We are not Determinists!

It is not uncommon for a Calvinist to tell me that they feel I am misrepresenting Calvinism because I speak of it as if it is “too deterministic.” For instance, Calvinistic apologist Matt Slick, in a recent online debate, told me that he did not believe in determinism only later to affirm the statement I read from monergism.com which states, “compatibilism is no less deterministic than hard determinism.” <link>

Dr. William Lane Craig regularly describes Calvinism as “universal divine causal determinism – God determines everything that happens in the world,” and he provides many solid arguments for doing so. One listener brought a similar critique to Dr. Craig:

Question: I believe you really mischaracterize Calvinism. What you are talking about sounds more like Hyper-Calvinism. Because Calvinism actually does affirm free will; I can read chapter 10 of the Westminster Confession of Faith where it actually explains how free will works within that system.

Dr. Craig’s answered by saying: 

What I am rejecting is universal divine causal determinism. Now, if Reformed theology rejects compatibilism then I have got no quarrel with it. In fact, when I read much of the Westminster Confession, I resonate with it. The problem is that I don’t think that the Reformed theologian can give us a coherent interpretation of Scripture. As I said, the Reformed divines – in my first point – typically say that the reconciliation of these texts is just inscrutable. They can’t put them together; it is a mystery.  <link>

What many younger (or lessor informed) Calvinists seem to miss is that compatibilism, the philosophical system adopted by most notable pastors/scholars leading in the resurgence of Calvinism today, is a form of determinism. It is the belief that God’s determinism of all things (sometimes referenced as “sovereignty” or “meticulous providence”) is compatible with “creaturely freedom” (defined as creatures acting in accordance with their predetermined natural desires). We have established this in previous articles.

Today, on the soteriology 101 Facebook page I posted this quick summary of the philosophical debate over divine omniscience:

Calvinists = If God knows everything then He must have determined it, therefore God determines moral evil. (contradicts the biblical teaching of God’s Holiness)

Open Theists = If God knows everything then He must have determined it, therefore God doesn’t know everything. (contradicts the biblical teaching of God’s Omniscience)

Traditionalists = God knows everything because He is the great “I AM” who exists at all places and at all times not because he necessarily determines it. His ways are higher than our ways, so our finite minds will never fully comprehend how an infinite God works within the temporal world but we NEVER should undermine the clear biblical teaching of God’s holiness or knowledge to appease our philosophical speculations.

A good Calvinistic brother and friend sent me this message in response:

Leighton, 

You are the only anti-Calvinist blogger I have respect for. So I don’t say this in an attacking way. Your statement I don’t believe is representative of what most Calvinist believe (certainly not the ones I interact with). I’m sure you can find examples of people saying God determines everything, but many Calvinist would not. 

It’s easy to attack the extremes of a position, but I find that folks that don’t take extreme positions on either side of the issue agree more than they disagree. 

Respectfully

First, I must say it is so refreshing for a brother who claims to believe “doctrines of grace” to act with grace toward those with whom he disagrees. This is a sure fruit of the Spirit within this dear brother. I pray that this kind of cordiality will mark all of our discussions over such important matters.

Second, I’d prefer to be known as the “pro-Traditionalist blogger/podcaster” than an “anti” anything, but I won’t nit-pick too much. 

Third, my arguments, like those of Dr. Craig, simply do not pertain to you if you deny “universal divine causal determinism” (i.e. compatibilism). I would warn you, however, that the group with which you associate called “Calvinism” is being led by and has been overrun with those who do (as established HERE and HERE).

Fourth, I would challenge you to study the Calvinistic compatibilists to better understand how they have come to their philosophical conclusions and why they maintain them so vigorously. You might also be interested to learn that they call you “inconsistent” and/or “uneducated” Calvinists behind your backs. I won’t tattle on any specific compatibilistic Calvinists who have said these kinds of comments to me over the years, but one need only do a bit of research to find this out for themselves.

Finally, have you confronted your compatiblistic friends over this issue?  After all, if you are correct, they are the ones really misrepresenting your cause, not people like Dr. Craig or little ol’ me. We are the ones you should be standing along side in an effort to stop theistic determinism from spreading any further. Why don’t you join us?

 

 

106 thoughts on “We are not Determinists!

  1. First!

    Some Calvinists one talks to seem less deep in their understanding of determinism and some just want to doublespeak and hide their belief in determinism. Either way posts and blogs like yours shine the light of clarity to the issues. If they truly rejected determinism, they’d be obligated to fight on our side of the fence. As it is, all the accusations of misrepresentation can be quite irrational and through the roof. I was banned just today on Matt Slick’s carm forums because Calvinists were acting unjustly and unfairly and wouldn’t let themselves be called out on it. I’m always polite and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but the psychological double standards they use can in my mind be nothing short of real cognitive dissonance. Maybe people not yet mired in determinism can be like brands snatched from the flame. I truly believe determinism is an evil belief system, I have no more doubts in my mind, and it makes logical sense since it attributes all evil causally to God, even if it is claimed indirectly.

    Thanks and God bless.

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    1. A wonderful article expressed in the spirit of Jesus – – thank you Leighton.

      Calvinist; Dr. James N. Anderson, of the Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte NC, in his published work; Calvinism and the first sin, states the underlying proposition: “It should be conceded at the outset, and without embarrassment, that Calvinism is indeed committed to divine determinism: the view that everything is ultimately determined by God…..take it for granted as something on which the vast majority of Calvinists uphold, and may be expressed as the following: “For every event [E], God decided that [E] should happen and that decision alone was the ultimate sufficient cause of [E].” Dr. Anderson also states that Calvinism is committed to a compatiblist form of free will.

      The terms “Hard Determinism” and “Soft Determinism” were coined by William James, (1842), an American philosopher psychologist, and libertarian who held compatibilism in disdain. James criticized compatibilism asserting it offered a “kinder-gentler” picture of determinism, which he held in strong contempt stating: “Now days there is a softer view of determinism, which abhors harsh words, and attempts to repudiate necessity, by simply calling it freedom.” James felt Compatibalists were superficial and called their arguments “a bag of verbal tricks which they deploy as a way to avoid the real intellectual problems of free will”, and “the entire compatiblist enterprise is a quagmire of evasion”. He felt that Compatibalists were trying to avoid the reality of a deterministic world, with semantic tricks and verbal sleight of hand. The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724), held to a similar view, calling compatibilism “a retched subterfuge”. What is more interesting is that both James and Kant felt that the Hard Determinists were the honorable and intellectually honest ones, who faced the problems of determinism and free will head-on, calling them “worthy adversaries”. Interestingly, this complaint continues to be made by philosophers today, stating sentiments like: compatibilism appears to be the product of wishful thinking, and of wanting to have the best of both worlds, i.e., a metaphysical distinction of determinism with the ethical-moral distinction of libertarian culpability.

      Although James and Kant did not communicate as representatives of Christianity, in their observations of how a deterministic worldview manifests itself, expressed in human language (double-think), the philosophical components of determinism and compatibilism still function the same way in both the Christian and non-Christian worlds. And the unique semantic idiosyncrasies of a deterministic worldview, as observed by James and Kant are quite illuminating for the discerning Christian today.

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      1. br.d. writes, “this complaint continues to be made by philosophers today, stating sentiments like: compatibilism appears to be the product of wishful thinking, and of wanting to have the best of both worlds, i.e., a metaphysical distinction of determinism with the ethical-moral distinction of libertarian culpability. ”

        I don’t think this is what compatibilism does. Compatibilism asserts a consistency between God’s sovereignty and determinism with man’s free will. However, that free will is not, “libertarian,” but a corrupted form whereby the person is ruled by a sin nature – no longer possessing an ethical-moral distinction – and can act freely only within the confines of that sin nature. I think it clear that the Calvinist says that Adam had libertarian free will but lost it when he sinned. It is only when that libertarian free will is restored by God through regeneration that the person can then exercise a libertarian freedom to accept salvation.

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      2. “I think it clear that the Calvinist says that Adam had libertarian free will but lost it when he sinned. It is only when that libertarian free will is restored by God through regeneration that the person can then exercise a libertarian freedom to accept salvation.”

        I have to take issue with this statement. This is a hotly debated issue and I can not here go into all the points of dispute but to fully affirm this would be to affirm the coherence of LFW. Now, of course, this blog will support LFW’s coherence but it needs to be proven and there are problems with it. LFW depends on “the ability to do otherwise in all relevant choices,” including the ability to sin or not to sin. Therefore God can not have LFW for he can not sin. In the world to come sin is eradicated and so to will be the ability to sin. If LFW is essential for true love and person-hood as it’s supports claim than the problem is evident.

        Libertarian Free Will has become theology’s philosophical panacea for most biblical problems and this is why most Christian philosophers embrace it.

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      3. Mike, yours is the most correct post in this whole thread. Possibly this whole site.

        Nobody can come up with a coherent positive definition for libertarian free will. “Do otherwise” was shown to be compatibilistic (or nonsensical) by Frankfurt. As such it wallows in “ambiguous zone” and acts like a panacea — a “bridgemaker and bridgebreaker” for logical rhetoric. Google “Pattonpatterns Difficult Ds” for a video discussion of exactly what you’re talking about.

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      4. Thanks, Stan. I think people on both sides of the argument are guilty assuming too much and not thinking thorough certain ideas. Even Peter van Inwagen, one of libertarianism’s luminaries and developer of the Consequent Argument, has reflected on free will’s incoherence and impossibility. Thanks for the video link. I do appreciate your ideas.

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      5. Mike Ranieri writes, “I have to take issue with this statement. This is a hotly debated issue and I can not here go into all the points of dispute but to fully affirm this would be to affirm the coherence of LFW.”

        You are probably correct, but I am not a purest on this. My point was that compatibilism does not claim LFW (whatever that is) but a freedom of will uniquely different from LFW. I don’t think compatibilism claims “the ethical-moral distinction of libertarian culpability” from the citation in br.d.’s comment.

        If we define LFW as the “ability” to choose between A and ~A (to choose otherwise), I have no problem with God having the “ability” to sin – God can certainly understand what sin is and how it differs from obedience – even though God will not, and cannot, sin by virtue of His character. God cannot disobey Himself but He understands what disobedience is.

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  2. Thanks Leighton for the post. I happily adhere to compatibilism and acknowledge it as a form of determinism. All the Reformed in my denomination that I know, the PCA, acknowledge it as well.

    God bless.

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “…baffled that anyone would adhere to determinism.”

        Certainly you do not deny God the ability to make decisions and determine the course of events should He want to do so. God determined to created the world, to flood the earth and destroy all of humanity then alive save eight, to destroy Sodom, to choose Abraham to be both the father of the nation of Israel and of the Messiah, God impregnated Mary, crucified Christ, raised Him from the dead, and on we could go.

