None Seek God

CLICK HERE to listen to the Podcast

“…there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” – Romans 3:11

In an effort to demonstrate that all people have fallen short of the glory of God and broken His law, Paul quotes from Psalm 14:2-3, which says:

“The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

There are basically two theological approaches for interpreting this passage:

(1) Calvinistic Approach: Apart from a Divine irresistible work of regeneration (by which God changes a chosen individual’s nature and desires), mankind cannot willingly seek to know, understand, or follow God.

(2) Non-Calvinistic (Traditionalist) Approach: Apart from God’s gracious initiative in bringing His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the inspired gospel appeal, no one can merit salvation or consistently seek to obey God in a way that will attain his own righteousness.

The contrast between these two perspectives can be illustrated by this simple question: Does proof that I am incapable of calling the president on the telephone also prove that I am incapable of answering the telephone if the president were to call me? Of course not, yet that is essentially the principle a Calvinist is assuming in their theological approach to this text.

Calvinists read this text to mean that our lack of initiative somehow proves our inability to respond positively to His initiative. They presume that God’s work in sending His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the inspired gospel, calling for all to be reconciled through faith in Christ, is insufficient to enable the lost to respond in faith. But the text simply never says this.

In Romans chapter 3:10-20 the apostle is seeking to prove that no one can attain righteousness by means of the law. But in verse 21 he shifts to reveal a righteousness that can be obtained by means of grace through faith in Christ.

Calvinists seem to think that because mankind is unable to attain righteousness by means of the law that they must equally be unable to obtain righteousness by means of grace through faith in Christ. This, however, is never established anywhere in the pages of Scripture.

Of course, we all can affirm that no one is righteous with regard to the demands of the law. But there have been many throughout the pages of Scripture who have been declared righteous by means of grace through faith.

Calvinists wrongly assume that because mankind is unable to fully keep the demands of the law that they are equally unable to admit their inability to keep those demands and trust in the One who has. Again, this is simply never established in the Bible. HERE>

Proof that mankind is morally incapable of earning their own righteousness by doing good works is not proof that mankind is morally incapable of believing and trusting in the righteousness of another.

It must also be understood that placing one’s trust in the righteousness of Christ is not earning one’s own righteousness. Those who trust in Christ are graciously imputed with His righteousness, they are not earning their own.

If we go back to examine the context of Paul’s original quote in Psalm 14, we read that he is specifically speaking of “the fool” who says, “there is no God,” and then he contrasts between the “evil doers” and “His people…the generation of the righteous.”

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good…Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. – Psalm 14:1; 4-5

Now, a Calvinist can make the theological argument that “the fool” who says “there is no God” does so because he could not have done otherwise due to an inborn nature sovereignly decreed by God as a result of the Fall. And the Calvinist can attempt to make the case that “the generation of the righteous” who are considered “his people” were made so by some kind of irresistible working of God. In contrast, a Traditionalist can argue that these “fools” trade the truth of God in for lies by denying His existence with a libertarian free choice, and those who become “His” do so by grace through a libertarianly free faith response.  Either way, that is the point of contention — neither side can just assume their position (see question begging fallacy).

It is the Calvinist’s burden to prove that fallen man is born morally incapable of responding in faith to God’s inspired and powerful appeal to be reconciled from that fall. They have to demonstrate how our fallen condition prevents us from responding willingly.

Additionally, Calvinists need to explain why a just God would seal mankind in a fallen/disabled condition from birth and still hold them responsible for their rejection of God’s appeals, even though they have no control over their naturally disabled condition and subsequent “choices” to reject God’s genuine offer of forgiveness.

Also, Calvinists need to explain how their interpretation of Romans 3:11 fits with other teachings of scripture about man’s responsibility to seek God, such as:

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,”‭‭ – Acts‬ ‭17:26-27‬ ‭

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”‭‭ -Isaiah‬ ‭55:6-7‬ ‭

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.”‭‭ -Zephaniah‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭

“And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.”  -‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭12:14‬ ‭

“Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Lord.” –‭Psalms‬ ‭83:16‬ ‭

“Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”‭‭ -2 Chronicles‬ ‭20:3‬ ‭

“For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” –Luke‬ ‭12:30-31‬ 

‭“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”‭‭ -Romans‬ ‭2:6-8‬ ‭

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” –‭‭Psalms‬ ‭9:10‬ 

“And those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their fathers.” –2 Chronicles‬ ‭11:16‬ ‭

Needless to say, the Bible certainly treats fallen men as if they are genuinely responsible (response-able) to His appeals and offers of grace and forgiveness. On what basis do Calvinists rest their presumption that, as a consequence of the sin of another, God has decreed that mankind would be born with “Total Inability” to respond willingly to the gospel?

This is a dogma yet to be found explicitly taught in the Bible.

318 thoughts on “None Seek God

  1. Great post! The Calvinists have to prove that most people are never able to respond positively to God’s initiative when giving them the Gospel. But they also need to prove that the Gospel somehow loses its divine power leading unto salvation for most people.

    Lest any be confused, the Gospel is a necessary cause of, but prior to, salvation, and so is personal faith. God is the efficient cause of salvation, according to His sovereign promise, when He sees personal faith expressed in the Gospel.

    Satan surely knows that the Gospel remains powerful for faith and salvation, for that is why he steals it from even hard hearts, “lest they believe and are saved.” Luke 12:8

    Liked by 2 people

    1. brianwagner writes, “The Calvinist have to prove that most people are never able to respond positively to God’s initiative when giving them the Gospel. But they also need to prove that the Gospel somehow loses its divine power leading unto salvation for most people.”

      Assuming that neither you nor I are Universalist, the proof that “most people are never able to respond positively to God’s initiative” is that most people do not respond and are not saved. Of course, the key word you use is, “able.” There is no way to measure that. It can only be presumed to exist in the case of those who reject the gospel.

      Like

      1. And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and MEN preferred darkness to light…

        This is why most people do not respond. And notice that in the explanation that follows, Jesus doesn’t contrast” those who do evil” with “those who do good”. The ones who don’t come to the light are contrasted with those who “do truth”. Do all have evil deeds? Have all sinned? Have all hidden from God? Is Jesus teaching that there are people who do only good, and it is those who come to Him, to show off how good they are? He couldn’t be, could He?

        Look at the Pharisee and the publican: which one is coming to the light? The publican is coming to the light, but he is hardly showing off his good deeds. Yet, according to Jesus in John 3, what he is doing is coming to the light that it be clearly seen that his deeds are “wrought in God”! So it can’t mean _all_ of his deeds; his brokenness over his sinful deeds is his truthful response to conviction, the way he’s “doing truth”. He has _received_, or is _receiving_, “the love of the truth”, tha” he “might be saved”. He us oblivious to the Pharisee and his contempt; all he is thinking about is that God have mercy on him. It is God whom he wants to clearly see that his deeds are wrought _in_ God, and the only thing that could be is his response in coming to the light he has been given, for more light; receiving the love of the truth from the convicting Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. There is no self-righteousness or works salvation in it, but he _is_ responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

        Like

      2. mcfirefly2 writes, “And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and MEN preferred darkness to light…
        This is why most people do not respond.”

        There may be more to it that that. Paul writes, in 2 Corinthians 4, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…” Certainly, depraved people prefer darkness, but it may be that they never see the light.

        Like

      3. Roger, Let’s set up your argument this way – If most people do not respond positively to the Gospel and are not saved, then most are never able to respond positively to the Gospel or be saved. Do you see the fallacy? No criminal is thus able to do the positive thing when offered a temptation to sin. God’s decree of my irreversible depravity sounds like a good excuse in the day of Judgment to me!

        I agree with you that the key word is “able”. You choose to believe that most do not respond positively because they are not able, based on what you believe Scripture teaches (or about the depravity of the human will and God’s eternally fixed will that decreed that depravity of the human will as well as decreed its inability to respond positively, except for some that must when God changes their will, a change they would have rejected when asked.

        I choose to believe that universal warnings and invitations in God’s Word are evidence that God enables each will through the power of hearing His Word for the enablement of that will to make a decision for or against at least the seeking to understand that Word more. And if they seek, more grace will be provided leading to an opportunity to make of commitment of trust in the Gospel.

        This will be my only response in this thread with you unless you ask a question, for there is not much else I can say any better. Hope things are going well with you!

        Like

      4. brianwagner writes, ‘ Let’s set up your argument this way – If most people do not respond positively to the Gospel and are not saved, then most are never able to respond positively to the Gospel or be saved.”

        I did not really use the word, “able,” – saying, “most people do not respond and are not saved” – but it certainly could be implied, as you took it to be. I think it sufficient for the Calvinist to show that the person rejected the gospel. Whether such a person was able cannot be determined – unless you have some magic formula for doing so. One might argue that a person “able” to accept the gospel would most certainly accept the gospel. If not, he would be an idiot and therefore not “able.”

        If we observe that most people do not appear, by any outward evidence, to respond positively to the gospel, then what conclusion might we draw from that? Your conclusion is that I mean that they could not have been able. So, here we are having to define what it means to be “able” to respond positively to the gospel? If a person rejects the gospel, can we conclude that he was “able” in any sense of that word? What do people really mean when they say a person is “able” to accept the gospel?

