Casting Lots To Find God’s Will: Proverbs 16:33

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“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33).

John Piper was asked, “Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe such as dust particles in the air… including all our besetting sins?” He responded saying:

“Yes… Now the reason I believe that, is because the Bible says, ‘The dice is thrown in the lap, and every decision is from the Lord’ … and why would he choose the dice that is cast into the lap, because he is trying to think of the most random thing he can think of, and he says that. So, randomness is not random to God. God is not the least taxed by keeping every sub nuclear particle in its place… which means yes, every horrible thing, every sinful thing is ultimately governed by God…” <link>

Which is paralleled elsewhere in a book edited by Piper which says,

“God . . . brings about all things in accordance with his will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory and his people’s good. This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child…” <Link> (which we discuss more fully HERE)

It may seem reasonable to conclude that if God predetermines even something so seemingly random as the roll of dice that He likewise would predetermine something like the heinous intentions of a child molester, right?

Wrong! This is simply poor inductive reasoning mixed with some bad eisegesis.

Remember, one of the key practices of good hermeneutics is to always seek the intention of the original author. In Proverbs 16:33, is the author’s intention to say that God predetermines the outcome of casting lots in same manner He predetermines the decisions of people? I seriously doubt it.  In fact, I believe the meaning is almost the exact opposite. Allow me to explain.

You see, many people in that day were superstitious and resorted to practices like casting lots or drawing straws to make decisions, rather than using sound judgement, scriptural teaching or seeking Godly wisdom. So, the author is more likely saying something like, “If you resort to superstitious dice throwing to make your decisions, you still won’t thwart the overall purposes of God.” The author is not suggesting that God is meticulously controlling how the dice will fall, because that would just go to support the logic of their folly. After all, if God is determining the outcome of the dice, as the theistic determinist reads this passage, it makes perfect since to resort to this kind of decision making process!  Clearly that is the antithesis of the author’s actual goal in making this point.

Proper hermeneutics also teaches us to look at the context of each passage. Earlier in the 16th chapter the author gives sound decision making advice, such as:

 “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” (v. 16).

“The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives” (v. 17)

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD” (v. 20).

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction” (v. 21). 

Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools” (v. 22). 

“The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction” (v. 23).

A fool casts lots in order to make decisions, but the “wise” and “prudent” “avoid evil,” “give heed to instruction,” and “trust in the Lord.” But even when unwise fools seek God’s will by resorting to the folly of dice throwing, God’s greater purposes will still be accomplished.  In other words, stupid people making bad decisions in unGodly ways, like casting lots, won’t keep God from accomplishing His ultimate purpose. [For instance, the apostle’s hasty decision to cast lots in order to appoint Mathias to replace Judas (Acts 1:26) did not keep God from accomplishing his decision to call the apostle Paul (Gal. 1:11-12).]

Through out the 16th chapter of Proverbs, the author makes several very similar comments to what we read in verse 33, all of which point to God’s purposes being accomplished despite and/or through the free choices of people:

“To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue” (v. 1).

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (v. 9). [Which relates to Psalm 37:23: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”]

These passages establish both human autonomy and God’s sovereignty. Mankind makes plans autonomously, yet God has the ability to overrule those plans and/or guide mankind in the fulfillment of them. This is the balance seen throughout all of scripture. <link>

Within our God given freedom we have the ability to decide to take that job that was offered to us, for instance, by consulting our child’s magic eight ball, but that would be folly. Does that mean, however, that God’s purpose and plans would be thwarted if you took that job based on the superstitious advice of a child’s toy? Of course not. God’s purposes will stand despite your unwise decision making process based on finite deterministic logic.

The proverb is not suggesting that our Holy God is predetermining the outcome of lot casting.  The proverb is teaching that it is folly to fall for deterministic finite logic by making decisions based on the erroneous belief that God is predetermining the outcome of superstitious lot casting. In fact, if God has predetermined the outcome of the lot being cast, then it would be perfectly logical to resort to such means in order to seek out His will for your life. The point is that this kind of deterministic thinking is pure folly.

The scriptures teach you “not to conform to the pattern of this world,” by resorting to immature superstitions, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).

The wise make decisions, not based on the fatalistic assumptions of philosophy, but based on prayer, fasting, seeking Godly counsel and waiting on the peace that passes all understanding which can only comes by the guidance of the Holy Spirit within.

Because the future is unknown to us, it is certainly understandable that when faced with a difficult decision we might resort to some unusual worldly means, such as, “If the next car that passes me is red, then I’ll sell everything and become a missionary to India.” A person steeped in deterministic philosophy might feel justified ignoring his calling to become a missionary given that God must have determined that passing car to be lime green instead of red. But, that kind of decision making is clearly foolish because it is not based on the reality of how God has chosen to work temporally within our world.

For instance, when the people of Judah adopted the pagan ritual of child sacrifice in order to appease God, He responded saying, “They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind” (Jer. 7:31, emphasis added). He did not say as the Westminster confession suggests, “That I your God must have decreed all future things, [including child sacrifice, because this] is a conclusion which necessarily flows from [my] foreknowledge, independence, and immutability.” <link>

If the theistic determinism of Piper is true, certainly God could have inspired the apostles to write something like we see in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, “God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass [including every evil desire, temptation and subsequent sin.]” Instead, however, the apostle James taught, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:13-14, emphasis added).

God is completely Holy (separate from sin) and His eyes “too pure to look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13).  “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33)—which means He cannot in any way be the author of evil.

Some appeal to Isaiah 45:7 while attempting to argue that God decrees all moral evil, but the passage actually says, “There is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” In other words, God plans calamity (natural disaster, disease, etc)  as a judgment for evil doers, not that He Himself is the determiner (or cause/author) of moral evil.

God is certainly more powerful than any evil. He can destroy it or step in at any moment to thwart the plan of evil creatures, but He is not the one who originates, causes, brings about, authors or in any way determines moral evil. Likewise, God is not about deciding the outcome of your silly craps game, so stop thinking like the gnostics and the stoics and act like the morally responsible human being that He created in His image. Take responsibility for your actions because to act responsibly means to act like you are actually able to choose your response (not like God predetermined your response).

In fact, right now you are responsible for how you react to this article. You can go blog or podcast about how inept of a theologian God determined me to be, or you can humbly acknowledge that God simply may not fit into an omni-deterministic world view. Either way, you cannot really blame me, because my eight-year-old son’s magic eight ball told me, “It is certain,” when I asked if I was suppose to write this article. 😉

——–

Added note: While the Tanakh had its Urim and Thummim, which possibly were gemstones used by ancient Israelites to determine God’s will (see Nu 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6; Ez 2:63; Neh 7:65), there is much debate over the source and actual purpose of this questionable practice. We know that Israel had many controversial practices at times throughout her history (including bigamy), but such behaviors recorded within the biblical narrative are not necessarily an endorsement of those activities. While it’s certainly possible that God revealed his will through supernatural signs (i.e. Gideon), we must remember these types of revelations were unique and not generally condoned as normative means to seek God’s purposes. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit and we should seek His face through prayer, Bible study and Godly counsel not tests and gambling.

Additionally, the tossing of a coin or casting of lots could also simply be away for two “morally free” individuals to come to a compromise in a matter of dispute. This may be why the casting of lots was often associated with an oath (i.e. Each party making the promise to abide by the outcome of the tossed coin).  This is reflective of the fact that it is a disputable matter, not a morally accountable one. In other words, it is not a moral issue if this neighbor gets the north side of the river verses that neighbor getting the southside. It is a disputable matter which cannot be settled between two libertarianly free people who have conflicting opinions on an issue that God’s law hasn’t made morally clear. To apply such practices, as I believe John Piper did, to the morally evil choices of man is unacceptable hermeneutically.

 

 

265 thoughts on “Casting Lots To Find God’s Will: Proverbs 16:33

    1. As stated, Gods purposes will still be accomplish through bad philosophy and practice. Solomon had many wives too, that doesn’t make it right. Many practices and beliefs of characters in the narratives of scripture were in error. Yet, Gods purposes were still fulfilled.

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  1. I’m ashamed to say I’ve opened my Bible at random, in an attempt to hear from God. Several times. In his mercy he often spoke to me—but maybe we can say according to our faith, or even better according to his mercy, knowing our frame is dust. But what about witchcraft and sorcery? If one believes in real evil magic, how could that deterministically be attributed to God? I talked with a friend recently who is a backslider. He and his buddies found some occultic rituals on the deep web, and in their seance actually received supernatural knowledge. Would one consider even Satan as the source to be a lot cast into the lap? That lot could be influenced by the “other side” in one way or another. For the ancient Israelite it seemed to be a form of prayer directed at YHWH. How could the writer of Proverbs have meant “Every sorceror and diviner and false prophet says things from the Lord?” But the Lord sends judgment and deception, too, always on account of prior autonomous sin. It just seems so much is being read into “from the Lord” or “according to God’s will” that isn’t explicitly stated by that phrase. What seals it for me, is God cannot have an enemy under determinism, yet Scripture tells us he does. That may not sit well with me, and I may have no explanation for it, but it’s what Scripture tells me by divine revelation. We know the enemy is not God, himself, and what a strange game it would be if God were his own enemy.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pastor flowers writes, “‘The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD’ (Proverbs 16:33)…many people in that day were superstitious and resorted to practices like casting lots or drawing straws to make decisions, rather than using sound judgement, scriptural teaching or seeking Godly wisdom. So, the author is more likely saying something like, “If you resort to superstitious dice throwing to make your decisions, you still won’t thwart the overall purposes of God.” The author is not suggesting that God is meticulously controlling how the dice will fall, because that would just go to support the logic of their folly.”

    The problem here is that the Scriptures do not use Pastor Flowers’ argument in support of Proverbs 16:33. Pastor Flowers assumes a condition whose purpose is to get the conclusion he seeks – a poor use of logic. Proverbs is clear – whenever anyone cast a lot, God determines the outcome. Whether one flips a coin, shuffles and deals cards, draws numbers for a lottery or any other “chance” event, the outcome is determined by God. It is true that no one thwarts the purpose of God because even when men use supposed “chance” activities in an attempt to thwart the purpose of God, they only achieve that which God had determined and that before God created the world and before those casting lots were born.

    Proper hermeneutics tells us that we should obey God and let God direct our lives through our obedience. To seek to circumvent God’s rule over our lives through the casting of lots, lotteries, games of chance, etc. does not escape God’s absolute control over our lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Leighton Flowers said,

    “You see, many people in that day were superstitious and resorted to practices like casting lots or drawing straws to make decisions, rather than using sound judgement, scriptural teaching or seeking Godly wisdom.”

    The Urim and Thummin were based upon superstition? Did not God command the Israelites to use the Urim and Thummin? Was the common practice of casting lots in ancient Israel a deviation from sound judgment, from scriptural teaching and from seeking Godly wisdom? What about the Apostles of Jesus Christ? Were they also superstitious? (Acts 1:26)

    “So, the author is more likely saying something like, ‘If you resort to superstitious dice throwing to make your decisions, you still won’t thwart the overall purposes of God.'”

    More likely saying? How so?

    “The author is not suggesting that God is meticulously controlling how the dice will fall, because that would just go to support the logic of their folly.”

    ? Circular reasoning.

    “After all, if God is determining the outcome of the dice, as the theistic determinist reads this passage, it makes perfect since to resort to this kind of decision making process! Clearly that is the antithesis of the author’s actual goal in making this point.”

    ??? Still does not follow.

    “Proper hermeneutics also teaches us to look at the context of each passage. Earlier in the 16th chapter the author gives sound decision making advice, such as:

    “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” (v. 16).
    “The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives” (v. 17)
    “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD” (v. 20).
    “The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction” (v. 21).
    “Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools” (v. 22).
    “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction” (v. 23).

    ? The above verses are related to casting lots? How so?

    “In other words, stupid people making bad decisions in unGodly ways, like casting lots, won’t keep God from accomplishing His ultimate purpose. [For instance, the apostle’s hasty decision to cast lots in order to appoint Mathias to replace Judas (Acts 1:26) did not keep God from accomplishing his decision to call the apostle Paul (Gal. 1:11-12).]”

    The apostles were stupid? Choosing Mathias was an unGodly way of making a decision? How so?

    How do you know that the choice of Mathias was not part of God’s ultimate purpose? Just because Mathias is not mentioned again in the New Testament does not mean that God did not have a purpose in the choice of Mathias to take the place of Judas. The tradition of the Greeks record that Mathias planted the faith about Cappadocia and on the coasts of the Caspian Sea, residing chiefly near the port Issus. Every Christian needs to read about the Cappadocians…

    “The proverb is not suggesting that our Holy God is predetermining the outcome of lot casting. The proverb is teaching that it is folly to fall for deterministic finite logic by making decisions based on the erroneous belief that God is predetermining the outcome of superstitious lot casting. In fact, if God has predetermined the outcome of the lot being cast, then it would be perfectly logical to resort to such means in order to seek out His will for your life. The point is that this kind of deterministic thinking is pure folly.”

    Was John Wesley a man given to pure folly as your logic suggests? After all, “traditionalists” adore Wesley, correct? Have you not read of Whitefield’s questioning of Wesley’s use of the casting of lots?

    Whitefield wrote to Wesley the following… “The case (you know) stands thus: When you were at Bristol, I think you received a letter from a private hand, charging you with not preaching the gospel, because you did not preach election. On this you drew a lot: the answer was “preach and print.” I have often questioned, as I do now, whether in doing so, you did not tempt the Lord. A due exercise of religious prudence, without drawing a lot, would have directed you in that matter. Besides, I never heard that you enquired of God whether or not election was a gospel doctrine.”

    I love Whitefield’s letter to Wesley… it should be required reading for every anti-calvinist. The casting of lots to determine God’s will is not something that Christians should do in this day and age, but not for the reasons that Leighton Flowers erroneously provides. Everything that happens, including the casting of lots, IS predetermined by God. After all, did not the Creator of the heavens and the earth establish the laws of physics and quantum mechanics? Is not God of all creation also all knowing of everything that happens and will happen? With God, nothing is random, and nothing is left to chance.

    The real reason that Christians should not cast lots to determine God’s will is that the predetermined outcome of the lot does not necessarily correspond to what God is telling the Christian he/she should or should not do. How am I to know that the casting of lots would be God’s way of speaking to me? The answer is that I do not know… and therefore I should not presume that the casting of lots determines God’s will for my life. For the ancient Israelites (and the apostles) it was different. The anti-calvinist John Wesley used bad judgment in casting lots to determine God’s will… and the calvinist George Whitefield called him on it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So you are decreed by God to wrongly use the means of chance to try to hear God… how does one know when it’s wrong or not? Do you have a verse for when a believer should use lots to achieve a predetermined end that is what God is saying and a predetermined end by God that is God made to be not what he is saying?

      Is your post true, click here to find out: http://yesnomaybe.info/

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I would concede that God is a remote cause that allowed for dice to be thrown and as the creator of gravity/physics determines that they will land in a certain way depending upon the force/friction etc etc (that wasn’t the point of my article BC I don’t believe that was the point of the author).

      I believe the thrower determined to throw the lots and picked (maybe subconsciously) the force he would use or how many shakes he would give, countless other natural laws were at work to “determine” how they would fall. I don’t believe God decided “I will make them fall in this way or that way so as to reveal my will to the thrower of those dice” (you seem to agree with that much?)

      You said we shouldn’t cast lots BC “the predetermined outcome of the lot does not necessarily correspond to what God is telling the Christian”

      Who determined for the outcome not to correspond with Gods will?

      Who determined the dice thrower to believe that they did correspond?

      Who determined the gambler to act on the outcome of those dice?

      For you: God. God determined their folly in your worldview, which is an untenable perspective IMO. (That is assuming you agree with Piper on this point)

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    3. BTW, according to Piper’s logic Wesley’s bad judgement was brought about by God in order to bring Himself glory, so maybe Whitefield would have been more logically consistent to direct his letter to the Lord who unchangeably decreed Wesley’s desires and choices?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Leighton,

    My post spoke for itself.

    Urim and Thummin are not “obscure OT practices”. That is how the ancient Israelites determined the will of God on multiple occasions. Casting lots to determine the will of God was very common during those times. The theoretical argument you presented is devoid of this context, and is full of circular reasoning and superficial thinking.

    Your argumentation cast aspersions upon the ancient Israelites, and also upon the apostles of Christ.

    Since you have now conceded that God is a “remote cause” of all events, then perhaps you need to reconsider your understanding of the doctrines of grace as revealed in the scriptures.

    Sincerely, David

    >

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ancient Israelites also stoned adulterers and some had multiple wives, what’s your point? You’ve already conceded that gambling is an unwise/ unGodly means of making decisions. Has God changed or has people’s understanding of how God works changed?

      And I actually acknowledge the context of this popular superstition in my article, remember? You even quoted it.

      Can you point out specifically what reasoning was “circular” and why? Thanks.

      You too cast aspersions on Wesley for the exact same reason. Poor decision making process to determine Gods will, so which is it? Is it wise or unwise to gamble to seek Gods will?

      Conceding the cause of God as Creator of all things does not preclude His ability and willingness to create libertarianly free moral creatures.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Leighton’s unsubstantiated claims and circular reasoning…

        “Is the author’s intention in Proverbs 16:33 to say that God predetermines the outcome of casting lots in same manner He predetermines the decisions of people? I seriously doubt it. In fact, I believe the meaning is almost the exact opposite. Allow me to explain.”

        Therefore, presumably, according to Flowers, the exact opposite means => God does not predetermine the outcome of casting lots in same manner He predetermines the decisions of people.

        Why? because God does not predetermine the decisions of people in the first place? And therefore, God does not predetermine the outcome of casting lots?

        Consider the following claims by Flowers:

        “You see, many people in that day were superstitious and resorted to practices like casting lots or drawing straws to make decisions, rather than using sound judgement, scriptural teaching or seeking Godly wisdom.”

        Even if the above claim was was true, what does that have to do with the author’s intention in Proverbs 16:33?

        “So, the author is more likely saying something like, ‘If you resort to superstitious dice throwing to make your decisions, you still won’t thwart the overall purposes of God.’”

        More likely? Based upon what? Based upon the the claims of Leighton Flowers?

        “The author is not suggesting that God is meticulously controlling how the dice will fall, because that would just go to support the logic of their folly.”

        This is circular reasoning… See below.

        According to Flowers, the author of Proverbs meant to say that God does not predetermine the outcome of casting lots
        -> many people in that day who resorted to casting lots were superstitious and foolish
        -> the author of Proverbs would not want to support the logic of foolish people
        -> therefore, the author of Proverbs meant to say that God does not predetermine the outcome of casting lots.

        “After all, if God is determining the outcome of the dice, as the theistic determinist reads this passage, it makes perfect since to resort to this kind of decision making process! Clearly that is the antithesis of the author’s actual goal in making this point.”

        The word “since” is misspelled… meant to write “sense”.

        “The antithesis of the author’s actual goal in making this point”… What actual goal? Leighton’s goal?

        “These passages establish both human autonomy and God’s sovereignty. Mankind makes plans autonomously, yet God has the ability to overrule those plans and/or guide mankind in the fulfillment of them. This is the balance seen throughout all of scripture.”

        If God has the “ability” to overrule the autonomous will of man, then why do you insist that the will of man is free? Are you suggesting that God never chooses to exercise His ability to overrule the autonomous will of man? Are you saying that the will of man is free because God chooses not to interfere?

        Is holding on to a belief in free-will worthy of denying the truth revealed in scripture?

        Please read Toplady’s treatise on Arminianism. http://www.fivesolas.com/toplady.htm

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    2. You state confidently that “Urim and Thummin are not “obscure OT practices”. Yet according to Dr. Bruce Waltke in his book on Finding the Will of God he says “We are not exactly sure what the urim and thummin were, but the priest carried in his breastplate perhaps two sticks or stones, one white and the other black, that would give a yes or no answer to a specific question.”

      How come you are so confident and yet Dr. Waltke says nobody knows for sure?

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      1. I actually wrote:

        Added note: While the Tanakh had its Urim and Thummim, which possibly were gemstones used by ancient Israelites to determine God’s will (see Nu 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6; Ez 2:63; Neh 7:65), there is much debate over the source and actual purpose of this questionable practice.

        In the comments I may have used the term “obscure” (I don’t recall), but doesn’t that just mean we don’t know much about it?

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      2. Leighton, I’m not sure how this happened, but my comments were actually meant to be directed to Davidalbracht
        April 25, 2016 at 5:12 am

        If you read it, you’ll see how they question what he says, not what you’re saying.

        As it happens, my own thoughts on this are, the Urim and Thummim were ways of coming to a decision when there was no obvious clear cut answer. In effect, their use was an admission that there was no direct lead from God on a given subject and rather than make the conscious decision one way or another, the U&T were used to absolve the priests from taking personal responsibility. But again, that’s just my personal musings on this subject.

        Sorry for the mix up. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lev. 16:8 “And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel.”

    Should this not inform your hermeneutic? God sommanded Aaron to cast lots. Did God command superstition?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I added a note to the bottom of the article to address some of these issues. It seems to me based on that narrative that he is just being told to select between two seemingly identical animals to be sacrificed at God’s directive. Almost like saying, “pick one at random.” Hardly an example of making a decision about God’s will for your life.

      It’s one thing for God to use supernatural means to reveal his will in rituals such as sacrifice of atonement, it’s another to roll the dice to make a decision without the direct command of God giving you that instruction.