        The issue is not that God determines events but the extent to which God is determining events. Calvinists conclude that, by virtue of His sovereignty, God necessarily determines all things. Those who oppose this conclusion do so because they have issues with free will, so they conclude that God cannot determine all things. However, as stanrock has argued, God can determine all things and do so without compromising the freedom with which people make choices. The points at issue seem to be the definition of “determine” and how God determines all things and then the definition of “free will” and whether there is a definition that allows for compatibilism betweem God’s determination of all things and man’s free will.

        I think Pastor Flowers understands this but chooses to construct strawmen and then argues against the strawmen rather than addressing meaningful issues. But that’s what I see happening and I can be wrong.

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      1. Oh I don’t blame. It’s kind of like God, Job, and the devil. The devil did what Devils do. But determined that it should happen. Remember who Satan asked for permission? Similarly I did what sinners do. I demonstrated imperfection. I get the credit or blame for that. But since it happened, God determined that it should happen.

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      2. Prof. Flowers, the hiccup continues to be that you think determinism entails meticulous teleological micromanagement from God. This is a non sequitur when certain interests of God combine with deterministic chaos. Please Google “stanrock micromanaging” for an illustration that explains. There is legitimate free will and subordinate responsibility under compatibilism hereby.

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      3. Discerner, I don’t know why some Cals avoid the D word. It maybe due to the confusion that seems always to arise…precise definitions and such. I will look at the link later when I have more time. Thanks brother.

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    1. Les, what do you think if Calvinists who balk at saying they are determinists in a straight-forward manner. Do you think they are inconsistent? Do you think a true Calvinist can deny determinism (would that still fall under Calvinism)? Here is what I see so often, if you have the time to read this recent post (it’s not very long at all):

      http://forums.carm.org/vbb/showthread.php?263346-What-Calvinism-DOESN-T-Teach&p=7913436&viewfull=1#post7913436

      (I’m currently banned so I cannot respond to that yet.) But notice how he responds. He never overtly affirms or denies Divine determinism, rather he says “Determinism is a heavy task to take on.” That’s (lol) not making any affirmative or negative stance or statement about its accuracy at all. He says “God gave man free-will” and “by one man’s act of disobedience” and “God permitted not caused the fall.”

      Yet I feel certain if pressed he will say that God decreed all things that ever happen by his choice alone before anything was created (it’s possible I am wrong on that but so far he will not give me clarity). Now what is “free will” and what is an “act of disobedience” and what is “permitted not caused” if all things come about primarily by the direct decree and decision of God himself. It ends up sounding to me like a lot of politician’s doublespeak, like saying “We believe in squareness, this is square, that is square, And all is a circle.”

      Do you think what he writes is lucid, clear, and standard Calvinist belief, would you affirm it, and how do you feel about Calvinists who seem hesitant to affirm Divine determinism and constantly accuse of straw men and misrepresentation when you attribute this very basic Calvinistic belief of determinism to them?

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      1. Dizerner, I read your post on CARM and I appreciate what you have said. My response will no doubt be equally frustrating but here is my take:

        I think the response on CARM was legitimate. You are correct that the responder does not really discuss the particulars of determinism—and neither denies or affirms it. One of the main reasons for this is that this is a book-length discussion—or at least a very long podcast. And it is unfair to put the Calvinist on the stand without you also taking the stand. And this is what I see all the time. The assumption is that if Calvinism can be shown as incoherent than this proves the alternative by default—but this just is not the case! I find LFW just as incoherent as you find compatibilism incoherent. So what are we to do? Do you want me to affirm hard determinism? Do you want me to say the there is no difference between determinism and compatibilsm? Do you think that I have not studied these issues sufficiently? Perhaps I haven’t. I suppose that I think the same thing of you.

        This issue will not be solved—if it can be solved—on a blog. This is why we recommend books and podcasts to each other. I’m going to read that J.I. Packer article that was recommended. What books or podcasts would you recommend for me?

        You liked my link to Olson here are are couple more links. I recommend a recent book by Scott Christensen, “What About Free Will.” It is excellent and covers the subject in-depth.

        http://www.amazon.com/What-about-Free-Will-Reconciling/dp/1629951862/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462799418&sr=8-1&keywords=what+about+free+will

        Also, here is a podcast interviewing Scott about his book:
        http://www.11podcast.com/e/what-about-free-will-how-is-calvinism-not-fatalism/

        I hope you understand that I’m trying to be sympathetic and transparent.

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      2. >>I hope you understand that I’m trying to be sympathetic and transparent.

        Mike I really appreciate your effort to reach across the soteriological aisle. I know I sometimes write in an abrasive manner that probably burns more bridges than builds them so straight up, I do feel bad for that. That post I do think was a very sincere effort just to understand each other without targeting as an “enemy.”

        >>Do you want me to affirm hard determinism?

        I think it’s not so much one or the other but helping us understand where the paradoxes seem to be, highlighting those and keeping them in the forefront.

        >>Do you want me to say the there is no difference between determinism and compatibilsm?

        It’s tough because people do seem to use compatibilism in different ways. There is the deterministic oriented compatibilism and that is what most Calvinists seem to embrace. There are people though, who just seem to embrace pure paradox and throw up their hands about any resolution. I find that much more interesting.

        >>Do you think that I have not studied these issues sufficiently?

        I wouldn’t presume to say, but it’s nice to feel actually engaged in a debate over things.

        >>What books or podcasts would you recommend for me?

        I did like that Olson clip, although much of his stuff I feel is annoying and incorrect and a poor defense of Arminianism, it’s just so few highly educated people are defending it and he has a lot of stuff out there. I’d much prefer WLC in general and align more with him on free will issues, except in Molinism which seems to get him as excited as the Kalaam, hehe. On thinking that, trying to remember something that might be helpful or constructive to the opposing view understanding my own, it’s hard to think of something that isn’t either too polemical or too inaccurate or compromising in some way. Although I think more people agree with my brand of theology in general, for some strange reason not much is published on it that I know of. And it also depends on whether you want to approach it from an intellectual level or something more down to earth. I’ve spent my time more trying to understand the motives behind the whole debate and taking a fresh look at Scripture from all angles. I have several books on Cal/Arm, providence, free will, and the problem of evil. None really make me happy, but sometimes you can pick up a point or two, yet I think we begin to neglect Scripture getting into what almost seems like incomprehensibles.

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  3. This John Hendryx article that you often reference is very good in explaining Calvinism but he like many Calvinists do not really understand the philosophical concept of compatibilism. And yes it is a philosophical idea or label but its theological roots come from ancient Jewish and biblical thought.

    Let’s examine the quote: “In order to understand this better theologians have come up with the term ‘compatibilism’ to describe the concurrence of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.” Compatibilism was not coined by theologians it is a borrowed term from secular philosophy.

    “Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism.” This is just wrong! Equating compatibilism with hard determinism demonstrates a lack of in-depth understanding. But he redeems himself (from a theological stand point) in the next sentence with: “It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice.”

    If you read modern philosophical works like “The Oxford Handbook of Free Will” edited by Robert Kane you will find compatiblists defending their ideas against hard determinism. But just on a pragmatic and semantic level the reason one is labeled “hard determinism” and the other “compatiblism” indicates that they are different in some way!

    Look, this is a difficult concept to grasp. The majority of Christian philosophers hold to LFW. William James called compatibilism a “quagmire of evasion” and Immanuel Kant called it a “wretched subterfuge” and “word jugglery.” This is the stance of William Lane Craig—he finds compatibiism inconsistent. I find his objection a little ironic because I might argue, like Roger Olson, that Molinism is also a form of determinism: https://youtu.be/jtru1yMaXaE?t=22m34s

    You quote and team up with Arminian philosophers—rather than theologians I suggest you look to Calvinist philosophers to help you understand compatiblism. I recommend a recent book by Scott Christensen, “What About Free Will.” It is excellent and covers the subject in-depth.

    http://www.amazon.com/What-about-Free-Will-Reconciling/dp/1629951862/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462799418&sr=8-1&keywords=what+about+free+will

    Also, here is a podcast interviewing Scott about his book:
    http://www.11podcast.com/e/what-about-free-will-how-is-calvinism-not-fatalism/

    Traditionalists = If God knows everything then free will is impossible. God gave man free will which is the ability to choose to sin or not to sin. God himself does not have this ability therefore he does not have free will. (contradicts the biblical teaching of God’s Omniscience and Omnipotence)

    Calvinists = God knows everything because He is the great “I AM” who exists at all places and at all times. God is sovereign because he is the creator. Nothing exists or can exist apart from God, including free will. His ways are higher than our ways, so our finite minds will never fully comprehend how an infinite God works within the temporal world but we NEVER should undermine the clear biblical teaching of God’s holiness or knowledge to appease our philosophical speculations.

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    1. you say: I find his objection a little ironic because I might argue, like Roger Olson, that Molinism is also a form of determinism: https://youtu.be/jtru1yMaXaE?t=22m34s

      Thanks for that link! After about 6 months pondering Molinism I also came to the conclusion it’s a form of determinism when used the way WLC describes it. i didn’t know Olson agreed on that.

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  4. Leighton, John Frame writes:

    “Freedom from all causation, sometimes called libertarianism. I have freedom in the libertarian sense when, no matter what I choose to do, I might equally have chosen the opposite. So my choices are not only free from natural causes but also from divine causation. Indeed, my libertarian choices are also free from myself in a way, for they are not determined by my character, dispositions, or desires. These inner motives may influence a free decision in this sense, but they never determine it. So a libertarian free decision is entirely indeterminate, uncaused. Thus libertarianism is sometimes called incompatibilism, since it is incompatible with determinism.”

    Is that an accurate description in your opinion?

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    1. I’d only clarify what “free from myself” means (that’s possibly a misleading statement). The causal agent is solely responsible for the choice. What he means to say I think is no quality of his body, soul or spirit will be the primary deciding factor of any pure libertarian choice, other than the will (and I would add the will when in a freed state).

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    2. I’m sorry Les, this quotation from Frame is moronic, absolutely stupid, embarrassing that a person who presents himself as a philosopher could write such drivel:

      “Freedom from all causation, sometimes called libertarianism.”

      LFW is not freedom from ALL CAUSATION.

      Many libertarians hold to agent causation, which means the agent or person is the cause of the choice.
      For Frame to make this statement shows him to be completely out of touch with contemporary philosophy on this subject
      .
      “I have freedom in the libertarian sense when, no matter what I choose to do, I might equally have chosen the opposite.”

