Dead Wrong!

HERE is the PODCAST on Spiritual Deadness


Dr. Braxton Hunter, a Ph.D. in Christian Apologetics and the President of Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary, partnered with me in a debate with two good Calvinistic brothers over the doctrine of “Total Inability” this last week (which can be heard HERE).  Much focus was on the biblical concept of “spiritual deadness” and the unfounded presumption by the Calvinists that it means mankind is born completely unable to respond willingly to God Himself.

The analogy of being “dead” is seen throughout the scriptures, but can it be demonstrated to mean that mankind is born completely and totally unable to willingly respond to God Himself, as the Calvinists presume? Are we born dead like Lazarus, a corpse rotting in the tomb (a link scripture never draws), or are we dead like the Prodigal, a loved one living in rebellion? Scripture supports the latter rather than the former:

“For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24).

Spiritual deadness seems to be equated with “lostness” or “in rebellion,” not as “total inability to respond.” Likewise, in Romans 6:11, Paul also teaches the believers to count themselves “dead to sin.” A consistent Calvinist would have to interpret this to mean that believers are completely unable to sin when tempted. Of course, that is not the case. Paul is teaching that we are to separate ourselves from sin, in much the same way we were once separated by our sin from God. “Deadness” here connotes the idea of being separated, like the son was from his father, not the incapacitation of the will to respond to God’s appeal to be reconciled from our separation.

Plus, if we examine the story of Lazarus more closely it reveals a truth that flies in the face of the Calvinistic conclusion.

“So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe…’ (John 11:14-15).

The lesson the Lord wishes to teach his followers is not the conclusion that Calvinists draw from this text (i.e. God effectually makes the spiritually dead alive in the same way He raises Lazarus); but instead, the Lord’s expressed desire is so that the witnesses “may believe.” Clearly, an outward sign is said to have the ability to help individuals believe, something that seems completely superfluous given the effectuality of regeneration on the Calvinistic system. The text goes on to say:

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’  She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world’ … Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’’ (John 11:25-27; 40).

Once again, it is the faith of the eye witnesses, not Lazarus, that Jesus seems to be focused upon in this discourse. Furthermore, the responsibility is put onto the individual to believe so as to live, not the other way around. The focus of this text is on the believing response of the witnesses to Christ’s miracle and the believers eventual resurrection from the dead. Remember, Lazarus was a believer, not Totally Depraved, so this miracle more likely represents the believer’s resurrection from the dead than a irresistible soteriological drawing of the lost to faith.

“So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me’… Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him” (John 11:41-42; 45).

Jesus expresses a desire for the witnesses to believe based upon what they have seen, something on Calvinism that is a certainty for the Elect ones and absolutely impossible for the Reprobates, regardless of what miracle either of them witness. Notice that Jesus describes the faith of the eye witnesses as being a direct response to what they saw, not a supernatural inward work of regeneration, or an unconditional choice before time began.

No where in this passage, or any other, do we find the concept of spiritual deadness as being in reference to total inability, yet the story of Lazarus is one of the most referenced proof texts cited by Calvinists in defense of this doctrine.

Let’s consider other passages which use the analogy of “deadness.” For instance, take a look at Jesus’ own words to the church in Sardis:

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” (Rev. 3:1-6)

Clearly, Jesus fully expects this church to heed his warning and respond in repentance despite the fact that he called them “dead.”  The Calvinist may object saying, “But, Jesus is speaking to the church, not to the lost, so that does not apply to our point of contention.”  I disagree, and here is why:

  1. The point is simply to show how the analogy of being “dead” doesn’t necessarily imply “corpse-like inability.” This use of the word illustrates that point because clearly those in the church are expected to “wake up” and “repent.” The burden is on the Calvinist to produce examples where the analogy explicitly demonstrates the concept of “total inability” to respond to God’s life-giving Word.
  1. The Calvinistic teachings on “Compatibilism” equally applies to the choices of the Saints (the elect) and the Reprobates (the non-elect). According to the Compatibilist, a person will always choose in accordance with his or her greatest desire, which is determined by the God given nature and Divinely controlled circumstances in which that individual makes the choice.[1] Therefore, the choice of a Christian is as much under the “sovereign meticulous providence” of God as are the choices of the Reprobates.  So, according to a consistent Calvinist, the “dead” believers in Sardis were as incapable of response to Christ’s appeals to repent, as were the “dead reprobates” being called by the gospel to repentance for the very first time.  In other words, if Compatibilism is true, then both the “dead” believer in Sardis and the “dead” reprobate is equally incapable of repentance apart from God’s gracious work to effectuate that willing response. Thus, the burden of proof is still on the Calvinist to demonstrate that the analogy of being “dead,” in both instances, equals “corpse-like inability.”

Paul is known to use the analogy of being “dead” along side the concept of being included “in Him,” as we see here:

In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:11-13).

Here Paul seems to relate circumcision to being made alive. Deut. 10:16 says, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer,” which strongly seems to indicate it is man’s responsibility to humbly repent, as seen repeated in Jer. 4:4:

Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire And burn with none to quench it, Because of the evil of your deeds.’”

This parallels Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 1 and 2, which likewise references the saints as having once been dead but being made alive by God. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists affirm that we were all once dead in our sins and have been made alive together with Him.  The point of contention is over whether the dead sinner has any responsibility in his being raised up. Is the concept of “deadness” meant to suggest that mankind has no responsibility (ability to respond) to God’s appeal to “repent and live” (Num. 21:8-9; Ezk. 18:32; 33:11; John 6:40; John 20:31).

The text indicates that we are “made alive together with Him,” and it is mankind’s responsibility to be included “in Him,” through faith:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).

When were you “mark in Him?”

“When you believed,” according to the text.

Clearly, one must believe in order to be marked “in Him” and receive the Holy Spirit, not the other way around.  It is “in Him” that we are “made alive” or “raised,” according to the texts quoted above.

No where in the Bible is the concept of being “dead” connoted to mean that mankind has no responsibility to humble themselves and repent in faith so as to be “made alive together with Him.” As Paul teaches in Romans 8:10, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

The theme of being “raised up,” “made alive,” “exalted,” or “lifted up” is carried throughout the scriptures, and it is not difficult to see the expectation God has for those who He will graciously raise up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not once in scripture does it teach that God is the one responsible for humbling us so that we would be “lifted up,” “raised up,” “exalted” or “make alive together with Him.”

In James 1:14-15, it states, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Likewise, Paul says in Romans 7:9-10, “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.” Yet, Calvinists teach that we are born dead already. So, which is it? Clearly, the analogy of “death” can carry with it different connotations, none of which can be shown by the text to mean “total inability” from birth.

Finally, if spiritual deadness is taken in a woodenly literal way by the Calvinist when it comes to mankind’s inability to respond willingly, then why can the “corpse-like dead man” respond unwillingly? A corpse could not “grab the life preserver when it is offered,” as the Calvinist likes to point out, but a corpse also could not actively swim away from it either, as is the rebellious response of many to the gospel. In fact, there are all different kinds of responses to the life preserver.  Some swim around it for a while and seem genuinely interested. Others mock it angrily. In fact, no two “dead” people respond in the exact same way to the life preserver, which obviously would not be true if they literally responded like a corpse.

Once again, the Calvinistic presumption is just that, a presumption they read into the text that is simply never substantiated by any explicit biblical teaching.

For more on this subject, CLICK HERE.


