Who are you, O man?

Calvinistic theology teaches that God holds all of humanity responsible (defined as “justly punishable”) for that which God Himself unchangeably determined would come to pass. <link>  When pressed about the troubling aspects of this belief, many Calvinists will appeal to mystery and rely on misapplied biblical analogies to support their claims. Please allow me to demonstrate my point.

In our last article, we unpacked the biblical references to man’s “deadness” and the implication Calvinists read into that terminology to support the idea of “total inability.” In this article, I would like us to consider the biblical analogy of the potter and his clay, which Calvinists heavily lean on to support this troubling doctrine.

Notice that I called it a “biblical analogy.”  These are analogies and terms drawn directly from the scriptures, which is why Calvinists are so insistent that their doctrines originate from the Bible. And I concede that Calvinists are drawing  some of their phraseology and illustrations directly from the inspired text, but I am specifically taking issue with their interpretation and application of those biblical analogies. We agree that the bible speaks of mankind being dead in sin and we acknowledge the potter and clay analogy in Romans 9. We simply reject the view that these analogies prove the Calvinistic concept of total inability.

Let’s look at a passage most often cited by Calvinists when defending their belief in total inability:

“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:20–21).

On the one hand, Calvinists will often argue (using passages like this one) that mankind has as much control over how he believes and behaves as a piece of clay has over its own shape, while on the other hand vehemently objecting to their opponent’s accusations of making men into mere puppets.

Some Calvinists want to have their cake and eat it too on this point. If they are going to interpret these biblical analogies in such a way that removes mankind’s responsibility in the process, then they cannot object to another analogy which draws the exact same conclusion. After all, what more or less responsibility does a puppet have in relation to the puppet master than a lump of clay has in relation to the potter on Calvinism’s interpretation?  If you want to interpret Paul’s analogy of the potter and the clay literally to mean that man has no say in how he believes and responds, then own it. Don’t object to other analogies that draw the exact same implications unless you are not willing to live with those implications.

So, what else could Paul mean in this passage if not what Calvinists insist? Let’s explore:

First of all, who is bringing this objection? Some Calvinists would have us believe it was a first century “Arminian” (or “synergist”) objecting to the idea that God chooses to condemn some people to hell before they ever do anything good or bad.  But that interpretation simply ignores the context of the scripture.

This is not the first time Paul anticipates this interlocutor’s questions. Back in Romans 3:1-7, Paul goes through virtually the exact same diatribe as he does here in Romans 9.  Allow me to place the parallel verses side by side for your consideration:

romansdiatribe

As you can see, the parallel is very clear. Paul’s objector is not a “man-centered synergist” accusing God of being unfair for predetermining most of humanity to eternal torment before they were born. The objector is a self-righteous Jew who has been cut off, or hardened in his rebellion by God for a redemptive purpose.

Generally speaking, Israel was a hell-bound lump of clay that had already grown calloused in self-righteous, legalistic religiosity (Acts 28:21–28). Despite their rebellion, the gracious Potter had patiently held out his hands to them for generations (Rom. 10:21). At this time in history, the Divine Potter selects a portion from this lump to carry His redemptive message to the rest of the world. This is to ensure His purpose for electing Israel will stand. The Potter remakes some of this lump for the noble purpose of carrying His Word to the rest of the world. He uses persuasive signs, like a blinding light, to mold the wills of these otherwise rebellious messengers from Israel. He leaves the rest of this already-calloused lump in their rebellion, through which He accomplishes ignoble but necessary and redemptive purposes.

In this text, Paul was likely drawing upon the analogy introduced by God through the prophet Jeremiah, which reads:

“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel” (Jer. 18:1–6).

Paul’s fellow countrymen, like their fathers before them, were flawed pots in the hands of the Potter. It pleases the Potter to remake them into vessels to use for the accomplishment of His redemptive plan. Did the clay come to the Potter flawed already, or did the Potter Himself spoil the clay?  If the clay represents all of humanity from birth, in accordance with His eternal decree, then it would imply that the Potter did the spoiling and the remaking. But if the clay is understood to represent Israel, then it is clear that the spoiling (or callousing) is a direct result of their own rebellious choices over the years, not the molding of the Potter.

The Potter merely reshapes the already-flawed clay into something useful for a greater good, such as accomplishing redemption through their unrighteous actions. Some vessels are selected to be used for noble purposes, like apostleship, while others are sealed in their calloused condition to fulfill God’s redemptive plan. This indeed would give cause for all to glory in the free choices of such a righteous Potter sovereignly working to fulfill His promise.

The context of the Potter and clay analogy, recorded first in Jeremiah, goes on to shed more light on the responsibility of the clay in relation to the potter:

“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts’” (Jer. 18:7–12).

Some Calvinistic scholars attempt to disassociate this text with Paul’s use of the analogy in Romans. For instance, James White writes, “Where is there a discussion of vessels of honor and dishonor in Jeremiah 18? Where is there a discussion of vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy? There is none.”[1] Only someone set on dismissing human responsibility would be unwilling to acknowledge the clear connection. Richard Coords explains:

The vessels of honor can be seen in God’s fashioning to “bless” (v. 10), “build,” and “plant” (v. 9), while the vessels of dishonor can be seen in the fashioning to “uproot,” “pull down” and “destroy” (v.7) including “fashioning calamity” and “devising a plan against” (v. 11), which is also consistent with the Jewish hardening described in Romans chapter 9 and at Romans 11:25.[2]

Paul is not oblivious to the need of the clay to respond to the expressed will of the Potter, as Paul draws upon this analogy again in his letter to Timothy:

“Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:20–21).

Clearly, the biblical authors speak of the clay as if it is able to respond (and thus be held responsible) to the will of the Potter. The vessel must “cleanse himself” so as to be “useful to the Master,” which clearly illustrates that Paul does not necessarily intend to remove man’s part in the process by way of this kind of analogy.

God, a patient and trustworthy Potter who genuinely loves the hardened clay (Rom. 9:1–2; 10:1, 21), has remade some of it to be used for “noble purposes,” such as proclaiming the inspired truth to the lost world. The rest of the lump, still genuinely loved by the Potter despite their turning to other gods (Hos. 3:1), is used to bring about the ignoble purpose of crucifixion and the grafting in of other vessels for redemption (Rom. 11:25). All the while, the Potter is holding out hope for the spoiled lump to turn from its evil and be cleansed through repentance and faith (Rom. 11:11–23).

Romans 9-11 is about God expanding his redemption, not limiting it. And the analogy of the potter and his clay is about God’s sovereign plan to fulfill His promise of redemption through both the hardening and mercy-ing of natural born Israelites.

 

 


[1] James White, The Potter’s Freedom (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000), 225.

[2] Richard Coords, “Jeremiah 18:6,” Examining Calvinism, web page, available from http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/OT/Jer18_6.html; Internet; accessed 08 June 2015.

120 thoughts on “Who are you, O man?

  1. Great article. As a deterministic compatibilist, I believe we should be simultaneously proclaiming the human agency and superordinate sovereignty by which God’s plan unfolds. 2 Timothy 2:20-21, and its timen/atimien parallel with Romans 9, is one of the best examples of this.

    You said, “Romans 9-11 is about God expanding his redemption, not limiting it.” Amen. Many Calvinists struggle with Romans 11, particularly verses 7 and 11, which together are a syllogism that yields, “The unelect are not necessarily beyond recovery.”

    Like

  2. Excellent Romans 3 vs 9 comparison!

    But if the clay is understood to represent Israel, then it is clear that the spoiling (or callousing) is a direct result of their own rebellious choices over the years, not the molding of the Potter.

    Calvinists claim that God makes the clay flawed. I think men make themselves flawed (not meaning fallen as we all are, but reject God’s call) and God makes the vessels dependent on the nature of the clay. Interestingly the potter motifs from the OT (Isaiah 29:11-16; Isaiah 45:9-10; Isaiah 64:8-9; Jeremiah 18:1-10) have God doing something because man has refused to respond to him (Isa 64 is rather an appeal to God). It is apparent in Isaiah and Jeremiah that the clay makes itself marred.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In other words the picture of the potter is a metaphor and not an allegory. If it were an allegory then every aspect of the image would have meaning and we could say that Israel like the clay was unable to respond in any way. Likewise ‘dead in sins’ is also a metaphor with a very precise and limited metaphorical meaning rather than a broad allegorical one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brian, I was going to post this in the previous topic (dead wrong) but never got round to finishing it properly. The term ‘dead’ is used throughout scripture in a metaphorical way, and in particular those passages which the Calvinists love, well, the grammar of the greek text suggests it should be metaphorical.

      Here’s the post which never was, …..in a murder investigation it helps enormously if there is a ‘body’ to examine. No body, and there is always a lingering doubt that a crime has been committed at all. Yet it seems that this is what the Reformed/Calvinists are doing. They are drawing conclusions without having demonstrated that they have a ‘corpse’ on their hands. Where is the corpse in scripture?

      The answer actually is around 7 times in the NT as in the greek word ‘ptoma’ but none of these occurrences are in the passages which are commonly used (incorrectly in my opinion) to try and support the idea of the sinner as a corpse or lifeless body.

      The word ‘nekros’ occurs more frequently and when used as a noun means a dead body. It is however, more commonly used as an adjective where it becomes figurative e.g. in passages like Eph 2:1 where the unsaved are seen as dead in trespasses and sins. If Paul had wished to convey the idea of a corpse, there was a perfectly good word available. The fact that he didn’t, would indicate that he is wanting to convey a rather different meaning. These ‘dead’ people are, after all, walking and talking and getting up to all kinds of wrong doing. Not good stuff of course, but hardly the actions of a corpse.

      I think your comment re allegory is spot on. Too many allegories knocking around the Christian world I’m afraid and too often the allegory takes precedence over scripture. 🙂

      Like

  4. Pastor Flowers writes, “Calvinists will often argue (using passages like this one) that mankind has as much control over how he believes and behaves as a piece of clay has over its own shape, while on the other hand vehemently objecting to their opponent’s accusations of making men into mere puppets.

    Calvinists want to have their cake and eat it too on this point.”

    Any person born after Adam sinned is a product of the corruption that resulted from that sin and therefore, born imperfect. After Adam, people are born needing to be saved. As God decides whether to shut the womb or open it, He decides that a person is born – thus, we might liken Him to a potter as He shapes the person in the womb. The person has no control over the nature with which he is born.