      What does it mean to say “equally” as if each choice is weighted by some numerical value. LFW does not mean there are equal probabilities in connection with each choice. Take a trained athlete who is consistent in their training. One choice is to train today, one choice is to not to train today, they are not “equally” weighted, at least if this athlete consistently trains.

      “So my choices are not only free from natural causes but also from divine causation.”

      This is ambiguous, what does it mean to be free from divine causation? Proponents of LFW believe that when God puts his foot down (say He declares the final judgement is going to happen at X point in time, people’s choices are not free from the divine causation in the sense that they can just choose to not attend, that is absurd! 🙂

      “ Indeed, my libertarian choices are also free from myself in a way, for they are not determined by my character, dispositions, or desires.”

      This is very weaseley. Frame as a determinist believes that our choices **are** necessitated by our desires. He is using the word “determined” in a way that is misleading. He assumes that determined mean necessitated. But this is precisely the point of disagreement/contention as the LFW person does not assume that determined always means necessitated. Again many LFW proponents believe in agent causation, where the person or agent is the cause of their own choices. Do desires influence a person? Yes. But do desires necessitate a particular choice? Not always.

      “These inner motives may influence a free decision in this sense, but they never determine it.”

      Misleading again, for a person who holds to agent causation, the person does determine their choice and yet the choice is not necessitated. So it is misleading to say the choice is necessitated, and yet it is determined, determined by the agent (and those who believe in agent causation are libertarians). This shows yet again that you have to be careful in your use of terms and words.

      “So a libertarian free decision is entirely indeterminate, uncaused.”

      This is just idiocy coming from a supposed philosopher. Again a person who holds to agent causation, believes the agent causes their choice (so it is completely false to say the decision is “entirely … uncaused.” It ********is********* caused, caused by the agent themselves. Now should someone make the equally stupid comment that that does not make sense: just think of when God makes a choice. His choice is not necessitated, He is the person who causes His own choice to come about. Put simply God is the paradigm case of agent causation (He is the agent who causes His own choices). Now if you can understand God choosing that way, don’t turn around and claim it does not make sense when a human person causes their own choice as well.

      “Thus libertarianism is sometimes called incompatibilism, since it is incompatible with determinism.”

      Well that is true but it is not saying much, basically it is only stating the obvious incompatibilism is incompatible with determinism.

      “Is that an accurate description in your opinion?”

      Frame’s description is not accurate at all. Again we have been through this before Les. You keep bringing up the same quotes and making the same claims. For your information, no one in contemporary philosophy quotes Frame on things. He is not even on the radar, not even cited at all. Why? Because of statements such as those that you cite here. Statements full of inaccuracies, statements completely misrepresenting what libertarians belief.

      Libertarians believe that events that occur have causes, including human choices. For many libertarians the cause of a person’s choice is himself/herself. It is not caused by something outside the person, not by some sort of necessitating factor such as desires or natures. Because it is caused by the person themselves, they can be and should be held responsible for their choices. We don’t hold purely physical beings responsible for choices, as they do not have and make choices. We hold persons responsible for their choices if they are the source of their choices. As the source of their choices, they cause their own choices. If they are not the cause of their choices then we should hold someone else responsible for the choice.

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      1. Robert, I’m sorry but your attempt at refuting Frame is moronic, absolutely stupid, embarrassing that a person who presents himself as a philosopher could write such drivel. See how that works? I’m afraid Frame in a debate would quickly have you gasping for air, even with half his brain tied behind his back.

        See Robert, one can disagree with brothers in Christ with the kind of unChristian comments you too often make about them. Try doing better brother.

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      2. “See Robert, one can disagree with brothers in Christ with the kind of unChristian comments you too often make about them.” Should read, “See Robert, one can disagree with brothers in Christ WITHOUT the kind of unChristian comments you too often make about them.”

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      3. Robert, the only thing that is embarrassing is your unchristian attitude. Aside from your comments demonstrating a complete lack of serious thought–did you even read the article?–your disrespectful invective shows that you are more interested in winning an argument than seeking truth. 2 Corinthians 13:5

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    3. I say “blather” in the most respectful way possible. 😉

      I just believe it is non-sense to speak of morally accountable beings not being the cause of their moral choices.

      Choosers are the cause of their choice. It’s self evident and The only tenable or practical way of life. Even men like Wayne Grudem teach his parishioners to live and act as if they are libertarianly free after teaching them they aren’t.

      Agent causation is very simple and quite self evident. No philosophical argument I’ve read thus far comes close to convincing me to leave behind that view (which you all have to believe was determined too, making your involvement in this whole exercise a bit comical when you really think about it)

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      1. It’s actually a response I’ve seen in theological journals because it reveals just how untenable your system actually is.

        Do you believe God unchangeably determined for me not to grasp Frames argument or don’t you? Be consistent within your own worldview and acknowledge the reason that I haven’t grasped Frames augmentation.

        I think you know as well as I do that on your view my lack of ability to grasp and accept determinism is determined by God and not me. Act like it.

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      2. Oh, and I don’t know if God unchangably determined for you to grasp Frame’s view. I don’t know all that God unchangably determined, else I would be God.

        And there’s still time. And, and, if you really understood my view (stated here before) then you wouldn’t say things like the last two sentences.

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      3. We were speaking of whether I had grasped Frames arguments up to this point in my life, which you assert I haven’t. Being a consistent theistic determinist you’d have to conclude that God has determined that I remain in this condition at least up to this point in my life (your being uncertain if I’ve been determined to eventually grasp it or not is beside the point)

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      4. True Leighton, but this little discussion about you grasping Frame bores me and allows you to just stall and not have to actually deal with what Frame said in the linked article. Almost as good as you avoiding my other two questions from weeks, no, months ago about chance and luck (if you believe in them) and whether or not God knows the exact day/hour/minute we all die (do you believe He does?) But you just balled out on those questions. 🙂

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      5. What you call boring and stalling is actually revealing just how impractical and untenable your system is. I understand why you’d rather not deal with the crazy implications of spending your day debating the guy who believes what the God of the universe unchangeably determined for him to believe because that same God unchangeably determined you to believe differently.

        God determined me to bail, or didn’t he. Talk to Him about it and be consistent.

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      6. Leighton I am being consistent, and if you understood compatibilism you’d know that. But carry on your childish tactics with someone else. You’re exposed again for avoiding my other questions and avoiding Frame.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Les, again, this argument is in PhD journals. There is nothing childish about insisting on consistency. I notice that you won’t correct my error by explaining why what I’ve said is specifically wrong. You just call it childish and boring.

        Tell us exactly what is incorrect about my assertion. Explain what about compatibilism I don’t understand that would correct my assertion.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. Les, Leighton loves his little determinism jokes. They allow him to dodge the hard questions. He is very selective as to what he responds to. He ignores arguments that challenge his system. He ignored your questions as he ignored my response on this blog. He will quote and tout the philosophies of William Lane Craig, Jerry Walls, and Braxton Hunter but will disparage and disdain philosophy that opposes his views, and ignore and belittle those philosophers that disagree with him.

        He thinks that if he can falsify Calvinism it will prove his form of Arminianism as true by default. But a system needs to be defended on its own merit. Leighton has used his libertarian free will to choose to ignore the deficiencies within his own system. We need to pray for him.

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      9. Why do you think God determined me to be that way Mike?

        Seriously, tell us. I’m not joking. I’m asking a serious question. You speak as if I’m in control of my behavior for a reason and this line of argumentation makes that self evident. It’s not meant to be a dodge. It’s not meant to be avoidant. It’s meant to be realistic.

        I don’t ignore others philosophies. I disagree with them and have addressed them far more often than the average believer, so that’s just an unfounded accusation.

        Belittle? I find arguments that attempt to remove agent causation (and thus responsibility) to be non-sensical and untenable. Just as some of you might feel about LFW. That is YOUR choice, just as my choice is mine (or is it?)

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      10. Mike wrote, “Leighton has used his libertarian free will to choose to ignore the deficiencies within his own system. We need to pray for him.”

        THANK YOU!

        That is a consistent response to me from a theistic determinists (at least to some degree, given that God’s decision was made irregardless of that prayer).

        Determinists shouldn’t be debating determinism, they should be questioning the God who determines the choices of those they wish to see changed.

        When it comes to evangelism you have the command to evangelize as your sole motivation, but no such command exists for spreading theistic determinism so you can’t appeal to that.

        Liked by 3 people

      11. Leighton, my last post was harsh because you continue to play the “Calvinists believe people are robots or puppets” card. And you continue to make easy determinist jokes. I know this stuff is hard to understand but ridicule is not respectful.

        You are in control of your behaviour! You have free will, just not libertarian free will. Not even God has libertarian free will. I’ve made this point a number of times and you have never dealt with it. Just as you ignore the contradictions in your own camp from your own scholars.

        “Why do you think God determined me to be that way Mike?” You asked me this question and I will give you a direct answer. First, I hope you understand that my answer is just speculation as I can not know the mind of God.

        The history of the church is clear in that right doctrine is developed and furthered through controversy and opposition. The truth of the Trinity was in direct response to heresy. I am not saying you are a heretic but I will say that, for me personally, your podcasts and blog posts have forced me to study Calvinism, Arminianism, comptiblisim, LFW and other related subjects in much more depth than I would have done. You have contributed to increasing and strengthening my views on Calvinism.

        People are not puppets and Arminianism fulfills a role for those Christians who have trouble understanding the deeper things of God. Paul tells us to be respectful of our weaker brothers but he also encourages us not to be content with milk and seek the meat. I’m sure you can turn this around to your own advantage. But I’m not here to win an argument. I have real problems with the logic and consistency of the LFW system and until someone can honestly deal with these issues I will continue to be suspicious of it.

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      12. 1. You are interpreting a valid argument as ridicule. If you could hear my tone you’d know I’m not attempting to belittle, but to reveal the impracticality of your own belief in this context.

        2. If I have the ability to believe determinism or not believe determinism right now then I’m contra-causally (libertarianly) free. That’s how we define it. If you think I have that ability then my beef isn’t with you, just as Craig responded in the article.

        3. So you agree that God has determined for me to be opposed to theistic determinism (yet earlier you call my arguments “ridicule” when they are simply forcing you all to acknowledge that fact when speaking to me).

        And you speculate that God may have determined me to be this way to make guys like you stronger Calvinists.

        You’re welcome.

        Good night friend.

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      13. “Ok, so God determined me to dodge which hard question exactly? Tell me which question God determined me to dodge and let’s see if He will determine me to provide an answer for you.”