[1] John Hendryx, referenced by Phil Johnson and James White in defense of Compatibilism: https://www.monergism.com/topics/free-will/compatibilism

80 thoughts on “Dead Wrong!

  1. Leighton, one more thing that can be added is John 10:37-38:

    “‘If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.’”

    Jesus encourages these unbelievers to believe in Him through the compelling testimony of the miracles. These unbelievers were the same people that Jesus addressed at John 10:26 as not being among His sheep:

    “‘But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.’”

    So if we add it all up, then Jesus is telling people who are not His sheep, and who do not believe in Him, to believe in Him through the testimony of the miracles. So the question is this: Does Jesus say this because He thinks that they are able to consider what He is saying, and to be able to evaluate the meaning of His miracles and determine His identity with respect to the Father? If not, then why is He saying it?

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    1. Richard Coords writes:

      “So if we add it all up, then Jesus is telling people who are not His sheep, and who do not believe in Him, to believe in Him through the testimony of the miracles. So the question is this: Does Jesus say this because He thinks that they are able to consider what He is saying, and to be able to evaluate the meaning of His miracles and determine His identity with respect to the Father? If not, then why is He saying it?”

      Great post Richard!! I’ve seen you here before a couple of times, and always appreciate your informative posts!

      I suspect that if one reads the text through the Augustinian/Calvinian lens (which is truth for them), it will quite naturally make sense to them. There but for the grace of God go I!

      Blessings! :-]

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  2. Really enjoy this line of argument and find it very challenging and instructive. Yea, you guessed it I still have something to say. 😀

    A side point: I know it’s instinctive, because I’ve often done it too, but a lot of your arguments against determinism devolve into an argument upon what determinists would call the secondary means. It’s a frustrating thing to ague against, because everything that is phrased with the idea of uncertainty becomes just an illusory deterministic method to create the end product with absolute certainty. It’s sort of a way of arguing backwards, from the standpoint that even indeterministic sounding threats and promises and commands only express complete determinism, since there is a commitment to see them through this colored lens.

    But I really take issue with this:
    “No where in this passage, or any other, do we find the concept of spiritual deadness as being in reference to total inability”

    We do, and that quite clearly. Jesus said “apart from me you can do nothing,” and went on to say that one will dry up and be burned without him. At the same time, though, Jesus clearly issues a command to abide in him, thus implying a synergous either/or ability to make a choice. So we are taken back to the carrying up the stairs picture. One might be tempted to think monergism is the only other option to human ability, and see a sophisticated teaching where that very ability is granted back to man through prevenient grace as an unnecessary addition.

    There’s a couple reasons I feel strongly about seeing humans as that totally sinful and incapable. I would admit that with God’s grace, and only with God’s grace has that “grace to choose” never been completely withdrawn from humanity. However there is a spiritual darkness both before and after that grace that can happen, which prevents any positive response to God. This is illustrated by Christ’s statement “The night cometh when no man can work.” When one feels deeply one’s own inability and the lack of trust one can put in one’s self, when one feels deeply just how drastic and huge a fall the transgression of man really was, and how drastic and extreme the work of the Cross really was, when one examines what humans become when God’s grace is removed, the extent and degree of their evil, either prompting God to flood the world, or in the last days creating a kingdom of the Beast full of cursing, perversion and hatred towards God, one really doesn’t want to underestimate how sinful sin really is in humans. But since God has always been so gracious to humanity it’s tough to separate what we are with grace, and without grace, what we are with God working “mysteriously” in our hearts to want the right thing, and what we are with no working whatsoever. Total depravity/inability never has and never will mean that humans, when given grace, still can make no choice for or against God. It means we have no righteous capacity and are sold to sin as a principle without the intervening grace of God.

    And so one can wonder if at this point it’s just semantics. If all of us say “Man without grace will always be sinful” and then “Man with grace has a genuine chance to be righteous” it seems to me, we agree on the essentials. But from our side we have to wonder if taking away a little bit of the sinfulness of man will eventually lead more and more to the idea that people really can be good without the grace of the work of Christ—and this has already been a prevalent and common error throughout Christian history. We take seriously David’s claim “You are my Lord, I have no good besides you.” When you say “both the “dead” believer in Sardis and the “dead” reprobate is equally incapable of repentance apart from God’s gracious work to effectuate that willing response” I only think instinctively to myself “of course” because that is how deep grace has wrought it’s work in me. I’ve looked into my own dead face too many times to think that when a sprig of life sprouts in my heart, I had anything at all to do with it—other than allowing God’s grace to channel through me, and I do think that’s an autonomous choice only initiated however by grace. When you say ” The point of contention is over whether the dead sinner has any responsibility in his being raised up” I’m honestly terrified to think I could raise myself up in any sense, yet at the same time I whole-heartedly believe I said a “yes” to Prevenient Grace already working in me. I don’t think we should avoid an understanding merely because it feels “too complicated.” One could reject the Trinity altogether for that reason.

    And arguing that “Not once in scripture does it teach that God is the one responsible for humbling us so that we would be “lifted up,” “raised up,” “exalted” or “made alive together with Him” only attacks the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. It doesn’t even graze Prevenient Grace or Total Depravity, because those two work in tandem to restore autonomous decision and synergy.

    I agree death is super complex and multi-faceted in Scripture. I even see good support for degrees and kinds of death. However when you say ” Clearly, the analogy of “death” can carry with it different connotations, none of which can be shown by the text to mean “total inability” from birth” I have to wonder just what you think man is without the grace of God. Do you really expect a bad tree to bear good fruit or a leopard to change its spots? Do you really think Christ makes up 99% of the gap between us and God? This whole idea that we can be good without God is extremely troubling to me. It denigrates the depth of the fall of man and the necessity of Jesus’ work of identification in death and resurrection.

    When you say “no two “dead” people respond in the exact same way” the point from my Arminian perspective is could they respond without grace working in their heart, not the variations of how they respond. When you attack Depravity in the sense that there is some measure of grace we do not need to respond to God, I feel like you attack the Cross itself. God declared in the Cross “nothing humans are or can do pleases me, except this,” and it’s because Jesus took the first step, both in the Garden of Eden, and the Garden of Gethsemane, that any of us can say “Yes, Lord, I want to follow you.” That transitory grace is spoken of in many places throughout the Word, grace for grace and light for darkness and awaking the sleeper and calling the dead and the valley of decision.

    Take all grace away, take all of the grace of God away, and tell me what a human is then.

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      1. No, of course I don’t. It is as I suspected that you would not disagree that without grace we are unable, rather that all receive grace.

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  3. Not to mention if man is born dead God has been conversing with dead men starting with Adam Eve Cain Abel Noah Abraham Isaac Jacob Abimelech the Pharisees Judas Prometheus everyone and anyone in the Bible God is in the business of speaking with dead men…
    Nowhere in the Bible do you hear the term spiritual death or spiritually dead 1st Corinthians 2:11 seems to imply man has a spirit that is alive… also if sin is the proof of men being dead you would think once we have been United with Christ (which truly is life… to be outside of Christ is death to be in Christ is life) there would be no more sin… and Paul says to put to death the misdeeds of the body… physical death and spiritual death are two different things…

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    1. Jesus claimed to speak with dead men:

      24″Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25″Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live

      Paul talks of dying:

      9Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.

      Jesus said some had no life in them:

      53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

      Paul said some were dead in sins:

      13When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,

      Not sure how one can deny spiritual death…

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  4. Pastor Flowers concludes, “Once again, the Calvinistic presumption is just that, a presumption they read into the text that is simply never substantiated by any explicit biblical teaching.”