    The Bible asserts and Calvinists affirm that people are free to act within the constraints of their fallen nature. When people accuse Calvinists of making people puppets in God’s hands, they are saying that God is pulling the strings causing them to act as they do. As a former Calvinist, you know that this is not true. God is not pulling the strings on people as if they were puppets. God gives them freedom to do that which their depraved natures desire (within limits). Like a dog in a fenced yard is free to do whatever he desires within the fenced yard, so the lost person is free to do anything within the constraints of his depraved nature.

    You make a false claim in saying, “Calvinists want to have their cake and eat it too on this point.” As a former Calvinist even if never well versed in Calvinism, you would have grasped this point early on.

    Like

    1. RHUTCHIN,

      I think that you are misrepresenting Calvinism, since the Calvinistic Westminster Confession of Faith (erroneously) declares that God has decreed “whatsoever comes to pass.” In other words, Calvinists believe that the future is “fixed,” not because man is “free,” but because God (according to Calvinism) has fixed it by decree, without which, God would not be able to infallibly know what would happen next. See for yourself what leading Calvinists have actually put in print:

      James White: “How God can know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point….” (Debating Calvinism, p.163)

      In other words, according to Calvinist James White, God would have to have exhaustively determined the future in order to maintain exhaustive omniscience over it.

      James White: “How can God know what these free creatures will do in the future, if they are truly free (the argument open theists are aggressively promoting today)?” (Debating Calvinism, p.168)

      “How,” James White asks. He is not arguing that man is “truly free,” and he doesn’t stop there. Keep reading.

      James White: “If God’s foreknowledge is perfect, does it not follow that the future is, in fact, fixed? And if it is fixed, upon what basis did it take the shape it did?” (Debating Calvinism, p.360)

      And there it is. So, according to Calvinism, exhaustive omniscience requires exhaustive determinism, in which man is not truly free, but rather that man performs what is already “fixed” by decree. It is pure sophistry to then attempt to invoke human freedom under such a paradigm. In your own analogy, the God according to Calvinism doesn’t merely place man within the freedom of a fenced in yard, but instead *fixes* every action of every person, exhaustively, throughout all eternity, or else “how” (James White rhetorically asks), could God infallibly know it throughout all eternity?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Richard Coords writes, “In other words, Calvinists believe that the future is “fixed,” not because man is “free,” but because God (according to Calvinism) has fixed it by decree, without which, God would not be able to infallibly know what would happen next.”

        Calvinists note that God can be omniscient if He decrees all things and that becomes His knowledge. As far as I know, no one has yet to suggest another method for God to be omniscient – many explain God’s omniscience as mystery. Some say that God can look into the future to discover what people do but this allows God to learn a lot but not to be omniscient since there is always a future to look into and things to learn.

        Then, “So, according to Calvinism, exhaustive omniscience requires exhaustive determinism, in which man is not truly free, but rather that man performs what is already “fixed” by decree.”

        I think Calvinist would say that exhaustive determinism is one basis for omniscience, and it is. Others are free to suggest other means by which God can be omniscient. Do you know of other means that has been suggested? I am not aware of any.

        William Craig has shown that God’s knowledge of the future makes the future fixed (certain) but not necessary (God’s knowledge is not the cause of the future). So even with an omniscient God and a certain and fixed future, people can still make choices of their own free will.

        The issue arises because God knows everything that happens down to the shiver of an electron in an atom and that electron cannot shiver without God decreeing that it should shiver. So Satan cannot enter the garden, Adam cannot eat the fruit, David cannot bed Bathsheba without God, who stands there observing all that is happening, first decreeing that He will not intervene to stop them and that they should be free to pursue their desire. God makes decisions in everything that happens – working out everything according to the counsel of His will – and every decision God makes was made in eternity past.

        So, can you think of anything that happens in this world that happens apart from God’s decree that it should happen? Certainly, if God makes a decision – decrees such and such – He then knows what He has decreed. If God decrees all things, as the Calvinists conclude, then He is omniscient on that basis.

        Like

      2. I am not a philosopher nor theologian. The claim seems to be that God can be viewed as omniscient of the future only if we can come up with a plausible naturalistic explanation such as cause and effect sequence. Does this not assume that God’s supernatural attributes are being subject to human (natural) limitations? If God cannot be omniscient without fitting into a human construct, then how are we to deal with (or do we deny) those other attributes such as Omnipresence, Omnipotence, for which I don’t think anyone can come up with an explanation? It seems that placing a naturalistic boundary on what is taught by God as a supernatural attribute is illogical, perhaps only appearing necessary by conventional comfort.
        I also seem to recall reading that some explain God’s omniscience as a mystery. Would it not seem that everything in the supernatural realm has to be mysterious to the natural man / mind? Yet the tone of declaration hinted at something of a dismissal as I read it. I have yet to encounter any system of theological belief that does not include mystery somewhere in the construct. The Calvinists I have read seem quite comfortable explaining that how God’s infinite mercy and love fit with his alleged foreordination of the reprobate to damnation is a “mystery”. It would seem to me that putting one’s mystery claim to explanation of biblical understanding in a place which does not impugn God’s basic and most emphatically understood attribute of Love would be a more rational approach, whether that mystery involves God’s foreknowledge, Unlimited Atonement or the mystery of God sovereignly allowing mankind to have the full choice to accept or reject Him in an eternal love relationship without threatening His sovereignty.
        Thank you for allowing me to post these ideas – I am only beginning to delve into these things, yet it is certainly fascinating!

        Dirk Mous

        Like

  5. RHUTCHIN,

    James White continues:

    James White: “Is he [Dave Hunt] saying that man’s actions determine the future and that God merely knows what will happen?” (Debating Calvinism, p.57)

    Of course, that is indeed what Dave Hunt taught, and so there was no need for James White to be coy in his question.

    Dave Hunt responds: “White denies omniscience in his repudiation of any ‘grounds upon which to base exhaustive divine foreknowledge of future events outside of God’s decree.’ If God must decree the future to know it, He’s not omniscient.” (Debating Calvinism, p.389)

    So in Calvinism, exhaustive divine omniscience is *contingent* upon exhaustive divine determinism. Since when Calvinists affirm exhaustive divine omniscience, they are required by James White’s thinking to also adhere to exhaustive divine determinism, and which means that every thought, word and deed of every person, throughout all eternity, are all “fixed,” without which, God (according to Calvinism) could not otherwise infallibly know it. So this means that God could not *infallibly* know whatsoever you might choose to think in your head next, unless God had precisely “fixed” what you will think next, and so on, and so on, into infinity and throughout eternity. So get the idea of “fixed” firmly planted in your mind, because that is *real* (and unfortunate) Calvinism.

    Like

  6. RHUTCHIN,

    One disclaimer is needed. Although James White advocates “Compatibilism,” relative to compatibilistic free will, even so, that term is still determinism nonetheless, as James White acknowledges that in the final summary of a divinely, exhaustively “fixed” cosmos by immutable decree, the net result is that people are *not* “truly free.” That was James White’s own conclusion, and I do consider him to be an educated standard-bearer of Calvinism.

    (As for omniscience itself, of course Dave Hunt believes in omniscience, as White explained in his quote, and which Hunt also affirmed in his reply to White, and Dave’s Hunt’s understanding of divine omniscience is that instead of divine foreknowledge (an attribute of God) being dependent on divine foreordination (a plan of God), it’s quote the other way around, in that divine foreordination is instead subject to divine foreknowledge. However, from James White’s perspective, there would be nothing to foreknow in the absence of divine foreordination, since an undetermined element is logically unknowable, and which is also what Open Theism teaches. I have therefore argued that Calvinism is “Open Theism but with an exhaustive decree.” In other words, how could He know it, if He didn’t decree it, White rhetorically asks. So the charge that Arminians don’t believe in divine omniscience is false, and in fact, it is the other way around.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Richard,

      Your points are all well taken (especially the concept that unless it is predetermined it cannot be known, this is a staple Calvinistic belief and as you point out held by some open theists as well).

      Don’t waste too much time with “rhutchin”. This guy has been arguing the same false representations for years on the internet (e.g. one of his constant false representations is that Arminians and other non-Calvinists do not believe in or affirm omniscience; for a time he was banned at SBC today for this constant and false refrain).

      Like

    2. there would be nothing to foreknow in the absence of divine foreordination, since an undetermined element is logically unknowable, and which is also what Open Theism teaches. I have therefore argued that Calvinism is “Open Theism but with an exhaustive decree.”
      That’s a great point. The premise behind both is limiting what God could logically know.

      Like

      1. Dizerner,

        “The premise behind both is limiting what God could logically know.”

        Correct, both Calvinists and Open theists **agree** that if a person made a truly free choice as understood by libertarian free will proponents, then **according to them** God could not know it.

        It is ironic that the two groups, one holding determinism and the other holding to libertarian free will, at bottom deny that God could know choices if libertarian free will were involved.

        So **both** deny that God is omniscient by nature. So **both** have to argue that God can only know future events if God predetermines them.

        Looked at another way, an open theist is like a Calvinist, believing that God can only know those events in the future that He predetermined. So open theists are like “mini-Calvinists”. And yet they will argue against the determinism of Calvinists. This is ironic because it is only a difference in degree not kind (with Calvinists believing in exhaustive determinism and open theists believing in determinism just a more limited version).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It might, too, explain why several Calvinists like White seem to think that the only valid alternative to Calvinism could only possibly be Open Theism.

        Like

      3. Dizerner,

        “It might, too, explain why several Calvinists like White seem to think that the only valid alternative to Calvinism could only possibly be Open Theism.”

        You could be right about this with some Calvinists.

        In terms of White I think he likes to argue that it is either (1) his version of Calvinism or (2) open theism [which any thinking person will immediately recognize as the logical fallacy of false dilemma, for example (3) Molinism is another alternative as is the (4) Arminian simple foreknowledge view]:

        as a rhetorical or debate strategy.

        He knows that most Christian will quickly and without hesitation reject open theism so if he can convince people that those are the **only** two viable and rational options, he thinks people will automatically reject open theism which forces them to conclude his calvinism is the best option! 🙂

        I believe that thinking people, knowledgeable people, those familiar with logical fallacies, and debating tactics and tricks will see through this and reject it as a very good example of the fallacy of false dilemma.

        The fact is, and all of church history demonstrates this, the majority view among all believers across all theological persuasions is neither calvinism nor open theism, but some form of non-Calvinism (whether it be the Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants or Independents, Molinists, Thomists, Ockhamists, Arminians, Traditionalists, etc. etc. etc.) which affirms both:

        (A) that God is omniscient and

        (B) people have free will in the libertarian sense.