        Well, this is hard because I have to continue going over the same things. 1. You’re fine with the Monism of WLC and B.Hunter because they affirm LFW even though the two views are incompatible. (See Roger Olson on Molinism: https://youtu.be/jtru1yMaXaE?t=22m34s) I thought you were all about consistency? 2. Your system rejects cause and effect. (This was brought up in the John Frame article that you refused to read.) Try using the Kalam cosmological argument without cause and effect. 3. You argue that a person can make choices apart from their own nature which is absurd. Try responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma with this in mind. 4. God can not freely choose to sin therefore God does not have LFW.

        These are some of the big ones. I await your response. Oh and I will offer you this. I would be happy to speak to you in person on the phone if that would better serve the purpose. Here is my email address mranieri@rogers.com

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      14. 1. I prefer Consistency with the scriptures and with your arguments against my views. I really don’t care that much about the apparent inconsistency within ones own man made philosophical speculations.

        2. My view doesn’t reject cause and effect. It simply stops with the cause of the choice is the chooser without speculating into an infinite regress of philosophical blather.

        3. Where does anyone from my perspective argue that we make choices apart from our nature? We don’t. Just like we don’t deny cause and effect. Our natures are contra-causally free thus a free choice IS a reflection of our natures not “apart from our nature.”

        4. We’ve been over this one. Only one LFW choice must be established to affirm its validity (i.e. The choice of God to create or not create). We’ve NEVER asserted every choice is a conta causally free one so proving that there are examples of non libertarianly free choices doesn’t disprove libertarian freedom.

        I guess God determined me to answer you. How did He do? Be gentile, He didn’t do His finest work when He knit my brain and He may be sensitive to your critique of what He has determined for me to write here. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      15. Well, thanks for the effort. I will indeed think on these answers but I’m afraid they are just too shallow to have any lasting effect. I don’t think you really grasped the full ideas behind the questions. And, honestly, I wouldn’t expect you to be able to get into anything deep with such complicated questions which I quickly rattled off. I’m afraid that these things need a little back and forth to really be useful. Perhaps that can happen sometime. Take care.

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      16. Mike, with respect, the whole “you just don’t understand” assertion says a lot about the system you wish to defend. Why can’t I (a fairly well educated guy) grasp your system if not because God has withheld the needed grace for me to do so?

        You aren’t insulting me or my intelligence. Your insulting Gods creation and self-glorifying determinations.

        Now, I readily admit that I’m not an intellect, but I’m also not a complete moron (most of the time). I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time studying the various perspectives (including Frames). I reject many of his premises (though I may not rebut him with the intellectual rhetoric you read from the likes of a scholar such as Plantinga).

        You seem to interpret my unwillingness to blindly agree with Frame’s assertions as just my intellectual inability to grasp those assertions and thus call my replies “shallow,” yet the inescapable reality for your own system is that God controls my intellect and willingness to sign off on such assertions making your backhanded slap of my shallowness and inabilities a critique of God’s own decree and self glorifying determinations.

        I know enough about this to know when someone is using condescension to score a point or avoid an argument, and it simply doesn’t fly here. Acting more dogmatically confident about your philosophical speculations doesn’t make you right. And it certainly doesn’t make the responses I provided just magically disappear because you condescendingly dismiss them as too shallow for your consideration.

        BTW, I say this with a kind but firm tone… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Leighton, I know you hate to hear that you don’t understand something but if you consider that the alternative is to say that you are dumb than at least “not understanding” gives you the benefit of the doubt.

        And to say that the fact that you, an well educated guy, can’t understand the system reflects a deficiency in the system is rather presumptuous. I mean, think about it, that could be an argument refuting anything. Muslims say that about the Trinity! Remember Peter says that somethings that Paul writes about are hard to understand.

        And once again you are stuck on this determinism circular thought pattern. Whatever it is it is not my fault because God made me do it. The universe is just God’s wind-up doll or pre-programmed simualtion. And as long as you are unable to see past this all other argumentation will be superfluous. But you are in good company because this is the problem with most of the Arminian scholars and theologians. Unlike many Calvinists, who believe that the Arminian’s issue is man’s autonomy, I believe, as the Arminians state, that the issue is God’s character. But this is closely tied to an inability to understand God’s omni-causal influence on existence.

        Why would God prevent you from understanding the truth of Calvinism? Or as you would prefer it be stated: Why would God determine your inability to understand? This question assumes a pre-programmed robotic world. And once again, it is a simple black and white, either-or issue for you, which you are simply unable to accept. But then how could you accept it because you were pre-programmed not to accept it. So it is not your fault. And round and round and round we go. All existence is mere illusion!

        I don’t interpret the fact that you disagree with an idea as a lack of understanding, it is the content of your reply that demonstrates your deficiency. And I’m sorry if I offended you by referring to your responses as “shallow.” I tried to give you an out by saying that these were hard questions and I wouldn’t expect you to get into anything deep. I didn’t condescendingly dismiss them. I said that I would think on them and I meant it. I have been rereading your reply and pondering its content up until this moment and will continue to think on it.

        But your responses were shallow and, it seems to me, hastily delivered. I have heard long discussions and read long articles on all of these questions. They can’t be answered so frivolously, that is, if you believe that they are legitimate questions. (Perhaps I should be the offended one.)

        Let’s look at some of your responses:

        1. Come on now, the first thing you mentioned in this blog post was the debate you had with Matt Slick where you point out his inconsistencies. You are tell me that you don’t consider the compatibilistic system philosophical speculation? You wrote an entire blog post complaining about it! You are rigorous about consistency toward Calvininsts but not so much with anyone who espouses LFW.

        2. “Philosophical blather”—now who’s being condescending and avoiding the argument? You can’t discuss this because it would topple your delicately balanced system so you label it and then dismiss it. An obvious avoidance tactic which you yourself have complained about when Calvinists do it to you.

        3. This is an example of where you refuse to think deeply about what you believe. (Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not you it’s God—beat you to it!) Once again, this requires some unpacking to understand what the issue is. Just as you insist that the implications of Calvinism are a hard determinism the implications of your system is choice apart from nature and against cause and effect. It’s a long discussion but just consider, “contra-causal” means “no cause.” When a Calvinist asks you what caused you to choose Christ you say it is an illegitimate question because it assumes a casual or determinative response. But as Frame points out asking for a motive or cause is how our law courts function. In your system self-causation is the big mystery and it seems that you are reluctant to discuss it. You say that you don’t argue that one chooses against ones nature but you are reluctant to discuss the implications of this. Where does the nature come from? How is it formed? How is it effected by sin?

        4. This is just waffling. You believe in LFW accept when you don’t. If only one example of LFW is used to prove your system than think about it. Your opponents can use the same kind of argumentation. You don accept this when Calvinists use Calvary to prove compatibilism. All I ever hear is that without LFW love and responsibility and even person-hood is impossible. But now you are saying that sometimes we have it and sometimes we don’t. I’m confused. God’s choice to create proves LFW but God’s inability to sin proves what? The ability to choose God or reject him—the ability to sin or not to sin—is the foundation of LFW but you refuse to discuss this!

        Because you didn’t respond to my earlier and better articulated post, at your request I quickly put together a summary of some of the questions I had for you, knowing that each one would requite its own separate discussion. I didn’t expect you to just whip off some one-liners. This is why I gave you my email address so we could possibly discuss these in a serious manner.

        These were complicated questions and can’t be answered quickly or off-the-cuff. Look how long it has taken me to reply to you. And it is too long a response but I wanted to take my time and consider what you were say and response thoughtfully.

        My offered to have a more in-depth discussion on these topics is still open.

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      18. Mike said, “They allow him to dodge the hard questions.”

        Ok, so God determined me to dodge which hard question exactly? Tell me which question God determined me to dodge and let’s see if He will determine me to provide an answer for you.

        If your going to defend determinism here I’m going to insist on your consistency when you ask me to defend a position that is implicit in your own argumentation.

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      19. Mike, sadly I think you are right. For months he has ignored two questions I have posed. And now, he misunderstands Frame based on the partial quote I posted and refuses to read the entire (rather short) article so he could walk back his misunderstanding about agent causation. Yes, we should pray.

        Liked by 1 person

      20. ////Yes, we should pray///

        Finally you are talking to the determiner who can actually do something about your desire to see me change my determinations. Thank you for being consistent. I will miss you given that I’m sure you will now spend the time in prayer that you would have typically been on my blog, right?

        (Read my tone as playful but insisting on consistency.)

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      21. Prof. Flowers, perhaps the issue is that you think “determining” something entails meaningful micromanaging teleology. That’s not the case. Because there is chaos under determinism, you can be very much “divorced” or “distant” from the classical interests of God, and tumbling along more meaningfully by God’s SUFFERING interests.

        Consider any system that you agree is deterministic, like the spewing of volcanic ash. Those ash particles don’t have libertarian freedom. And yet you wouldn’t say that God is micromanaging every particle to go this way and that. Determinism doesn’t mean you can wholly ascribe teleology to God, whether for ash particles or for your own theological positions, whether they’re mistaken or correct.

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      22. That’s just it…theistic determinists (like Piper) do say God is micromanaging the ash and thus the intentions of the evil heart. Maybe you dont, in which case my beef may not be so much with you.

        Is how that ash lands and where my doctrinal perspective lands not determined by God in the theistic deterministic worldview? If not then my beef is likely not with you.

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      23. They are determined, and God is sovereign over them (he can always redirect the ash, but broadly chooses to let it continue unabated, perhaps giving us clues about some of his innate interests toward creation entirely). I do not like it when certain Calvinists (and I am not a Calvinist) say that God “determined” evil/mistakes or “decreed” trivial minutia, because those terms have overtones of redirection, oppression, and whole teleology, and those overtones are extremely deceptive and horrifying for communication. Indeed, they’re so horrifying that various Calvinists who are VERY misguided see meticulous micromanagement in absolutely everything, which is insane.

        You and I have much more in common than we have with those folks, frankly. I come here only to defend a paradigm wherein the mechanics are deterministic and yet we have tangible freedom from meticulous micromanagement. Deterministic chaos, plus various interests of God, make this possible (however counterintuitive).

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      24. I may not understand it, but if your philosophy (like that of Molinism) maintains the individuals ability to respond in faith to the gospel appeal, then my beef isn’t with you. Molinism is somewhat “deterministic” too but I’m fine with it BC it maintains the biblical teachings on God’s love and provision for all people.

        God spoke simply and plainly, probably so dummies like myself can understand Him. If the geniuses of our world wish to speculate as to how the mechanics work behind the scenes, fine. But if those geniuses’ speculations step on the plain and simple reading of Gods word, then this dumb butt is going to call foul. Maybe because He has chosen the weak to shame the wise?

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      25. I wouldn’t say it’s that plain. Scripture presents us with a number of difficulties, whether we’re talking about metaethics, metaphysics, eschatology, or qualitative identity. I think we gotta make sure that our critiques against bad theology/philosophy are laser-focused so there isn’t collateral damage (because collateral damage is a magnet for bad attention).