    On of the difficulties that the Calvinists have sought to explain was the rejection of the gospel – Why do people reject that which offers them unlimited gain over complete loss? If people hear the gospel and are “able” to accept what it says, why do so many reject what they hear? People seem to have the ability to respond to truth as Paul describes in Romans 1:18-32, yet Paul says that none do and a downward spiral results.

    It is in answering this issue that Calvinists came to the conclusion that people are dead in sin, and they are Totally Depraved. It is the depravity of people that accounts for their rejection of the gospel, and this depravity is such that people cannot overcome that depravity to accept the gospel without God’s help.

    Pastor Flowers asks, “The analogy of being “dead” is seen throughout the scriptures, but can it be demonstrated to mean that mankind is born completely and totally unable to willingly respond to God Himself, as the Calvinists presume?” The answer is, Yes, both from experience and from the Scriptures. Pastor Flowers has chosen to ignore those Scriptures that speak of the work of God in a person that is identified with a person accepting the gospel. Even as Lazarus could not come forth from the tomb in the absence of Christ’s call – Lazarus finding himself alive, by no effort of his own, and able to walk out of the tomb responds to Christ call and goes to meet Him – so the depraved person cannot accept the gospel unless made alive by God. Can we imagine Lazarus willingly choosing to stay in the tomb on hearing Christ’s call to come forth?

    This is the Pelagian/Augustinian debate – Can a person respond willingly to the gospel absent God making them willing?

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    1. But Jesus tells us why he raised Lazarus and it had nothing to do with demonstrating that a spiritually dead person can’t choose God. If people are not able to accept the gospel, then why preach? Let’s just shut down all the churches. God will save the ones he wants to save anyway. But that isn’t what scripture teaches, rather

      “14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

      There is no great mystery about why people don’t believe. Why do you, why do I, even as believers, sometimes choose sin even when we know it only brings misery? Because we are rebellious, still. Because we can, in a moment of weakness choose wrong. Thankfully God is merciful and patient.
      “All day long I have held out my hands
      to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

      “Dead in sin” is a metaphor with limits. It’s not meant to be taken as literally as dead as a corpse.

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      1. wildswanderer writes, “But Jesus tells us why he raised Lazarus and it had nothing to do with demonstrating that a spiritually dead person can’t choose God….“Dead in sin” is a metaphor with limits. It’s not meant to be taken as literally as dead as a corpse.”

        Why not? Some take “dead in sin” to refer to spiritual death – the estrangement of the person from God – and described by Paul in Romans 3:10-18 and Romans 8. Seems pretty graphic to me.

        Then, “If people are not able to accept the gospel, then why preach? Let’s just shut down all the churches. God will save the ones he wants to save anyway. But that isn’t what scripture teaches, rather…”

        It is God who commands us to preach. God has chosen to call His elect out of the world through the preaching of His servants.

        Then, “There is no great mystery about why people don’t believe.”

        You explained it earlier in the same way that the Calvinists do – people who reject salvation are irrational. People who accept salvation are rational.

        Finally, “Why do you, why do I, even as believers, sometimes choose sin even when we know it only brings misery? Because we are rebellious, still. Because we can, in a moment of weakness choose wrong.”

        It’s a little more than that as Paul explains in Romans 7, “I find this law at work: 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. What a wretched man I am!”

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      2. “You explained it earlier in the same way that the Calvinists do – people who reject salvation are irrational. People who accept salvation are rational.”

        Where did I say this?

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      3. I said, “You explained it earlier in the same way that the Calvinists do – people who reject salvation are irrational. People who accept salvation are rational.”

        You asked, “Where did I say this?”

        On the Blog by Pastor Flowers entitled, “Does Regeneration Precede Faith?” you made this comment:

        “People reject salvation because they refuse to give up control of their lives, and give their wills over to God…. People in the real world do not always choose rationally, not even close.”

        Did you not mean to say that people who reject salvation do not choose rationally” By saying, “not even close,” did you not mean that they were being irrational in rejecting salvation?

        You posted the comment on March 29, 2016 at 3:16 am.

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      4. My point is that to try to reduce it to what is rational and what isn’t doesn’t do the spiritual struggle justice. Laying down one’s will does not seem rational to the natural man, and choose hell doesn’t seem rational to the spirit, but we are perfectly capable of choosing against all logic.

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      5. Wildswanderer writes, “My point is that to try to reduce it to what is rational and what isn’t doesn’t do the spiritual struggle justice.”

        If it were simply a rational decision, the choice would be obvious – all would choose salvation. The Calvinists say that salvation involves a spiritual struggle and that is what Calvinist theology is all about. So, at least, you understand the Calvinist approach to salvation.

        Then, “…we are perfectly capable of choosing against all logic.”

        Why that is so is exactly what the Calvinists have sought to discover. Only the Calvinists have really identified the spiritual problem. Many, like you, don’t like the Calvinist conclusions but neither you nor your cohorts have ever been able to craft a different explanation (at least one that is coherent).

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      6. There is no spiritual struggle in the version you have presented again and again. You say God opens men’s eyes (which we agree on) to their condition, and once they have a choice, they always choose salvation. (Which we disagree on-if they always choose salvation, where is the struggle? You present it as a strictly mental transaction.) There is nothing inherently Calvinist about salvation being a spiritual struggle. What Christian theologian would say otherwise?

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      7. wildswanderer writes, “There is no spiritual struggle in the version you have presented again and again.”

        There is no spiritual struggle in those dead in sin as we both seem to agree based on your next comment.

        Then, “You say God opens men’s eyes (which we agree on) to their condition, and once they have a choice, they always choose salvation. (Which we disagree on-if they always choose salvation, where is the struggle?”

        The key point here is “God opens men’s eyes.” This creates a struggle because the person still has his old nature and from Romans 7, we see that this struggle continues throughout the believer’s life. It is not much of a struggle regarding salvation because the choice between eternal life and eternal death is not a difficult decision or a struggle. How could it be? Once a person has his eyes opened, eternal death becomes a vivid reality – a reality that no reasonable person (a person whose eyes have been opened) wants.

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      8. Of course there is no struggle in your version. If certain are saved by God’s secret decree and others damned, all so called choices are inevitable and you might as well admit that in your version God is directing Satan to make it impossible for those pre-damned ones to have their eyes opened.
        Meanwhile in the real world, people can be under conviction, know their condition and still choose to resist. In fact, a person can follow God for years and then choose not to follow or believe anymore. Since I’m not a Baptist (lol) I don’t have to wonder why some seem to fall away.
        I used to think Calvinism was fairly benign, but lately I see it as a deception of the evil one, to make God’s gracious mercy and self sacrifice seem like just the opposite, a plan to arbitrarily damn most people on a whim. No wonder so many conclude he is a monster and turn to agnosticism.

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      9. wilswanderer writes, “…to make God’s gracious mercy and self sacrifice seem like just the opposite, a plan to arbitrarily damn most people on a whim.”

        You seem to be denying that God is omniscient. Have you taken the plunge into Open Theism? I don’t see the issue you have with God being arbitrary. Whatever discretion God exercises reflects His infinite understanding of all things, His perfect wisdom, and His purpose. Who better than God to make decisions about the creatures He created.

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      10. I don’t know where you get that idea. Classic Arminians see God’s foreknowledge as not determining who is saved and who isn’t. God’s sovereignty does not demand that he exercise total control over his creatures. And in fact, if that were the case, much of scripture would read like nonsense, and God would be fighting a war against Himself. It’s odd to me that determinism demands that God forcibly saves some and damns others, and yet all Christian determinists believe they are among the saved. If they are correct, chances are they are damned and don’t know it.