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      1. But you said casting lots is superstitious. Either it is superstitious all together (Then this would mean God commands superstition), no matter when the lot is cast or you are arbitrarily drawing the line between when it is superstitious or not.

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      2. If you cannot distinguish between casting lots as a directive from God in order to select an animal for sacrifice and randomly casting lots so as to make tough decisions on your own, then I’m not sure I can help you further.

        A ritualistic means of selecting a beast for sacrifice is not equal to making moral decisions. It would be like God saying choose one at random, something God wouldn’t tell us to do when it comes to moral choices or following Gods will for our lives.

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  6. “The wise make decisions, not based on the fatalistic assumptions of philosophy, but based on prayer, fasting, seeking Godly counsel and waiting on the peace that passes all understanding which can only comes by the guidance of the Holy Spirit within.”

    Well said.

    If God speaks to you and tells you to cast lots or put out a fleece go for it. But to decide what God’s will based on random events is, in the normal course of things, foolish.

    I never quite understood how it even makes sense in a deterministic world to even ask God to reveal His will, because in that world, everything is God’s will.

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    1. wildswanderer writs, “I never quite understood how it even makes sense in a deterministic world to even ask God to reveal His will, because in that world, everything is God’s will.”

      In a deterministic world, God has revealed His will to the extent He wanted in the Scriptures. God is not required to reveal everything He is doing. No one need ask God to reveal His will as He has already done that in the Scriptures. People ask God for those things that God has said we should ask – wisdom and understanding, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Really? So, we should not pray for God to reveal His will for our lives? Paul should not have prayed for God to show him where to go next, then. This is another of my beefs with Calvinists. They don’t seem to believe God ever talks to us directly. See post:https://closetchronicle.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/john-eldredge-vs-tim-challies-does-god-talk-to-us/

        If God’s will is always being done, it makes no sense for Jesus to tell us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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      2. All things that happen and “stick” must in SOME sense appeal to the will of God. For example, when somebody freely acts evilly, sometimes (very rarely, we think) God will stop that evil. Other times, he will let that evil “stick.” Unless this decision of God’s is non-willful, you must assert that the “sticking” of certain kinds of evil is according to the will of God — even if we call it the “suffering will” of God.

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      3. First, I suspect that God stops evil far more often then we think. And in any non-deterministic scenario there are tons of happenings that are not God’s will each day. We may not like it, but scripture indicates that God’s action often rely on our action or inaction. So, blaming God for seeming inaction is missing the point. We blame God way too much much for the actions of humans.

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      4. Note that I wasn’t blaming God for his inaction. But God is responsible for his chosen inaction, and willfully so. There’s no way around this. This is what it means to say that God has superordinate responsibility, even if we wouldn’t say that he “authors” the malice, greed, envy, and hatred in the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. stanrock writes, “This is what it means to say that God has superordinate responsibility,…”

        By “superordinate responsibility” could we say “sovereign”? Or do you see a difference between “sovereignty” and “superordinate responsibility”?

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      6. Rhutchin, you and I use sovereignty and superordinate responsibility equivocally, though it is most proper to say that superordinate responsibility is a function of sovereignty.

        Many people try to “break” that function using libertarian free will (whose ambiguity/incoherence is used to “bridge-break” like this).

        I often use the example of ownership of my lawn. My lawn is actually God’s lawn, since God owns everything (he has superordinate ownership, I have subordinate ownership). But there’s a meaningful sense in which I still talk about my lawn vs. my neighbor’s lawn. Further, the state of my lawn (overgrown) probably has more to do with God’s interests in suffering the natural world to tumble forth (grass growing the way one expects) than with some sort of ancillary use of its overgrown state toward down-the-road purposes of God (but it COULD have such a use). Either way, since God has the power/wisdom/presence to mow my lawn, and chooses not to, it means that lawn-state owes itself to God’s arbitration as the “final filter.” So we say God has superordinate responsibility for the lawn. But I have, more meaningfully, subordinate responsibility — as the steward of my lot — and should get off my butt and mow.

        A lot of people have trouble understanding that God can be responsible over things for which he is not author or blameworthy. Using the terms “superordinate/subordinate” cues them that responsibility can be stacked hierarchically (and mitigated, and transferred, and shared, etc.) and is not straightforward or “buck-stops-here.” This is an important cue, because a fundamental disagreement about what responsibility even IS underpins much of the will debate.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. If God delegates authority to man, is he still responsible for man’s bad choices?
        There is a mystery here, but it’s not a mystery having to do with God’s will, but the complexity of his creation.

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      8. Wildswanderer, you wrote,

        “If God delegates authority to man, is he still responsible for man’s bad choices?
        There is a mystery here, but it’s not a mystery having to do with God’s will, but the complexity of his creation.”

        I don’t think it has to be a mystery. When God stewards a task, and yet retains all awareness and capability to intervene and/or undo that stewardship to an arbitrary degree, then God is superordinately responsible for what happens, and the steward is subordinately responsible.

        I’m going to link to an article after this example. Fair warning!

        Imagine you’re the owner and supervisor at an egg packing factory. You sit in an observation booth near the factory ceiling and can see everything through the windows and monitors within.

        You notice that George, whose job (stewardship) is to watch the conveyor line, keeps getting bored and goofing around, and chatting with other workers. You’ve admonished him for this several times, and he shapes up each time, but slowly descends back into misbehavior.

        One day, you see that a misaligned palet full of eggs is coming down the conveyor, and that George isn’t paying attention at all. You have a master switch — you can stop the conveyor if you want.

        But instead, you decide to — through omission — suffer the palet to crash. As the owner of the company, it’ll cost you, but you decide it’s worth it (here it’s an interest in an individually remedial prospect — that upon George — but there are lots more interests and kinds of remediation we can talk about, once we go back to theology).

        The palet crashes. George is mortified, and you reprimand him according to his stewardship.

        As a result, George does a 180. Now he’s 100% focused, proves his diligence over the next few months, and matures to the point that you feel he’s ready for a larger stewardship: a promotion.

        This is NOT meant to be a direct analogy to God and man. It’s only meant to serve as an illustration of superordinate and subordinate responsibility. Were you responsible for the palet crash? Of course you were, superordinately. But it was George’s stewardship under your ownership and sovereignty, so he is the one blamed per that stewardship.
        Furthermore, that stewardship — both assigning the stewardship, and assigning blame accordingly — is good, and proceeds from your interests. One might argue, “How can George be blamed? You stewarded something to him for which he clearly was not ready (he was too immature).” But that’s the trick. By stewarding tasks to folks in what pedagogy calls their “zone of proximal development,” you actually facilitate their growth and development. By holding them accountable for what they can’t do right now, but WILL be able to do through being held accountable, you cultivate and equip them to be a better, future version of themselves.

        For more about the manifold and dynamic nature of responsibility, Google ‘stanrock responsibility’.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I don’t think anyone could reasonably argue that George wasn’t responsible for his own irresponsibility.
        Of course, we can never know all the details of every action or inaction God takes, so to us, there is always mystery. Plus, scripture indicates God that can not always just over ride the forces at work to immediately get His way. Such as in Daniel where the angel is delayed by opposing forces. When you throw the very real spiritual war into the mix, things get even more complicated. Now, you can argue that God set the stage and the perimeters of what humans and fallen angels can do against him. But, we have to keep in mind that there are things that God “can’t ” do and stay true to his nature. Believers in LFW would say that included in that is overriding the will in certain areas, such as a human’s choice to submit to God or not. God is in charge, but that doesn’t mean that in every situation he is exercising complete control, or that he always gets his way.

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      10. Wildswanderer, you wrote,

        “I don’t think anyone could reasonably argue that George wasn’t responsible for his own irresponsibility.”

        Nobody’s arguing that. That’s the trick. If you check out that article, the critique is against “buck stops here” views of responsibility that need to find a single target of ascription. Nobody can reasonably argue that you, the supervisor, weren’t also responsible in a superordinate way. You chose not to use the lever.

        You wrote,

        “Plus, scripture indicates God that can not always just over ride the forces at work to immediately get His way. Such as in Daniel where the angel is delayed by opposing forces.”

        It does not imply this. Sometimes an angel is delayed. Sometimes a person sins. That these facts displease God, according to his classical interests, does not mean that he COULDN’T have prevented/undone them had he net-pleased to do so.

        Now, in saying this, I think there is a hidden agreement with you and me: God must stay true to his nature (anything else would be formally precluded). Any time God’s will is confounded, that confounding must ultimately trace back to an interest of God (like an interest in letting most things take their course).

        However, we must be careful to preserve God’s superordinate responsibility, whether he chooses to use the “lever” or not.

        The best example is in the Book of Job. The Book of Job is the most powerful book of theodicy in specific and theology in general. It is absolutely essential. In it, we see that Satan afflicted Job — only because God suffered this to occur (he didn’t pull the lever, but he could have had he chosen). Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad explore the way of karmic simplicity. They are rebuked. Job explores the way of doubt (God is distant and/or unjust). Job is rebuked. Elihu then speaks on behalf of God, and then the Storm arrives and God Himself speaks. The message? Perhaps there is a lesson here. Perhaps terrible things happen but there is a greater, global perspective of justice. In any case, God can do absolutely anything he chooses — hook the leviathan, send the blizzard from his storehouses, whatever — and his teaching wisdom and uncounseled plans make the final result.

        God has the lever. He has the superordinate responsibility. But he stewards to man — and holds him responsible thereby — to develop him. I’d recommend re-reading Romans chs. 8 through 11 with this perspective.

        Point of clarification: I am NOT a Calvinist. I am a Christian determinist, but a compatibilist, which means everything meaningful about will and choice and responsibility are preserved — in fact, they’re affirmed as even MORE coherent and meaningful and robust.

        I don’t want to be too excited or weird on this, but it is the thing of which I’m most passionate with regard to theology. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I’ve spent a lot of time in Romans since I started reading “Paul and the faithfulness of God.” It’s a long, complicated book, and maybe a bit beyond my limited brain. But, the main thing I get from this section is what a great strategist God is. It doesn’t matter what his mode of operation is, really, although imposing any sort of determinism on the text sure seems like a stretch. In fact, Paul ends chapter 11 by proclaiming that we can’t understand how He operates. Paul was venturing into some uncharted territory here, and I think we need to be careful about assuming he totally understood what he was saying in some kind of systematic fashion that can be outlined into neat little charts by Baptists with whitened teeth with their hair neated parted.

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      12. I don’t know what the Baptist comment was about, but we’re not currently talking about determinism, we’re talking about superordinate responsibility (unless God has real power limits beyond his own interests, God has superordinate responsibility, even under theologies like Open Theism).

        If you read chs. 8 through 11 with “superordinate responsibility in simultaneity with human, subordinate responsibility” the otherwise-confusing schema suddenly makes complete sense, and many individual passages burst forth with coherent meaning.

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      13. Your reply made me think of a line from a movie. “The FBI has no sense of humor that we are aware of.”
        Do philosophers have a sense of humor?
        I think I understand where you’re coming from. I’ll try to read the article.

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      14. Stanrock, I hope this shows up in the right spot on the comment thread. I read one of your articles. When you use the word subordinate I’m not sure how you’re meaning to use it. Because, here’s what I see: God is not willing sin, ever, in any way, shape or form. I feel it’s wrong to impose these philosophical musings over scripture to say that in some way people have to do wrong for God to do good, if that is what you were meaning. It’s not two entities (God and us) working together to bring greater good, (while we are unaware of our bad deeds bringing about good) Rather, it’s always God redeeming what is wrong and making it into something right. I don’t know if that made any sense, I find it very hard to put into words.
        Simply put, yes, God is in charge. Yes, God will bring about his overall scheme of redemption. No, His will will not always be done, far from it, but He will not fail to keep His promises. Now, yes, God is responsible for setting the stage. At best, we can say, that if we live in an Open Theist world, God gambled when He created and allowed Satan to roam. At worst, some will say, God is just directing all the evil and all the good, so that everything is for his purpose. More consistent with scripture would be to say that God allows men to reap what they sow. He doesn’t will it in any way, but He won’t stop it, because for now, men must have that choice. Hence, we have God’s love over riding his hatred for sin in some sense, for a time.

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      15. wildswanderer writes, “This is another of my beefs with Calvinists. They don’t seem to believe God ever talks to us directly.”

        Calvinists believe that God speaks to all people directly through the Scriptures and only through the Scriptures – sola scriptura.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Which is nonsense, according to scripture. Where does it say that God no longer speaks to us directly?

        “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

        How could we even be saved if the Spirit did not speak in our hearts? How can we know when we should pray for someone?
        Just one example, my wife received a prayer request but no details, yet she knew that the person who she was told to pray for was suicidal, simply because God told her. When God wakes you up in the middle of the night and says “Pray for this person.” that is not God speaking through the scriptures, it’s Him speaking directly.

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      17. wildswanderer asks, “Which is nonsense, according to scripture. Where does it say that God no longer speaks to us directly?”

        “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” (Revelation 2:18) As Revelation is the last book recording God’s word to people, “this book” refers to all God’s words (the entire Scriptures). If God were speaking to people directly today, then the Scriptures would be increasing.

        The voice of Christ was heard by His sheep during His ministry on earth and since then His sheep heard His voice through the apostles and the Scriptures and finally through the Scriptures alone.

        Then, “When God wakes you up in the middle of the night and says “Pray for this person.” that is not God speaking through the scriptures, it’s Him speaking directly.”

        If it were God actually speaking, then God would be adding to the Scriptures since the Scriptures record God’s speaking to men. God may move the heart of His believers to this or that purpose, but that is not God speaking.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Lol, it’s not not you adding anything to the Bible, you are stretching that verse way out of context.
        It’s God talking to his people, dwelling in his people, which is plainly laid out by Jesus:
        ’16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bec in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

        It never ceases to crack me up the way SOME Calvinists say God is sovereign over everything and then proceed to say that he can’t work in this way or that way. He can speak through anything He wants, the only thing He can’t do is something that is not in His character. The Calvinists I’ve known personally get this and see God speaking in all sorts of ways.

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      19. wildswanderer writes, “It never ceases to crack me up the way SOME Calvinists say God is sovereign over everything and then proceed to say that he can’t work in this way or that way.”

        God is not talking to us anymore because He has said that He has done all the talking needed. That is the conclusion of Revelation. If God were still talking to us, then He is continuing to add to the Scriptures.

        Liked by 1 person

      20. I feel sorry for all the new believers out there being taught that God does not communicate to them directly. And you never answered my question: If you have never heard to Holy Spirit speak to your heart, how did you become a Christian? Prayer is not a one way communication.

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      21. “And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.”

        Roger, this verse is talking ONLY about the book we call “Revelation” — the “words of prophecy written in THIS book.” It’s not referring to the whole collection of writings we call the Biblical canon. There is nothing in all the writings of the canon of what we call the “Bible” to suggest that God does not still speak to people. We are supposed to test the spirits to see if what we think we are hearing from God is really from Him, and in doing so, we will find that He is speaking to us in tandem with the writings of the prophets and apostles. That’s how we know if a teacher is a false prophet or not, or if a “word from God” is really from God. When Jim Jones started having sex with both men and women in his congregation, that should have been a big red flag to the people that Jim Jones was not hearing from God. However, when I pray about what to do about my neighbor who mistreated me and God tells me to bring them flowers instead of yell back at them, I can be certain that the Holy Spirit has spoken to me, because I also know from the writings of the apostles that I am to “return evil with good.”

        Liked by 2 people

      22. deborah writes, “Roger, this verse is talking ONLY about the book we call “Revelation” …”

        God is the author of Revelation. Revelation cannot be understood apart from the rest of Scripture. For God to talk to people today is for God to add to the Scripture and anything God says beyond Revelation impacts how we understand Revelation and the rest of Scripture. The canon is closed – in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1). Christ had the last word in Revelation. He is done speaking to us.

        Liked by 1 person

      23. wildswanderer writes, ” If you have never heard to Holy Spirit speak to your heart, how did you become a Christian?”

        The Holy Spirit moving a person through various means – preaching, personal devotions, other people – is not God talking to a person. I think you have your terminology screwed up.

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      24. Sure, God speaks through all those things. Also through the natural world, dreams, story, movies, or whatever he pleases. But often just through impressing us to do something or just imparting comfort to our inner being. It doesn’t need to be though some other means, it can even be an audible or almost audible voice.

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      25. wildswanderer writes, “God speaks through all those things…often just through impressing us to do something or just imparting comfort to our inner being. It doesn’t need to be though some other means, it can even be an audible or almost audible voice.”

        The OT prophets wrote, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying,…,” “the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel…,” “the LORD has spoken…” Then, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son..,” and ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ,…the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

        If you want to say that God impresses certain things on our spirit or that God moves us to do this or that, that is fine. However, when you use phrases like “God speaks to us,” (other than through the Scriptures), you are using language that the prophets used to describe God transmitting the Scriptures to them. When God speaks, people are to listen and then tell others what God has said. God has finished speaking; He has said all that He needs to say.

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      26. If God tells you to do something, or abstain from something, then God has spoken. You’re splitting hairs and assuming that God no longer works by direct revelation, while at the same time contradicting yourself and saying he can tell us to do things..when God told Paul where to minister next, was that God adding to the Torah? Of course not, the whole idea is ridiculous.
        “When God speaks, people are to listen and then tell others what God has said.”
        So, when God gives me a message that he wants me to pass on to a fellow believer, I should just keep quiet?
        When God tells me to pray for someone I should just ignore Him?
        God is still speaking, and miracles are still happening and some churches need to stop telling Him what He can’t do.

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      27. wildswanderer writes, “So, when God gives me a message that he wants me to pass on to a fellow believer, I should just keep quiet?”

        God would not tell you something for one believer that would not also apply to other believers. You should publish that which God revealed to you (just as Paul’s letters were copied and distributed to all believers) as an addition to the Scriptures, whose purpose is to convey to believers everything that God has said.

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      28. “God would not tell you something for one believer that would not also apply to other believers”
        Why not? God might tell me or you that Frank would be a great Sunday school teacher and our encouragement is just what Frank needs to take the leap into teaching.
        God might tell you or me that we need to tell George that it’s not his fault that his children have strayed, and so forth.
        And if I was to publish a book of devotions that God inspired me to write, for example, that wouldn’t be an addition to scripture.
        Certainly, we need discernment when someone claims to have heard from God. There are a lot of charlatans out there, but we shouldn’t automatically say: “Well, God would never speak in that way.”

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      29. wildswanderer asks, “Why not?”

        Paul says to Timothy, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” Then, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” Peter says, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.”

        When God speaks to one, He speaks to all. That which God speaks is to be preached and taught to all.

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      30. “If I could recommend a good church history, Verduin’s Reformers and their Stepchildren. It may help you get a better perspective of Christian History than the deceptive one promoted by Roman Catholicism.”

        I have not read the book.

        “But you said – “But even the Ref wasn’t overturning long standing historical errors engulfing the church. And bringing NT to your defense is not really a plus.” Many died at the hands of both RC and Prot. for the errors they overturned by just using the NT.”

        I was referring not to the New Testament but to NT Wright. I’ve read much of NT and have little use for his theology in toto. He is mistaken on some major issues.

        “Les, my friend, I am sorry for you too! 😊.But I know that God will keep showing you evidence of the truth.”

        If I may, a little friendly encouragement Brian. Please take this as a hope for better writing. You have a habit it seems to me of phrasing things in a “playground like” way and in a condescending way. And sort of passive aggressive. “But I know that God will keep showing you evidence of the truth” is one such example. That kind of statement is normally not a part of adult debate like dialogue. “It may help you get a better perspective…” is another example. Better would be, It will give you another perspective.

        When you say things sort of like “I know God will eventually show you the truth” it is frankly offensive. We all know that we each think our view is correct. We all know we are trying to persuade others to our view. Those kinds of phrases are unnecessary and come across as I indicated. Please point out when I do something similar because I try not to (not always successful I might add).

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      31. Not trying to sound condescending, Les, but trying to let you know how I feel, to hopefully be encouraging. But I will try another way with you. Thanks for letting me know. Also NT Wright is very popular, and is being successful in sending people back to the RC justification perspective, in my view.

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      32. I must be missing something here. Are you saying Wright teaches justification based on something other then faith? Because I’ve not seen this in any of his writings. Of course, I haven’t read them all. Or are you saying he is more of a Christos Victor guy instead of Penal Substitution?

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      33. WW – The difference is in Wright seeing justification as having sacramental ties. For Wright justification appears to be only a declaration that can be made because the evidence of faith is being demonstrated in someone who is a member of the covenant people of God. Justification is not the act of God in response to personal faith that actually makes one a member of God’s covenant people.

        To the sacramentalist, infant baptist makes them a member of the public expression of God’s covenant people, and to them it’s only in this group that justifying faith can take place as a badge to identify them as a member of the spiritual expression of God’s covenant people, the true “Israel of God” in their view. And they can also lose that spiritual membership by losing their justification which will be outwardly seen in their loss of personal faith.

        So faith is not expressed prior to justification or a prerequisite that God looks for, but for Wright it evidences itself as a badge that justification already exists.

        I have not read a lot of Wright, but my guess is that he maintains a loyalty to the Calvinist theological idea that this grace of justification is given only to a predetermined elect, though he may also hold to the Arminian theological idea that some false elect may experience it and apostatize or some true elect may lose it time and again but will eventually get it back. I would love to see how his Anglican sacramentalism works out these questions.