        Then, “No criminal is thus able to do the positive thing when offered a temptation to sin. God’s decree of my irreversible depravity sounds like a good excuse in the day of Judgment to me!”

        In Romans 14, Paul says, “everything that does not come from faith is sin,” which I take to be an universal truth that Paul applies to a specific issue. Paul says, “there is no-one who does good, not even one.” Thus, no one has faith which we already knew because of Hebrews 11, “without faith it is impossible to please God,” and Romans 8, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Thus, the criminal cannot do the positive thing because he has no faith. So, it is God’s decree not to give that person faith that is at issue – not to forget that he is also mean and nasty. The criminal’s argument to God is, “You owe me!” To which God may reply, “I am the potter and you are the clay. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”

        Now, if we sinners really did not enjoy our sin and had to be forced through threat or deception to sin, then perhaps we kinda might have some small basis for complaint. However, we loved our sin, and it was only God’s grace of restraint that prevented us being as wicked as we wanted. I don’t see the criminal having any real basis for complaining.

        Then, “You choose to believe that most do not respond positively because they are not able,…”

        Let’s take the high road and just say that many do not respond positively. Why dig down and ask, Why? BUT, if we did, the Calvinist would suggest that it was because they were not able. Then someone might suggest……..maybe, they were idiots.

        Then, “(or about the depravity of the human will and God’s eternally fixed will that decreed that depravity of the human will as well as decreed its inability to respond positively, except for some that must when God changes their will, a change they would have rejected when asked.)”

        Yep, that’s pretty much it (but I would have phrased it a little differently.

        Finally, “…if they seek, more grace will be provided…”

        Of course, only idiots do not seek, but if they are idiots, are they really able? If not idiots, then what?

        Like

      5. I am replying because I am taking your final question as sincere, Roger, and not just rhetorical. 🙂

        Well you can stack the deck with a false dichotomy, Roger, but the parable of the sower proves the first three soils were able to respond positively to the Word of God. It is not just inability or idiocy.

        Like

      6. brianwagner writes, “Roger, but the parable of the sower proves the first three soils were able to respond positively to the Word of God.”

        Not really. The parable of the sower describes three ways that people can reject the gospel. Obviously, the seed sown on stony ground – “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart,” – does not entail ability; the gospel is not understood. So, is the person an idiot or just screwed? Definitely not able as the gospel is not understood. Is this the condition of the masses who reject the gospel? It could be.

        There are two soils in which the gospel is crowded out by persecution or the cares of this world. It may be that such people are saved by that gospel but ineffective or unfruitful. They never progress beyond being babies. Within this group we might find those who depend on their works for salvation. So, these soils seem to entail an understanding of the gospel but at the same time, so much of the gospel is not understood. Are such people “able” to respond to the gospel? To some degree, Yes. Certainly, persecution can be challenging to deal with – just look at the Christians in Iraq who are captured by ISIS. To place the cares of the world above the gospel suggests little understanding of the gospel and very limited ability to accept the gospel, if any. Since we cannot read a person’s heart, we have no way to know what is going on. To the Galatians, Paul writes, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all.”

        The fourth soil identifies those who are truly able to respond to the gospel and their lives give evidence of a positive response to the gospel. If a person is “able” to respond to the gospel, this is the outcome we would expect to see. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians whom we identify easily with the good soil, “our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.”

        Like

      7. Thank you for your thoughts, Roger. People can read your musings and mine and decide for themselves which has defended his premises the best from Scripture.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. brianwagner writes, ” People can read your musings and mine …”

        Our disagreements tend to be technical and not purely Theological. Even your Open Theist leanings are closer to me than to the Open Theists – we both agree that the God can settle the future as you allow that God knows all future possibilities (Clark Pinnock says that God does not know what the future holds) – I say God has settled all the future and you say God has settled less than all the future – and we argue technical details.. Otherwise, we seem to agree on most things from what I can tell. I enjoy your comments.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Admin writes, “Does proof that I am incapable of calling the president on the telephone also prove that I am incapable of answering the telephone if the president were to call me?…Calvinists read this text to mean that our lack of initiative somehow proves our inability to respond positively to His initiative.”

    This is incorrect. Calvinists affirm that no one calls on God (they are incapable of calling the president on the telephone) for anything; salvation or whatever. Calvinists do affirm that God’s elect do respond to His initiative – “…it is God who works in [His elect] to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2) The issue here is to identify what is included within “God’s initiative.” What does God have to do for the unsaved to enable them to respond positively to the gospel? That is where the disagreement occurs.

    Then, “They presume that God’s work in sending His Son, the Holy Spirit and the inspired gospel, calling for all to be reconciled through faith in Christ, is insufficient to enable the lost to respond in faith.”

    This is confused. The inspired gospel is the source of the faith by which a person responds. Calvinists affirm that the gospel is the source of, and sufficient to provide, the faith that then manifests itself in a confession of Christ as Lord. Do all receive faith from the gospel? The answer must be, No, else all would confess Christ as Lord.

    Then, “Calvinists seem to think that because man is unable to attain righteousness by means of the law that they must equally be unable to obtain righteousness by means of grace through faith in Christ.”

    This is wrong. Calvinists affirm that God’s elect obtain righteousness by means of grace through faith in Christ.

    Then, “Calvinists wrongly assumed that because mankind is unable to fully keep the demands of the law that they are equally unable to admit their inability to keep those demands and trust in the One who has.”

    Absent God’s initiative to enable that response, Yes, to the above.

    So, the issue is whether unsaved humanity has the ability to respond positively to the gospel absent some action by God – God’s initiative – to enable such a response. Calvinists say that no one can be saved without God taking the initiative to do something (whatever that something is) without which “something” no one can be saved. The disagreement is over the contents of that “something.”

    Like

  3. Hi Rhutchin,

    Its my first time commenting here.

    You wrote:
    “This is incorrect. Calvinists affirm that no one calls on God (they are incapable of calling the president on the telephone) for anything; salvation or whatever. Calvinists do affirm that God’s elect do respond to His initiative – “…it is God who works in [His elect] to will and to act according to his good purpose.””

    So how does the president who is on the other line, makes the “elect one” he calls, respond to his call?.
    At the “time” the phone rang, does the elect able now to respond? or the President still needs to do something to that elect for him to be able to respond to the call?

    What is the difference between the “elect one” who is called by the president and the “non-elect reprobrate” who is also called by the president, why only the elect was “able” to respond or answer the Presidents call?, when both of them, by the Presidents Initiative, HEARs the phone rang so loud, is the Non-Elect “DEAF” while the phone rang while the “Elect” able to hear?, or are they BOTH “deaf” the phone ringing before the President do something to the “elect”?

    I’m just curious, i want to know the “Missing Link” of your statement, your statement is correct in the Calvinist perspective, but there is something missing, which is the “Regenetation” part, how does “Regeneration” if we want to put it in that analogy of the President calling an elect and non-elect person.

    Thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jun Terez asks, “So how does the president who is on the other line, makes the “elect one” he calls, respond to his call?”

      This is what the disagreement is all about. We might agree that “faith” must be given to a person and faith is conveyed through hearing the word. This is the incentive for the church to send out missionaries and for individuals to witness personally. Yet, it is God who calls out people to be preachers, evangelists, and missionaries. What other actions must God take? Calvinists say regeneration and all it entails. Others disagree.

      Then, “What is the difference between the “elect one” who is called by the president and the “non-elect reprobrate”?

      One difference is that the “elect one” has come under the hearing of the gospel and has received faith, which faith manifests in making the “call.” As the parable of the sower illustrates, some reprobate hear the gospel, do not understand it, and Satan snatches away what was sown in his heart.

      Then, “…which is the “Regenetation” part, how does “Regeneration” if we want to put it in that analogy of the President calling an elect and non-elect person.”

      1. Colossians 1 – “God has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,…”

      2. To the Jews, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Some extend this to the Gentiles after Israel rejects Christ as described in Romans 9-11.

      3. 2 Corinthians 4, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,…” Thus, God must remove this blindness.

      I think the application to the President analogy to be obvious.

      Like

  4. I would love for Leighton to answer this question: God created every atom in every human being–he created their souls, their spirits.
    God also knows 100% the future and destiny of every soul He made. If a person has, at any time, humbled themself and believed the gospel (in your free will system), GOD CHOSE TO GIVE THAT PERSON THOSE ATOMS, AND GOD CHOSE TO DEPRIVE THE OTHER PERSON WHO DIED AN UNBELIEVER OF THOSE ATOMS. So, tell me, do you realize that you are trapped? Do you realize that in God’s eyes, why would He hope for the repentance and faith form those that He absolutely knows will never do so? And, do you realize that you have the exact same problem that you are running from? A person that God knows will never believe, CAN NOT POSSIBLY EVER BELIEVE–THAT PERSON WAS DOOMED FROM THE WOMB. So you are trapped…see?