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      11. wildswanderer writes, “Classic Arminians see God’s foreknowledge as not determining who is saved and who isn’t.”

        Everyone, for the most part, agree on this. William L. Craig wrote a book showing this.

        What does “omniscience” tell us about God? It says that prior to creating the world, God knew everything that was to happen from beginning to end. God knew the names of those who would be saved and those who would not be saved. When God physically created the world, He necessarily ordained everything to play out exactly as he knew in His omniscient. You refer to that as “a plan to arbitrarily damn most people on a whim.” However, God acts having infinite understanding of all things, perfect wisdom, and purpose. To claim that God initiated “a plan to arbitrarily damn most people on a whim” is pure nonsense in the face of God’s understanding, wisdom and purpose.

        Then, “God’s sovereignty does not demand that he exercise total control over his creatures. And in fact, if that were the case, much of scripture would read like nonsense, and God would be fighting a war against Himself. ”

        Sovereignty says that God has total control over His creation. You want to split hairs by focusing on God’s exercise of His sovereignty, but it is a false argument. God cannot not exercise total control over His creation. After all, it is God who determines that a person will be born and the day of their death. In between, it is God who sustains not only people but His entire creation throughout its existence. It is God who chooses to intervene in the affairs of His creation to flood the earth after telling Noah to build an ark, or to make a young women pregnant with His son. It is God who, in the exercise of his sovereign power, choose not to intervene when Christ is killed and later Stephen. Nothing happens in God’s creation that was not know to God before He created the world and He is in complete control of the things that happen – in some cases restraining the evil that men want to do and at other times not restraining that evil. Again, I have to ask, Do you mean to deny that God is omniscient and knew all that was to happen the moment He created the world? If you hold that God is omniscient, I do not understand the arguments you are trying to advance.

        Finally, “It’s odd to me that determinism demands that God forcibly saves some and damns others, and yet all Christian determinists believe they are among the saved. If they are correct, chances are they are damned and don’t know it.”

        Determinism says that every event of God’s creation and every action of people was determined the moment God created the world. This is based on God’s omniscience. Whether Christian determinists have accurately assessed their own standing before God has nothing to do with the determinism they advocate.

        Do you actually hold that God is omniscient? If so, what does “omniscience” mean to you as applied to God? Your comments indicate that you are Open Theist – Are you?

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      12. “Determinism says that every event of God’s creation and every action of people was determined the moment God created the world. This is based on God’s omniscience.”

        I suggest you look into the writings of Roger Olson on this subject, about God being in charge but not in control. I would have to write a small book to cover this subject sufficiently.
        But just an observation: Millions of man’s actions today and everyday fall outside the will of God. We can know this because God’s will is not hidden behind some mystical veil. God’s will is for us, all of us become more like Him. .
        18And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

        If you’re having trouble understanding the liberty of free will, you need to ask God for wisdom:

        “16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

        There seems to be a large segment of the Christian community that have problems with the idea that their actions, right or wrong, really do have consequences. I’ve talked a man on wordpress who believed that his addition to pornography was part of God’s plan for him. He embraced Calvinism, because it excused his actions instead of leading him to repentance. When you understand that men’s free will really does change the future for good or bad, it should lead to humility and dependence on God. It gives God more glory, not less.

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      13. wildswanderer writes, “…about God being in charge but not in control. ”

        God is sovereign; God is always in control. It is God who gives people the freedom to sin without interference from Him. God is present as people sin and purposely and deliberately chooses not to intervene – this to accomplish His purposes and His will.

        Maybe you misread Olsen or Olsen doesn’t understand sovereignty.

        wildswanderer writes, ” I’ve talked a man on wordpress who believed that his addition to pornography was part of God’s plan for him. He embraced Calvinism, because it excused his actions instead of leading him to repentance. ”

        Don’t believe everything people tell you as they excuse their sin. Sinners hide behind Calvinism to justify their sin. Pedophiles hid behind the Catholic church to hide their sin. Murderers and rapists hide behind Islam to do their evil. Tell the man that God’s plan is to exclude him from eternal life, so he should enjoy his pornography while he can.

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      14. “Tell the man that God’s plan is to exclude him from eternal life, so he should enjoy his pornography while he can.” Why would I ever tell anyone that lie, when I know good and well that God’s plan for him is to repent and enjoy Him forever? What you have said here is a perfect illustration of the lie of limited atonement and how it leads to hopelessness.

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      15. wildswanderer writes, ‘“Tell the man that God’s plan is to exclude him from eternal life, so he should enjoy his pornography while he can.” Why would I ever tell anyone that lie, when I know good and well that God’s plan for him is to repent and enjoy Him forever?”

        As old preachers will say, “You got to get them unsaved before you can get them saved.” You said that the man was justifying his salvation on the basis of Calvinism; thus, he already believes that he has repented. So, you want to tell him something that he already believes he has done. Sometimes, I don’t understand your logic. I think you need to get him unsaved before you can get him saved. Tell him that his pornography has him on the road to hell. If he believes you, then you can tell him to repent.

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      16. Why would you conclude that any sin has him on his road to hell? According to your theology he’s either irrevocably destined to hell or irrevocably destined to salvation. Nothing I say could change that.

        The post in question was some time ago and of course, I told him his theology was wrong and God does not irresistibly cause some men to be prisoners of sin for some secret purpose. But, of course, he listed the normal verses taken out of context to “prove” the Calvinists were correct and he had no choice in the matter.

        Again, you have proven that no one can live and act as if determinism is true. If we did, we would not bother to urge anyone to quit their sin and repent, as that would be solely up to God.

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      17. “Why would you conclude that any sin has him on his road to hell?”

        Read Romans 2-6.

        Then, “According to your theology he’s either irrevocably destined to hell or irrevocably destined to salvation. Nothing I say could change that.”

        This man’s destiny is fixed in God’s omniscience but unknown to us. By your comment, you are denying that God is omniscient. So, are you now succumbing to Open Theism?

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      18. I agree that Christians should not go on in their sin. (obviously) and I’ve been reading Roman’s a lot lately. However, according to reformed theology, a person could (in Luther’s words)” kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day” and not be separated from God. It seems to me that the person in question was just taking his Calvinism to it’s logical conclusion: if God has chosen him, there is nothing he can do to become unchosen and if he is not chosen, nothing he can do will change that.

        Again, God’s omniscience is not what fixes man’s destiny. It’s man’s choice of faith or rejection of it.
        This isn’t unique to Open theism. In Simple foreknowledge for example:

        “SF adherents maintain that God’s foreknowledge is contingent on our existence. God knows what we will do because we will do it. God’s knowing isn’t the source of our doing. Rather, our doing is the source of God’s knowing. SF adherents believe that it is meaningless to speak of God knowing the actions of creatures that never exist. It’s also meaningless to speak of God knowing what we would do in different situations that don’t actually exist. If an actual situation doesn’t exist, there is nothing for God to know about it.”
        https://wesleyanarminian.wordpress.com

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      19. wildswanderer writes, “…a person could (in Luther’s words)” kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day” and not be separated from God.”

