Compatibilism’s Quandary

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hands of the Lord; he turns it wherever he wishes.” In reference to this passage, Dr. John Piper, a notable Calvinistic pastor and author writes,

“What is apparent here is that God has the right and the power to restrain the sins of secular rulers. When he does, it is his will to do it. And when he does not, it is his will not to. Which is to say that sometimes God wills that their sins be restrained and sometimes he wills that they increase more than if he restrained them.” – John Piper

This is a common teaching among Calvinistic pastors and apologists. But, if God has indeed “brought all things to pass by His unchangeable decree,” as Calvinists often teach, then what is it in the heart of this ruler that God is restraining if not His own “unchangeable decree?”  In other words, hasn’t God merely restrained the very intention He unchangeably decreed?

Suppose the ruler, referenced in Proverbs 21, wanted to rape his servant and God restrained him from this heinously evil intention. From where did this evil intention originate? Didn’t God “sovereignly bring about” the evil desire of this ruler to rape his servant by the same “sovereign control” that He restrained the ruler from acting upon that desire?  How is God not merely restraining His own determinations in a world where there is no autonomously free creatures? 

Affirming God’s power and ability to overrule the will of morally accountable creatures does not prove that God sovereignly brings to pass every intention and desire of their will. Just because I have the physical ability to force my child to eat her lunch or restrain her from eating her lunch does not prove that I use that ability every time my child eats or refrains from eating. And choosing not to use my physical ability to force or restrain my child does not prove I am weak and incapable of doing so. It only proves that I can do as I please with regard to my child. It does not prove that I am pleased to physically control my child’s every move. 

Moreover, if my daughter doesn’t have a will distinctly separate from my own, then what am I restraining when I physically keep her from eating?  There is nothing to restrain or compel if there is not an autonomous will with which to contend. 

So too, affirming God’s ability to restrain or permit man’s will to do what God pleases does not negate the concept of man’s contra-causal free will, but in fact confirms it. For what is there for God to restrain or permit outside His own will if man’s will is not autonomously free from His own? It is non-sensical to suggest God is restraining a will that He has already been meticulously controlling.

Sovereignty must be understood as God’s ability to do whatsoever He is pleased to do (Ps. 115:3), even if He is pleased to give the world over to man’s dominion (Ps. 115:16). 

Psalms 115

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” (vs. 3)

“The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man.” (vs. 16)

Scripture never conveys the concept of “Divine Sovereignty” as God’s meticulous deterministic control over how His creatures choose to rule the world. In fact, Paul indicates quite the opposite when he instructs the church in Ephesus saying, 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)

OTHER PASSAGES TO CONSIDER

In reference in Isaiah 10, Calvinistic apologist, Dr. James White argues:

“In one passage we have God’s holy intention of judging His people through the means of Assyria—yet God holds Assyria accountable for her sinful attitudes in being so used! God judges them on the basis of their intentions, and since they come against Israel with a haughty attitude that does not recognize God’s power and authority, they too are judged. This is compatibilism with clarity: God uses the sinful actions of the Assyrians for the good purpose of judging His people, and yet He judges the Assyrians for their sinful intentions. God’s action in His sovereignty is perfectly compatible with the responsible, and culpable, actions of sinful men.” -James White

Traditionalists, like myself, would agree that God used the evil intentions of the Assyrians to bring judgement on Israel. However, we do not believe that God “sovereignly brought about” those evil intentions. Thus, our view does not bring God’s Holiness into question or create issues with the concept of Divine culpability. 

God’s wrath is often depicted in scripture as God’s permitting the natural consequences of moral evil, which is not a problem in a worldview where the moral evil is brought to pass by someone other than God. God’s wrath can literally be described as God separating Himself from us so that we experience the natural consequences of our free moral actions.

That is what we see happening in Isaiah 10. Instead of protecting Israel from Assyria (which He promised to do if they remained obedient), God removes His hand of protection and PERMITS the Assyrians to follow their own free and autonomous wills. God does not cause or bring about the evil intentions of the Assyrians, so He is perfectly just to judge them for their rebellious action despite the fact that God USED their rebellion to accomplish divine judgement on Israel for their disobedience.  

Would Calvinists have us believe God “sovereignly brought about” the disobedience of the Israelites and the Assyrians so as to use the Assyrian’s disobedient actions to judge the Israelite’s disobedient actions? What would be the point in that? 

Traditionalists do affirm that God may use the free rebellious actions of some to bring about the discipline or judgement of others. But we vehemently reject the notion that our thrice Holy God “brings about” the rebellion of morally free creatures. This is not true of most Calvinistic scholars, as evidenced on John Piper’s web site:

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 while the Traditionalist affirm’s God’s ability to merely permit or restrain moral evil, the consistent Calvinist cannot. This is why John Calvin argued,

…how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be, not by His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them…”  (John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11) –also see quote at the bottom of this page

Yet, in his pastoral ministry, John Calvin did speak of divine permission when providing comfort to a grieving parishioner (as discussed in detail HERE). Other more “moderate” (some may prefer “inconsistent”) Calvinists also speak of divine permission as a way to lesson the blow of their system’s claims. But, one must wonder, what exactly is God permitting if not His own determinations?  

How does one speak rationally of God’s permission and restraint of moral evil if there is nothing to permit or restrain but His own sovereign determinations?

Piper references some New Testament examples in support of his belief that “God brings about all things in accordance with his will,”

“The New Testament saints seemed to live in the calm light of an overarching sovereignty of God concerning all the details of their lives and ministry. Paul expressed himself like this with regard to his travel plans. On taking leave of the saints in Ephesus he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” (Acts 18:21). To the Corinthians he wrote, “I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills” (1 Corinthians 4:19). And again, “I do not want to see you now just in passing; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits” (1 Corinthians 16:7).” -John Piper

Is Paul’s admission that God might overrule his plans proof that Paul doesn’t believe he has an autonomous will of his own?  If a child says to his neighborhood friend, “I will come over to your house later today, if my parents will let me,” does that in anyway suggest that his desire to come over is caused or controlled by the parents?  Of course not.  If anything, the statement establishes the clear distinction between the child’s will and the parent’s will.

Would Piper have us believe that God sovereignly decreed Paul’s desire to return to Ephesus only to sovereignly step in and thwart His own decree?  These passages do not disprove that Paul has an autonomous free will, quite the opposite. Paul is contrasting his free will with God’s free will by showing that God’s will can always overrule his own. He is not suggesting his own will is somehow determined by Gods.  If that were the case it would make no sense for God to intervene to thwart Paul’s will, for He would just be thwarting Himself.

 Within the compatibilist’s framework there is no such thing as what the human really wants to do in a given situation, considered somehow apart from God’s desire in the matter (i.e., God’s desire as to what the human agent will desire). In the compatibilist scheme, human desire is wholly derived from and wholly bound to the divine desire. God’s decree encompasses everything, even the desires that underlie human choices.

This is a critical point, because it undercuts the plausibility of the compatibilist’s argument that desire can be considered the basis for human culpability. Ascribing culpability to humanity simply because they are ‘doing what they want to do,’ appears plausible only because it subtly evokes a sense of independence or ownership on the part of the human agent for his or her choices.

But once we recognize (as we must within the larger deterministic framework encompassing compatibilism) that those very desires of the agent are equally part of the environment that God causally determines, then the line between environment and agent becomes blurred if not completely lost. The human agent no longer can be seen as owning his own choices, for the desires determining those choices are in no significant sense independent of God’s decree.

For this reason, I feel human desire within the compatibilist framework forms an insufficient basis on which to establish the autonomy of human freedom and from this the legitimacy of human culpability for sin. Even John Calvin recognized this problem within the claims of his systematic:

“How it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what man’s future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance…. I daily so meditate on these mysteries of his judgments that curiosity to know anything more does not attract me.” – John Calvin

The story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers is often referenced by Calvinists as a proof text for God’s determination of evil choices (which we discuss more fully HERE).

Calvinistic apologist, Dr. James White, expounds:

“One sinful action (the betrayal and sale of Joseph into slavery) is in view: Joseph’s brothers meant their actions for evil. But in direct parallel, God meant the same action for good. Due to the intention of the hearts of Joseph’s brothers, the action in the human realm was evil. The very same action as part of God’s eternal decree was meant for good, for by it God brought about His purpose and plan. One action, two intentions, compatible in all things. Joseph’s brothers were accountable for their intentions; God is to be glorified for His.” -James White

White also argues in another work:

“…since God judges on the basis of the intentions of the heart, there is in fact a ground for morality and justice.” (Debating Calvinism, p.320)
 
Dave Hunt rebutted this comment by writing, 
“…but Calvinism falsely says that He causes the intentions He judges.”  (Debating Calvinism, p.327)
 
We must remember that Calvinists believe it would be impossible for God to infinitely know men’s intentions unless He determined those intentions, as White illustrated when he wrote, “How God can know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point…” (Debating Calvinism, p.163). 
 
Do Calvinists believe that God determined the intentions of the brother’s hearts to kill Joseph and then restrained them from killing?  Is God merely restraining that which He Himself determined? That is pure non-sense by any standard. We must acknowledge the autonomous freedom of creatures in the origination of their own intentions and choices in order for the Biblical narrative to make any common sense.


Does this remove all mystery with regard to how our infinite God works within our temporal world? Of course not. More HERE on embracing the mystery that is afforded by the scriptures. 

HERE  and HERE we learned that many Calvinists believe “God brings about all things, even the sexual abuse of a child, for His own glory.”

HERE we learned that many Calvinists do not believe things come to pass by bare permission. (God passively allowing for an autonomous creature to act freely)

Below is a quote from John Calvin discussing the “distinction has been invented between doing and permitting.”