    Like

    1. Roy, you seem to misunderstand omniscience – thinking things happen because God knows them. You have it backwards – Gods knows what happens and will happen and even all contingecies. The Bible is full of examples of this. There is no scripture that teaches that things happen because God knew it. This comes from faulty logic and has led to deterministic thinking like Calvinism. All men can believe and if they do, God knows it. Once you understand that God has given man agency by giving him dominion you will be freed from all the contradictions that Calvinism and other deterministic systems bring.

      Like

      1. erneststrauss writes, “There is no scripture that teaches that things happen because God knew it. This comes from faulty logic and has led to deterministic thinking like Calvinism.”

        Wrong. Even Calvinism understands that “There is no scripture that teaches that things happen because God knew it.” Calvinism is clear on this point. God decrees everything that happens; God knows everything He decrees. It is the non-Calvinist who says that God knows what will happen and then decrees what He knows making God’s knowledge the cause of that which He decrees – as you state, no Scripture teaches this.

        Like

      2. Roger, I really wish you would be more careful in your explanations. You said – “God decrees everything that happens; God knows everything He decrees.” You should say, since you are talking about pre-creation activity – “God decreed… He decreed”. Also you should try to explain, since you are so dogmatic on the point, how God can make any decree in Calvinistic thinking, for making a decree requires both sequential thought and an ending point when the decree is finally established. Of course, to have any thought before the decree is made… is forethought or foreknowledge, which is are denying.

        So you will have to admit you believe both decree and foreknowledge are in your scheme immutability eternal and there is not one before another. You cannot even say they were one after the other logically, for then you open yourself up to characterizing God with sequential thinking before creation, which is necessary to logic. You also did not offer any verses of Scripture to show decree is before foreknowledge.

        Like

      3. brianwagner writes, “You should say, since you are talking about pre-creation activity – “God decreed… He decreed’. ”

        You understand, so I can be lax.

        Then, “…how God can make any decree in Calvinistic thinking, for making a decree requires both sequential thought and an ending point when the decree is finally established.”

        Perhaps, it only requires the ability to arrange things sequentially. When God conceives of creating a universe, there is nothing that prevents Him having also conceived every event that He will have to occur in that universe as well as every event He might have had to occur. Certainly, God can conceive of a beginning point for the universe and an ending point as well as the ordering of each event that He will have to occur. Does this say anything about God’s ability to think or how He must think. I don’t see it. Humans think sequentially; I see no reason to require God to think like humans.

        Then, “Of course, to have any thought before the decree is made… is forethought or foreknowledge, which is are denying.”

        What I deny is that we know how God thinks. Obviously, God “was” before He created the universe. In our minds, we think of God existing for eternity before He created the universe. God describes himself as, “I am.” God is and how God thinks or otherwise amuses Himself is unknown to us. God creates a universe that sits in the palm of His hand (for perspective) and we humans are like an amoeba in the hand of an amoeba on a rock in that universe. We cannot conceive of God, so how can we say how God thinks? Even as God “is,” God also “knows.” Does God have one thought following another or does God know all at one time? We have no idea.

        Then, “So you will have to admit you believe both decree and foreknowledge are in your scheme immutability eternal and there is not one before another.”

        Yep.

        Then, “You cannot even say they were one after the other logically,…”

        From God’s perspective, Yes. From a human perspective, we can think of God’s actions having a logical order – this is done to figure out God.

        Then, “…for then you open yourself up to characterizing God with sequential thinking before creation, which is necessary to logic.”

        Not necessarily. Whatever way God thinks does not preclude Him ordering events sequentially in whatever He creates. We require logic to sort out truth. God is truth and knows Himself and does not have to figure Himself out – and does not need sequential thinking to do this.

        Finally,”You also did not offer any verses of Scripture to show decree is before foreknowledge.”

        God tells us that he is “I am.” His thoughts, decrees, knowledge just “are.” There is no other way to explain them.

        This discussion is for the philosophers who take the truths God gives to us and organize those truths to try to figure out God. In doing so, they have come to a very simplistic understanding of God – all the omnis, immutability, etc. I am willing to accept that because it takes more brainpower than I have to even get that far.

        Like

      4. Roger, I think you don’t even realize that in the same posts you continue to confidently deny that knowing how God thinks is possible when faced with my premise of how He does think sequentially, but then you dogmatically affirm how He thinks (non-sequentially) from the point of view of your trust in what unsaved philosophers have said and a tenuous connection to God’s title “I am” in Scripture.

        It doesn’t seem to bother you that such a trust and forced interpretation of one title over turn all the rest of God’s self-revelation of how He thinks, that He, who is truth, revealed truly in Scripture. I really have a hard time understanding this continued reaction by you my friend.

        Like

      5. brianwagner writes, “It doesn’t seem to bother you that such a trust and forced interpretation of one title over turn all the rest of God’s self-revelation of how He thinks, that He, who is truth, revealed truly in Scripture. I really have a hard time understanding this continued reaction by you my friend.”

        We have certain information (truths) about God that we can glean from the Scriptures. Form those truths, philosophers can apply the laws of logic and identify other truths consistent with the truths we find in the Scriptures. With all that, what do we know about God? Very, very little. The more we learn about God from the Scriptures, the more we realize our ignorance of God. Rather than six blind men trying to figure out an elephant, we are like a blind man at the bottom of a freight car filled with Oreos in the middle of a million car train.

        God’s self-revelation of Himself through the Scriptures is not necessarily so that we can come to understand God but so that we can come to understand our complete inadequacy in all things, primarily salvation. To draw absolute conclusions about God from the Scriptures is to be like the blind man examining the trunk of the elephant and oblivious to the millions of other species of animals and plants in the world.

        Like

      6. You seem pretty confident, Roger, about what you know cannot be known, even though the prophets, apostles and Christ all spoke confidently about what they knew could be known about God.

        And as far as I am aware, the philosophers who are trusted for defining divine attributes did not first consider the Scripture and then try to fill in the gaps. But I see their views being used to overturn the tenor of Scripture and falsely attached to titles like “I AM” which were show no such connection in the context of their use.

        The Scripture is not an elephant and we are not blind men!

        Like

      7. brianwagner writes, “You seem pretty confident, Roger, about what you know cannot be known, even though the prophets, apostles and Christ all spoke confidently about what they knew could be known about God.”

        Of course, God has revealed some things about Himself. Do you think God has revealed everything about Himself to us?

        Then, “The Scripture is not an elephant and we are not blind men!”

        Illustrations can only be taken so far. There can be much more to know about God than that revealed in the Scriptures (unless your answer above is, Yes, and true). Do you really think we are not blind men if not used of just literal blindness?

        Like

      8. Thanks for the question, Roger. Blindness is a very inaccurate illustration to use to describe our lack of knowledge of things yet to be revealed. It was even being used, it seemed, to denigrate how well we even know what has been truly revealed to us.

        I know the Calvinist does not believe we can “see” anything truly, univocally, about God, but only analogically. That is just false, and makes inspiration and the truthfulness of God a deception.

        Like

      9. brianwagner writes, “Blindness is a very inaccurate illustration to use to describe our lack of knowledge of things yet to be revealed. It was even being used, it seemed to denigrate how well we even know what has been truly revealed to us.”

        OK.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Roy Lange: In addition to the tu quoque fallacy you’ve amply illustrated, you’ve actually gone one better. You’ve moved all the responsibility of this mess onto God’s shoulders. Effectively you’re saying that God is trapped by his own deterministic nature.

      Like

  5. Once again this thread like every other thread here will simply become the rhutchin show as they always do (as long as he is allowed to post here). And once again though refuted on this many times before he writes:

    “In Romans 14, Paul says, “everything that does not come from faith is sin,” which I take to be an universal truth that Paul applies to a specific issue. Paul says, “there is no-one who does good, not even one.” Thus, no one has faith which we already knew because of Hebrews 11, “without faith it is impossible to please God,” and Romans 8, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Thus, the criminal cannot do the positive thing because he has no faith.”

    Romans 14 is not dealing with the issue of whether or not an unbeliever can do any good thing. It is dealing with the issue of Christian liberty (i.e. what Christians with differing convictions will do in regard to issues where they disagree because of their differing convictions). So that statement about “everything that does not come from faith is sin” is aimed for, intended for BELIEVERS. To take this verse out of its context, is proof texting of the worst kind. But typical of rhutchin.

    Nonbelievers can sometimes do good, as examples from the military, police, etc. demonstrate. Even non-Christian judges can make good decisions at times. As I work with inmates, police, judges/the legal system, I know firsthand that sometimes these non-believers do the right thing, make the right choice. So rhutchin’s comment that the criminal cannot do the positive thing is completely out of touch with reality.

    I also evangelize people who have been convicted of the worst crimes imaginable and have seen many come to faith by making the right choice to trust in Jesus (when they made this choice they were not yet saved, so they made a good choice while still non-believers, so again rhutchin is out of touch with reality). Rhutchin just sits at his computer monitor and spews out his calvinist stuff: I doubt he has led anyone to the Lord based on his comments. Those who do evangelize know that even the worst sinner can choose to trust in Jesus to be saved. I work with some of these worst case sinners, so I know they can be saved and I know it as a fact from personal experience. That is reality, what rhutchin presents is out of touch with reality.

    Like

    1. Robert writes, “So that statement about “everything that does not come from faith is sin” is aimed for, intended for BELIEVERS.”