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      34. Well, I’ve read several of his works, and never found anything that would make me believe he is a sacramentalist. Also in regards to Calvnism, you might find this quote interesting: (In regards to Romans 9) “This was never an abstract “doctrine of predestination” attempting to plumb the mysteries of why some people (in general, without reference to Israel) hear and believe the gospel and others do not. Paul never encourages speculation of that sort…”
        And as far as I can tell he believes in eternal security. (Which I myself question.)
        I will try to find reference to justification by faith, but off the top of my head, I think he would say that faith is how one becomes one of the covenant people.

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      35. N.T. Wright: “Well, I set justification within the larger Pauline context, where it always comes, of God’s purposes to fulfill his covenant promise to Abraham and so to rescue the whole creation, humankind of course centrally included, from sin and death. Piper holds that Abrahamic context at arm’s length.

        Second, I understand justification as basically a law-court term, where it means the judge’s creative declaration that a person is ‘in the right’ in terms of the lawcourt, whereas Piper holds that justification involves the accrediting to a person of the moral, not the forensic, ‘righteousness’ of Christ – something Paul never says (as J. I. Packer admits).

        Third, I understand Paul’s doctrine of justification as eschatological, that is, the justification of the faithful in the present time is both the fulfilment of the long story of Israel and the anticipation of the eventual verdict to be delivered on the last day, as in Romans 2.1-16 and 8.1-30.

        Fourth, in line with many Reformed readers of scripture, including Calvin, I understand Paul’s doctrine of justification to be of those who are ‘in Christ’, whereas Piper and others don’t make that a central element in justification itself. Conversely, for Piper the center of justification is the ‘imputation’ of ‘the righteousness of Christ’, seen in terms of ‘righteousness’ as a kind of moral achievement earned by Jesus and then reckoned to those who believe. I believe that this is an attempt to say something close to what Paul actually says in Romans 6, namely that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is ‘reckoned’ to those who are ‘in him’. Putting it the way Piper (and one part of the Reformation tradition) puts it is a pointer to something which is truly there in Paul, but one which gives off misleading signals as well.

        Finally, for Piper justification through Christ alone is the same in the future (on the last day) as in the present, whereas for Paul, whom I am following very closely at this point, the future justification is given on the basis of the Spirit-generated life that the justified-by-faith-in-the-present person then lives. In fact, the omission of the Spirit from many contemporary Reformed statements of justification is one of their major weaknesses.”
        and:
        What is at stake in this debate over justification? If one were to adopt Piper’s view instead of yours, what would they be missing?

        N.T. Wright: “What’s missing is the big, Pauline picture of God’s gospel going out to redeem the whole world, all of creation, with ourselves as part of that.

        “What’s missing is the big, Pauline view of the church, Jew and Gentile on equal footing, as the sign to the powers of the world that Jesus is Lord and they aren’t.”
        What’s missing is the key work of the Holy Spirit in enabling the already-justified believers to live with moral energy and will so that they really do ‘please God’ as Paul says again and again (but as Reformed theology is shy of lest it smack of smuggling in works-righteousness again).

        What’s missing is an insistence on Scripture itself rather than tradition . “. .

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      36. Hi WW. Having worked alot among sacramentalists, I am familiar with how hard it is to pin them down in their meanings for terms that we hear them say, but we have different definitions in our minds than what they mean for grace, faith, justification, etc. This interviewer needed to pin Wright down on what role baptism plays in all this.

        Here is a page that gives Wright’s view of salvation and the importance of baptism. But you have to read very carefully to see that he is putting repentance, faith and justification after baptism and after the new birth. http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Believing_Belonging.htm

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      37. Brian Wagner the open theist loves to engage in semantic word games challenging the orthodox and true understandings of God’s omniscience.

        Note what he says about “sacramentalists” is ***exactly*** what is true of him:

        “Hi WW. Having worked alot among sacramentalists, I am familiar with how hard it is to pin them down in their meanings for terms that we hear them say, but we have different definitions in our minds than what they mean for grace, faith, justification, etc.”

        “Hi WW. Having interacted with alot of open theists. I am familiar with how hard it is to pin them down in their meanings for terms that we hear them say, but we have different definitions in our minds than what they mean for omniscience, the future, etc.”

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      38. Hi Robert! That’s pretty funny! 🙂 It’s really never been hard to pin me down on definitions I have for words. I have given my definition for omniscience multiple times! I was speaking about how people use words without letting their audience know that they have a different definition. We hear many RC speak today of being saved by grace through faith and we think they have the same view of how to get saved as we do… and that couldn’t be further from the truth!

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  7. Leighton,

    Very good explanation in your article here. Of course you can expect those committed to their exhaustive determinism to take issue with you view and try to reassert their dogma.

    You might appreciate a funny story on this. I have some friends who are very intelligent scientists and believers at the same time (Yes that is possible! 🙂 ). I asked one of them, a guy absolutely brilliant in mathematics and statistics, he knows all about numbers, about this passage. He said even if God had determined the outcome of the casting of the lots, a human person could still choose to ignore it! 🙂 I thought that was hilarious but true! Think about it, even if the outcome of the casting of lots were determined by God, the person could still say No! 🙂 Reminds me of when God tells us/believers things to do, and He makes his point clear and we still sometimes say No!

    Now disclaimer, I am not suggesting that disobedience to God is funny. I am suggesting that as we have free will, we can still say No to God at times even as believers when we absolutely know what God commands or wants us to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. That’s why I asked before “Who determined Wesley to believe casting lots was wise and Godly?” And who determined the man to act in accordance with the outcome of those lots?

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    2. Robert writes, “we can still say No to God at times even as believers when we absolutely know what God commands or wants us to do.”

      The fool says there is no God and then says, No, to God. Even believers can be foolish as they are influenced by their old nature. That has always been the case – As we read the writer of Hebrews in encouraging believers, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

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      1. “Even believers can be foolish as they are influenced by their old nature.”
        But in the deterministic world, they can only be foolish if God determines they should be foolish. Their will must be in total lock step to what God wants. So, really, their nature is inconsequential, as they are really only robots anyway.

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      2. Wildswanderer,

        “Their will must be in total lock step to what God wants.”

        This is a non sequitur from the world and its creatures being adequately deterministic. Put another way, it seems like adequate determinism would mean that everything must be in total lockstep to what God wants. But this does not logically follow if GIVEN certain interests of God, some of which being circumstantially incommensurable.

        This is extremely counterintuitive, and all sorts of folks — Arminians and Calvinists — miss this. I can’t paste diagrams here, so Google “stanrock micromanaging” to see why adequate determinism does not mean that absolutely everything is ordered according to God’s interests on every layer of abstraction.

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      3. I said, “Even believers can be foolish as they are influenced by their old nature.”
        wildswanderer responded, “But in the deterministic world, they can only be foolish if God determines they should be foolish. Their will must be in total lock step to what God wants. So, really, their nature is inconsequential, as they are really only robots anyway.”

        People would be robots if God coerced people to do His will (Like the person working the strings on a puppet). Calvinists are clear in saying that God determines what people do but does not coerce people to do that which He has determined. The robot charge is made by people who cannot construct a valid argument against determinism.

        It is true that people can pursue their foolishness only if God determines that they should. The source of foolishness in believers is the old nature. God is sovereign and can intervene to prevent a believer doing foolishness or God can choose to do nothing and allow natural events to play out. Either way, God determines the outcome.

        Every action of every person is in lock step with that which God wants. If an action is not in accord with His plan, God intervenes to prevent that action.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ///People would be robots if God coerced people to do His will (Like the person working the strings on a puppet)///

        Robots are programmed to willingly do what they are programmed to do — no physical coercing is happening. Robots can be programmed to “happily” and “willingly” do exactly what their programmer decided for them to do given a preset stimuli. Likewise, in Compatibilism, God determines the nature and the circumstance by which the choices and actions of mankind could not have been other than what God decided they would be.

        How is a robot anymore or less controlled by the programmer than the clay is controlled by the potter on Calvinism’s interpretation of Romans 9?

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      5. Robots don’t have to be directly-coded expert systems. I can create a simulant that behaves according to rules that I did not micromanage — I do that by programming the elegant simulation parameters, and then a number of behaviors emerge over time through the chaos of interactive orderly processions, and are not micromanaged by me.

        Prof. Flowers, I think you really would be interested in the article (Google “stanrock micromanagement”). I specifically use an example of a deterministic simulation that I coded (with pictures!), a “worst case” for determinism, and show how — due to the “creator’s” interests — micromanagement is not a corollary of determinism.

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      6. Pastor Flowers writes, “Incorrect. Robots are programmed to willingly do what they are programmed to do, no physical coercing is happening….How is a robot anymore or less controlled by the programmer than the clay is controlled by the potter on Calvinism’s interpretation of Romans 9?”

        As the claim would be that God is the programmer of the robot, then the programming is the vehicle of coercion making the programmer (God) the one coercing.

        In the case of the clay, it is the sin nature that is the agent of control/coercion and a corrupt sin nature is inherited through inaction of God (God’s decision not to remove that sin nature in each person conceived in the womb).

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      7. What is the innate nature of man if not representative of the programmers choice to program the robot?

        You act as if their is another intelligent being somewhere that determined the fallen nature to be such that it could not desire to repent even in light of Gods appeals to be reconciled.

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      8. Pastor Flowers writes, “What is the innate nature of man if not representative of the programmers choice to program the robot?”

        The closest to this would have been Adam but Adam was not programmed to do only good. God gave Adam a libertarian free will (or as close to libertarian as a person could have) that was corrupted when he sinned. The corrupted will was then passed on to his children.

        Then, “You act as if their is another intelligent being somewhere that determined the fallen nature to be such that it could not desire to repent even in light of Gods appeals to be reconciled.”

        Certainly Adam, by sinning, was an intelligent being whose sin impacted the human nature. The condition of the human nature such that it could not desire to repent is described in Romans 8 – “…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” One reason for this condition is that the person has no faith and faith is conveyed to a person by God through the preaching of the gospel. If a person never hears the gospel preached, then he cannot be given faith. Of those who do hear the gospel preached, not all are given faith but only those we label as God’s elect.

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      9. Rhutchin, you might be careful to use a term like “what God ‘net’-wants,” so as to not imply that God is wholly pleased when somebody sins. We must appeal to manifold interests of God to handle Scriptural tension between “what God wants vs. what God wants,” which happens frequently.

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      10. I do wonder why Calvinists ever bother praying. I know they do, but I wonder why. Obviously, if God is just unilaterally exercising control over everything, prayer is pointless.

        “Calvinists are clear in saying that God determines what people do but does not coerce people to do that which He has determined.”
        Right, makes perfect sense. Add a couple million bricks to the row, but it makes no difference. If I’m at the end of the row pushing the first brick, I’m still the one dropping it on your head. Compatibilism is just hyper Calvnism with more smoke and mirrors thrown in the mix, apparently in the hope of confusing new believers into thinking their being taught that they really do have some kind of free will.

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      11. wildswanderer writes, “I do wonder why Calvinists ever bother praying. I know they do, but I wonder why. Obviously, if God is just unilaterally exercising control over everything, prayer is pointless.”

        Surely you jest. From James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Prayer is the means to appropriate wisdom.

        From Matthew, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

        Prayer is the means to gain those things that God has promised to His elect. God exercises control to give those things He has promised to those who ask Him.

        Then, I wrote, “Calvinists are clear in saying that God determines what people do but does not coerce people to do that which He has determined.”
        wildswanderer responded, “Right, makes perfect sense. Add a couple million bricks to the row, but it makes no difference. If I’m at the end of the row pushing the first brick, I’m still the one dropping it on your head. Compatibilism is just hyper Calvnism with more smoke and mirrors thrown in the mix, apparently in the hope of confusing new believers into thinking their being taught that they really do have some kind of free will.”

        A nonsense response if there ever was one.

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      12. Prayer is the means to gain those things that God has promised to His elect. God exercises control to give those things He has promised to those who ask Him.”

        In your world, if I decide to pray, God determines that I WILL pray. If I decide not to pray, God has determined that I will not pray.
        In neither case, do my prayers or lack of prayers actually affect God in any way, He’s just going to do what He’s going to do. Where then, is my motivation to pray? A more honest answer would be that prayer makes me feel like I’m doing something, so I’ll be more happy, even though it’s only an illusion. And compatabilism and Hyper Calvinism lead to the same fatalistic system. There is not practical difference.

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      13. wildswanderer writes, “In your world, if I decide to pray, God determines that I WILL pray. If I decide not to pray, God has determined that I will not pray.”

        OK, but do you understand how this comes about? The unsaved do not pray; they despise God and do not seek Him. But for some, God draws them to Christ, brings them under the preaching of the gospel, conveys faith to them, and gives them a new heart with its desire for His word. It is in studying God’s word that a person learns of prayer. He reads of those things God has promised to those who ask Him. Because of his new nature, the believer desires the things of God and now begins to ask for those things. So, in bringing a person to salvation, God initiates a series of events that determine a person to prayer – even determining that for which a person prays by those instructions He has written in the Scriptures.

        Then, “In neither case, do my prayers or lack of prayers actually affect God in any way, He’s just going to do what He’s going to do. Where then, is my motivation to pray? A more honest answer would be that prayer makes me feel like I’m doing something, so I’ll be more happy, even though it’s only an illusion. And compatabilism and Hyper Calvinism lead to the same fatalistic system. There is not practical difference.”

        One motivation of the believer to pray is that God would make him like Christ. There are other reasons: for wisdom, for good things; for the salvation of the lost; etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. I think you’re missing the point. Of course, I pray for all those things, because I believe prayer really does carry power, because the Word says so. But, in the determanistic compatablistic world, my prayers are only a cog in the wheel and I only pray because I couldn’t do otherwise.
        They can not be said to affect God in any way.
        I also did not despise God as a non-believer and I know non-believers who respect God and His people. And did you ever wonder why whenever something bad happens, the first thing out of a non-believers mouth is “Oh, my God!”? Many know the truth, they just do not summit to the truth. This is part of the reason I say God does not regenerate people and then save them. He enlightens, but they have to supply the faith before regeneration can happen.

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      15. wildswanderer writes, “I think you’re missing the point. Of course, I pray for all those things, because I believe prayer really does carry power, because the Word says so.”

        No you don’t. You pray, not because pray has power (it doesn’t), but because the one to whom you pray has power and has said, with great certainty, that He not only hears your prayers but responds to your prayers precisely as He has stated in the Scriptures. The word says that God is omnipotent, not that His word is omnipotent.

        Then, “But, in the determanistic compatablistic world, my prayers are only a cog in the wheel and I only pray because I couldn’t do otherwise.”

        That’s great!! Think of the unsaved who have not been given that privilege. Of course, you pray exactly as the Scriptures instruct you and you find yourself praying even more as you study the Scriptures and learn more and more about God and the value of interacting with God.. How fortunate that you discover that you cannot do otherwise and that it is God who has brought you to pray more and more and more and more according to His will revealed in the Scriptures.

        Then, “They can not be said to affect God in any way.”

        Of course, they affect God; He has promised to respond to your prayers, and He does respond to your prayers precisely as He has stated He would in the Scriptures.

        Then, “I also did not despise God as a non-believer and I know non-believers who respect God and His people. ”

        This is pure foolishness. Such is the pride of the unbeliever.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Leighton, this…”Likewise, in Compatibilism, God determines the nature and the circumstance by which the choices and actions of mankind could not have been other than what God decided they would be.” reminds me of the other question I had weeks ago you never got to. And of course my question a few hours ago.

        Anyway, does God know the day we die? As I quoted weeks ago from Billy Graham (non Calvinist) when asked this question [Does God know when every person is going to die, or is it all left up to chance? If He does know, does that mean it can’t be changed, even with the best medical help?], he responded,

        “When we will die is not a matter of accident or chance; the Bible makes it clear that our lives are in God’s hands. He knows the time of our death, and He has even appointed it. The Bible says, “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5).”

        What say you Leighton? “Does God know when every person is going to die, or is it all left up to chance? If He does know, does that mean it can’t be changed, even with the best medical help?”

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      17. Hi Les! You forgot to add “If” to the beginning of Job 14:5 like the Hebrew has! God certainly can plan the day of a man’s death, and He didn’t have to make that determination before creation. And He can even change that plan, as He did with Hezekiah… at least that is how my Bible reads! 🙂

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      18. Brian, perhaps I should have quoted from a translation I often use. NASB: ““Since his days are determined,
        The number of his months is with You;
        And his limits You have [a]set so that he cannot pass.”

        Or the ESV: “Since his days are determined,
        and the number of his months is with you,
        and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,”

        What translation uses “if?”

        American Standard Version with Strong’s Concordance Numbers in Hebrew-Greek Translation Bible Search American Standard Version (ASV 1901)
        Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the King James Version (1769). Read Job 14:5 in context.
        **Seeing his days are determined, The number of his months is with thee, And thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
        Red-Letter King James Version with Strong’s Concordance Numbers in Hebrew-Greek Translation Bible Search King James Version (KJV 1769)
        Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the American Standard Version (1901). Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the Brenton translation from the Septuagint. Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the Holy Name King James Version. Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the King James Version (1611). Read Job 14:5 in context.
        **Seeingº his daysº [are] determined,ºº the numberº of his monthsº [are] withº thee, thou hast appointedºº his boundsº that he cannotº pass;ºº
        1611 King James Version with Strong’s Concordance Numbers in Hebrew-Greek Translation Bible Search Original King James Bible (AV 1611)
        Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the King James Version (1769). Read Job 14:5 in context.
        **Seeingº his daiesº [are] determined,ºº the numberº of his monethsº [are] withº thee, thou hast appointedºº his boundsº that he cannotº passe.ºº
        Brenton’s Septuagint & Holy Name King James Version with Strong’s Concordance Numbers in Hebrew Translation Bible Search Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
        Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the King James Version (1769).
        **if even his life should be [but] one day upon the earth: and his months are numbered by him: thou hast appointed [him] for a time, and he shall by no means exceed [it].
        Hebrew Names King James Version with Strong’s Concordance Numbers Translation Bible Search Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008)
        Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the Simplified Hebrew Name King James Version. Read Job 14:5 in context parallel the Original Hebrew Old Testament & Transliteration from Hebrew. Read Job 14:5 in context as the Holy Name King James Version parallel the King James Version (1769). Read Job 14:5 in context as the Holy Name King James Version.
        **Seeingº his daysº [are] determined,ºº the numberº of his monthsº [are] withº thee, thou hast appointedºº his boundsº that he cannotº pass;ºº

        How do you see “if” in your simple definition?

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      19. Hi Les! I am sure you must have run across translation choices in your study of the original words that have made you wonder why most or even none of the translations bring out the sense of the original completely. The Hebrew word – אִם is found 786 times in the OT and the KJV has translated it 588 times as “if”. That normal translation fits well here, don’t you agree? Why should the normal translation of a word be given a different meaning? The KJV uses “if” in 14:7 and 14:14, and “though” in 14:8. The context of 14:13 and 14 is interesting to this discussion. And you did not respond to the other remarks I made about God changing the date of death for Hezekiah!

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      20. Brian, by a long way are the translations against your using “if” in Job 14:5. Of course almost everyone else could be wrong and a tiny fraction like you could be right. But I have my doubts about that.

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      21. “Hi Les! I am sure you must have run across translation choices in your study of the original words…”

        Literally have to run out. Back later. or, you have so boxed me in that I’m just running scared and have no reply. 🙂

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      22. Brian, no I don’t agree. The context fits well for “since.” And many, many scholars agree with “since” and not “if” here in 14:5. Your bias is causing you to embark on a lonely translation journey. Just a few other examples:

        ASV: “Seeing his days are determined…”

        KJV: “Seeing his days are determined…”

        NAS: “Since his days are determined…”

        If that and many more are not enough, read the rest of the verse. “…The number of his months is with You;
        And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.”

        It’s plain for an unbiased person, like non Calvinist Billy Graham, to see.

        As for Hezekiah, what is the problem. The incident recorded in scripture makes clear who controls the days numbered for man. God and God alone. God knew exactly how this would unfold from eternity past. And as for prayer (your other comment), Hezekiah provides another reason/example why we pray.

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      23. Brian, “I do wonder why Calvinists ever bother praying.” Really? Come on Brian. That’s so easy. We pray because we’ve read our bibles. Hutch answered well also and no need to repeat that.

        But hmmm. I often why non Calvinists who deny God’s sovereign control of all things and believe that the final determination of man getting saved is hie LFW, I wonder why you all would pray to God to save someone. Why do you do that? Shouldn’t you be pleading always and only to the person to exercise his LFW? Why pray to God? In your view the person has enough revelation B/C the Spirit is convicting the world of sin…pray to the person. God’s not going to override the person’s LFW, right? And on that other non Cal site (SBCT) a couple people actually said they don’t pray to God to save people. Do you?

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      24. Good morning Les! I think you thought I was the one that made the comment about prayer… but actually it wasn’t me, Though I do believe a thorough commitment to believing everything is predetermined lessens one’s drive to pray fervently, no matter how strong their sense of duty for prayer may be.

        As for your question to me about a planned date of death… Actually, I believe God does form a detailed plan for every person when they are conceived (Ps 139:16), and it is man’s responsibility to become obedient to that divine plan. If man rejects it, God alters the individual’s life plan as seems good to Him to do to fit with His overall plan for mankind and His glory (Jer 18:4).