        If Luther used this language, then he did so to emphasize that God’s grace is never ends. In His grace, God gives the sinner a new heart and the consequence of this is that the person recognizes his sin and runs to Christ for salvation. The believer would not then commit adultery a thousand times a day. What Luther may have meant is that, for believers, the attack of Satan and his minions is relentless and without relief day after day. This attack occurs primary in the mind where there is a continuous attack to tempt the person to think lustfully of people, to react in anger against others, to succumb to pride and selfishness, etc. A person is constantly under assault and the weariness of fighting against his old nature can result in many defeats – that’s life for the believer. Luther was offering assurance that God does not desert the believer no matter what. Those defeats become the source of shame and not something a believer would brag about as appears to be the case with the person you describe.

        Then, “Again, God’s omniscience is not what fixes man’s destiny. It’s man’s choice of faith or rejection of it.”

        Omniscience is not the “cause” of the person’s destiny; it makes that destiny certain or fixed as opposed to necessary. As God is omniscient, God knows with certainty those who will be saved and those who will be lost but God’s knowledge of this does not make these outcomes necessary – God’s knowledge does not cause the outcomes. A person’s faith makes the outcome necessary. If you agree that God is omniscient, then you agree that God knew His elect and the reprobate when He created Adam/Eve and His creation of Adam/Eve set in motion a series of events that would result in the salvation of His elect and the damnation of the reprobate. If you deny this, you deny omniscience.

        Then, “In Simple foreknowledge for example:

        “SF adherents maintain that God’s foreknowledge is contingent on our existence. God knows what we will do because we will do it….our doing is the source of God’s knowing.”

        I do not think this is the Simple Foreknowledge view. I understand SF to state that God has a perfect knowledge of the future but doesn’t explain how God has this knowledge (compared to the Calvinists who say that the source of God’s knowledge are His decrees).

        What you describe is not omniscience. If God’s knowledge results from our doing, then God can only know what we do by coming to learn what we do. If God must learn things, He can increase in knowledge but cannot reach omniscient as God would always be able to learn new things.

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      20. Yes, that is the simple foreknowledge view. Your explanation is based on a certain belief of how God interacts with time. Scripture indicates that God is eternal, but never states he is timeless. In SF, God does not foresee the future of creation until he creates. Thus, he does not decree who will saved and who won’t, he foresees it after he creates the first humans. You keep skirting around the truth, that Calvinism does not teach that God’s choice is based on his foreknowledge at all, of our faith, but strictly on a secret decree. No, God’s knowledge doesn’t cause outcomes in your view, and neither does the persons faith or lack of it. In essence, under Calvinism, the elect are born saved and the condemned are born damned. Faith is irrelevant.

        And Luther said a lot of weird stuff. Such as “Be a sinner and sin boldy.” That’s one of the milder ones, actually.

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      21. wildswanderer writes, “You keep skirting around the truth, that Calvinism does not teach that God’s choice is based on his foreknowledge at all, of our faith, but strictly on a secret decree. ”

        It hasn’t been an issue. Nothing to skirt.

        Then, “…under Calvinism, the elect are born saved and the condemned are born damned. Faith is irrelevant.”

        That is true under any theology that holds that God is omniscient as God knows the future and the future is certain. To be accurate – born to be saved condemned from the foundation of the world. Faith is the means by which God’s elect come to salvation in the course of time.

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      22. “The logical order of God’s foreknowledge in Calvinism and Arminianism works something like this:

        Calvinism
        1) God meticulously decrees what will happen in the world that he intends to create.
        2) God creates.

        Arminianism
        1) God decides to create.
        2) God has exhaustive foreknowledge about everything that is going to happen.

        While Calvinists and Arminians both believe that God has exhaustive knowledge of the future, only in Calvinism does God meticulously decree the future – and (in the Arminian view) that’s what makes him responsible for evil. In Arminianism, God’s foreknowledge is contingent on the future free actions of creatures created in his image. If we did something different, God would know something different, because the source of his foreknowledge is our eventual actions. The Arminian does not affirm that God knew he would damn people before he decided created them, nor is it necessary for us to do so. If the source of God’s foreknowledge is our actions, God is not culpable for evil. If the source of God’s foreknowledge is through his meticulous decree, then God is responsible for every sin that every person commits.”

        https://wesleyanarminian.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/an-explanation-of-simple-foreknowledge/

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      23. wildswanderer writes, “Arminianism
        1) God decides to create.
        2) God has exhaustive foreknowledge about everything that is going to happen.

        …In Arminianism, God’s foreknowledge is contingent on the future free actions of creatures created in his image….the source of his foreknowledge is our eventual actions. ”

        This is like Open Theism. The Open Theist says that God cannot know what a person does until that person acts in time, and God cannot look into the future. The Arminian (as you describe above) also says God does not know what a person will do until that person acts, but God can see into the future. So, God cannot be omniscient; God is ignorant of a person’s actions until the person acts.

        Then, “The Arminian does not affirm that God knew he would damn people before he decided created them, nor is it necessary for us to do so.”

        In this case, God refuses to look into the future to discover who will be saved or lost even though He could.

        Then, “If the source of God’s foreknowledge is our actions, God is not culpable for evil.”

        God is also not omniscient.

        Finally, “If the source of God’s foreknowledge is through his meticulous decree, then God is responsible for every sin that every person commits.”

        Nice claim – but until the non-Calvinist can provide a proof of the truth of his claim, why should anyone care?

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      24. What would constitute proof? If I force my son to kill someone, I am liable for his crime. If God irresistibly decrees all sin, then he is liable for all sin.
        “In this case, God refuses to look into the future to discover who will be saved or lost even though He could.”
        And why is this a problem? Does God’s omniscience cancel out his omnipotence? Can God not decide to limit Himself? When one’s theology starts with Jesus, the answer is obvious. The incarnation shows us that God indeed can limit himself as much as he desires to.

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      25. wildswanderer writes, “What would constitute proof? If I force my son to kill someone, I am liable for his crime. If God irresistibly decrees all sin, then he is liable for all sin.”

        Clearly, you are clueless. I don’t know what “irresistible decrees ” means. In what sense are you saying that God’s decrees are irresistible?

        Also, you say, as example, “If I force my son…” What does forcing something have to do with God’s decrees? What is going on in your brain that you toss in words like, “irresistible” and “force”? Where did you get this goofy thinking?

        Then, I said, “In this case, God refuses to look into the future to discover who will be saved or lost even though He could.”
        You replied, “And why is this a problem? Does God’s omniscience cancel out his omnipotence? Can God not decide to limit Himself? When one’s theology starts with Jesus, the answer is obvious. The incarnation shows us that God indeed can limit himself as much as he desires to.”

        Theology starts with God. God cannot limit Himself. He can decide when and where to exercise His omnipotence. God is omnipresent and cannot not be present everywhere. God is omniscient and cannot make Himself ignorant of anything. When God became a man, He still remained God. Whatever limitations where placed on Christ as a man had nothing to do with God. As a man, Jesus was not omnipresent, but God continued to be omnipresent. As a man, Jesus may not have known what was happening in Rome, but God was still omniscient. The incarnation shows us that God can take the form of a man and that form may be limited, but all of God is not contained in that man, and God is not limited outside the man.

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      26. Who are you to tell God what he can and can’t do? If God can do anything, how does it follow that he can’t decide not to do something?Determinism locks God into a small box of man’s making.

        “I don’t know what “irresistible decrees ” means.”
        Maybe you should read up on Calvinism, lol. This has to be one of your most laughable statements to date. The whole system is based on God irrestitably decreeing everything that will happen.

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      27. wildswanderer writes, ‘Who are you to tell God what he can and can’t do? If God can do anything, how does it follow that he can’t decide not to do something?Determinism locks God into a small box of man’s making.”