“FROM other passages, in which God is said to draw or bend Satan himself, and all the reprobate, to his will, a more difficult question arises. For the carnal mind can scarcely comprehend how, when acting by their means, he contracts no taint from their impurity, nay, how, in a common operation, he is exempt from all guilt, and can justly condemn his own ministers. Hence a distinction has been invented between doing and permitting, because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases, and employs their iniquities to execute his judgments. The modesty of those who are thus alarmed at the appearance of absurdity might perhaps be excused, did they not endeavour to vindicate the justice of God from every semblance of stigma by defending an untruth. It seems absurd that man should be blinded by the will and command of God, and yet be forthwith punished for his blindness. Hence, recourse is had to the evasion that this is done only by the permission, and not also by the will of God. He himself, however, openly declaring that he does this, repudiates the evasion. That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture. What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men. If God is the arbiter of peace and war, as is there said, and that without any exception, who will venture to say that men are borne along at random with a blind impulse, while He is unconscious or quiescent? But the matter will be made clearer by special examples. From the first chapter of Job we learn that Satan appears in the presence of God to receive his orders, just as do the angels who obey spontaneously. The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. But though afterwards his power to afflict the saint seems to be only a bare permission, yet as the sentiment is true, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it hath been done,” we infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments. Satan’s aim is to drive the saint to madness by despair. The Sabeans cruelly and wickedly make a sudden incursion to rob another of his goods. Job acknowledges that he was deprived of all his property, and brought to poverty, because such was the pleasure of God. Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself devise, God holds the helm, and makes all their efforts contribute to the execution of his judgments. God wills that the perfidious Ahab should be deceived; the devil offers his agency for that purpose, and is sent with a definite command to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, (2 Kings 22:20) If the blinding and infatuation of Ahab is a judgment from God, the fiction of bare permission is at an end; for it would be ridiculous for a judge only to permit, and not also to decree, what he wishes to be done at the very time that he commits the execution of it to his ministers. The Jews purposed to destroy Christ. Pilate and the soldiers indulged them in their fury; yet the disciples confess in solemn prayer that all the wicked did nothing but what the hand and counsel of God had decreed, (Acts 4:28) just as Peter had previously said in his discourse, that Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, (Acts 2:23) in other words, that God, to whom all things are known from the beginning, had determined what the Jews had executed. He repeats the same thing elsewhere, “Those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled,” (Acts 3:18.) Absalom incestuously defiling his father’s bed, perpetrates a detestable crime. God, however, declares that it was his work; for the words are, “Thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”1  The cruelties of the Chaldeans in Judea are declared by Jeremiah to be the work of God. For which reason, Nebuchadnezzar is called the servant of God. God frequently exclaims, that by his hiss, by the clang of his trumpet, by his authority and command, the wicked are excited to war. He calls the Assyrian the rod of his anger, and the axe which he wields in his hand. The overthrow of the city, and downfall of the temple, he calls his own work. David, not murmuring against God, but acknowledging him to be a just judge, confesses that the curses of Shimei are uttered by his orders. “The Lord,” says he, “has bidden him curse.” Often in sacred history whatever happens is said to proceed from the Lord, as the revolt of the ten tribes, the death of Eli’s sons, and very many others of a similar description. Those who have a tolerable acquaintance with the Scriptures see that, with a view to brevity, I am only producing a few out of many passages, from which it is perfectly clear that it is the merest trifling to substitute a bare permission for the providence of God, as if he sat in a watch-tower waiting for fortuitous events, his judgments meanwhile depending on the will of man.”

135 thoughts on “Compatibilism’s Quandary

  1. first. just kidding.

    ➡ Is God merely restraining that which He Himself determined? That is pure non-sense by any standard.

    It is by most senses we use the word. I could train my dogs to kill a certain person for years and years, and when that person comes, I could restrain the dogs. In that sense I’d be restraining my own will, but then… why did I train the dogs to begin with? This is just “looking the hero” like the villain in The Incredibles, creating “bad guys” just to step in and be the hero. I don’t think it’s the way the Bible pictures the devil or God.

    ➡ The human agent no longer can be seen as owning his own choices

    God could act in some ways we feel are evilly. In fact I believe he does, just not in this particular way because of Scripture. But Job does say this interesting statement:

    19 If a trial of strength — He is the strong one; If a trial in court — who will summon Him for me?
    20 Though I were innocent, My mouth would condemn me; Though I were blameless, He would prove me crooked. (Job 9:19-20 TNK)

    This is a really deep and metaphysical comment. Job acknowledges that God is so supreme and incomprehensible, God could by sheer fiat, make him guilty of something without his actual autonomous involvement. In fact I think this is a prophetic metaphor for original sin, as is all throughout Job.

    We do have a quote strong statement for a traditional justice, where all pay only for their own sin:

    19 and now you ask, “Why has not the son shared the burden of his father’s guilt?” But the son has done what is right and just, and has carefully kept all My laws: he shall live!
    20 The person who sins, he alone shall die. A child shall not share the burden of a parent’s guilt, nor shall a parent share the burden of a child’s guilt; the righteousness of the righteous shall be accounted to him alone, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be accounted to him alone.
    (Eze 18:19-20 TNK)

    But we must pause—very, very hesitantly here—to prove the point that some want to make with this passage, for we must admit—if we use it one way—we’ve got to use it the equal and opposite way. If we want to say “the righteousness of the righteous shall be accounted to him alone” we’re going to have to go all the way down the line with that. We can’t just use it to make the *points we want* about unfair imputed sin.

    If we want to say the Bible sets up *only* a system where *only* people suffer or are rewarded for *only* their own choices, we are going to have tremendous trouble in the end. And the Calvinist/determinist can take advantage of that *if we play our hand too strongly* to make that point our “big attack” against determinism. For here, we have a serious problem. Far more serious than the people using this verse imagine. For we have actually set up a system of works righteousness.

    *If* we say “the soul that sins shall die” and *if* we say “the righteousness of the righteous shall be accounted to him alone” we’ve completely lost imputed righteousness, and we have literally consigned the entire world to hell when we admit that “all have sinned.”

    Also we’ve done something even more than that. If “the wickedness of the wicked shall be accounted to him alone” we’ve denied sin could be ever imputed to Christ. His death becomes merely a martyrdom in the service of God, and not a propitiatory sacrifice and a life given in life’s stead.

    25 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” (Eze 18:25 TNK)

    Yet the entire passage ends with some very remarkable solution:

    31 Cast away all the transgressions by which you have offended, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, that you may not die, O House of Israel. (Eze 18:31 TNK)

    Get yourselves a new heart—that’s quite a task to do! It may be a figure of speech, but in reality, considering the depth of the change, even a figure of speech will be more than seems possible for a man to “get himself a new heart.” Rather to get a new heart you need a heart transplant—which requires a doctor and a surgery and an emergency room. It requires outside help.

    In the light of this, I don’t think we can say it’s our “human choice” to be born a sinner in a sinful world, and were we to reject that, the Cross then becomes an optional thing for really bad people only. Now this—this original sin—it can’t be a human agent “owning his own choices.”

    There is room still, however, for “owning our own choices,” when we are armed and equipped with truth, when we are presented the Gospel invitation of God who has reconciled all things to himself if we will but give the RSVP. That’s a choice every man can truly say is his and only his own, and that is the choice that must leap the hurdle of all Gospel offense at those who may not have had a chance to find the Christ, but rather leave those things under the throne and hand of God where they belong, and die to self daily living only for Christ alone. I used to think that was a tremendously heavy weight—to sell all and follow Christ. Now I see it as giving up a leprous and diseased body for the vitality and strength of youth. Trading the vain and fruitless grasping to find life in the perverted twisting into the self satiation of irrational desires, and instead find the freedom, joy, peace and strength of knowing everything you are is a free gift of actual inward life, and is for another—completely for another one above you.

    Thanks for your work and your article, the thought it brings to both sides and hopefully the truth it brings to those struggling with the error of determinism.

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    1. I didn’t read all just yet but in your first analogy, it wouldn’t be that you merely restrained the dogs desire to kill a certain man generally… it would be that you gave that dog the desire to kill that man at that moment and then restrained him from doing so. Why give him the desire to kill at that moment only to restrain him from killing at that moment?

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  2. Great discussion, Leighton, as a followup to your last post on fatalism! You nailed the “non sense” behind trying to hold that God has already determined everything, and yet has “not” determined those events, like evil, that He is only now permitting.

    It is obvious again, that like the Calvinist, the Compatibilist misuses the present tense in their argumentation (“God determines” should always be “God determined”) or their lack of appreciation of the present tense in Scripture (“If the Lord wills” not “As the Lord has willed”). The Compatibilist has not grasped the true free-will that exists in God, and in man.

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  3. From the Calvinist perspective men are tin soldiers waging God’s war in mock battle with each skirmish directed by Him. He wills one side to attack and then counters the attack by a plan already determined by Him. It is child’s play, and yet the death, pain and suffering are real. We are asked to believe that God is glorified by this. One wonders why God could not sit down at some cosmic chess board and play Himself and be just as glorified.

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    1. If you want to argue that God is not sovereign, have at it. Harping about it, as you do above, accomplishes nothing. Spend some time trying to devise a way for God not to be sovereign. I’m betting you cannot do it.

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  4. Pastor Flowers writes, “Just because I have the physical ability to force my child to eat her lunch or restrain her from eating her lunch does not prove that I use that ability every time my child eats or refrains from eating.”

    Let’s envision you with God’s powers. As God, you exercise control over your child – in this case whether she eats her lunch (in the same way, God controls whether people sin). The presumption is that your child desires to eat lunch (you do not have to force her) and absent any obstacles, will do so (just as sinful man desires to sin). The point made by Calvinists is that God always decides – determines – the final outcome. So, you either choose to restrain your child so that she cannot eat her lunch or you choose not to interfere whereby your child does as she wills and eats her lunch. Either way, it is your decision that determines effectively the outcome (recognizing that you need not cause your child to desire to eat lunch as such desires are natural to her).

    So, the question is then whether you had a role in making your child hungry given your control over her. Ultimately yes, because you fathered her. However, your child was born with certain natural desires – hunger being one of them. In the same way, natural man is born with the natural desire to sin – given his wicked heart, he is ever devising all manner of sin.

    So, you don’t have to use your ability to restrain your child from eating, but you do have to make a decision on whether to use your ability to do so. Because God is sovereign, He must make similar decisions on everything that happens – thus, God must exert meticulous control over His creation else He is not God. There is nothing that can happen in this universe without God having to decide whether to intervene to obstruct natural processes or to allow natural processes to play out without interference from Him. God is the final determiner of all that happens.

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    1. Just to respond to Brian W’s concerns about verb tense, the Calvinist says that God is omniscient and all His decisions were made before He created the universe. For ease of communication, a Calvinist will use the present tense suggesting that God only just decided when the import is that God decided long age and manifests those decisions in present time.

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    2. // Because God is sovereign, He must make similar decisions on everything that happens – thus, God must exert meticulous control over His creation else He is not God. // No! That is limiting God’s sovereignty. Because God is sovereign He does not have to make any decisions. He can allow men to make decisions both good and evil and all men have the ability to make both.

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      1. erneststrauss writes, “Because God is sovereign He does not have to make any decisions. He can allow men to make decisions both good and evil and all men have the ability to make both.”

        When you say, “He can allow men..,” you are referring to a decision God makes – to allow men to make decisions free of interference from Him. Do you have an example of an event where God is not involved in any manner?

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    3. This doesn’t explain the choice of the sinner of one evil act over the other. If an individual has 17 possible evil paths to choose, does God restrain the person from going down 16 to ensure that he goes down the one determined? So when Dahmer was deciding to commit his crimes God restrained him from merely killing his victims but allowed him to torture, molest, kill and then eat them. Are you saying God selected that path from among the other sinful options? Yes, that’s emotional and heinous but that’s practical theology. Are you willing to live within that system and defend it?

      Your explanation also doesn’t address the origin of that criminals intention. Did Dahmer originate those intentions or did God? In other words, who originated the 17 paths discussed above? And if only one path is determined why even come up with the other possibilities for which to restrain?

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “So when Dahmer was deciding to commit his crimes God restrained him from merely killing his victims but allowed him to torture, molest, kill and then eat them. Are you saying God selected that path from among the other sinful options? Yes, that’s emotional and heinous but that’s practical theology. Are you willing to live within that system and defend it?”