        THAT is just history, and that is true wherever you want to focus upon in Christian history.

        Like

      4. Not only Christian history but it is the more default thing to believe, at least I found that so. I knew no church history but believed intuitively in free will and omniscience and I’d say the Bible reads very naturally that way until you think yourself out of it. 90% of all Calvinists I’ve heard said they used to be Arminian because “that’s just what they believed” until they taught themselves out of it. It seems God must use means other than his Word and natural conscience to convince people of determinism.

        Like

      5. I was raised a Baptist believing in libertarian free will, especially as a theodicean solution for suffering in the world and for endless hell. I spent several years as a Catholic, also believing in libertarian free will. Throughout this time, I thought the Bible read naturally with it sometimes, but was continually running into moments where libertarian free will didn’t make much sense with what the Bible was actually saying about God’s power, providence, and superordinate responsibility. This is when I was a genuine LFW fan, advocate, and die-hard defender.

        So, no, I don’t think it’s an acceptable assertion to say that the Bible reads very naturally with LFW. It seems incompatible with LFW on many occasions, and folks struggle with that all the time, in my personal experience talking with real-world brethren, as well as seeing questions surfaced on online Christian communities over the last 20 years.

        The earliest Christian commentators from whom we have extant writing, from the second century onward, all believed in LFW, but all recognized that the Bible does NOT read naturally with it in many places. St. Irenaeus, St. Augustine, St. Maximus, Boethius, etc. were all LFW-believers but spent copious efforts trying to square LFW with Scripture’s apparent difficulties with it. They didn’t see it as easy.

        Like

      6. Well I overstated my case perhaps; I shouldn’t assume that “natural” understanding would be right and I shouldn’t assume no deep thought is necessary for some truths. I say that thinking about the Trinity which I’ve been defending, and they could well argue the more natural reading is against it. It in fact is a thing, that just as you stated, you keep running into little niggling things and verses that seem odd or don’t make perfect sense. And I do remember experiencing that in my early Bible reading days (now I’ve given obscene amounts of time to thinking about these things, lol). So I will acknowledge those points. At the same time, some of your own testimony did to my mind verify exactly what I was saying. But take a person out on a desert island alone with a Bible for 10 years and no prior teaching, would they come up with the Trinity or determinism or all the more intricate doctrines believers have developed over hundreds of years devoting good amounts of time to teaching and formulating? And what is our ratio between accepting a doctrine because of culture, or circumstance, or a favorable or charismatic character, verses only meditation, reason, Bible study and prayer? I think these are all interesting ideas, and things to think about (check our own influences, motivations and biases, and that’s at least why I interact with people such as yourself). So thanks for that challenging interaction. Regards.

        Like

  7. Dizerner,

    I believe you were correct in your assertion that LFW is the default view that people ordinarily come to from a normal reading of scripture. I also agree with you that in the case of many, many calvinists, they have to unlearn what they originally believed about free will. There is a certain pride involved in coming to the so-called “doctrines of grace” and looking at other believers as less enlightened, less biblical than you are now that you have rejected LFW and now hold to calvinistic determinism! 🙂 This is not true of all calvinists but I have met many who act as if they are now part of a secret club that has the **real** truth about things while those other ordinary believers just aren’t as enlightened or informed or even as intelligent. Of course the counter to this perspective is to know that among contemporary Christian philosophers the LFW view is the dominant view held by some big guns including Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, David Hunt (the philosopher not the popularizer, J. P. Moreland, etc. etc. Among contemporary Christian philosophers, compatibilism/determinism is the minority view. So LFW is held by the majority of both ordinary believers and specialized scholars.

    Like

  8. Stanrock,

    I understand your point that at one time you held to LFW (that kinda proves Dizerner’s point that ordinary and new believers hold to LFW untile they unlearn it!). But I also don’t think the argument you present against LFW is fair. Your argument seems to be that at one time you held to LFW (as being absolutely true under all circumstances and in every instance) but then you ran into some verses that contradicted this **absolute view** of LFW being in force at all times and in all situations no matter what. To use an analogy, in science you make your initial theory and then make it capable of including lots of data, in some cases needing modifcation. Same things with LFW. As an initial theory it seems to be everywhere in scripture and also our daily experience when we have and make our own choices. But then we come in contact with instances such as Nebuchadnezzar who while King was powerful and had lots of choices at his command: until God humbled him for his pride and he ends up for a time becoming like an animal eating grass and he certainly does not seem to be experiencing LFW at that point! 🙂 If you have the absolute view of LFW that it is true at all times and in all circumstances, Neb contradicts and refutes your theory. So do you then abandon LFW completely? Or do you modify your theory? LFW is often present but on occasion a person’s LFW is suspended or taken away as in the case of Neb. Seems to me that your view of free will has to include all the biblical data. That means you will affirm that at times LFW is present and at times it is not. But not being present in all instances does not refute this modified versiion of LFW, it only contradicts or refutes the more absolutistic claim that it is always present in all instances. All of of us do this with our theories, we have to account for some annomalies, some instances where it may not apply due to certain factors (including God intervening in a situation directly, again Neb is a great example of this). Absolutistic LFW is easy to refute, a more modified version that alllows for instances where LFW does not apply is much harder to refute and I believe never has been successfully refuted.

    Like

    1. LFW is the default feeling of every human unless unlearned or precluded, just as “The night sky consists of stars laid out on a dome” is the default feeling of every human unless unlearned or precluded. “Default per human perception” is very often not a reliable heuristic for truth.

      My argument was that LFW and Scripture don’t play wholly nicely together, and there needs to be some extra innovation to resolve the tension. You have the idea you posted. Augustine had a different idea. Boethius had a different idea. Maybe one of them works. Maybe none of them work (I don’t think your idea works, but we can talk about that later). But there is tension, and extrabiblical innovation is needed to resolve that tension.

      Like

      1. Stanrock,

        “LFW is the default feeling of every human unless unlearned or precluded, just as “The night sky consists of stars laid out on a dome” is the default feeling of every human unless unlearned or precluded. “Default per human perception” is very often not a reliable heuristic for truth.”

        You have brought up that analogy before (i.e. just as people are mistaken in our perception about stars, likewise people are mistaken in our thinking about free will). But I do not believe that this analogy holds. Our perception of the stars is just that a perception, our experience of free will is not merely a perception (how things appear to us) it is an actual experience that we have daily. This is one of the reasons that LFW is the “default” position for us, as we experience it every day.

        Similarly, our default position is that we are a unique person that we are not someone else (and yet philosophers come along challenging this with claims that we might be just a brain in a vat or dreaming). Our default position is that we are personally responsible for our choices and in some cases could and should have done otherwise (again philosophers come along challenging this with claims that we are determined by our genes, our brains, our environment, etc. etc. or claiming that all morality is relative and culture bound = When I was in college I had this philosophy class in which the instructor argued the clam that all morality is relative and that every person and culture operates by their own morality, this one guy really agreed with the professor and made comments trying to support him, I didn’t say a word until after class, as we were leaving I cornered this guy, I am 6 ft. 4 and at the time was about 225 lbs. and in very good shape having weight lifted and played sports for many years, he was about 5 ft. 6 inches, so I grabbed him up around the collar and started lifting him up, he started shrieking “What are you doing?” I replied: “Well since everything is relative, my “morality” says it is fun to pick on smaller people like you” He said “stop that’s wrong!” I never heard him talk relative morality after that!). Of late these same folks look down on our normal everyday experiences and disparage them as “folk views of personhood”, “folk views of free will” etc. etc. While they supposedly have the more enlightened “scientific” views! 🙂

        Then you observe these same “enlightened” folks and they operate and live as if they are unique persons, as if they do have choices and could and should have done otherwise. I put a lot into what I would call “inescapables” (i.e. experiences or practices that everyone including the skeptics experience and do, things that even when you argue against them you necessarily involve yourself in them, e.g. the person who denies that the external reality exists speaks and the sound waves travel through this non-existent reality to reach our ears where we then process what they said through this non-existent reality, 🙂 e.g. watch this same sophisticated philosopher as he crosses the street and he still, like the rest of us, looks both ways before crossing the street which only makes sense if in fact there is a real external world that he has to deal with just like the rest of us).

        Watch and listen to the deniers of free will and you see exactly the same thing (e.g. when disciplining their children they tell them they should or could have done otherwise; when speaking to their children they tell them “Now you can choose this toy or this toy, but not both, the choice is up to you”). You can learn a lot about what a person really believes by what they do in everyday life when dealing with the most ordinary situations. None of this is negated by pointing out that we are mistaken about our perceptions that the stars appear to be part of a dome in the sky.

        “My argument was that LFW and Scripture don’t play wholly nicely together, and there needs to be some extra innovation to resolve the tension. You have the idea you posted. Augustine had a different idea. Boethius had a different idea. Maybe one of them works. Maybe none of them work (I don’t think your idea works, but we can talk about that later). But there is tension, and extrabiblical innovation is needed to resolve that tension.”

        Stanrock I don’t think you understood my point. The scriptures that “contradict” the ordinary view of free will/LFW only contradict an ***ABSOLUTE conception of LFW*** in which it is claimed that LFW operates in all situations and is never suspended or minimized or impacted by circumstances. This absolutistic conception of LFW may not “play wholly nicely together” with certain scriptures.

        But why do we need to claim this absolutistic version to hold to LFW?

        Who says we have to do that?

        Why can’t we be honest with the facts of both scripture and our experience and maintain that often LFW is in effect but not always and not in an absolute sense.

        LFW may be precluded by for example a direct divine intervention (and scripture most definitely includes instances of direct divine intervention, Nebuchadnezzar is again a perfect paradigm case of this). Put another way, why can’t we maintain that LFW is ordinarily the case but when direct divine intervention occurs it may be suspended or minimized? That is not a “tension” in your view, that is being honest about the data (the data including both instances of LFW and instances of LFW being suspended, minimized, not being present due to the circumstances of the situation).