      That is what I said. The point you refuse to address is whether this can be applied to the unsaved also. As the unsaved do not have faith, can we conclude that they cannot do other than sin? Is faith necessary for a person to reject sin and choose the good?

      Then, “Nonbelievers can sometimes do good, as examples from the military, police, etc. demonstrate.”

      This is your humanist understanding of “good” that you always peddle. Your “good” deeds glorify man and not God. Faith is required to do that true “good” that is “good” because it glories God.

      Then, “I also evangelize people who have been convicted of the worst crimes imaginable and have seen many come to faith by making the right choice to trust in Jesus (when they made this choice they were not yet saved, so they made a good choice while still non-believers, so again rhutchin is out of touch with reality).”

      This is more of your humanist philosophy. Here you have a person making a right choice and then they receive faith. Calvinism has the person receiving faith first and this faith enables the person to make the right choice – absent faith, no person can make the right choice; without faith, no one can glorify God.

      Finally, “That is reality, what rhutchin presents is out of touch with reality.”

      It is also out of touch with the humanist philosophy you peddle.

      Like

      1. Rhutchin attempting to defend the indefensible (i.e. his prooftexting from Romans 14, i.e. taking a passage intended only for believers, and trying to make it apply to unbelievers, this is as foolish as taking what Paul says to Christian husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church, and putting that standard on nonbelieving husbands! Same problem, what is intended for believers is intended for believers, not for those who are not saved) writes:

        “That is what I said. The point you refuse to address is whether this can be applied to the unsaved also. As the unsaved do not have faith, can we conclude that they cannot do other than sin? Is faith necessary for a person to reject sin and choose the good? “

        Principles given to and intended for believers (including principles of Christian liberty given in Romans 14, etc.) are given only to believers not unbelievers. Proper Bible interpretation demands that we take the context in mind (e.g. if the passage is in the OT, and involves the Jewish law, say commands about sacrifices, we limit these commands to Jews in the OT era, we do not apply them to believers who are no longer under the law, e.g. if the passage is in the NT and intended for believers, we do not take it and apply it to unbelievers).

        But I have said this before to rhutchin and he did not listen then nor will he listen now. Instead, he is proof texting, seeking any possible verse that can somehow be used to support the concept he really wants to believe in and show (i.e. that the nonbeliever can never ever under any circumstances do a good act). If he can establish this principle (which is not given or presented in the Bible but comes only from his Calvinist theology) he can then argue that the nonbeliever cannot do any good action (including choosing to have faith to be saved): so the nonbeliever must become a believer FIRST before they can do any good action such as choosing to trust God. This is all an attempt to support, rationalize, defend the false calvinist theology.

        It leads to the absurdity of claiming that the nonbeliever can never do any good under any circumstances.

        And yet we all know from direct observation that sometimes the nonbeliever does good.

        So these good actions must be ***reinterpreted as not good*** or even sinful because they are not done according to the standards of a believer (including doing all to the glory of God). But we do not put this standard of doing all to the glory of God on the nonbeliever, as we do not put other standards that apply to believers upon nonbelievers.

        Now people can be foolish like rhutchin and reinterpret charitable acts, kind acts, merciful acts, etc. of unbelievers as not good/sinful: but this is completely out of touch with reality.

        I gave the non-controversial example of nonbelievers doing good as:

        “Nonbelievers can sometimes do good, as examples from the military, police, etc. demonstrate.”

        When a nonbelieving fireman breaks through burning walls to rescue your spouse or children, would any of us (except rhutchin) really say: “what they did was not good, it was a sinful action . . .”? When a nonbelieving policeman protects you or your family from a criminal who has deadly weapons, again would we say “what they did was not good, it was a sinful action . . .”? This is why I say rhutchin is out of touch with reality. Christians recognize that the nonbelievers sometimes do good.

        Even the reformed theologians have a concept for this, they call it “common grace”. Only the most idiotic of the calvinist persuasion would deny “common grace” and suggest with a straight face that the nonbeliever never ever do any genuine good.

        “This is your humanist understanding of “good” that you always peddle. Your “good” deeds glorify man and not God. Faith is required to do that true “good” that is “good” because it glories God.”

        See this is his redefinition at work. He prooftexts, taking verses out of context, ignoring their proper interpretation, so that an action is only GOOD if done by a believer! Well if that is the definition, then *******by definition******* since the nonbeliever is not a believer they can never do any good! Now that is RHUTCHIN’S DEFINITION, it is not given by the Bible: the Bible never says the nonbeliever never ever does any good. Note how rhutchin attacks the common sense understanding that the nonbeliever sometimes does good as “your humanist understanding”. Rhutchin shows his ignorance of his calvinist theology and history because if you look at Calvin, Luther, Edwards, etc. they all acknowledged that at times the nonbeliever does good (now they may say it is not as good as the believer doing it for the right reasons, but they do not make the false claim that the nonbeliever does not do any good under any circumstances).

        I also alluded to my own evangelistic experience which involves many coming to the Lord:

        “I also evangelize people who have been convicted of the worst crimes imaginable and have seen many come to faith by making the right choice to trust in Jesus (when they made this choice they were not yet saved, so they made a good choice while still non-believers, so again rhutchin is out of touch with reality).”

        Rhutchin’s response?

        “This is more of your humanist philosophy. Here you have a person making a right choice and then they receive faith. Calvinism has the person receiving faith first and this faith enables the person to make the right choice – absent faith, no person can make the right choice; without faith, no one can glorify God.”

        Note according to rhutchin the nonbeliever cannot make the right choice of choosing to trust Jesus to save them (that is again according to him “humanist philosophy”, which incidentally means that rhutchin thinks that non-Calvinist views on people coming to Christ by having a faith response to the gospel is all “humanist philosophy”).

        Note this also means that a nonbeliever can never trust Christ for salvation (he can only do so if he/she is saved first). Well there goes the gospel message about whosoever who believes . . .

        He has said we are all Pelagians, now we are all Humanists. He does not really care about our views, he would rather use false and pejorative labels for us.

        “It is also out of touch with the humanist philosophy you peddle.”

        Again, rhutchin is out of touch with reality. I would love to see him say this with a straight face in situations where nonbelievers do real good in the world. The examples are countless, but according to rhutchin none of these good actions by nonbelievers are really good, it is only “humanism”.
        For the rest of us, we have appreciated the kind actions, the mercy shown, the love shown, etc. etc. by nonbelievers to us. Some of us have parents or siblings who are not believers and yet they did real good to us.

        Like

      2. Robert writes, “Rhutchin attempting to defend the indefensible (i.e. his prooftexting from Romans 14, i.e. taking a passage intended only for believers, and trying to make it apply to unbelievers,…”

        The Scripture under discussion is “whatever is not of faith is sin.” I maintain that this is an universal truth that applies to believers and unbelievers. Unbelievers do not have faith and cannot do other than sin. Robert opposes this position and peddles a humanist philosophy favorable to unbelievers.

        Then, “I would love to see him say this with a straight face in situations where nonbelievers do real good in the world. The examples are countless, but according to rhutchin none of these good actions by nonbelievers are really good, it is only “humanism”.”

        To be called good, an action must be done to glorify God. If an action is not done to glorify God, it is not “good.” Robert peddles a humanist philosophy that says that sinful men do “good.”

        Like

      3. Rhutchin writes “Robert peddles a humanist philosophy that says that sinful men do “good.”

        ad hominem = against the person rather than the position

        Statements like this are tactically borderline dishonest, and they debase the environment.

        Ad hominems can work both ways.
        Robert could just as easily reply: “Rhutchin peddles a gnostic, NeoPlatonistic, pagan, yin-yan doctrine”.
        But then Robert would be lowering himself to this level.

        Much better for discourse to remain Christ honoring.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. br.d writes, “Rhutchin writes “Robert peddles a humanist philosophy that says that sinful men do “good.”
        ad hominem = against the person rather than the position
        Statements like this are tactically borderline dishonest, and they debase the environment.”

        I supported my claim by providing my definition of “good.” I have done this a couple times now. The proper response would be for Robert to provide an alternative definition of “good” that is Scriptural and supports his position. Even you cannot offer an alternative definition of “good” resulting in your attempt to deflect the argument away from anything constructive.

        Like

      5. Roger, since you said the glory of God is what should be used as the standard for declaring a work “good”, would you consider that Jesus was confirming that unsaved men are able to do good because He confirmed that they are able to glorify God, when He said to His disciples – Matt 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

        Like

      6. Matt 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

        Who among men, when seeing the good works of the apostles, would glorify God? I’m thinking that those who are prisoner to sin would not respond to the good works of the apostles by glorifying God.

        Like

      7. And I am thinking that those who are prisoners to sin are exactly the ones who Jesus wants to see the good works of His disciples so that they will glorify God by being positively influenced to seek God who produced those works through the disciples.