        We know that God was present as Dahmer did all his evil acts. We know that God had the power to stop Dahmer at any time – God made a decision not to do so. We know that God’s decisions regarding Dahmer were made with perfect knowledge and understanding. You and I both agree to this. Beyond this, the Scriptures do not give much insight into God’s thinking – Romans 1 applies, “…since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil;…” We might conclude that God restrained Dahmer from doing even greater evil. Should we second-guess God and say that He should not have stopped Dahmer at the beginning?

        Then, “Your explanation also doesn’t address the origin of that criminals intention. Did Dahmer originate those intentions or did God?”

        When Adam sinned, the heart of man became corrupt – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. – and this, consistent with Romans 1, explains the origin of criminal intention (i.e. evil). Are you saying that we don’t really know the source of the evil acts that people like Dahmer and others think up?

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  5. Dave Hunt rebutted this comment by writing,
    “…but Calvinism falsely says that He causes the intentions He judges.” (Debating Calvinism, p.327)

    Hunt made a false claim. Calvinism does not say that God causes the intentions He judges.

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    1. It’s not a false claim if he interprets it that way. You interpret LFW as glorifying man, to us that’s a “false claim” as well. But you as a compatibilist see God as indirectly (somehow) giving us our desires, and we act according to our primary desire, right? Does that mean a person could never do what they hate to do? If a person did what they hated, wouldn’t that ruin the entire compatibilist’s schematic of how the actions of men and the decree of God worked? Wouldn’t it also ruin your own theory that people can’t act irrationally, since there is no reason in our nature to do something we hate? How then do you interpret this verse:

      For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Rom 7:15 NKJ)

      Paul must not be a compatibilist here, for he is not acting on his primary desire. He is not even acting on his secondary desire… he is acting on his *least* desire, the thing he hates most.

      Now what would Satan love more, than if evil actions could be attributed to God himself instead of Satan?

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      1. dizerner writes, “It’s not a false claim if he interprets it that way. ”

        It does not read like his interpretation but a statement of fact. Pastor Flowers takes it as statement of fact when he says, “Dave Hunt rebutted this comment by writing,”

        Otherwise, he should have said, “Dave Hunt’s personal opinion is that…” but then, a personal opinion does not rebut anything.

        Then, “You interpret LFW as glorifying man, to us that’s a “false claim” as well.”

        OK, then I retract that position since I believe people exercise the libertarian free will restored through regeneration in accepting salvation. Now, if the position is that libertarian free will is inherent to man and not destroyed by Adam’s sin as the Pelagians claim, then that would glorify man and I think the Calvinists can logically argue that conclusion..

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      2. Dizerber writes, “But you as a compatibilist see God as indirectly (somehow) giving us our desires,…”

        Following Adam’s sin, people are born with a sin nature. It is that sin nature that is the source of the person’s desires. As God chooses not to interfere with that process, it is to be attributed to secondary causes over which God exercises absolute control; thus God indirectly gives us our desires.

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      3. First, you tell us that God is meticulously determining everything, now you want to blame it on man’s sin nature. Once again, you try to have it both ways. God not interfering with the process is impossible in your view of God.

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      4. wildswanderer writes, “First, you tell us that God is meticulously determining everything, now you want to blame it on man’s sin nature.”

        In his commentary on Romans 9, Pastor flowers writes, “Foreknowing that someone will contra-causally choose to sin…does not in any way imply such knowledge causes, determines or necessitates the desire of the sinner to sin.” He understands that “determine” does not mean “cause” or “necessitate.” Thus, that God meticulously determines all things means something other than causing or necessitating all things. The idea behind “determinism” is that God controls all things – to “meticulously determine” is to “meticulously control.”

        What is the relationship between God’s meticulous determination/control and man’s sin nature? God exercises meticulous control over man’s sin nature meaning that God restrains or frees man to act according to his sinful desires – God determines what man does but does not cause or necessitate what man does.

        In your comment, I do not understand what you mean – what wrong with my blaming ti on man’s sin nature?

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      5. Lol, What you just said here makes no sense whatsoever. First, Flowers does not say that God determines, rather that he foreknows. You then create a nonexistent difference between determining and causing, while your explanation makes it clear that there is no such difference. If God is “meticulous ly controling man’s sin nature then he is determining everything man does.

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      6. wildswanderer writes, “You then create a nonexistent difference between determining and causing, while your explanation makes it clear that there is no such difference. If God is “meticulous ly controling man’s sin nature then he is determining everything man does.”

        That God determines all things does not require that God cause all things. It only speaks to God’s control over all things which is consistent with God being sovereign. Maybe you could actually explain why determine must mean cause as it relates to God. So far, you don’t seem able to do so – and have not attempted to do so (probably because it can’t be done).

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      7. If I Meticulous control my child, then there is nothing he can do without me causing it. When he makes a choice, it is actually my choice. This is too obvious to need explaining. No, God controlling everything is not necessarily consistent with him being sovereign. It’s because he is sovereign that he can choose not to control some things.

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      8. wildswanderer writes, “If I Meticulous control my child, then there is nothing he can do without me causing it.”

        This is a false statement. As you begin with “control” you must end with “control” – “If I Meticulous control…nothing he can do without me controlling it.” Control does not mean “cause.” You are engaging in logical nonsense.

        Then, “It’s because [God] is sovereign that he can choose not to control some things.”

        Not exactly. All things are always under God’s control – unless you have an example of something that is not. God is always in the position of choosing/deciding the extent of control that He will exercise. God can choose to intervene to cause an event (e.g., the flood of Noah, the impregnation of Mary). God can choose not to intervene in natural events (e.g., Cain’s murder of Abel, the stoning of Stephen)

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      9. Roger, Must I keep calling you on this misrepresentation of your position that you make that makes you sound more like open theist? 🙂 You said – “God is always in the position of choosing/deciding the extent of control that He will exercise. God can choose to intervene…”

        You know that you do not believe that, since you believe everything is already all determined! You should consistently use the past tense, or you are giving the impression that God can still use free-will in the present, when you know that you believe His will is not free now to do so, but is immutably locked by His eternal determination, for this human history!

        You should have said – “God is no longer in the position of choosing/deciding the extent of control that He will exercise. God cannot choose to intervene because He has already made all those choices before creation of what He would do.”

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      10. brianwagner writes, “Must I keep calling you on this misrepresentation of your position…”

        As you understand my position, I assume that most others do also – at least after a few comments. Nonetheless, I think it is easier for people to visualize God acting in real time even though He made those decisions before He created the world and is only manifesting those decisions in time. We can speak of God impregnating Mary as Matthew describes it in real time but we know that God had decided this course of action previously according to the prophecies.

        God is still playing off the free will, of individuals in real time – e.g., Herod makes a decision during his life to kill the babies in and around Bethlehem. However, God knew this possibility (having spoken through the prophets about the event) and had already decided that He would not intervene to stop Herod – He did not have to wait to discover what Herod would choose to do. Ultimately, all this was known to God before He created the universe. As such choices reflected His perfect wisdom, there would be no reason to change those decisions.

        Do you not even admit to this? I understand you to allow God to know all the possibilities in the future and to have already decided His reactions to the differing possibilities. You just don’t allow God to know actual events until they occur in the course of time. For example, you might allow for the possibility that Adam would/would not eat the fruit and for God to have decided His response in either situation. There would be no reason for God to change His mind when the actual event manifests.

        We basically seem to agree that God has made all His decisions before He created the universe and will not alter those decisions – why would He? If not, I have misunderstood your position. Nonetheless, in communicating to others, we both speak as if God makes decisions in real time as He reacts to what people do.

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      11. Merry Christmas Roger! After all this time, and you still do not understand my view of sequential eternity, divine free-will and God still making decisions. So no, He did not make all His decisions before creation, in my view. And yes, you still should use the past tense when ever talking about God’s determinations.

        You can use the present tense for God’s actions in carrying out those decisions, but you are being false, in my view, or at least deceptive, to state that His decisions, His choices, are being made in the present, as if His will is still free to do so.

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      12. Well, I am confused. I thought you allowed that God knew of all future possibilities, but not as actualities in every case, thereby allowing God to make decisions with respect to hose possibilities.

        So, using an example, God knows a future in which Jonah preaches to Nineveh and that there are many possibilities from all reject Jonah’s message up to the whole city responding in repentance to Jonah’s message. God knew this before He created the universe and God is able to know all these possibilities because of His infinite understanding. As God knows all those possibilities, God is able to decide what He will do for each possibility should it be actualized – all these decisions being made before the creation. Where do I misunderstand your position in this example?

        Then “You can use the present tense for God’s actions in carrying out those decisions, but you are being false, in my view, or at least deceptive, to state that His decisions, His choices, are being made in the present, as if His will is still free to do so.”

        OK. I just think it helps communicate what God is doing by using the present. Maybe, I should develop various explanations, 1-10 for example, and refer to explanation 5 – rather than continually describing in several paragraphs the Calvinist theology, in such situations. Thus, just because you can get side-tracked so easily.

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      13. No confusion necessary, Roger! But we did discuss this before. God knowing all the possibilities of man’s free choices does not mean He had to pick a response for each one, though He could have. There need not be only one response for each possibility, though I think you will have a hard time agreeing with that, because or your Charnock view of perfection. SO… in my view God could wait and decide between a number of choices when man makes his free choice. I think that view fits Scripture’s account of His present decision making the best.

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      14. brianwagner writes, “God knowing all the possibilities of man’s free choices does not mean He had to pick a response for each one, though He could have.”

        So, God chooses to wait. The decision would be the same regardless as no new information comes into play.

        Then, “There need not be only one response for each possibility, though I think you will have a hard time agreeing with that, because or your Charnock view of perfection.”

        “Charnock view pf perfection” – is this where Charnock says that God is perfect in essence and in all He does? Yes, I agree that God is perfect. As God makes decisions that reflect perfect wisdom, there is only one perfect response to each possibility.

        Finally, “SO… in my view God could wait and decide between a number of choices when man makes his free choice. I think that view fits Scripture’s account of His present decision making the best.”

        Waiting changes nothing. Your point is that there is more than one possible option. God knows the possible action; certainly God can figure out how He wants to respond to that possibility. You seem to want God to flip a coin to select an option. You are very imaginative.

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      15. brianwagner writes, “How do you prove, Roger, that there is only one perfect response for each possibility? On what authority?’

        There is only one perfect response because there is only one perfect will of God. Two separate responses from God can only be separate if they are different from each other. That difference enables one to be defined as perfect and the other – because it is not equal to the first – as not perfect. If God is perfect, then there can be no other gods because two different gods cannot both be perfect. No other god can be God. So it is with that which is perfect.

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      16. So it is just because you say so, huh, Roger! God’s will would not be perfect if He were able to choice between two things of equal value in His estimation, because equal value does not exist in your definition of perfect. And He certain could not be sovereign enough to pick something that would cause Him to suffer loss! Unfortunately, your definition of perfection does not accord with His revelation of Himself and His will!

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      17. brianwagner writes, “God’s will would not be perfect if He were able to choice between two things of equal value in His estimation, because equal value does not exist in your definition of perfect. And He certain could not be sovereign enough to pick something that would cause Him to suffer loss! Unfortunately, your definition of perfection does not accord with His revelation of Himself and His will!”

