Answering the Calvinist’s Most Popular Argument

“Why did you believe the gospel, but your friend did not? Are you wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble?”

This is typically one of the first questions a Calvinist will ask a non-Calvinist when attempting to convince them of their doctrine.[1] In fact, when I was a Calvinist, I used this argument more often than any other, and it was quite effective. However, I have come to believe there are at least four significant problems with this line of argumentation:

1) Question Begging Fallacy:

As we have discussed HERE, this is a game of question begging because it presumes a deterministic answer is required. It is tantamount to asking, “What determined the response of you and your friend?” As if something or someone other than the responsible agents themselves made the determination. The question presumes determinism is true and that libertarian free will (self-determination) is not possible. [2]

I believe that the cause of a choice is the chooser (or the cause of a determination is the determiner) and accept the mystery associated with the functioning of that free will in making its own determinations.[3] Now, Calvinists will often challenge my appeal to mystery at this point as if it is a weakness unique to my libertarian worldview. This is a very shortsighted argument, however, which will be made abundantly clear in the next point.

2) Calvinists Ultimately Appeal to the Same Mystery:

While the Calvinist may feel he has the “upper hand” when asking about the “decisive factor” in man’s choice to reject God’s words, the role reverses quite dramatically when the conversation shifts to man’s first choice to reject God’s words. Whether discussing Satan’s first act of rebellion or Adam’s first choice to sin, it becomes quite evident that the Calvinist has painted himself into a corner by denying libertarian free will.

While on the one hand arguing that mankind will always act in accordance with his nature (assuming the nature could not be libertarianly free, mind you), the Calvinist has no rational answer as to why Adam (or Lucifer) chose to rebel. [4] For instance, John Piper openly admits:

How God freely hardens and yet preserves human accountability we are not explicitly told. It is the same mystery as how the first sin entered the universe. How does a sinful disposition arise in a good heart? The Bible does not tell us.”[5]

And RC Sproul similarly teaches,

“But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.”[6]

As you can clearly see, the Calvinist has just “kicked the can down the road,” so to speak, when it comes to appealing to the mystery of free moral will.[7] They eventually appeal to the same mystery that we do, all the while thinking they are taking the higher moral ground by giving God all the credit for the Christian’s choice to repent and trust in Christ. In reality, however, by not accepting the mystery of man’s free will, the Calvinist has created a new mystery that is simply not afforded by the text of scripture.

This problem is made evident by turning the question around and asking this of the Calvinist:

Why has your lost friend continued to hate and reject God?

Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them. Calvinists would rather focus on the elect who are saved by deterministic means while ignoring the inevitable conclusions about the non-elect who remain damned for the same deterministic reason. In my opinion, this is a dilemma unique to their worldview, not a tension created by the teachings of scripture.

So, the Calvinist rejects the mystery of libertarian freedom only to adopt another even more difficult mystery. One that arguably brings into question the holiness, righteousness and trustworthiness of our God — namely the suggestion that God is implicit in the determination of moral evil, as evidenced by John Calvin’s own teachings:

“…how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be, not by His will but by His permission…It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing, but the author of them…Who does not tremble at these judgments with which God works in the hearts of even the wicked whatever He will, rewarding them nonetheless according to desert? Again it is quite clear from the evidence of Scripture that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills just as he will, whether to good for His mercy’s sake, or to evil according to their merits.”[8]

Which mystery is more difficult to swallow? One that seemingly suggests mankind might have some part to play in reconciliation (the bringing together of two parties) or the one that suggests God is the author of evil (that which divided to two parties to begin with)? More importantly, which of these mysteries does the Bible actually afford? (Listen to THIS PODCAST to better understand why a defense of free will is actually a defense of God’s Holiness, not merely an appeal to mystery.)

3) Better by Choice or Divine Decree is Still Better:

Calvinists seem to think there is something morally wrong with admitting that a believer is better than an unbeliever. Of course it is better to believe than it is to “trade the truth of God in for lies.” Whether one believes because they were sovereignly made to do so or simply given the ability to do so freely does not change the fact that believers are doing something “better.” But, as we will discover in the next point, better does not mean worthy of salvation. So, even if the non-Calvinist were to say, “Yes, I’m more humble or smarter,” he would ultimately be saying the exact same thing a Calvinist has to say. The only difference would be that an unbeliever could rightly say to the Calvinist, “How arrogant of you to think that God made you more humble or smarter,” whereas if they said that to the non-Calvinist, we could rightly answer, “No he didn’t, you have no such excuse. You have just as much ability to humble yourself and understand the gospel as I have.”

We (non-Calvinist) are too often accused that we could/would boast in our salvation because we affirm that it is our responsibility to freely respond in faith to the gracious Holy Spirit wrought gospel appeal.

Is this really boast worthy?

We are the ones who teach that anyone can believe the gospel. Why would we boast in doing something anyone is able to do?

It’s the Calvinists who believe this ability is uniquely given to them and not most people. It makes much more sense for a Calvinist to boast in an ability granted to him that has been withheld from most others.

A great singer, for example, is a given a rare gift from birth and can often become proud or boastful due to that unique gift. But if everyone was born able sing that well whenever they wanted, then boasting in that ability would not make any sense. Thus, Calvinism leaves more room for boasting than does our soteriological perspective. (Though I don’t believe true Christians from either soteriological system would boast in such things: SEE HERE)

This speaks to the biblical teaching on the attainability of goodness or righteousness, which we will discuss in the next point.

4) A Decision Does Not Merit Salvation:

What is the underlying motivation for asking the question, “Why you and not another?” The implication seems to be that one who makes the libertarianly free decision to accept the gospel appeal is meriting or more deserving of salvation? As if the decision to repent somehow earns or merits one’s forgiveness.

Think of it this way.  Did the prodigal son earn, merit or in any way deserve the reception of his father on the basis that he humbly returned home?  Of course not. He deserved to be punished, not rewarded.  The acceptance of his father was a choice of the father alone and it was ALL OF GRACE.  The father did not have to forgive, restore and throw a party for his son on the basis that he chose to come home. That was the father’s doing.

Humiliation and brokenness is not considered “better” or “praiseworthy” and it certainly is not inherently valuable.  In fact, one could argue that it was weak and pitiful of the son to return home and beg his daddy for a job instead of working his own way out of that pig sty.  The only thing that makes this quality “desirable” is that God has chosen to grace those who humble themselves, something He is in no way obligated to do (Is. 66:2).  God gives grace to the humble not because a humble response deserves salvation, but because He is gracious.

Calvinists often conflate man’s choice to confess with God’s choice to forgive while labeling it all “salvation.”  They go on to convincingly argue that God is “sovereign over salvation” which actually means “God is as much in control over His own choice to forgive as He is over man’s choice to confess in faith.”  It’s difficult to argue with someone who is making the case that God is “in control of salvation” and is “the One who gets all credit for salvation,” but that difficulty only exists due to the conflating of man’s responsibility to believe/confess with God’s gracious choice to save whosoever does so.  Of course Salvation is all of God, but that is distinct from man’s responsibility to humbly trust in Him for salvation.

We all affirm that Salvation belongs to the Lord, but that does not mean sin and the responsibility to repent from sin does not belong to the sinner.

Clearly scripture calls us to humility and there is nothing which suggests we cannot respond in humility when confronted by the powerful clear revelation of God’s convicting life-giving truth through the law and the gospel.  Consider what our Lord taught us in Luke 18:10-14

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Did the tax collector deserve to go home justified because of his humble admission of guilt? Of course not. If that were so, then his confession would have merited his salvation and there would be no reason for Christ’s death to atone for his sin. He went home justified because of God’s grace and provision alone! Maintaining man’s libertarianly free responsibility to repent and believe does not negate the truth that salvation is completely and totally of God alone.

Throughout the scriptures we see examples of God “finding favor” in believing individuals (Job, Enoch, Noah, Abram, etc), but these men, like all of humanity, still fell short of God’s glory and were unrighteous according to the demands of God’s law. They needed a savior. They needed redemption and reconciliation. Even those who believe the truth of God’s revelation deserve eternal punishment for their sin.

What must be understood is that no one was righteous according to the demands of the law. However, that does NOT mean that all people are unable to believe God’s revealed truth so as to be credited as righteous by God’s grace. Paul taught that no one was righteous in Romans 3, yet he turns around and declares in the very next chapter that, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (4:3).

How can that be? Has Paul contradicted himself? First he declares that no one is righteous and then he tells us that Abraham was righteous? Which is it?

Paul is drawing the distinction between righteousness by works (Rm. 3:10-11) and righteousness by grace through faith (Rm. 3:21-24). The former is unattainable but the latter has always been very much attainable by anyone, which again, is why ALL ARE “WITHOUT EXCUSE!” (Rm. 1:20)

God can show mercy on whom ever he wants to show mercy!  We happen to know, based on Biblical revelation, that God wants to show mercy to those who humbly repent in faith, which is man’s responsibility not God’s!

If you wait on God to effectually humble you, it will be too late.

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

Isaiah 66:2: “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

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

2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”

2 Chronicles 12:7: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak.

2 Chronicles 12:12: Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed.

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

Psalm 25:9: He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

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

Proverbs 3:34: He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

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

Matthew 5:3:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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

Luke 1:52: He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

Luke 14:11: For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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

James 4:6: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

 


[1] John Piper said, “More specifically, I rarely meet Christians who want to take credit for their conversion. There is something about true grace in the believer’s heart that makes us want to give all the glory to God. So, for example, if I ask a believer how he will answer Jesus’s question at the last judgment, “Why did you believe on me, when you heard the gospel, but your friends didn’t, when they heard it?” very few believers answer that question by saying: “Because I was wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble.” Most of us feel instinctively that we should glorify God’s grace by saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, we know intuitively that God’s grace was decisive in our conversion. That is what we mean by irresistible grace.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism#Grace)

[2] Libertarian Free Will is “the categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from a given moral action.” See: https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/philosophical-reflections-on-free-will/

[3] Question begging is the logical fallacy of presuming true the very argument up for debate. By asking what determined a man’s choice, the questioner is presuming someone or something other than that man made the determination, thus presuming true the foundation for deterministic logic (i.e. “a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws [or Divine decree].” Merriam-Webster Dictionary). While a determiner may state reasons or influential factors for his or her own determination (i.e. I chose to overeat because it tastes so good) that does not mean the factors listed effectually caused the determination (i.e. the taste of food determined the agent’s choice to overeat).  The agent alone made the determination based on the factors taken into consideration and deliberated upon. To presume without proof that something or someone outside the agent himself made the determination (i.e. was the “decisive factor”) is question begging.

[4] On the one hand, Calvinists argue that mankind always chooses according to their greatest inclination which is ultimately determined by their God given nature, yet on the other hand they affirm that Adam “was perfectly free from any corruptions or sinful inclinations,” and that he “had no sinful inclinations to hurry him on to sin; he did it of his own free and mere choice” Jonathan Edwards, ‘All God’s Methods Are Most Reasonable’, in Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, ed. by Kenneth P. Minkema, Works 14 (1997): 168.)

How does the affirmation of Adam’s freedom to sin or refrain from sin not violate the Calvinists own definition of human will and choice? For Adam to choose to sin he must violate the law of his own nature, as defined by the Calvinistic systematic.

[5]John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/the-hardening-of-pharaoh-and-the-hope-of-the-world))

[6] RC Sproul, Chosen By God, p.31

[8] John Calvin, “The Eternal Predestination of God,” 10:11

 

124 thoughts on “Answering the Calvinist’s Most Popular Argument

    1. Non-Calvinists (including both SBC Traditionalists and Arminians) all affirm that God is omniscient (that he knows all events, past, present and even future events before they occur). This is no “elephant in the room”. It is only open theists such as the frequent contributor here, Brian Wagner, who deny omniscience. Multiple people including myself have dealt with rhutchin’s argument from omniscience. He refuses to accept that it has been dealt with many times. He keeps bringing it up though.

      Having said that, Leighton your article is great, lots of very good points.

      To focus on only one: we are not saved by our decision to trust Jesus. Like a man who decides to have open heart surgery to save his life. The surgeons, and support staff save the man while he is unconscious. A person consenting to such a surgery could be a bad man or a good man, what saves him is not his character or even his decision, he is saved by the surgical team alone. Likewise we can decide to trust the Lord to save us, but He alone can save a person.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Robert writes, “Multiple people including myself have dealt with rhutchin’s argument from omniscience.”

        If memory serves, we all agreed that God already knew who would be saved (His elect) and who would not (the reprobate) when He created the world and He was not going to change that outcome; not one more person was to be saved or one less person eternally lost. We, of course, agreed that God send Christ Christ to save His elect. As the reprobate were not to be saved, Christ’s death had no meaningful reference to them.

        That, of course, leads in to the issue Professor Flowers raises in his comments above. Is there a way to explain how God knew those who would be saved and those who would be lost as He created the world thereby ensuring their destiny? Can that outcome be explained by inherent differences between one who is elect and one who is reprobate or is it to be explained by something that God does to favor His elect but which He withholds from the reprobate?

        Pastor Flowers writes, “Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them.” Calvinists readily admit this: “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated.” A favorite verse to Calvinist apologists.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. But…the man consented to the surgery did he not? Therefore the actions of the surgical team hinge on the man’s choice, ergo, he has something about which to boast, even if that boast is merely, I allowed myself to be saved.
        Biblically speaking, the man requiring surgery (dead in his sins) does not want surgery or even thing he needs it, and the act of telling hi that he is sick only repulses him further. It is only the grace of God through regeneration that a man recognizes his need and submits.

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      1. “you will have to prove omniscience denies autonomous culpability…”

        Why is that? What’s the connection between omniscience and culpability”

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      2. You left me having to build your argument for you, since you seem to think “omniscience” all by itself was some kind of powerful argument.

        If my trying to make an argument FOR you from the word “omniscience” is not your argument, please inform me what your argument actually is.

        Thanks.

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      3. I think we have put to bed the idea that there is a relationship between God’s omniscience and accusations of culpability for sin. This because you are unable to show such a link. It is an emotional charge that some make against God because He is omniscient, and one made without thinking.

        “Omniscience” is a powerful argument for Calvinism for without omniscience, there would be no Calvinist theology. By His omniscience, God has guaranteed the future, that this future is certain and cannot be changed, and that everything we observe and experience in time is in accord with God’s omniscience. When God created the world, He set in motion all the events that were to come and are still unfolding.

        Because God is omniscient, we know that the number of Hid elect and of the reprobate is certain and cannot be increased or decreased. We know that God knows His elect and the reprobate in every detail of their lives – It is God who gives life to each, who sustains them throughout their lives, and brings their lives to an end. Every action of every person, whether elect or reprobate, was known to God when He created the world and each action by either elect or reprobate accords with His will as expressed in His eternal plan.

        You deny none of this unless you want to embrace Open Theism, or similar theology, that denies that God knows the future. It is because God is omniscience that the Calvinist is able to advance his theology and no other theology can be formulated without denying that God is omniscient. So, God’s omniscience is a powerful argument for Calvinism.