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      25. brianwagner writes, “I do believe a thorough commitment to believing everything is predetermined lessens one’s drive to pray fervently,”

        If everything is predetermined and certain, would that not be an incentive to pray? If a an unbeliever knew, for certain, the numbers that would be drawn for the lottery, would he not buy a lottery ticket and pick those numbers. If unbelievers think rationally, why shouldn’t believers? Do people become irrational when they leave unbelief?

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      26. The rationale, Roger, of your comparison with knowing the numbers of the lottery with praying needs some more explanation. If I know the date of Jesus return… like knowing lottery numbers, I wouldn’t pray for Jesus to come back on that date, for it’s a certainty… I would pray for anything that I believe might still be possible to happen, that might not happen because it hasn’t been determined, before that date… but anything that I know was predetermined, I would just thank the Lord for revealing that knowledge and ask Him to help me conform my life in any way I still freely can conform it to those things that are settled.

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      27. brianwagner writes, “The rationale of your comparison with knowing the numbers of the lottery with praying needs some more explanation.”

        The unsaved make rational decisions (they have a free will, even libertarian except with regard to spiritual issues where they are spiritually dead) so an unsaved person who has been given the numbers for the lottery will rationally buy a lottery ticket and specify those numbers.

        In a like manner, the believer also makes rational decisions and has been told in the Scriptures that he can ask God for certain things (e.g., wisdom) and it is a certainty that God will give him that which he asks. Consequently, the believer makes a rational decision to pray and to ask for those things that God has said He will provide (e.g., wisdom).

        The point is that both believers and unbelievers are able to think rationally so each behaves rationally. Your statement, “I do believe a thorough commitment to believing everything is predetermined lessens one’s drive to pray fervently,” describes irrational behavior by the believer. Rationally, the certainty of predetermined outcomes to prayer will encourage even more prayer for those outcomes promised by God to those who ask.

        Then, “If I know the date of Jesus return… like knowing lottery numbers, I wouldn’t pray for Jesus to come back on that date, for it’s a certainty… I would pray for anything that I believe might still be possible to happen, that might not happen because it hasn’t been determined, before that date… but anything that I know was predetermined, I would just thank the Lord for revealing that knowledge and ask Him to help me conform my life in any way I still freely can conform it to those things that are settled.”

        Wrong context. We are speaking of those things, like wisdom, where God says to ask: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” This would one thing that is not only possible but certain.

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      28. Yours is the wrong context, Roger! If God had predetermined me to get wisdom, I would get it with or without asking for it. If He predetermined me to only get it when I ask for it, He would have also predetermined me to ask for it! But your example proves that there remain the possibilities of getting wisdom from God even when I don’t ask for it, getting wisdom from God certainly when I do ask for it in faith, and not getting wisdom from God because I choose not to ask for it, even though I freely could have.

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      29. brianwagner writes, “If God had predetermined me to get wisdom, I would get it with or without asking for it. If He predetermined me to only get it when I ask for it, He would have also predetermined me to ask for it! But your example proves that there remain the possibilities of getting wisdom from God even when I don’t ask for it, getting wisdom from God certainly when I do ask for it in faith, and not getting wisdom from God because I choose not to ask for it, even though I freely could have.”

        God predetermined to save you and gave you faith to bring you to salvation. It is that faith working in you by which you believe the Scriptures and study them. This leads you to God’s promise to give wisdom to those who ask Him. In faith, you ask. Of course, you could always decline to ask for wisdom, but what believer would do that?

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      30. Nice try Roger, But it does no good to ignore the logic that if everything is predetermined so also is the choice of the believer who does not ask God for wisdom when he needs it! Are you suggesting that every believer asks for wisdom in faith when they need it? I don’t think so!

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      31. brianwagner writes, “it does no good to ignore the logic that if everything is predetermined so also is the choice of the believer who does not ask God for wisdom when he needs it! Are you suggesting that every believer asks for wisdom in faith when they need it?”

        Only the smart believers who understand their need for wisdom. When God saves a person, He does not make him an Einstein. My point has been that the believer who asks God for wisdom receives wisdom – it is certain. The believer who knows of God’s promises logically takes advantage of those promises. Of course, the old nature is there battling against the believer acting logically.

        Just so we understand determinism – a point stanrock keeps emphasizing with God’s “superordinate responsibility in simultaneity with human, subordinate responsibility.”

        When Eve was being tempted in the Garden, God was there watching everything play out. God had superordinate responsibility as He was able to intervene to influence Eve’s decision and prevent her eating the fruit. Eve had subordinate responsibility in acting with the freedom God gave her as He stayed out of the discussion. In a similar way, God points a believer to His promises and provides the believer with faith to respond to God’s promises but God still gives believers freedom to choose those occasions when he will ask for wisdom – even to showing that he is no Einstein. God will even let a believer think less of Him and exalt himself.

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      32. Roger, You said – “…as He was able to intervene to influence Eve’s decision”. That, as you know is misleading since God was not going to intervene since He predetermined, in your view, before creation not to intervene! Therefore, He was not able to go against His own plan which was eternally a part of His knowledge and will, in your view, and therefore you are just playing word games to say that He was “able to intervene.”

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      33. brianwagner writs, “That, as you know is misleading since God was not going to intervene since He predetermined, in your view, before creation not to intervene! Therefore, He was not able to go against His own plan which was eternally a part of His knowledge and will,…”

        Oh Brian!!! That God predetermines means only that He makes decisions. A decision made by God reflects His infinite understanding and perfect wisdom. The timing of God’s decisions is irrelevant because the decision would be the same regardless of the time it is made. When God stands beside Eve in the garden, it is true that He already made His decision as He is omniscient and could do so. Take away God’s omniscience, as you do, and what changes? Nothing – He still makes the same decision. So, you allow that God makes decisions and made a decision not to intervene to prevent Eve eating the fruit. It was God who decided that Satan should enter the garden in the first place – wasn’t it? So, if God had made that decision in eternity past or at a moment after He had created the garden, there is no difference – God makes the same decision. You are making much ado about nothing.

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      34. Roger, I am hoping it is just a memory problem and not the onset of alzheimers! 🙂 But you keep misrepresenting my view of God’s free will in decision making. This is about the fourth time, so it is hard for me to think you are just forgetting what I have said before.

        Repeat after me… “Brian believes that God’s omniscience does not mean there is only one response that God can make in each circumstance.” His infinite understanding is not locked to one fully settled creation already all predetermined in His nature, including all of His decisions forever.

        Yes, He could have decided differently and intervened and stopped Eve, consistent with His overall, partially open plan and free will nature! He is still making similar decisions today, according to His infinite wisdom, many of which are of equal value to His plan and nature. He is not locked in!

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      35. brianwagner writes, “…you keep misrepresenting my view of God’s free will in decision making…Repeat after me… “Brian believes that God’s omniscience does not mean there is only one response that God can make in each circumstance.” His infinite understanding is not locked to one fully settled creation already all predetermined in His nature, including all of His decisions forever.”

        I remember that. It is your position that God is not omniscient – particularly lacking knowledge of all future events. It is in support of that position that you opine that God would have multiple responses to any one event as it unfolds. The problem is that you cannot seem to defend it or explain it further than just stating your opinion . The most you can do is say something like, “Yes, He could have decided differently and intervened and stopped Eve, consistent with His overall, partially open plan and free will nature! He is still making similar decisions today, according to His infinite wisdom, many of which are of equal value to His plan and nature. He is not locked in!” That’s just another way of stating what you believe.

        You state your beliefs without explanation or support. On a different subject, e.g., the trinity, you could explain your belief about the trinity and then go over the verses that give rise to your conclusion about the trinity. When you have done this regarding your beliefs about God’s omniscience, you tend to leave out a notable set of Scriptures – or at least focus almost exclusively on a few Scriptures that seem to support your belief. So, it’s not that I have not read what you say, it’s just that you never explain how it works in particular situations.

        Now, here we have the case of Eve and the fruit. You say that God could have intervened. We both agree that God had a choice in the matter. So, how does God make choices – God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (or partially open plan, as you say). If God has a purpose/plan, His decisions are dictated by that purpose/plan. Any partially open elements could only refer to events that are inconsequential to His purpose/plan. God’s purpose /plan would not be something He was constructing ad hoc as He surveyed His creation and the events occurring in that creation – if God has to ad hoc His decisions, then that would indicate that He did not have a plan (other than to ad hoc everything).

        The Scriptures give ample evidence that God has a plan. Genesis 3:15 gives us a part. Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah who would come. Daniel 9 provides a timetable as does God’s Revelation to John. There are the many prophecies, both OT and NT, attesting to elements of God’s plan. That plan largely excluded gentiles from salvation before the cross and includes gentiles after the cross while seeming to exclude Jews (based on Romans 9-11). The details of God’s plan are laid out beginning in Genesis and run throughout the OT/NT giving no indication that God was having to ad hoc it along the way. Given that you allow God to know all the possible outcomes for the future, there would be no reason for Him to ad hoc any element of his plan.

        So, given that God has a plan, could He really have intervened to stop Eve from eating the fruit? Or did His decision to watch while Eve ate the fruit then prompt God to come up with a plan that included Genesis 3:15? Given what God revealed in Genesis 3:15, would we not think that God had thought things out in detail so that He really had a plan? If God does have a plan, what could be partially-open? Was the death of Christ not settled, His resurrection, His second coming, His rule in eternity. Could God have not known that He would destroy this present universe until making a decision that He revealed to Peter?

        To say that God had not made decisions regarding future events where He knows all the possible outcomes is to say that God has no plan and that belies His infinite understanding of all things and perfect wisdom. Whatever God is said to do in the course of time was settled in eternity past because God had a plan. It seems to me that your position is that God doesn’t have a plan, except as a very general outline, and is basically having to ad hoc decisions on the fly. I see that being contrary to all the prophecies God has given us. So, you have a nice opinion about God not being able to make a decision about Eve, but the Scriptures testify that it was all according to plan.

        Sorry about the length; I should have edited it down to cut down the rambling but time is a precious commodity.

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      36. Well Roger, you also keep misrepresenting my view of omniscience. You act as if your traditional definition of omniscience is the only legitimate one. You say that I believe “that God is not omniscient – particularly lacking knowledge of all future events.” I say He is omniscient and does not lack knowledge of any future event, but knows all of them as they truly are, either settled or still contingent. You are the one that has limited God’s knowledge of the future to only settled events.

        Then you misrepresent me again when you said – “The problem is that you cannot seem to defend it or explain it further than just stating your opinion.” That sounds more like what you are doing, for you have not shown me one verse that clearly states the whole future is settled in God’s mind, but I have shown verses that clearly state that God’s knowledge of events changes as He makes decisions, changing from knowing what was possible to knowing it now as determined and then knowing it as what happened. Your definition of perfection does not allow for God’s infinite understanding to have sequential thinking, but there would be no personal relationship in the Godhead without sequential thinking.

        Your statement – “Any partially open elements could only refer to events that are inconsequential to His purpose/plan” is a little naïve in my estimation if God’s decision results in someone going on with more opportunity to get saved or with no more opportunity to get saved. It may not be consequential to His overall purpose /plan, but it certainly consequential to that one person. And your statement – “there would be no reason for Him to ad hoc any element of his plan” is also naïve in my view. Sure He controls specific elements of the future as you pointed out, but He is also personally interacting with everything He has made, and there is no true love, where everything is predetermined before the will of one party has even been created, and the will of the other party is locked out of freely responding outside of a fully predetermined system.

        And you are locked in to defining “plan” only as closed and completely settled… even though reality and Scripture show God’s plan is not that way. You said – “Whatever God is said to do in the course of time was settled in eternity past because God had a plan.” So now you truly are saying things as being so, but without evidence. You cannot extrapolate from some things being planned specifically to all details in-between being necessarily settled and planned. The Scriptures use of conditional statements, warnings, invitations and verses about God making decisions and about possibilities show conclusively that everything was/is not settled for the future.

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      37. brianwagner writes, “I say He is omniscient and does not lack knowledge of any future event,…”

        Don’t you maintain that God cannot know all the decisions that people make? You maintain that God cannot know those who decide to accept salvation and those who decide to reject salvation and cannot know this until those people make those decisions in the course of time – don’t you? If so, God cannot be omniscient in any sense of the word. Even the Open Theists recognize this and say that God is omniscient with regard to the present and past only claiming that future events do not exist and cannot be part of any knowledge base for defining omniscience.

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      38. Roger, you asked –
        “You maintain that God cannot know those who decide to accept salvation and those who decide to reject salvation and cannot know this until those people make those decisions in the course of time – don’t you?” Even you, Roger, believe that God knows counterfactuals as part of His omniscience of the past, don’t you?!

        If you believe that, it is only a reasonable small step for you to take to also believe that God knows the future as including both determinations and possibilities. That is the only reasonable way to understand His omniscience of the future, if you do accept that counterfactuals are part of His knowledge of the past.

        Counterfactuals are events that even God Himself said were once possible or would have been possible under other circumstances. God never indicated or hinted in those contexts that mention counterfactuals that they were not possible, which would be so if everything had been predetermined. The predetermination of all things makes the existence of counterfactuals impossible in God’s mind. They can only be part of His omniscience if they represent events that were truly once possible.

        The bigger issue is whether reality is eternally sequential, from everlasting to everlasting, which means the future does not yet exist for man or God, so the knowledge of it is ontologically different than knowledge of the past or present. Do you believe the future exists, and if so, are you and I in it right now? Are we still also in the past, and wouldn’t you confess the Scripture reads that reality is eternally sequential?

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      39. brianwagner writes, ” Even you believe that God knows counterfactuals as part of His omniscience of the past, don’t you?!”

        I say that God knows the factuals making counterfactuals moot. Nonetheless, counterfactuals have always been part of God’s knowledge – excess baggage having no purpose.

        Then, “If you believe that, it is only a reasonable small step for you to take to also believe that God knows the future as including both determinations and possibilities. That is the only reasonable way to understand His omniscience of the future, if you do accept that counterfactuals are part of His knowledge of the past.”

        Technically, I think the past is comprised of factuals (certainties) from the standpoint of a person looking backwards. Looking into the future, God sees only certainties – if it is true that God determines all things – while we humans see factuals and counterfactuals within the subordinate freedom that God gives to us. If God does not determine all things but allows people to determine some things, then God cannot be omniscient – His knowledge would depend on His learning those things given to people to determine.

        Then, “Counterfactuals are events that even God Himself said were once possible or would have been possible under other circumstances. God never indicated or hinted in those contexts that mention counterfactuals that they were not possible, which would be so if everything had been predetermined. The predetermination of all things makes the existence of counterfactuals impossible in God’s mind. They can only be part of His omniscience if they represent events that were truly once possible.”

        Because it is God who determines all things, the existence of past possible events means that God could have steered history in a different direction. If God had determined to save people in country X, then He would have arranged for the gospel to be preached in that country whereupon He would have conveyed faith to those He wanted to save. The decision as to where the gospel is to be preached is God’s decision and accords with His plan to save His elect. If God does not know who will be saved, then denying the gospel to any particular country (as God has done) would not be a proper use of God’s resources (which are unlimited) and an unwise choice to make since it could be possible that more people would be saved – thereby denying that God is all wise.

        Finally, “The bigger issue is whether reality is eternally sequential, from everlasting to everlasting, which means the future does not yet exist for man or God, so the knowledge of it is ontologically different than knowledge of the past or present. Do you believe the future exists, and if so, are you and I in it right now? Are we still also in the past, and wouldn’t you confess the Scripture reads that reality is eternally sequential?”

        Reality would be eternally sequential if God were not omniscient. Omniscience denies that reality is eternally sequential but not that reality can be logically sequential or that God could not arrange for reality to play out within the constraints of time. It is God who purposely creates a universe in which events occur in a sequential order that is consistent with the logical order of those events in His mind. God is and His being cannot be described further – not in terms of time, space or other means. God has specific characteristics (such as holiness) so we can describe God apart from just His being.

        The factual/counterfactual approach assumes that God cannot be omniscient – that God cannot determine all things. It is basic to non-Calvinist philosophy.

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      40. I am sorry Roger that you don’t see how your loyalty to a philosophical definition for omniscience bends Scripture’s revelation about God’s knowledge, eternity, sovereignty, freewill and mercy all out of shape!

        God has “excess baggage” in His knowledge… really? And you did not answer my questions about whether you and I are in the past and future right at this moment!

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      41. brianwagner writes, “I am sorry that you don’t see how your loyalty to a philosophical definition for omniscience bends Scripture’s revelation about God’s knowledge, eternity, sovereignty, freewill and mercy all out of shape!”

        Can we just admit that we each define omniscience in different ways. I define it to be absolute and including all things past, present and future. You define it in a more restrictive sense denying a complete knowledge of the future. I think the definition I adhere is that common to historical discussion of God’s omniscience. Your definition is a more recent invention and has muddied the water (so to speak).

        Then, “God has “excess baggage” in His knowledge… really?”

        Yeah, only meaning that counterfactuals are moot points, so why waste time on them.

        Then, “And you did not answer my questions about whether you and I are in the past and future right at this moment!”

        We live in the present. We have memories of our activities in previous times and we can study history to learn other things. The future is open to us within the subordinate responsibilities God has given to us.

        “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.’ (James 4)

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      42. This verse doesn’t mean that God has predetermined what each person will do tomorrow. It just indicates He has the final say. It fits right along with what Brian believes.

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      43. Deborah writes, “This verse doesn’t mean that God has predetermined what each person will do tomorrow. It just indicates He has the final say.”

        The key point you make is “God has the final say.” Not only does God have the final say, He is sovereign, so His say is always active and not passive. God actively determines what a person will do – that is having the final say. Can you think of a situation where God has the final say and would not determine the outcome?

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      44. No. I mean God has the final say, because He has the power to end a person’s life, rendering their plans for the future useless.

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      45. Deborah writes, ‘God has the final say, because He has the power to end a person’s life,…”

        At least you grant Him that much.

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      46. That is simply what the verse conveys.
        You don’t grant him very much! He’s not intelligent enough in your view to handle free choices by separate creatures He hadn’t determined first! Ugh!

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      47. Deborah writes, “That is simply what the verse conveys.”

        It conveys much more than that. James does convey the idea, “For all you know, you could die tomorrow.” James writes that we should say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” We should read this in two parts, (1) “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live AND (2) “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.” Otherwise, James would have said, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live TO do this or that.”

        Then, “You don’t grant him very much! He’s not intelligent enough in your view to handle free choices by separate creatures He hadn’t determined first! Ugh!”

        You are mixed up again. God does handle free choices of people by dealing with those choices so that everyone doesn’t kill each other which would happen without God’s restraint (and under your system). God determined that people should have freedom to sin as much as they want within the confines of His will.

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      48. There are no free choices in Calvinism. People, as Calvin believed, only move — in either direction — expressly as God commands. Their free choices cannot be “restrained” because they are born to do and think exactly as God has predetermined. You know this full well and all your rhetoric doesn’t fool me.

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      49. Deborah writes, “There are no free choices in Calvinism.”

        Not exactly. When Adam sinned, he lost what we might call libertarian free will – and the ability to chose to do good. Adam’s will was still free within the constraints of slavery to sin but he would now only choose sin. Unsaved people are free to sin and lack any desire for God or His righteousness. Of course, people always have the freedom to make trivial choices – e.g., what to eat.

        Then, “People, as Calvin believed, only move — in either direction — expressly as God commands. Their free choices cannot be “restrained” because they are born to do and think exactly as God has predetermined. You know this full well and all your rhetoric doesn’t fool me.”

        Not exactly. Because of Adam’s sin, people are born as slaves to sin and this slavery dictates their desires. People are restrained so that they are not as sinful as they would if left unrestrained. That people think only as God predetermined does not mean that God puts specific thoughts into a person’s mind but their thoughts originate from their sinful nature. God knows the person’s thoughts before they think them and can restrain such thoughts as He chooses. They can be said to be predetermined based on God’s prior knowledge of them and His decision to restrain a person’s thoughts or not restrain them.

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      50. Calvin puts it just the opposite: “But since he foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed they take place, they vainly raise a quarrel over foreknowledge, when it is CLEAR that all things take place RATHER by his determination and BIDDING.”
        Bk 3, CH 23, S 6

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      51. Deborah writes, “Calvin puts it just the opposite: “…he decreed they take place,…”

        The issue here is how “God decreed they take place”? Do you know if Calvin went into detail on this? Without knowing what Calvin meant by this, you cannot conclude that Calvin puts it just the opposite. Reformed Theology says that God decrees through restraint or lack of restraint.

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      52. I understand English grammar. I don’t have to redefine what Calvin says to defend “Reformed Theology” if I don’t like what Calvin says. If I find I don’t agree with Calvin, I scrap his theology. I don’t jump through hoops to make him say what I want, and I don’t know why so many people do that. What’s the point? I see you so committed to the calvin-based confessions that you won’t accept even Calvin’s plain meaning. Why? Why jump through hoops like that? If anyone has a reason to be committed to Calvinism it is me, since all my family and ancestors are Dutch Reformed, and I was catechized according to the Canons of Dordt before making profession of faith. I believed in Calvinism for 40 years until I realized I was following one man’s ideas instead of the writings of the prophets and the apostles that God chose to carry his Gospel to the world. Since my allegiance has always been to God above all, it was no problem to scrap Calvinism once I learned the truth. Don’t be trapped by the Confessions of other men.

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      53. Deborah writes, ” I see you so committed to the calvin-based confessions that you won’t accept even Calvin’s plain meaning. ”

        So, you have no idea what Calvin meant when he said, “God decreed they take place.” Why not just say so??