        Oh Brian!!!! Let’s grant your position – there are two choices of equal value. How does that change anything? Unless you are proposing that “new” information becomes available – some possibility that God somehow was ignorant of – what are you arguing?? What’s the point? You have been arguing that God “waits” to make a decision. However, if God does wait, the decision He makes after waiting would be the same decision He would have made before waiting. What you seem to want is for God to flip a coin to decide His choice and God would not know the outcome of that flip until actualized. Is that it? If not, What? Where are you going on this?

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      18. Roger, I like when you ask questions… It makes me have at least a feeling of hope that you are open to reasoning further with the evidence! 🙂

        Once you “grant” that possibilities may have more than one choice for God, add a little sovereignty and patience, and you have God freely interacting with mankind, who also usually have a number of choices for each possibility.

        There is no need for new information from within His infinite understanding of all possibilities and all possible choices He can make. But neither is there a need for Him to have all His choices predetermined. He sovereignly can wait to display His free-will and love in a marvelous way, just exactly as His revelation says He has! Praise His name!

        You said – “However, if God does wait, the decision He makes after waiting would be the same decision He would have made before waiting.” Now you have jettisoned the idea that God has a free will and equal value choices to make!

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      19. brianwagner writes, “Once you “grant” that possibilities may have more than one choice for God, add a little sovereignty and patience, and you have God freely interacting with mankind, who also usually have a number of choices for each possibility.

        There is no need for new information from within His infinite understanding… ”

        If no new information, then what do you mean by “God freely interacting with mankind”? God knows all possibilities under your scheme. God’s infinite understanding allows Him to determine those possibilities He will restrain so that they will not happen (e.g., Joseph could not be killed because he was to be sold; Jesus could not be killed by stoning, because He was to be killed by crucifixion). Those possibilities that God decides should become actualities are those that accord with His plan. God does not interact with people other than that He restrains certain actions by people and decrees that people follow their sinful natures in other areas. Even without the prior knowledge of actualities, God is still in full control of every situation. To avoid this, you must also restrict God’s ability to restrain anything that He does not want to happen because that leaves only that which He does want to happen.

        Then, “You said – “However, if God does wait, the decision He makes after waiting would be the same decision He would have made before waiting.” Now you have jettisoned the idea that God has a free will and equal value choices to make! ”

        God’s ability to exercise free will depends on the information He has and not the timing of the decision. Once God has all the information He needs, He makes the decision. By requiring “equal value choices,” you specify that both options produce the same results. So, God needs to make a decision – you basically have God flipping a coin to make decisions. Have at it.

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      20. Good morning Roger! You asked – “If no new information, then what do you mean by ‘God freely interacting with mankind’?” Then you went on to talk about counter-factuals, things that are no longer possibilities, once God makes a determination.

        Then you said – “Those possibilities that God decides should become actualities are those that accord with His plan.” Agreed, except I know you don’t mean “decides” but “has already decided”, whereas I do mean “decides”.

        Then you said – “God does not interact with people other than that He restrains certain actions by people and decrees that people follow their sinful natures in other areas.” God loves and interacts directly with people with mercy and judgment, with all who bear His image, making decisions of divine action and permission from among the possibilities that exist within His plan that already has some determinations.

        Then – “Even without the prior knowledge of actualities, God is still in full control of every situation.” Agreed, as long as that includes His permissive will, and His free-will, to be exercised among possibilities that all conform to His plan, rejecting the unbiblical idea that all things have been predetermined. This IS the way God wants things to happen, and is working all things out in conformity to that desire (Eph 1:11)!

        Then – “God’s ability to exercise free will depends on the information He has and not the timing of the decision.” Actually, His free will is interdependent with all aspects of His nature. And since His eternity is sequential, His free will always is exercised according to His infinite understanding in a sequential way that conforms to His immutable truth, love, and righteousness. Praise His Name!

        Finally, you said – “By requiring ‘equal value choices,’ you specify that both options produce the same results. So, God needs to make a decision – you basically have God flipping a coin to make decisions. Have at it.” I am not sure what you mean by “Have at it.” But what I have said does not have God “basically…flipping a coin” for all decisions between all possibilities of “equal” value. He is free to do that, flip the coin, so to speak, however, if He wants to! 🙂

        But choices of equal value do not produce the same result, but different results of equal value within the limits of His overall plan. Wouldn’t that be right? And we haven’t even discussed whether God is free to choose a possibility that would cause Him to suffer loss in some way, but would still be consistent with His overall nature!

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      21. brianwagner writes, ‘I know you don’t mean “decides” but “has already decided””

        I don’t see a grammatical issue to using “decides” as a statement of fact without reference to the timing of a decision. But, it’s your pet peeve.

        Then ‘God loves and interacts directly with people with mercy and judgment,…”

        Yeah, I was thinking that interaction was a two way street, but you just have God acting on a person not reacting to the person.

        Them “His permissive will, and His free-will,”

        Permissive is free. God’s permissive will whereby He chooses not to interfere with people’s actions is a free will decision that God makes.

        Then, ‘Actually, His free will is interdependent with all aspects of His nature. And since His eternity is sequential, His free will always is exercised according to His infinite understanding in a sequential way that conforms to His immutable truth, love, and righteousness.”

        Rather than “exercised” I would say manifested. God manifests His will “sequentially” in the course of time. Whether God’s eternity is sequential is conjecture. It could just as easily be simultaneous although you may be thinking logically sequential.

        Then, “But choices of equal value do not produce the same result, but different results of equal value”

        If not the same result, then the options can be differentiated based on those results regardless their value. Results of equal value can go in different directions. That allows God to choose one and restrain the other consistent with His perfect wisdom/infinite understanding.

        The point here is that God knows before He creates the universes all that is to be known even if viewed only as possibilities. Following Charnock, God knows that which will never come to pass because He restrains it and that which He brings to pass either directly or through secondary causes. Your idea on God “waiting” does not change anything and no new information ever arises. God exerts His control such that all things work according to His plan. This means that man’s free will is subordinate to God’s free will so that man can freely choose only that which God decides he can freely choose – by not interfering to restrain that choice..

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      22. Your questions have stopped, Roger. You have dashed my hopes once more! 😦

        You said – “Whether God’s eternity is sequential is conjecture. It could just as easily be simultaneous although you may be thinking logically sequential.”

        This a prime example how tenaciously you want to hold to Charnock’s theology based on his philosophical conjecture. You know that God’s revelation about His eternity in Scripture is clearly sequential, with before and after “tensed” language if you will.

        There is no clear verse of a non-sequential reality for God… but that is truly the conjecture you wish to defend without making any concession in light of Scriptural evidence to the contrary. I hope one day you will be able to admit that the Scriptural evidence is profoundly in the direction of only a sequential reality for God’s eternality. Happy New Year!

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      23. brianwagner writes, “You know that God’s revelation about His eternity in Scripture is clearly sequential, with before and after “tensed” language if you will. ”

        Once God created the universe, everything unfolds in a sequential manner as God’s plan unfolds. We expect that and the Scriptures encourage us to see this (e.g., Paul’s testimony in Galatians, “when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me). We cannot extrapolate from the experience within creation to make conclusions about those things outside creation. This should be obvious to you – if you track the stock market from 2011-2012, you get a pattern but extrapolating that pattern to those years before and after would give a false description of the market in those years.

        What does God reveal about His eternity in the Scriptures? His basic description of Himself is, “I am.” Before God created anything, all that was, was God and God was all that was. We find nothing “sequential” in God’s being in the Scriptures as far as I know. You say, ‘ I hope one day you will be able to admit that the Scriptural evidence is profoundly in the direction of only a sequential reality for God’s eternality.” Perhaps you might help by pointing to Scriptures that make your point.

        Good to hear that you are still working on Charnock. The excitement is building.

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      24. Roger, the basic definition of relationship is interaction! There can be no interaction without sequence. The Godhead is in an everlasting relationship and thus experiencing sequence, from everlasting to everlasting.

        We have already been around the barn with me reminding you that you are trying to prove too much from the title “I am” to the detriment of clear passages about God’s eternity, “from… to” and “who was, and is, and is to come.” … all because of your loyalty to Charnock.

        I have all the quotes I want to comment on from Charnock, but I have delayed in writing it up, because I do not believe you are willing to admit his presuppositions, and use of Scripture (proof texting his presuppositions) is faulty, even if I demonstrate it to you. What umpire would you trust as an arbitrator of my evidence, when I pitch it to you?

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      25. brianwagner writes, “I do not believe you are willing to admit his presuppositions, and use of Scripture (proof texting his presuppositions) is faulty, even if I demonstrate it to you. What umpire would you trust as an arbitrator of my evidence, when I pitch it to you?”

        When it do the write-up, you can include his presuppositions as well as explaining his faulty use of Scripture (although, technically, I don’t think a presuposition can be proof-texted – if Scripture is offered to document a so-called presupposition, it is no longer a presupposition, is it? It is a presupposition because it underlies the analysis and is offered without proof or proof is assumed to exist elsewhere). No umpire needed – just be thorough and don’t make the logical errors you accuse Charnock of making or any others. If you mess up, I’ll help set you straight.

        Also, “the basic definition of relationship is interaction!”

        God can love and interact directly with people with mercy and judgment without the knowledge of, or any reaction required of, the person – it can be one-sided. For example, Paul tells the Ephesians, “God chose us in him before the creation of the world,” and “God predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.” Here God interacts with His elect before they are even born.

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      26. You are right, Roger! I was a little imprecise when using the term “proof text”. I did not mean proof, but texts used by Charnock to supposedly confirm the reasonableness of a presupposition, that cannot be proven, though he made the inference that the texts he chose establish those assumptions.

        Interaction in relationships still requires sequence. Though I do not agree with the truth of your examples, God had to bring into existence the group of persons from which to elect some and predestine them for adoption. Existence first, then election, then predestination… that is sequential and exactly how God defines His reality of eternity.

        But I do not agree that Paul was discussing individuals being chosen as individuals before creation in Eph 1:4, which we have discussed before.

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      27. brianwagner writes, “Existence first, then election, then predestination… that is sequential and exactly how God defines His reality of eternity.”

        I think we can both agree that the events of the creation unfold in a sequential manner. Of course, that is from our perspective as finite beings who have a beginning followed by an end and cannot know what is happening until it happens.

        The question now is, “Is this exactly how God defines His reality of eternity.” That remains to be seen, as I am awaiting the Scriptures that led you to this conclusion. Are they the same one’s you excised from the Scriptures to show that God cannot know the future?

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      28. You gave the Scriptures, Roger, about before creation divine activity! I was just showing you how those activities are sequential, which can not be denied, unless you believe there is nothing logical about eternity! And you will need verses to prove that concept!

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      29. brianwagner writes, “You gave the Scriptures…about before creation divine activity!”

        Guess I forget when I did that.