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      4. The Calvinist defense argument can be found above: “If memory serves, we all agreed that God already knew who would be saved (His elect) and who would not (the reprobate) when He created the world and He was not going to change that outcome; not one more person was to be saved or one less person eternally lost.”

        Analysis:
        Here we have the consistent use of semantic shell games, word juggling and subterfuge. According to CORE Calvinism, is God’s role in mans salvation/damnation “ACTIVE” or “PASSIVE”? There is no question here. Core Calvinism insists God’s role in both is absolutely ACTIVE. How can it be otherwise, when Calvin harshly insists that at the very foundation of the world, God decreed *ALL* things that will come to pass with immutable decrees. And as such those decrees established the few who would be FATED for salvation, and the many who would be FATED to eternal torment. And Calvin unfashionably tells us that his god does both…..quote: “for his good pleasure”.

        But notice how the language in the statement carefully works to paint God’s role in the process as PASSIVE, and the salvation/damnation event as PAST-TENSE. This is where the Calvinist speaks in “AS-IF” mode. The careful crafting of arguments based on premises, AS-IF the premise were true, when in fact the premise is really a moving shell in an ongoing semantic shell game.

        This type of semantic framing is designed to distance God’s role from the process, and thus God’s culpability, and thus minimize the stigma of the doctrines of damnation.

        Calvinist typically exhibit Four Communication Modes, through which they alternate semantic techniques:

        There is a now-godly-good, now-godly-evil, alternating emphasis, consistent within Calvinistic language. And a recognizable characteristic is the framing of [concept pairs] reflecting a dualistic cosmos derived from Augustine’s synchronizations of Gnostic and NeoPlatonic doctrines into his Catholicism.

        Now when one knows to look for these four communication modes, one will surely find them as follows:

        (1) THEOLOGICAL-BOASTING mode: Here he is eulogizing God’s good pleasure, and God’s sovereignty, which entails both glorified-good and glorified-evil. Or he might be lauding the system’s vaunted image or aggrandizing its persons.

        (2) THEOLOGICAL-DEFENSE mode: Here he is defending the system’s representations of glorified-evil as necessary, and right. Dualism and Universal Divine Causal Determinism are what make the system superior for him, what gives the system its distinctiveness, and function as phylacteries for him. But the glorified-evil component is morally problematic. To compensate its impact, the Calvinist will switch to:

        (3) AS-IF mode: This is his inventive mode, and his language is often cosmetic in nature. In this mode he might create philosophical inventions AS-IF they were biblical, or represent his own unique understanding of Calvinism, AS-IF it were “core” Calvinism. Or he might communicate AS-IF the systems divine-evil component doesn’t exist. Or he might frame God’s causal role in a given event AS-IF it were “active”, and then alternate to framing it AS-IF it were “passive”. Or man’s causal role in a given event AS-IF libertarian free will doesn’t exist, and then alternate to framing it AS-IF it does in order to give man the appearance culpability, when the truth is that the man’s FATE was pre-established at the foundation of the world. Or he might frame dualistic sentences, containing mutually exclusive presuppositions; AS-IF their contradiction doesn’t exist. In AS-IF mode, assertions are made solely based on the expediency of the moment, and enunciated AS-IF it they are fully logically coherent. AS-IF mode is quite powerful because recipients may be ill prepared to manage an inexhaustible volume of ad-hoc inventions, and semantic subtleties.

        (4) PASTORAL mode: Here he utilizes soft-spoken—emotive, religious or sophistic language to hide the system’s glorified-evil components while projecting benevolence. In Pastoral mode, his language is often designed to mimic the language of mainstream Christianity, which, ironically he sternly condemns as soon as he switches back into Theological-boasting mode. And this tactic of alternating between modes mode, may be likened to a double-agent, operating within two countries in conflict with each other.

        Bottom line, the Christian, who would be harmless as a dove, needs to have compassion on those who are forced into a dependency upon semantic shell games. But also, to be wise as the serpent, and don’t get fooled by, or ensnared by them.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. BR. D, I always find your posts really interesting and insightful. Reading you untangle the Gordian Knot of compatibilism almost had me shaking my head. How wonderful to argue in a way that makes your opponent have to argue both sides, that makes your opponent have to figure out and craft your own argument for you, because you shape-shift, you slippery-eel your way out of any clearly definable stance, and you always have your cake and eat it too, simply depending on what the other says, changing how you define your views. It’s really the ultimate technique to win any argument, yet in the end say absolutely nothing, and seeing how crazy it drives more intellectually vigorous people like you and me trying to constantly say “Hey, wait a minute…” and bring some clarity to chaos is just, almost, sad. I think we’ve been had, to be honest, we’ve been sucked in, we’ve been, essentially, “trolled,” even if unknowingly. I know that’s harsh but after years, this is what I’m left feeling.

        Lately I’ve been pondering what makes Calvinism so powerful mentally, why it’s arguments lodge in the mind so vividly; one reason, is it’s bringing paradoxical problems God’s attributes bring to the perceived problem of evil, and this reflects on our most basic and fundamental spirituality, our relationship to God, for it is how we view the character of God. I almost want to create a similar set of “meme phrases” the Calvinists use with great mental brainwashing, a set that counters their own set of pious sounding but logically invalid mental magnets, like “Are you better than the unsaved,” or “Your theology is man-centered.” These simply “sound” pious, deep and right, but when you analyze them deeply you are left wondering, “What does this really say—who defines ‘better’ and who defines ‘centered’ and who defines the value system that says ‘this idea is wrong.'” These meme sound bites are the mind cancer that spread smuggled in false presuppositions, that remain unexamined in the minds of people that don’t have all day to analyze them.

        And I’m interested in what reaches them, what speaks to them. If I say things like “if God is not evil, it simply is the fact something must exist autonomous of him,” or “how can God be his own enemy and work against his own will?” or “asking for mercy doesn’t merit mercy” do I even make a dent? These things although containing factual truths, don’t have the same “meme-able” mental sticking power—they don’t “cower” you by their pious overtones of addressing a mystery you never fully considered before, such as how God could be all-knowing yet create things that choose evil. We develop elaborate responses like “love requires freedom,” then they simply attack the core definition of words like “love” and “freedom,” basically sapping their life-blood out and reducing them all to determinism—but if we point that out, we are unfairly “flattening everything out.” It’s enough to induce madness, and it makes me wonder if, like the gender confusion controversy, this is a spiritual game we are playing.

        In the end, we do our part, and learn with time, I think. A mission field is not just a tribe in remote Africa, but a group of people that need a life-saving message. Those who embrace a lie, are a mission field, no matter who they are.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. dizerner writes, “I’ve been pondering what makes Calvinism so powerful mentally,”

        They are powerful because (1) they are grounded in the Scriptures, (2) they give proper attention to God and His attributes – God is omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign, etc., and (3) they treat man as subordinate to God – man is depraved and controlled by that depravity and cannot escape that depravity except by God’s grace. Why is it that non-Calvinists cannot craft arguments against these positions – because there are no arguments.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. dizerner writes, “I think it is the problem of evil that mostly drives the desire to believe in determinism.”

        I don’t know what the issue is here. We know that God is omniscient and knows all things down to the minutest detail and is intimately involved in His creation such that nothing escapes His notice or His control. All evil is necessarily ordained by God – “shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Amos 3) So, from Genesis 1 onward, everything necessary plays out according to God’s omniscience and if known to God, then according to His eternal plan. As God has ordained all things, even those that we would describe as evil, then there is nothing purposeless about evil actions – “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…” (Ephesians 1)

        The problem is that someone has imagined a so-called “problem of evil” when there is no such problem and because there is no “problem of evil” no one has been able to describe what problem exists – other than to judge God on human standards that require us to treat God as a created being in order to pronounce a human verdict on His behavior – and that is begging the question and amounts to nothing.

        As far as determinism goes, one need only recognize the difference between Gods’ control over all things and that which it is necessary that God cause ( the active and passive action of God) and issues here disappear leaving one to quote a few lines from Calvin while ignoring the whole tenor of his works making the issue an argument over what Calvin said on the issue and not what the Scriptures say.

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      8. Well I think you are a consistent Calvinist. You go with option 1. God is evil, because if evil is what God wants, there is no evil—everything is good. Unless God really does want evil. But the Bible doesn’t say “evil doesn’t exist, evil is illusory.” So you can’t say “there’s no problem of evil” when an entire book of the Bible addresses it in Job. Well you can say it, but not while maintaining any logical consistency.

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      9. dizerner writes, “You go with option 1. God is evil, because if evil is what God wants, there is no evil—everything is good.”

        I go with the Scriptures.

        – The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3
        – The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Proverbs 16:4
        – I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7
        – When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? Amos 3:6
        – Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. Deuteronomy 28:63
        – Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,… Isaiah 53:10
        – Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Lamentations 3:38
        – God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11
        – This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. Jeremiah 32:42

        Job
        1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
        2:6 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
        2:10 Job replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
        15:11-12 God has turned me over to evil men and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target.

        Hebrews 11
        24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
        25 He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
        26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Gee, I don’t think these verses are in the Arminian Bible. Or maybe they are just using their LFW to ignore them. Oh way a minute, I know, these verses are all exceptions to the rule and don’t really count! Rather than harmonizing these verses with the ones that say God hates evil and can’t look on evil it is much easier to just reinterpret and gloss-over the texts we don’t like. 🙂

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      11. //Rather than harmonizing these verses with the ones that say God hates evil and can’t look on evil it is much easier to just reinterpret and gloss-over the texts we don’t like.//
        Yes, perhaps the Calvinist could harmonize them. They could begin by explaining that there is a difference between disaster and moral evil (sin). Maybe explain that the opposite of love is not hate and that God can love and hate at the same time in the same way we are commanded to do with our parents. Of course in doing so it would destroy the false dichotomies they offer in support of their philosophy.

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      12. “The opposite of love is not hate.” Okay, what is the the opposite of love? Seems to me the Bible uses a lot of love/hate dichotomies. “…God can love and hate at the same time…” Who is disagreeing with this? Sorry but what is the false dichotomy that you think that I’m implying? What’s your point?

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      13. erneststrauss writes, “They could begin by explaining that there is a difference between disaster and moral evil (sin).”

        It is God who brings disaster – whether the flooding of the world of Noah or the recent earthquake in Italy – but in nothing does God sin. It is before God’s eyes that evil people perpetrate unspeakable evil against their victims and God does not intervene to prevent such great sin – all the horrors of the NAZI concentration camps were done in full view of God and God observed even the smallest details of the evil that was done. No one can conclude from all this that God is evil.

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      14. RHutchins, you wrote // all the horrors of the NAZI concentration camps were done in full view of God and God observed even the smallest details of the evil that was done. No one can conclude from all this that God is evil.// You are being dishonest – you know Calvinists claim God decreed those atrocities – that is evil.

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      15. erneststrauss writes, “you know Calvinists claim God decreed those atrocities – that is evil.”

        God decreed that people be able to pursue evil without restraint. Are you now denying that God is able to restrain all the evil that people do? I doubt that you are as that would have you denying that God is omnipotent. Even you do evil things and do so freely – and only because God does not restrain you and this because God has decreed that erneststrauss be free to pursue evil if that is his desire.

        I don’t know what your issue is. What’s the problem??

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      16. “I go with the Scriptures.”

        I respect your desire to be accurate to Scripture. It’s a fundamental truth no matter how aberrant our belief, that our most important starting point is to want to be accurate to Scripture. Neither if I say, or if you say, we are most accurate, should we believe it, it is a life long process to study Scripture. regards.

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      17. dizerner writes, “I respect your desire to be accurate to Scripture.’

        So, address the Scriptures and forget the fluff; you waste your own time writing it and mine reading it.

        Are we to presume that the Scriptures I cited are as clear to you as they are to me so that we agree and you have no issues?

        These Scriptures tell us that God is sovereign; they do not say that God is evil. Your option 1 does not apply.

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      18. You write fluff then tell me it’s what Scripture says. Nobody’s “wasting” your time or mine, but you and me, lol, so that statement itself is “fluff” and you wasted your time writing… and mine reading it.

        We all have to have presuppositions that can’t come from the Bible we use to interpret it, it’s completely unavoidable. We’ve been over that before… some people think you were a “troll” if you remember for always doing this kind of thing, either avoiding or repeating obvious things. At first I tried to defend you…

        Anyway Calvinists say Sovereignty as Arminians define it is evil, and Arminians say Sovereignty as Calvinists define it as evil. If you really DID waste your time reading my fluff (which I HIGHLY doubt, lol, you just wanted an opportunity to flame it), then you’d already know that.

        As it is now you’ve successfully trolled me a bit even in responding to this nonsense. Congrats. I guess.

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      19. dizerner writes, “You write fluff then tell me it’s what Scripture says……”

        Again you say nothing substantive.

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      20. Dizerner writes, ” If you are interested you can read this post: Insight into the mind and motivations that persuade Calvinistic belief…”

        I started reading some of this and it quickly seemed to devolve into trivial pursuits of issues that did not add substantively to the question regarding evil. What did you see as the take away from that discussion?

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      21. My take away was that Calvinists take their stand on “You have to accept God even if he’s offensive to you” yet hypercritically a priori reject considering a characterization of God that offends them even more than Calvinism does. The reason for this is because of the overarching all powerful Sovereignty of God, evil is a real problem to keep out of his character if we find it in his creation. We have 3 solutions: 1. God is evil. 2. God is illogical. 3. Something else is like God. Calvinism opts for 2, Arminianism opts for 3.

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      22. br.d. writes, “Here we have the consistent use of semantic shell games, word juggling and subterfuge.”

        I found the comment confused. What was its point?

        First the quote, “If memory serves, we all agreed that God already knew who would be saved (His elect) and who would not (the reprobate) when He created the world and He was not going to change that outcome; not one more person was to be saved or one less person eternally lost.” br.d does not dispute what this says – presumably, he agrees with it (unless he is Open Theist). So, there is no shell game here; no word juggling; no subterfuge.

        What, then, is the point of the comment? He writes, “notice how the language in the statement carefully works to paint God’s role in the process as PASSIVE, and the salvation/damnation event as PAST-TENSE.” Is that a problem? He says, “This is where the Calvinist speaks in “AS-IF” mode. The careful crafting of arguments based on premises, AS-IF the premise were true, when in fact the premise is really a moving shell in an ongoing semantic shell game.” What premises?? That God is omniscient?? What is he even talking about?

        I get the impression from this comment that br.d. has problems forming arguments and expressing what he wants to say. I have no idea what he is arguing. He does not argue against the statement with which he started.

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  1. Good work Leighton, I see your efforts as antibodies in the immune system of the Body of Christ, to combat these viruses of doctrine casting evil into the character of God, and expecting us all to worship that Golden Calf they made by throwing their difficulties with the problem of evil into the fire of human suffering—out came this calf, this mentally comforting solution to our own sinful choices.

    it will be interesting to contrast Dr. White’s debate tomorrow with yours. I think his opponent has some interesting takes on Calvinism. I was so annoying amused at Dr. White’s offended feelings at accusing Calvinism of “blaming our evil on God” because no Calvinist says that. Newsflash: No Arminian says we can boast or glory in our humbling ourselves. Claims to do with “arguments” but it never does end up that way does it.

    bless

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    1. DIZERNER thoughtfully wrote:

      “Lately I’ve been pondering what makes Calvinism so powerful mentally, why it’s arguments lodge in the mind so vividly; one reason, is it’s bringing paradoxical problems God’s attributes bring to the perceived problem of evil, and this reflects on our most basic and fundamental spirituality, our relationship to God, for it is how we view the character of God.”