        I would characterize my view as being “interventionist” (i.e. God set up natural laws that operate consistently and in a very predictable pattern, hence the success of science in explaining and predicting these natural laws, e.g. He set up the wave patterns of the oceans and so he does not need to directly cause waves to break or repeat, and yet on occasion he can intervene and things don’t go as normal when it comes to water, consider the parting of the sea for the Israelites, Jesus stilling a storm with a mere word, absent his intervention the sea would not have parted for the Israelites and that storm would have continued and followed the normal patterns of storms). I see our world as a combination of ordinary reoccurring natural laws and also divine interventions (not all divine interventions being miracles). It is not “some extra innovation” to conclude that scripture presents both instances when LFW is present and instances when it is not. That is not even being innovative, that is accurately interpreting the biblical data. Taking what the scripture presents and basing our conclusions on that.

        God is clearly sovereign and “picks his spots” in terms of His interventions. In fact that is the heart of God’s sovereignty, that in any and all situations He has the choice of what He will or will not do. Divine sovereignty presupposes LFW, that God can decide what He will or will not choose to do in a specific situation. When we pray for a person who is seriously ill to be healed, God can choose to heal them He can also choose not to heal them, that is His sovereignty. He doesn’t have to heal them, nor does he have to not heal them, it is His choice.

        Like

      2. Experiences are perceptions and feelings. They are phenomena. I don’t see a *categorical* difference between what one perceives and feels upon looking at a starry sky, and being convinced by perception/feelings that it is a dome, vs. what one perceives and feels upon making a decision, and being convinced by perceptions/feelings that the counterfactuals thereof are real somehow.

        You probably shouldn’t have grabbed that guy’s collar. All moral assertions have interest referents, making them all relative (to those interests). The objective part of moral assertions is to what degree they satisfy or optimize those interests. Pivotal Christian philosopher of language R. M. Hare exhaustively showed this in the mid-20th century (and I wish C. S. Lewis had bothered to talk to him during their shared years at Oxford). In the Bible, the “Great Subject” is God himself, who by his power is bringing and shall bring all things into conformity with his interests. Hellenic “purely objective morality” — intruding into Christianity through the neoplatonists, neoaristotelians, medieval Scholastics, and their modern progeny like Plantinga and Craig and Zacharias — is foreign to Scripture; Scripture conveys morality as a massive interest exchange, especially subordinate to God’s interests, and thereby talks about morality in terms of things like covenants, contracts, equity, owing, debt, and credit.

        Phrases like “You should have done otherwise” and “You could have done otherwise [had you chosen to]” are completely meaningful under determinism.

        Regarding wave patterns, do you think that because they are adequately deterministic, they are micromanaged by God? Or do you see room to meaningful say — like I do — that adequately deterministic patterns are not necessarily micromanaged by God?

        Like

  9. Stanrock,

    “Experiences are perceptions and feelings. They are phenomena. I don’t see a *categorical* difference between what one perceives and feels upon looking at a starry sky, and being convinced by perception/feelings that it is a dome, vs. what one perceives and feels upon making a decision, and being convinced by perceptions/feelings that the counterfactuals thereof are real somehow.”

    We disagree and I doubt your analogy will be persuasive for anyone except for yourself. If I look at the “starry sky” that is my perception of the lights above. To conclude that the stars/lights are part of a dome is to make an inference and that inference is mistaken. To consider two options before me is not a mistaken inference but an actual experience of two options. My mind considers the two options, considers benefits associated with each option, and then I make the selection of which option to actualize as my choice. I view these differing options as real, not merely my imagination, not merely an illusion (you in contrast based on your beliefs about determinism view these options as illusory). If a person makes the inference that they are looking at stars in a dome, their inference is mistaken. If a person makes the inference that they really don’t have the choice, the differing options are not accessible nor available to them, their inference is also mistaken.

    “You probably shouldn’t have grabbed that guy’s collar.”

    Ah contraire, he got the point immediately as did the onlookers. I never intended to hurt the guy, I was only showing him a real world illustration that contradicted his in class claim that morality is relative. I like real world illustrations like that, they make the point very clear! 🙂 There are absolute morals, and the Bible discloses some of them.

    “All moral assertions have interest referents, making them all relative (to those interests).”

    No, moral assertions are made by individuals relative to who is saying them. But they are not all relative merely to personal interests. If we are wise and obedient we want to make our moral assertions in line with what God has revealed to be proper good. God says adultery is wrong. That is a moral absolute. God says idolatry is wrong. That is a moral absolute. Jesus says to his followers that they are to follow Him as Lord (i.e. His moral declarations are their moral declarations).

    “The objective part of moral assertions is to what degree they satisfy or optimize those interests.”

    Stanrock are you a Christian/follower of Jesus as Lord or an unbelieving philosopher? I ask this not to question your salvation but because your statement here is not the kind of thing a follower of Jesus would say: it is however exactly what you could expect a philosopher to say. A follower of Jesus does not claim that moral assertions are merely statements that “satisfy or optimize those interests”. Instead a follower of Jesus says whatever He says is the absolute moral truth that I am to submit to and obey. We as followers of Jesus seek not to obey “interests” but commands.

    “Pivotal Christian philosopher of language R. M. Hare exhaustively showed this in the mid-20th century (and I wish C. S. Lewis had bothered to talk to him during their shared years at Oxford).”

    There is a reason that Lewis made more of an impact than Hare! 🙂

    “In the Bible, the “Great Subject” is God himself, who by his power is bringing and shall bring all things into conformity with his interests.”

    I disagree with you here, there are other persons (both angelic and human) who will continue their rebellion against God for eternity. So for them their “interests” will never be in conformity with “his interests”. That goes to the concept of hell or eternal separation, a biblical concept that you reject as is clear from your website.

    “Hellenic “purely objective morality” — intruding into Christianity through the neoplatonists, neoaristotelians, medieval Scholastics, and their modern progeny like Plantinga and Craig and Zacharias — is foreign to Scripture;”

    Sorry, I’ll take the statements on morality of folks like Plantinga, Craig and Zacharias over your pronouncements on morality any day. An apologist such as Craig and Zacharias represents what Christians have always believed about morality and its absoluteness based upon the revelation of God in scripture.

    “Scripture conveys morality as a massive interest exchange, especially subordinate to God’s interests, and thereby talks about morality in terms of things like covenants, contracts, equity, owing, debt, and credit.”

    This is partly correct, we are to exchange our **worldly and off base moral thoughts** for the morality that God presents.

    “Phrases like “You should have done otherwise” and “You could have done otherwise [had you chosen to]” are completely meaningful under determinism.”

    No they are not, under determinism having a choice is an illusion because you cannot access either option: you have to choose the option that the necessitating factor determines you will access. So the corollary concepts of “you could have and should have done otherwise” are also illusory (they do not correspond with reality: if determinism is true then you could not have done otherwise unless the necessitating factor that determines your action were different; but that is very different from what people mean by they could have done otherwise; you know all of this and reject all of this, again this is evident from perusal of your website).

    “Regarding wave patterns, do you think that because they are adequately deterministic, they are micromanaged by God? Or do you see room to meaningful say — like I do — that adequately deterministic patterns are not necessarily micromanaged by God?”

    I do not believe that God micromanages every detail of history. Put it another way, the better He is as a creator (and that includes setting up natural laws/patterns in nature) the more regular and consistent these natural laws will be. An incompetent creator would have to constantly fix things to keep the patterns going as intended. An extremely competent creator on the other hand could and would set up patterns that will continue without Him having to micromanage every detail. This is why I have always considered the arguments of some unbelievers that the regularity of nature is evidence that there is no God to be so laughable. It is precisely this regularity, this almost total predictability that is evidence that a very intelligent and powerful creator set these natural laws in motion.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Romans 9 is about why Israel is unrepentant and saved. Vs. 1-5

    Why? Because not all Israel is Israel. Vs. 6
    Why? Not all are sons of Abraham. Vs. 7-13

    Why are not all Israel, Israel and why are not all sons Abraham? Vs. 14

    Because God has mercy on individuals within Israel. It is not because there are better people
    within Israel that distinguishes them from the rest but because God has mercy on them. Vs. 14-18

    Why are the ones that are not Abrahams sons the way they are?
    Because God raises them up to be that way. Vs. 18

    Why? Because He is God. He is the potter and they are the clay. Vs. 19-21

    Paul interprets the potter analogy for you.

    Like

      1. In that context Paul is speaking of Gentiles and Jews. God has mercy not only on Jews but Gentiles, all of the human race in general.

        Like

      2. So, Paul, are you saying that “all the human race in general” is committed by God to disobedience (11:32) but some, even many, never end up committed by God to disobedience, just like you believe, I think, that many do not actually get shown His mercy?

        Like

      3. I think that Romans 11:32 is best read as “both [Jews and Gentiles],” like with Romans 3:23, but chapter 11 explains that the scope WITHIN Jews and Gentiles is a ‘pleroma’ reconciliation of Jews eventually, and a ‘pleroma’ reconciliation of Gentiles eventually.

        Absolutely every mere man succumbs to sin, so unless we’re all really unlucky, it’s probably due to conditions over which God is reductively sovereign (like “dopamine euphoria causes psychological addictions; there is no psychological addiction without dopamine euphoria”), and this can be called a binding to disobedience, which is to say, everybody is bound to disobey in all sorts of ways, in their own times, but dishonorably ancillary to a intricate causal plan of God (Romans 11:33).

        Like

      4. And in the same way, Stan, every man is sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision either for or against that mercy!

        Like

      5. I suspect only ignorance, mental defect, or fear of exposure would have somebody refusing to submit at Judgment. That is, with exposure imposed (the Books), with ignorance removed, and with mental defects cured, we can benignly posit a universal “in their right mind” volunteerism even under complete libertarian free will.

        Like

      6. Interesting speculation Stan! I don’t see revelation describing any such choices being allowed at the judgment, but that the judgment will be based only on the choices for or against God’s mercy in this life.

        Like

      7. I am not a philosopher nor theologian. The claim seems to be that God can be viewed as omniscient of the future only if we can come up with a plausible naturalistic explanation such as cause and effect sequence. Does this not assume that God’s supernatural attributes are being subject to human (natural) limitations? If God cannot be omniscient without fitting into a human construct, then how are we to deal with (or do we deny) those other attributes such as Omnipresence, Omnipotence, for which I don’t think anyone can come up with an explanation? It seems that placing a naturalistic boundary on what is taught by God as a supernatural attribute is illogical, perhaps only appearing necessary by conventional comfort.
        I also seem to recall reading that some explain God’s omniscience as a mystery. Would it not seem that everything in the supernatural realm has to be mysterious to the natural man / mind? Yet the tone of declaration hinted at something of a dismissal as I read it. I have yet to encounter any system of theological belief that does not include mystery somewhere in the construct. The Calvinists I have read seem quite comfortable explaining that how God’s infinite mercy and love fit with his alleged foreordination of the reprobate to damnation is a “mystery”. It would seem to me that putting one’s mystery claim to explanation of biblical understanding in a place which does not impugn God’s basic and most emphatically understood attribute of Love would be a more rational approach, whether that mystery involves God’s foreknowledge, Unlimited Atonement or the mystery of God sovereignly allowing mankind to have the full choice to accept or reject Him in an eternal love relationship without threatening His sovereignty.