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      54. Note the “all things” also. What to eat would be classified under “all things.”. If you are in disagreement with Calvin, don’t commit yourself to his theology.

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      55. Deborah writes, “Note the “all things” also. What to eat would be classified under “all things.”. If you are in disagreement with Calvin, don’t commit yourself to his theology.”

        All things would then consist of both trivial and non-trivial things. I don’t see a reason to dwell on trivial things. The most important non-trivial thing is salvation. The issue is how God determines salvation.

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      56. You’ve proved my point, Roger, – your loyalty to the traditional definition of omniscience – when you said – “I think the definition I adhere is that common to historical discussion of God’s omniscience.”

        Those who argued with Luther over his “new” definition of justification would have used the same line of reasoning. In fact there are those, like NT Wright, who are overturning Luther’s more biblical definition of justification to return to the traditional Roman Catholic one.

        You are just holding to the traditional Roman Catholic (Platonist) definition of omniscience and eternity. And you are unwilling to allow it to be overturned in its popularity for a more biblical one. I am sorry.

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      57. brianwagner writes, “the traditional definition of omniscience – when you said – “I think the definition I adhere is that common to historical discussion of God’s omniscience.” …”

        Oh Brian!!!

        The takeaway from this is that I adhere to the traditional, historical definition of omniscience. You subscribe to a definition that has come about in recent years with Open Theism.

        Just think, at least one of us is building a house on sand. Hope it doesn’t storm.

        The Catholic church did not get everything wrong. Even you get some things right.

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      58. Roger, “traditional” only means that which was preserved and made popular by those in control of what got published and taught formally. You can trust the deceptive, destructive heritage of Roman Catholicism from 325 to 1450… I choose not to. There is sufficient evidence for me that biblical definitions for the concepts I am discussing have been promoted and influential outside RC since the time of the apostles.

        But even that historical evidence does not matter when clear Scripture evidence is available. The appeal to the tradition of infant baptism still holds sway and needs to be overturned or turned back to Scriptural definition. That tradition and definition for baptism is much more harmful, in my view, than our disagreement about the definition of omniscience, though both reveal how one’s authority and perspicuity of Scripture is viewed.

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      59. brianwagner writes, ““traditional” only means that which was preserved and made popular by those in control of what got published and taught formally…But even that historical evidence does not matter when clear Scripture evidence is available.”

        Of course, tradition can derive from the Scriptures; the issue now being what those Scriptures clearly reveal.

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      60. wilds wanderer, I assume you work to make money to buy food so you don’t starve, right? Why? Does not the scripture tell you that God will provide everything you need? “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.”

        Just wait. Food, drink and clothing will appear. Why do as Jesus said and pray, “Give us this day [e]our daily bread.”

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      61. “If God had predetermined me to get wisdom, I would get it with or without asking for it.”

        God ordains the means as well as the ends. You are alive right now at His pleasure. But without food you wouldn’t be alive. And God didn’t just drop manna from heaven each day to keep you alive. He ordained that you use some method to get food in your mouth and down into your digestive system. Yet He says to ask Him for food (daily bread). But if you stop eating and die, He pre-knew that too. All our days are numbered by Him. He knows the day and the hour. Amazing and simple at the same time. My grandchildren get this. No offense intended. We come as little children.

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      62. Hi Les, I bet your children understand what changing one’s mind means also, and that God did change His mind when He ADDED 15 years onto Hezekiah’s life. I also bet you believe that God often graciously gives us daily bread even when we do not pray for it… so the “means” is not ordained irrevocably between eating and our freewill prayer as it is between the new birth and our freewill trust!

        2Kings 20:1In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, FOR YOU SHALL DIE; YOU SHALL NOT RECOVER.’” 2Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, 3“Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5“Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, 6and I WILL ADD FIFTEEN YEARS TO YOUR LIFE.

        No predetermination before creation here in this context, but a divine immediate determination responding to a prayer that revealed that the plan God was not immutable, and it revealed that God’s will was not bound from before creation to one action.

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      63. brianwagner writes, “I bet your children understand what changing one’s mind means also, and that God did change His mind when He ADDED 15 years onto Hezekiah’s life. I also bet you believe that God often graciously gives us daily bread even when we do not pray for it… so the “means” is not ordained irrevocably between eating and our freewill prayer as it is between the new birth and our freewill trust!”

        That God “changes His mind” says nothing about determinism. God says that those who sin are in danger of judgment, but those who seek forgiveness of sin, He will “change His mind” and not judge.

        In Hezekiah’s case, sin is not the issue. Hezekiah clings to life on earth and asks God for more time arguing that he has been faithful and will continue to be faithful. God grants Hezekiah’s request giving him 15 more fears. God “changed His mind” but does that mean that God did not determine the outcome. Obviously God did determine to give Hezekiah 15 years. The issue is whether God was involved in Hezekiah’s original request. Proverbs tells us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” Did God do this with Hezekiah? No reason to think otherwise unless you can show that proverbs does not apply in this case.

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      64. Are you saying, Roger, that God used what sounded like a planned decision of death to get Hezekiah to pray so that God could then be seen as changing His mind, when He really wasn’t doing so… and that “added 15 years” really does not mean “added,” because the Scripture is only speaking anthropomorphically, since any “smart” Calvinist knows that the final day of Hezekiah’s death was predetermined before creation? I think I will stick with the normal reading of Scripture’s truth about history!

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      65. brianwagner writes, “Are you saying, Roger, that God used what sounded like a planned decision of death to get Hezekiah to pray so that God could then be seen as changing His mind, when He really wasn’t doing so… and that “added 15 years” really does not mean “added,” because the Scripture is only speaking anthropomorphically, since any “smart” Calvinist knows that the final day of Hezekiah’s death was predetermined before creation?”

        Based on Proverbs, I am saying that God arranged it all. Apparently, God arranged the event with Hezekiah and had it recorded as an example for us. I see nothing that need be taken anthropomorphically – we are given the events as God unfolded them in the course of history.

        Then, ” I think I will stick with the normal reading of Scripture’s truth about history!”

        Does this “normal reading” incorporate the denial of Proverbs?

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      66. Roger, I am praying for the day that you accept the reasoning that you are fighting so strongly against. If something is “added” or changed in a plan of God, then that change was not at all a part of a set plan before then, or before creation either.

        You can propose that my reasoning would be a “denial of Proverbs”, but that is a feeble attempt at a refutation, for you know that no verse in Proverbs declares that God predetermined everything before creation. Proverbs only confirms that God sovereignly has the final active or passive say of what occurs. And Scripture clearly reads that He is still making determinations, which clearly counters the false idea that all was predetermined before creation.

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      67. Rhutchin,

        Your comments where your words begin, “I remember that. It is your position that God is not omniscient – particularly lacking knowledge of all future events” are the best yet. The fact is that until Brian gets his theology about God’s knowledge back into orthodox line, we of the orthodox faith and Brian will always be passing each other like ships passing in the night.

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      68. And here Les, I thought I was hoping you and Roger would come back to the orthodoxy, that is the true orthodoxy of Scripture! 😊

        If our ships are passing each other, I hope it is only because one of us is going faster then the other, but that we are still both going in the same direction! 😉

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      69. “I am sorry.”

        For my thinking, no need to feel sorry for Roger. Nor for me though you didn’t say that toward me. But I stand with Roger and the historical and orthodox (scriptural) view on omniscience. Those who end up on the side of a significant historical minority view against the tremendous weight of historical theology usually err. There are exceptions of course (see Reformation), but this ain’t one of them. But even the Ref wasn’t overturning long standing historical errors engulfing the church. And bringing NT to your defense is not really a plus.

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      70. Les, my friend, I am sorry for you too! 😊.But I know that God will keep showing you evidence of the truth.

        If I could recommend a good church history, Verduin’s Reformers and their Stepchildren. It may help you get a better perspective of Christian History than the deceptive one promoted by Roman Catholicism.

        But you said – “But even the Ref wasn’t overturning long standing historical errors engulfing the church. And bringing NT to your defense is not really a plus.” Many died at the hands of both RC and Prot. for the errors they overturned by just using the NT.

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      71. Deborah, you wrote, ““Note the “all things” also. What to eat would be classified under “all things.” Yes, even what we eat and when, while at the same time not making us do what we do when we do it, but rather orchestrating all things according to His plans. For instance, the scriptures say of Judas,
        _______________________
        17 When it was ***evening*** He *came with the twelve. 18 As they were reclining at the table and ***eating***, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will [e]betray Me—[f]one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, [g]one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21 For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man [h]by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good [i]for that man if he had not been born.” *** added for special attention***
        ________________________
        Note: It was evening (time of day) and what were they doing? Eating. What happened? The betrayal of Jesus by Jesus is made known by Jesus. Why was this done? That the scriptures might be fulfilled. See below:
        ________________________
        16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms,

        ‘Let his homestead be made desolate,
        And let no one dwell in it’;
        and,

        ‘Let another man take his [s]office.’
        _______________________
        Note that Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit preaches that what happened by Judas was not a good lucky happenstance in God’s favor. It was exactly according to God’s plan which plan had been foretold in the OT. Note too that even Judas’ thirty pieces of silver were foretold in Zechariah.

        So, what if in Judas’ deal he had only gotten 5 pieces of silver? More, what if Judas had been attacked by some free will raging lunatic and been beaten nearly to death and unable to get to the upper room that day and had not been there for the supper where Jesus called him out? Or attacked afterward and not been able to bring Jesus’ captors to arrest Him?

        See what happens when you try to leave ANYTHING to chance of everyone’s free will? You make a complete mess of the scriptures.

        No, God orchestrates it ALL for His plan and purposes.

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      72. Les, I was referring to Roger’s suggestion that people have free choices in the nonimportant matters like “what to eat.”. Clearly, under Calvinism, people do not have free choice about what to eat, but eat only what God has decreed beforehand. Calvin said that God didn’t foresee their choices and then determine if he would allow those choices or not. He determined the choices first, and that is why he has foreknowledge of them!

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      73. Deborah,

        “Clearly, under Calvinism, people do not have free choice about what to eat, but eat only what God has decreed beforehand.”

        You misstate Reformed theology. We do hold that man has free choices. When debating this issue, it is important to note that when Reformed theology speaks of man’s will (for instance in confessions based on scriptural understanding) we are talking about spiritual good. I know you have an aversion to confessions “of men” (notwithstanding that Leighton on this blog makes confessional statements whenever he writes as do you and I when we write…difference we are one man of one woman confessing what we each believe rather than hundreds of men banding together to make a confession) but argue free will or not, be fair to Reformed theology and state what they state. On Free Will:

        “3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”

        Notice, the confession is talking about spiritual will. Salvation. NOT what socks you pick out today.

        But, as I showed about Judas, there are no things we do that are not part of God’s plan. If Judas had been a no show in the upper room, what would have happened? Well one thing is that the scriptures would be proved to be mistaken. i.e. the Holy Spirit, author of the scriptures, would have been wrong. hen everything blows up.

        The bottom line is this. Reformed theology teaches that God decrees and man makes his choices for various reasons, but can never make choices that thwart God’s plans. The two thongs are compatible. Totally understandable? Nope. But He is God and we are not.

        Question: Could Judas NOT have betrayed Jesus? Could he have just decided to be a no show? Could have he been arrested for some other crime and ended up in jail that day? Or was he predestined to fulfill the scriptures? if you agree he was predestined to do what he did, did **he*8 actually do what he did of his own volition? or was he simply a zombie like robot?

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      74. Deborah, “I’m not traveling around this mountain again with you.”

        I figured. No offense, but this is where your side in the discussion squirms and usually bails out. You all really have no answer for the Judas situation. The meticulous orchestration of all things by our sovereign God while using man’s choices (compatibilism), such as the inspiration of scripture and of course Judas and supremely the crucification of Jesus by evil intentioned men, is so obvious in scripture. But again, no offense, you all have no credible answers.

        God bless.

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      75. Hi Les, The problem is not that God does not sometimes turn a heart in the direction He wills (present tense) to complete specific aspects of His will previously determined (past tense) even to lead a person into a temptation, like Judas, knowing his will is so inclined that, without intervention, he will fall into that temptation. God can even take volunteers from sinful angels to do those manipulations.

        The problem taking your example and then extrapolating, believing that God ordained all the actions of every man’s will for every event before creation and yet He still is not culpable for those evils. …or believing that Adam’s sin was ordained. …or believing that guilt and inability were ordained to result from Adam’s sin upon all his posterity. …or that God would not offer grace to most people to overcome any inability so that His mercy could be received. …or that Judas was individually picked before the general prediction in Psalms concerning that a betrayer would fulfill all those manipulated events you rehearsed from the Gospels (or that Judas was picked before creation or even before he was born or even before he refused his opportunity to accept God’s saving mercy.)

        No squirming here! 🙂 This is my understanding of how Scripture relates to some things being manipulated to fulfill things that are predetermined and yet maintain that Scripture relates to some things being free still to be determined either by God or by man (and God’s permissive will).

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      76. Thanks, Brian.
        Les, I wasn’t squirming in the least. Just letting you believe what you believe. It takes more guts to let someone have the last word.

        Liked by 1 person

      77. brianwagner writes, “The problem is not that God does not sometimes turn a heart in the direction He wills (present tense) to complete specific aspects of His will ”

        God can turn a person’s heart to a specific outcome or restrain the evil a person seeks to do or do nothing. As God knows all future possibilities, He can restrain in one possibility (e.g., restraining Joseph’s brothers from killing him), turn the heart to a different outcome in another possibility (e.g., Saul on the road to Damascus), or do nothing and allow natural events to play out (e.g., the temptation of Eve).

        As nothing ever happens in the future that God does not know as possibility in eternity past, God can decide what He will do in eternity past or at the time the event occurs in the course of time (if you want). In either case, God’s response would be the same.

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      78. Brian, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that God didn’t have a plan to use Judas to betray Jesus on that day and time until it was foretold in the OT. I don;t think that, but maybe you do. Anyway, assuming that, about oh, say a gazillion things have to “fall in place” for Judas to even be born much less be in that place on that date and time…and of course strike a deal on he silver. Anywhere along the timeline from that prophecy until fulfillment, in order to ensure it happened just as predicted, one stray free willer decides to take out an ancestor of Judas and poof. All done. Prophecy unfulfilled. You really have to suspend intelligence to think that God did not personally oversee and orchestrate every detail in Judas’ past history to have your view. You’re making it way too hard.

        Really anywhere along any of our lives the same is true. Else, you have God making it up as He goes and juking and jiving here and yonder as people and weather events and such throw monkey wrenches in His plans. Sorry bro. But hey, I’m glad at least you’re not cowering in a corner somewhere after I slayed you all’s view. 🙂

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      79. Hi Les, I tried to reveal my view among the options of things I listed that I didn’t believe, but I should have been more specific. I believe God choose from a possible of group of those who had already rejected His mercy for salvation the man known as Judas to fulfill the role of the betrayer and the prophecies associated with the betrayal of Jesus. God knew of many who could have been chosen by Jesus to become one of His disciples to fulfill that role. There was no need to have a single history planned from creation with every event ordained as a part of that history. And the Scripture does not read that way in my view. God does make determinations ahead of time that do limit and control aspects of the course of history. But much is left open for Him to make future choices and man also. His infinite understanding knows of all the possibilities.

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      80. Les, nothing is too hard for God. Ad hoc? It’s all a piece of cake for God. The non-Calvinist has a higher view of God. God “has to” do things “on the fly?”. You don’t have much faith in his infinite intelligence and power. Infinite. Beyond the slightest notion we have of his mind. He can juggle all the free choices of men effortlessly every split second.
        Also, your true colors are showing. You just want to be right. You aren’t interested in getting to the truth. ” slayed”? Nice choice of words. I used to be like that too, when I was a Calvinist.
        Another thing — you say I have an “aversion” to confessions of men. That choice of words also reveals the pedestal you have Calvinism on. But yes, I don’t trust any confession of man. Like the confessions of Jim Jones, or Joseph Smith, or Do and Ti, or AJ Miller, or Muhammad, or Buddha, or Hitler and Goebbels! If they don’t square with the Bible, yeah, you bet, I have an “aversion” to them!

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      81. Deborah writes, “nothing is too hard for God. Ad hoc? It’s all a piece of cake for God. The non-Calvinist has a higher view of God. God “has to” do things “on the fly?”. You don’t have much faith in his infinite intelligence and power.”

        Because God’s understanding is infinite and His wisdom perfect, nothing that God does should be described as being done “on the fly.” We mark time by hours, minutes and seconds. However, for God the “time” between one second and another is an eternity in terms of God’s ability to consider His action. (For Brian’s benefit, God could easily have considered this in eternity past as He knew and understood all future possibilities).

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      82. Deborah,

        “Les, nothing is too hard for God. Ad hoc? It’s all a piece of cake for God. The non-Calvinist has a higher view of God. God “has to” do things “on the fly?”. You don’t have much faith in his infinite intelligence and power. Infinite. Beyond the slightest notion we have of his mind. He can juggle all the free choices of men effortlessly every split second.”

        Ok, but His omniscience is destroyed in that view.

        “Also, your true colors are showing. You just want to be right. You aren’t interested in getting to the truth. ” slayed”? Nice choice of words. I used to be like that too, when I was a Calvinist.”

        Did you see the smiley face? It was an attempt at a little humor based on some previous exchanges he and I have had before on tone.

        “Another thing — you say I have an “aversion” to confessions of men. That choice of words also reveals the pedestal you have Calvinism on. But yes, I don’t trust any confession of man. Like the confessions of Jim Jones, or Joseph Smith, or Do and Ti, or AJ Miller, or Muhammad, or Buddha, or Hitler and Goebbels! If they don’t square with the Bible, yeah, you bet, I have an “aversion” to them!”

        I also have an aversion to confessions of the ones you cited. We must all have wisdom when we “atta boy” what men say. Like when you commented, “Brian, you are a breath of fresh air. I sincerely thank God for your comments.” You are agreeing with Brian’s confession of his beliefs as stated. So you don’t have an aversion to ALL confessions of men apparently and apparently your statement just above, “I don’t trust any confession of man” is not quite accurate.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s a philosophical middle-ground here that turns out to be the most (1) obviously true and (2) not ridiculous.

    It’s called compatibilism — recognizing when the normal things with which we’re familiar (like God NOT meticulously micromanaging the results of all games of chance) is compatible with adequate determinism.

    Like here.

    Surely you don’t believe that dice behave according to some sort of libertarian free will? They don’t even have minds. It’s obviously true (#1) that stupid, macroscopic physical objects tumble along according to adequately deterministic rules.

    At the same time, you don’t have to assert a robust teleology in all dice rolls. That’s ridiculous (#2). There MAY be teleology in dice rolls, but the vase majority of dice rolls can be nonteleological.

    How can this be, under adequate determinism?

    Chaos theory supplies the 100% working answer. #1 satisfied, #2 satisfied. Google “stanrock micromanaging” for an article that explains, with illustrations.

    No longer do we have to eisegete micromanaging teleology upon everything in Scripture that is expressed as “up to us” or “up to natural events.” And no longer do we have to eisegete stochasticity upon elements over which God is completely sovereign. Both paths are bad, unnecessary, and talking past each other, like far-right and far-left politicians arguing past the working middle-ground solution.

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    1. Stan,

      “Surely you don’t believe that dice behave according to some sort of libertarian free will? They don’t even have minds. It’s obviously true (#1) that stupid, macroscopic physical objects tumble along according to adequately deterministic rules.”

      Dice do not have minds, nor do they have free will.

      The world that God created and desired to exist has both mechanistic deterministic elements like chemical reactions and the tides. AND beings, including men and angels that have free will as normally understood.

      You keep evangelizing for your “solution” compatibilism. But compatibilism is no “solution”, it is a semantic evasion of what is clearly real and true. I have looked at your site, read your articles, and you do not persuade anyone to adopt your compatibilism. This is seen by the complete lack of comments in response to your articles and to the responses of non-compatibilists to your comments here.

      If compatibilism helps you deal with reality, fine, but it is no solution to the rest of us convinced that though the lot cast could be determined by God in a particular instance. Our response, whether it is to ignore the outcome of the casting of the lots or to “obey” the outcome, either way it is up to us and it is our choice.

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      1. Robert, you said,

        “The world that God created and desired to exist has both mechanistic deterministic elements like chemical reactions and the tides. AND beings, including men and angels that have free will as normally understood.”

        Okay, but that doesn’t preclude Prof. Leighton’s reductio ad absurdum. Prof. Leighton needs some sort of compatibilistic solution in order to assert that dice are both (1) adequately deterministic, and yet (2) not micromanaged by God. So do you. So does anyone.

        Your views about my site and compatibilism in general are really quite myopic, so you might want to reconsider whether a few dozen posts on soteriology101.com,or the comments hosted locally on my site are representative of anything. These discussions generally take place across dozens of Facebook groups and other online Christian communities, and we have all sorts of real-life discussions on the topic, and many folks have journeyed alongside similarly. I used to believe in libertarian free will, then I came to realize compatibilism is correct; it’s not “my idea,” but one I came to discover makes by far the most sense with formal logic and with the Bible (in harmony). Tons of people have done similarly. Indeed, most philosophers rightly assert compatibilism, not because they’re misguided or silly, but because they’ve recognized it as the correct (coherent, robust) taxonomic approach.