      I know what you mean, my friend! For me, the best answer to that question is presented by the work of Robert Jay Lifton, Margaret Thaler Singer, and Steven Hassan. A document on the subject can be found here: http://www.outofthecocoon.net/PDF/1_MilieuControl.pdf

      Basically, it’s a socialization process, brought about by people who exercise very powerful social controls over sub-groups. Many studies have been done on this phenomenon, showing these controls are so powerful and pervasive, they really do alter a person’s perceptions. Eventually, through the persistent dominating effects of group-think, group-acceptance and group-rejection, fearing the possibility of public humiliation or group-rejection, the individual transitions from independent critical thinking, into the group-think.

      The mind is conditioned to accept whatever compliments the group or its dogma. And the mind is conditioned to instantaneously reject anything that critically analyzes or questions the group or its dogma, in order to avoid the pain of cognitive dissonance as well as retain an almost obsessive grip on group-coherence. The person’s ego is so significantly invested, it doesn’t have the resilience to let go.

      These socialization processes are very powerful, and the individual is most often completely unaware of being mentally conditioned. But as you have well stated before DIZERNER, double-think, and magical thinking are a few of its outward manifestations. From a Christian perspective, I see it as a form of mental entrenchment, and I am convinced, a spiritual stronghold is at work. If the individual becomes aware of the ensnarement and seeks the Lord for deliverance, the Lord is wonderfully gracious, mighty, and well able to deliver. But the powerful grip of one’s psychological investment in group-coherence has to be overcome by the individual returning to his first love. Until then the individual’s mind is captured by its grip. And understanding the power that grips him is wisdom for the compassionate Christian.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. from the documetn cited by br.d., “Many cults deprive their members of sleep and/or food and demand constant “Bible” study, attendance at religious meetings, and/or proselytizing.”

        Of course, Calvinism places great emphasis on the study of the Scriptures but wants people to be well fed, well rested, and alert, with attendance at meetings (Sunday worship services and Bible studies) discretionary and at the desire of the person and proselytizing done to inform others of what they have learned in their study of the Scriptures while inviting those others to to do the same study to see if they see the Scriptures saying the same things.

        Otherwise, the article had no connection to Calvinism unless one ignorantly classifies Calvinism as a cult which by the above description, it is not.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rhutchin sites the quote in the document on Milieu Control: “*MANY* cults deprive their members of sleep and/or food and demand constant “Bible” study, attendance at religious meetings, and/or proselytizing.”

        The quote uses the word “MANY”…. not to be confused with the word “ALL”. Those who took the time to read the article or otherwise understand what Milieu control is, and how it works as a socialization process, will understand how individuals exhibit the patterns. Not all groups deploy extreme practices where people are physically abused or made to drink *tangible* cool-aid. Many groups have certain elements of Milieu Control, which they exercise in their own unique way.

        But good indicators of Milieu Control are double-think, magical thinking, and obsessive group-think. Check out Megan Phelps-Roper’s wonderful testimony of how the Lord delivered her, and how she characterizes the emotional and psychological power a group can have on its members. When a Christian comes out of a group that incorporates Milieu Control, it takes some time for his/her head to clear, and his psychological investment in the group and the group’s grandiose image to diminish. To make the Lord his/her first love again. But while he’s still in such a group, he simply doesn’t have eyes to see. If he did his conscience would compel him to leave. Obviously, a person so emotionally and psychologically invested is going to gloss over such information, simply looking for holes to poke. But that’s just another indicator that Milieu Control is at work.

        If one is serious about understanding how powerful Milieu Control really is, a good book would be: Steve Hassan’s Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves.

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      3. So let me get this straight. You believe that people can be emotionally and psychologically controlled? That their LFW can be overridden? And if they died in this state without receiving the the Lord it would not be their fault but they would still be condemned? And that there is a woman who says that God violated her LFW in order to deliver her from mind control? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. br.d. writes, “But good indicators of Milieu Control are double-think, magical thinking, and obsessive group-think…If one is serious about understanding how powerful Milieu Control really is, a good book would be: Steve Hassan’s Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves.”

        Calvinism again is shown not to be a cult. If there is anything that Calvinism wants, it is that people think for themselves. God said, “Come and let us reason together.” The goal of Calvinism is to get people to reason with God through attention to His word.

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  2. The easiest way to avoid hard questions is to give them a philosophical label. Like the Tu Quoque Fallacy article it missed the point and it ignored the fact that Jesus was the prime accuser of hypocrisy. And, given the reasoning, it is Jesus who is guilty of tu quoque in Matthew 12.11 and Luke 14.5. 

    Asking why someone made a certain decision is the most natural and common question that we humans make. It is the foundation of our justice system. A court of law needs probable cause in order to convict. A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is offered because no premeditation or logical reason can be give for the murder.

    When asking what determined a person’s choice the questioner is not presuming some overpowering outside force. The questioner is simply asking for the person’s internal psychological reasons. To deny that our psychological state of mind is not shaped and determined by a host of life long experiences is not question begging.

    If you are going to label this question begging so that no response is required than you will also have to accept the same when you ask a Calvinist whether they could have chosen differently than they did—you are assuming FLW in the question (question begging) and therefore a non-response to your question is equally if justified.

    The question of Adam’s free will is a strong argument for LFW and against compatibilistic free will. It looks like Professor Flowers has been studying because this is really the first time he has been willing to discuss this idea. Perhaps it is because he has discovered its advantage to his cause. But if you what to be fair and open then you need to include a discussion of the free will of God. With this discussion the Calvinist has the advantage and so this is never mentioned.

    Finally, to say that one accepts the mystery of LFW is akin to saying that one accepts the mystery of God’s sovereignty and free will. Each system has its foundational mystery and paradox. Calvinists have never denied this, while Arminians often hide it.

    P.S. Those quotes from Calvin do concern me. I do not agree with them and just as you are free to disagree with Jacob Arminius I am free to reject the overindulgence of John Calvin—after all, I’m a Baptist!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) I don’t assume influential reasons are the same as determinative causes. I discussed this in the footnote and I can link a podcast where William Lane Craig explains this point as well. We affirm that there are reasons a free moral creature may list for choosing one option over another but those don’t negate his ability to have chosen to act otherwise.

      2) First time to discuss this? There is an article from last year titled the inconsistency of Calvinism revealed that you may have missed. I’ve discussed this often.

      And I agree it is a strong argument.

      I’m not sure how Gods freedom would affect this point nor do I see why you believe the Calvinist would have the “advantage” in talking about that.

      3. As discussed in the podcast linked, the mystery of LFW is different because it affirms God isn’t the cause or determiner or moral evil where as Compatibilism does the opposite. A defense for LFW is a defense of God’s Holiness.

      4. I’m glad to hear Calvinists disagreeing with Calvin. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “We affirm that there are reasons a free moral creature may list for choosing one option over another but those don’t negate his ability to have chosen to act otherwise.”

        The key phrase here is, “…there are reasons…” It is these “reasons” that are the focus of discussion. We should all agree that on some of those reasons – (1) a person is not omniscient and in his ignorance makes decisions that he would not have made had he been omniscient; (2) a person is not all wise and in the illogic of his thinking makes decisions that he would not have made had he been all wise; (3) a person is subject to pride, selfishness, and a host of other character deficiencies that cause him to made decisions that he would not have made had he not had such deficiencies. When we say that a person is “free,” we recognize that there are restrictions on that freedom (for example, people also have physical limitations – e.g., people are not birds and cannot choose to fly like a bird).

        One issue of contention concerns the ability of a person to overcome his inherent nature described as a sin nature to make decisions. If a person is confronted with a “moral” decision but has no moral foundation on which to make that decision, to what extent can he make a moral decision even before considering the constraints imposed by his lack of knowledge, wisdom, etc.

        Another issue is the extent to which God is involved in abetting free and moral decisions that people make. We might agree that God can be involved in the decisions people make (e.g., God opened Lydia’s heart). We disagree on the extent to which God must be involved if people are to make certain decisions – like a salvation decision.

        When we say that people make “free” and “moral” decisions, we understand that “free” and “moral” have restrictions so that the ability of a person to choose to act otherwise is compromised. To deny that is to deny reality.

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      2. 1) This is the crux of the discussion and unfortunately this blog is really inadequate to discuss it (sorry but I found your footnote lacking). Though I have read and listened to WLC quite often and feel I understand his views I would be interested in listening to the podcast you mentioned.

        2) I just searched the site and “Calvinism’s Inconsistency Revealed” came up. I apologize, you do mention Adam’s free will in this article. I do wish that this important idea would be explored in depth. I’m truly surprised that you can not see the relevance to the question of God’s freedom. Shouldn’t LFW be foundational to God’s divine nature?

        3) I understand that those who hold to LFW believe that this philosophic idea is the best defense against God as the author of evil. But I have yet to hear or read any real deep and compelling discussion to support this claim—at least from yourself. And certainly there is no biblical support for the Free Will Theodicy.

        4) I hope this is a sincere comment and not just an ironic dig. I personally have a lot of problems with the writings of Calvin and Edwards. I don’t like the Calvinism label. I would rather be know as an Augustinian but of course that is also problematic. And I also have problems with how some modern Calvinistic theologians express theological compatibilism. But I have yet to hear or read any Arminian theologian or philosopher consistently defend LFW.

        I hope these comments are not interpreted too harshly. I enjoy being challenged by your articles and podcast.

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      3. Mike Ranieri writes, “I have yet to hear or read any Arminian theologian or philosopher consistently defend LFW.”

        This is because no one has been able to define LFW sufficiently to defend it.

        I think most will agree that God has Free will by virtue of His omniscience, understanding, wisdom, etc. so that only God truly can choose otherwise. Man has a lesser form of free will because he knows relatively little about a decision and its consequences, and cannot be said to understand to any great extent or to be able to make wise decisions.

        What people may have a hard time with is viewing man’s free will as subordinate to God’s free will. However, as sovereign, God always gets His way. Satan cannot enter the garden unless God removes His protection and God removes His protection because He wants Satan to enter and Satan will accomplish only God’s will. God preserves eight people on the ark while destroying all others; God confuses the languages; God chooses Abraham, provides a wife for Isaac, protects Joseph, has Pharaoh’s daughter raise Moses, and leads Israel out of Egypt; makes David king; gives Solomon wisdom; favors Daniel; preserves the lives of three men in the furnace; shuts the mouths of the lions; and on and on.

        God has shown that He is active in the affairs of people and His will overrides whatever men might want to do. God was present in the garden as Satan tempted Eve and as Adam ate the fruit having decided not to protect them from sin. In the lives of each person, God is present in every event of life and protects some form sin and not others. All that God knows today, He knew in eternity past, and all of history plays out in accord with God’s omniscient knowledge of that history in eternity past.

        Man exercises free will relative, and subordinate, to God’s free will. It is within this environment that man can be said to exercise “libertarian free will” which is to say that man is as free as a dog on a chain roaming around a fenced yard.

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      4. This is an interesting article. The author uses a good illustration, “my grandfather gave me U.S. Savings Bonds when I was just a child. He put it in a safe deposit box, which I didn’t receive until I became 18. Similarly, God has eternally laid up riches for us in Christ, and when we become a Christian, we receive what God has reserved for us.”

        God knows those who will come to Christ (regardless how that happens) and He lays up riches for them to be allocated in the course of time as people come to Christ. The author seems to have a problem with God knowing those who will come to Christ apparently because this means that God knows those who will not come to Christ (the reprobate). Even though it is obvious that God does not have a wonderful plan for everyone, he does not like it – he cites a lot of comments from John Calvin as if doing such means anything but never denies that Calvin was correct. I wasn’t really sure what 2 Timothy had to do with the article other than serving as a launching point for expressing his displeasure with Calvin. He did not express displeasure at God being omniscient, so he wasn’t jumping on the Open Theism bandwagon.

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    2. MIke: “So let me get this straight. You believe that people can be emotionally and psychologically controlled? That their LFW can be overridden? And if they died in this state without receiving the the Lord it would not be their fault but they would still be condemned? And that there is a woman who says that God violated her LFW in order to deliver her from mind control?”

      Hi Mike,
      I have a good respect for your thoughts, and your posts are normally insightful, so I’m surprised you derived a number of totally foreign ideas from the post on Milieu Control. Can someone be emotionally and psychologically controlled? I’m guessing you really didn’t mean to ask that.

      Concerning LFW somehow being “overridden”… ..that concept is totally foreign to my post….no connection whatsoever.

      Assuming our concept of LFW is that God designed humans to have some significant form of LFW entailing the ability to choose alternate possibilities, I would say, there is a distinction to be made between having LFW “overridden” and having LFW “manipulated”. Having LFW “overriden” again was not at all insinuated in my post, so not for me to comment on. But having one’s LFW manipulated, which would be something one would see evidenced in sleazy politicians, false advertising, con-artists, snake-oil salesmen or the first instance related in scripture, where the serpent beguiled Eve, could all be considered a form of LFW “manipulation”. That is….if you really believe LFW exists in a way that it entails having been given divine sanction to choose alternate possibilities.

      If one’s definition of LFW is a person doing whatever God MAKES them do, through the mechanism of divine decrees, or by design, then, I’m sure you know that certainly isn’t my definition of LFW or else I might as well embrace Calvinism.

      If someone physically forced you to do something, perhaps that would be considered “overriding” your LFW. But that is different from manipulating a person’s LFW, which I would say is commonly understood as part and parcel in cults and religious or political control groups. But I’m sure you already know that.

      On dying in that state. Again, that thought is totally foreign to my post. And the idea of the woman whose LFW was “violated”, …no connection to my post…totally foreign thought.

      To be more precises, Milieu Control can be seen as a form of the *manipulation* of a persons LFW. Just as the serpent beguiled Eve would be considered a form of psychological manipulation. But I’m sure you already know that.

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      1. Here’s the thing, all I hear is this exaggerated meticulous control. Compatibliits are insincere and are really nothing but Determinists. And Determinism is really just divine Fatalism. Calvinists believe that God is just watching a prerecorded movie of human life. Robots and puppets—no subtlety, no nuance, very little depth of thought or consideration for another viewpoint. Just the endless silly joke about God decreeing and controlling us so it’s not our fault that we believe as we do.

        Well, sorry, but I tried a little exaggeration and humor myself. Arminians are very quick to point out the obvious implications of the Calvinist system but ignore the implications and problems within their own system. Even if Calvinism is dead wrong that doesn’t make Arminianism (Traditionalism, whatever) right.