        Thanks for clarification if I misunderstand!

        Dirk Mous

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Hi Dirk. Sorry for the delay is responding to you! I was a little ADHD yesterday. 🙂 We all are philosophers and theologians on some level, even you!

        If we are to say God is anything, like saying He is omniscient, we have to recognize how we are defining those terms and from where we are getting those definitions. Agreed? And the Scripture should be our final authority for those definitions, especially over philosophy. Agreed?

        Philosophy is actually the reservoir for “plausible naturalistic explanation” and some have boldly proclaimed unfairly, in my view, that omniscience has to mean that God knows the future as completely settled in His mind. But that definition comes from the musings of philosophy and has been imposed on Scripture. There is no verse that clearly gives such is the definition of omniscience. I think we can agree that God knows the future as completely as it can be known, and if it can be known as settled, He certainly would then know it that way. But logically it can only be known as settled if He chooses it to be known that way.

        I appreciated your appeal to the need for logic and also the recognition of mystery, or lack of understanding, that still exists in our theological and philosophical musings. But the reality of mystery should never cause us to accept what is plainly illogical or make us “seem quite comfortable” with contradiction. It is logically necessary that if God irrevocably chose some as individuals to salvation, which logically determines that all the rest will be damned, and He made this choice before ever creating one of them and before the exercise of any of their own wills, then He is indeed “responsible” as the ultimate cause for the salvation and damnation that comes about for each. There is no mystery that can overcome this logical necessity.

        But if the plain reading of Scripture supports God choosing a future that is only partly determined with certain ends, laws, and events, then there is no illogical statement such as – “Man is responsible for his own sin and rejection, though God ordained everything, including all His and man’s decisions forever, before creation.” By the way… the Arminian attempted resolution of foresight is illogical also, for knowledge of the future does to come to God, but from God. And even if it could come to Him, it would not come to Him incomplete without having all His own interactions in it already, therefore He could not see and then decide, but only see what He had decided.

        So what does God see in/choose for the future that comes from His infinite understanding so that we can understand the meaning of the Scriptural phrase “knows all things” better? He sees everything as His mind has been creating the future to be, with some things for the future that were predetermined before creation, somethings for the future that were predetermined after creation, and perfectly all the undetermined possibilities that still exist that He and man can interact with freely, or at least freely within the bounds of their natures. He has a free will, so God does not have to determine all His decisions ahead of time, nor is He limited to one reaction for each possibility.

        How He knows the future as it truly is, partly determined and partly undetermined, still has enough mystery in it, but “knowing all things perfectly and fully about the future as it truly is” seems to me at least to be a more logical and biblical part of the definition of omniscience.

        Like

      9. “And even if it could come to Him, it would not come to Him incomplete without having all His own interactions in it already, therefore He could not see and then decide, but only see what He had decided.”

        Ok, I’ve read this about five times and I’m still not sure I see it as a logical conclusion. After all, doesn’t open theism say that the future indeed does come to God “incomplete without having all His own interactions in it already”?

        What difference does it make if it comes to him at the moment of creation or in real time? He still has to see and decide how to interact with man’s freedom. If God sees an almost infinite number of possible futures as Greg Boyd supposes, what if he sees them all at once at creation and decides his every reaction instead of seeing them on a moment by moment basis? Either way, man’s free will decisions decide much of history, while God, being infinitely wise, works out his redemption plan despite much opposition. I guess my main problem is that I’m not seeing any reason one suppresses free choices more then another, and if anything is pre-determined, it is determined by both the actions of God plus the actions of his creation, including fallen angels.

        I think some molinists limit God’s freedom by supposing he can not choose to not act in many cases.

        Like

      10. Sorry, I forgot your first name since last we interacted! But Brother, the key is to try to understand what and how God knows anything of the future which does not yet exist for God or man. The Molinist tries to give God a moment of free-will on the sequential line of the everlasting past for determining a completed future out of possible completed futures, one that supposedly has man’s free-will decisions in it.

        But the multiple faceted conundrum for the Molinist is proving why God had only completed futures to choose from and how free will can still actually exist if a completed future is chosen even before any individual will is created, or why God jettisoned His free will forever by making all His decisions ahead of creation that will go on forever, or why God would give a revelation that reads as if the future is not fully settled.

        Some open theists might say what your said they say, which is why I do not like being labeled with that term. The future does not exist in reality, so in that sense it “comes” to God. The knowledge of it already exists in His infinite understanding of all things that are already determined for the future and all those things still possible for the future. And that knowledge within His infinite understanding is changing all the time as the future becomes present through His continual working with, and the making of, determinations and allowing possibilities to become reality. But those changes within His infinite understanding do not alter His perfections.

        Like

      11. Brian, You’ll have to bear with me, as I’m just an old country boy who works with his hands and never studied philosophy or Theology in depth. But, from the books I’ve read on OT, your view certainly seems to fit the profile. I never thought of the Molinist version as God only seeing complete futures. It seems as if he would have to see each micro decision, each moment of history and decide to act or not to act in each real time split second. Now, whether he knows what action he takes at some point in the past or only a fraction of a second before he acts, aren’t the results going to be the same? Either way, you’re talking about God knowing an almost infinite number of possiblities and then knowing the “real” future of each individual competent of his creation, not as it happens, but before it happens, based on his actions or inaction. Either way, it seems to me that God knows a settled future in advance, the only question is how far in advance.
        And of course, that future is always partly settled by God’s actions and partly settles by actions of his creatures, which any open theists I’ve read would agree with. Maybe some propose a totally open future, but I don’t see the logic, and I also don’t see how God knowing the future in advance changes the fact that each person acts on their own accord, without any kind of irresistible decree determining actions.
        Another thing we see a lot in Christian thinking (and this may be a rabbit trail but it is related) is the notion that evil is only the absence of Good, the absence of God. My daughter just mentioned this concept because they are studying Augustine in college philosophy…how could Augustine read scripture and decide that evil was only the absence of God? Jesus wasn’t tempted by a non-entity. And this relates, because that entity also acts freely and must be acted against. I could go on ranting, but I’m already getting off track…

        Like

      12. Old country boys, ww, makes some of the best and most logical philosophers. Read, or try to read, Heidegger sometime to see what I mean! Philosophers love sounding so unique and technical sometimes with their words, one wonders if they could even understand what they just said!

        I agree with your assessment of my view that God does come to “know” what the “actual” future will be the moment He chooses how He will respond to every impending event, whether actively or passively. I am glad you see this as consistent with the normal reading of Scripture.

        But He also can and does sometimes, according to Scripture, take away free will for some events by making or allowing thoughts and passions to be irresistible within a person, but never causing sin though sin will result through His permission. Of course His justice is delayed, but it will take place later.

        I have heard that Augustinian definition before. And like I would tell me students to ask when presented with anyone’s premise – “Where is that in the Scripture?” Augustine taught many falsehoods because of his love and submission to Platonic philosophy and ecclesiastical tradition.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. brianwagner writes, “But the multiple faceted conundrum for the Molinist is proving why God had only completed futures to choose from…”

        The Molinist also has to be able to explain how all those possible futures came about. For example, we know one possible future because we are experiencing it. It is a future where Adam ate the fruit, David bed Bathsheba, etc. The need for the Molinist is to explain how a different future could have existed – since we know that Adam ate the fruit in this future, how do you get a different future where Adam does not eat the fruit?

        Then, “…why God jettisoned His free will forever by making all His decisions ahead of creation that will go on forever, …”

        Why is this an issue? The timing of God’s decisions should be irrelevant as any decision God makes reflects His perfect wisdom and infinite understanding and these factors do not change.

        Like

      14. They do change, Roger, because of His free will to make them change and to still be perfect! I’ll let any local Molinists answer your questions to them. I do believe God did not have to create any settled future, though His infinite understanding knew of many possible ones. He certainly did not have to choose the human history that we have experienced so far as being settled.

        Of course the past in our human history is now settled, but that does not prove those past events in it were settled before creation. Nor does it prove that all the future events of humanity are settled in God’s mind and plan just because you say so!

        Like

      15. brianwagner writes, “They do change, Roger, because of [God’s] free will to make them change and to still be perfect!”

        That’s a nice Calvinist response. I could not have done better.

        Then “I do believe God did not have to create any settled future, though His infinite understanding knew of many possible ones. He certainly did not have to choose the human history that we have experienced so far as being settled.”

        Wow, another Calvinist slant to the issue. I am more impressed.

        Finally, “Of course the past in our human history is now settled, but that does not prove those past events in it were settled before creation. Nor does it prove that all the future events of humanity are settled in God’s mind and plan just because you say so!”

        The issue is whether God says so, which many take to be what God does in Isaiah.

        Like

      16. “I do believe God did not have to create any settled future, though His infinite understanding knew of many possible ones. He certainly did not have to choose the human history that we have experienced so far as being settled.”

        This isn’t Calvinistic thought. Perhaps both of you need to read more of Calvin.

        Liked by 1 person

      17. We were actually discussing Molinism, Paul. I agree it is not Calvinism… and I think I’ve read to much of Calvin already… 😂

        Like

      18. brianwagner writes, “We were actually discussing Molinism,…I agree it is not Calvinism…”

        This is not the whole story. Molinism purports to explain events before God created the universe, and describes how God can choose from among all possible futures for the world He would create (with the existence of those possible worlds in the mind of God somehow guaranteeing free will). However, under Molinism, God picks one unique world, with all future outcomes settled, and creates that world – that world is a Calvinist world.

        Molinism is a pre-creation system and describes how God chooses a world to create – Calvinism is a post-creation system that picks it up from creation and describes how that world works. While Molinism and Calvinism are not the same, they complement each other. Molinism is not an anti-Calvinist system.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. Agreed. However Roger, you will have to admit that Calvinism also rises and falls on what it explains existed before creation! It is not just “a post-creation system.”

        Like

      20. brianwagner writes, “…Calvinism also rises and falls on what it explains existed before creation!”