        Our thinking differs… so which one fits this context the best? The word “men” is contrasted with “disciples”, so I think that my “thinking” that Jesus is talking about unregenerate men bring God glory is the correct one in this instance. 🙂

        Like

      8. brianwagner writes, “Our thinking differs… so which one fits this context the best. The word “men” is contrasted with “disciples”, so I think that my “thinking” that Jesus is talking about unregenerate men bring God glory is the correct one in this instance. :-)”

        So, how would unregenerate people give glory to God? Perhaps the good works of the apostles would be the means God uses to bring them to salvation – thus giving glory to God. Proverbs 10 says, “In his pride the wicked does not seek God; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” In what sense would such people see the good works of the apostles/believers and give glory to God? Maybe unintentionally.

        Like

      9. Good morning Roger! Their seeking as a result of God’s using the good works of the disciples to enlighten them does bring glory to God. And, yes, the hope is that they do not stop seeking by allowing persecution or cares and riches to stop their seeking.

        In hardness of pride and wickedness, and not seeking, of course, they bring no glory to God. But Cornelius is a good example of one, not yet saved, who brought glory to God by seeking, as seen in how he responded to the good works he saw in the faith of Israel and then began to seek and worship (give glory) to Israel’s God.

        Like

  6. What a religious belief affirms or denies cannot be auto-magically taken as logically coherent.

    There are statements of faith and there are logically coherent arguments, which eventually become accepted logical principles.
    These are two very different things.
    It may be the case that a statement of faith, has, over-time, and under-scrutiny, become uncontroversially established as logically coherent. But this is not normally the nature of a statement of faith.

    Take for example, a statement having the following form:

    We assert that (3 multiplied by 4 = 12), but we deny that (4 multiplied by 3 = 12).

    This statement meets the criteria for a statement of faith. But it doesn’t auto-magically meet the criteria as being uncontroversially established as logically coherent.

    So a religious group can proclaim: (We forcibly deny X) all they want to….but that doesn’t auto-magically make their doing so logically coherent.
    As William Lane Craig would say: “Such denials are not a reflection of the (logical coherence) of one’s theology. The denial rather reflects the (psychology) of the believers”

    Therefore, its easy to say “We adamantly deny our theology characterizes man as fitting the model of being a programmed robot”.
    However, that can easily be a legitimate statement of faith, and one is free to take it by faith.
    But for it to become uncrontroversially established as logically coherent, requires it to conform to laws of logic.
    Not simply asserting logical sounding complexities and equivocations to give an illusion of it being logically coherent.

    A religious groups making these types of assertions/denials will often be quick to sight them.
    **AS-IF** sighting them established them as some kind of uncontroversial definitive proof.
    And the scripture warns us that the fool believes every word
    So let us not play the fool and accept blind assertions or denials as having any truth-value.
    If there really is a logically coherent explanation for them, then it should be readily forthcoming.
    All too often, however, very little, if any….sound, logically coherent, and uncontroversial explanation follows.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I made the claim in my previous post that reformed scholars and even John Calvin have this concept of “common grace” (which is their way of explaining how even nonbelievers, or nonbelievers who are elected to reprobation, still do good actions at times). Rhutchin represents an extreme in calvinist thinking, an extreme that claims that no nonbeliever ever does any good under any circumstances. It is such an extreme view that I see it as idiotic in light of what other Calvinists say on this subject.

    To prove my claim for everyone here to see: I did a quick internet search and found a calvinist who argues for common grace, argues that Calvin held to this concept, that other Calvinist scholars hold to this concept and he even views those who deny that Calvin held to common grace as “Hyper-Calvinists”. This is such a good, informational, and short article that I am citing it here in full:

    [[Sola Reformed

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    John Calvin on Common Grace

    Hyper Calvinists frequently make the false assertion that John Calvin rejected common grace. This compilation of quotes primarily from John Calvin’s “The Institutes of the Christian Religion” proves that Calvin affirmed common grace. For a scholarly exposition on Calvin’s doctrine of common grace, I recommend “Calvin and Common Grace”, written by Herman Bavinck, then later translated into English by Geerhardus Vos.

    “Paul, accordingly, after reminding the Athenians that they “might feel after God and find him,” immediately adds, that “he is not far from every one of us,” (Acts 17:27); every man having within himself undoubted evidence of the heavenly grace by which he lives, and moves, and has his being.” – (Book 1, Chapter 5:3).

    “Read Demosthenes or Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any other of that class: you will, I admit, feel wonderfully allured, pleased, moved, enchanted; but turn from them to the reading of the Sacred Volume, and whether you will or not, it will so affect you, so pierce your heart, so work its way into your very marrow, that, in comparison of the impression so produced, that of orators and philosophers will almost disappear; making it manifest that in the Sacred Volume there is a truth divine, a something which makes it immeasurably superior to all the gifts and graces attainable by man.” – (Book 1, Chapter 8:1).

    “The power of the intellect, secondly, with regard to the arts. Particular gifts in this respect conferred on individuals, and attesting the grace of God.” – (Chapter 2, Heading)

    “In that some excel in acuteness, and some in judgment, while others have greater readiness in learning some peculiar art, God, by this variety commends his favour toward us, lest anyone should presume to arrogate to himself that which flows from His mere liberality. For whence is it that one is more excellent than another, but that in a common nature the grace of God is specially displayed in passing by many and thus proclaiming that it is under obligation to none.” – (Book 2, Chapter 2:17)

    “But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint. For did the Lord let every mind loose to wanton in its lusts, doubtless there is not a man who would not show that his nature is capable of all the crimes with which Paul charges it.” – (Book 2, Chapter 3:3)

    “Still, the surest and easiest answer to the objection is, that those are not common endowments of nature, but special gifts of God, which he distributes in divers forms, and, in a definite measure, to men otherwise profane. For which reason, we hesitate not, in common language, to say, that one is of a good, another of a vicious nature; though we cease not to hold that both are placed under the universal condition of human depravity. All we mean is that God has conferred on the one a special grace which he has not seen it meet to confer on the other. When he was pleased to set Saul over the kingdom, he made him as it were a new man.” – (Book 2, Chapter 3:4)

    “The reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.” – John Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 2:11)

    “As by the revolt of the first man, the image of God could be effaced from his mind and soul, so there is nothing strange in His shedding some rays of grace on the reprobate, and afterwards allowing these to be extinguished.” – John Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 2:12)

    “God is undoubtedly ready to pardon whenever the sinner turns. Therefore, he does not will his death, in so far as he wills repentance. But experience shows that this will, for the repentance of those whom he invites to himself, is not such as to make him touch all their hearts. Still, it cannot be said that he acts deceitfully; for though the external word only renders, those who hear it, and do not obey it, inexcusable, it is still truly regarded as an evidence of the grace by which he reconciles men to himself.” – John Calvin (Book 3, Chapter 24:15)

    “For, since the fall of Adam had brought disgrace upon all his posterity, God restores those, whom He separates as His own, so that their condition may be better than that of all other nations. At the same time it must be remarked, that this grace of renewal is effaced in many who have afterwards profaned it” – John Calvin (Commentary on Deuteronomy 32:6)

    “But prosperity, and the happy issue of events, ought also to be attributed to his grace, in order that he may always receive the praise which he deserves, that of being a merciful Father, and an impartial Judge. About the close of the psalm, he inveighs against those ungodly men who will not acknowledge God’s hand, amid such palpable demonstrations of his providence.” – John Calvin (Commentary on Psalm 107)

    “That God indeed favours none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts.” – John Calvin (Commentary on Hebrews 6:5)

    “He is therefore rightly called the Spirit of grace, by whom Christ becomes ours with all his blessings. But to do despite to him, or to treat him with scorn, by whom we are endowed with so many benefits, is an impiety extremely wicked. Hence learn that all who wilfully render useless his grace, by which they had been favoured, act disdainfully towards the Spirit of God. It is therefore no wonder that God so severely visits blasphemies of this kind; it is no wonder that he shows himself inexorable towards those who tread under foot Christ the Mediator, who alone reconciles us to himself; it is no wonder that he closes up the way of salvation against those who spurn the Holy Spirit, the only true guide.” – John Calvin (Commentary on Hebrews 10:29)

    “There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or temporal grace, are called so by us, but are not so to God.” – John Calvin (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p. 66)

    There are more affirmations of common grace in John Calvin’s writings, but I resolved to limit myself to 1(6)00 words. However, these quotes undeniably prove that John Calvin affirmed the Reformed Doctrine of Common Grace.

    Lastly, Common Grace has always been a Reformed Doctrine:

    John Knox said, “After these common mercies, I say, whereof the reprobate are often partakers, he openeth the treasure of his rich mercies, which are kept in Christ Jesus for his Elect. Such as willingly delight not in blindness may clearly see that the Holy Ghost maketh a plain difference betwixt the graces and mercies which are common to all, and that sovereign mercy which is immutably reserved to the chosen children.” (On Predestination, p. 87)

    The Westminster Divine, Robert Harris said, “There are graces of two sorts. First, common graces, which even reprobates may have. Secondly, peculiar, such as accompany salvation, as the Apostle has it, proper to God’s own children only. The matter is not whether we have the first sort of graces, for those do not seal up God’s special love to a man’s soul, but it must be saving grace alone that can do this for us.”

    John Calvin said, “But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint. For did the Lord let every mind loose to wanton in its lusts, doubtless there is not a man who would not show that his nature is capable of all the crimes with which Paul charges it.”