        Here is what I would like to happen: Let’s assume that the Calvinists are wrong. Now, let’s try and answer some of the hard questions within our correct LFW system. For example: How do we respond to the Euthyphro Dilemma? How do we deal with the inability to sin in heaven? Both God and the human Jesus’ inability to sin? The surprising absence of the Free Will Theodicy in the Bible. How about the fact that we call natural evils evil but don’t ascribe them to God even though he created the world with its natural systems and then even made those system worse when He cursed the ground in Genesis. And if love is dependent on free will, when does a child freely choose to love its mother? And why are most religious philosophers Open Theists or Molinists?

        Well, I could go on but I never hear anyone talk about these issues. All I ever hear about is how bad Calvinism is. If Dr. Flowers wants to change minds he is going to have to have a dialogue (not just a safe pick-and-choose monologue) dealing with these issues. He was forced to talk about the freedom of God on a recent Bible Thumping Wingnut episode (https://youtu.be/N555d_F2AY4). It was one of the best discussions I’ve ever heard on the subject. It took 3 hours and Flowers’ view was anything but consistent–not to imply that Matt Slick won the argument or that his answers were totally consistent either.

        Anyway, these are some of the questions I need to hear discussed before I’d be willing to give up on Calvinism because these were the questions I had that lead me to Calvinism.

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      2. Mike,

        I do a lot of evangelism and sometimes I run into what I would call an “intentional skeptic”. They will ask questions and at first seem to be interested in having their questions answered. But then you notice a patter with them. You answer a question and no matter how well you answered the answers are never good enough, never up to their satisfaction. After you notice this, you also notice they will bring up questions again that you have answered for them in the past. You get to a point with such a person that start thinking they really don’t want answers to their questions, they just want to be skeptical of what you are presenting. You also learn that you cannot put too much time towards such folks as they can become a real waste of your time.

        Now Mike you asked some questions in your latest post, some of them I have already directly answered for you in the past. I don’t want to go through this pattern of dealing with a skeptic with you. I will briefly answer your questions. But if you keep bringing them up and the given answers are never good enough then you operate just like these intentional skeptics. I always try to answer sincere questions from people who really have questions. But if I sense a skeptic I will shut down and not put a lot of effort into answering their questions.

        In one paragraph you presented your questions:

        “Here is what I would like to happen: Let’s assume that the Calvinists are wrong. Now, let’s try and answer some of the hard questions within our correct LFW system. For example: How do we respond to the Euthyphro Dilemma? How do we deal with the inability to sin in heaven? Both God and the human Jesus’ inability to sin? The surprising absence of the Free Will Theodicy in the Bible. How about the fact that we call natural evils evil but don’t ascribe them to God even though he created the world with its natural systems and then even made those system worse when He cursed the ground in Genesis. And if love is dependent on free will, when does a child freely choose to love its mother? And why are most religious philosophers Open Theists or Molinists?”

        Q1= The Euthyphro dilemma has been around for centuries, since it was first proposed by an ancient Greek Philosopher. And I have discussed this one with you before. The standard answer is that goodness has as its source God’s nature. So when God acts or chooses He is doing so in line with His nature. Something does not **become good merely because God wills it**, because that is arbitrary and ignores that God always acts in line with His perfectly good moral nature. Goodness is not **something above God** because its ultimate source is God. So there is no dilemma.

        Q2= I have also dealt with this one before with you. Briefly, we all have a range of choices (due to our circumstances, knowledge, opportunities, etc. we have a set or choices from which we can choose). I usually use Trump as the example. When it comes to buying million dollar properties He has a greater range of choices when it comes to that than I do. Does that mean I don’t have free will? No, it only means he has a different range of choices than I do. When it comes to our present situation we have to deal with the sin, the flesh, the devil, the world system that opposes God, temptation etc. so we have a certain range of choices here that includes sin. In the eternal state our range of choices will change because we will not have the sin, the flesh, the devil, the world system that opposes God, temptation, etc. and we will be glorified and perfected (so our range of choices will be different and will not include sin).

        Q3= Jesus’ inability to sin in my view (and this is a standard view held by many) comes from him having a divine and perfect moral nature. So Jesus has a human nature and free will, but sin is not within his range of choices because of his divine nature. And this goes for God the Father and the Spirit as well (this explains why scripture speaks of how God has choices, e.g. He has mercy on whom He has mercy and hardens whom He hardens, and yet He cannot deny Himself, He cannot lie, so those choices are not within their range of choices.

        Q4= Regarding the Bible presenting a “free will theodicy” it doesn’t. Actually it does not present a single theodicy at all. Rather, it presents principles in regards to evil. One principle is that men and angels commit sin, not God, so they, not God are responsible for their sin. Another principle is that trials develop character. So there is no single theodicy presented in the Bible, instead there are biblical principles that relate to evil and suffering.

        Q5 =I don’t call “natural evils” evil, in fact if you check with scientists there are important reasons why earthquakes, etc. actually are necessary for life to survive on this planet. Apparently you have not read up on this or considered this possibility.

        Q6= You make reference to the instinct that babies have to form immediate attachment to their mothers. Just because we are humans and created in the image of God and have free will does not mean that *****we have no instincts*****. If something comes towards our eyes our instinct is to blink. I also hope that you are not referring to the babies’ instinct to attach to the mother to claim or argue that love does not involve freely made choices. If love is not a choice on the part of God, If He had to love us and had no choice, that “love” does not mean much, if He had to do it and had no choice. We all know in our most intimate relationships that love is chosen, that is why it is meaningful to us (when someone chooses to love us, especially when they do so unconditionally). If love was not a choice, then how do you explain God’s command to love our enemies? God is commanding us to make that choice(and that choice does not necessarily involve feelings as God is not commanding us to have good feelings towards our enemies), if love did not ever involve a choice it makes no sense to command us to love our enemies. Loving your spouse also involves freely made choices as well. Try telling your spouse that you did not choose to love them, it just happened and had nothing to do with choosing! See how far that gets you with your spouse! 🙂

        Q7= your claim that most religious philosophers are Molinists or open theists is false. I happen to know of the people who are these “religious philosophers” to whom you refer (e.g. Alvin Plantinga, Kevin Timpe, David Hunt, J. P. Moreland) and while the majority of them today are not Calvinists, they are also not open theists (the open theists you can almost count on one hand including William Hasker, Greg Boyd, John Saunders, Alan Rhoda), while some are Molinists (e.g. William Lane Craig, Thomas Flint). Mike have you asked them what most Christian philosophers today hold to? From my conversations with them and from reading what they have said about what the percentage of Christian philosophers are, they would tell you that most are not Calvinists/Determinists/Compatibilists, most are non-Calvinists and hold to libertarian free will. Among the non-Calvinists a few are Molinists and a small minority are open theists (so most are neither Calvinist nor open theist or Molinist).

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      3. Robert,

        First, thank you for taking the time to go through my questions. I do appreciate it. But as you say we have gone through some of these things before. I was directly responding to BR.D’s post concerning me and wanted a response from BR.D. You don’t have to always jump in and defend your fellow Libertarians, I’m sure they are quite capable of defending themselves (but I understand, I’ve done it myself).

        Your example of the intentional skeptic aside, giving weak and shallow, poorly researched and incomplete answers don’t equate to giving proper answers to important questions. And it’s not about disagreeing with the answer or not liking it — it’s the fact that the answer is just bad and therefore the question remains unanswered!

        I could have doubled the questions. My point was to demonstrate that there are many important questions that are never dealt with by the LFW’ers. And that an open dialogue on these issues is needed.

        Q1 – You just don’t get it. You give the correct standard response but fail to see that it contradicts LFW.
        Q2 – You are describing Compatibilist free will which I agree with. You refuse to see the problem that the eternal state poses for LFW.
        Q3 – Once again, you miss the point. I don’t disagree with your statement but it does not answer the question.
        Q4 – Well at least we agree that the FW Theodicy is not in the Bible — which many Arminians would disagree with (including Dr. Flowers). And which is curious given that it is the primary argument used by Arminians. But there is a very clear theodicy provided in the Bible, and specifically in Job and Habakkuk — the Sovereignty of God Theodicy.
        Q5 – When natural disasters happen to innocent people, such as a flood or an earthquake killing babies and children, most people call that evil. The problem for the Arminian is that the creator of these disasters doesn’t fit with the character of God that they are promoting.
        Q6 – Well, here you actually try and wrestle with an answer. It’s full of contradictions but at least there’s something there to discuss. I guess you’re not a romantic and don’t believe in love at first sight. When your wife asks you why you love her give her a list of logical reasons and see how far that gets you.
        Q7 – All you need to do is actually listen to or read the FW philosophers and you will see that most hold to some sort of open theology or Molinism even though they might not officially claim the labels.

        Robert, I think we’re done. I’ll try to refrain from responding to your posts in the future and you can equally ignore me.

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      4. Mike,

        “First, thank you for taking the time to go through my questions. I do appreciate it.”

        Actually I don’t think that you do, your response confirms you to be what I call an “intentional skeptic”.

        “But as you say we have gone through some of these things before.”

        We have gone through these things before, and no matter what is said it will never be good enough for you, because you are functioning as an intentional skeptic.

        ” I was directly responding to BR.D’s post concerning me and wanted a response from BR.D. You don’t have to always jump in and defend your fellow Libertarians, I’m sure they are quite capable of defending themselves (but I understand, I’ve done it myself).”

        No doubt they can defend themselves, I just wanted to confirm my own suspicions about you, and boy have they been confirmed! 🙂

        “Your example of the intentional skeptic aside, giving weak and shallow, poorly researched and incomplete answers don’t equate to giving proper answers to important questions.”

        This line alone shows you to be an intentional skeptic as some of my answers involved answers that have been ***given by Christian apologists and theologians*** for ***hundreds of years***. The fact that you call these answers “weak and shallow, poorly researched” shows you are intentionally skeptical towards these answers (it also shows you to be ignorant of standard Christian responses to others, especially the answers given by Christian apologists through the centuries). I will show this more when I get to your responses to the points.

        “And it’s not about disagreeing with the answer or not liking it — it’s the fact that the answer is just bad and therefore the question remains unanswered!”

        Interesting, I have had atheists say exactly this same thing, and the atheists who said this kind of thing were intentional skeptics.

        Any question can remain unanswered if the skeptic merely chooses to reject the answer. 🙂

        “I could have doubled the questions. My point was to demonstrate that there are many important questions that are never dealt with by the LFW’ers. And that an open dialogue on these issues is needed.”

        Your posts reveal that you don’t want an open dialogue at all, you have had that with people here providing answers to your questions which you just keep intentionally rejecting.

        It is a very easy game to play actually, any answer to your question is just instantly dismissed. Anyone can play that game and some are quite good at it. 🙂

        Now look at your responses:

        “Q1 – You just don’t get it. You give the correct standard response but fail to see that it contradicts LFW.”

        My response is a standard response given by apologists for hundreds of years: so I think “I get it”. Those who gave this response for hundreds of years saw no contradiction between it and LFW. Apparently you get it better than Aquinas, et al. Difficult to believe that you get it better than they do! 

        “Q2 – You are describing Compatibilist free will which I agree with. You refuse to see the problem that the eternal state poses for LFW.”

        No my answer is not a compatibilist answer which shows you do not understand compatibilism. But you have made erroneous statements about compatibilism before so that is nothing new with you.

        “Q3 – Once again, you miss the point. I don’t disagree with your statement but it does not answer the question.”

        Again I gave a standard answer that has been proposed for hundreds of years. Apparently you have not studied church history much as you would instantly recognize that I am just parroting what others have said. There really is no need to reinvent the wheel or come up with some new creative answer when it has already been answered for hundreds of years.

        “Q4 – Well at least we agree that the FW Theodicy is not in the Bible — which many Arminians would disagree with (including Dr. Flowers). And which is curious given that it is the primary argument used by Arminians. But there is a very clear theodicy provided in the Bible, and specifically in Job and Habakkuk — the Sovereignty of God Theodicy.”

        Sorry, this it off base as well. Job provides no theodicy, in fact one of its principles is to trust God and not try to come up with a theodicy (cf. God asks Job seventy questions to shut him up, then when he is shut up, God never does give an answer, never provides a theodicy).

        “Q5 – When natural disasters happen to innocent people, such as a flood or an earthquake killing babies and children, most people call that evil. The problem for the Arminian is that the creator of these disasters doesn’t fit with the character of God that they are promoting.”

        Here you show confusion between scripture where God tells Israel that He will bring calamity upon them for their disobedience versus natural disasters that happen to us today. So called Natural disasters are no challenge to the character of God, because as scientists tells us, they have a purpose. We may not appreciate the purpose of earthquakes when we experience them directly but they nevertheless have a purpose.

        “Q6 – Well, here you actually try and wrestle with an answer. It’s full of contradictions but at least there’s something there to discuss. I guess you’re not a romantic and don’t believe in love at first sight. When your wife asks you why you love her give her a list of logical reasons and see how far that gets you.”

        I didn’t state any contradictions. I granted that the baby has an instinct that leads them to immediately attach to their mothers. Granting this says nothing about whether or not people have free will. I also brought in examples where God has free will: including whom He chooses to love (you would think that even a Calvinist admits that God chooses to love some as His own people in a way that is not identical to nonbelievers, but I guess not . . .  )

        “Q7 – All you need to do is actually listen to or read the FW philosophers and you will see that most hold to some sort of open theology or Molinism even though they might not officially claim the labels.”

        Here you are demonstrating almost a complete lack of awareness of the actual situation among contemporary Christian philosophers. This is easy to demonstrate as you claim that “most” of them hold to open theism or Molinism even though they do not claim the labels (Ok if your claim is true, provide a few examples of Christian philosophers who don’t realize they are open theists or Molinists: I doubt you will come up with even a single example, this is because they know their own positions well enough to characterize themselves as open theists or Molinists, your claim is both false and completely unsupported).

        “Robert, I think we’re done. I’ll try to refrain from responding to your posts in the future and you can equally ignore me.”

        You can ignore my posts, in fact I hope you do, I have no problem with that: but I will not ignore yours as intentional skeptics such as you, at times need to be challenged and their false claims shown to be false.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. br.d. writes, “If one’s definition of LFW is a person doing whatever God MAKES them do, through the mechanism of divine decrees, or by design, then, I’m sure you know that certainly isn’t my definition of LFW or else I might as well embrace Calvinism.”

        Nonetheless, (whatever your definition of LFW) God’s decrees do affect the decisions people make and do accomplish His will. God decreed that Satan be free to enter the garden to tempt Eve. As soon as Satan entered the garden the outcome was never in doubt – as God knew (as God had also decreed not to protect Eve). God restrains Joseph’s brothers preventing them from killing Joseph but opening up the sale of Joseph to the traders (who, coincidentally (?), but more likely, by God’s decree, happened along). God gives Solomon great knowledge and wisdom that is not given to another. God speaks to Joseph so that he does not divorce Mary and then goes to Egypt (after wise men, coincidentally (?), but more likely by God’s decree happened to provide them substantial financial resources).

        In the end, people may be said to have LFW that is subordinate to God’s will (as expressed in His decrees). The real issue is whether people have LFW with respect to a decision on salvation. Here, there are two positions – the Pelagian says, Yes; the Calvinist says, No.