        Whoa!! I’ll have to read up on that – I can’t recall ever reading anything about it.

        Like

      21. So are you saying, Roger, that the presupposition of Calvinism that everything was predetermined before creation is unnecessary to Calvinism?… I don’t think so!

        Like

      22. brianwagner writes, “So are you saying that the presupposition of Calvinism that everything was predetermined before creation is unnecessary to Calvinism?”

        I thought you had something more exotic in mind. In relation to Molinism, Molinism is a pre-creation system with Calvinism describing the world that the Molinist God chooses to create (i.e., describing the world that exists from Genesis 1:1 forward) – the point being that Molinism and Calvinism can be viewed as consistent with each other regarding the world God chooses to create. This is why I don’t understand William Craig’s antipathy toward Calvinism.

        Even considering that the Calvinist God has predetermined everything, under Molinism, such predeterminism exists once God makes His choice of the world He will create – the disagreement between Molinism and Calvinism then being about What God knew and When did He know it – and should be relegated to a technical appendix that few people (other than graduate students looking for a thesis subject) would ever actually read.

        Like

      23. So you do agree that Calvinism is firmly based upon a necessary presupposition that everything is predetermined in God before creation! Yes, Molinism ends up with the same result!

        Like

      24. brianwagner exclaims, “So you do agree that Calvinism is firmly based upon a necessary presupposition that everything is predetermined in God before creation! ”

        The presupposition being that God is sovereign thereby exercising absolute control over all things – from this flows His predetermination of all things – a subset of which even you allow because of the prophecies.

        Like

      25. What rhutchin consistently “Forgets” to mention is that the Molinist world allows for true free will in that man’s choices really do determine their future. In Calvin’s world, all actions are solely determined by God and man’s actions are programmed by God’s irresistible decree. This is why Molinism falls under Arminianism.

        Like

      26. wildswanderer writes, “What rhutchin consistently “Forgets” to mention is that the Molinist world allows for true free will in that man’s choices really do determine their future.”

        Once God creates from among all possible worlds that world that He desires, all things are then determined. Free will is said to occur because of the existence of many possible worlds where free will is said to distinguish these worlds but how that works the Molinists have yet to explain. Of course, all this true free will occurs in the mind of God before creation.

        Then, “In Calvin’s world, all actions are solely determined by God and man’s actions are programmed by God’s irresistible decree. This is why Molinism falls under Arminianism.”

        Calvin’s world is the actual world that Molinism tells us God chooses to create. Molinism has nothing to do with Arminianism because Arminianism purports to describe the world God creates, but that world is obviously a deterministic (Calvinistic) world. Are you able to show that the world God creates is not deterministic in the Molinist sense?

        Like

      27. In the Molinist world, many of man’s actions are not determined by God, they are determined by man’s free will. In the Calvinist world all actions are determined by God. God picks a particular world based on it having the highest divine and human satisfaction rating, but men are free to act as they will in that world. I don’t know how to make it any simpler for you. Do any of the theologians who consider themselves Molinists also call themselves Calvinists?

        Like

      28. wildswanderer writes, “In the Molinist world, many of man’s actions are not determined by God, they are determined by man’s free will.”

        Do you mean that world that exists along with all other possible worlds in the mind of God 0r that unique world that God chooses to create which we find described beginning at Genesis 1?

        Then, “In the Calvinist world all actions are determined by God. God picks a particular world based on it having the highest divine and human satisfaction rating, but men are free to act as they will in that world. I don’t know how to make it any simpler for you. Do any of the theologians who consider themselves Molinists also call themselves Calvinists?”

        The Calvinist world is the Molinist world that God chooses to create. It is only among the pre-creation worlds that free will is said to be demonstrated (although Molinists never really explain how this comes about).

        Like

      29. “Do you mean that world that exists along with all other possible worlds in the mind of God 0r that unique world that God chooses to create which we find described beginning at Genesis 1?”
        I mean the world that God actualizes.

        “The Calvinist world is the Molinist world that God chooses to create.”

        No, because Calvinists insist that the world God creates is based on God’s decree and that God’s knowledge of that world is based on he decree. Molinism has God’s knowledge based solely on his omniscience, not his decree. Of the three types of knowledge in Molinism the first is God’s knowledge of all possible and necessary truths (natural knowledge — of what could happen). The second is God’s knowledge of all feasible worlds (middle knowledge — of what would happen through free choices under certain circumstances, including counterfactuals).In Calvinism, God can not know all counterfactuals, he can only know what he has already decided. So, he can’t choose by seeing what will happen, or choose from possible worlds, he must first choose before he can see any future. Add this to the fact that Calvinists insist that God’s decree is not based on the foreknowledge and you have one of many reasons why Calvinism and Molinism are not compatible.
        Many think Arminius was in some sense a Molinist. Now, I’m not saying Molinisism is correct, only that it doesn’t fit in consistent Calvinistic thinking. It can however, fit an Arminian world view.

        Like

      30. wildswanderer writes, “‘The Calvinist world is the Molinist world that God chooses to create.’

        No, because Calvinists insist that the world God creates is based on God’s decree and that God’s knowledge of that world is based on he decree. Molinism has God’s knowledge based solely on his omniscience, not his decree.”

        Not exactly, God’s omniscience encompasses all the possible worlds that He could create. When God chooses a specific world to actualize, then we say that had decided (or decreed) to create that world. By choosing that particular world to actualize (or create), God has chosen to decree everything that happens in that world rather than that which would occur in some other world. Your issue is with all the possible worlds that God could create that God is able to envision in His mind and whether those worlds come about by His decree or by the free actions of people.

        Then, “Of the three types of knowledge in Molinism the first is God’s knowledge of all possible and necessary truths (natural knowledge — of what could happen).”

        The issue here is how God knows these worlds could even exist.

        Then, “The second is God’s knowledge of all feasible worlds (middle knowledge — of what would happen through free choices under certain circumstances, including counterfactuals).In Calvinism, God can not know all counterfactuals, he can only know what he has already decided. So, he can’t choose by seeing what will happen, or choose from possible worlds, he must first choose before he can see any future.”

        Since it is God who envisions all these worlds in His mind, there are no actual people making decisions. There is only what God envisions different futures to be. Thus, under Calvinism, God does know all counterfactuals because He envisions those counterfactuals. Calvinists say that God chooses from among the worlds that He envisions in His mind.

        Finally, “Add this to the fact that Calvinists insist that God’s decree is not based on the foreknowledge and you have one of many reasons why Calvinism and Molinism are not compatible.”

        It is God who envisions all possible worlds in His mind. Thus, it is the creative mind of God that is the source of the worlds He envisions.

        Like

      31. I don’t think you really believe God is Omniscient in the same way Molinists do.. “The issue here is how God knows these worlds could even exist.”
        Because he’s God and he can know what he wants to know. Period.
        You’re still basing God’s Omniscience on some kind of condition, as if God can’t choose to know exactly what will happen in each possible world. Besides, if God is truly outside of time, as many would suppose, this whole discussion becomes nonsense. Do you affirm that God is in some sense inside a time line? If so, then open theism is as much as possibility as the other options.
        Then: “It is God who envisions all possible worlds in His mind. Thus, it is the creative mind of God that is the source of the worlds He envisions.”
        So? Are you saying God is not actually seeing what WILL happen, only what might happen? The best of all possible worlds means just that. And it might be one of the weaknesses of Molinism, because surely God could envision a better world then this. But, it’s not God envisioning worlds, it’s God knowing what worlds will be if he creates men with free will. God could no doubt envision a world where all men would be saved, but he obviously can’t bring that world to pass while allowing men free choices, or he would have.

        Like

      32. wildswanderer writes, “I don’t think you really believe God is Omniscient in the same way Molinists do.. “The issue here is how God knows these worlds could even exist.”
        Because he’s God and he can know what he wants to know. Period.”

        That’s basically a Calvinist position. What it says is that God knows what a person will choose to do before that person makes an actual choice. It excludes any conclusion about how the person chooses any speculation about free will). The Calvinist got this far in their thinking and then asked the obvious question – How does God know? The only conclusion they found was – God decreed it. No one else has found another way for God to know. Molinism muddles the situation proposing possible worlds, but, as you note, God knew those worlds, logically, before they even existed.

        Then, “You’re still basing God’s Omniscience on some kind of condition, as if God can’t choose to know exactly what will happen in each possible world. ”

        God knows before anything happens for Him to know. The question can still be asked – How does God know?

        The, “Besides, if God is truly outside of time, as many would suppose, this whole discussion becomes nonsense. Do you affirm that God is in some sense inside a time line? If so, then open theism is as much as possibility as the other options.”

        The idea of God being outside time seems to argue that God is able to observe what is happening and thereby learns. If God is omniscient, being outside time explains nothing and seems to be irrelevant to explaining how God can be omniscience.

        Then: “It is God who envisions all possible worlds in His mind. Thus, it is the creative mind of God that is the source of the worlds He envisions.”
        So? Are you saying God is not actually seeing what WILL happen, only what might happen? The best of all possible worlds means just that. And it might be one of the weaknesses of Molinism, because surely God could envision a better world then this. But, it’s not God envisioning worlds, it’s God knowing what worlds will be if he creates men with free will. God could no doubt envision a world where all men would be saved, but he obviously can’t bring that world to pass while allowing men free choices, or he would have.”

        What it means is that God acts with purpose and that purpose necessitated the world He created.

        Like

      33. Hahaha, Roger! I hope I didn’t mislead you with a misplaced modifier! When I said – “He certainly did not have to choose the human history that we have experienced so far as being settled” I meant He didn’t have to choose it as settled, not that our experience of it was of something that had been settled. 😀

        Like

      34. The future is settled because God ordained it and is fulfilling his plan which he ordained from eternity.

        Like

      35. So you say, Killian, but not so as the Scripture is read with all its conditional statements, universal invitations and warnings, and verses that speak of God still making choices. These things which would be impossible or a false reflection or reality if the reality is that all was settled before creation.

        God is working out His plan, which includes His freedom to keep making choices and to allow man to make choices, both with the freedom relative to their natures, with both God and man facing a future that He has partly ordained and has left partly undetermined.

        Like

      36. Since I am guessing you are not pantheistic or panentheistic Paul, my view is it that such questions are irrelevant. God has established laws for sustaining life and freely permits them to function by the power He gave them, and yet both He is able and free to circumvent them by miracles, and man is permitted and free to manipulate them under God’s observation and within the bounds of any of His predetermined limits and ends.