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      26. (I meant “freedom from meticulous micromanagement” in the sense of lacking meticulous micromanagement, not “gaining freedom through meticulous micromanagement.”)

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    4. I don’t know you if you noticed, but it seems all the believers in LFW objected to the same point as a mis-characterization of what we believe (with different degrees of graciousness). The main area of disagreement is the denial of the real causal agent being the will of the person him or herself. He says

      ” So a libertarian free decision is entirely indeterminate, uncaused.”

      I’m fairly sure every name he lists after that believes in LFW would not accept that statement as it is, unqualified. It is undetermined by everything but the will of the causal agent and is absolutely caused, just not caused by God’s will. It is important to a believer in LFW not to define it incorrectly, as the way it describes it is like complete randomness (under that definition the causal agent would continually be surprised by his own choices, nor would he be in any way we could define, in control of them; it is a technical possibility (by a lack of self-refleciton) that a person could be surprised by their own decision; studies have shown people make a decision quote some time before they consciously realize it; however we cannot say it’s a necessity or we violate the core definition).

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      1. No, I read the article, that is the only point of contention that is really worth fighting over for me. I’d bicker a little with how he uses certain words but that is relatively inconsequential to the main point. He even uses this odd assertion later in one of his arguments (a lawyer would have to argue a crime had no cause whatsoever or something, very strange to the ears of any believer in LFW, trust me on that; nor is no motivation alone a sufficient plea for insanity, imo).

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      2. btw kind of interesting point, he said he doesn’t know if Scripture denies freedom from naturalistic determinitive causation, i would say psa. 32:9 heavily implies it, as it makes a distinct difference between the will of animals and humans

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  5. I should have said something about the semantic use of the word “determinism” within the philosophy where compatibilism can also be referred to as soft determinism. The terminology can get confusing: incompatibilism = libertarianism, indeterminism = either libertarianism or compatibilsm, and there is soft libertarianism and hard compatibilsm, and other synonyms.

    http://frame-poythress.org/determinism-chance-and-freedom/ (Thanks Les)

    In the article by Calvinist philosopher John Frame we can see the complexity of dealing with the free will issue. Consider “coercion”—if someone’s life is threatened to force a decision both Calvinists and Arminians (and the law courts for that matter) would agree that coercion nullifies free will and responsibility. But when many Christians throughout history where coerced into renouncing Christ or face torture and death they chose martyrdom!

    The basic definition of determinism is NOT “meticulous control” as non-Calvinists like to assert but rather “simple cause and effect.” Do Arminians (Traditionalists) really want to argue against cause and effect? Try using the Kalam cosmological argument without cause and effect. Do you want to argue that one can choose against their own nature? Try responding to the Euthyphro Dilemma.

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    1. Cause and effect applies to physics, but not in the same way to metaphysics. If one were to posit the will is a physical thing, all humans are only obeying physical laws, that is as the physical laws determine whether an apple falls or magnets attract, so the physical laws determine whether a human gives to the poor or prays to God.

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  6. Thank you for bringing up this topic again, Leighton… It is the primary issue that requires attention when “determining” (pun intended) what Scripture has revealed about God’s pre-creation activity, including what went on in His mind, as well as what went on in His mind after creation and is still going on in His mind! I see you are now free to jump in more for these discussions, now that your dissertation has been sent to the printers! Congratulations! It took me six months to recover fully from that task! 🙂 I hope it doesn’t take you that long!

    Anyway… I wonder if our Calvinistic brethren on this page would admit that they must take an anthropomorphic meaning for the word “determine” when they apply it to God? For their system falls apart if they allow for any sequential thinking in the mind of God that leads to making a determination of any kind, like the determination to create. Also, as Mike has recognized, God’s nature for them must be defined as lacking free-will if they are to consistently hold to a “deterministic” worldview. For not only is nothing determined by God in a sequential sense, His mind is “locked in” (my term) to only knowing one already set reality, that is, a past-present-future reality that is unalterable.

    For the Calvinist, nothing can actually be changed by Him or us, and the illusion of free-will change, or the revelation in Scripture that sounds like free-will change actually exists, is all anthropic or anthropomorphic. They should admit the premise that Scripture is an illusion when God spoke to man as if some things were not truly set for the future, and they should admit that they as Calvinists had been pre-determined to be the ones to figure that out, and we non-Calvinists have been predetermined not to figure it out, at least not yet, it appears!

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  7. Les Prouty wrote,

    “Robert, I’m sorry but your attempt at refuting Frame is moronic, absolutely stupid, embarrassing that a person who presents himself as a philosopher could write such drivel. See how that works?”

    We need to play back the tape a bit, so others have more knowledge of the context of my comments. A few years ago, Les Prouty brought up the very same quotation by Frame (and pointed out the very same article), and I responded and showed problems with it. Usually when people are shown the problems with a view, if their concern is to know the truth, they will adjust their theory or modify their claims.

    Les Prouty did neither, he just kept making the same points over and over. Now years later he brings up the very same quote and article, as if things have changed or as if no one has dealt with that quote before. That is why I lose patience with Les.

    If this was the first time Les Prouty ever cited the quote and referred to the article, fine, but it’s not, he has done so repeatedly.

    I wish theology were more like science in this respect, in science when something has severe problems or is even out right refuted by the data, folks don’t keep bringing up the same refuted and false theories.

    This is not true in theology, you can bring up something that’s been refuted, has major problems, you can bring up anything no matter how farfetched or contrary to evidence or reason (and from my counter cult experience I have seen the most half-baked crazy ideas you will ever see! 🙂 ). Does not matter, if someone wants to argue for it, try to evangelize others to accept it, they will, and they will do so no matter how many times their pet theory is refuted and discredited. For example, anybody heard of scientology? Anybody here willing to shell out lots of cash to have some engrams cleared?

    I was taught many years ago (by multiple people not just one person, and I continue to believe they are correct) that when you want to properly understand something, go to the best sources available on that subject. With that in mind, when I want to know more on a subject, I will not just read a book on it. I will go to those recognized as the best authorities on the subject ( and TODAY there is no good excuse for not doing so as we have this wonderful thing called email in which we can contact any scholar in the world and interact with them, and no phone bill! 🙂 What a country! What a world! 🙂 ). I have done that on the subject of free will. I know and have very friendly relationships with some of the key players such as Dave Hunt (not the popularizer the philosopher), Kevin Timpe, John Fischer, etc. via this medium (you can also read their books which are readily available, but that is going to cost you, while email is free in comparison! 🙂 ). Frame is not an authority on free will, he is a Calvinist who writes on various subjects from a Calvinistic perspective. He has not had any major articles published on the subject of free will, nor is he cited on the subject (except by calvinists such as Prouty who desperately want support for their views) by other authorities in this area. For Frame to say that LFW involves non-caused choices is just absurd (it may be an argument of uninformed calvinists such as Prouty, or second level “philosophers” such as Frame, but it is not a serious argument made in contemporary discussions of the subject).

    “I’m afraid Frame in a debate would quickly have you gasping for air, even with half his brain tied behind his back.”

    How can Les be sure of this claim, does he really know my IQ and Frame’s IQ?

    Does he know my formal record in debating, know my college record in formal debates?

    Does Prouty really believe that just because someone has published some books and articles they are smarter than another person?

    If Prouty really believes that I’ve got some very nice ocean front property to sell him in the Arizona desert.

    I can tell you this, at least one of my friends appears to be smarter and more knowledgeable than Frame. My friend has both a PH.D in theology and in science. He’s published in both areas and his publications are not the popularizing variety that Frame produces. He was at an R.C. Sproul conference where Frame did one of the class room presentations. Frame made a really dumb comment, the kind of comment that a second hand philosopher makes not knowing much about science. So my friend went up to him afterwards and corrected him. Frame was embarrassed by that little encounter. From what I have been told of the incident by witnesses, Frame is apparently an arrogant person who does not handle correction very well! 🙂 I guess Frame assumed that since he has published some books and articles he **must** be smarter than anyone in his audience. Frame’s assumption was wrong. And this guy would destroy Frame in any formal debate they might have. And I have other friends who are very intelligent as well and they would likely destroy Frame in a debate too. As for myself: **based on his published comments** on free will, I would be very confident in any formal debate with Frame.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Les Prouty wrote,

    “Robert, I’m sorry but your attempt at refuting Frame is moronic, absolutely stupid, embarrassing that a person who presents himself as a philosopher could write such drivel. See how that works?”

    We need to play back the tape a bit, so others have more knowledge of the context of my comments. A few years ago, Les Prouty brought up the very same quotation by Frame (and pointed out the very same article), and I responded and showed problems with it. Usually when people are shown the problems with a view, if their concern is to know the truth, they will adjust their theory or modify their claims.

    Les Prouty did neither, he just kept making the same points over and over. Now years later he brings up the very same quote and article, as if things have changed or as if no one has dealt with that quote before. That is why I lose patience with Les.

    If this was the first time Les Prouty ever cited the quote and referred to the article, fine, but it’s not, he has done so repeatedly.

    I wish theology were more like science in this respect, in science when something has severe problems or is even out right refuted by the data, folks don’t keep bringing up the same refuted and false theories.

    This is not true in theology, you can bring up something that’s been refuted, has major problems, you can bring up anything no matter how farfetched or contrary to evidence or reason (and from my counter cult experience I have seen the most half-baked crazy ideas you will ever see! 🙂 ). Does not matter, if someone wants to argue for it, try to evangelize others to accept it, they will, and they will do so no matter how many times their pet theory is refuted and discredited. For example, anybody heard of scientology? Anybody here willing to shell out lots of cash to have some engrams cleared?

    I was taught many years ago (by multiple people not just one person, and I continue to believe they are correct) that when you want to properly understand something, go to the best sources available on that subject. With that in mind, when I want to know more on a subject, I will not just read a book on it. I will go to those recognized as the best authorities on the subject ( and TODAY there is no good excuse for not doing so as we have this wonderful thing called email in which we can contact any scholar in the world and interact with them, and no phone bill! 🙂 What a country! What a world! 🙂 ). I have done that on the subject of free will. I know and have very friendly relationships with some of the key players such as Dave Hunt (not the popularizer the philosopher), Kevin Timpe, John Fischer, etc. via this medium (you can also read their books which are readily available, but that is going to cost you, while email is free in comparison! 🙂 ). Frame is not an authority on free will, he is a Calvinist who writes on various subjects from a Calvinistic perspective. He has not had any major articles published on the subject of free will, nor is he cited on the subject (except by calvinists such as Prouty who desperately want support for their views) by other authorities in this area. For Frame to say that LFW involves non-caused choices is just absurd (it may be an argument of uninformed calvinists such as Prouty, or second level “philosophers” such as Frame, but it is not a serious argument made in contemporary discussions of the subject).