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    1. I liked that your blog perfectly presented what I hear so often from C’s and this article addresses.

      For me, the issue is: is a choice necessarily meritorious? We are being presented a dilemma with an assumed system of merit—anything you do, must necessarily merit you something—but take that core idea out of the context of “bragging about salvation” and no one would agree you had a logical point. What I mean is, if I choose to clap my hands, no one anywhere thinks I just merited a billion dollars because I made a choice. Does my clapping my hands make me smarter and better than the guy that didn’t clap his hands? No, because clapping my hands doesn’t earn anything and everyone intuitively knows that. But if some eccentric billionaire actually offers a million dollars to anyone who first claps there hands, suddenly we are “smarter and better and wiser” for doing it?! But why? Because now we are associated the result with a necessary causal link in the chain.

      You must understand why Arminians talk about drowning people bragging they grabbed a life preserver, or a homeless man bragging he reached out and took $1000 gift. If I set up a system were I can say “I define X as bragging and merit worthy,” I can apply that to anything I want. It really is a form of special pleading (setting up arbitrary rules that make your view look better).

      Consider if I argued like this: it is arrogant to claim one is right about a point. That is a prideful, boast-worthy thing to do—because you are, after all, saying you are an inherently better person by having the “correct” and “superior” opinion about something that matches the truth more closely. Now I’ve just assigned something (X, claiming truth) arbitrarily giving it the attribute of (Y, boast-worthiness), and no matter what you argue I can call you a prideful person simply for insisting you are right and I am wrong.

      What’s wrong with that logic? Lol, well a lot of things. But whatever is wrong with that logic is also wrong with arbitrarily assigning choices (X) with the attribute of boast-worthiness (Y).

      I can look you and God in the eyes on judgment day, and say, the one differing factor between me and those who rejected God’s grace is based solely and only in myself and my own autonomous choice to humble myself.

      But that doesn’t make me a “better” person morally, because it is not a good or virtuous or meritorious act; it just makes me a “saved” person.

      Think about this: if asking for mercy were a meritorious and good act, God would owe mercy to anyone who asks.

      Do you believe God owes mercy to all who ask for it?

      Then you don’t believe asking for mercy merits, pardon my French, jack diddly squat!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d say that a moral choice is always meritorious. That’s why the virtuous are blessed and the vicious are cursed. But where does the virtue of the virtuous come from? God. So the virtuous have only God to thank, not themselves. The cursed have only themselves to blame, not God.

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  3. RHutchins asks a two part question // 1. Is there a way to explain how God knew those who would be saved and those who would be lost as 2. He created the world thereby ensuring their destiny? // Part 2 is a perfect example of what Dr Flowers addresses in the article. He is begging the question assuming a deterministic world.
    Ignoring the logical fallacy of part 2, the answer to part 1 is yes. God created a world in which men can freely choose to believe God and save those who believe. God knows who will believe freely and thereby knows who will be saved. Using a Calvinistic argument, God’s knowledge of who will freely believe logically precedes His knowledge of who He will save.

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    1. EGS writes, “He created the world thereby ensuring their destiny? // Part 2 is a perfect example of what Dr Flowers addresses in the article. He is begging the question assuming a deterministic world.”

      No, the statement is only that God created the world – a truth we are given in Genesis 1. That God created the world says nothing about that world being deterministic (whatever you mean by that term). There is no logical fallacy in stating that God created the world.

      Then, “God created a world in which men can freely choose to believe God and save those who believe. God knows who will believe freely and thereby knows who will be saved. Using a Calvinistic argument, God’s knowledge of who will freely believe logically precedes His knowledge of who He will save.”

      It looks like you are denying that God is omniscient in this statement.

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      1. Rhutchins the logical fallacy of begging the question by stating // thereby ensuring their destiny// which is deterministic/ There is nothing there that denies God’s omniscience.

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      2. EGS writes, “Rhutchins the logical fallacy of begging the question by stating // thereby ensuring their destiny// which is deterministic/ There is nothing there that denies God’s omniscience.”

        You are correct. Therefore, when we ask how God knows the future, it says nothing about how that future comes about. Same situation when the Calvinist asks how two people, whom non-Calvinists claim are equal, can make different decisions. That question says nothing about how those decisions come about because the “how” is what is sought. Professor Flowers, in framing the question asked by Calvinists, purposely crafted a strawman to create a “determinist” issue.

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      3. Where is the strawman? Dr. Flowers merely reported the question often asked by Calvinist //“WHY DID YOU BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, BUT YOUR FRIEND DID NOT? ARE YOU WISER OR SMARTER OR MORE SPIRITUAL OR BETTER TRAINED OR MORE HUMBLE?”// As a Calvinist, he said he did it also. I have had it asked to me as a response to my freewill belief.
        Which of these do you deny:
        //Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them. //
        //Calvinists seem to think there is something morally wrong with admitting that a believer is better than an unbeliever. //
        //What is the underlying motivation for asking the question, “Why you and not another?” The implication seems to be that one who makes the libertarianly free decision to accept the gospel appeal is meriting or more deserving of salvation? As if the decision to repent somehow earns or merits one’s forgiveness.//
        Seems you are guilty of the tu quoque fallacy that He exposed previously. Perhaps you can address the argument with counter arguments complete with scripture to back them up as he has done.

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      4. EGS writes, “Where is the strawman? ”

        It occurs when he writes, “It is tantamount to asking, ‘What determined the response of you and your friend?’” After establishing the “determinism” strawman, he then writes, “The question presumes determinism is true and that libertarian free will (self-determination) is not possible.”

        The question that you cited has nothing to do with “determinism” even though the answer seeks to “determine” those factors/influences that result in people who are equal making different decisions.

        Then, “Which of these do you deny:
        //Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them. //”

        I think this is true. It relates to that which Calvin called the “horrible decree” whereby all of humanity was condemned by Adam’s sin. Thus, God hated Esau but in saving His elect, God loved Jacob.

        //Calvinists seem to think there is something morally wrong with admitting that a believer is better than an unbeliever. //

        I deny this. The believer and unbeliever are equal in that both are sinners. The only difference between them is the way God treats them.

        //What is the underlying motivation for asking the question, “Why you and not another?” The implication seems to be that one who makes the libertarianly free decision to accept the gospel appeal is meriting or more deserving of salvation? As if the decision to repent somehow earns or merits one’s forgiveness.//

        I deny this. The motivation is to determine if a person accepts the gospel by God’s grace or because of some quality inherent within the individual. The issue is why one person with LFW accepts salvation and another does not. That each person makes a LFW decision is not at issue (that can be granted); at issue focuses on the contradictory decisions.

        Finally, “Seems you are guilty of the tu quoque fallacy that He exposed previously. Perhaps you can address the argument with counter arguments complete with scripture to back them up as he has done.”

        I don’t see it.

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      5. RHutchins, you wrote //That each person makes a LFW decision is not at issue (that can be granted); at issue focuses on the contradictory decisions.]//
        Freewill is precisely what is being argued. Did you somehow miss the many statements like “While on the one hand arguing that mankind will always act in accordance with his nature (assuming the nature could not be libertarianly free, mind you)”
        I am glad you now grant LFW. Determinism cannot be defended Biblically. .

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      6. EGS writes, “I am glad you now grant LFW. Determinism cannot be defended Biblically. ”

        So long as those who advocate LFW never give in greater specification that to say it means to chose otherwise – which allows for a wide variety of interpretations including Calvinist and non-Calvinist conclusions, I see no problem agreeing to it. LFW does not deny determinism unless one defines it to do so, and no one has figured out a way to do that. Perhaps you could do it and gain the acclaim of your fellows.

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      7. //LFW does not deny determinism // I would say under LFW the willer is the determiner. I don’t think the determinist or the compatibilist agrees with this. The compatiblist denies that the willer contols the desires. In the case of Calvinism, the determiner is always God.

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      8. EGS writes, “I would say under LFW the willer is the determiner.”

        More than that – that the willer has control over his desires in determining what he will do. We know that one’s desires act as a constraint on what he chooses to do. The issue is whether the strongest desire rules over weaker desires thereby determining the final choice.

        Then, “I don’t think the determinist or the compatibilist agrees with this.”

        They don’t only because no argument is offered to show this to be the case. James says, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;” suggesting that one’s desires are more involved in determining one’s decisions than free-willers allow.

        Then, “The compatiblist denies that the willer contols the desires.”

        Control over one’s desires is an issue. The free-willer assumes that the person has control over his desires. The compatibilist denies the truth of this assumption – it amounts to begging the question: assuming that a person controls his desires in order to prove that he freely chooses from among those desires.

        Finally, “In the case of Calvinism, the determiner is always God.”

        Under Calvinism, God exercises absolute control over all determinist forces and those forces cannot influence a person unless God decides that they should. For example, Eve cannot be deceived by Satan unless God removes His protection and Satan is not blocked from entering the garden.

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  4. Sir,
    You have most eloquently put to words the objection to this calvinist doctrine that has been in my heart from the first time I heard it! For my heart cries out, “No! I know the points at which I have, of my own volition, acquiesced to God’s wisdom and ways, setting aside my own inclinations—yet that, always by the grace of God!”

    Indeed, there is an undeniable synergism in my relationship with Christ, else there really is no relationship; only a kind of cold, dry, mechanical, predetermined causal construct, which would rob me of the immeasurable dignity granted to me by my loving and gracious Savior, who “is not ashamed to call me brother!”

    For this reason, I cannot fully subscribe to the logical end of the calvinist’s doctrine of irresistable grace, for I know at which points I have resisted it, and I know at which points I have, by God’s grace, acquiesced.

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  5. I really enjoy reading your blog. As I was reading through today a thought popped into my mind. To the Calvinist it seems, God allowing/permitting sin into the world is much less of an attack on His omnipotence than a sinner choosing to repent and believe on Jesus Christ through the gospel of His own free will.

    That seems very strange to me.

    Kevin Hall

    Sent from myMail for iOS > >Thursday, August 11, 2016, 8:51 PM +0200 from SOTERIOLOGY 101 : >soteriology101 posted: ““Why did you believe the gospel, but your friend did not? Are you wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble?” >This is typically one of the first questions a Calvinist will ask a non-Calvinist when attempting to convince them of t” >

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  6. I was reading a recent book, Are People Basically Good? by R. C. Sproul (2016) and was surprised to come across this gem:

    Leibniz said that the only way God can make people is
    to make them finite. The only kind of a world God could
    ever create is a finite world, because even God couldn’t possibly create something infinite. Anything created would be,
    by definition, finite, dependent, and derived. Thus, Leibniz concluded, the only way God could create mankind
    and the world is to create them finite. God has done the
    best He could possibly do; this is then the best of all possible worlds.

    The biggest problem with finitude as an explanation for
    man’s fallenness and sinfulness is that it places the blame
    for man’s sin ultimately on God and absolves humanity
    from any kind of responsibility. It’s the ultimate moral copout, whereby I say not that the devil made me do it, but
    worse than that: the Creator made me do it, because He
    made me finite. To err is human, and since I’m just being
    human, God is obligated to forgive me.

    Doesn’t that seem remarkable in the light of how peculiarly well his argument fits his own soteriology?

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    1. If you are implying that Sproul is in agreement with Leibniz than I think you have missed the point. The chapter is about how we often want to lessen the severity of our sinfulness and assume that God will simply forgive because that is what a good God does.

      The chapter is dealing with the tension between the theology of original sin and God as the supposed author of sin. Sproul is giving an example of an apologetic from Leibniz that exonerates God, but he does not agree with it. His disagreement is clear from the last sentence of the chapter: “God will never judge us for being finite, but He will justly judge us for being disobedient,” (his disagreement become more clear in further chapters).

      Perhaps you are implying that Leibniz is a Calvinist which I think you will find is incorrect. Though I too disagree with Leibniz I find his musings on the limitations of what God can create interesting. God can not create illogical self contradiction—creating a rock too big for Him to lift is just a verbal game like an Escher drawing.

      The idea that God can create an individual who’s will is totally independent of Him falls into this category.

      Even though we continue to call former presidents president they do not have the same power as the current president. A king has ultimate power only in his own realm. God can not create another god equal to himself and still remain the one true all powerful god.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good thoughts, Mike, but no, that’s not what I had in mind. i was thinking more the exact same line of thought applies against determinism, something like:

        The biggest problem with determinism as an explanation for man’’s fallenness and sinfulness is that it places the blame for man’’s sin ultimately on God and absolves humanity from any kind of responsibility. It’s the ultimate moral copout, whereby I say not that the devil made me do it, but worse than that: the Creator made me do it, because He made me determined. To err is human, and since I’m just being human, God is obligated to forgive me.

        Why did Sproul not use the “Who are you, O man, to reply against God?” argument when faced with a form of argumentation that mirrors criticism against his own system?

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      2. Mike,

        You make a couple comments that show where the problem is in regards to your thinking concerning free will and human nature:

        “God can not create illogical self contradiction—creating a rock too big for Him to lift is just a verbal game like an Escher drawing.”

        Agreed, even God does not engage in contradictions. Most of us here would agree with this.

        “The idea that God can create an individual who’s will is totally independent of Him falls into this category.”

        Now this is questionable. If human persons or angels have their own wills, then they have a will that is in some sense independent of God. The universe is not a gigantic sock puppet with God inside everything directly controlling everything like a sock puppet. You would also need to explain exactly what you mean by “totally independent of Him”. As God is everywhere we are never totally independent of him. If you are speaking of control, God creates us capable of having our own thoughts and doing our own actions (that is also where personal responsibility comes in, you can only be responsible for what you control: if you have not control over anything then you cannot be responsible for anything either).

        “God can not create another god equal to himself and still remain the one true all powerful god.”

        I think here your error becomes very clear, you equate having your own will with being God (my own will = I am a God). I think this is a major simplification and error.

        Having a will alone does not make you a God.

        The devil has a will of his own, and yet he is a created being. And this is just the point, if something is a created being then it is not a God.

        So even if God should decide to create creatures that have their own will, their having their own will does not make them a God.

        I also must say that I laughed when I read your words, not laughing at you, but your claim that if something has its own will makes it a God made me think of tantruming babies. They are small, completely dependent on their parents for existence, and yet when they tantrum they most definitely are acting as if they have their own independent will. A will that can even be defiant towards parents who are much bigger and more powerful than them. I think there is a parallel between a baby that tantrums against their parents and sinners rebelling against God. In both cases you definitely have an independent will that is rebelling against a much more powerful persons.

        Mike do you have kids? Ever seen your young child tantrum? If you have then you most definitely have seen an independent will that is acting out, and merely having that independent will does not make that little human person a God!!! :-)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Mike wrote. “The idea that God can create an individual who’s will is totally independent of Him falls into this category.”

        Robert responded, “Now this is questionable….The universe is not a gigantic sock puppet with God inside everything directly controlling everything like a sock puppet.”

        I like the illustration. We know that God is omnipresent, so God is inside everything. God is omniscient, so He not only knows how everything works but what everyone thinks even before the thoughts enter any person’s mind. Finally, God is omnipotent, so He can prevent certain thoughts entering a person’s mind, restrain a person from acting on any particular thought, or allow a thought to run rampant and dominate the person’s mind and will. In the end, God is directly controlling everything a person does but not causing a person to do anything – it is impossible that God not be controlling everything a person does because whether God is active or passive in His actions toward a perosn, He always knows the end from the beginning and whatever happens is necessarily His will.