        I generally don’t like doing “helicopter view” posts like this and would rather stick to the specific arguments at hand, if you’d be courteous.

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      2. Stan you said,

        “Your views about my site and compatibilism in general are really quite myopic, so you might want to reconsider whether a few dozen posts on soteriology101.com,or the comments hosted locally on my site are representative of anything. These discussions generally take place across dozens of Facebook groups and other online Christian communities, and we have all sorts of real-life discussions on the topic, and many folks have journeyed alongside similarly”

        Actually my views about your site are not myopic. You have repeatedly told people here to look at your site and look at your articles. I have done so, they are not persuasive of compatibilism. There are not responses to your articles, not even disagreements. This suggests that you are not persuading anyone to adopt your compatibilism. If your view were persuasive there would be some sort of testimonials (e.g. “thanks Stan for your article it has convinced me that compatibilism is true and libertarian free will is false” etc.). As a contrast I do a lot of evangelism and I can produce all sorts of testimonials of people’s lives being changed by a message that I or my staff has done with others. This is not to say that we convert anyone, but we have been used to persuade people to change.

        “Indeed, most philosophers rightly assert compatibilism, not because they’re misguided or silly, but because they’ve recognized it as the correct (coherent, robust) taxonomic approach.”

        “Most” philosophers?

        Which philosophers?

        Nonbelievers who deny that we have a spiritual non-physical element to our being? Sure. Materialists? Sure, they believe there is no spirit or soul so of course they believe it is all molecules and atoms. They also do not want to believe there is a God or angels, so of course everything is mechanistic and they hold to compatibilism. They also deny responsibility and want to blame our brains for what we do, our environment, our genes, etc. etc. virtually anything but US! Many of these compatibilists also hold t scientism that only science brings true knowledge (so for them they have a definite agenda to argue against free will as ordinarily understood because it is not deterministic/mechanistic/scientific). They do not assert compatibilism because it is true but because of their agenda, e.g. to explain everything scientifically and mechanistically, to refute any form of Spirit whether it be God or angels or souls.

        Lastly regarding Christian philosophers, the majority view at present is libertarian free will. If you knew some of these Christian philosophers and read the current literature you would know that. But your comment about “most” philosophers holding to compatibilism is in regards to nonbelieving philosophers. This is not true regarding Christian philosophers. And among believers those who hold compatibilism, with you being an exception to the rule, those who hold to compatibilism are Calvinists who hold it in order to support and defend their Calvinism. So it is completely agenda driven.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Now we’re in stupid squabbling territory. There are all sorts of such testimonials — dozens and dozens over the years — especially at where I spend most of my online community time (with the Christians of Reddit.com and on theological Facebook groups). You have no idea what you’re talking about, ostensibly due to selection bias, which is why I said you were being myopic.

        You’re clearly off the rails at this point and not interested in discussing the issue at play, so — as I’ve done with you many times before — I’ll let you have the last word and continue talking more productively with different folks.

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      4. Stan,

        You have this habit of becoming emotional and bowing out whenever you are directly and strongly challenged. You are doing it again now. That’s fine but it is your standard operating procedure.

        “Now we’re in stupid squabbling territory.”

        You constantly and repeatedly tell us here to go to your site and read your articles. You do this whenever you are directly and strongly challenged. As if merely reading your articles will persuade people to adopt your false view of compatibilism. Well I have read in this area and some of my friends are some of the most published authors in this area). And your articles are weak and unpersuasive. And nobody responds to your articles. That should tell you something, but apparently that lack of interaction and response with your own articles does not mean anything as you claim you are having these discussions where you are persuading people all over the internet:

        “There are all sorts of such testimonials — dozens and dozens over the years — especially at where I spend most of my online community time (with the Christians of Reddit.com and on theological Facebook groups).”

        “You have no idea what you’re talking about, ostensibly due to selection bias, which is why I said you were being myopic.”

        That is both hilarious and a ridiculous simultaneously, YOU are the one who repeatedly tells us to go to YOUR website and look at YOUR articles. I do so, see no persuasive articles and no responses and then you want to accuse me of “being myopic”.

        “You’re clearly off the rails at this point and not interested in discussing the issue at play,”

        I am not off the rails, I am not the one who keeps pointing to his own website in support of his false view. And when directly and strongly challenged you just take your toys and storm off like an angry child.

        “so — as I’ve done with you many times before — I’ll let you have the last word and continue talking more productively with different folks.”

        You cannot take direct and strong challenges to your idiosyncratic position. Your standard operating procedure is to run away when challenged or to cite your own articles and website. Sorry just saying something is true because I say so and then pointing to your own articles is not persuasive at all. Checking out the articles that you point to on your website is a waste of time. And you can claim that you are persuading all these people to adopt your compatibilism all over the internet, but it is a both boastful and false claim.

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      5. Robert,

        Maybe it would be better if you would just try to refute some of Stan’s claims rather than just go on and on about his references to his site.

        “And you can claim that you are persuading all these people to adopt your compatibilism all over the internet, but it is a both boastful and false claim.”

        Whether it is boastful or not is really impossible to prove by you. And whether his claim of persuading people is false is certainly a claim by you that you cannot demonstrate.

        I for at least one here like that Stan refers to his site. Very interesting reading. And lest anyone wants to say that I’m just saying that because Stan and I agree, well I’m Reformed and I don’t think Stan is. I think we agree in some areas and disagree in others.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Stanrock: You often quote your own site as having the answers to ‘problems’ on this blog. There is one major problem with this and without being too dismissive, it is that your site is no peer reviewed at all is it, as far as I can see? Hence what you quote as an answer is really just your opinion on the matter. It may or may not be wrong, that’s entirely a different matter.

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      1. Correct, they’re always my own views on these matters, just like everybody’s commentary in these discussions. I link to them for those interested in deeper articulations, diagrams, etc. rather than spamming Prof. Leighton’s site with huge walls of text. I hope I’m actually being less intrusive by doing this; perhaps folks feel otherwise.

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      2. “There is one major problem with this and without being too dismissive, it is that your site is no peer reviewed at all is it, as far as I can see? Hence what you quote as an answer is really just your opinion on the matter.”

        Neither are your views peer reviewed as far as I can tell and are, wait for it…”really just your opinion[s].” Too bad you don’t have some way to pull this comment of yours back. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Since you mentioned it, I can see the sense in your approach. There are people (spammers if you will) or as who I refer to as copy & paste merchants who don’t have much to say which is original but seem to think that dumping endless waffle into the middle of arguments is their way of ‘contributing’. So I’m in agreement with you on this! 🙂

        I have however, not found any convincing arguments in your approach to compatibilism either. If you are sure that God doesn’t micromanage the physical world of dice throwing, how do you determine when something does become significant so that God does determine it?

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      4. Two worlds:

        (1) Things are adequately deterministic; God does not micromanage things, as a function of his interests. (This is possible as chaos theory shows, at the linked-to article.)

        (2) At least some things, like minds, are not adequately deterministic. Perhaps nothing is adequately deterministic.

        Identifying whether a startling event is the result of whether God has orchestrated it to occur seems “nontrivial” in both worlds, right? Essentially, in both worlds, we’re left with seeking God and the voice of the Spirit through prayer, making best guesses, testing observations against scrutiny (especially things like placebo, confirmation bias, Littlewood’s Law, etc.), and coming to our best shots at wise and reasonable conclusions. Only direct revelation would be circumvent this method.

        Meanwhile, a deterministic proposal that insists EVERYTHING bleeds with 100% teleology seems like a recipe for superstitious disaster, where absolutely every shape of a cloud, every nook and cranny of a coastal cliff, every mosquito bite, every sin, MUST be ENTIRELY purposeful and ancillary (not simply “from an interest,” like an interest that mostly suffers creation, but FOR a prospective interest!). Some Calvinists go this far. You and I can probably agree that this is ludicrous.

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      5. Yes, we can agree that some Calvinists do go this far, aka John Piper but he’s not alone by any means. What I can’t see from you is any sense of when this adequate determinism/compatibilism is going to ‘kick in’. Did the stone which killed Goliath suddenly become ‘compatible’ just as it entered his head?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Compatibilism refers to the fact that, under adequate determinism, we can still very meaningfully — even more meaningfully — talk about things we’re used to talking about, like free will (though specifically defined according to real or hypothetical oppressions), responsibility (though dynamic), choicemaking (though mundane), and morality (though interest-driven).

        It’s a safe bet that it was remarkably teleological for David to kill Goliath at that moment. There are any number of prior moments that could have “re-tuned” bits of the natural procession of events in order to make that come about. But we’d only be guessing.

        We do know that both the Lord and David are simultaneously credited for David’s victories in “heterophroneo” (different vantage points from which to ascribe the same events), much like the Lord’s sending Joseph to Egypt.

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      7. stanrock writes, “…God does not micromanage things, as a function of his interests….”

        I don’t think God can avoid micromanaging everything since He basically has an interest in everything that happens. We read of God sustaining all things. Unless we say that God has no purpose in what He does, we conclude that God sustains things because He has a purpose for doing so and God does say that He works all things according to the purpose of His will. (Ephesians 1) Paul refers to “God’s eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3) In Philippians, “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Hebrews 6, “God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”

        What might we identify for which God has no purpose?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. There are innumerable events that are “squashed” by other forces and don’t have a significant effect on anything. Inconsequential events cannot be loaded with consequential intent by definition. Rather, we say that these are FROM God’s interests, specifically his interests in suffering the natural processes of Creation. He sustains Creation but he isn’t wildly thrashing it about — public miracles are extremely rare, even in Scripture — nor is he snapping his fingers and ending all suffering in an instant. This reality must reference interests in his interest set.

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      9. “…who don’t have much to say which is original….”

        Rarely does anyone say anything original in these discussions. Pastor Flowers has an active imagination and says things that are original (making one wonder why no one else thought to say such things over the last 2,000 years).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. The problem lies in what God commanded to lots for. Piper did not suggest the the lot was to know what moral decision to make. His emphasis was on the fact that the lot is not random but its outcome is Gods decision.

    You are addressing an argument Piper never made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He referenced that verse to answer the question “Does God predetermine humans sin” in the affirmative, remember?

      In other words, if God determined the casting of lots He must equally determine the evil choices of man.

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “In other words, if God determined the casting of lots He must equally determine the evil choices of man.”

        As sovereign, God has the final say on all events whether it is the way lots (or dice) land or a person pursues his sinful desires without interference from Him. God did not let Joseph’s brothers kill him but determined that they should sell Joseph to the save traders because He wanted Joseph in Egypt.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “In other words, stupid people making bad decisions in unGodly ways, like casting lots, won’t keep God from accomplishing His ultimate purpose.”

    You cant have it both ways. God commanded foolishness according to your argument. You can’t saying casting lots is foolish and at the same time say God commanded it.

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      1. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33).
        I shouldn’t beat around the bush. I would like to know what you believe “its” refers too. Can “its” mean the “purposes of God.” or the outcome of the lot?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post here. As I was examining compatibilism on my way out of it, I often wondered, just as Piper openly confesses, how in the world God could command believers to be holy all the while determining that we struggle with besetting sins. I mean my gosh, I struggle with a lot of stuff, and in those times that I just can’t understand why I can’t beat them and I pray and pray for victory or strength or whatever, that would mean that God is determining that I struggle, pray and keep failing against his written will. To me that is outright ludicrous. And on top of that, you have directions in Scripture to expel immoral believers when it’s God who determined their immorality. That is some wacky stuff.

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    1. Gene, you should know that John Piper — indeed nearly all Calvinists — are terrible compatibilists. They’re much more like Molinists-in-denial — they want it to be both true that God micromanages everything, and yet man can have exclusive culpability for his actions (to justify certain views of Judgment).

      By contrast, under compatibilism it can be both true that creatures behave adequately deterministically, and that God does not micromanage their behavior, and that there are layers and kinds of culpability, especially according to real, authentic stewardship (that is, stewardship wherein God is NOT micromanaging behavior). Google “stanrock micromanaging” to see how the findings of chaos theory show us the way forward.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Gene Brodie, Jr. writes, “I often wondered…how in the world God could command believers to be holy all the while determining that we struggle with besetting sins.”

      When He saves us, God does not make us perfect. We still struggle with our old nature. Yet, God commands that we be holy. His expectation is that we should ask Him for help to deal with sin, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4)

      If we did not have to deal with sin and did not need to continually ask God for help, we would soon forget God. Adam and Eve talked with God in the cool of the evening, but when faced with a decision on eating the fruit, they forgot God – how hard would it have been to wait until evening to ask God about the serpent and what he was saying?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Does it conform to that which the Scriptures tell us? Calvinism conforms itself to that which the Scriptures say. Learn the Scriptures; learn Calvinism.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “Learn the Scriptures; learn Calvinism”…. as long as you believe most of God’s self-revelation in historical passages is anthropomorphic and not literal… I guess because God didn’t want to speak plainly about Himself, like the Calvinist can now explain His nature!

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      3. brianwagner writes, “…. as long as you believe most of God’s self-revelation in historical passages is anthropomorphic and not literal…”

        Oh Brian! How about writing a paper putting all the verses together that speak to God’s knowledge and tell us what verses are subordinate to what verses and why. Perhaps you, or someone else, has already done so. A citation would be sufficient in that case.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. There is no guarantee that fulfilling your request, Roger, would really help you see things differently, since you are not willing to see the reasoning of the evidence provided already. I will just let God use the normal reading of His Word to prove to you that the Calvinists have misrepresented His self-revelation by their constant appeal to “anthropomorphism” to protect their philosophical underpinnings in their theology.

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      5. Of course what you wrote conforms to the teaching of the Bible. But if I were still a Calvinist, all that would not make sense based on my commitments to compatibilism. It does however make perfect sense from a non-Calvinist point of view. That’s why I’m no longer a Calvinist.

        I completely disagree with your last sentence. I can just as easily say, “Learn the Scriptures; learn Arminianism.” At least that is how I see it, and my faith is better for it.

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  12. So Leighton, are you answering my question from many weeks ago, “Is there such a thing as chance?” Is there? IOW are there things occurring in the universe completely randomly without ANY control by God?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a pretty interesting question. Scientifically I’m not sure randomness is easy to define. The best I could come up with is “no previous state of the universe could be used to determine the outcome,” that is nothing predicts it. We have an intuitive understanding of randomness I think, as in, equal chances for so many options to actualize. With omniscience a lot of weird things happen in how we perceive linear time, though. Nothing could be random in the sense to God that he could not predict it, yet still the result could be based on nothing we could predict the result from. Einstein hated the idea of randomness in the laws of the universe, but Quantum ideas have strongly reintroduced the possibilities.

      On a side note you said above: ” In your view the person has enough revelation B/C the Spirit is convicting the world of sin…pray to the person.”

      That’s not quite how most Arminians view prevenient grace, because there is a real spiritual war going on. Grace isn’t just “out there” for everyone, because Paul said we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with principalities in heavenly places. That is, our prayers are necessary for the sufficient grace of many people to come to them.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Dizerner,

      Yes the chance question is an interesting one. I don’t know what happened to Leighton, but weeks ago and now he doesn’t answer my questions.

      Anyway, you said, “That’s not quite how most Arminians view prevenient grace, because there is a real spiritual war going on.” Well, one of the issues on this is that here and at the SBCT site I referenced, most don’t self identify as Arminians. They often say they are neither Arminians or Calvinists but Traditionalists or as Ronnie says at SBCT, Extensivists. And more than a few of them have been clear to say that there is enough revelation out there for a man to exercise his faith. When pressed about what role God has in direct action, some more will acknowledge that the Holy Spirit acts in some way (PG) but that at the end of the day, the person is in control for making his LFW decision to repent and believe. So, the question about praying to God to save someone seems like praying to one who won’t save someone like a Calvinists believes God will save someone (monergistically regenerate and irrestibally call) but rather praying to someone who leaves the final decision to man. Hence, these folks should spend their time pleading with the man, not God.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “When you say we can’t violate free will, that’s true, but you act like that’s the only thing to pray for.”

        Well, at the end of the day, that seems to be where the sticking point is. When two people are standing side by side and are presented the gospel, one is saved and one is not. Why? I think regulates at the other site and here will say it comes down to the LFW decision. One exercises to believe and the other exercises to reject…both with sufficient knowledge/truth. What else is there?

        As far as cutting off anyone from prayers for salvation, I would never do that. The invisible and unknown will of God regarding that person remains just that–invisible and unknown to me. As far as I am concerned, interestingly a Reformed person, till their dying breath anyone should be prayed for for God to save them.

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      2. Les, I’m replying to your comment above here, because for some reason my computer only have a “reply” tab below certain replies.

        wilds wanderer, I assume you work to make money to buy food so you don’t starve, right? Why? Does not the scripture tell you that God will provide everything you need? “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.”

        I do work for food, because the Bible also states that he that doesn’t work shouldn’t eat. I’m not sure exactly what point you were making. I pray because I believe prayer does carry great power (see James) and I don’t believe we live in a world where God has pre-determined everything. I’m not an open theist per say, but I try to pray like one.

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      3. wildswanderer writes, “I’m replying to your comment above here, because for some reason my computer only have a “reply” tab below certain replies.”

        You should be receiving emails of comments as they are posted. You should “click” on the “Reply” button within the email to post under the comment. The drawback is that you will find yourself at the end of the comment stream and not directly under the comment that you are addressing. Programmers will probably fix that in a future version of the software, but for now, we have to live with it. I get two tabs and switch between the email and the comment page to keep things straight.

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      4. No emails, only a notification button once I’m on wordpress. The only emails I get are when someone likes my comment or post. Yeah, I’ve done it both ways, but It’s better to see whole string of comments.

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      5. Wildswanderer,

        “I do work for food, because the Bible also states that he that doesn’t work shouldn’t eat. I’m not sure exactly what point you were making. I pray because I believe prayer does carry great power (see James)…” So I agree to this point in your sentence. I work to eat and have clothes because the bible says to. I pray for the same reason and because God has said that there is power in prayer. “you have not because you ask not.” ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” And such.

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    3. Yes, I’d say Traditionalists have significant differences with Classical Arminians.

      When you say we can’t violate free will, that’s true, but you act like that’s the only thing to pray for. We pray that the person be brought to see the truth and freed to make a decision. Sure, I’d love for God to override the will, I’ve just never believed he does. I’ve spent as much time praying for the lost as anyone, but I’ve never once prayed their will be overrode. If someone makes a once for all decision to reject Christ, with full knowledge that he is real and everything he offers, I would never think God would violate that. I would cut that person off from my prayers. But I hardly ever know if and when that has happened, so it is still incumbent on me to pray. I don’t know why that seems so strange to monergists. The world is not just people + God. There is a real Satan in the world doing his best to steal, kill and destroy. I’d say we both agree God has established prayer as a means he uses. I think monergists find free will unsettling, to be honest, as much as we find determinism unsettling.

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    4. Yes, but Prouty now you are just saying things that directly contradict the Bible. Sometimes I think people spend so much time on bulletin boards discussing doctrines, they think that replaces actual Bible reading. You seem like a sincere Christian and a good guy, but I can’t just accept something that directly contradicts the Bible—and you shouldn’t either.

      Point #1 God directly says many times in Scripture both not to pray for someone and that there is no more grace for someone, they have committed the unpardonable sin. Now in your scheme that’s just God’s plan, that people would “think” a person could be saved then find out they committed an unpardonable sin. At one point in the OT God says 3 of the most righteous men interceding wouldn’t change his mind. He tells Jeremiah “do not pray for this people” (oh but “Reformed” folk know better than God). Jezebel was given a space of time to repent (which makes no sense if she was predetermined by God not to).

      Point #2 The Bible talks of a massive amount of factors besides free will. There are demonic forces and spiritual blindness and temptations and deceptions. It is true in Christ’s time people could simply see miracles and Christ said that was a sufficient witness to them. But not everyone gets to see a miracle and it’s incredibly unrealistic of you to think that unbelief is not a serious problem people have. How can you “choose” something you don’t even know is real or believe in? How is that not an incredibly serious and vital issue for making a choice? You’re not even playing remotely fair on that base.

      I’m frustrated and saddened by the obvious lack of serious time spent in meditation and living in the Scriptures that comes through your post. I mean no offense. I pray this will be a wake up call for you. I’m sure you will just repeat again a mantra about “free will is all that matters, we Reformed folk never give up praying” and unbiblical things like that and maybe go back to watching a show about demonic zombies eating people… I don’t want to subject myself to things that consistently deny Scripture.

      I pray the Lord have mercy on us both and open our eyes to what we need to see. Regards.

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      1. Dizerner, first, you have no way to know/presume how much time in meditation on and in the scriptures and how much I live the scriptures. Let’s leave the attempts at personal knowledge of each other out of this discussion.

        Second, neither you nor I nor anyone else but God can know if/when a person has committed the unpardonable sin (with disputed interpretations anyway). An example where one is told by God to do or not do something is a shaky place to build a theological position and declare that we have the charge from God to cease praying for the salvation of anyone.

        Point #2, I agree there are more factors in play. That’s my point. The non Cals I reference seem to reduce it to LFW in essence.

        Thanks, but I really don’t need a wake up call about Reformed theology. If I say that “free will is al that matters” it is in reference to the LFW proponents I cited and the real underbelly of the synergistic position.

        “I pray the Lord have mercy on us both and open our eyes to what we need to see. Regards.” I agree.