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      30. Convenient memory lapse, Roger, or are you afraid to look back through this thread a few steps? Eph 1:4, 11

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      31. brianwagner writes, “Convenient memory lapse, Roger, or are you afraid to look back through this thread a few steps? Eph 1:4, 11”

        I think these logical order as God’s plan for His creation unfolds – God chooses to create vessels of honor and dishonor and then creates a world in which both vessels manifest through a sequential order. I don’t see that these verses increase our understanding of how God defines His reality of eternity.

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      32. The issue is that the plan (planning), prepared before creation, is a series of sequential actions in and of itself, according to those verses. They cannot logically all happen at the same moment, since the latter steps are dependent on the existence of the previous steps. But Calvinism does not care if it has to be illogical!

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      33. brianwagner writes, “The issue is that the plan (planning), prepared before creation, is a series of sequential actions in and of itself, according to those verses. They cannot logically all happen at the same moment, since the latter steps are dependent on the existence of the previous steps. But Calvinism does not care if it has to be illogical!”

        I think all agree to this as we see that plan unfolding before our eyes. However, that does not tell us how that plan came about in the mind of God nor do the Scriptures explain how God conceived this plan. It is, after all, a very perplexing plan that makes little sense to the finite human mind.

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      34. And you are nitpicking at the meanings of words, while skirting around the real issue. If I brainwash my child so he can only do my bidding, you can say he is still making his own decisions, but the distinction between his decision and mine becomes meaningless and the end result is the same. You seem unable to understand that God can truly take a hands off approach to human freedom. Again, if God has chosen to create a world where men have true freedom of will, then he does not constantly have to be choosing to intervene or not to intervene with their wills. God causing physical miracles or not causing them is another issue, although, under determanism, either everything is a miracle or nothing is. If God is meticulously controlling all events and action, then what is a miracle?

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      35. wildswanderer writes, “If I brainwash my child so he can only do my bidding,…”

        Where does brainwashing come from. What is with you?? First you argue that control magically changes into cause (a point you cannot defend, and don’t). Now you introduce brainwashing as if that should mean something?? You have an active imagination.

        Then, “You seem unable to understand that God can truly take a hands off approach to human freedom.”

        We seem to agree that Adam had actual freedom of will in the truest libertarian sense. Where we seem to disagree is the effect of Adam’s sin on the freedom inherited by his posterity. It seems that you are advocating the Pelagian view that Adam’s sin did not destroy freedom of will against the Calvinist view that Adam’s sin placed his posterity in slavery to sin. Are you doing this? If not, what are you arguing?

        Then, “Again, if God has chosen to create a world where men have true freedom of will, then he does not constantly have to be choosing to intervene or not to intervene with their wills.”

        Freedom of will has nothing to do with God being sovereign. Free will or not, God still is able to intervene to negate any choice people make; the flip side is that God must chose not to so intervene. By virtue of His sovereignty God can never be passive about anything – He is always active in choosing a position – either to intervene of not.

        Finally, “…under determanism, either everything is a miracle or nothing is. If God is meticulously controlling all events and action, then what is a miracle?”

        Under determinism, everything is under God’s control. Where God exercises His control to change that which would occur naturally, we have a miracle. If God chooses not to change the natural course of events, then no miracle, and things proceed naturally with the outcome known to God and thereby part of His plan.

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      36. I may have an active imagination, but I can recognize incoherent ideas when I encounter them. There is no such thing as a natural course of events if God is meticulously and actively controlling everything at all times. No, I’m not Pelagian. The Pelegian would say we could please God of our own free will. I would say we can choose to let God make us righteous, not that we can be righteous on our own. In Calvinsim, all men are brainwashed to do exactly what God has decided they will do, whether that is to live for Him or to be opposed to Him. God becomes some kind of star wars force with a dark side that promotes evil.

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      37. wildswanderer writes “There is no such thing as a natural course of events if God is meticulously and actively controlling everything at all times.”

        Of course there is. David takes Bathsheba to bed because of his desire to do so. There follows is a natural course of events as in all sin. Nonetheless, God is meticulously and actively controlling all the sin that people do because it is God who decides that people should be free to follow their wicked desires and sin and do so without restraint by Him. I think you are confusing “control” with “cause” as noted earlier.

        Then “The Pelegian would say we could please God of our own free will. I would say we can choose to let God make us righteous, not that we can be righteous on our own. ”

        No. The Pelagian says that a person has the inherent natural born faith to choose to please God. The non-Pelagian says that a person can only please God through faith that God must be given to the person. So, which side do you side with?

        Finally, “In Calvinsim, all men are brainwashed to do exactly what God has decided they will do,…”

        Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

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      38. If you can’t see the contradiction that men are choosing their own sin and God is actively controlling all that sin, then I don’t know what to say. This is the position that compatibists have to take, but it is downright bizarre. Why do you insist that men will choose their own sin but that faith must be given to them? The essence of the freed will is that men can choose freely-their sin or God’s gift. And that is the third option, not that men have a natural born faith and can please God on their own, or that all faith must be given to them, but that they make one choice, to fall on God’s mercy or to try to do it all on their own.

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      39. wildswanderer writes, “If you can’t see the contradiction that men are choosing their own sin and God is actively controlling all that sin, then I don’t know what to say.”

        If you cannot explain it, then there is no contradiction else you would joyfully explain it. Again, I think your problem is equating control with cause.

        Then, “Why do you insist that men will choose their own sin but that faith must be given to them?”

        A person’s ability to choose to sin requires only a desire to sin which they are born with – it is inherent. No one is born with faith; faith is a gift from God.

        Then, ‘The essence of the freed will is that men can choose freely-their sin or God’s gift. ”

        OK. Romans 8, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” From Hebrews, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Until God frees a person’s will, it cannot be free.

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      40. I can explain it, but you have proved again and again that you are not willing to understand. You talk like an open theist half the time, yet insist on determanism. If, as you insist, God is controlling EVERYTHING, then there is not a molecule in the universe that is not under God’s direct control, as a popular Calvinist has said. Yet, you talk as if God is deciding on a moment by moment basis whether to interfere with man’s will or just let him do what he does naturally?! You must have a very odd definition of meticulous control! Everything would include every firing of the synapses in every human brain. It would entail God controlling every thought you have ever had, every move of every muscle in your body. This leaves no room for your scenario where God stands by and lets David get it on with Bathsheba, as if God can decide to be a passive observer in your system. God controlling all means God controlling every muscle in David’s body. It makes God liable for the adultery, as David could have done nothing else with the Almighty controlling his mind and body. No, the sinful mind does not submit to God’s law. But, God enables every man to make a choice. Romans 2:5 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”
        What is it Paul is talking about here, if you can’t help but be unrepentant? This is the absurdity of Calvinism, claiming God will blame us for something we have no control over. I agree that God has to free a persons will, that’s what I just said above!
        “The essence of the freed will is that men can choose freely-their sin or God’s gift.” What you insist on is not a freed will at any point, it’s God damning some and saving some from before creation. If you would just be honest about this, you would not have to talk like an open theist in one sentence and a determinist in the next.
        The honest compatibilist says “God determines everything man will ever do and yet man is still held responsible. He can’t explain it, so he just embraces the mystery of God’s secret will. The arminian (for lack of a better term) says there is no secret will of God, but that God desires to be freely loved more then he desires complete control.I tried Compatablism, my mind does not work that way, so apparently God wanted me to be a Molinist or open theist.

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      41. wildswanderer writes, “I can explain it, but you have proved again and again that you are not willing to understand. ”

        This is called deflecting. It means that you really cannot explain the contradiction that supposedly exists so you expend a lot of effort avoiding such an explanation.

        The rest of your comments were imaginative but have nothing to do with reality as far as I can see.

        However, I see that you have joined the brianwagner parade in saying, “you talk as if God is deciding on a moment by moment basis whether to interfere with man’s will or just let him do what he does naturally?!”

        As I explained to Brian, I think it easier to use the present tense as a means of communication to convey a sense of the complete control God exerts over all things (a point Brian understands and has agreed to – the complete control). I think it is working, as you are being forced to deal with it and do not like to do so – as evidenced by your decision to join the brianwagner parade and not address what is really happening. Nonetheless, as God is omniscient, He was able to make all His decisions before He created the universe, and now we see God’s decisions unfolding before our eyes. Are you with Brian in saying that God is not omniscient?

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      42. “The rest of your comments were imaginative but have nothing to do with reality as far as I can see.”
        That’s it? You’re not even going to address God controlling every molecule? Who is deflecting here?
        I don’t believe Brian every said that God is not omniscient. God knows all there is to know. How that works in regards to time is not my primary concern. Molinism and Open theism are pretty much two sides of the same coin as far as I’m concerned. But, if you want to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of open theism-the weakness, I believe, is the obvious relativity of time, but does that in any way really cancel out possible futures? And it’s strengths are obvious, as evidenced by the fact that the only way you can explain how God might be working, is to speak as if he’s within time.

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      43. wildswanderer writes, “I don’t believe Brian every said that God is not omniscient. God knows all there is to know. ”

        Brian says that there are future events that God cannot know until they happen. Thus, God knows a lot but is not omniscient.

        Then, “Molinism and Open theism are pretty much two sides of the same coin as far as I’m concerned.”

        No. Molinism and Calvinism are two sides of the same coin. Molinism deals with God’s deliberations before creation; Calvinism deals with that which follows God’s creative work. Molinism has God knowing everything that will happen in each and every one of the possible worlds that He could create – no event in those worlds is unknown to God. God then chooses one specific world to create and Calvinism explains how the events of the world play out.

        Lastly, “That’s it? You’re not even going to address God controlling every molecule? ”

        What is to address? No one disputed that God controls every molecule. Do you?

        You still cannot explain the contradiction you claim to exist.

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      44. I already said in essence that God chooses not to control everything in order that people may freely choose to love him. God controlling every brain cell would reduce us to robots. I’m not sure what more you need explained, seems pretty self explanatory . Quantum physics confirms that the behavior of molecules changes when they are observed. As crazy as that sounds, I believe it is evidence that God has built free will into the fabric of our universe.
        If God has created a world where He decides not to know all future possiblitys, then of course there would be events that could not be known until they happen. A sovereign God could choose to create that kind of world if he wished. This distinction of when God sees possible futures is pretty irrelevant, IMO. Either way, God chooses the best possible outcome overall while allowing free choices. The difference between Molinism and Calvinism is vast. In Calvinism, all deliberations are based only on God’s secret will. In Molinism, they are based on God’s knowledge of what choices his creation will make. In one, God’s will can not be known. In the other, God’s will is that each person ever born will come to know Him.

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      45. wildswanderer writs, “I already said in essence that God chooses not to control everything in order that people may freely choose to love him.”

        God controls everything by virtue of being sovereign over everything. What God chooses is not to cause everything. I still think you need to sort out control and cause.

        Then, ” God controlling every brain cell would reduce us to robots.”

        This is a false statement. We would be robots only if God is causing every brain cell to do as He wanted. That God controls our brain cells only means that outside influences can enter in only by His decree (His decision).

        Then, “I’m not sure what more you need explained, seems pretty self explanatory.”

        I find that very few of the sometimes outlandish statements you make are self-explanatory.