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  7. I can see your point but, of course, the issue is how you define determinism and free will, and whether you can see some compromise between the two.

    On page 37 Sproul begins his discussion of how defines these terms:

    “…This introduces a new concept called determinism, which says that all of my choices are predetermined by something outside of me so that I don’t have any real choice in the matter. In opposition to determinism is the concept of self-determination. Self-determination still means that one’s choices are determined by something, that is, my own desires. Freedom does not mean acting without a reason, or having an effect without a cause; every time I choose something, there’s a reason for that choice. No choice is undetermined. Thus, to be free means having the ability to choose what you want, or having your choices determined by your desires.”

    I really do believe that a deep philosophical discussion of free will and determinism will reveal the presuppositions that both sides hold when approaching scripture. I recommend listening to the recent Flowers vs Matt Slick debate on the Bible Thumping Wingnut (Jul 31, 2016). It’s hard going because it’s really long (about 3 hours) but it is the best discussion I’ve heard on the subject of the coherence of LFW. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N555d_F2AY4

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    1. Proponents of LFW don’t suggest choices aren’t made with reasons. (Listen to Jerry Walls in the YouTube debate with Bruce Ware and a couple others. And William Lane Craig addresses this too).

      We just don’t believe reasons are “determiners.” They are perceived factors that influences the determiner in making his determination. It doesn’t suggest the determiner couldn’t have done otherwise.

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      1. Just as you insist that, contrary to what Calvinists say, meticulous deterministic control creating robots and puppets is the result of the Calvinist system, so to is reason-less, arbitrary and anti-cause-and-effect the result of your non-Calvinist system.

        Asking “why” in order to discover the reason behind an action or idea or opinion (which presupposes an internal cause-and-effect) is the most natural and common thing that we do as humans. Reasons are the catalyst for everything we think and do (unless one is insane). The question really isn’t whether the person could have done otherwise, that is a given, the question is what are the thought processes (which would include one’s upbringing and culture and gender and environment, etc., etc.) that brought the person to make the choice that they did?

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      2. Mike,

        I hold to libertarian free will as you know, and I believe that usually we do our actions, make our choices for reasons. We consider two different options, and the reasons connected with each as to why that choice ought to be made, we then select one choice and not select the other. As we have LFW we can make either choice, neither choice is necessitated, neither choice is compelled (even by reasons).

        And yet you a compatibilist who denies LFW make this comment:

        “The question really isn’t whether the person could have done otherwise, that is a given, the question is what are the thought processes (which would include one’s upbringing and culture and gender and environment, etc., etc.) that brought the person to make the choice that they did?”

        Actually being able to do otherwise is only a given if you hold to LFW. If our actions are determined by some necessitating factor, than we have to make the particular choices we make, it is impossible to choose otherwise if our choice is determined. Example, if God decrees that I make choice X, then it is impossible for me to choose otherwise and choose Y instead (or vice versa if God decrees that I make choice Y). You can only do otherwise, or choose otherwise if your choice involves LFW.

        Now in considering our reasons for our choices we will ask “why”. As one author I read recently put it, we are “explanation building machines” (i.e. we are always trying to explain a person’s actions by considering their reasons and then coming up with an explanation). We are always asking “why did you do that?” “Why did you make that choice?”

        But coming up with explanations as to why a person made their choice is not the same as that person being able to do otherwise. In all forms of determinism, including theological determinism, the person cannot do otherwise, they have to make the choices they make. So I believe you are mistaken to claim that “the person could have done otherwise, that is a given” if determinism is true. That can only be true if indeterminism, LFW are true.

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      3. Robert writes, “I hold to libertarian free will…I believe that usually we do our actions, make our choices for reasons. We consider two different options, and the reasons connected with each as to why that choice ought to be made, we then select one choice and not select the other. As we have LFW we can make either choice, neither choice is necessitated, neither choice is compelled (even by reasons).”

        Look at the confusion in this – “[we]]make our choices for reasons,” but “neither choice is necessitated.” A “reason” is a motive to act. If people make choices for “reasons,” it means that the person is motivated to act so that one reason prevails and the choice made is necessitated by that reason. When we apply LFW to the salvation decision, we find that the person is motivated to gain eternal life and avoid eternal death – the person has a “reason” that easily prevails if the person is “free.” It is only where the person does not have LFW, as the Calvinists say happened when Adam sinned, that a person rejects salvation as even the Scriptures explain.

        Then, further confusion – “In all forms of determinism, including theological determinism, the person cannot do otherwise, they have to make the choices they make.” Under determinism, that choice is derived from a reason. So, if Robert means what he says above – “[we]]make our choices for reasons,” then he is as deterministic as the determinists because they say the same thing.

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      4. I usually ignore rhutchin’s posts because they are so full of errors and confusion.

        Now he is accusing me of being confused on the nature of agent causation and reasons based explanations. Lest others misunderstand my view, I will show a common determinist error that rhutchin is making (i.e. the error of believing that reasons have causal powers when in fact they have no such power whatsoever).

        He writes:

        “Look at the confusion in this – “[we]]make our choices for reasons,” but “neither choice is necessitated.”

        He actually believes that ****reasons*** are ***forces in the world*** that force us to make the choices that we make (this is so off base as to almost sound like science fiction, instead of having aliens engaging in mind control of our minds, we have reasons controlling our actions).

        The standard understanding of agent causation is that the agent makes their choices “for reasons”.
        Now “for reasons” does not mean that these reasons are actual forces in the world or even in the person’s mind that force them to make their choice. No, “for reasons” means that when we choose we do so with a reason in mind.

        e.g.- I choose to pick up the TV clicker so that I can turn on the TV and watch an Olympic event. My reason for choosing to pick up the TV clicker is that I want to turn on the TV. But this reason does not have causative powers, it is not a force that causes anything. We all know this because at times we had reasons to do something but we did not carry out those reasons, we chose not to act on those reasons (cf. when we say to someone “why didn’t you do that?”’ we know they had that reason in their minds and yet they chose not to act upon it).

        As personal agents with free will we have the power to decide which reasons we will act upon and which reasons we will not act upon.

        So the real “power” in choosing is **us**, the personal agent. This is normally called “agent causation” in discussions of free will.

        It is not accurate to say that reasons necessitate choices because REASONS ARE NOT CAUSATIVE POWERS IN THE WORLD.

        Study physics and you will find no instance of a **reason** acting in the world.

        Study psychology or study your own choices and again you will find no **reason** that causes events to occur, even in your mind. You will find reasons in your mind that you consider, that you deliberate about, think about, but they are thoughts in your mind, not entities with any causal powers.

        And this is the common error made by Calvinist determinists such as rhutchin as they view reasons AS IF they are entities with causal powers, when in fact they are not.

        Rthuchin then provides his understanding of reasons:

        “A “reason” is a motive to act. If people make choices for “reasons,” it means that the person is motivated to act so that one reason prevails and the choice made is necessitated by that reason.”

        When he says that “one reason PREVAILS” this again ASSUMES (AND IT IS A FALSE ASSUMPTION) that reasons are entities that have causal powers when in fact they have no causal powers whatsoever.

        The agent has the power to decide which reasons to act upon, but the reasons themselves have no causal powers whatsoever.

        Some determinists such as rhutchin think that a competition is going on in our minds between reasons, and so the STRONGEST reason “prevails” and so we have to act upon this reason, with the agent being passive and caused to make their choices by these reasons. But again, reasons have no causal power whatsoever. If reasons have no causal powers then they cannot necessitate anything. Only some entity with causal power can necessitate some event to occur.

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      5. Robert writes, “I will show a common determinist error that rhutchin is making (i.e. the error of believing that reasons have causal powers when in fact they have no such power whatsoever).”

        This is wrong. Reasons provide the logical argument (a motive) for choosing one option over another. The strongest argument (reason) determines that option which one chooses. Ignore what Robert says about reasons being “forces.”

        Then, “As personal agents with free will we have the power to decide which reasons we will act upon and which reasons we will not act upon. So the real “power” in choosing is **us**, the personal agent.”

        This amounts to saying nothing of substance. People with LFW make “logical” decisions; not “illogical” ones. People are the agents using logic (within the constraints of ignorance, lack of understanding, and a desire to glorify oneself – at least in the non-Calvinist model) to decide how to proceed. People may make a “bad” decision but it will be a logical decision. Can Robert explain how he thinks the “will” decides if not using logic? Mystery?

        Then, “It is not accurate to say that reasons necessitate choices because REASONS ARE NOT CAUSATIVE POWERS IN THE WORLD.”

        There is a causative force driving the need to make a decision (e.g., the ship is seeking). Reason is the basis for deciding what option to take (e.g., lifeboat, life preserver and swim, plug the leak). The causative forces have determined that a decision need be made; reason determines which option among many should be pursued.

        Given his erroneous fixation on “forces,” the remainder of Robert’s comments can be ignored.

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      6. Pastor flowers adds, “reasons don’t have to be determinative, they can just be influential.”

        Of course, the issue here is whether the strongest reason or influence is always determinative. The Calvinist position is that it is. The problem for the non-Calvinist is to explain how a weak influence prevails over a strong influence.

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      7. Dr. Flowers,
        With every new entry in your awesome web-site I gain a higher appreciation and respect for your clear and precise way of communicating grace in the face of a doctrinal system (i.e. Calvinism ) in love with the idea of God perpetrating evil on others and taking pleasure in doing so. Thank you so much!! May God increase you in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. My thanks. Br.D :-]

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    2. Robert, you misunderstood me. I pretty much agree with everything you said. It is difficult sometime to fully express philosophical ideas in a short post. So I admit that I wasn’t really very clear.

      Humans can program a computer to beat a human in chess—and, perhaps, even simulate the human thought process. But a computer can never transcend it’s human maker—regardless of what sci-fi tells us. Of course this isn’t a perfect analogy—all though, as a Calvinist I believe that God created puppets and robots so it works for me!

      The devil has a will of his own and yet he, and his will, was created by an omniscient God who knew the devil’s future—that is if you are not an Open Theist. And if I remember correctly I think you are so you can ignore that.

      Leighton always makes a big deal about real control and power being truly expressed by not being afraid to relinquish that power. That is what I was getting at with the president and king examples.

      I also had to smile at your baby tantrums comment. I just finished listening to Leighton’s last podcast where he tell us that little children are humble and attentive. Children are self-centered, selfish and don’t need to be taught to deceive. They definitely have a will all their own!

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      1. Mike,

        “The devil has a will of his own and yet he, and his will, was created by an omniscient God who knew the devil’s future—that is if you are not an Open Theist. And if I remember correctly I think you are so you can ignore that.”

        I am definitely not an open theist, that is a serious error that Arminian, Calvinists and Traditionalists oppose.

        “Leighton always makes a big deal about real control and power being truly expressed by not being afraid to relinquish that power. That is what I was getting at with the president and king examples.”

        The thing about the president and king examples is that they are good examples of how a person can be the “sovereign” over a Kingdom or country and yet they do not control all of the actions of their subjects. Their subjects sometimes can and do rebel against the King’s/President’s authority.

        “I also had to smile at your baby tantrums comment. I just finished listening to Leighton’s last podcast where he tell us that little children are humble and attentive. Children are self-centered, selfish and don’t need to be taught to deceive. They definitely have a will all their own!”

        Well both are true, little children tend to be humble and attentive, unlike adults who are sometimes, set in their ways like concrete, experts in their own minds and so less prone to humility or openness (think of adults who say “no one tells me what to say, do or think”). At the same time, very young children show their ability to rebel and sin by their extreme self centeredness acting as if they are the “kings” the center of the universe, and we are the servants! 🙂 Personally, seeing how bratty a small child can be makes it hard for me take seriously people who say that human beings are basically good by nature. That is not what I see, I see rebellious and self-centered by nature. That is why it is so hard for us to humble ourselves and do it God’s way and not our own. It is much easier for us “to play god” and try to control and rule our own life than for us to humble ourselves and become servants of Jesus.

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      2. Mike writes, “Leighton always makes a big deal about real control and power being truly expressed by not being afraid to relinquish that power.”

        The idea that God “relinquishes His control” reflects a decision by God not to directly bring about an outcome. In such cases, God still exercises control through secondary forces/influences. Regardless, decisions by God to relinquish control are predicated on His perfect knowledge of what happens consequent to that decision – thus, whether God relinquishes control or not, everything that happens subsequent to that decision still reflects His perfect will – everything plays out exactly as He wants.

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      3. Robert,

        Sorry for confusing you with the Open Theist (I think there is one who posts sometimes). I can agree with much of what you say. I think the problem is we just have different interpretations of LFW and compatiblism. I understand, many Calvinists—especially theologians—equate compatiblism with determinism. And many non-Calvinists, like Professor Flowers, insist that compared to determinism compatiblism is a distinction without a difference. If you want to understand the nuances and subtleties of compatibilsm you will have to read the philosophers.

        The explanation building machine at least proves the point that I was making that we naturally look for reasons. But it appears that the explanations are just applied after the fact to give us a false sense of security. Sorry but I can’t agree with that and I don’t think that is the majority view. People have real reasons why do what they do.

        I’m not surprised that you found fault with my president and king analogies—human analogies always fall short when they are applied to God. I don’t think I’ve heard an analogy from Leighton that I didn’t have problems with. I think we are pretty close on the children thing.

        Hey, if you are interested, search for the podcast version of “Closer to the Truth” with Robert Lawrence Kuhn and listen to “How Free Is God?” (2015-06-30). It’s fascinating—every LFW philosopher who is asked this question becomes a compatiblist in responding!

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      4. Mike,

        “Sorry for confusing you with the Open Theist (I think there is one who posts sometimes).”

        The open theist that posts often here is Brian Wagner.

        “I think the problem is we just have different interpretations of LFW and compatiblism.”

        Ok, Mike what is your definition of LFW?

        And what is your definition of compatibilism?

        “I understand, many Calvinists—especially theologians—equate compatiblism with determinism.”

        That is the usual understanding, what most people think, that compatibilism is a form of determinism. There is quite a lot of material to confirm this view, especially among philosophers.

        “And many non-Calvinists, like Professor Flowers, insist that compared to determinism compatiblism is a distinction without a difference.”

        I don’t think that Leighton says there is “a distinction without a difference”, rather, he is informed enough to know that compatibilism **is** a form of determinism.

        “If you want to understand the nuances and subtleties of compatibilsm you will have to read the philosophers.”

        I have, I say this not to brag, one of the things that I do when I want to really understand a subject is that I get in contact with the best authorities on that subject (there is this wonderful thing called email in which you can contact anyone in the world for free, especially easy with academics). So I have gotten to know John Martin Fischer (the top compatibilist in contemporary philosophy), Kevin Timpe (the top proponent of LFW), also David Hunt (another major proponent of LFW), Alvin Plantinga (a very good representative of LFW), etc. It has taken time, but between discussing things with them and asking questions and reading their material, I think I have a good grasp of the “nuances and subteties” of compatibilism and LFW.