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  13. Well Leighton, you have started an interesting discussion! 🙂 I agree that with your interpretation of Prov 16:33, but not with your evaluation of God’s use of lots in the OT or its use for the confirmation of Matthias in the NT. God commanded that the promise land should be divided among the tribes by lot, which would correspond with His desire for them to recognize His decision in which portion each tribe should get (cf. Acts 17:26).

    Numbers 26:55 “But the land shall be divided by lot. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. 56Their inheritance shall be divided according to lot between the larger and the smaller.”

    Joshua 14:1 “These are the inheritances that the people of Israel received in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel gave them to inherit. 2Their inheritance was by lot, just as the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes.”

    And Paul was an apostle like Barnabas also was… they had been witnesses of the resurrection. (cf. Acts 14:4, 14) But Matthias was numbered among the twelve even by Paul (cf. Acts 6:4, 1Cor 12:5). I think Matthias’ name will be on one of the foundations of the New Jerusalem! 🙂

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    1. I was specifically taking issue with piper’s application of proverbs 1633 with regard to man’s moral decisions. If God makes a direct command for someone to cast a lot (which was typically done by way of oath, i.e. We agree to abide by this means of settling a dispute) in order to divide evenly one’s property or to pick a animal for sacrifice, then they are acting in accordance with God’s direct command, not blind fate or superstitious gambling.

      The tossing a coin before a football game to see who gets the ball first is not deciding a moral decision but simply helping one to make a choice that doesn’t matter either way ultimately. The coin is not meant to decide the outcome of the game. In the same way the casting of the lot is not determining God’s will or purposes, which will be accomplished regardless of how the dice happen to land.

      This is the same parallel as the earlier passages which speak of men devising their own plans while God still accomplishes his ultimate purposes, sometimes despite and sometimes by means of those human plans.

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      1. I think you’re absolutely correct with how you’re removing “definitely teleological” from these things, which Piper and many other Calvinists erroneously impute. You’re also absolutely correct that when God chooses to employ/mandate devices of man (whether casting lots or sacrifices), they are then certainly teleological (I mean, duh). I think folks trying to nail you for “inconsistency” on those points are very much awry.

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      2. Pastor Flowers writes, “…the casting of the lot is not determining God’s will or purposes, which will be accomplished regardless of how the dice happen to land.”

        As Brian noted, there are occasions where the casting of lots was done specifically to gain God’s will in a situation versus people deciding on their own – we take the outcome to be that which God determined. Nonetheless, any time lots are thrown, dice are dropped, lottery numbers drawn, it is God who determines the outcome and that to accomplish His purposes even though the people involved do not engage in lots or dice or lotteries as a means of determining God’s will. It might be interesting if lottery officials always sought God’s will in the drawing of lottery numbers and the winners always considering that God has determined them to win.

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  14. I think we should cast lots to see if God has determined for this conversation about His determination of casting lots should continue or not! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Of course, nothing in Prov 16:33 indicates that all of God’s determinations were made before creation… and Leighton has adequately shown that even if God does determine ahead of time the results of the lots thrown, He can still control the outcome of man’s reaction to the lots thrown in a different direction if He so wills! In my view, it is not immoral or impossible for God to change conditional aspects of His plan, based on man’s reaction to the revelation of His will, for His will encompasses various free choices for Himself and man that are true possibilities of things not yet determined.

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    1. brianwagner writes, “I think we should cast lots to see if God has determined for this conversation about His determination of casting lots should continue or not!”

      Do you think we would be on solid Scriptural grounds to do so? I am inclined to think that we would not. In Proverbs, God tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” If proper to apply this proverb to the discussions here, then God has revealed His will on this matter, and we need not cast lots.

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      1. I was making a tongue-in-cheek remark… thus the three smiley faces! But it is important to determine if iron is sharpening iron, or if the sin of the flesh of debating is taking place, or if strife is being engendered by foolish and unlearned questions, or if disputations about doubtful things is keeping us from receiving one another as Christ has received us!

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      2. brianwagner writes, “I was making a tongue-in-cheek remark… thus the three smiley faces! ”

        It was a teachable moment. Given the range of knowledge, freedom to study, etc., of people, I think it difficult to identify anything as “…disputations about doubtful things…” Sometimes people just have to be straightened out – not in what they believe but what they attribute to others. That can be tedious.

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    2. brianwagner writes, ” In my view, it is not immoral or impossible for God to change conditional aspects of His plan, based on man’s reaction to the revelation of His will, for His will encompasses various free choices for Himself and man that are true possibilities of things not yet determined.”

      Omniscience is not an issue here. Operating only in the present, God has the final say on every action of every person through His action or inaction (as stanrock noted elsewhere). Consequently, man’s free choices are subordinate to God’s, with man being restrained by God (not free) or left unrestrained by God (free). God decides/determines the outcome by His action/inaction.

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      1. God doesn’t actually decide and determine anything in time in the Calvinistic system, for it is already all determined and He is just allowing it to play out as it was predetermined. To keep using the present tense of these words, decide and determine is very misleading, though you may think you are justified to do so, because you think God used the present tense of these words in Scripture even though He really did not mean the actual decision was being made in time, the decision from before creation was just being revealed in time. Why God spoke so deceptively and didn’t just tell the readers of Scripture the truth about His predetermination of all things, the Calvinist has no good answer.

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      2. brianwagner writes, “God doesn’t actually decide and determine anything in time in the Calvinistic system, for it is already all determined and He is just allowing it to play out as it was predetermined. To keep using the present tense of these words, decide and determine is very misleading, though you may think you are justified to do so, because you think God used the present tense of these words in Scripture even though He really did not mean the actual decision was being made in time, the decision from before creation was just being revealed in time. Why God spoke so deceptively and didn’t just tell the readers of Scripture the truth about His predetermination of all things, the Calvinist has no good answer.”

        It is an accommodation for you since you can’t deal with God being eternally omniscient. In your world, God still determines all things by virtue of His knowing all things in the present and being sovereign. That God determines all things cannot be disputed. That He did this in eternity past doesn’t change anything so it’s a non-issue. The Scriptures often speak of God acting in the course of time simply because those things He has determined manifest in the course of time. No deception.

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      3. I’m sorry you can’t see, Roger, or do see but will not concede, that the “accommodation” you proposed undermines Scriptures’ authority to present God as speaking plainly.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “…the “accommodation” you proposed undermines Scriptures’ authority to present God as speaking plainly.”

        Oh Brian!!!! The “accommodation” merely recognizes that you have issues with omniscience, but this is not a hindrance to your thinking regarding God’s determination of all things. Even you allow God to know all things present (presumably the same way God comes to know future events – at the least, by observation if not determination). Because God knows all things present, God necessarily determines every immediate future event because God has the final say in every decision that is made. When Joseph’s brothers thought to kill Joseph, God restrained them. Then, God directed a caravan of slave traders to pass by and when the brothers sought to sell Joseph to them, God did not intervene to restrain them. So it is that God determines all outcomes either by restraining a decision by man or not restraining a decision. Man’s will is always subordinate to God’s will.

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      5. “Determines” is anthropomorphism at its finest! Calvinism should only say “determined”, but even that is an anthropomorphism, but they won’t admit it. For to determine means a change in thinking from something not determined to something determined, and raw Calvinism does not allow for any change in God’s mind! They keep dancing away from the normal meaning of words or misusing them, undermining the authority of Scripture to establish their own theology!

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  15. wilds wanderer, I’m moving down here. Too difficult to find the reply place.

    “Where in scripture does it say that Judas had to be the one to betray Jesus?”

    Acts 1:16-20
    Psalm 41:9——Matthew 26:14, 48-49
    Zech. 11:12-13——Natt. 27:3-5

    Exit questions: Did Jesus know beforehand that it would be Jesus?

    Was it predetermined by God that Jesus would be betrayed?

    If yes, could any ol’ person have wandered in to perform the betrayal? Again if yes, was it random that it was Judas?

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    1. Well, Brian has already answered this far more eloquently then I could, but…these OT passages never mention Judas by name. Anyone who was a friend and broke bread with Jesus could have betrayed him. I have no problem with the world of simple foreknowledge or God making his plans by taking into account what men will do. Basically, the same theory applies to Open Theism, only there, He just makes His plans more or less on a moment my moment basis. At best, you can argue that by creating Judas, God was predetermining his destruction, but then, that argument would have to apply to anyone who, by his own free will, rejected God’s leading. Since scripture makes it plain that God doesn’t will anyone’s destruction, I have to conclude, that God’s will for Judas was salvation, but God knew Judas would harden his heart and reject Him, so just like the hardened Jews, God used that rejection to bring grace to others.

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      1. wildswanderer writes, “Anyone who was a friend and broke bread with Jesus could have betrayed him….but God knew Judas would harden his heart and reject Him, so just like the hardened Jews, God used that rejection to bring grace to others.”

        There is more to it than that. “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.” (Luke 22) Then, “Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him…” (John 13)

        So, can Satan enter Judas on his own or only at God’s decree? Could Satan have entered the garden on his own or only by God’s decree? Could Satan have tempted David to number Israel on his own or only by God’s decree? Could Stan have any power over Job if not decreed by God? The answer is surely that God holds Satan on a lease and Satan does nothing but that which God decrees.

        The question is when did God decide when and how to use Satan. Calvinists say God decided before He created the universe.

        Baptists are fond of telling people that “God has a plan for your life.” Baptists believe that God is a god of purpose who has planned for the lives of believers and everything else that happens. Nothing that happens is a surprise to God and God does not ad hoc that which He does.

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      2. Satan enters when one allows him to enter. Making Satan God’s assistant so to speak does not jibe with scripture. God doesn’t have to decree what Satan does. He only has to allow it, so people have a choice between good and evil. Jesus casts Satan out-is God working against Himself and ordering Satan to enter people so God can cast him out?
        Nothing is surprise to God, but it does not follow that God wants or decrees evil. All that is good comes down from the Father, the bad is chosen by corrupt people and fallen angels, who are going directly against God’s will.

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      3. Deborah writes, “Thank you, WW, for those words of truth.”

        Deborah needs to get words of truth from the Scriptures and not men. WW has no idea what he is talking about.

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      4. wildswanderer writes, “Satan enters when one allows him to enter.”

        The unsaved have no such power over Satan. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4) “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2) “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6) “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” (1 Corinthians 12) “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” (Galatians 4)

        Believers are protected from Satan by God’s spirit. “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2)

        Then, “Making Satan God’s assistant so to speak does not jibe with scripture. God doesn’t have to decree what Satan does. He only has to allow it, so people have a choice between good and evil. Jesus casts Satan out-is God working against Himself and ordering Satan to enter people so God can cast him out?”

        We learn of Satan’s subjection to God in Job. God never passively “allows” Satan to do anything. God actively “allows” Satan to act which means that Satan can only do that which God decrees he do. God decreed that Satan rule the world on Adam’s sin. Christ tossed Satan out of people to demonstrate His power and control over Satan and show that He is God.

        Then, “Nothing is surprise to God, but it does not follow that God wants or decrees evil. All that is good comes down from the Father, the bad is chosen by corrupt people and fallen angels, who are going directly against God’s will.”

        By virtue of being sovereign, nothing can happen unless God decree it to happen. Of course, the unsaved and fallen angels challenge God and refuse to obey His laws – that part of God’s will where God gives men and fallen angels freedom to choose.

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      5. “By virtue of being sovereign, nothing can happen unless God decree it to happen. Of course, the unsaved and fallen angels challenge God and refuse to obey His laws –that part of God’s will where God gives men and fallen angels freedom to choose.”

        Good luck embracing your contradiction there. Reading scripture in context, we find that people really do defy God’s commands quite often.
        God’s sovereignty is not expressed by controlling everything that happens, rather God shows us who He really is when he lays aside his power and becomes one of us to know us better.

        “We learn of Satan’s subjection to God in Job. God never passively “allows” Satan to do anything.”

        Only that isn’t what Job teaches us.
        First, God asks where Satan has come from, and Satan gives a wise guy reply about roaming to and fro on the earth. Are we to suppose that this means God was holding a lease and controlling Satan’s actions? Hardly sounds like it. Satan had to ask permission why? “9“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?”
        It is a huge leap to assume here that God puts a hedge around every person who believes in such a way that Satan can not reach him or her. In fact, if that were the case, Christians would never fall away into sin.
        The book of Job isn’t about God saying “Shut up, I’m in control here.” It’s about God’s faithfulness to come through in the end for those who truly love him.

        Do you believe every non-believer is demon-possessed? If not, then why are some? Because they have allowed him entry through their actions: “Satan enters when one allows him to enter.”

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      6. “The reason the Son of God came was to destroy the devil’s works.”. I guess Jesus’ best friend John doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Roger. Doesn’t sound like he believes Satan is a servant of God! Maybe God has given him a copy of the Institutes and he is being informed in heaven.

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      7. Deborah writes, ““The reason the Son of God came was to destroy the devil’s works.”. I guess Jesus’ best friend John doesn’t know what he’s talking about,”

        Jesus died on the cross to procure the salvation of God’s elect (whosoever believes of John 3:16).

        Satan still owns the non-elect (unless you are an Universalist).

        John knew exactly what he was talking about – as he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write – and laid it all out.

        Luke 10 provides insight to your citation:

        17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
        18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
        19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
        20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

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      8. wildswanderer writes, “Reading scripture in context, we find that people really do defy God’s commands quite often.”

        This is because God has decreed that people be free to disobey His commands. It is God’s will that people be free to choose to obey Him and free to disobey Him if they so choose.

        Then, “God’s sovereignty is not expressed by controlling everything that happens,…”

        God has the final say on everything that happens – such is His sovereignty.

        Then, “…rather God shows us who He really is when he lays aside his power and becomes one of us to know us better.”

        When God took the form of a man, He did not stop being God in heaven. God and Jesus are two unique persons. Jesus laid aside His power when He came to earth to live as one of us; God did not lay aside His power in that process.

        The, “God asks where Satan has come from, and Satan gives a wise guy reply about roaming to and fro on the earth. Are we to suppose that this means God was holding a lease and controlling Satan’s actions? Hardly sounds like it. Satan had to ask permission why? “9“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?”

        What’s the issue – Satan does nothing except that which God decrees as illustrated in your comment.

        Then, “The book of Job isn’t about God saying “Shut up, I’m in control here.” It’s about God’s faithfulness to come through in the end for those who truly love him.”

        It’s about both.

        Finally, “Do you believe every non-believer is demon-possessed? If not, then why are some? Because they have allowed him entry through their actions: “Satan enters when one allows him to enter.”

        “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 2)

        “you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2)

        Only a person of great pride – would say, “Satan enters when one allows him to enter.” “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16)

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      9. “It is God’s will that people be free to choose to obey Him and free to disobey Him if they so choose.”
        Why not cut to the chase and just admit that your theology does not allow for this to be possible? Because there are no true choices in determinism. It makes no difference if God is directly forcing you to make a certain choice or moving all the pieces on the board so you have only that choice. The choice is already made for you.
        Yes, unbelievers are sinful because they listen to Satan. But, there is a real difference between someone who actively invites Satan in and one who is only blind to his sin.
        I think you missed my point, deliberately perhaps, about Job. Satan had to ask permission because God had put a special wall around Job. This should not lead us to conclude that Satan has to ask permission every time he tempts or attacks someone. Job’s friends had a nice and tidy systematic theology-“Hey, Job, you sinned, God’s punishing you.” But, neither they nor Job understood that God was not, and never did punish him, and that what we think we know is actually only seeing through a glass darkly. And Job got a lot wrong too, thinking God was the cause of his suffering. None of them could see that there was a cosmic battle behind the scenes that doesn’t fit into any tidy systematic theology. For example, it doesn’t fit into a system that says God’s sovereignty has to be about complete control. God can allow truly free choices and still be all powerful. God doesn’t determine what sins we will commit, we decide, and putting the blame on God in any way is to demean His holiness.

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      10. I said, “It is God’s will that people be free to choose to obey Him and free to disobey Him if they so choose.”
        WW responded, “Why not cut to the chase and just admit that your theology does not allow for this to be possible?”

        God decreed that Adam and Eve be free to choose to eat the fruit. God released Satan into the garden knowing that he would get Eve to eat the fruit and Eve would get Adam to eat. God decreed all this by His actions in releasing Satan to tempt Eve and in doing nothing while first Eve and then Adam ate the fruit. It is God who has the last say on anything that happens and God’s decisions on what He will do determine the end result – even to approving the free will decisions of people to sin. You seem to have a distorted view of determinism.

        Then, “Because there are no true choices in determinism.”

        Maybe you could explain how Adam and Eve did not have free will even though their sin was determined by God.

        Then, “It makes no difference if God is directly forcing you to make a certain choice or moving all the pieces on the board so you have only that choice. The choice is already made for you.”

        Unless you want to deny that God knew the choices that Adam and Eve would make before they made them (omniscience) this is nonsense. As WLCraig has shown, God’s foreknowledge of the future does not cause the future.

        Then, “Yes, unbelievers are sinful because they listen to Satan. But, there is a real difference between someone who actively invites Satan in and one who is only blind to his sin.”

        Very few people, believers and unbelievers would say that they invite Satan in or even listen to him. As a general rule, no one has an inkling as to what Satan is doing with them. How able some real life examples to illustrtae what you are trying to say.

        Then, “I think you missed my point, deliberately perhaps, about Job. Satan had to ask permission because God had put a special wall around Job. This should not lead us to conclude that Satan has to ask permission every time he tempts or attacks someone.”

        Of course, we can. Satan can do nothing unless God decrees it. God is sovereign; Satan is not.

        Then,”God doesn’t determine what sins we will commit, we decide, and putting the blame on God in any way is to demean His holiness.”

        God determines all sin; God does not cause any person to sin. God is responsible, but cannot be blamed.

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      11. Nice circular reasoning. God decrees all your desires so you can do nothing but what you end up doing, yet you claim man still has free will. No he doesn’t, he only has the illusion of free will in your scenario. No, God’s foreknowledge does not cause the future in the arminian world. In the Calvinists world, God cannot see the future unless he decrees it, otherwise, there is no future to see.

        “God determines all sin; God does not cause any person to sin. God is responsible, but cannot be blamed.”
        This is just gibberish and double talk. If God determines it, it has to happen, so yes, he causes it.

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      12. wildswanderer writes, “Nice circular reasoning. God decrees all your desires so you can do nothing but what you end up doing, yet you claim man still has free will. No he doesn’t, he only has the illusion of free will in your scenario. No, God’s foreknowledge does not cause the future in the arminian world. In the Calvinists world, God cannot see the future unless he decrees it, otherwise, there is no future to see.

        I don’t think you understand the concept of sovereignty.

        So, how does the Arminian explain God’s knowledge of the future?

        I said, “God determines all sin; God does not cause any person to sin. God is responsible, but cannot be blamed.”
        WW responded, “This is just gibberish and double talk. If God determines it, it has to happen, so yes, he causes it.”

        That God determines all things does not mean that God causes all things. That is the force of sovereignty.

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      13. Sovereign:
        noun
        1.
        a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler.
        2.
        a person who has supreme power or authority.
        3.
        a group or body of persons or a state having sovereign authority.

        having supreme rank, power, or authority.

        supreme; preeminent; indisputable:
        a sovereign right.

        greatest in degree; utmost or extreme.

        being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc.

        The natural meaning of sovereignty is not decreeing every firing of every synapse in every creature’s brains, it’s being the supreme ruler with the freedom to use power or refrain from using it.

        “So, how does the Arminian explain God’s knowledge of the future?”

        “SF adherents maintain that God’s foreknowledge is contingent on our existence. God knows what we will do because we will do it. God’s knowing isn’t the source of our doing. Rather, our doing is the source of God’s knowing. SF adherents believe that it is meaningless to speak of God knowing the actions of creatures that never exist. It’s also meaningless to speak of God knowing what we would do in different situations that don’t actually exist. If an actual situation doesn’t exist, there is nothing for God to know about it.”.. according to simple foreknowledge, God knew what humanity would do only after he made a decision to create us.
        https://wesleyanarminian.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/an-explanation-of-simple-foreknowledge/

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      14. wildswanderer writes, “The natural meaning of sovereignty is not decreeing every firing of every synapse in every creature’s brains, it’s being the supreme ruler with the freedom to use power or refrain from using it.”

        You got the right definition. Then you write the above. You really don’t understand the concept of sovereignty.

        Then, ““SF adherents maintain that God’s foreknowledge is contingent on our existence. God knows what we will do because we will do it. ”

        Simple foreknowledge is simple; it doesn’t try to explain how God knows the future. People run to simple foreknowledge because they cannot figure out a way for God to know the future and they really, really don’t want the Calvinists to be right. To their credit, they say that God does not come by this knowledge by looking into the future to learn what happens.

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      15. Seems to me SF just acknowledges that God’s omniscience doesn’t have strings attached.
        The deterministic definition of sovereignty makes God’s decrees rule over Him, not the other way around.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. wildswanderer writes, “Seems to me SF just acknowledges that God’s omniscience doesn’t have strings attached.”

        Kind of. No strings means that it doesn’t get into the strings – not that there are no strings to ponder. Simple foreknowledge says that God knows and I don’t care how He knows.

        Then, “The deterministic definition of sovereignty makes God’s decrees rule over Him, not the other way around.”

        That which God decrees becomes binding on Him, so in that sense, God’s decrees rule over Him. However, as God is the source of His decrees, we have God binding Himself to do as He has decreed. So, what is your issue here??

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      17. “So, what is your issue here??”