    “I’m afraid Frame in a debate would quickly have you gasping for air, even with half his brain tied behind his back.”

    How can Les be sure of this claim, does he really know my IQ and Frame’s IQ?

    Does he know my formal record in debating, know my college record in formal debates?

    Does Prouty really believe that just because someone has published some books and articles they are smarter than another person?

    If Prouty really believes that I’ve got some very nice ocean front property to sell him in the Arizona desert.

    I can tell you this, at least one of my friends appears to be smarter and more knowledgeable than Frame. My friend has both a PH.D in theology and in science. He’s published in both areas and his publications are not the popularizing variety that Frame produces. He was at an R.C. Sproul conference where Frame did one of the class room presentations. Frame made a really dumb comment, the kind of comment that a second hand philosopher makes not knowing much about science. So my friend went up to him afterwards and corrected him. Frame was embarrassed by that little encounter. From what I have been told of the incident by witnesses, Frame is apparently an arrogant person who does not handle correction very well! 🙂 I guess Frame assumed that since he has published some books and articles he **must** be smarter than anyone in his audience. Frame’s assumption was wrong. And this guy would destroy Frame in any formal debate they might have. And I have other friends who are very intelligent as well and they would likely destroy Frame in a debate too. As for myself: **based on his published comments** on free will, I would be very confident in any formal debate with Frame.

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  9. Robert,

    First, “Frame is apparently an arrogant person who does not handle correction very well!” coming from you is pretty funny.

    “Usually when people are shown the problems with a view, if their concern is to know the truth, they will adjust their theory or modify their claims.” Well you have tried, but you still haven’t made your case. Until you do, I will stand my ground on my current position on compatibilism and the theory of LFW.

    Thanks for the wordy reply. I will only say that you, like Leighton, missed what Frame was really saying. Try again. I’ll not do your homework for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Les, I read Frame’s article and appreciate his attempt to define terms and to answer objections. I wish he would have defined more clearly the relationship between “influence” and “cause” as well as “responsibility” and “culpability”.

      But more importantly, I felt he did not address the obvious confusion created by stating – “Freedom from natural necessity, the freedom to act without the constraint of natural causes. This is the freedom mentioned in my earlier reference to the Westminster Confession. Its theological importance is its implication that human choice is not necessarily or always the result of natural causes.”

      The confusion for me is in determining (pun intended) how God ordains everything, which would include every natural cause, but man is still free from responding necessarily to natural causes, and yet man is said not to have libertarian freedom of will? I thought Calvinists argued that unregenerate man is not free to go against his nature and is not able to will to seek God, even if he reads the Scripture. Is he not being necessarily constrained by nature, his nature? And where did that nature come from, if not the causation of God’s creation and His predetermination of it? The WC or Frame cannot say contradictory things and get away with sounding reasonable in my view.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Les,

      “First, “Frame is apparently an arrogant person who does not handle correction very well!” coming from you is pretty funny.”

      The people who have shared the story about Frame are all believers of long standing (i.e. friends who have been Bible teachers, educators for decades, hence when they all agree that someone is arrogant I take their word on the matter as pretty accurate and reliable). I just wish I could have seen Frame get as red faced and flustered as they say he did. I wish they had cell phones back then and could have videotaped that little exchange, that would have been priceless to play back today.

      “Usually when people are shown the problems with a view, if their concern is to know the truth, they will adjust their theory or modify their claims.” Well you have tried, but you still haven’t made your case. Until you do, I will stand my ground on my current position on compatibilism and the theory of LFW.”

      I **have** adjusted my views on free will from speaking to folks such as Plantinga and a former professor of mine J. P. Moreland and others. That is precisely why you engage people who really know what they are talking about on a subject: so that you can modify your views if need be. Regarding trying to “make my case”. I have presented evidence contrary to your compatibilism to you on multiple occasions. Unfortunately with regard to LFW you are an intentional skeptic. It is very much like when you are evangelizing and encounter a skeptic. You really would rather not waste time with the skeptic, but for the sake of others, the onlookers, you witness.

      If someone reads what I say and takes that as a spur to investigate things further by **examining the best sources** and **checking out the evidence for themselves**, that would be fantastic.

      “I will only say that you, like Leighton, missed what Frame was really saying. Try again. I’ll not do your homework for you.”

      Sorry Les that drivel about not understanding what Frame (or any other calvinist for that matter) is presenting, is so condescending and false and it gets really old. You guys keep making that statement over and over, Leighton missed it, I missed it, and everyone who seriously challenges your compatibiism always never gets it. No, the fact is, folks do understand exactly what Frame and other compatibilists are saying, and they don’t buy it. It is both significant and devastating that Alvin Plantinga (who certainly understands determinism better than Leighton or I understands it) says there is no good argument for determinism at all (need I quote him on it AGAIN like I did in the past to you?).

      And regarding “doing your homework” Les, it is very evident that you have not done much “homework” yourself on the subject of free will. The best that you can do and are doing is to parrot a calvinist popularizer/Frame. I doubt you could even quote one of the key people in this area. Have you read John Martin Fischer’s books (probably the top compatibilist by the way)? Are you familiar with Timpe’s view on source incompatibilism? Etc. Etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thing that puzzles me about the constant cry of “you just don’t get it, you just don’t understand it, go read the article, go read the article,” is why they don’t take the time to explain the misunderstanding. I hate to say something that might sound offensive, but I’ve often found when, instead of actually engaging arguments, one simply says “well go read this something else and you’ll get it” that person usually doesn’t have a good grasp at all of the subject and was simply impressed by something they read that sounded complicated and thus, to them, persuasive. I can get the offense at someone feeling a topic is rudely handled (and as is obviously the case many times there is a history others don’t know of), but even my polite and cogent replies are met with the zombie like mantra “go read it, you just don’t get it.”

        We read it. We get it.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Robert and Dizerner, I hope to get back here for more discussion, soon. My org has a big wine and beer tasting fundraiser coming up Friday. That plus new staff, web changes and lots to do. Haven’t had time to really read thru your comments and give a thoughtful reply. Later.

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  11. Not being an educated theologian, my big problem with determinism is that I find it to be one of the most de motivating concepts out there. The idea that everything in life is pre-scripted will never wake you up in the middle of the night and prompt you to pray for someone’s soul or safety. It will never cause you to care for the non-believer, just the opposite, it causes resignation. Whatever will be will be, so you just plod through life convinced that nothing really matters, and mutter: “God’s in control.” over and over, while your world falls apart. It will never make you grieve about your sin, let alone confess and renounce it, because your sin, too, was determined by God for some mysterious reason.

    At least that’s my reaction. No one can live as if determinism is true. We all speak as if the world is comprised of possiblities and as if our actions really do have a positive or negative affect, because that’s what scripture tells us. Which is why I think that if I were Satan, I might just plant the concept of determinism in the minds of believers early on in church history to devastating effect.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are absolutely right but this is only one side of the coin and as long as you don’t look at the other side you can be content. Just don’t ask questions about prophecy or omniscience (or any of the omni’s for that matter) or any of the scriptural passages that speak of God’s control (https://www.openbible.info/topics/god_is_in_control), and don’t read the book of Job. I think Satan wants to convince us that God really doesn’t know what he is doing and that we should be in control—isn’t that what happened in the garden?

      No one lives as if everything is per-scripted or if every thought is predetermined, but that’s what makes this issue so problematic. Scripture is clear in that we are to make choices and we are responsible for those choices. And that God is in complete control and we can rely on him when we are weak and make bad choices. And in spite of our choices God’s promises and his plans for the future are sure!

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      1. Actually, the only so called attributes I deny are forms of impassibility and immutability, which seem to me to run contrary to scripture.
        Classic Arminians have no problem with any of the Omnis or with Job or prophecy.
        There is no reason to make the leap from God working to God determining everything. God doesn’t have to cause everything to bring about his plans. In fact, I’ve found the God of Calvinism to be too small and limited-He has to pre-set everything to get His way in anything? How about a God who can allow free choices and still is smart enough to bring about His overall plans? That is the picture I get from scripture. This world is truly a test, not a pre-scripted story where you can only do what the puppet master programs you to do. If that were the case, the whole thing would be pointless. The “bad” people are programmed to be bad and the “good” people are programmed to be good? I’m glad God is not that boring and predictable.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mike, so it seems you also feel the tension of determinism vs reality. And that feeling is the self evidence that the religious theory of calvinism violates all 3 truth tests: calvinism DOES NOT Correspond to REALITY, nor is it COHERENT nor PRAGMATIC.

        If my choices aren’t counter casually real nor are your choices, why are we debating here? Now that is DELUSIONAL. It’s no wonder Richard Dawkins harp at “christians”. Maybe, just maybe, he might be right…..if calvinism was true.

        Because if calvinism is true, we are all living the great cosmic delusion. Matter of fact, ur god is deluding himself…. as he sits on that throne, flipping that coin… one side- the face of the devil, the other- his own reflection.

        Your reality? -Your god and the devil, is one in the same. Are you content with that?

        May that never be so! Will all the true believers of Jesus Christ please stand up!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Dizerner,

    Sounds like you understand my point exactly. Folks like Les and Mike, Calvinists who are arguing for their determinism, act as if the rest of us are just too dull to understand their determinism:

    “The thing that puzzles me about the constant cry of “you just don’t get it, you just don’t understand it, go read the article, go read the article,” is why they don’t take the time to explain the misunderstanding.”

    This “you just don’t understand it” line is just a cop-out and a condescending one at that.

    “I hate to say something that might sound offensive, but I’ve often found when, instead of actually engaging arguments, one simply says “well go read this something else and you’ll get it” that person usually doesn’t have a good grasp at all of the subject and was simply impressed by something they read that sounded complicated and thus, to them, persuasive.”

    And THAT description is precisely what is true of Les Prouty. Prouty is not well read on this subject at all. This is shown by two things. First he ridicules the concept of LFW as if it is the dumbest thing around. Second, if you read his posts, he only cites calvinists when presenting quotes to support his determinism (and the ones he cites are ***not even their best philosophers/theologians***, he cites a popularizer like Frame instead of someone like Feinberg or Cowan). Start with the second thing: lack of familiarity with the best sources. I have read the best sources and even talked to some of the key people in this area, I know what they believe and and I know their positions (does Prouty ever cite these folks? No. Do you ever see any reference to Fischer’s semi-compatibilism? No. Do you ever see any reference to Timpe’s source incompatibilism, by the way Timpe is going to be taking over Plantinga’s former position). All you find with Prouty is parroting Frame. And Prouty has been peddling this Frame article and quote for years.