        “The explanation building machine at least proves the point that I was making that we naturally look for reasons.”

        That was the point of the comment, that we naturally are constantly looking for reason based explanations for people’s choices. We believe that people act for reasons when they make their choices.

        “But it appears that the explanations are just applied after the fact to give us a false sense of security. Sorry but I can’t agree with that and I don’t think that is the majority view. People have real reasons why do what they do.”

        Not sure what you are saying here, I agree that people have real reasons for whey they do what they do. Reason based explanations are explanations that ask what reasons did the person have in mind when they made that choice, did that action.

        “Hey, if you are interested, search for the podcast version of “Closer to the Truth” with Robert Lawrence Kuhn and listen to “How Free Is God?” (2015-06-30). It’s fascinating—every LFW philosopher who is asked this question becomes a compatiblist in responding!”

        Could you give a summary of what Kuhn suggests? That would save me some time. It would also be helpful to know how he defines compatibilism.

        Regarding God’s freedom, He is free to make His own choices. His choices are not determined by anything outside of or beside Himself. He, like us, makes His choices for reasons in light of what is important to Him. He definitely experiences LFW as there are situations where He can make either choice (a famous example being creation of the universe, He had the choice to create or not create, He was under no necessity to create, He freely chose to create). When God makes statements such as “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” He is clearly saying that He has choices, choices that are up to Him and freely made. He chooses in line with His nature, but His nature does not cause His choices. He cannot make some choices (e.g. deny Himself, lie, sin, actualize a contradiction) these are options that are outside His range of choices.

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      5. Robert writes, “[God], like us, makes His choices for reasons in light of what is important to Him….He chooses in line with His nature, but His nature does not cause His choices. He cannot make some choices (e.g. deny Himself, lie, sin, actualize a contradiction) these are options that are outside His range of choices.”

        God’s choices reflect perfect knowledge, perfect understanding and perfect wisdom. With these, God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” or, as you say, what is important to Him. The foundation for God’s decisions is His nature which is described as divine. Contrast this with man who’s nature is described as sinful with a will that is ruled by pride and selfishness. Add to this an appalling ignorance of pretty much everything, little understanding of the world around him, and a wisdom that must be compared to his fellow humans to mean anything. God sets the standard for LFW and we recognize that the LFW attributed to men is such a corruption of true LFW that it can only be defined in the most general terms in order not to expose it for what it is not.

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  8. I listened to your podcast “The Conflating of Calvinism” and I finally understood how the Calvinist is conflating the responsability of sinners to believe and the responsability of God to save and how the y all call it “salvation”. Faith doesn’t merit salvation. Faith in Christ doesn’t merit salvation. Salvation is God’s gracious giving.

    Thank you for explaining it so clearly. It’s been explaining a lot of confusion even I had.

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      1. I have a brother-in-law who accepted to be my debate buddy each Sunday so I am practising. When I’ll continue my theology studies I hope I’ll be able to defend my views…..

        And since I am not Southern Baptist and I was a Calvinist for almost 10 years, I don’t know what to call myself…Traditionalist has no connotations here and I am definitely not an Arminian! :p

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  9. samgigibeault wrote:

    “Since I am not Southern Baptist and I was a Calvinist for almost 10 years, I don’t know what to call myself…Traditionalist has no connotations here…..”

    Wonderful samgigibeault!! I look forward to your insights on Calvinism from an “insiders” perspective. I have an especially keen interest in Calvinism’s sociological characteristics. I always seek “insider” information as highly valuable, because those still captured by the group-think keep that info concealed from the public arena and eventually become experts at wrapping the doctrine within innocent sounding spin-language. Our wonderful Jesus was a whistle blower of the most excellent kind. And Father God has made it possible for the X-Calvinist to be one too! Looking forward to your posts samgigibeault. :-]

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  10. Mike writes: Here’s the thing, all I hear is this exaggerated meticulous control……

    Hi Mike, Sorry I wasn’t able to get this submission directly under yours. I really appreciated your post. Very thoughtful, sincere and well thought out. It seems to me you have a strong sense of discipline for honoring the law of non-contradiction, which I find stands way above the norm in the Calvinist fold. I’ll have to take some time and re-read your post again. Some of it, I think you and I both know goes back to the fact that scripture doesn’t spell all of these things out like a highly precise philosophical treatise. I think Dr. Flowers alluded to some of that in this article as well as others prior. As you pointed out in a well thought out post, concerning Peter van Inwagen, both sides have unresolved issues, and (Peter for example) just decided that indeterminism, from his perspective, is more viable. Although he does understand there are others on the other side of the fence with the opposite point of view.

    I’m sorry you feel that the criticisms are unwarranted. Perhaps we can both appreciate the way the pharisees felt when Jesus came at them with his criticisms. If I were one of them, I can only imagine the feeling of offense I would feel. Perhaps we together can both acknowledge that strong words can be spoken and sometimes for legitimate reasons, and the audience (and that can just as easily be me) can take offense. But that doesn’t automatically mean that the criticisms aren’t warranted. Perhaps they might even be a reflection of what God feels?

    On the issue of meticulous control. It seems you’ve been able to resolve a way to not see clear logical implications within Calvinism’s theological determinism, which for me, clearly does entail meticulous control by a deity, making humans function as nothing more than instruments in the hand of a sovereign supernatural power, simply acting out every thought and deed, in response to an external divine will. Thank you for expressing that you see nuances in that process. Although, I’m sure you know, that from my perspective, those nuances can’t possibly justify concepts of God being the author of evil in my way of thinking. And since I’m not invested in theological determinism, I can’t help but connect those dots. I hope you’ll have compassion on me if I’m in the wrong there.

    Again, I appreciate your honesty and sincerity. Even though we look at the same object through different lenses, I do feel a kinship with you. Your friend. Br.D

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    1. BR.D,

      You have an interesting and helpful taxonomy for the techniques used by Calvinists. I am wondering what your term is for, folks that I call “intentional skeptics.” I call them intentional skeptics because their skepticism is intentional, they are not sincere people whose questions are not answered. They are people who stake out a position first, then ask questions, when the answers are given to their questions they just dismiss them all. No question is sufficient for them, good enough for them, because they really don’t want their questions answered. They will also at times mock and ridicule the person who gives them answers. I have seen this a lot from atheists and other nonbelievers. I have sometimes seen it with Calvinists. Do you have a term for such people Br. D? Note I have no trouble answering questions that are sincere coming from people who are sincerely asking: but these folks are a different animal. Know what I mean?

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      1. Hi Robert,
        I’m not sure I have a name for people in that condition. Although I know what you mean. To me I guess I see that person as heavily invested in a certain reality which they WANT as their experience. For some time, I felt a necessity to reason with people in that condition, and over the years discovered that there is often nothing I can say that will effect them. Its like they have an program algorithm in their brain that doesn’t facilitate any successful neurological impulses in response to anything I’m trying to share with them.
        Sometimes letting them go on in what way is right in their own eyes is the best policy. Thanks for your post!! :-]

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    2. br,d, writes, “Calvinism’s theological determinism, which for me, clearly does entail meticulous control by a deity, making humans function as nothing more than instruments in the hand of a sovereign supernatural power, simply acting out every thought and deed, in response to an external divine will. ”

      That God exercises meticulous control over His creation does not require that humans be without freedom to act. A dog, chained to a stake within a fenced yard is still free to act within the constraints of the fence and the chain. Jonah was free to flee within the constraints of the storm and the fish as God was free to create the storm and the fish. By God’s decree, humankind were given over to Satan when Adam ate the fruit and sought after him and the sin into which he led them and all the while under whatever restraint God decreed – being willing instruments of Satan but finding themselves accomplishing God’s decrees despite their desire not to do so.

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    3. Wow, thank you so much for this irenic response. It’s really difficult to keep a level head on these blogs sometimes. I don’t blog a lot because, aside from the fact that it’s very time consuming, it’s frustrating! It’s so hard sometimes to argue and explain in writing clearly but succinctly. I feel that we might get closer to understanding each other if we could just have a face to face conversation.

      I may not always achieve this but I try to be sympathetic to the Arminian/non-Calvinist side. I have problems with the way some Calvinists argue and I disagree with Calvin and Edwards on a number of issues. Compatiblism is also difficult and I struggle to understand it. And as much as I get frustrated with Dr. Flowers arguments I continue to listen to his podcast because it challenges my views and helps me understand alternative views.

      I hold to Compatibilistc free will in spite of the problems simply because I am unable to reconcile the contradictions within LFW. I would agree with you that Hard Determinism is akin to Fatalism and meticulous control — though real Determinists wouldn’t put it that way. Meticulous control makes no sense to me in a world where God fine tunes the universe with specific laws and natural forces. Because I can not get behind either extremes I look to a middle ground — some kind of compromise. And there are Compatiblists that would disagree with me that Compatiblism is a compromise between LFW and Determinism.

      I define Compatibilistc Determinism as simple cause-and-effect — and I leave it at that. Free will is tricky but I define it as non-cohesive choice between most options but not always opposite options. Our choices are a result of our primary desires which come from our developing natures.

      One thing I would like to stress is that most of this is philosophical and if believing in Calvinism would make someone misunderstand the character of God that is represented in the scriptures than it should be put aside!

      Thanks again for your response and I will try to continue to live up to the sentiment that you have expressed. Your blogging friend Mike Ranieri.

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  11. Hi rhutchin,
    In Philosophy the terms “Agent” and “Instrument” have established meanings.
    An “Instrument” is something that is used to carry out an action. An “Agent” has the ability to utilize an instrument, or make the instrument do what the Agent wants it to do. But the instrument does not have the ability to utilize an Agent. And the Instrument is not (by nature) entailed with the functionality of choosing alternative possibilities.

    So my statement concerning Calvinism and how it logically entails man as nothing more than an “Instrument” carries that meaning. In Calvinism, whatever God MAKES man do…that is what the man does. And whatever God MAKES man think is what the man thinks. Whatever God MAKES man choose, is what he chooses. For Calvin, God accomplishes this through the mechanism of divine decrees which are pronounced millennia before the man is borne. Thus the Calvinist declaration that ALL things which come to pass do so by God’s immutable decrees.

    In Philosophy also, there is a distinction between a “UNIVERSAL” declaration and a “PARTICULAR” declaration. A “UNIVERSAL” declaration is stated with the word ALL. [ALL humans are mammals]
    A “PARTICULAR” declaration is stated with the word SOME. [SOME humans are mammals]. See the square of oppositions here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_of_opposition

    So when Calvinists call their doctrine “PARTICULAR” redemption, it is understood as the concept that God does not save ALL men UNIVERSALLY. And when they declare that ALL things which come to pass, do so by God’s immutable decrees, which He proclaims at the foundation of the world…. Here the word ALL means everything UNIVERSALLY without exception.

    So to follow that concept to its logical conclusion entails that every neurological impulse that your brain will ever have from the first spark of human life to your last breath occurs because God MAKES it occur. And every sinful conception that you will ever have as well. So the declaration that ALL things which come to pass, do so by God’s decrees is the equivalent of saying that ALL things which come to pass do so because God MAKES them come to pass. And God allows no other alternative possibilities outside of his immutable decrees. Hence this resolves to the logical conclusion that God’s decrees concerning a man are that man’s inevitable and unavoidable FATE. The man is powerless to alter God’s immutable decrees, thus nothing the man does can alter his FATE. And even if he does do something…that which he does is only what God MAKES him do anyway.

    The logical entailments for the Philosophically minded Christian are clear. God is the single sole “Agent” in the universe, and all created beings are “Instruments” through which he manifests his will.

    William Lane Craig likens this concept in Calvinism to that of God moving humans to do his will, the same way that a boy moves toy solders.

    Quote:
    In this system there are no free agents in rebellion against God, whom God seeks to win through His love, and no one who freely responds to that love and freely gives his love and praise to God in return. The whole spectacle is a charade whose only real actor is God Himself. Far from glorifying God, the deterministic view, I’m convinced, denigrates God for engaging in such a farcical charade. It is deeply insulting to God to think that He would create beings which are in every respect causally determined by Him and then treat them as though they were free agents, punishing them for the wrong actions He MADE them do or loving them as though they were freely responding agents. God would be like a child who sets up his toy soldiers and moves them about his play world, pretending that they are real persons whose every motion is not in fact of his own doing and pretending that they merit praise or blame. I’m certain that Reformed determinists, in contrast to classical Reformed divines, will bristle at such a comparison. But why it’s inapt for the doctrine of universal, divine, causal determinism is a mystery to me.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism-vs-calvinism#ixzz4IOGyfeub

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BR.D

      Hope you saw my response to your last post.

      I just wanted to say something quick regarding this post. The way you state your case is very coherent and logical, and as stated I really couldn’t disagree. Now, we could discuss the particulars but here is what really stood out to me. Given what you have said and then the quote from William Lane Craig, how do you account for Craig’s Molinism? It is truly surprising to me that Craig equates Calvinism with Hard Determinsm but holds to Molinism, which is just as deterministic as he makes Calvinism to be. This to me lessens his credibility in this area of debate.

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      1. Hey Mike,
        That’s an interesting question about Molinism. It certainly seems to be a form of middle-ground for both Calvinists and non-Calvinists. I haven’t had the time to think through all of its ramifications. But it does seem logical to me that if humans have a form of knowledge to accurately know what a creature would do, given a certain circumstance, that certainly God would have that (Middle) knowledge as well. I’m certainly not in any position to declare what kind of knowledge God doesn’t have.
        I understand there are a number of Calvinists who are embracing it as a way of resolving the God as author of evil dilemma, while still remaining true to Calvin in other areas. I don’t know if you’ve caught some of WLC’s interviews where he explains his reasons for embracing it. But if not, you might check them out on Youtube and at his web-site.
        There is also a good chat he has with Paul Helm you might find interesting. In the end of that conversation Paul laments that he couldn’t embrace Molinism because he finds it too farfetched. Now I happen to know Craig enough to know he is highly reserved in his manner of speech, and he let Paul’s lament go without response. But I could just imagine him smiling ironically while thinking the same exact thing about some aspects of Calvinism. Craig does embrace the declaration that God controls all things. But Molinism allows him to envision God’s control as operating in such a way that sanctions man having the ability to choose alternate possibilities, which Craig sees as the foundational premise that logically supports man being accountable for responding appropriately to a loving God whose hand is outstretched all day long.

        I don’t think Craig sees most Calvinists as Hard Determinists. From my perspective, the preponderance of serious Calvinists are soft determinists. And the ones who are Hard are often sighted as “Hyper” by the fold. I think it remains to be seen how much Molinism will be embraced by factions of the church, and whether it will act as a sort of common meeting ground between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. But I would suspect that those Calvinists who are “Edwardian” in their persuasion, e.g. Piper, will see it as a betrayal.

        Someday it might be interesting to get your perspective on Piper. From what I’ve heard, some are not happy with him because he seems to be lining up with certain doctrines that are highly questionable, like chrislam and Christianized Buddhism.