        Then, “Quantum physics confirms that the behavior of molecules changes when they are observed. As crazy as that sounds, I believe it is evidence that God has built free will into the fabric of our universe.”

        Still the free will built into the fabric of the universe is subordinate to God’s free will.

        Then, “If God has created a world where He decides not to know all future possiblitys, then of course there would be events that could not be known until they happen.”

        Foolishness begins with, “If.”

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      46. “That God controls our brain cells only means that outside influences can enter in only by His decree (His decision)”
        Then He is not controlling everything. Controlling every molecule, every scrap of our DNA would constitute not thinking any thought the God did not approve of. You can’t have it both ways. If I am thinking unholy thoughts then a perfect God is not completely controlling me, because there is no darkness in Him, there is no shade of imperfection, He can not approve that which is against his very nature. You either have a God who approves of sin, or you have a God who is not completely controlling His creation.

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      47. wildswanderer writes, “Controlling every molecule, every scrap of our DNA would constitute not thinking any thought the God did not approve of. You can’t have it both ways. If I am thinking unholy thoughts then a perfect God is not completely controlling me, because there is no darkness in Him, there is no shade of imperfection, He can not approve that which is against his very nature. You either have a God who approves of sin, or you have a God who is not completely controlling His creation. ”

        This is a false argument. God is omnipresent so He attends all events in which sin is committed. God is omnipotent so He can intervene to prevent any sin He attends. It is obvious that God makes the controlling decision: either intervene to prevent the sin or do nothing and the sin plays out (put up or shut up).

        Out of nowhere, you now say that control requires approval. As you cannot show that control means cause (as you earlier sought to argue), you now cannot show that control requires approval. Stop making up stuff that obviously does not work.

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      48. If I completely control someone then He can only do my will. That is the same as causing everything he does. Any child can understand that. Give a kid a puppet to control and ask him who is causing the puppet’s movements. Your classic Calvinist attempt to put more dominoes in the chain of cause and effect does not change anything, it’s just smoke and mirrors to attempt to cloud the obvious. Of course, God CAN intervene. He could intervene and prevent all sin from happening, but to do so, He would have to remove our free will, that allows us to truly love Him without coercion. But, just as He did not prevent Adam and Eve from disobeying, He does not prevent us. All this talk about God intervening sometimes and not others ignores the very real spiritual battle raging over our wills. It’s not a matter of God choosing sin for us (which is a notion that is pretty close to blasphemy.) but we choose sin for ourselves. Free will is not something I am always overly fond of. The idea that non-determinists worship free will is wrong. What we acknowledge is that lack of true LFW makes God into a tyrant who pretends to hate sin but actually endorses it quite often.

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      49. wildswanderer writes, “If I completely control someone then He can only do my will. That is the same as causing everything he does.”

        You should buy a dog and take it for a walk. What you will find is that the dog will strain at the leash wanting to go wherever its little brain desires. You, however, control where the dog actually goes by holding tight on the leash (like when other dogs approach) or letting it slack. So you are correct to say, “If I completely control someone then He can only do my will.” You are wrong in saying, “That is the same as causing everything he does.” “Control” simply does not mean “cause” as much as you fantasy that it does.

        Then, “God CAN intervene. He could intervene and prevent all sin from happening, but to do so, He would have to remove our free will,…”

        This is wrong. Do you lie awake at night imagining goofy things to say?

        Other statements of yours that are fantasy:

        “All this talk about God intervening sometimes and not others ignores the very real spiritual battle raging over our wills.”

        ” It’s not a matter of God choosing sin for us (which is a notion that is pretty close to blasphemy.) but we choose sin for ourselves.” – God actually has the final say in the sin that we commit.

        “What we acknowledge is that lack of true LFW makes God into a tyrant who pretends to hate sin but actually endorses it quite often.” – Lack of LFW just means that a person is slave to sin.

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      50. I don’t completely control my dog, ever. I don’t have the power over every scrap of his DNA. You create a scenario where God being sovereign means he has to have COMPLETE control of all things at all times, then you try to tell me that God is just holding the leash? You are embracing a contradiction, and that’s fine, but don’t try to tell me it’s rational when any 5 year old can understand the complete control really does mean complete control, not just reining us in if we go too far. A person can not be a slave to sin if God is already controlling every move he ever makes.

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      51. wildswanderer writes, “I don’t completely control my dog, ever.”

        It is an example, not a perfect analogy. However, the point is clear. You walk a dog on a leash in order to control him – prevent him from bounding off to who knows where. You do not cause your dog to want to take off and run – you restrain his ability to act on his desires. The conclusion: control does not mean cause. If you don’t agree then explain how control must mean cause.

        Then, “You create a scenario where God being sovereign means he has to have COMPLETE control of all things at all times,…”

        By virtue of His sovereignty, God IS in complete control over all things at all times. God knows all things at all times and God has the power to affect all things at all times. God has the final say in all that happens – He either choose to affect change or neglect and let the natural course of events play out. Either way, God expresses His control, His sovereignty.

        Then, “…then you try to tell me that God is just holding the leash? You are embracing a contradiction, …”

        How about explaining how this is a contradiction – otherwise you are merely stating your opinion; an opinion that you are unable to prove to be true.

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      52. “God has the power to affect all things at all times. God has the final say in all that happens – He either choose to affect change or neglect and let the natural course of events play out”

        You just contradicted yourself in this sentence. You have God doing two opposite things at once, directly controlling all that happens and letting things run their natural course. There is no natural course in determanism! If he is letting things run their natural course at any time, then by definition, he is not directly controlling them during that time. All the human analogies fall short, because as humans we don’t have the power to affect every molecule in the universe. If at any point, God lets one molecule run it’s natural course, then determanism is false.

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      53. wildswanderer writes, “You just contradicted yourself in this sentence. You have God doing two opposite things at once, directly controlling all that happens and letting things run their natural course.”

        God chooses one outcome or the other – He does not do both at one time. By neglect, that outcome is achieved that reflects natural events. If God does not neglect a situation, He intervenes to bring about an outcome that would not have happened naturally. Either way, it is God’s choice as to His involvement and God is in total control of the situation. There is no contradiction and you seem unable to describe one.

        Then, “There is no natural course in determanism! If he is letting things run their natural course at any time, then by definition, he is not directly controlling them during that time. All the human analogies fall short, because as humans we don’t have the power to affect every molecule in the universe. If at any point, God lets one molecule run it’s natural course, then determanism is false. ”

        God’s control is the result of direct action versus the action of secondary forces. God exercises control through direct involvement or through neglect allowing secondary forces – natural events – to play out. God can intervene to influence any secondary force or through neglect, allow secondary forces to operate unimpeded by Him.

        Let’s get you to the point where you understand how God controls all things and then we can address the issue of the result of God’s control being deterministic.

        So, are you starting to get a handle on God’s control of all things?

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      54. Lol, No, I’m not understanding how you think God controls, because you are still talking nonsense. I don’t know how many ways I can say that you can’t have God both doing everything and not doing everything. You say: “God’s control is the result of direct action versus the action of secondary forces.” and then, ” God exercises control through direct involvement or through neglect allowing secondary forces – natural events – to play out.” Once again, you contradict yourself in the same paragraph. The only way I know how to describe what should be obvious is by examples. If God is controlling by direct action, then for a person with cancer, God is making each cancer cell destroy healthy cells by controlling it’s every move. If God is controlling by direct action, then God is moving every muscle, every tendon in the arm of a man who is randomly shooting innocent people. If God is controlling by direct action, then, yes, all is pre-determined. You can’t have it both ways. A true determanist would at the least consider you suspect, and most likely consider you an open theist, because of your insistence that God has to make choices in each case whether to intervene or not, you heretic, Lol.

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      55. You understand what it means when God controls by direct action. We have excellent examples from the Scriptures – the destruction of Sodom/Gomorrah, the taking of Elijah into heaven, the impregnation of Mary, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

        Now, if you can grasp the concept of God controlling through neglect – a purposeful decision not to interfere. Here we have the temptation in the garden, the adultery of David, the temptation of Christ, the stoning of Stephan. Of course, you can argue that God was not in control of those events if you could develop such an argument.

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      56. I have no problem understanding the concept of God being passive at times. But the concept is not Calvinism and it certainly is not determinism.
        Calling it control is misleading, it’s like saying that the police controlled a riot by not stopping it. At any rate, welcome to Arminianism. Breath the fresh air.

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      57. No, it is like saying that police could have stepped in and stopped the riot any time they wanted. The police made the decision not to intervene (decided to be passive) so that the riot would continue. The police were in control at all times and the riot did not spread beyond the boundaries they set. The Arminians do follow the Calvinist arguments at times.

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      58. Like I said before, you have a very odd view of “control.” The real dividing line here is why God allows certain events and not others. Scripture affirms that our prayers change the course of events. The Classic Arminian would say that God foresees what each freewill choice will be and devises a reaction to it, while the consistent determinist would say that God does nothing in reaction to human choices, but only causes each event to come about according to his will, which is unknowable to us. If this is the case, then free will is actually an illusion. It may feel real to us, but in reality, all we do is that which we cannot help but do because of God’s secret decree. Why cloud the issue, then, by speaking as if God has to make real time choices or pretend that you believe in free will, when clearly, you can’t, under any deterministic system?

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      59. wildswanderer writes, “…you have a very odd view of “control.”

        Nothing odd about it. The person in control has the final say on everything that happens. God has the final say; God is in control. The problem is that you have no working definition of control other than that it means cause which you cannot show to be true.

        Then, “The real dividing line here is why God allows certain events and not others.”

        Everyone agrees to that.

        Then, “Scripture affirms that our prayers change the course of events.”

        Only from our perspective; not from God’s perspective.

        Then, “The Classic Arminian would say that God foresees what each freewill choice will be and devises a reaction to it,…”

        This position is a denial of omniscience as God must foresee in order to know. Omniscience has God ordaining freewill choices. Resolve the issue of omniscience and the rest follows.

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      60. If God is ordaining free will choices, why do you keep insisting he is sometimes acting as a passive observer? If God is ordaining each so called choice, then he is causing that choice along with everything else. All you do is talk in contradictions, and I have no desire to continue circling back to the same obvious points that you have no intention of actually considering. Enjoy your fatalism….and have a nice day.

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      61. wildswanderer writes, “If God is ordaining free will choices, why do you keep insisting he is sometimes acting as a passive observer?”

        God can never be a passive observer. God must, because He is sovereign, always be an active observer. God is continually deciding whether to intervene in His creation or refuse to intervene in His creation. Thus, not even a molecule can move without God deciding that it should move.

        Then “If God is ordaining each so called choice, then he is causing that choice along with everything else. ”

        God has ordained that people be free to choose how they will behave. People choose what they want to do of their own volition without being caused to do so by God. However, God may choose to intervene in some manner in reaction to the choices people make – e.g., restraining Joseph’s brothers such that they could not kill Joseph but only sell him to slave traders – or God can choose to let people pursue their free choices unimpeded by Him – e..g, David’s adultery with Bathsheba. In other examples, God did not prevent the residents of Sodom from pursuing their sexual immorality, did not intervene when Aaron made the golden calf, and ordained that Stephen be stoned to death. God intervened to prevent the people from stoning Jesus and preserved the life of Peter.

