan, or glory. YUCK. GOD HATES SIN. How can the Bible be any more clear? I am not going to go around in circles with you on this. I’ve stated my case, and I really don’t have anything more to say. I can read Calvin for myself, and the message comes across loud and clear, and it’s not the kind of reading I find edifying.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Deborah writes, ” If you are asserting that God knew what was to happen and set it all into motion anyway, and thereby could be said to have “predetermined” every event in history, then I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but neither do I find you to be a strict follower of Calvin then.”

        If you are OK with this, then you have achieved a milestone that others still grapple with. Calvinism asserts that God is omniscient and determines all things as you describe above. What the Calvinist then asks is, “To what extent is God involved in all that He has determined – or How hard is this determinism?” The primary verse that is cited – “…God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,…” Ephesians 1:11. The Calvinists conclude that “everything” includes both good and evil and you reject this position.

        Do you agree with Pastor Flowers on Ephesians 1:11?

        Like

  27. Roger, I am not about to continue arguing with you. And I certainly have not “achieved a milestone.” Who do you think you are? I have come away from Calvinism. I’m not going toward it. I am only conceding that if you want to believe in that kind of determinism, go ahead, because at least it doesn’t accuse God of working in people’s hearts to sin, as Calvin stated.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Deborah for the kind acknowledgement. If you ever think I am not responding in a Christ-like spirit, please feel free to point it out to me. I respect your honesty. And I was wondering… in your opinion, aren’t “rants” usually long-winded comments? Isn’t that how you would see that term? 🙂

        Like

    1. Who’s arguing? We are trying to figure out each other’s positions through back and forth interaction.

      You seem to have held on to some parts of Calvinism while rejecting others. That to me is a milestone compared to others who seek to reject everything Calvinism says while not being able to figure out how to do so. Whether you can really separate the basic view of determinism from from that which seeks to dig deeper remains to be seen – if you are able to explain how one can be accurate but not the other.

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      1. I don’t think Calvinism alone can claim omniscience, lol. I may as well say you’re one step closer to believing in Arminianism because you accept a form of omniscience.

        Like

      2. dizerner writes, “I may as well say you’re one step closer to believing in Arminianism because you accept a form of omniscience.”

        From what I have read, the Arminian claims to believe God is omniscient and then pretends that He is not. For example, if God is omniscient then we know that God will only save His elect (regardless how they come to be His elect). Thus, unless God saves all people, God knows that there will be some who will not be saved. Yet, the Arminian accords prevenient grace to the unelect as if it were possible that they could be saved. The Arminian accords free will to the unelect as if it were possible that they would choose Christ. Arminianism is a logical nightmare.

        What the Arminian is doing is the same thing that the Calvinist does. He agrees that God is omniscient but he, a mere man, is not. Thus, he preaches to all people knowing that God will draw His elect to him by that preaching. The Arminian pretends that the unelect might also respond to the preaching of the gospel and refuses to admit to the impossibility of that.

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      3. Well look here’s how I see the difference. OK, so in both sides alright God knows the elect exactly (people saved). However in one there is other creative sovereign wills actually effecting the outcome. God knows how they will effect it, but goes ahead with creation anyway. In the other side, everything is EXACTLY what God alone wants always. But under the Arminian side is also two camps: those who believe all receive a chance at efficacious grace, and those who believe in collateral damage, that sins of some forfeit the chance at efficacious grace for others. We see many examples of the latter in Scripture (Pharisees locking up the kingdom of heaven for others for example).

        Like

      4. dizerner writes, “…under the Arminian side is also two camps: those who believe all receive a chance at efficacious grace, and those who believe in collateral damage, that sins of some forfeit the chance at efficacious grace for others.”

        I believe the Arminian also stipulates that all receive an “equal” chance. Equal choice means that all are given sufficient faith to believe, are drawn by God, and are able to exercise LFW. Under those conditions, all would choose salvation. Incredibly, Arminians believe that some would reject salvation leading Calvinists to ask, How is that possible? Arminians have no real answer other than to say it was a free will decision when obviously, rejection of salvation would indicate that something is wrong with those who reject.

        I never heard of a collateral damage view held by Arminians.