        Determinism does not lock God into anything – God is free to determine anything He wants. Determinism locks man into a box – the sin nature prevents a person choosing salvation absent help from God (which the Pelagians argue against). Neither you nor I, nor any theology, can restrict or restrain God’s actions.

        Then I said “I don’t know what “irresistible decrees ” means.”
        You replied, “Maybe you should read up on Calvinism, lol. This has to be one of your most laughable statements to date. The whole system is based on God irrestitably decreeing everything that will happen.”

        Maybe you should read up on Calvinism. Perhaps, you have come to the conclusion of Nebuchadnezzar and meant to say, “God does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No-one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

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      28. Of course God does what he wants. And what he wants, according to the whole of the Bible is for his creation to choose him freely. Otherwise, what can be made of God’s anger at his rebellious creation?
        Under Calvinism, God’s free will to act or not to act is absent, all freedom is lost under a decree that includes all of men’s sin pre- chosen by God.
        If God irresistibly chooses my every sin, then he is not only as evil as satan, but he is a liar when he says that he hates sin.

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      29. wildswanderer writes, “If God irresistibly chooses my every sin, then he is not only as evil as satan, but he is a liar when he says that he hates sin.”

        What do you mean by “God irresistibly chooses” and what does this have to do with Calvinism?

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      30. According to Calvinism, God decrees everything that happens. Everything. And no one does anything outside his decree, so logically God chooses everything everyone will do, and they can not do otherwise.

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      31. wildswanderer writes, “According to Calvinism, God decrees everything that happens. Everything. And no one does anything outside his decree, so logically God chooses everything everyone will do, and they can not do otherwise.”

        OK. Do you understand the distinction between God’s active involvement and His passive involvement in the affairs of people in His decrees, particularly in relation to man’s free will?

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      32. It doesn’t matter how many dominoes you put in the chain, God still chooses exactly what everyone will do in your scenario. If someone is murdered, it was God’s idea. If someone was raped, it was his idea.

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      33. wildswanderer writes, “It doesn’t matter how many dominoes you put in the chain, God still chooses exactly what everyone will do in your scenario. If someone is murdered, it was God’s idea. If someone was raped, it was his idea.”

        This is wrong. If someone is murdered, it was the murderer’s idea – it originates from his sinful, depraved nature. If someone was raped, it was the rapist’s idea – having originated from his sinful, depraved nature. God has decreed that sinful men be free to entertain the murder or rape of another and then that such people be free to carry out their desires to murder and rape without interference from Him. Thus, David’s son acts, with complete freedom, to rape his sister even as God looks on but having decreed that He would not intervene to prevent the rape. The Jews act, with complete freedom, to stone Stephen even as God watches having decreed that He would not intervene to prevent Stephen’s death.

        You continue to display a raw ignorance of Calvinism.

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      34. wildswanderer writes, “All the various theorys, whether molinism, SF or OT or Calvinism contain mysteries. ”

        The theories appeal to mystery to explain how God can be omniscient. Calvinism proposes that God is omniscient as a consequence of His decrees – God decrees all things; thereby God knows all things and is omniscient. People object to the Calvinist claim saying that it is not true, but they have no idea how God can be omniscient. At least, you, in denying that God is omniscient, are taking a rational position (even though a wrong position).

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      35. If God is only able to tell the future once he decrees it, then God has limits.
        In either case, God does not simply know, he knows for a reason, so all your talk about Arminianism limiting God is wrong.
        In one view God knows only once he decrees, and in the other he knows only once he creates.
        And I never once denied God was omniscient, so you can get off that hobby horse.

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      36. wildswanderer writes, “f God is only able to tell the future once he decrees it, then God has limits.
        In either case, God does not simply know, he knows for a reason, so all your talk about Arminianism limiting God is wrong.”

        What is that reason? If the reason is in Him, then it is because He decrees all things. If that reason is outside Him – God has to learn what is happening to know what is happening, then God is not omniscient.

        Then, “In one view God knows only once he decrees, and in the other he knows only once he creates.”

        What exactly does God know only once He creates? If He knows the future, then how does God know the future? The “once God creates” crowd doesn’t really try to explain how God knows the future and is omniscient.

        Finally, “And I never once denied God was omniscient, so you can get off that hobby horse.”

        The comments you make are consistent with one who does not believe that God is omniscient.

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      37. “If that reason is outside Him – God has to learn what is happening to know what is happening, then God is not omniscient.”

        You assume things-that God cannot create a free being whose actions are not pre-determined. If God can do anything, he can create possible futures without determining what will happen in those futures. Why would this be considered “outside of him?” He is still the reason, it is still his power that sets it in motion. Why can God not decree that creatures be truly free to choose their destinies? If he can’t, then, again, you have tried to place limits on him with your philosophy of how God has to act.

        “What exactly does God know only once He creates? If He knows the future, then how does God know the future?”

        Why do you need an answer to how? You place the mystery with God’s will, we place the mystery with God creation. It should be enough to say God knows. If he is truly all powerful, then asking how he knows is a non question. He knows what he wants to know when he wants to know it. Anything else is a limited view of God’s omniscience.

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      38. wildswanderer writes, “Why can God not decree that creatures be truly free to choose their destinies?”

        Under Calvinism, God decrees that man be free to choose his destiny (but ruled by their sin nature) thereby not able to gain salvation without God’s help to enable them to choose salvation. The Pelagians insist that God decrees that they be truly free (not ruled by their sin nature) thereby able to cooperate with God in salvation with God needing only to provide the means of salvation (Christ’s death). I gather that you take the side of the Pelagians.

        Also, “If God can do anything, he can create possible futures without determining what will happen in those futures.”

        Can you explain how this might happen with examples. I think you are only only expressing that which you would like to be true and cannot explain it.

        Then, “Why do you need an answer to how? ”

        The Calvinists explain one way for God to know the future – by decreeing it. You and others say that is wrong; so propose an alternative way for God to know the future without appealing to mystery. If Calvinism is wrong, you should have a viable alternative or else you have little basis for saying that the Calvinists must be wrong.

        Lastly, “He knows what he wants to know when he wants to know it. ”

        That is not omniscience. Under omniscience, God knows all things; it is inherent to Him. If there are things that God does not want to know, then there are things He does not know, and He could not be omniscient.

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      39. So, which version limits God more? You have a computer programming God who HAS to program everything his creation will do.

        “Under Calvinism, God decrees that man be free to choose his destiny (but ruled by their sin nature) thereby not able to gain salvation without God’s help to enable them to choose salvation.”

        So, in other words, to state what you just said more honestly, man can not really choose against his sin nature, and God decrees everything he will do anyway, so man’s freedom to determine anything about his destiny is totally illusionary.

        “Can you explain how this might happen with examples.”
        Already did. God creates man with a real free will, so man has self determination within limits.. Anyone can understand the concept, it’s how we see life happening when we don’t impose some other philosophy on it. it’s not complicated. God allows real decisions in the real world. There is mystery here, because we don’t know when God is actively working in someone’s life and when he isn’t. But in the real world, both God and man have freedom to act or not to act.
        “I gather that you take the side of the Pelagians.”
        Nope, we covered this multiple times. Man has a choice, to rely on God or not. He can’t be sinless in his own strength.

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      40. wildswanderer writes, “So, which version limits God more? You have a computer programming God who HAS to program everything his creation will do.”