        Like

      37. brianwagner writes, “…Scripture is read with all its conditional statements, universal invitations and warnings, and verses that speak of God still making choices. These things which would be impossible or a false reflection or reality if the reality is that all was settled before creation.”

        There are also straightforward verses that speak of God’s knowledge of the future primarily in Isaiah and then the prophecies as they deal with Jesus. They are not necessarily a false reflection of reality. The issue is what verses are subordinate to the other verses.

        Like

      38. No subordination necessary Roger, the predictions are predeterminations of certain ends, but that doesn’t make necessary the elimination of all contingencies that are still possible before that future determination takes place.

        Like

      39. brianwagner writes, “No subordination necessary Roger, the predictions are predeterminations of certain ends,..”

        I know you meant to say something about subordination to Isaiah and just forgot.

        Like

      40. brianwagner writes, “God is working out His plan, which includes His freedom to keep making choices and to allow man to make choices, both with the freedom relative to their natures, with both God and man facing a future that He has partly ordained and has left partly undetermined.”

        Nonetheless, you allow that God can know all future possibilities, so God is able to decide what He will do in every situation and do so at any time – even in eternity past. Your response has been that God waits until some events arise in the course of time and then “decides” what He will do. That is an artificial solution as it really changes nothing – there is not new information being received by God as He waits that He then must consider in making His decision. If there were, God would not be omniscient, but you insist that God is omniscient thereby precluding God’s “waiting” having any real meaning.

        Like

      41. There is “new” information in the sense of all the contingencies that God had previously waited to choose between or permit right from the dawn of creation which limited or directed the course of future contingencies that God waits to decide upon. He is free to wait and there are more than one choice often available when the “time” comes for His “new” decision, and that is how the Scripture reads.

        Like

      42. brianwagner writes, “There is “new” information in the sense of all the contingencies that God had previously waited to choose between or permit right from the dawn of creation which limited or directed the course of future contingencies that God waits to decide upon.”

        All this is known to God under your system (if I understand your system) – God knows all contingencies and how He will respond whether He decides in eternity past or waits until the event arrives in the course of time. Nothing changes in terms of God’s knowledge. That God can “wait” adds nothing because waiting does not change any situation/contingency.

        Like

      43. We’ve talked about this before Roger, but you seem to forget… the contingencies include the possibilities God has to choose from… in the sense that there is not just one response for each contingency as I believe you think there has to be. So God’s knowledge is only of all those contingencies, and He waits to decide/know between them which will become the “certain” one by His active choice or permission.

        Liked by 1 person

      44. brianwagner writes, “…in the sense that there is not just one response for each contingency as I believe you think there has to be. So God’s knowledge is only of all those contingencies, and He waits to decide/know between them which will become the “certain” one by His active choice or permission.”

        You allow for God to know all possible contingencies. You also allow for God to know how He could respond to each contingency even if there were more than one possible response. God is still able to choose His response because nothing changes in terms of information – God knows everything that there is to know. In seeking to avoid the obvious, you say that God can “wait” to make decisions and that there could be multiple responses to a contingency. However, “waiting” or having to choose among multiple possible response does not create difficulty for God. Whether God “waits” to make a decision or makes that decision in eternity past or is faced with multiple options is inconsequential – the same decision is made and the same consequences entail.

        The only way you can affect God’s decisions is to deny Him information important enough to cause a different decision once that information becomes known, but this path is to deny that God is omniscient. God is certainly “free” to wait, but there is no basis to think that this changes anything.

        Like

      45. I don’t think, Roger, that you are seeing the big picture of all contingencies that depend on also waiting for man to make free choices between options available!

        Like

      46. brianwagner writes, “I don’t think that you are seeing the big picture of all contingencies that depend on also waiting for man to make free choices between options available!”

        Not a problem for God, is it?

        Like

      47. Brian Wagner the open theist who does not like the label open theist writes:

        “So God’s knowledge is only of all those contingencies, and He waits to decide/know between them which will become the “certain” one by His active choice or permission.”

        There it is, the god of Wagner, not the God of the Bible, knows only contingencies (what could happen in the future: He does not know what will in fact happen in the future, He lacks omniscience as held by everyone except for open theists like Wagner).

        Wagner’s god has to “wait” to see how people will choose from among the possible choices to know what they will do in the future.

        This is pure open theism.

        It is false and unbiblical and its gets wearying seeing Wagner keep presenting this false theology here and trying to persuade others to adopt this false theology.

        And once again Wagner is going on and on with rhutchin his “failed personal project”.

        As with the endless discussion of Charnock and omniscience, why don’t you guys take your pet views and pet conversation off line and discuss this among yourselves? It’s just the two of you yet again uselessly arguing for your false Calvinistic and open theist views on omniscience.

        Neither of you is convincing the other, nor are you convincing anyone else, so why keep this useless discussion going????

        Liked by 2 people

      48. Robert writes, ” It’s just the two of you yet again uselessly arguing for your false Calvinistic and open theist views on omniscience.”

        Discussions with Brian are rarely, if ever, useless.

        Liked by 1 person

      49. brianwagner writes, “I hope I didn’t mislead you with a misplaced modifier! When I said – “He certainly did not have to choose the human history that we have experienced so far as being settled…I meant He didn’t have to choose it as settled, ”

        The important part is that you describe God as exercising His sovereignty to bring about the end result – a thoroughly Calvinist position regardless what Paul Killian says. That reduces the whole discussion of the future, whether settled or not. to a technical appendix.

        Of course, I guess you were playing off the Molinist view, with your unsettled future thrown in, but it was still a nice Calvinist response – and I am not sure you meant to do that being the free will advocate that you seem to be.

        Like

      50. brinwagner writes, “every man is sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision either for or against that mercy!”

        What do you mean by “sufficiently”? Given that the distinction between eternal life and eternal death is extreme and a ‘free” will would accurately distinguish between the two, sufficiently tells us that all would decide for eternal life. Is that not the force of “sufficiently”?

        Like

      51. We won’t go over this path again, my friend. The choices for or against God’s mercy don’t start at the extremes!

        Like

      52. brianwagner writes, “We won’t go over this path again, my friend. The choices for or against God’s mercy don’t start at the extremes!”

        We have identified another issue (or the same issue again) that remains troublesome. When someone says something like this, “every man is sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision either for or against that mercy,” there is the need to correctly define the term, “sufficiently,” and then it’s relation to free will. The need is to be thorough in supporting claims that are being made. Put it on your list of things to do.

        Like

      53. Most people Roger already know the normal meanings for “sufficient” and “free will”. Nothing for me to do there… and I don’t prefer to discuss how Calvinists have rejected those normal meanings to fit there system based on the unbiblical philosophical view that all things were predetermined before creation. Sorry, friend, not going down that road again! You can keep proclaiming my responses are deficient, and we will let others decide. Blessings.

        Like

      54. brianwagner writes, “Most people already know the normal meanings for “sufficient” and “free will”. Nothing for me to do there… and I don’t prefer to discuss how Calvinists have rejected those normal meanings to fit there system…”

        Actually, Calvinist do accept those normal meanings. It is the normal meaning that is the issue. Sufficient mercy coupled with free will should produce universalism. Explaining how it doesn’t is the stickler.

        Like

      55. Roger if you freely choose to believe that sufficiency demands irresistibility for only one choice, I will still have respect for you as a friend and brother. You also believe that God had to irresistibly choose to create this human history, and at the same time you maintain He has free will.

        We all live with areas of inconsistency that we either can’t see even when they are pointed out to us, or we do not want to jettison our views, even when we are shown them to be illogical or unbiblical. I pray I will be able to see and willing to freely choose to reject inconsistencies when I am shown them! Please pray for me. I am praying for you.

        Like

      56. brianwagner writes, “if you freely choose to believe that sufficiency demands irresistibility for only one choice,…”

        Not exactly. Sufficiency plus Free will = eternal life. The language you use is important. You said, “…sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision…” By free will, is meant that the person is aware of the options (in this case, eternal life and eternal death) and can distinguish one from the other. “Sufficiently brought” means what? The normal meaning of sufficient is that is is enough to bring about the desired end (i.e., salvation). So you have God bringing the person to the point of salvation leaving him to make a “free will” decision having a sufficient basis for making that decision. Given the extreme disparity between eternal life and eternal death, the free will choice can only be eternal life. To choose eternal death requires that God’s mercy not be sufficient or the man’s will not be free under the normal meaning of sufficiency and free (the conclusion the Calvinist arrived at). By your description, all those acted upon by God will be saved either some (as the Calvinists say) or all (as the Universalists say).

        Then, “You also believe that God had to irresistibly choose to create this human history, and at the same time you maintain He has free will.”

        Not sure what you mean by “God had to irresistibly choose,” other than that the choices God makes reflect all His attributes making His choice an irresistible one by it’s consistency with, and appeal to, those attributes.

        God’s choice is “free” in the sense that He is aware of the options before Him and has the power of contrary choice. That God cannot lie does not mean that He has no ability to lie (lacks contrary choice) but that lying is not consistent with who He is and God is always true to Himself.

        Like

      57. Thank you Roger for confirming what I said your view of sufficiency and how it effects/causes an irresistible choice. I will continue to maintain that I am talking about sufficiency to be able to make a free choice. That was God’s plan. It was not to effect which choice must be made.

        Like

      58. brianwagner writes, “Thank you for confirming what I said your view of sufficiency and how it effects/causes an irresistible choice. I will continue to maintain that I am talking about sufficiency to be able to make a free choice. That was God’s plan. It was not to effect which choice must be made.”

        We both agree that that sufficiency – “…sufficiently brought by the mercy of God…” – is to enable the person to make a free will decision. It does not cause the choice that is made but makes that choice free. A person with free will chooses rationally – eternal life is the rational choice; eternal death would be an irrational choice. If God extends sufficient mercy to enable a person to make a free will decision between eternal life and eternal death, the choice will always be eternal life. As we saw earlier, you cannot account for a person choosing eternal death under those conditions. Eternal life becomes irresistible when the alternative is eternal death.

        Like

      59. We’re going over old ground again Roger! Knowing as rational something that is unseen doesn’t make the choice to try to acquire it necessary. It is sounds rational to wait for more evidence before trying to acquire it. It sounds rational that there may be another way not heard about yet that should be considered.

        The will has been freed enough to choose between rational sounding decisions. Ultimately the will is being asked by God to humble itself and trust without having enough rational information.