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      5. Yes, many Arminians do hold that view and I am one. Basically the idea is this: if all humans had been obedient to grace, than all would receive an efficacious chance at grace. But Paul clearly says “How can they hear without a preacher, how can they call on him whom they have not heard?” For those of us Arminians who reject what I call Universal Opportunity we understand Paul to be saying that human interaction plays a vital role in bringing the grace and truth of the Gospel to the world. Otherwise missionaries are just bringing a redundant choice to people since they all somehow could be saved anyway. regards

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      6. dizerner writes, “For those of us Arminians who reject what I call Universal Opportunity we understand Paul to be saying that human interaction plays a vital role in bringing the grace and truth of the Gospel to the world.”

        At least the Armininas did not reject all their Calvinist training.

        Like

      7. No, because there were some things the Calvinists teach that even the Arminians have not been able to devise a way to object.

        Like

  28. In a current exchange between rhutchin and dizerner, a point comes up that is very important in seeing where much of the error and confusion arises on the issue of omniscience. Rhutchin writes:

    “From what I have read, the Arminian claims to believe God is omniscient and then pretends that He is not”

    This is not true, the Arminian (and other non-Calvinists as well) not only claims God is omniscient, but believes it to be true. Arminians (and other non-Calvinists as well) do NOT “pretend that He is not.”

    After making this false claim about Arminians, rhutchin then gives his explanation as to why he believes they are merely “pretending” to believe in God’s omniscience:

    “For example, if God is omniscient then we know that God will only save His elect (regardless how they come to be His elect). Thus, unless God saves all people, God knows that there will be some who will not be saved. Yet, the Arminian accords prevenient grace to the unelect as if it were possible that they could be saved. The Arminian accords free will to the unelect as if it were possible that they would choose Christ. Arminianism is a logical nightmare.”

    Now if we analyze these statements we see where much of the confusion arises.

    Consider the first line, if God is omniscient then he knows beforehand who will be saved (and who will not be saved). Let’s designate the eventually saved as A and the eventually not saved as B (note I use the word “eventually”, because people are not saved or damned from birth according to Arminians, they are saved or damned depending upon what they do with the grace of God that they receive, those who accept it and believe will be saved those who keep rejecting it for their entire lives will be lost). Now it is absolutely true that if God is omniscient and knows all things, all possibilities and all actualities, before they occur, before they take place in time, then He knows who the A’s and B’s will be before they even exist. Look at rhutchin’s second line, he says that if God is omniscient then he knows “there will be some who will not be saved” (the B’s). So far so good, rhutchin has not made any mistakes yet. The mistakes come in his next comments.

    Consider the third line: rhutchin says that the Arminian accords prevenient grace to the unelect AS IF IT WERE POSSIBLE THAT THEY COULD BE SAVED. If we understand the errors that rhutchin is making here, then we can understand why he is so mistaken about the non-Calvinist view of omniscience. Non-Calvinists including Arminians believe in libertarian free will (which means that when it comes to a possible choice that a person has that they could choose to actualize that choice or choose not to actualize that choice, this means that EITHER CHOICE IS POSSIBLE for the person making the choice. When I speak of a person having such a genuine and real choice I speak of how they COULD choose either option (they could choose X or they could choose Y). What they in fact end up choosing is what they actually chose (note possibilities precede actualities when making choices, if you end up choosing Y, if you chose freely then just prior to choosing Y you also could have chosen X, both were possible for you if you had a genuine choice). What rhutchin refuses to do, and I have seen him post at multiple sites, is to think things through from a non-Calvinist perspective. So he will speak of how God knows the A’s and B’s of God is omniscient, but then at the same time speak of how it is impossible for a B to choose to be an A! But this is only impossible if all things occur by necessity, if free will does not exist (which is true with many calvinists who deny the reality of libertarian free will, so whatever happens must happen and must happen exactly as it does happen because everything happens by necessity). But non-Calvinists do not believe that everything happens by necessity, non-Calvinists as they believe in libertarian free will believe that while a person may end up choosing Y, if they acted freely they could have chosen X.

    If non-Calvinists are correct that everything does not happen by necessity, then people sometimes experience libertarian free will when choosing: then (and this is what rhutchin finds impossible and just refuses to grasp) if a person ends up being a B, while it is a fact that they do in fact end up as a B, IT WAS POSSIBLE for them to have been an A.