    © Jonathan Williams, February 2012.]]

    Like

  8. General comment to the group:

    I highly recommend reading the “leesomniac” article on the implications of Calvin’s deterministic world-view. He does a good job of referencing all of the contemporary voices on the subject. Sharpening my understanding on this point can avert a lot of conflict.

    https://leesomniac.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/theological-determinisms-problem-with-the-problem-of-evil-the-inadequacy-of-compatibilism/

    Section Heading: Inadequate solution for moral responsibility

    This [Calvinistic] formulation of moral responsibility is problematic. First, the [creature’s] “control” spoken of here seems illusory. It may be true that human wills remain secondary causes, but the problem is not causation per se but agency.

    As William Lane Craig points out: While an “omnicausal” God could use secondary causes for his ends, the problem is not that theological determinism entails “monocausality,” (God as the only cause), but rather “MONOAGENCY,” (God as the only REAL agent). [Four Views on Divine Providence]. If there is only one TRUE free agent, God; then only he can be ascribed moral responsibility, not a creature whose agency is an illusion.

    We don’t want to get ensnared in a philosophical system that consistently paints God as the sole agent in the universe: “We assert A”. Then when saddled with its logical entailments, simply declares: “We assert NOT A”. So I want to be as knowledgeable as possible on how philosophical illusions work and what motivates them.

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “I highly recommend reading the “leesomniac” article…”

      I found the cited article to be a waste of time. I don’t think the author understands the argument made by Calvinists. Let’s look at some of the introductory material.

      1. “Theological determinism is the belief that God determines all things to come to pass as they do, either through direct or instrumental causation….It implicates God as the main cause of every evil act, …”

      The use of “main cause” is unclear. What exactly does the author mean? Does he mean that God is the ultimate cause of everything that happens because God creates all things or something else? It is an indicator that the author is trying to say something but doesn’t really know what he wants to say.

      2. “…and it gives no good reason as to why God, if compatibilism is an adequate enough theory for moral responsibility, could not have created a world with compatibilistic free creatures who never sinned.”

      Compatibilism makes the assertion that God’s sovereignty is compatible with man’s free will. Some Calvinists assert that man’s free will is subordinate to God’s sovereignty which means that it cannot be LFW and that engenders much discussion. Does the author mean to assert that God’s sovereignty is subordinate to man’s free will which makes man sovereign? Probably not. So, what is the author’s problem with compatibilism? Then, “…could not have created a world with compatibilistic free creatures who never sinned,” is a red herring. It adds nothing to the discussion.

      3. “…theological determinists have a hard time absolving God of any moral blame.”

      Not really. This is because of the “secondary causes” argument made by Calvinists. The key point in the secondary cause argument is that secondary causes can be self-powered and self-motivated without God having to encourage the secondary cause in one direction or the other. Does the author understand the “secondary cause” argument? I don’t see evidence that he does.

      4. “For example, R.C. Sproul—a theological determinist who argues that if God does not directly control even just one molecule, it could possibly lay waste to creation[2]—struggles mightily with the problem of evil, the Fall, and determinism.  He admits that to say that God is the author of sin is “unthinkable,” yet he refuses to let go of his conception of God’s sovereignty as all-causing.”

      Sproul may be many things but does not “mightily struggle” against anything including the problem of evil. Sproul distinguishes between active and passive control of all things down to each atom. I don’t think the author understands this.

      5. “It is important for theological determinists to affirm some form of free will for created creatures, or else there is no other agent but God to pin moral responsibility on.”

      Of course, and Edwards treatise on free will is required reading.

      6. “I will argue two related things within this issue:  One, that compatibilism fails to ground moral responsibility in contingent agents, and two, that God’s unilateral and causal determination of evil would make him responsible for that evil.”

      Promises, promises – left unfulfilled. This paper needs a good editor – one who understands Calvinism – and much work.

      Like

      1. These are all excellent and informative comments!

        However, it should be noted, in all controversial discussions, no matter what the content is, when the “You don’t understand” argument is made, quite often, what is really behind that, is a high degree of sophisticated equivocations and tautologies that don’t hold up under expert scrutiny. But of course this works both ways. So articles like this only help to sharpen the individual’s understanding of all of the historical components within the discussion. An attempt to persuade people not to access information should be held suspect, on both sides of any discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. br.d writes, ” …when the “You don’t understand” argument is made…”

        It can mean that the author has used terms that are confusing or not properly defined in the article. In this case, it is I who does not understand the argument the author is trying to make.

        Like

  9. Robert,

    Thank you for pointing out the importance of sound biblical hermeneutics. It is a fundamental principle that one must interpret a passage with the same intent of the writer. Hence, to rip a meaning out of its context to fit another unintended context is irresponsible. Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve seen this same error used by Calvinist utilizing the example of Lazarus in reference to spiritual death. An improper analogy always results in a misguided conclusion.

    Like

    1. Brian R,

      “Thank you for pointing out the importance of sound biblical hermeneutics. It is a fundamental principle that one must interpret a passage with the same intent of the writer.”

      Nice to see others appreciate my point.

      What rhutchin is doing with Romans 14 is being irresponsible with the biblical text. He is not alone however, as it is extremely common for people to do this kind of thing with texts trying to support their views. Years ago when I dealt with counter cult ministry I had Mormons using texts in Psalms to try to prove that the Father has a physical body as we do. Fact is you can prove anything from the Bible if you are willing to ignore the context and just rip things out for your intended use.

      “Hence, to rip a meaning out of its context to fit another unintended context is irresponsible. Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve seen this same error used by Calvinist utilizing the example of Lazarus in reference to spiritual death. An improper analogy always results in a misguided conclusion.”

      Right, that Lazarus prooftexting is also wrong. The narrative was not speaking of the nonbeliever’s condition as Lazarus was not a nonbeliever but instead a friend of Jesus who had physically died. Again, if you are willing to ignore context as you attempt to proof text, every proof text becomes a pretext to prove anything you want, no matter how unbiblical or wrong.

      Like

      1. Robert writes, “What rhutchin is doing with Romans 14 is being irresponsible with the biblical text.”

        The issue is whether the statement, “whatever is not of faith is sin” is an universal truth applicable to both saved and unsaved.

        Hebrews 11 tells us, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Turning this around, we can say, “Only with faith can a person please God.”

        Paul writes in Romans 1, “in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Then Galatians 2, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,…” Then, Galatians 3, “the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.”

        Notice the contrasts – believers live by faith; unbelievers do not, believers are freed from sin by faith; unbelievers are prisoners of sin. The unbeliever has no faith and cannot receive faith except through hearing the gospel; if they are prisoners of sin, can they do anything other than sin? Of course not. Robert continues to peddle a humanist philosophy.

        Like

    2. Brian R. writes, “I’ve seen this same error used by Calvinist utilizing the example of Lazarus in reference to spiritual death. An improper analogy always results in a misguided conclusion.”

      Ephesians 2 refers to the unsaved being “dead” in sin. Perhaps, you can offer a proper analogy that the Calvinists might use that would not be misguided.

      Like

  10. Rhutchin said “Ephesians 2 refers to the unsaved being “dead” in sin. Perhaps, you can offer a proper analogy that the Calvinists might use that would not be misguided.”

    Actually, Ephesians 2 is a great example. The text uses language such as, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world…Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind…” (Vss 1-3)

    Notice that the apostle describes those who were dead in sin as “formerly walked… formerly lived… indulging in the desires of the flesh.” This does not sound like a corpse, but someone who is physically alive. Thus, I hope that you can see how illogical the Lazarus example is, when used to posit an effectual calling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brian R. writes, “Notice that the apostle describes those who were dead in sin as “formerly walked… formerly lived… indulging in the desires of the flesh.” This does not sound like a corpse, but someone who is physically alive.”

      Paul refers to believers (if there is any confusion on this point) as having “formerly walked… formerly lived… indulging in the desires of the flesh.” Paul begins by saying, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,…” Context suggests that the unsaved are spiritually dead. Then Paul writes, “God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.” Thus, we have those who were spiritually “dead” were made spiritually “alive.” Of that change, Paul then writes, “by grace you have been saved.” Of course, the people are still physically alive with their behavior consistent with being spiritually dead.

      The Calvinists conclude that salvation occurs when God takes a person who is dead in transgressions and gives them life. Your complaint is that the Calvinists use an improper analogy to illustrate the unsaved being “dead.” So, again, perhaps, you can offer a proper analogy that the Calvinists might use that would not be misguided but accurately illustrate the “deadness” Paul has in mind.

      Like

    1. br.d writes, “Has anyone read “A God I’d Like to Meet: Separating the Love of God from Harmful Traditional Beliefs” by Bob Edwards?”