    Take the first thing. Prouty ridiculing LFW. Here’s the facts, there are some very intelligent, educated and informed people who hold both LFW and compatibilism. Neither position is a dumb position. For Prouty to ridicule LFW as this ridiculous view just shows a complete disconnect from what scholars say in this area. Alvin Plantinga probably one of the best Christian philosophers there is, holds to LFW. J. P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, David Hunt, Kevin Timpe, the late Mortimer Adler, and the list goes on and on hold to LFW. Plantinga is no idiot so for Prouty to say that LFW is incoherent and ridiculous is to say that Plantinga is incoherent and ridiculous and he is not (and neither are the others).

    “I can get the offense at someone feeling a topic is rudely handled (and as is obviously the case many times there is a history others don’t know of), but even my polite and cogent replies are met with the zombie like mantra “go read it, you just don’t get it.”

    Prouty does handle this topic rudely. He keeps bringing up the Frame article as if it is THE article on the subject and it is not even an article cited by people like Hunt or Timpe. People show problems with the Frame article and yet Prouty just keeps bringing it up. That is why I lose patience with such a person. Such a person is not considering the best sources, not doing it the right way. They are just a parrot, just an ideologue of an ideology.

    “We read it. We get it.”

    We DO get it. A good example of this is Leighton’s now repeated presentation of an argument against compatibilism (instead of dealing with this argument, Les makes fun of it as a juvenile presentation, and both Les and Mike act as if Leighton does not get it, when he does). It is one thing to disagree with Leighton on his argument, but to simply ridicule it and say you just don’t understand our position, THAT is juvenile.

    Special treat, I presented this years ago when Prouty tried to argue from Frame’s article, here is Alvin Plantinga one of the best and sharpest and most well known Christian philosophers saying that there are no good arguments for determinsm (note he is speaking to Christian philosophers telling them they need not be intimidated by non-Christian philosophers on the subject of determinism, although what he says is aimed at non-Christian versions of determinism his comments apply equally well to Christian determinists as well:

    [[IV.Theism and Persons [Alvin Plantinga}

    My third example has to do with philosophical anthropology: how should we think about human persons? What sorts of things, fundamentally, are they? What is it to be a person, what is it to be a human person, and how shall we think about personhood? How, in particular, should Christians, Christian philosophers, think about these things? The first point to note is that on the Christian scheme of things, God is the premier person, the first and chief exemplar of personhood. God, furthermore, has created man in his own image; we men and women are image bearers of God, and the properties most important for an understanding of our personhood are properties we share with him. How we think about God, then, will have an immediate and direct bearing on how we think about humankind. Of course we learn much about ourselves from other sources-from everyday observation, from introspection and self-observation, from scientific investigation and the like. But it is also perfectly proper to start from what we know as Christians. It is not the case that rationality, or proper philosophical method, or intellectual responsibility, or the new scientific morality, or whatever, require that we start from beliefs we share with everyone else-what common sense and current science teach, e.g.-and attempt to reason to or justify those beliefs we hold as Christians. In trying to give a satisfying philosophical account of some area or phenomenon, we may properly appeal, in our account or explanation, to anything else we already rationally believe- whether it be current science or Christian doctrine.
    Let me proceed again to specific examples. There is a fundamental watershed, in philosophical anthropology, between those who think of human beings as free-free in the libertarian sense-and those who espouse determinism. According to determinists, every human action is a consequence of initial conditions outside our control by way of causal laws that are also outside our control. Sometimes underlying this claim is a picture of the universe as a vast machine where, at any rate at the macroscopic level, all events, including human actions, are determined by previous events and causal laws. On this view every action I have in fact performed was such that it wasn’t within my power to refrain from performing it; and if, on a given occasion I did not perform a given action, then it wasn’t then within my power to perform it. If I now raise my arm, then, on the view in question, it wasn’t within my power just then not to raise it. Now the Christian thinker has a stake in this controversy just by virtue of being a Christian. For she will no doubt believe that God holds us human beings responsible for much of what we do-responsible, and thus properly subject to praise or blame, approval or disapproval. But how can I be responsible for my actions, if it was never within my power to perform any actions I didn’t in fact perform, and never within my power to refrain from performing any I did perform? If my actions are thus determined, then I am not rightly or justly held accountable for them; but God does nothing improper or unjust, and he holds me accountable for some of my actions; hence it is not the case that all of my actions are thus determined. The Christian has an initially strong reason to reject the claim that all of our actions are causally determined-a reason much stronger than the meager and anemic arguments the determinist can muster on the other side. Of course if there were powerful arguments on the other side, then there might be a problem here. But there aren’t; so there isn’t.

    Now the determinist may reply that freedom and causal determinism are, contrary to initial appearances, in fact compatible. He may argue that my being free with respect to an action I performed at a time t for example, doesn’t entail that it was then within my power to refrain from performing it, but only something weaker-perhaps something like if I had chosen not to perform it, I would not have performed it. Indeed, the clearheaded compatibilist will go further. He will maintain, not merely that freedom is compatible with determinism, but that freedom requires determinism. He will hold with Hume that the proposition S is free with respect to action A or S does A freely entails that S is causally determined with respect to A-that there are causal laws and antecedent conditions that together entail either that S performs A or that S does not perform A. And he will back up this claim by insisting that if S is not thus determined with respect to A, then it’s merely a matter of chance-due, perhaps, to quantum effects in S’s brain- that S does A. But if it is just a matter of chance that S does A then either S doesn’t really do A at all, or at any rate S is not responsible for doing A. If S’s doing A is just a matter of chance, then S’s doing A is something that just happens to him; but then it is not really the case that he performs A-at any rate it is not the case that he is responsible for performing A. And hence freedom, in the sense that is required for responsibility, itself requires determinism.

    But the Christian thinker will find this claim monumentally implausible. Presumably the determinist means to hold that what he says characterizes actions generally, not just those of human beings. He will hold that it is a necessary truth that if an agent isn’t caused to perform an action then it is a mere matter of chance that the agent in question performs the action in question. From a Christian perspective, however, this is wholly incredible. For God performs actions, and performs free actions; and surely it is not the case that there are causal laws and antecedent conditions outside his control that determine what he does. On the contrary: God is the author of the causal laws that do in fact obtain; indeed, perhaps the best way to think of these causal laws is as records of the ways in which God ordinarily treats the beings he has created. But of course it is not simply a matter of chance that God does what he does-creates and upholds the world, let’s say, and offers redemption and renewal to his children. So a Christian philosopher has an extremely good reason for rejecting this premise, along with the determinism and compatibilism it supports.

    What is really at stake in this discussion is the notion of agent causation: the notion of a person as an ultimate source of action. According to the friends of agent causation, some events are caused, not by other events, but by substances, objects-typically personal agents. And at least since the time of David Hume, the idea of agent causation has been languishing. It is fair to say, I think, that most contemporary philosophers who work in this area either reject agent causation outright or are at the least extremely suspicious of it. They see causation as a relation among events; they can understand how one event can cause another event, or how events of one kind can cause events of another kind. But the idea of a person, say, causing an event, seems to them unintelligible, unless it can be analyzed, somehow, in terms of event causation. It is this devotion to event causation, of course, that explains the claim that if you perform an action but are not caused to do so, then your performing that action is a matter of chance. For if I hold that all causation is ultimately event causation, then I will suppose that if you perform an action but are not caused to do so by previous events, then your performing that action isn’t caused at all and is therefore a mere matter of chance. The devotee of event causation, furthermore, will perhaps argue for his position as follows. If such agents as persons cause effects that take place in the physical world-my body’s moving in a certain way, for example-then these effects must ultimately be caused by volitions or undertakings-which, apparently, are immaterial, unphysical events. He will then claim that the idea of an immaterial event’s having causal efficacy in the physical world is puzzling or dubious or worse.

    But a Christian philosopher will find this argument unimpressive and this devotion to event causation uncongenial. As for the argument, the Christian already and independently believes that acts of volition have causal efficacy; he believes indeed, that the physical universe owes its very existence to just such volitional acts-God’s undertaking to create it. And as for the devotion to event causation, the Christian will be, initially, at any rate, strongly inclined to reject the idea that event causation is primary and agent causation to be explained in terms of it. For he believes that God does and has done many things: he has created the world; he sustains it in being; he communicates with his children. But it is extraordinarily hard to see how these truths can be analyzed in terms of causal relations among events. What events could possibly cause God’s creating the world or his undertaking to create the world? God himself institutes or establishes the causal laws that do in fact hold; how, then, can we see all the events constituted by his actions as related to causal laws to earlier events? How could it be that propositions ascribing actions to him are to be explained in terms of event causation?

    Some theistic thinkers have noted this problem and reacted by soft pedaling God’s causal activity, or by impetuously following Kant in declaring that it is of a wholly different order from that in which we engage, an order beyond our comprehension. I believe this is the wrong response. Why should a Christian philosopher join in the general obeisance to event causation? It is not as if there are cogent arguments here. The real force behind this claim is a certain philosophical way of looking at persons and the world; but this view has no initial plausibility from a Christian perspective and no compelling argument in its favor.

    So on all these disputed points in philosophical anthropology the theist will have a strong initial predilection for resolving the dispute in one way rather than another. He will be inclined to reject compatibilism, to hold that event causation (if indeed there is such a thing) is to be explained in terms of agent causation, to reject the idea that if an event isn’t caused by other events then its occurrence is a matter of chance, and to reject the idea that events in the physical world can’t be caused by an agent’s undertaking to do something. And my point here is this. The Christian philosopher is within his right in holding these positions, whether or not he can convince the rest of the philosophical world and whatever the current philosophical consensus is, if there is a consensus. But isn’t such an appeal to God and his properties, in this philosophical context, a shameless appeal to a deus ex machina? Surely not. “Philosophy,” as Hegel once exclaimed in a rare fit of lucidity, “is thinking things over.” Philosophy is in large part a clarification, systematization, articulation, relating and deepening of pre-philosophical opinion. We come to philosophy with a range of opinions about the world and humankind and the place of the latter in the former; and in philosophy we think about these matters, systematically articulate our views, put together and relate our views on diverse topics, and deepen our views by finding unexpected interconnections and by discovering and answering unanticipated questions. Of course we may come to change our minds by virtue of philosophical endeavor; we may discover incompatibilities or other infelicities. But we come to philosophy with prephilosophical opinions; we can do no other. And the point is: the Christian has as much right to his prephilosophical opinions, as others have to theirs. He needn’t try first to ‘prove’ them from propositions accepted by, say, the bulk of the non-Christian philosophical community; and if they are widely rejected as naive, or pre-scientific, or primitive, or unworthy of “man come of age,” that is nothing whatever against them. Of course if there were genuine and substantial arguments against them from premises that have some legitimate claim on the Christian philosopher, then he would have a problem; he would have to make some kind of change somewhere. But in the absence of such arguments-and the absence of such arguments is evident-the Christian philosophical community, quite properly starts, in philosophy, from what it believes.