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      2. BR.D

        I just want to give you a quick short reply and then if you are interested I can write a longer post outlining my understanding of Molinism. I’d just like to say that I’m pretty familiar with Craig. I’m sure that I’ve listened to every debate that he has had over the many years. I’ve read a couple of his books and many articles on his website, listened to his Answering Questions podcast, read and listened to his lectures on Time, the Kalam cosmological argument, and Molinism, and even corresponded with someone on his staff. I very much appreciate him as an apologist and a debater, and he seems like a very nice and sincere person.

        But when it comes to Calvinism and Molinism he gets very weird.

        Craig has stated on a number of occasions that he sees little distinction between Hyper-Calvinism and Calvinism. And I think he would also agree with the many theistic and atheistic philosophers that Compatiblism (soft determinism) is not really legitimate.

        It is quite logical and sensible to believe that God’s omniscience would include the ability to know not only what people will do but also what people would do in any circumstance. In fact this is stated quite emphatically in scripture. Why this obvious knowledge even needs to be labeled and given a special category seems a little too academic to me. But how middle knowledge is used within the Molinist system to justify LWF just seems to me strange and contradictory. But I’ll need some space and time to really explain what I mean.

        I’ve listened to Helm and Craig on Unbelievable and I’ve read the book they both contributed to on Divine Foreknowledge.

        As for Piper, I like him. He’s a sincere and passionate Christian. But I don’t agree with everything he says. I especially disagree with his view on mega-churchs. But I really don’t follow him that much so I’m ignorant of the questionable doctrines you are referring to.

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    2. Craig says:
      “But why it’s inapt for the doctrine of universal, divine, causal determinism is a mystery to me.”

      I relate to this. I think if they take this very idea but then say 1. there’s mystery in it and 2. you have to reverence it, then in their mind they solved that dilemma. Because they would see Craig as a “Hyper-Calvinist.”

      Yet being philosophically minded as Craig is I can’t help but agree when he says:
      “I can’t see the difference. Hyper-Calvinism IS logically what Calvinism teaches.”

      So if very thoughtful people think that, the question is, why do they think that? Are they really not paying attention to Calvinism, or is Calvinism in attempting to harmonize contradictory ideas become so convoluted you can’t untangle it?

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      1. Dizerner
        Hi dizerner, you made some excellent points. Your post reminded me, how Dr. Gordon Fee has spent a good percentage of his carrier as a professor, bearing the burden of watching Christians (great and small) totally abusing the text of scripture, while demanding to be recognized as representing the golden-standard of Christianity.

        When one first starts out in biblical scholarship studies, its normal to perceive that field as solely focused on scripture alone. But as one matures he eventually discovers that the primary controversies in the church are sociological and not biblical. When Paul talks about “Super Apostles”, and believers biting and devouring one another, he is acknowledging sociological influences at work. Paul uses two terms of great interest to me. “Kata-Sarka” and “Kata-Pneumatos”. “Kata-Sarka” = Of the flesh. “Kata-Pneumatos” = Of the Holy Spirit.

        As a babe in the Lord I ignorantly perceived most of what I observed in the church as “Kata-Pneumatos”. But the more I matured, the more I discovered a large percentage of what we observe in Christianity is “Kata-Sarka” masquerading as “Kata-Pneumatos”.

        So to your observation of Calvinists trying to harmonize contradictory ideas, I think William Lane Craig would be more likely to say that Calvinists are trying to make the logical contradictions in their system magically disappear. In “Four views on divine providence”, in his dialog with one of the reformed authors, that author paints himself into a corner which he can’t get out of if he remains true to sound logic. So he dodges as a way of escape…but not without it being obvious to the reader. Craig comments on that point saying that when a person’s interpretation of scripture leads him into an obvious illogical dead-end, he would hope that person would at least question his interpretation. But alas, Craig laments, that most who are fully committed to Calvin’s system are not willing to even to consider the degree to which it might be “Kata-Sarka”.

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    3. br.d. writes, “So my statement concerning Calvinism and how it logically entails man as nothing more than an “Instrument” carries that meaning. In Calvinism, whatever God MAKES man do…that is what the man does.”

      That is partially true. Following your definitions of “agent” and “instrument,” Let’s identify the “will” of man as the agent and the physical person as the instrument. When Calvinism speaks of God’s meticulous control over His creation, we can conclude that God “makes” people do as He wills, and this coincides with that which the free agent wants to do. So, how does this happen? Isaiah is a common example. God tells Isaiah, “In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River–the king of Assyria–to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also.” Thus, the king of Assyria is the instrument in God’s hands to punish Ahaz. Does God force Assyria to do His bidding? Not at all. It is Assyrian’s will to conquer all the lands including Israel. However, God restrains Assyria so that it cannot touch Israel; by removing that restraint, Assyria becomes an instrument to punish Israel – a willing agent. We can say that God “made” Assyria invade Israel, but in the process, Assyria always wanted to invade Israel and could only do so when God removed His restraint on it. So, your statement is true – “whatever God MAKES man do…that is what the man does.” – but God does not have to cause men to do what He wants.

      Then, “And whatever God MAKES man think is what the man thinks.”

      Again, this is true, and it may require that God place certain thoughts in a person’s head but not necessarily. The thoughts a person normally thinks are the product of his own imagination or are introduced in the form of temptation by Satan. God can restrain those thoughts such that only some actually are entertained. In the days before the flood of Noah, we see that God did not restrain that which a person was able to think so that, “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.’ While God made them think such thoughts by not restraining them, God did not cause these thoughts.

      Then, “Whatever God MAKES man choose, is what he chooses.”

      This is also true, but as above God can make a person choose a particular option without causing the person to do so.

      Then, “For Calvin, God accomplishes this through the mechanism of divine decrees which are pronounced millennia before the man is borne. Thus the Calvinist declaration that ALL things which come to pass do so by God’s immutable decrees.”

      This is also true. So what? God decreed that Satan should enter the garden if Satan choose to do so – of course Satan was salivating over the prospect of doing so. God decreed not to intervene to help Eve deal with Satan and resist eating the fruit. This was done for God had also decreed that Adam sin and that Christ be crucified because of that sin. God brings it all to pass.

      Then, “God is the single sole “Agent” in the universe, and all created beings are “Instruments” through which he manifests his will.”

      OK. However, we understand that between God and the physical person is man’s will and man’s will is a free agent able to operate even if only withing the constraints placed on it by God.

      Finally, “William Lane Craig likens this concept in Calvinism to that of God moving humans to do his will, the same way that a boy moves toy solders.”

      Here Craig gets off track. It is not necessary for God to physically move people around like toy soldiers. People are already toy soldiers trying to exert their wills to gain their desires but limited by God’s constraints.

      So, what’s the bottom line. All that you say is true – So what? What’s the issue?

      Like

      1. rhutchin
        “That is partially true. Following your definitions of “agent” and “instrument,” Let’s identify the “will” of man as the agent and the physical person as the instrument. ”

        Hi Rhutchin,
        In order to understand William Lane Craig’s point of view, one has to remain true to the law of non-contradiction, and never seek to find ways around it. For example, God cannot be God and NOT-God at the same time. And in the Calvinist system, God does not share his “Agency” with his created beings. The Calvinist system doesn’t logically support it. So this premise would be considered a false premise which would necessarily lead to a false conclusion. This is what William Lane Craig means when he says that from his perspective Calvinists “Pretend” that man is an Agent when the foundational logic of the system cannot possibly support such an assertion.

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  12. rhutchin:
    This is also true, but as above God can make a person choose a particular option without causing the person to do so.

    Hi rhutchin,
    The non-Calvinist who is savvy with when it comes to semantics would say this is an example of a semantic shell game. i.e. word juggling.
    In Philosophy, when people speak of “Agent” and “Instrument” these concepts go hand in hand with causation. To MAKE a person do X is the equivalent of CAUSING a person to do X. Again, this comes off looking like an attempt to find a way around the law of non-contradiction.

    Now from a sociological perspective, we know that all people incorporate at least some minimal degree of double-think, and magical thinking in different areas in their lives. But a person like William Lane Craig is highly disciplined to remain as true as possible to sound rational logic. And in theological discussions this is highly critical. So any appearance of moving into double-think or magical thinking are going to raise red flags. Now the person doing it might not even be aware he is doing it. But a William Lane Craig type will pick up on it instantly. In his dialogs with Calvinists he consistently notes that they always attempt to avoid acknowledging the radical distinctions that are logically inherent in the system. Please don’t take that as a dig. It is just meant to let you see perspective of an outsider who seeks to remain true to logic, with the belief that God is not illogical, and that sound doctrine does not seek to find ways around logic.

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    1. br.d. writes, “In Philosophy, when people speak of “Agent” and “Instrument” these concepts go hand in hand with causation. To MAKE a person do X is the equivalent of CAUSING a person to do X. Again, this comes off looking like an attempt to find a way around the law of non-contradiction.”

      The issue here is whether God is the immediate force compelling a person to do X or whether God, in manipulating secondary forces, is the controlling force that ensures people do X. No one says that God was the immediate force affecting Eve to eat the fruit. However, it was God’s control, and manipulation, of secondary forces (e.g., Satan) that led to Eve eating the fruit.

      When you say, ““Whatever God MAKES man choose, is what he chooses,” this is not true, necessarily, if you mean that God is the immediate force bringing about this outcome. However, if you only mean that God exercises sovereign control over all things and manipulates secondary forces (through His decrees) to bring about His will, then you have the Calvinist understanding.

      Then, “William Lane Craig is highly disciplined to remain as true as possible to sound rational logic.”

      I am not so sure. Craig has been an advocate of Molinism. If he is a true advocate of Molinism, then he should have no problems with Calvinism because the two systems are complementary. Molinism deals with God’s deliberations about the world He wants to create and all the action is pre Genesis 1. When God decides on the world He wants to create from among all possible worlds, He necessarily knows every detail of that world from beginning to end. That world is described beginning in Genesis 1 and it is that world that Calvinism describes. There is no conflict between Molinism and Calvinism, so why does Craig have so much antipathy toward Calvinism? I can’t figure it out and I have searched his website trying to find out. Do you know?

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      1. rhutchin

        Hi Rhutchin,
        I understand how the Calvinist can have a need to see humans as having Agency in the Calvinist system, and I can understand why. Somewhere in middle-USA a young girl is being beaten by her boyfriend and she will do anything or say anything to escape acknowledging his culpability. She declares the reason he beats her is because she MAKES him do it or she CAUSES him to do it. She has a psychological need to see him in a certain light. She has a psychological investment in what he means to her. She goes to any length to invent any possible excuse in order to make the stigma of his culpability disappear.

        I hope you can understand that is what WLC perhaps sees in his dialogs with the Calvinist and the image of God created in its system. Of course we are going to assert we didn’t create it…it’s from the bible. ..etc..etc. But we all know that every religious system makes that claim.

        I think the word “Antipathy” is not one WLC would want his observations of Calvinism to be described as. There are a few videos you can watch of him interacting with non-scholarly Calvinists in some of his presentations. He does one on the differing doctrines of salvation within Christianity, where there is some back and forth between himself and some of the people in his class who see salvation from the Calvinist perspective. I think you’ll notice in most of those dialogs, that he ends up being perplexed at the degree of illogical thinking he perceives them willing to live with.

        You might be interested in his explanations on Molinism and how he believes it resolves a number of logical dilemmas in regard to God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability. Molinism, for Craig is a way of God having total control over mankind without having to eliminate man’s Agency. I suspect you may even find some of your friends in your fellowship who embrace it but are hesitant to say so…..at least not yet. :-]

        Like

      2. br.d. writes, “Molinism, for Craig is a way of God having total control over mankind without having to eliminate man’s Agency.”

        Yes and no. Molinism posits that God, prior to Genesis 1, considered all the possible worlds that he could create. This all occurred in the mind of God and is offered as support for free will as the possible worlds included some where John would do X and some where John would do ~X.

        Molinism is not a well-developed theology compared to Calvinism, for instance, and one of the significant issues Molinism does not explain is how the many different worlds could exist. We can start with our present world because it is the world that God created. The issue is to explain how a world could exist where Eve did not eat the fruit. Having exact knowledge that Eve did eat the fruit in this world, could a world have existed in the mind of God where Eve freely chose not to eat the fruit. The answer is, No, at least without God’s direct intervention to produce that outcome. Expanding this, we can show that no movement away from the world God created is possible unless God were to bring it about. This is because any different choices made by people require at least one variable to be changed and only God could change that variable. For example, for David not to see Bathesheba bathing would require that something grab his attention so that he was not walking in that direction. Who, but God, could have redirected David’s attention – are we to think that random chance could do it? Whether Molinism actually supports free will remains untested to my understanding.

        I have no problems with Molinism as it agrees with everything we know about God (at least, I am not aware if it does not). Molinism is a pre-Genesis 1 theology, Calvinism is a post-Genesis 1 theology. The two are compatible and neither denies the other.

        It is good to know that you do not know why Craig does not like Calvinism. He never comes out and says what his problem is and I have done a few searches looking for reasons. I will take your suggestion and start investigating Craig’s arguments against Calvinism.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Let’s narrow the whole thing down a bit, shall we? The Garden of Eden vs. today is simply a reversal of circumstance. In the Garden, man was tempted to sin .. now a man is tempted to receive Christ as Savior. The differences are 1) in the Garden, Adam was unaware of his nakedness — his flesh, ergo sin in the flesh. Today, in a fallen world, man is unaware of God but totally aware of his flesh and subject to it! 2) Nevertheless, we are as innocent at birth as Adam was in creation. We are the “offspring” of God spiritually (Acts 17:28-29) such that a) we are brand new souls and spirits — NOT the totally depraved spiritual procreation of our parents (our parents only contribute to the form of our bodies); and b) our spirits are open to either choice — life or death, blessing or cursing, 3) Adam chose to sin .. and we have to choose to be saved. 3) Adam’s choice led him into a fallen state .. ours leads us into a risen state.

    So why did God do it this way? Because He only wanted children in heaven and eternity with Him who would choose to be there living in communion with His holiness. Dispensationalism calls this “tested positive predisposition” to God (~ Renald Flowers). We are all tested by sin and those who choose salvation from sin are “worthy” (Lk 21:36) to “stand before the Son of man.” In essence, God did not create this world to glorify Himself so much as to call out children to His name who would abide forever in His presence.

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  14. Jeremiah 17: 9 clearly states that the heart is deceitfully wicked and not to be trusted and yet Calvinists insist that you cannot look to scripture for proof of salvation but you must look to your heart intuitively to know that you’re elect this is clearly a problem

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    1. Beech writes, “…Calvinists insist that you cannot look to scripture for proof of salvation but you must look to your heart intuitively to know that you’re elect this is clearly a problem.”

      What Calvinist said this?

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  15. An interesting verse in my daily reading bearing on the subject:

    1 Sam 15:28 So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.

    1 Sam 24:17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.”

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      1. Was David wiser or smarter or more spiritual or better trained or more humble than Saul? If we say, why did God choose David and not Saul, why wouldn’t the Lord himself saying David was the better man, not give David the right to boast, brag or steal God’s glory?

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