      I bought it and am now reading it. I have finished the first 4 chapters where the author appears to make his main case against Calvinism. In doing this, he relies entirely on Calvin who relied heavily on Augustine. He argues that Augustine seems to have gotten a lot of his ideas from the Platonists. I think Edwards is well read and makes for fascinating reading. BUT…the problem is that his argument is effective only if Calvinism had stagnated after Calvin. Edwards’ complaints about Calvin and Augustine have all been corrected by later reformers. Much of this work was done by the Puritan writers, with John Owen and Jonathan Edwards being prominent among them. Today’s Calvinism is firmly rooted in and justified through the Scriptures and one need only read RC Sproul to see this. If one wants to understand Calvinism, one should work from Sproul backwards through Pink and the Puritans and then to Calvin’s Institutes. By the time you get to Calvin, you have the Scriptural background to appreciate it.

      I have begun chapter 5, entitled, The Subjugation of Women. I find it fascinating reading. However, I am noticing Scriptures that he does not address (hopefully, not purposely avoiding) and hope to see him address those Scriptures to complete his argument.

      So far, I like the book – it is an easy read – but recognize some really critical deficiencies in the argument Edwards makes against Calvinism. Who knows, maybe he fills in the gaps by the end of the book. That’s my initial impression.

      In particular, Edwards correctly notes that Calvinists identify the will of God as the cause of all things. Edwards then takes this to mean that God is the cause of all things. It made me think that he is confused on this issue.

      Like

      1. Thanks for that review rhutchin. I am impressed. Your review was very informative and considerate.
        On you last thought where you think Edwards may be confused, taking the Calvinist to mean that God is the cause of all things, may be due to the very large degree of variance one reads in Calvinist literature. One may read the word “cause”, or perhaps “ordain”, or perhaps “make”, and perhaps a more philosophical Calvinist author would use “actualize”. So, if I understand your statement there, this may be an issue of the degree of semantics one finds in Calvinist enunciations.
        Thanks :-]

        Like

      2. br. d writes, “if I understand your statement there, this may be an issue of the degree of semantics one finds in Calvinist enunciations.”

        I think the problem is not that Calvinists use a variety of terms, like “ordain,” “decree,” “predestine,” “decide,” because all of these words appear in the English translations. Thus, no one can discuss the verses in which these words are used without using those words. The problem is that non-Calvinists erroneously assume that these words imply “cause.” So, when the Calvinist argues that God “ordains” X, the non-Calvinist assumes this means that God caused X by direct action. They always seem to ignore the role of secondary causes and how God uses secondary causes to bring about His will. Edwards does this. Edwards is very selective in the arguments he makes and ignores verses that muddle the argument he wants to make. Edwards correctly states that Calvin/Augustine said that the will of God causes all things but then converts this to, God causes all things, so that he can argue against it.

        Like

      3. Thanks for this Rhutchin.
        If I understand you, you are saying that the non-Calvinist hears the Calvinist declare God “causes” X, where the Calvinist automatically presupposes an unstated proposition, that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability. Wouldn’t it be logical, that the non-Calvinist would not make that connection? Wouldn’t it be logical to see the claim that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability as a logical outcome of the doctrine of Universal Divine Determinism which would be foreign to a non-Calvinist?

        Also, wouldn’t it be logical to see the claim that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability as non-intuitive, since that claim would be rejected in any court of law or justice? For example, Charles Manson asserted that as his defense: “I never broke no-ones free-will….. I merely told them to do those things they already wanted them to do”. The court rejected that argument and Manson remains behind bars. So wouldn’t it be logical to assume that the non-Calvinist agrees with the court, that secondary-culpability cannot remove primary-culpability, since that principle is well established, historically, from Mosaic law?
        Thanks,
        br.d

        Like

      4. br.d asks, ” Wouldn’t it be logical to see the claim that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability as a logical outcome of the doctrine of Universal Divine Determinism which would be foreign to a non-Calvinist?”

        Why?

        Then, “wouldn’t it be logical to see the claim that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability as non-intuitive, since that claim would be rejected in any court of law or justice?”

        Why?

        Then, “For example, Charles Manson asserted that as his defense: “I never broke no-ones free-will….. I merely told them to do those things they already wanted them to do”. ”

        Substitute Satan for Manson and we have the source of much temptation. Yet, Satan is not condemned for the actions of those he tempts; the sinner is held fully accountable because, even though tempted, the sinner intends fully to sin and seeks a pleasure from that sin. The court ruled that Manson had a greater influence over his followers than just making suggestions to them.

        Then, “So wouldn’t it be logical to assume that the non-Calvinist agrees with the court, that secondary-culpability cannot remove primary-culpability, since that principle is well established, historically, from Mosaic law?”

        Sure. So what? God does not tempt people to sin, does He? The person is self-motivated to sin is he not? The charge against God is that he did not restrain the free will actions of sinners to keep them from sin – God did not restrain Cain as he killed Abel; God did not restrain Joseph’s brothers as they sold him. Thus, God is responsible for the sinner’s actions (The will of God is the cause of the sin as it was God’s will not to restrain the sinner) even though God does not exert influence that propels the person to sin and thereby does not incur culpabaility.

        Like

      5. Hi Rutchin, On this one:

        Then, “wouldn’t it be logical to see the claim that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability as non-intuitive, since that claim would be rejected in any court of law or justice?”

        Why?

        Because that is the reality of the situation. It may make sense to you that secondary-culpability somehow removes primary-culpability, But you will have to explain it, for it to make sense to someone else who has not excepted it by faith alone.
        Any court of law wouldn’t even consider it worth thinking about. They would ignore the claim as frivolous.

        Do you know any court of law or legal case where primary-culpability was deemed not guilty, while secondary-culpability was?
        Its appears to function, simply as a belief you have embraced. Which, since you’ve thoroughly embraced it, it makes sense to you.

        But can you provide any evidence of it being logically coherent?
        Thanks

        Like

      6. br.d writes, “Because that is the reality of the situation. It may make sense to you that secondary-culpability somehow removes primary-culpability, But you will have to explain it, for it to make sense to someone else who has not excepted it by faith alone.”

        I think it would help if you responded to the example I used. Cain kills Abel. He does so for whatever reason (perhaps jealousy) and does so freely not being coerced or influenced by any outside factors. God has the ability to step in and prevent Cain killing Abel (as God has the ability to prevent all sinful behavior). God does not intervene to prevent Cain killing Abel. In what sense is God culpable? God did not encourage, influence or otherwise cause, encourage, or inspire Cain to kill Abel. We can conclude that “the will of God” was the cause of Abel’s death because it was the “will of God” not to prevent Abel’s death. However, we cannot say that God “caused” Abel’s death as Cain acted out of his own desire and free will and is fully culpable in Abel’s death. What culpability should be assigned to God in the case of Cain killing Abel?

        Like

      7. Rutching writes:

        “The example I used. Cain kills Abel. He does so for whatever reason (perhaps jealousy) and does so freely not being coerced or influenced by any outside factors.”

        To show how that statement is a logical contradiction to the underlying premises of Calvinism, William Lane Craig has a much better answer.

        William Lane Craig on the appeal that secondary-culpability removes primary culpability.
        Quote:
        ”Universal Divine Determinism nullifies human agency, since in its view, humans are mere instruments, by means of which God acts to produce some effect, much like a man using a stick to move a stone. Of course, secondary causes are at work, as the Reformed divines remind us, (just as a stick retains its properties and powers that make it suitable for the purposes of the one who uses it). But these intermediate causes are not agents themselves, but mere instrumental causes, for they have no power to initiate action. Hence, (the non-Calvinist’s) claim that it is dubious that in Universal Divine Determinism, there really is more than one agent in the world seems quite justified.

        The Reformed may respond that they are not persuaded that ‘omnicausality’ necessarily entails ‘monocausality’ tells us merely about the PSYCHOLOGY of Reformed believers, rather than the shortcomings of the objection. And in any case, misconstrues that object, by conflating ‘monocausality’ (which need not follow from Universal Divine Determinism) with “monoagency” (which does follow from Universal Divine Determinism). But I suspect that since (the Calvinist) believes that there really is only one primary cause in his reality, he would at the end of the day agree, that there is by one agent in his reality.”

        Like

      8. br.d writes, “”Universal Divine Determinism nullifies human agency, since in its view, humans are mere instruments, by means of which God acts to produce some effect, much like a man using a stick to move a stone….”

        Craig is wrong. He should have written, “”…in its view, humans are freely motivated instruments (or agents), by means of which God acts to produce some effect, much like a man restraining a dog on a leash.” “…like a man using a stick to move a stone…” – What has Craig been smoking??

        Then, “But I suspect that since (the Calvinist) believes that there really is only one primary cause in his reality, he would at the end of the day agree, that there is by one agent in his reality.”

        Don’t we all believe that there is one primary cause – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

        I don’t think Craig is a good resource on this issue.

        Like

      9. Roger – “freely motivated instruments” What does that mean…motivated by whom? You are not talking about free will in the individual, are you? 🙂 Are you speaking anthropomorphically?…. You know that you believe that everything is just playing out according to God’s immutable will that can only be expressed one way… so, in your terminology, He is yanking on the chain of each dog to do only one immutably decreed thing and He can’t help but do it, for His will is not free to do anything else.

        Like

      10. brianwagner writes, ““freely motivated instruments” What does that mean…motivated by whom? You are not talking about free will in the individual, are you? 🙂 Are you speaking anthropomorphically?….