        I don’t see any basis for you to conclude that such is the case. People are programmed to act consistent with their nature and the influences upon them. God can let people freely do what they desire or He can intervene to force a different outcome. What does that have to do with a “computer programming God”? God did not program Adam to sin but did provide Adam the ability to sin.

        Then, “So, in other words, to state what you just said more honestly, man can not really choose against his sin nature, and God decrees everything he will do anyway, so man’s freedom to determine anything about his destiny is totally illusionary. ”

        On what basis do you say that man’s freedom is impeded by God’s decrees? God’s decrees no more make Him the cause of people’s sin than His prior knowledge of that sin.

        Then, “God creates man with a real free will, so man has self determination within limits. Anyone can understand the concept, it’s how we see life happening when we don’t impose some other philosophy on it. it’s not complicated. God allows real decisions in the real world. There is mystery here, because we don’t know when God is actively working in someone’s life and when he isn’t. But in the real world, both God and man have freedom to act or not to act.”

        OK. That’s what the Calvinists say. So, what’s the issue?

        I said, “I gather that you take the side of the Pelagians.”
        You replied, “Nope…Man has a choice, to rely on God or not. He can’t be sinless in his own strength.”

        If man’s choice can be made without God’s help, then that is Pelagianism. If man needs God’s help, that is not Pelagianism. So, do you say that man can only be truly free with God’s help (not Pelagianism) or that man can be truly free without God’s help (Pelagianism)?

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      41. “On what basis do you say that man’s freedom is impeded by God’s decrees? God’s decrees no more make Him the cause of people’s sin than His prior knowledge of that sin.”

        Really? Knowing something will happen is not the same as agreeing that something should happen, and in God’s case, stating that it shall happen. There’s no way around the fact that once God decrees something it happens because it is his will. In this way, every sin becomes God will and desire.
        “I don’t see any basis for you to conclude that such is the case. People are programmed to act consistent with their nature and the influences upon them.”
        Well, duh, and according to your determinism, who programs them? God programs some for eternal destruction, so they can not act in any way that is not sinful and other for salvation, so that they can do nothing wrong.
        “If man’s choice can be made without God’s help, then that is Pelagianism.”
        Man’s choice can not be made without God’s HELP. But that help is not irresistible and man can refuse help.

        “OK. That’s what the Calvinists say. So, what’s the issue?”
        Uh, no, you have repeatedly maintained that God HAS to act in every situation, to the point that he can’t let a thought happen without somehow controlling it.

        I think we’ve about worn this discussion into the ground. Something to think about: If one believes that God actively speaks to them (not only though his Word) and that they can choose to listen or refuse, this belief should inform your theology. Calvinism only makes sense if we can never refuse to do God’s will. Compare that with all the admonitions in scripture to do God’s will and it creates an impossible contradiction.
        adios…

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      42. wildswanderer writes, “you have repeatedly maintained that God HAS to act in every situation, to the point that he can’t let a thought happen without somehow controlling it.”

        Not exactly. What I have said is that God has to act to make a decision in every situation. God is sovereign; He is omniscient knowing everything that is to happen; God is omnipotent and has power to influence anything that might happen. Before anything can happen, God, as sovereign, must decide whether He will intervene to change the natural course of events or to allow natural events to run their course. God must decide whether to act or not to act. God is able to involve Himself actively in the affairs of men or to passively do nothing to change the affairs of men. Each act of God, whether active or passive, reflects the decision He has made – His decree. Your other comments display your ignorance of Calvinism and probably God’s sovereignty if not also His omniscience and omnipotence.

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      43. wildswanderer writes, “Saying that God can never learn or never change in any way or never decide something new gives you the god of greek philosophy, but not the God of the Bible.”

        The Greeks, through philosophy, concluded that God must be omniscient. So, in opposing the Greeks, you are saying that the God of the Bible is not omniscient. I’m glad you are coming to realize your true position on this issue.

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      44. No, I’m saying that the greek understanding can’t be reconciled with scripture. God knows all he chooses to know. God does all he chooses to do. Determanism actually takes away from God’s freedom to be himself and locks him into one course of action. He becomes a puppet of his own decisions, never able to regret or change. Incidently, I wonder why you keep insisting on God’s knowledge being so important, when according to you, his knowledge of future events has nothing to do with his decrees. It seems that it would not matter at all if God couldn’t see any of the future, it he just unilaterally decrees all that will happen. And it makes your statement about God knowing the future making the future inevitable nonsense, because again, according to you, his knowledge does not determine his actions. To say that God is omniscient means only that he knows, not that he has to act any certain way or that anything is inevitable.

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  5. Professor Flowers you are dead wrong, I proved that to you in the past, either it never got to you or you never to the time to look at it,. The most gifted theologian gives us the meaning of the Prodigal son and it is not your meaning, YOU ARE DEAD WRONG. If you are really interested in the truth I invite you to read Benjamin Keach’s 5 part series on the Prodigal Son. It is such a blessing a big suprise for you, You are reading a parable to literal that was meant to give spiritually heavenly meaning. Anyway if you really want to know the truth here are the links below:

    Here are the links to all 5 parts of Benjamin Keach’s teaching on the Prodigal Son below. Please take the time to read it. Each part is not that long and you will be drawn in with interest by Keach’s keen eye and that His understanding is not as superficial as yours. It’s just about a man eating with pigs and that makes him come to him senses, No spiritually there is a whole lot more involved you are not seeing,

    But I think want to keep it that just starving and eating with pigs or falling off a horse is enough to (make a person have deep conviction, and though faith become born again) Brackets because there were a couple of things I did not believe in. Hre is the link finallly: 🙂
    https://reformedsoteriologyblog.wordpress.com/?carousel-reblog-content=kopkvkopskopvkspokpodkopk&carousel-reblog-to-blog-id=108513554&carousel-reblog-submit=Reblog+Post&_wpnonce=d22e4f0179&_wp_http_referer=%2F

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    1. “If you are really interested in the truth I invite you to read Benjamin Keach’s 5 part series on the Prodigal Son.”

      For Part 2, you inserted Part 1 again and not the actual Part 2.

      Like

  6. Thank you Dr. Flowers for you awesome site and wonderful ministry, proclaiming delivering truth! 😀

    Have you, or will you, at some time address the Augustinian/Calvinist argument: “Scripture is the origin of the doctrine”.
    We all understand what the term “Wrapping oneself in the flag” means. Key word: PRETEND. So we should be able to recognize when one is “Wrapping himself in the Bible”. Again….key word: PRETEND.

    Dr. J. P. Moreland and Dr. Gordon Fee, remind us that as human beings, we all approach data and perceive that data in accordance to what we already hold to be true. In the Catholic world, prior to Galileo’s conflict with the Church, (see Galileo affair), Catholic theologians subscribed to the Aristotelian geocentric view that the earth was the center of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. Thus they did what is quite natural to all humans….their interpretation of scripture affirmed what they already believed to be true. They brought their presuppositions to the text.

    I think anyone who spends any time in college courses on hermeneutics or exegesis, understands the reality, that that is how the human brain is wired. So its silly to try to weasel out of it.

    From my view, the underlying, yet hidden argument being made by the Augustinian/Calvinist in this regard, is that his interpretation of scripture is infallible, or at least “more” infallible than any others. Have you, or will you address the fallaciousness of these arguments?