        Numerous scriptures that indicate that God can and does change His mind in some sense, for one thing. It might not make sense in my mind, but I take those scriptures to mean what they say.

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      18. wildswanderer writes, “Numerous scriptures that indicate that God can and does change His mind in some sense, for one thing. It might not make sense in my mind, but I take those scriptures to mean what they say.”

        That’s fine. What does that have to do with God being sovereign and ruling His creation? That God “changes His mind” does not mean that He does not decree the outcome. I do not understand the point you want to make.

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  16. Good morning Les. I offer some thoughts to your question for WW. I concede the use of Peter of “Judas” in his explanation of the fulfillment of Acts 1:16-20 is in your favor and would infer a genetic manipulation, at least from David’s day forward, to get the exact Judas of the Gospels. That, of course, would infer a predetermination of so many things that you might as well say everything was predetermined. But I believe Peter’s comments are not meant to be technical theologically but practical, and his use of Judas’ name is just anachronistic for a prophecy that was very generic. The other two predictions do not apply to or infer to a needed predetermination of anything in between their prediction and fulfillment.

    As for your “exit questions” – “Did Jesus know beforehand that it would be Judas?” I believe it was revealed to Him probably when He chose Judas as a disciple that Judas would be the betrayer. He did know the OT prediction that a friend would be the betrayer.

    “Was it predetermined by God that Jesus would be betrayed?” Yes… as noted in the prediction made by David in Ps 41.

    “If yes, could any ol’ person have wandered in to perform the betrayal?” Not “wandered in”, but as I mentioned earlier in our conversation, there were others in Jesus’ day who had freely rejected God’s mercy for their salvation that could also have been fitted as a vessel of destruction to fulfill this role that was predetermined for betraying the Messiah.

    “Again if yes, was it random that it was Judas?” It was “random” until God made the decision during the first century, after Judas had rejected His mercy, to choose him to be the one to fulfill the prediction made in Psalm 41.

    I don’t mind Les if you do not end up agreeing with me. I believe God, before creation, was able to predetermine all things the way you believe He has. That view is not unreasonable when talking about God’s nature. It just does not seem to fit with the normal reading of Scriptures with all its conditional statements, universal invitations and warnings, and verses about God still making decisions. I wonder if you believe God, before creation, was ABLE not to predetermine all things, leaving some things open as possibilities for His free will to choose between, and also for man’s free will.

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    1. Thanks Brian for your very thoughtful reply. At the end, we will continue in disagreement on this matter. I do think that the so called historic view of omniscience fits better with scripture, even with “conditional statements, universal invitations and warnings, and verses about God still making decisions.” Others and I as well appeal to anthropomorphic language which surely exists in scripture.

      If I may, I would like to close with a few simple statements from scripture, scriptures you surely are familiar with.

      John 21:17: ““Lord, You know all things.”

      1 John 3:20: “for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.”
      Isaiah 46:10: “Declaring the end from the beginning,
      And from ancient times things which have not been done”

      Acts 27: 21-25. God assured Paul that he and all on the ship would be saved in the storm. None would be lost. How could God assure that if He did not know it beforehand? Did He know that Paul would actually convey the message to the ship crew? Could one of the are have disbelieved Paul and of his own free will jumped overboard and been lost at sea? How can this be if God does did not have full knowledge of how Paul and the crew would react?

      God even knows our thoughts before we think them, right? And He knows what we will say before we say it, right? Psalm 139.

      Brian, I do think that your open view makes a mess of scripture. The uncertainty you attribute to God and His plans and working out of all things according to His purpose, well, really makes all things uncertain. Even the particular details given in scripture concerning the passion of our Lord. Under your view, we have a God we cannot trust or count on. And to that idea, I and scores and scores of thousands of theologians, and scores and scores of millions of believers through the ages have said, no thanks. The plain reading of scripture is that our God knows all things–the past, present and future. That describes a God whom we can trust.

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      1. Thanks Les for the interaction. You’ll have to wonder if the original readers of the Scriptures thought there was so much “anthropomorphism” especially in historical passages. Also, I believe all the passages you listed but would affirm like you would I am sure that words have breadth of meaning which must be determined by context.

        The word “know” is such a word for sure. Have you considered how verses like 1John 2:20 must be taken into account to determine what “omniscience” means? 1John 2:20 – “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.”

        I do not think there is a problem with maintaining “infinite understanding” as the biblical definition of omniscience without having everything in the future known as predetermined, but the future fully known as it has been designed to be… partly determined and partly still open with fully understood possibilities.

        The promise to save those on Paul’s ship must have been conditional based on Paul’s later warning – vs. 31 – Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” And the Psalmist is using the word “know” to mean “understand” in 139:4 in my view, for God knows all our thoughts that we might speak and understands all our motives behind anything we might choose to speak.

        I trust my God fully because of His infinite understanding and love and justice, no matter what He or I or others freely choose from among the things not yet predetermined. But for the Calvinist, trust and non-trust are already predetermined, so that argument becomes a mute point, in my view.

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    2. brianwagner writes, “That, of course, would infer a predetermination of so many things that you might as well say everything was predetermined.”

      As you allow that God knows all future possibilities, it is within God’s power to predetermine all things. To this, you agree, ” I believe God, before creation, was able to predetermine all things the way you believe He has.” The issue is whether God actually does so. Here, we could start with Ephesians 1, “…God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…” and begin to build the argument that God does this. When you say, “…so many things…,” there is the flavor of human inadequacy to do such, but of course, such is nothing to God who is able to direct the path of every atom and molecule, all at the same time, with the ease with which we get in our car and drive down the street keeping the car under control all the way.

      Then you ask, “I wonder if you believe God, before creation, was ABLE not to predetermine all things, leaving some things open as possibilities for His free will to choose between, and also for man’s free will.”

      To which we might then ask, to what purpose? Doing such has no impact on God’s free will since it does not matter whether God “chooses” to do X in eternity past or today – His choice is based on the same information either way. The real issue is the impact on man’s free will. How is man’s free will influenced by God’s decisions if God delays making those decisions? It would help if you had some examples – even from the Scriptures (which would be pretty neat).

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      1. Roger… I had given examples of God making decisions, even delay to in our discussions before! Do a study of the word “choose” and see all the present tense references that Calvinist have to say are “anthropomorphic” since they cannot have God actually making decisions, if all were previously made.

        Did I hear you conceding that it is logically possible for God to wait to make decisions?

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      2. brianwagner writes, “I had given examples of God making decisions, even delay to in our discussions before! Do a study of the word “choose” and see all the present tense references that Calvinist have to say are “anthropomorphic” since they cannot have God actually making decisions, if all were previously made.”

        The issue is not God making decisions. It is whether the making of a decision has a different effect if God makes the decision today versus eternity past. Technically, God makes the same decision either way as He uses the same information in each case. It would help if you could take one of the examples you have already cited and explain the difference between God making the decision in eternity past or waiting to make it. You say, “…they cannot have God actually making decisions, if all were previously made.” Does this mean that waiting to make a decision has some import?

        brianwagner writes, “Did I hear you conceding that it is logically possible for God to wait to make decisions?”

        Not exactly. I am not sure God would actually wait or how that works with God. I see it as God essentially knowing the decision He will make and then saying to Himself, “I think I’ll wait until officially announcing the decision.” Can God really not consider everything all at once? Maybe, you can sort out how God’s mind works.

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      3. Roger, if the Scripture reads that God is making the decision, I wouldn’t think, based on context, that such a revelation actually means God is just “officially announcing the decision” that He already made before creation.

        You ask – “Can God really not consider everything all at once? Maybe, you can sort out how God’s mind works.” To which I reply, Doesn’t Scripture reveal only that God thinks sequentially, and can’t we just accept as true whatever God has revealed about His mind, even if we cannot sort out totally how it works?

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      4. brianwagner writes, “if the Scripture reads that God is making the decision, I wouldn’t think, based on context, that such a revelation actually means God is just “officially announcing the decision” that He already made before creation.”

        Maybe it’s a matter of translation. Perhaps the sense is that God is said to be making a decision in order to gain a particular response.

        However the text seems to portray God, it is still true that God knew from eternity past all the possibilities for the universe He would create and He had a full and complete understanding of all those possibilities. From eternity past to the point where God is said to decide, no new information becomes available to God. Given that God knows all possibilities, He knows what He will do in response to all possibilities and then His decisions create even more possibilities. If God did not know how He would respond to a person making decision X, then there would be no decision and no possibilities generated by God’s decision and this would deny that God knows all possibilities.

        Then, “You ask – “Can God really not consider everything all at once? Maybe, you can sort out how God’s mind works.” To which I reply, Doesn’t Scripture reveal only that God thinks sequentially, and can’t we just accept as true whatever God has revealed about His mind, even if we cannot sort out totally how it works?”

        Scripture also tells us of God that “my thoughts are not your thoughts” and then that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Thinking sequentially is common to finite minds. Should we limit the infinite mind of God to just thinking sequentially or just allow that He can do it?

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      5. Two more things, Roger, and you can have the final word for this round. You said – “If God did not know how He would respond to a person making decision X, then there would be no decision and no possibilities generated by God’s decision and this would deny that God knows all possibilities.” We have discussed already, that in my view God is not limited to knowing and choosing only one possible response for each decision X made by any person. And even if that limitation existed, He would still have to wait to see which decision X is chosen by any other person before enacting His predetermined choice for each one. If that is the kind of future you are proposing, then it is still partly open, in that all the specific X’s are not known as settled but only possible in God’s mind until they become settled.

        And second – Sequential thought is what thinking is by definition. The verses you gave about God’s thought being different in that they are “higher” does not necessarily point to any ontological difference. The idea of non-sequential thinking for God would require a more clear Scripture revelation for proof, and would also have to deal with the law of non-contradiction for God’s thoughts to be both sequential and non-sequential at the same time.

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      6. brianwagner writes, “You said – “If God did not know how He would respond to a person making decision X, then there would be no decision and no possibilities generated by God’s decision and this would deny that God knows all possibilities.” We have discussed already, that in my view God is not limited to knowing and choosing only one possible response for each decision X made by any person. And even if that limitation existed, He would still have to wait to see which decision X is chosen by any other person before enacting His predetermined choice for each one. If that is the kind of future you are proposing, then it is still partly open,…”

        I don’t see that multiple responses to an event changes anything. One of those responses would be the optimal response – most wise and accomplishing God’s purpose. So, you need the potential responses to be equal in the sense that God would be indifferent between the two and could flip a coin to decide what He would do. That’s an interesting situation, but there is no reason to think it would be the usual case. Also, there is no reason for us to think that God would be incapable of choosing the response He would make in eternity past since He makes a decision if He waits. So, in those rare instances where two (or more) essentially indistinguishable responses exist, there is no reason why God could not be able to decide which response to make reducing this to a one response issue. Even with multiple possible responses, the information available to God does not change under your system. That is why the Open Theists concluded that they had to deny God knowledge of some possibilities in the future, allowing Him to gain new information that would affect a different decision. I think you will eventually have to go there, also.

        However, you are avoiding a key issue that comes with waiting. That is to identify how a decision by God to wait affects some “difference” in events that would occur with God making the decision in eternity past. If there is no difference, then waiting is superfluous and it does nothing for your argument – which, I think, is that waiting somehow fosters free will.

        Then, “Sequential thought is what thinking is by definition.”

        Sequential thinking is logical thinking. It is the way people think. This comes up often in Calvinist discussions where God is said to think simultaneously but this still allows for a logical order to what God thinks. For example, God may be said to regenerate a person and simultaneously that person receives faith and believes. In God’s mind the two occur together, but logically we can say that regeneration precedes faith (or that faith precedes regeneration).

        So, what does God mean when He says that His thoughts are not human thoughts. It says that there is a difference, a difference resulting form the infinite mind of God and the finite mind of man. That difference does not have to be an either/or difference for God – sequential or not sequential. God can think sequentially, simultaneously, or some other way that we cannot imagine. It is difficult to conceive of that which God is capable because we are finite and He is not.

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      7. I guess, Roger, we will continue to disagree on the meaning of “perfect”, or as you said this time, “optimal”, which limits God’s freedom of choice, in my thinking, For I believe God can pick things that may or may not cause a suffering of loss in His experience relating to the free will expressions of others (with no loss in His character).

        He still remains perfect in my view, but not according to the definition of perfection of the Calvinist with its immutable non-sequential omniscience, defined by philosophy. Also “sequentially, simultaneously” remains contradictory, in my view, and without biblical support.

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    3. Brian, one more question for you and any other LFW proponents.

      Could the sailors in the Acts 27 account chosen per their LFW to slit their own throat rather, in their thinking, drown? According to LFW, did they not have otherwise choice?

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      1. Les,

        You keep forgetting that for those non-Calvinists who do in fact believe that God is omniscient (contrary to open theists such as Brian Wagner who deny that God is omniscient/define omniscience in such a way that God does not know future events before they occur if LFW is involved) make a distinction:

        “Brian, one more question for you and any other LFW proponents.
        Could the sailors in the Acts 27 account chosen per their LFW to slit their own throat rather, in their thinking, drown? According to LFW, did they not have otherwise choice?”

        The distinction is between what a person could choose to do (possible outcomes), versus what he/she will in fact choose to do (the actual outcome). God’s omniscience is always in reference to what a person will in fact choose to do (not what they might do, what they possibly could do, what they could do but unlikely will not do, etc.

        Put another way, God knows not only what a person could choose to do in any situation (as he knows all possibilities): he also knows what they will in fact choose to do (actual outcomes, what God foreknows that you will choose to do).

        So in the instance of the sailors, God knew what they could choose to do (possibilities/what their available choices would be), as well as what they would in fact choose to do (actual outcome/what God foreknows they will in fact choose to do).

        The difference between a proponent of LFW and a compatibilist is that the LFW person believes the person could choose any of the possibilities before they make their actual choice. The compatibilist believing there is some necessitating factor believes that the person has to make the actual choice they make and could not in those circumstances choose any other possibilities (these other possibilities are precluded by the necessitating factor posited by the determinist).

        Les you have been through all of this before, so you continue to ask the same questions. You choose not to accept the answers we give ( it should be seen that this is not the same as us not having answers, it is you not accepting our answers). 🙂

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      2. Robert,

        “So in the instance of the sailors, God knew what they could choose to do (possibilities/what their available choices would be), as well as what they would in fact choose to do (actual outcome/what God foreknows they will in fact choose to do).”

        Sounds like a compatibilist to me. We of the compatibilist sort believe people have real choices. We also believe that God knows, and in fact has always known, what choices man will make. The two are not opponents, but, well, compatible.

        “Les you have been through all of this before, so you continue to ask the same questions.” Yes. Because in the case of Brian, his answers are Open Theist answers. In the case of yours, they seem inconsistent with your claim not to be a compatibilist.

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      3. Les writes, “in the case of Brian, his answers are Open Theist answers. ”

        In fairness to Brian, he distinguishes himself from the Open Theists by allowing for God to know all possibilities in the future. While Open Theist philosophy is not settled, they seem to maintain that God cannot know all the possibilities in the future so that God takes risks and must often make do with what people decide to do. Nonetheless, I think most Open Theists recognize that God must be allowed to be very active in the affairs of men to offset His inability to know the future so God must determine a lot of things just not as much as Calvinists claim. Notable for Brian is that he figured out that the only argument that will work against Calvinism must be a radical one – denying the Calvinist claim that God knows the future perfectly. It is because Arminians and others also say that God is omniscient with regard to the future that their arguments against Calvinist can be so inept.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “While Open Theist philosophy is not settled, they seem to maintain that God cannot know all the possibilities in the future so that God takes risks and must often make do with what people decide to do.”

        Have you actually read anything by Open Theists? Because they do in fact believe that God knows all the possible future actions of men in any moment, but knows them as possibilities, not as settled facts.

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      5. Actually WW, Roger is correct in this, I think. There is a variety of opinions about omniscience among open theists. If you want to meet and read thoughts from a variety if them… check out God is Open Facebook page. Chris Fisher also has a blog page and an interesting chart showing the varieties.

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      6. wildswanderer writes, “Have you actually read anything by Open Theists? Because they do in fact believe that God knows all the possible future actions of men in any moment, but knows them as possibilities, not as settled facts.”

        Yes, I think that is correct. However, I am not certain that it actually supports Open Theism.

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      7. Les, I suspect that’s closer to Molinism. Molinism is where God’s modal scope and man’s modal scope are equivocated in order to say two things that would otherwise be contradictory. (WLC, a popular proponent of Molinism, is by-no-coincidence an egregious peddler of modal scope fallacy).

        Modal scopes are about what is open vs. closed given what is unknown vs. known — terms like “possibility” are epistemological qualities, not ontological qualities.

        For example, let’s say my wife and I are meeting some friends at a restaurant, and are en route. I can say, “It’s possible they’re already at the restaurant.” The meaningfulness of the word “possible” has literally nothing to do with causality or free will or anything like that, but with my gap of knowledge, especially the felt Bayesian “openness” in that gap.

        My wife could then talk about how likely or unlikely that is, based on prior clues, including our friends’ punctuality (or lack thereof) or messages sent earlier in the day.

        But neither I nor my wife actually think the state of “our friends at the restaurant” is actually in flux, like some kind of Schrodinger’s Cat. That’s just not what “possibility” means, but we can trick ourselves into thinking that’s what “possibility” means, especially when we talk about the future (because the future really does seem like something in flux, like a Schrodinger’s Cat).

        Compatibilism says:

        – In God’s modal scope, there are no gaps of knowledge. For God, possibility has meaning only when (1) communicating with beings that lack knowledge and through their modal scopes, or (2) making counterfactual hypotheticals (hypotheticals with false antecedents).

        – Meanwhile, our modal scopes are full of possibility about the past and future, according to those gaps of knowledge — because that’s what possibility is actually about (It’s not a Schrodinger’s Cat! We use it to refer to past closed facts!).

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      8. Les, Doesn’t Paul’s warning, vs 31, indicate the in Paul’s mind at least that the sailors did have other choices open to them? And I don’t think you answered my question whether God had the ability to choose to plan a future partly determined and partly open. Did I miss your reply?

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      9. brianwagner writes, “I don’t think you answered my question whether God had the ability to choose to plan a future partly determined and partly open.”

        Now, I am not sure what you mean by “partly open.” I think you mean that a person might choose A or B in a particular situation. However, God knows how He will respond to either A or B and God’s choice of A or B creates possibilities and God knows how the person might respond to each of those possibilities to which God knows His responses and so on.

        To be partly determined or partly open must be relative to man’s viewpoint as God has determined fully His responses to every possibility. While you don’t want to say God has determined the future, it would still be true that God has determined how He will respond to every possibility in the future simply because God’s decisions then create possibilities. From God’s standpoint, the future is determined in the sense that He has all the information available and has made decisions regarding His response in all possibilities.

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      10. Brian,

        “Doesn’t Paul’s warning, vs 31, indicate the in Paul’s mind at least that the sailors did have other choices open to them?” Men always have choices, real choices, before them. God ensures they will make the choice He already knows they WILL make, without force. Paul simply was reminding them what God had said. God ordains the outcome and the means to the outcome. Paul’s warning was one of the means to ensure god’s outcome. See, we of the reformed actually do not hold that men are but robots in God’s unfolding providence.

        “And I don’t think you answered my question whether God had the ability to choose to plan a future partly determined and partly open. Did I miss your reply?” No you didn’t miss it. I had forgotten to come back to it. No, I do not believe as you write, if what you mean is that God does not know which way men will choose.

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  17. “God ensures they will make the choice He already knows they WILL make, without force.”
    If God is ensuring every choice we make it any way, then “men are but robots in God’s unfolding providence.”

    Yes, I believe God KNOWS the choices we will make, but only in the deterministic world does He always get His way. And since God cannot lie, when God says we are disobedient, well, I kinda think He means we really are disobeying Him, that we really are capable of defying His will, otherwise, even our sin could be considered God’s will and could not be considered disobedience.

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  18. Elections are more corruptable than lottery (casting lots). The ancient greeks knew this. For elections, the board and pastor candidates will give them what they wanna hear. Both methods are unable to determine God’s will.

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  19. I think by appointment they meant merely giving the office. As they were called elders, they were likely senior in age, in being saved, or both. I believe that elections, lottery, and merit were not used, though merit and lottery were both mentioned (elections were never even mentioned as far as I remember).

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  20. It seems you are the one doing the eisegesis.

    Acts 1:26, “And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

    I’m pretty sure the Apostles were not fools.

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      1. All I did was post Scripture that showed the Apostles doing what he said was “hasty” and say that the Apostles were not fools.

        That’s not as you say a “Pharisee Rottweiler” post.

        God reprimanded Moses for disobeying Him. So if Mr. Flowers is correct, and casting lots is “foolish”, then why didn’t God punish Moses when he commanded Israel to cast lots for the tribes in the Promised Land?

        Numbers 34:13″So Moses commanded the sons of Israel, saying, “aThis is the land that you are to apportion by lot among you as a possession, which the Lord has commanded to give to the nine and a half tribes.”

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    1. But by implication you are lumping me in with those you call Pharisees for simply citing Scripture that disagrees with his argument.

      Calling someone a Pharisee is not a term to be said lightly.

      Let us have debate and discussion without making accusations with such implications as a Pharisee.

      God bless.

      Like

      1. I prefer to let observers judge for themselves what posts are “Pharisee Rottweiler” posts.
        Much better outcome.
        Thank you for saying “God Bless”.
        God bless. :-]

        Like

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