        Finally, “All you do is talk in contradictions, and I have no desire to continue circling back to the same obvious points that you have no intention of actually considering. Enjoy your fatalism….and have a nice day.”

        The problem is that you have yet to make any attempt to explain any contradiction that you allege to exist in my arguments. Instead you rely on illogical charges such as “Enjoy your fatalism,” and otherwise have been unable to support any of the claims you have made. You should devote time to considering what you believe and why you believe such things – maybe your practice is to believe things other people tell you to believe and never come to grips with those beliefs.

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      62. I have explained the contradictions I see in your thinking multiple times. I understand that God sometimes intervenes with obvious miracles and other times allows the consequences of free choices to play out. However, these actions or inactions do not equal anything close to the determinism you profess to believe in, and in fact, fit quite comfortably into an Open Theism view. I don’t see any need to try and understand exactly how God works, as if He is somehow required to fit into any philosophical box we might craft for Him.

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      63. wildswanderer writes, “I have explained the contradictions I see in your thinking multiple times.”

        Well, I missed them. Could you cut and paste a couple instances where you identify a contradiction and explain what makes it a contradiction. That would help me tremendously.

        Them, “I understand that God sometimes intervenes with obvious miracles and other times allows the consequences of free choices to play out. However, these actions or inactions do not equal anything close to the determinism you profess to believe in,…”

        The determinism I believe in is that “God sometimes intervenes with obvious miracles and other times allows the consequences of free choices to play out.” The conclusion from this is that God determines all things either through His direct intervention in His creation to bring about what He wants or through the free choices of people also for His purposes. I think you may be erroneously thinking that determinism requires that God be the cause of all things because He determines all things. Determinism means that God has the final say in everything that happens and everything happens exactly the way He has decided they should happen.

        Finally, “…in fact, fit quite comfortably into an Open Theism view. I don’t see any need to try and understand exactly how God works, as if He is somehow required to fit into any philosophical box we might craft for Him.”

        I don’t think the Open Theists would agree with you, However, I think the Open Theists would have to concede your point. By denying God knowledge of the future, Open Theists make God the active determiner of all things that happen in the present – through direct action or restraint. Thus, Open Theism fits comfortably into a determinist framework. Denying God knowledge of the future cannot deny determinism – as much as the Open Theists might want this to be true. Nonetheless, I believe that God has a complete knowledge of the future simply because He determines all things and all things were determined – from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 – at Genesis 1.

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      64. In your version of determinism: “The conclusion from this is that God determines all things either through His direct intervention in His creation to bring about what He wants or through the free choices of people also for His purposes.”
        First of all, you’ve already made it clear that God does not determine all things, because God creating a response to free will choices is not the same as determining all things. If God is only coming up with a response, then our thoughts and some of our actions are not under His direct control. Sin starts in the mind, and in your scenario, God is apparently not doing anything to determine that we have the thoughts that He wants us to have. All He does is react after the fact to our sin, so that it somehow fits into His plan. The only way God can determine all things is if he causes each and every thought to be exactly what He wants it to be. And that’s the just the tip of the contradiction iceburg.

        I also see a huge difference between God redeeming our sin and determining it. And I wonder what it is that God is to ticked about so often in scripture if everything is playing out exactly how he has planned it.

        “By denying God knowledge of the future, Open Theists make God the active determiner of all things that happen in the present – through direct action or restraint.”
        No, it only makes God smart enough to bring out His overall plan in spite of man’s rebellion. This does not entail getting His way every time or guarantee that every battle will be won. And this is reflected throughout scripture by God’s displeasure with man’s wrong choices.

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      65. wildswanderer writes, “In your version of determinism: “The conclusion from this is that God determines all things either through His direct intervention in His creation to bring about what He wants or through the free choices of people also for His purposes.”

        You should feel free to offer an alternative version of determinism. My suspicion is that you don’t have one.

        Then, “First of all, you’ve already made it clear that God does not determine all things, because God creating a response to free will choices is not the same as determining all things.”

        The difference is that God is omniscient. God knows the outcomes of free will decisions and He decides whether to go with the free will outcome or change it. God has the final say – the actual outcome is the outcome God wants.

        Then, “If God is only coming up with a response, then our thoughts and some of our actions are not under His direct control. Sin starts in the mind, and in your scenario, God is apparently not doing anything to determine that we have the thoughts that He wants us to have. All He does is react after the fact to our sin,…”

        If that were the case, God would not be omniscient. The starting point for determinism is that God is omniscient. No thought, no temptation enters the mind except God decides that it should by not preventing it. Again, God has the final say on everything that happens.

        Then, “I also see a huge difference between God redeeming our sin and determining it.”

        OK. What’s the issue? God determine’s that all people freely sin. That makes redemption necessary.

        Then, “And I wonder what it is that God is to ticked about so often in scripture if everything is playing out exactly how he has planned it.”

        God seems upset that no one wants to listen to Him.

        Finally, “No, it only makes God smart enough to bring out His overall plan in spite of man’s rebellion. This does not entail getting His way every time or guarantee that every battle will be won. And this is reflected throughout scripture by God’s displeasure with man’s wrong choices.”

        If God is “smart enough to bring out His overall plan,” then God gets “His way every time.”

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      66. “God seems upset that no one wants to listen to Him.” Which is no answer at all. What is He angry about? According to you, everything is happening exactly as he willed it to happen. If someone rebels, it’s because he chose their rebellion. The only version of determinism that is logical is God directly causing all things in the absence of free will. Your version is just a watered down version of the same thing, where God causes it all, but is one step removed from the sin, apparently so you can claim He didn’t cause it, and avoid all the problems with scriptures that tell us God hates sin. In reality, your version has all the same problems and you’re stuck with a Star Wars Force with a dark and light side, instead of the God of the Bible.

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      67. wildswanderer writes, “The only version of determinism that is logical is God directly causing all things in the absence of free will. Your version is just a watered down version of the same thing, where God causes it all,…”

        Under Calvinism, determinism does not necessitate that God “cause” that which He determines. God, of course, causes some things (e.g., impregnation of Mary, conversion of Saul). In reading The Potter’s Freedom, I am intrigued by Pastor Flowers presentation of Judicial Hardening whereby God hides or confuses the revelation of truth that could otherwise lead to repentance so that God withholds salvation from the reprobate. Pastor Flowers posits that mankind is able to recognize and admit their sinfulness in light of God’s clear and merciful revelation absent God’s hardening. Thus, the preaching of the gospel will always produce repentance and salvation in those that hear it except where God judicially hardens the hearer. In the one case – reprobation – God is the cause; in the other – salvation – a person responds freely and willingly. In each case, God may be said to have determined the outcome simply by hardening one but not the other.

        Your problem is that you want to equate determinism with cause without an argument for doing so – what you earlier sought to do with control and could not do either.

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      68. In your explanation, free will is still only an illusion. It matters not whether you call it control or cause, because it comes down to the same thing-man does only God’s will, and if he rejects God, it is only because God gave Him no other option. God allowed the rebellious thoughts to enter his mind and did not allow for the possibility of repentance. What scripture tells me is the opposite, that God wills everyone to repent, and died for the sins of them all. Your vision of God is too small, and I think we’ve proven that this discussion is not going to change either of our minds, so I will take my leave.

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      69. wildswanderer writes, “In your explanation, free will is still only an illusion. ”

        Give us a definition of free will that makes it an illusion. You are making a claim – once again – that you cannot substantiate.

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      70. Dizerner writes, “Paul must not be a compatibilist here,..”

        No, Paul is simply a regenerated believer who now must content with the old sin nature that still lingers.

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      71. Lingers? But his predominant desire dictates his actions, according to compatibilism. We don’t see that happening here. Paul says not just “I slip up once in awhile.” Paul says “I do not do the good I wish but I do the thing I hate.” This illustrates that slavery is an independent issue from the will; we can be enslaved to things we did not choose from autonomy, that does not negate that we have no autonomy. It’s a fallacious argument. Slavery proves nothing about free will, except that only a free will can be enslaved-otherwise it’s just an object being acted upon or just a will making a choice. To be enslaved demands one will imposed on another—the very thing Paul so clearly and forcefully describes. Paul does not describe monergistic sin nor monergistic garce, Paul does not describe the nature dictating the actions. What dictates the actions in regard to slavery, is being in Christ or being in Adam. But under that slavery to Christ or Adam is still an automonous will that is enslaved to doing the will of another. Otherwise Paul would not say “I do what I don’t want to do.” Paul would say “I do exactly what I want to do.”

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      72. dizerner writes, “But his predominant desire dictates his actions, according to compatibilism. We don’t see that happening here.”

        Of course we do. The believer is not sanctified fully until Christ returns. Until that time, different desires compete for attention. Paul does not explain the details in Romans 7. In Romans 12, Paul says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The transforming of the mind seems important to one’s doing the will of God (versus following the desires of the old nature).

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      73. “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Romans 7

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      74. “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Romans 7

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      75. According to this verse, you can act contrary to your nature. Can you explain to me how that fits with compatibilism?

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      76. dizerner asks, “Can you explain to me how that fits with compatibilism?’

        Compatibilism says that man’s free will is subordinate to God’s will. Man acts freely within the constraints of God’s will.

        The verse says that a person has two natures in conflict within him – his old sin nature and his new regenerated nature. Every Christian should be able to understand this from their own personal experience.

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      77. dizerner writes, “Sometimes you don’t sound like a Calvinist…”

        Which could be an indication that you do not understand Calvinism.

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    2. Rhutchin writes /When you say, “He can allow men..,” you are referring to a decision God makes – to allow men to make decisions free of interference from Him./ No it is not necessary for God to decide to allow men. He does this by inaction – Men are the sole agent of their action.

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      1. eneststrauss writes, “…it is not necessary for God to decide to allow men. He does this by inaction – Men are the sole agent of their action.”

        God is sovereign and nothing can happen without Him actively deciding that it will. God decides to be inactive – to do nothing. God is never passive with regard to His creation and He cannot be. If you want to take the position that God is not sovereign lacking either knowledge of events or the power to affect them, have at it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. God’s sovereignty describes His authority and power. It does not describe His action. God has created a universe where much can happen without His intervention. If this were not true then God is working against Himself which He tells us He does not do.

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      3. erneststrauss writes, “God’s sovereignty describes His authority and power. It does not describe His action.”

        It does mean that God can never be passive on anything. God maintains active control over His creation so nothing happens that He does not want to happen – nothing can happen that is not God’s will.

        Then “God has created a universe where much can happen without His intervention.”

        Just because God’s intervention is not required does not negate God’s active control.

        Finally, “If this were not true then God is working against Himself which He tells us He does not do.”

        Working against Himself? How about an example.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. wildswanderer asks, “Why did Jesus teach us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is done in heaven if God’s will is already always done on earth?”

        It relates to context. You need to figure out the audience to whom Jesus speaks and the purpose for that audience to pray, before tackling this question.