        And the choice is not between everlasting life and everlasting death, but between trusting a person and His promises, or not trusting Him and His promises. And there are rational arguments for making that choice to trust, and rational ones not to make that choice to trust. I’m truly sorry you think your view about sufficiency and free will is so airtight. I wish I could explain it in a more helpful way.

        Liked by 1 person

      60. brianwagner writes, “Ultimately the will is being asked by God to humble itself and trust without having enough rational information.

        And the choice is not between everlasting life and everlasting death, but between trusting a person and His promises, or not trusting Him and His promises. And there are rational arguments for making that choice to trust, and rational ones not to make that choice to trust. I’m truly sorry you think your view about sufficiency and free will is so airtight. I wish I could explain it in a more helpful way.”

        Oh Brian!!! You say, “…sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision…” It is not that I think that my view about sufficiency and free will is so airtight, but that you are being wishy washy on what you mean when you use those terms (all the while insisting that we take them in their normal sense). Now, you want to cast the decision away from the objective (eternal life vs eternal death) to the more subjective (trusting a person and his promises). The former is a direct statement belief while the latter is a life-long commitment that reflects one’s belief. A life long commitment to God is grounded in a belief that encompasses objective truth driving subjective actions. One cannot be divorced from the other.

        Is the person who is faced with trusting a person and his promises unaware of the stakes involved – eternal life? The decision is not fuzzy or unclear. We find it in Romans 2–

        7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life.
        8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
        9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;
        10 but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

        If it is true that that a person is “…sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision…” then under the normal meaning of “sufficiently” and “free” the decision is not difficult. Who freely decides for wrath and anger over eternal life after having been “…sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision…”? To refuse to trust God is to deny “sufficiently” or “free.” Can you show that such is not the case?

        The problem for you is that you cannot explain how anyone would decide not to trust a person and his promises given that the person was “…sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision…” You could easily explain, through simple logical arguments, a person’s decision to embrace eternal life in trusting a person and his promises. You argue as a person would if he were an universalist.

        Like

      61. Again, Roger, I am sorry that I have not been able to help you see what ability of the will is enabled by God to both accept and refuse, and the legitimacy for sufficiency to not guarantee acceptance. Others will have to judge whether your reasoning is more Scriptural and logical than mine in this instance.

        I believe strongly that God’s justice in damning anyone is because of their freed will refusal of His mercy, when they were able to accept it, and to seek Him, and eventually to be brought to a decision to trust or reject His promises for unseen forgiveness and everlasting life. Have a blessed day worshiping our Savior.

        Like

      62. brianwagner writes, “I am sorry that I have not been able to help you see what ability of the will is enabled by God to both accept and refuse, and the legitimacy for sufficiency to not guarantee acceptance.”

        There is a simple way to do this. To refresh our memories, your claim is that “…every man is sufficiently brought by the mercy of God to a free-will decision either for or against that mercy.” We can easily explain what leads a person to decide for mercy. A child could do that. However, explaining what factors result in a person deciding against mercy is perplexing. The Calvinists concluded that it was because of depravity but this just denies either “sufficiency” or “free” or both. You don’t like that solution. It remains only for you to find another solution to this. If you had an explanation, you would have spelled it out already, so we know that you don’t. However, absent that solution, you are not able to help anyone, much less me, see your point. You want God to enable all people to be saved, but have not figured out how that could happen. You jettisoned omniscience to help you in your endeavor, but there are still problems. That’s life.

        Then, “I believe strongly that God’s justice in damning anyone is because of their freed will refusal of His mercy, when they were able to accept it, and to seek Him, and eventually to be brought to a decision to trust or reject His promises for unseen forgiveness and everlasting life.”

        Unfortunately, for you, you just can’t support that which you want to be true.

        However, even if God could give each person the ability to accept or reject, that does not solve the basic problem. The problem is that God put Adam in the garden, told him not to eat a certain fruit, and then not only decided that Satan could come into the garden to tempt Eve but stood by watching first the temptation of Eve and then Eve offering Adam the fruit without lifting a finger (so to speak) to stop it. On top of that, God then decreed that all humanity was to be held liable for Adam’s sin (Calvin calls this the horrible decree). Finally, God enables, under your system, people to accept or reject and even if not omniscient, sees that a lot of people were rejecting and did nothing different when from the beginning, He could have enabled all to accept. To merely conclude that a person is damned because they refuse His mercy does not do justice to the basic issue of people being in this situation in the first place.

        Like

      63. brianwagner writes, “Sorry that we don’t agree, and that you do not accept the wisdom I am sharing!”

        Oh Brian!!!! I want your wisdom; so far, you are refusing to provide it.

        Again, can you explain how it comes about that people under your system reject God’s mercy and salvation?

        Like

      64. Oh Roger???? I am not refusing to provide it. And I have explained what you want to know, as you have so often asked that I would. Repeating ourselves back and forth is not going to get us anywhere in edification, I fear. But I do think you feel strongly that you have to have the last word in a conversation. Is that true?

        Like

      65. I looked and did not find anything.

        Earlier, you said, “We won’t go over this path again (defining ‘sufficiency” and “free”), my friend. The choices for or against God’s mercy don’t start at the extremes!”

        Later, you wrote, “The will has been freed enough to choose between rational sounding decisions. Ultimately the will is being asked by God to humble itself and trust without having enough rational information.

        And the choice is not between everlasting life and everlasting death, but between trusting a person and His promises, or not trusting Him and His promises. And there are rational arguments for making that choice to trust, and rational ones not to make that choice to trust.”

        You stated “there are rational arguments…not to make that choice to trust.” However, you did not describe any of those arguments in anything you wrote above.

        I really don’t think you have done so even though you say you have. Hope that is not a test question later on.

        Like

      66. Not a test question Roger! 🙂 I did say in that same post that you just quoted from … “it sounds rational to…” and gave a couple examples why a free will can make a choice against God’s mercy presented to it. But we did talk about this in more depth on other pages on this site. I am surprised you do not remember. But that’s ok. I really believe I can not help you in this issue any better than I have.

        Like

      67. brianwagner writes, “But we did talk about this in more depth on other pages on this site. I am surprised you do not remember.”

        So am I given that it is such a key point. I guess you don’t like to repeat yourself in class.

        Like

      68. We know that everybody will wholly confess and submit at Judgment. Romans 14:10-11 says this in the context of believers, but the portion from Isaiah from which Paul quotes continues that the unrighteous shall also do these things, but shamefully.

        The only real question from there is, “What shall God do to those who raged against him, but are now shamed, and confessing, and submitting?” Shall they suffer an endless experiential Gehenna? Shall they suffer a period of purgatorial Gehenna? Or shall they be immolated in Gehenna and obliterated? The early Church had canonized saints teaching all three views, and using the same Biblical language of Second Death and ‘kolasin aionion’ for all three fates.

        Like

      69. Hi Stan, I do not take the choice of pre-Nicene “Fathers” by Roman Catholicism as representative of biblical teaching in any authoritative way. Jesus will cast out those who call Him “Lord” at the judgment, declaring that He “never knew” them. (Matt 7:21-23). I think the normal meaning of “kolasin” and its cognates is of some kind of physical punishment. And the normal meaning of the idioms for everlasting in Greek, was commonly thought of as “without end”. Blessings.

        Like

      70. Kolasin does indeed imply an experiential punishment. But Greek for neverending — aidios — is used only twice, and not for the kolasin. The kolasin is aionion/aionios, which neither meant ‘neverending’ nor ‘ending.’ This is a reason why the early Christian leaders couldn’t agree. This is also why the pagan Olympiodorus described Tartarus as aionios, by which he explicitly meant a time sufficient to heal.

        Like

  11. Thanks Leighton for a good post! I think it is also important to emphasize that God’s hardening of Israel nationally only requires the choosing of a few from among those who have already rejected His offers of mercy, that He then puts into leadership positions civilly and religiously in Israel. The rest of the individuals in the nation, without that power, are still given opportunities for salvation, but they then, of course, face opposition from the authorities in Israel for doing so.

    I also think that God had rejected Israel as a nation in 586 BC, when I believe the times of the Gentiles began, which will end when the fullness of the Gentiles is completed (Rom 11:25). So in my opinion, since 586 BC God has placed into power over Israel those that He as a Potter took from among those, originally intended to be vessels of honor, as all His created vessels are, but being of their own will marred in His hands, He made them into vessels of dishonor. I think this still fits well with your view of judicial hardening of Israel as a nation, but it expands the understanding of how almost all Jews are still free to repent!

    Like

    1. The question is relevent, first, because God answers it, Eph. 1:11, Rom. 11:36, Ps. 104:14, . Second, because if man can function without God sustaining him second by second, man is outside of God’s power. You assume things can function without God’s active power when Scripture says that it is not true.

      You beg the question by assuming that it is true to say laws are self sustaining.

      Like

  12. The question is relevent, first, because God answers it, Eph. 1:11, Rom. 11:36, Ps. 104:14, . Second, because if man can function without God sustaining him second by second, man is outside of God’s power. You assume things can function without God’s active power when Scripture says that it is not true.

    You beg the question by assuming that it is true to say laws are self sustaining.

    Like

    1. Hi Paul, There are plenty of Scriptures to affirm that God established the existence of secondary causes which function within the relative freedom of their natures. Certainly He holds all things together, but that does not negate His permission for created wills to function contrary to His intentions or desires or for created natural powers to function without constant divine intervention or infusion of new power.

      Eph 1:11 does not define His sovereignty as manipulative of every event, only that predetermined ends like the inheritance of those in Christ will be completed because God is working “in” or “with” everything according to His intentions that are submissive to His desires. Jer 18:4 gives a good illustration of how God freely can work with competing wills, change His original intention, but keep within the bounds of His desire and ultimate purpose.

      Romans 11:36 also confirms to this idea. God is the source of everything, and everything passes through His active or passive interaction with it, within the bounds of the things He already determined, and utilizing the responses of free-will creatures, including His own, to confirm to the overall purpose of His glory and the ultimate ends that He wishes. This verse does not need to be interpreted to mean manipulative sovereign cause or control of everything.

      Ps 104:14 is from Hebrew poetry. It is not wise to try to prove dogma from poetry. However, this verse, and others like it, do prove that God can and does get involved with the functions of nature, and yet this verse in no way proves He actively causes everything in nature by on the spot divine decisions, (or according to having decided before creation each blade of grass He would make grow), but He allows the natural laws which He has empowered to work under His omnipresent observation.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s