    Again see what rhutchin says in his third line: “Yet, the Arminian accords prevenient grace to the unelect as if it were possible that they could be saved.” Right because the Arminian (like many other non-Calvinists who believe in libertarian free will) believes that since LFW involves genuine possibilities where the person could choose either way, a person who ends up a B was given prevenient grace, and they COULD HAVE chosen to believe and be saved, but instead they kept saying No to the grace of God for their entire lifetimes. So it was POSSIBLE for them to be saved, but what actually ended up happening is that they ended up being unsaved/B. A major confusion on the part of rhutchin is that he just refuses to accept what non-Calvinists believe about possibilities and actualities when it comes to salvation and how this relates to LFW. If a person has LFW then they can choose to believe and they can also choose not to believe, and the choice is up to them. Or put in the language of possibility and actuality, it is possible for them to be an A or be a B, what they actually choose to do results in them being an A or a B. If this is true, then someone who ends up as a B could have been an A if they had chosen differently. Now rhutchin can mock this, twist this (as he often does) but this is what the non-Calvinist believes. And it is not illogical at all, it is perfectly logical (which is why most believers have thought this way about salvation and damnation).

    Now what rhutchin likes to do (and open theists do the same thing) is to try to attack this view by bringing in God’s omniscience (as if that makes this way of thinking illogical or false). They try to argue that God truly being omniscient eliminates possibilities/actualities and replaces it with necessity. So if God foreknows that you will choose to do X, then you have to choose to do X (and LFW is not present with regard to that choice). So rhutchin believes that if God foreknows who the A’s and B’s will be before they exist, then they HAVE TO BE A’s or B’s and it is impossible for them to have been otherwise. But this “reasoning” is simply eliminating LFW from the way things work out. The non-Calvinist does not jettison LFW from the way things work out, the non-Calvinist believes that LFW is part of the way things work out. And if LFW **is** part of the process then there are both possibilities and actualities (possibilities of choices you could or could not choose and actualities being the choices you do in fact end up making).

    What some have pointed out is that a common mistake made by some is to confuse CERTAINTY with NECESSITY.

    Certainty means it will in fact happen that way (but it does not have to happen that way). Necessity means it MUST HAPPEN THAT WAY.

    If an LFW choice is involved, the outcome, the actuality, the choice the person does in fact make is certain to happen (but it was not necessary has it did not have to happen, the person could have chosen differently). This distinction is important when talking about how LFW relates to omniscience.
    Take the example of a believer choosing to give in to a certain temptation. If they did so with LFW, then while they ended up giving in to the temptation, they could have (and should have) done otherwise and resisted the temptation. Before they chose to give into temptation there were two genuine possibilities (if they acted with LFW), they could choose to give into the temptation or they could choose to resist the temptation. What choice they do in fact make is the actuality, the actual outcome. God is omniscient meaning that he knows what the actual outcome will be before the choice is made. If God foreknows that you will choose to give into the temptation, then that will occur with certainty (when that time comes in you will in fact choose to give in to the temptation). It will occur with certainty because God knows what choice you will in fact make. But did you have to give into that temptation? No. Was it possible for you to have chosen otherwise and resisted the temptation? Yes, if you acted with LFW. Now say that in fact your actual choice is to resist the temptation. If that is the actual outcome then God foreknows that that is what you will in fact choose to do. And if that is your actual choice then that will happen with certainty. But note either way, though it is certain to occur (you will in fact either give in or resist the temptation, you will not choose to do both, only one choice will be the actual outcome, and that actual outcome is what God foreknows. So God’s foreknowledge according to the Arminian (and other non-Calvinists excepting open theists who reject omniscience) means that events occur with certainty but not necessity. So God foreknows all actual outcomes, he foreknows people’s entire lives, so he knows who will be A and who will be B, and this will all occur with certainty, but not necessity. People who by their choices end up as B’s could have chosen to be A’s, they really did have the opportunity to be saved as they were given grace but they chose to reject it and keep rejecting it for their entire lifetimes.

    Consider rhutchin’s fourth and fifth lines: “The Arminian accords free will to the unelect as if it were possible that they would choose Christ. Arminianism is a logical nightmare.”