    But this means that the Christian philosophical community need not devote all of its efforts to attempting to refute opposing claims and or to arguing for its own claims, in each case from premises accepted by the bulk of the philosophical community at large. It ought to do this, indeed, but it ought to do more. For if it does only this, it will neglect a pressing philosophical task: systematizing, deepening, clarifying Christian thought on these topics. So here again: my plea is for the Christian philosopher, the Christian philosophical community, to display, first, more independence and autonomy: we needn’t take as our research projects just those projects that currently enjoy widespread popularity; we have our own questions to think about. Secondly, we must display more integrity. We must not automatically assimilate what is current or fashionable or popular by way of philosophical opinion and procedures; for much of it comports ill with Christian ways of thinking. And finally, we must display more Christian self-confidence or courage or boldness. We have a perfect right to our pre-philosophical views: why, therefore, should we be intimidated by what the rest of the philosophical world thinks plausible or implausible?]]

    Prouty cannot deal with something like this, that is why he just ignores it and keeps ridiculing LFW despite the fact people like geniuses like Plantinga hold to it.

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    1. Robert,

      It is quite ironic that you complain about people telling you to go read something and then you post a long article from Plantinga. But be that as it may, this is a great article which I will need to read over a couple of times and think on it. Could you provide me with the link to the original post or PDF.

      I don’t ridicule LFW but I don’t think it is coherent just as you and the scholars you mention don’t think compatibilism is coherent. These are difficult issues and as demonstrated by this article they are not easily understood or resolved.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mike,

        Apparently you have not read my other comments regarding Les Prouty and this Frame article. To make the point one more time: Les has been peddling this Frame quote and the article it comes from for YEARS. For YEARS others including myself have shown problems with it (which he has completely ignored). Yet he brings it up here yet again. I lose patience with a person who does that. So your comment here is a bit off:

        “It is quite ironic that you complain about people telling you to go read something and then you post a long article from Plantinga.”

        Actually I don’t complain if someone that I trust or respect shares an article no matter what length it is. I appreciate being informed of good and helpful articles on subjects that I am considering. I am fortunate to have some friends in different settings who are always sending me articles (and I do likewise for them). Alvin Plantinga is one such friend who has sent me some great articles. I don’t complain about that at all! 🙂

        Les sharing this Frame article does not fit this type of sharing at all, as he has been peddling the same article for years. And there are much better sources than Frame, scholars who are much better and more important than Frame in the area of free will.

        “But be that as it may, this is a great article which I will need to read over a couple of times and think on it. Could you provide me with the link to the original post or PDF.”

        It comes from Plantinga’s famous essay “Advice to Christian Philosophers” section IV “Theism and Persons” here is a one link for it see if it works:

        http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth10.html

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      2. Yeah, any time a premise is incoherent, it can actually be dangerously attractive because it can serve as a logical wildcard, “solving” all sorts of issues in what appears to be an elegant way.

        This makes it both virulent and resilient — the catalysts of memetic success — even among the very, very intelligent. Nobody should doubt that Plantinga and Craig are smart. But their arguments on this topic are buggy. Brilliant engineers can write buggy code. We shouldn’t find this unfathomable.

        Another cause of resilience is incredulity at so many historical luminaries having also “missed” the error. But again, this errors are THE easiest to overlook (at best) or embrace in toxic codependence (at worst).

        The only way to combat utile ambiguity is to demand positive coherent articulation and reject any falling-short. This is what prompts most philosophers to reject LFW. “Do otherwise” doesn’t suffice (per Frankfurt), and desperate reductio ad absurdums don’t suffice (because there are coherent compatibilistic schemas that don’t lose the important stuff).

        Liked by 1 person

  13. “Stan Rock” writes:

    “Nobody should doubt that Plantinga and Craig are smart. But their arguments on this topic are buggy.”

    “Buggy” what in the world does that mean? 🙂

    And Stan makes no effort at all to show us just how their arguments are “buggy”: it is just a dogmatic claim that he makes.

    One of my mentors used to repeatedly remind me when you hear something or something is said: “consider the source”.

    Well who is claiming that the arguments of Plantinga and Craig are “buggy”?

    Stan a guy who has a website with these strange articles that have virtually no response to them, a guy who espouses universalism/that all will eventually be saved, a guy who espouses determinism but he is not a calvinist, a guy who writes with his own invented and made up terms/uses his own terminology, which makes him extremely difficult to read. A guy who basically has very idiosyncratic and false views.

    And HE wants to claim that the arguments of Plantinga and Craig are “buggy”?? 🙂

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    1. Robert, you wrote, “‘Buggy’ what in the world does that mean?”

      It means “Their practice of formal and modal logic has demonstrable errors.” We software engineers become very practiced at detecting these over years and years of what is called “debugging.” Craig’s arguments in support of Molinism are riddled with modal scope fallacies, and he forgets accessibility relations when applying modal logic, for two quick high-level examples. He often admonishes his verbal debate opponents to “do their homework” but Craig’s homework has marks all over it.

      You have failed again to resist the urge to fly off-topic and go after me personally and so, once again, I’ll let you have the last word in this encounter. God bless.

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  14. I was combing through blogs and comments and didn’t see anything regarding this.

    Romans 9:22, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (ESV).”

    Some theologians believe [prepared] is in the middle voice versus the passive. If so, this verse should be translated, “having prepared themselves for destruction.” It changes the meaning of this a ton. What are the implications of this grammatical change?

    I look forward to your comments/thoughts.

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    1. Good question, Second! This verb, καταρτιζω, is found 13 times in the NT. Five of those are in the form that could be seen as either middle or passive. There are two other instances where is it clearly in the middle voice. Three of those five middle/passive occurrences are participles, including the occurrence in Romans 9:22. The other two middle/passive participles are found in Luke 6:40 and 1Corinthians 1:10.

      Both in Luke 6:40, κατηρτισμένος, “who is perfectly trained”, and in 1Corinthians 1:10, κατηρτισμένοι, “perfectly joined together”, do not make sense unless there is some reflexive action (middle voice) involved. The disciple in the one context receives training (passive) but also must practice and implement the training himself (middle) if he is to be “perfectly trained.” The divided Corinthian church must allow God to join them back together (passive), but they also must take individual initiative to be “perfectly joined together” (middle).

      An example of the middle/passive imperative is found in 2Corinthians 13:11, καταρτίζεσθε, “be complete.” This too would not make much sense unless there were some reflexive action (middle voice) involved. But a middle/passive infinitive is found in Hebrews 11:3, κατηρτίσθαι, “were framed” (literally – “to have been framed”). This example is clearly only passive in meaning, though it is middle/passive in form. The two examples that are only middle voice in form are found in Matthew 21:16 and Hebrews 10:5. In the first, God, for Himself (middle), “perfected praise” using what was offered from the mouths of infants. In the second, God, by Himself (middle), “a body…prepared” for the Son.

      All this grammatical evidence makes me lean strongly to choose a middle/reflexive idea, at least a partial one, in Romans 9:22. The “vessel of wrath” is a person in that context. And just like the disciple or the Corinthian believer, though God was involved in the preparing/framing the vessel of wrath “for destruction”, the person themselves had been also responding of their own will in that process. Jeremiah 18:3 is very instructive and probably the passage Paul is alluding to here in Romans 9. The Potter’s intention was first something else. Then the vessel was marred by itself (middle) in the Potter’s hands. So He prepared/framed it to become another vessel.

      God’s intention for each person when they are born is for them to be formed to be saved and to serve Him as a vessel of honor. If they, of themselves become marred in His hands, against His original intention, He makes them over into what seems best to Him, even into a vessel of wrath, to provide opportunities of salvation to those still open to His drawing.
      One final thought! Even if “fitted for destruction” is passive, nothing in the passage demands that God had to have prepared that vessel for destruction before creation.

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      1. You could always sign up for my Greek course this Fall at VBC! You can take it as an online student for grad credit or even just audit it… which is very inexpensive. It will be held weekly on Thursday evenings from 7:30 – 9:40 using Adobe Connect.

        The first semester is nuts and bolts, but with obvious examples of showing the value of learning Greek. The second semester is exegesis in five key passages to practice sound hermeneutic method.

        You can start the registration process online at http://www.vbc.edu! 🙂

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  15. Thanks Brian!
    I would love to do that, and I think you an excellent mentor in it!
    My time, unfortunately, is so divided up into multiple commitments, I wouldn’t be able to give it the attention it deserves.
    I read a little Greek each night as bed-time reading, and I’m starting to memorize verb construction rules.
    If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it…..and I find myself so committed to other things, that post-course retention is a strong concern.
    So I honor you for the work you’ve put into learning it, but even more so, for your benevolence and ministry in teaching it!
    τοὺς δὲ ποιμένς καὶ διδασκάλους – – that we all may no longer be tossed about by the cunning craftiness of ἀνθρώπων
    Yeah!!! 😀

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Br.D. Sounds like you have developed some good habits for learning Greek! I tell my students to focus on three things – Pronunciation, Vocabulary, and Grammar! Hearing yourself pronounce Greek words and Scripture sentences in Greek correctly will make you feel comfortable with the language, even before you know meanings and syntax. Vocabulary, especially doing word studies, provides the foundational benefit of NT Greek study. And becoming knowledgeable of grammar terms and grammar choices provides the most rewarding results from NT Greek study.

      Actually, in my opinion, memorizing verb construction rules is not as necessary as understanding with clarity the differences in meaning produced by the different moods, tenses, and voices. With helps like Biblehub.com’s interlinear where every word is parsed for you, knowing how a verb was formed is not as important as what its form reveals in its meaning in the context where the word is found.

      If you consider yourself a beginner, I would recommend that you look at https://billmounce.com/greek or http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/egreek/egreek.htm And always feel free to contact me directly with any exegetical question you wish to bounce my way! 🙂 brianwagner@vbc.edu

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      1. Brian, your post was awesome and actually an answer to a prayer I had just this morning, hoping for the opportunity to get your email address to pose a specific question to you. I have one of Mounce’s books and will look again at it. But one of the books I’ve enjoyed is Mastering New Testament Greek Vocabulary Through Semantic Domains. I also have an interlinear with parsing codes. But I take your advice very seriously and will seriously look into the moods, tenses, and voices. Big thanks!

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