    Again my very sincere thanks!!!
    br.d :-]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. br.d writes, “In the Catholic world, prior to Galileo’s conflict with the Church, (see Galileo affair), Catholic theologians subscribed to the Aristotelian geocentric view that the earth was the center of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. ”

      The true story is that Galileo was was well received by officials in the church with much approval of his research. The academic community, with its scientists who subscribed to Aristotelian philosophy, opposed Galileo. Ultimately, politics did him in.

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      1. Well, its always possible that Maurice A. Finocchiaro, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus – at the University of Nevada, and author of “The Galileo Affair A Documentary History”, was wrong when he wrote:

        “The most Illustrious Lord Cardinal Millini notified the Reverend Fathers Lord Assessor and Lord Commissary of the Holy Office that, after the reporting of the judgment by the Father Theologians against the propositions of the mathematician Galileo (to the effect that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves even with the diurnal motion), His Holiness ordered the Most Illustrious Lord Cardinal Bellarmine to call Galileo before himself and warn him to abandon these opinions; and if he should refuse to obey, the Father Commissary, in the presence of a notary and witnesses, is to issue him an injunction to abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or from discussing it; and further, if he should not acquiesce, he is to be imprisoned. Page 148

        “The pope added that even if his intention was found to have been pure, Galileo had to make a public adjuration and had to be held under formal arrest at the pleasure of the Catholic Inquisition, and his book had to be banned. Pg 38

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      2. br.d writes, “Well, its always possible that Maurice A. Finocchiaro, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus – at the University of Nevada, and author of “The Galileo Affair A Documentary History”, was wrong when he wrote:…”

        I’ll see that appeal to authority and raise. How about, Thomas Schirrmacher, professor of ethics and world missions at several American seminaries and rector of Martin Bucer Seminary in Bonn. He earned his doctorates in Theology (Dr.Theol., 1985, Netherlands), Cultural Anthropology (PhD, 1989, USA) and Ethics (ThD, 1996, USA) and received an honorary doctorate (DD) in 1997 (USA).

        He has an article on the Galileo affair here: http://creation.com/the-galileo-affair-history-or-heroic-hagiography

        Summary: The 17th century controversy between Galileo and the Vatican is examined. Fifteen theses are advanced, with supporting evidence, to show that the Galileo affair cannot serve as an argument for any position on the relation of religion and science. Contrary to legend, both Galileo and the Copernican system were well regarded by church officials. Galileo was the victim of his own arrogance, the envy of his colleagues and the politics of Pope Urban VIII. He was not accused of criticising the Bible, but disobeying a papal decree.

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      3. Rhutchin writes: ” I’ll see that appeal to authority and raise….. How about……see informative web-site.”

        Now THAT was an informative post!!
        Much-much better to sight reputable sources on a subject, than appeal to oneself as an authority!

        Way too often, we see discourse as “Wizard of OZ” posturing, or name-calling, all which disgrace the environment, and make the disputant look childish.

        Well done Rhutchin!!

        There are a couple more (supposed) pieces of data, if one wants to go a few steps further down that rabbit hole. 😀

        Duke University Department of Physics, displays the documents of the official condemnation.
        https://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Philosophy/axioms/axioms/node63.html

        Snippet of interest in the document: “in a case of doubt, one may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers.”

        And a scanned copy of Cardinal Bellarmine’s letter to Foscarini (1615) deliberating over contradictions to scripture:
        https://www.aub.edu.lb/fas/cvsp/Documents/reading_selections/CVSP%20203/Fall%2013-14/bellarmines%20letter.pdf

        snippet of interest: “This is a very dangerous thing, likely not only to irritate all scholastic philosophers and theologians, but also to harm the Holy Faith by rendering Holy Scripture false.”

        Let there be more forthcoming respectful and fruitful exchange!! 😀

        Like

  7. Quote:
    “No Free Will model has yet provided us an intelligible account of the agent control needed for moral responsibility.” – The informed philosopher

    Libertarianism hasn’t broken through this barrier. And neither has Augustinian/Calvinism. No belief system has. Anyone who endlessly insists his religion has somehow overcome this barrier has done so by leap of faith, misrepresenting it as something other than it is.

    Advancing in endless repetitive circles of conclusions with missing premises, and asserting endless tautologies only works to reinforce one’s illusions. Such is the way of the bull in the china cabinet. If one chooses to accept something by faith, so be it. But Jesus Christ requires honesty of his disciples. And Jesus is the judge of honesty, not a man’s theological system!

    Quote:
    TO WIN OVER PEOPLE to that which I have resolved as being true, that is called propaganda. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for **PRACTITIONERS**. Propaganda is not supposed to be lovely or THEORETICALLY CORRECT. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry.

    The point…..is to PERSUADE PEOPLE. SUCCESS IS THE IMPORTANT THING! Joseph Goebbels – 1928 Training talks. Teaching Nazi party members how to communicate in public forums.

    Like

  8. RHUTCHIN writes: “I’ll see that appeal to authority and raise. How about….. Good informative site referenced”

    Now THAT was an informative post!!!
    Much better to engage with reputable sources, then to appeal to oneself as the authority.
    All too often we fall to “Wizard of OZ” posturing, or name-calling, which denigrates the environment and comes off looking childish.

    Well Done Rhutchin!! :-]

    For anyone wishing to chase the rabbit hole down a little further, Duke University of Physics purports to display the official document of condemnation: https://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Philosophy/axioms/axioms/node63.html

    Interesting snippet: “ Indeed, by his own words it is a very dangerous thing, not only by irritating all the philosophers and scholastic theologians, but also by injuring our holy faith and rendering the Holy Scriptures false.”

    And several sites purport to display Cardinal Bellarmine’s letter where he deliberates over implications against the interpretations of the Holy fathers:

    “irritate all scholastic philosophers and theologians, but also to harm the Holy Faith by rendering Holy Scripture false.”

    Looking forward to more informative and benevolent exchanges! 😀

    Like

  9. FOR THE GROUP: An interesting article from Encyclopedia Britannica on the historical evolution of Calvinism.

    The article is very brief, and concentrates on the evolution of Calvinism. But it shows how Calvinists have sought to distance themselves from some aspects of Calvin.

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Calvinism

    A few snippets of interest:

    “It is important to note that the later history of Calvinism has often been obscured by a failure to distinguish between Calvinism as the beliefs of Calvin himself.”

    “Calvinism underwent further development as theologians, apparently dissatisfied with Calvin’s **LOOSE RHETORICAL WRITING**, adopted the style of Scholastic theologians and even appealed to medieval Scholastic authorities.”

    “The major Calvinist theological statement of the 17th century was the Institutio Theologiae Elencticae (1688; Institutes of Elenctic Theology) of François Turretin, chief pastor of Geneva.

    Although the title of his work recalled Calvin’s masterpiece, the work itself bore little resemblance to the Institutes.”

    Like

    1. Irenaeus, AD 177 Against Heresies [scripture interpretations by the Gnostics] 4.7:

      “God made man a free agent from the beginning. This is the ancient law of human liberty, for there is no coercion with God. In man, as well as angels, He has placed the power of choice. The GNOSTIC teaching that some are born good, and others are born bad, is wrong. Everyone has the power to reject the Gospel. God has free will and we do also, because we are mad in His image. God preserved the will of man free and under his own control.”

      [Note: Gnostics taught some are born into a field of salvation, and others into a field of damnation, and for those who are born into the field of salvation the “divine spark” is activated]

      [The Gnostics interpreted Romans 8 as predestination unto salvation:] Irenaeus quote:

      “We will be brought to perfection in the resurrection. Romans 8 refers to the church being predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ” – 4.38

      Liked by 1 person

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