    Arminians do accord LFW to the unelect, the B’s, and while they end up choosing to reject, it was possible for them to choose Christ. This is all quite logical and makes perfect sense. It is only a “logical nightmare” to those who refuse to think through these things with non-Calvinist presuppositions including the presupposition that when it comes to salvation LFW is involves (people can choose to accept and reject Christ, they do so freely either way, and they are responsible for their choices, and these choices are up to them and not determined by God or necessitated by some necessitating factor).

    Now with all of this in mind look at dizerner’s response to rhutchin:

    “Well look here’s how I see the difference. OK, so in both sides alright God knows the elect exactly (people saved).”

    So dizerner acknowledges that as God is omniscient he knows both A’s and B’s before they exist in time.

    Dizerner continues:

    “However in one there is other creative sovereign wills actually effecting the outcome. God knows how they will effect it, but goes ahead with creation anyway.”

    Note that dizerner recognizes that reality is not just God’s will, but other wills are involves and these other wills act with libertarian free will. So God knows what choices they will have and what choices they will end up making (so he knows both possibilities and actualities). In such a world genuine free will, genuine contingency exists.

    Dizerner then contrasts this with the world of Calvinism where everything happens with necessity since LFW is not present and all things happen by necessity:

    “In the other side, everything is EXACTLY what God alone wants always.”

    It helps to think of it this way: in the Calvinist world where everything is predetermined by God, everything happens with necessity and there is no contingency, no situations where things could have gone another way.

    In the non-Calvinist world where LFW is present, some things are predetermined by God but not everything, as LFW is present there is genuine contingency, situations where people chose one way but they could have chosen the other ways as well (which means that while eventually all people will be either A’s or B’s, those who end up as B’s could have chosen differently, could have chosen differently and been A’s, but they will in fact end up as B’s due to the choices they will in fact make with certainty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert writes, “this means that EITHER CHOICE IS POSSIBLE for the person making the choice. When I speak of a person having such a genuine and real choice I speak of how they COULD choose either option (they could choose X or they could choose Y)….What rhutchin refuses to do, and I have seen him post at multiple sites, is to think things through from a non-Calvinist perspective. So he will speak of how God knows the A’s and B’s of God is omniscient, but then at the same time speak of how it is impossible for a B to choose to be an A!”

      This is not correct. The Calvinist says that God conveys LFW to His elect in regeneration. LFW is a “genuine and real choice” and the choices are not, and do not need to be, equally preferred; the person with LFW is able to distinguish accurately among options available. The Calvinist conclusion – it is impossible for a A to choose to be an B. In other words, the choice is a no-brainer – not necessary but consistent with “genuine and real choice.”

      Thus, Robert’s confusion when he writes, “If non-Calvinists are correct that everything does not happen by necessity, then people sometimes experience libertarian free will when choosing: then (and this is what rhutchin finds impossible and just refuses to grasp) if a person ends up being a B, while it is a fact that they do in fact end up as a B, IT WAS POSSIBLE for them to have been an A.”

      The B person has no possibility of choosing to be an A unless he exercises LFW. The B person who has LFW will always choose to become an A. If not, then the person never had LFW, i.e., never had “genuine and real choice.”

      There is a lot of confusion with Arminians on the implications of LFW and “genuine and real choice.”

      More of Robert’s confusion – “They try to argue that God truly being omniscient eliminates possibilities/actualities and replaces it with necessity. ”

      Omniscience makes future events certain but not necessary. Does Robert understand the concept of necessity?? Apparently not when he writes, “Certainty means it will in fact happen that way (but it does not have to happen that way). Necessity means it MUST HAPPEN THAT WAY.”

      Certainty means that an event will and must happen. Necessity deals with the causes that bring about that certainty. An omniscient weatherman can foretell with certainty that it will, and must, snow. However, the weatherman does not cause it to snow so he can not say that the coming snow is necessary but he can say that atmospheric conditions make it necessary.

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  29. I just had lunch, and now I have indigestion! 🙂

    Will happen does not mean must happen! God knows with certainty what everyone will do (including Himself) but pushes the start button for what will never be different for Himself or mankind and yet there is freewill! Determines before creation everything to be just as it now is, but is not responsible for the sin parts!

    I’m sorry, but none of those options satisfy me as being logical or Scriptural.

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