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      5. If God has chosen to create a world where his will is always done, logically that world could not also be a place where his will is not always done. (A world with free will) If on the other hand, he has chosen to create a world where love exists, in a real sense, he would have to create a world with free agents who could choose to love him, and conversely, some will choose not to love him. In this world, there would be many instances where God’s intended will is not perfectly carried out because people and fallen angels choose evil.

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      6. wildswanderer writes, ” (A world with free will) If on the other hand, …”

        With this statement you begin to beg the question. You presume “free will” (something you do not define neither can prove to exist) and then conclude a free will outcome – “people and fallen angels choose evil.” You end up with an opinion piece that argues nothing.

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      7. Why do we have to explain words that everyone knows the meaning to? The only people who don’t seem to know what free will is are the compatablists. If God is just pushing a button that turns on your love for him, then he is not allowing true free will. Again, this is obvious to anyone without an agenda to promote God’s complete control over all of man’s facilitys.

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    1. Then, how do you define, “being passive”? Do you mean passive by a deliberate act of the will, or passive through omnipotence, or passive through ignorance or something else? The Calvinist says God can only be passive by a deliberate act of the will – this because He is sovereign. How do you see God acting passively if not because He decides to be passive?

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      1. I guess most would say God is sovereign enough to give up his sovereignty or he is not sovereign. The Calvinist would see Sovereignty as something, by definition, God cannot give up.

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      2. Those who say that God can stop being sovereign usually end up just focusing on how God exercises His sovereignty. No one really says that God stops being sovereign or gives up His sovereignty. Where it appears that they say such things, they really are talking about God exercising His sovereignty.

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      3. That’s true, but what we mean is in regard to the will—God allowing the will to be sovereign in its choice, but only within the confines of sovereignly allowed parameters.

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      4. dizerner writes, “…what we mean is in regard to the will—God allowing the will to be sovereign in its choice, but only within the confines of sovereignly allowed parameters.”

        That’s basically Calvinism. The difference being that Calvinism understands the definition of “sovereign” and that the one who operates within the sovereignly imposed limits of God is free to choose but cannot, legitimately, be described as sovereign – except under a distorted definition of the term.

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      5. dizerner writes, ‘t is most Calvinists that define autonomous decisions as “sovereignty.””

        It would be better to say that Calvinists define a sovereign as making autonomous decisions. “Sovereignty” comprises more than making decisions. Your wording is confusing.

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      6. Flowers argues that you can “only” be sovereign if there is “something” to be sovereign over, as sovereignty implies a relationship of one thing to another. This is a similar argument to my argument that slavery always two wills, for slavery is a relationship as well. I’m not so sure his works though, because if we define sovereignty as simply the one in charge or who has all power, we still only need one being to fit that.

        Rather, I’d say it is remarkable God put something out of his own control, very remarkable. Even miraculous but puzzling. It is like—Adam going to all the animals but finding no suitable mate. Something was missing. What would God put in a suitable companion for himself? Would he put something special, something unique, even something supernatural? I think so. This is the thought—we want things to be straightforward, non-messy. Yet we are born into a world with chaos and tears, this is the world God gave us and why. Because that’s the world God wanted to be? What? And of course those who deny determinism often downplay the real depth of evil and ugliness in this world. Our motivations seem to be all about the character of God, and why shouldn’t that be? To us, he is supremely important.

        I don’t think any of us have all the answers, and may not this side of life. But we should do the best we can with what we’ve got.

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      7. Only if we accept the erroneous definition of sovereignty as “meticulous deterministic control” is there the need to claim He “gives it up.”

        If sovereignty is rightly understood as God’s ability to do whatever He is pleased to do, then when he chooses to let you make a choice He isn’t “giving up” anything. He is expressing His sovereignty by giving you the ability to make that choice because that is what He is pleased to do.

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      8. Precisely, so, Professor Flowers. I think for us “non-Calvinists” the idea of free will flows so freely and easily that we lose sight of what an amazing and astonishing gift of God it really is—the ability to create, like God, out of nothing at all. For me it will always be a large part of the real imago dei.

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      9. Pastor Flowers writes, “If sovereignty is rightly understood as God’s ability to do whatever He is pleased to do, then when he chooses to let you make a choice He isn’t “giving up” anything. He is expressing His sovereignty by giving you the ability to make that choice because that is what He is pleased to do.”

        Because you have God making a choice -“giving you the ability to make that choice,” (and presuming you mean that God is choosing to do this with each and every choice) then you have defined sovereignty as “meticulous control.” The issue is whether this ends up being “deterministic.” If God, in choosing to give people the ability to make choices, does so knowing the choice that the person will make, then I think we can conclude that God’s sovereign control is deterministic as well as meticulous – recognizing that God does not cause the choice that is made – the person makes the choice based on his desires.

        I think your definition of Sovereignty is consistent with Calvinism – at least, I don’t see a conflict with Calvinism.

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    1. Since it is your claim that “If [God] cannot be passive, He is not sovereign,” the burden is on you do define “passive” such that your statement is true. Obviously, you have never done so, or you would tell us. So, what do you mean by that statement? Did you just make it up without any sense of what you were trying to communicate?

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  6. RHutchins . It was you who maintained God cannot be passive, so it is up to you to define it in such a way that fits your proposition. Because God is sovereign, there can be no limitation on His being passive. So once again, pick your poison. There is no definition of passive that limits God. The burden is on you to provide the exception.

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    1. srneststrauss writes, ” It was you who maintained God cannot be passive, so it is up to you to define it in such a way that fits your proposition.”

      I can’t conceive God being passive. Can you help me out with an example? I’m betting you can’t explain how God could be passive. Let’s leave it at that, unless you really can explain how God could be passive.

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      1. How God could be passive, Roger? The incarnation! And the LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us all! God actively pouring out His wrath upon God passively receiving it!

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      2. brianwagner writes, “How God could be passive? The incarnation! And the LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us all! God actively pouring out His wrath upon God passively receiving it!”

        A very unique exception and not the issue here (although, I think it could be argued that Jesus was not passive in anything that happened to Him as He had agreed to all this before taking on the form of a man – Jesus said to God, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”).

        By any chance, do you have an example of God being passive in His control over His creation outside that which He does to Jesus. As you seem to have agreed that God makes the decision whether to intervene in anything that happens, I think it hard for you to argue passivity on God’s part.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, Roger – “A very unique exception…” and certainly “…the issue here.” It’s not my fault you do not want to accept clear evidence to the contrary of your assertions.

        But God makes a decision to be passive, at least in the sense of receiving into His plan things He has left undetermined directly by Himself, like Adam’s sin.

        God’s passivity is an active determination of His freewill to allow man’s freewill to express itself contrary to what would honor Him more in the present, though His overall glory is never diminished, since His passivity (humility) is part of His glory! Praise His Name!

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      4. brianwagner writes, “But God makes a decision to be passive,…”

        “God makes a decision” being the key point. Rather than being passive, we might say that God decides to take no action when He has the power to take action.

        Then, “…at least in the sense of receiving into His plan things He has left undetermined directly by Himself, like Adam’s sin.”

        Has anythings been left undetermined? There is nothing wrong with Adam eating the fruit except by God’s decision that it would be. Satan cannot enter the garden except by God’s decision that he should. Adam does not eat he fruit except God decides that He will take no action to prevent it. God establishes a garden in a perfect world, decrees that Satan enter that garden, takes no action when Eve is tempted and Adam decides to eat the fruit. Was the end result ever in doubt? At every point in the process, it is God who decides that the process should play out until Adam eats the fruit. It seems to be that God determined the outcome in decision after decision that led to that outcome.

        Finally, “God’s passivity is an active determination of His freewill to allow man’s freewill to express itself contrary to what would honor Him more in the present, though His overall glory is never diminished, since His passivity (humility) is part of His glory! Praise His Name!”

        Yep. Man’s exercise of his free will is always subordinate to God’s exercise of His free will. When we describe man as having free will, we mean something much different that God having free will. God exercises a freedom of will based on His perfect knowledge and infinite understanding. Man exercises a freedom of free will where that freedom is marked by very limited knowledge and understanding.

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      5. The problem, Roger, is that you do not believe “God exercises a freedom of will.” You believe His will is eternally locked for only one completed set events, which just appears like divine decisions to us, but were never actual decisions to Him.

        You do not believe God’s thoughts go from possible things, first undecided, to things being then all decided. To your thinking they are all “decided” eternally, which is a semantic oxymoron, that you and Calvinists won’t admit, for you won’t admit a before and after for God in anything, making even the incarnation a non sequitur for God!

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      6. brianwagner writes, “The problem…is that you do not believe “God exercises a freedom of will.” You believe His will is eternally locked for only one completed set events, which just appears like divine decisions to us, but were never actual decisions to Him. ”

        Oh, Brian!!!! If God were indeed locked into events that He did not decide then He could not be God, could He? He would be subject to the control of the “fates” or whatever locked in those events. If, however, God is “locked in” to events that He has determined (decisions He has made) then there would be no reason for God to change those events – they being “locked in” – since the original decisions reflect His perfection and can not be changed without reducing them to imperfection.

        Then, “You do not believe God’s thoughts go from possible things, first undecided, to things being then all decided. To your thinking they are all “decided” eternally, which is a semantic oxymoron, that you and Calvinists won’t admit, for you won’t admit a before and after for God in anything, making even the incarnation a non sequitur for God!”

        The issue here is whether God is limited to first thinking a thought (a possibility) and after having initiated this thought, does He then ponder that possibility is a series of thoughts with time measuring one thought to the next. This is the way finite beings, such as you and I, think. Or does God exhaust the subject in one thought. How exactly does an infinite being actually think. Certainly God thinks logically – as He is rational and not irrational – and that which God thinks can be placed in a logical order. However, placing God’s thoughts in logical order does not mean that God must think those thoughts in an order where one follows the other. Can God think a thought without also simultaneously having thought all that there is to think on that thought? God has told us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” What that means is beyond us – except that we seem to know a little about how the human mind operates, so we can conclude that God’s mind operates differently.

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      7. Non-sequential thinking… Roger, do you have biblical proof that this is true for God? Certainly your quote from Isaiah does not prove that concept. God’s thoughts are not ours in that His are “higher”. That is a comparative term within one reality, not suggesting a totality different reality for understanding the nature of thinking.

        We even speak about someone thinking “deeper” about something. Taking the sequence out of the concept of thinking is illogical and irrational and has no biblical support.

        Are you familiar with the debate between Van Til and Clark concerning analogical or univocal revelation in Scripture. Gordon Clark (though wrong in his Calvinism) was correct concerning revelation!

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      8. brianwagner writes, “Non-sequential thinking… Roger, do you have biblical proof that this is true for God? ”

        Do we have Biblical proof for any speculations about how God thinks? As far as I can tell, any speculations about the manner in which God thinks are just that – speculations. We can say that God has infinite understanding (having a verse that says this) and can assume that He has always had infinite understanding – God is not ever learning. God also has perfect knowledge especially of His creation and the source of that knowledge is within Himself – God is not gaining new knowledge. No one that I know has jumped form these facts to being able to explain how God physically thinks.

        Never got into Van Til or his issues with Clark.

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