        Hmmm. Speaking anthropomorphically about anthropos. Motivated by his own nature and desires (as Jonathan Edwards wrote of).

        Then, “You know that you believe that everything is just playing out according to God’s immutable will that can only be expressed one way… so, in your terminology, He is yanking on the chain of each dog to do only one immutably decreed thing and He can’t help but do it, for His will is not free to do anything else.”

        I agree. That dog wants to do a lot of things (like eating this or that and sleeping) and God reduces his choices dramatically. Technically, the dog always has many options to choose from and always pursues his greatest desire and this is what God limits – the dog could choose lesser desired options but does not because he always pursues the greatest desired option

        Like

      11. You deflected my question Roger… What did you mean by “freely motivated instruments.” Was Satan freely motivated to sin, pursuing the greatest desired option? Could he have done otherwise? Was Adam able to be freely motivated to reject Satan’s temptation, pursuing the greatest desired option? Could he have done otherwise?

        These questions have to be answered “no” by your theology for God’s immutable omniscience was not able to allow any other choices for God as He yanked the chain of Satan so that he would sin, and yanked the chain of Adam so that he would sin. And God Himself is being yanked by a chain of immutable omniscience so that His will is locked into one set future and is not free… no matter how much your theology protests that it is… Prove it is not so!

        Like

      12. brianwagner writes, “Was Satan freely motivated to sin, pursuing the greatest desired option? Could he have done otherwise? Was Adam able to be freely motivated to reject Satan’s temptation, pursuing the greatest desired option? Could he have done otherwise?
        These questions have to be answered “no” by your theology for God’s immutable omniscience was not able to allow any other choices for God as He yanked the chain of Satan so that he would sin, and yanked the chain of Adam so that he would sin. ”

        Your claim is that God’s immutable omniscience requires that God cause Satan to sin. If not, then Satan is freely motivated by his own personal desire for sin to choose freely to sin. If Satan is slave to his desires then he cannot choose otherwise than as those desires dictate. God is not required to cause Satan’s desires if He control’s those desires.

        Adam was able to reject Satan’s temptation. Was he “freely motivated” to reject? The issue is probably not whether he was free but how free. God has the ultimate freedom by virtue of His knowledge, infinite understanding and perfect wisdom. Adam has a lesser knowledge, lesser understanding, and imperfect wisdom. Thus, Adam is only as free as his knowledge, understanding, and wisdom allow him to be free. So, Adam is “freely” motivated to reject Satan’s temptation but that freedom is limited.

        That God knows the choices that Satan and Adam make does not cause them to make those choices. Thus, the answer to your questions can be, Yes.

        Then, “He yanked the chain of Satan so that he would sin, and yanked the chain of Adam so that he would sin.”

        No. In yanking Satan’s chain, God limits the sin Satan does but does not cause Satan to choose to sin. In Adam’s case, God need only stand on the sidelines and do nothing – giving Adam the freedom to choose given the influences both within and without.

        Like

      13. So Roger we are back to whether God was holding the chain so tightly in line with your view of immutable omniscience that Satan and Adam could only sin in one specific way. Remember, God was the one who created them with the ability to sin freely.

        Was God locked in by His immutable omniscience to only let them “freely” sin one way… which is no freedom at all! And after they sinned… was God locked into only one response for Himself towards them, or was He free to decide AFTER they sinned what other freedoms He would enable them to have?

        We will always come back to your view of immutable determinism that is not the way the Scripture reads! You can have the last word in this interaction if you wish. But I think it is obvious to the readers that the Scriptures do not have God and man tied to only one set human history actions and reactions forever!

        Like

      14. brianwagner writes, “Was God locked in by His immutable omniscience to only let them “freely” sin one way… ”

        You need to get a dog. When you walk a dog on a leash, you find that he is always straining to go beyond the range the leash allows. Despite the freedom to do anything within the range of the leash, the dog always strains to go beyond what the leash allows. Can I use analogy, or simile, to compare the sinner with a dog on a leash? A sinner is like a dog on a leash; he wants to be as evil as he desires but is restrained by God. A sinner has great freedom to sin, but always wants to do that which he cannot do – such is his appetite for evil. The only reason that depraved sinners are not as evil as they want is because God restrains the evil that they can do.

        Then, “We will always come back to your view of immutable determinism that is not the way the Scripture reads! ”

        Immutable determinism means that God is sovereign and has the final say on everything that happens. No one robs a bank without God deciding that He will not intervene directly or through secondary agents (police) to prevent the person robbing the bank. As God knows all the possibilities for all actions of all people in the future, God has the ability to decide what He will do in each case. If God were to decide in eternity past that He would prevent Joe from robbing bank X at time T, then that decision is immutable and God will do as he decided. Your only objection has been that God need not make such decisions ahead of time. However, even in real time, God still has the final say simply because he is sovereign.

        I don’t see that you have an argument against immutable determinism – at least, you have never presented one (except through secondary arguments against omniscience but that argument erroneously assumes that God causes people to sin.).

        Like

      15. I have often presented an argument, but you do not accept it. The Scripture with all its conditional statements (revealed as truth by God), all its universal invitations and warnings, and all of its statements of God still making decisions is an abundant evidence against immutable determinism.

        Maybe you should get a dog! Roger! 🙂 For though they pull, they seem to still be freely able to respond to the Master’s call! 🙂

        Like

      16. brianwagner writes, “The Scripture with all its conditional statements (revealed as truth by God), all its universal invitations and warnings, and all of its statements of God still making decisions is an abundant evidence against immutable determinism.”

        The Scriptures also make many statements that are not conditional – “Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

        Then, “For though they pull, they seem to still be freely able to respond to the Master’s call! :-)”

        “…the sheep listen to [Christ’s] voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice….I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

        Like

      17. Roger, we’re talking about before a person becomes a sheep, not the description of what a person does after they become a sheep.

        And pointing to obvious unconditional statements is no a counter to my evidence. I did not say everything is conditional… but you want to say everything is unconditional in spite of Scripture’s evidence.

        Like

      18. brianwagner writes, “…you want to say everything is unconditional in spite of Scripture’s evidence.”

        No. I say that conditional statements are subordinate to unconditional statements.

        Like

      19. That too, Roger, is only a deflection… for there is not true A or B in your unconditional system… Only A not B!

        Like

      20. brianwagner writes, ‘…there is not true A or B in your unconditional system… Only A not B!”

        There is both A and B. The issue here is that B is unattainable – thus your distinction of “true” A or B. However, conditional statements do not necessitate true A or B, do they? Nothing prevents a conditional statement including an impossible option. Conditional statements can be unfair. Life is full of unfair conditionals. A person can freely choose to play pro football (or whatever sport) if they can do X (where few people can do X). A person wins the prize if they come in first but few people have the ability to come in first – the majority of us are also-rans (why do you think they now give “participation” awards to kids).

        Like

      21. Roger, we are not talking about a mean God who gives a conditional statement fully knowing it presents a false assumption. Is that how you treat those you love?

        Like

      22. brianwagner writes, “…are not talking about a mean God who gives a conditional statement fully knowing it presents a false assumption. Is that how you treat those you love?”

        False assumption? You mean your assumption that people must be able to do what is required in the conditional statement? I don’t see any false assumptions.

        God’s conditionals are truthful. For example, “If you believe on Christ you will be saved.” Yet to believe, one must be first enlightened and then seek more enlightenment. Conditionals set a standard that must be met; they do not assume that a person can meet those standards.

        Like

      23. Declaring a conditional statement, Roger, absolutely gives the inference to the person to whom it is stated that the conditional statement is an open one to that person. And we are not even talking about what one assumes when given a command by God, and invitation by God, and a warning by God. God is not playing deceptive games to accomplish His will. I am not ever going to believe He has immutable omniscience that makes Him play such deceptive games with truth statements!

        Like

      24. brianwagner writes, “Declaring a conditional statement absolutely gives the inference to the person to whom it is stated that the conditional statement is an open one to that person.”

        Never assume anything where conditionals are concerned.

        Like

      25. If you come down here to Ruckersville, VA, I will take you out to dinner! How’s that for a conditional! 🙂 … or we could me half way and I will still take you out to dinner! 🙂

        Like

      26. brianwagner writes, “If you come down here to Ruckersville, VA, I will take you out to dinner! How’s that for a conditional! 🙂 … or we could me half way and I will still take you out to dinner! :-)”

        You assume I have the physical ability to do meet the conditions of the conditional. You should have phrased the conditional this way to avoid assumptions, “If you are willing, I will come to your house and do what it takes to transport you to dinner or we can make make other accommodations.”

        Like

      27. Lol… You assume that I don’t know you have sufficient ability to choose between the options that I gave you so that I don’t have to do everything for you… and even so – If I say “If you are willing” I am assuming, or knowing, that you have to the ability to make that decision of your will! 🙂

        Like

      28. brianwagner writes, “If I say “If you are willing” I am assuming, or knowing, that you have to the ability to make that decision of your will! :-)”

        On the contrary. “If you are willing” establishing the conditional requirement (the bar that must be met); you need know nothing. Without that bar, you necessarily assume a particular ability on my part – which is what you do with conditionals in the Scriptures. The question is whether conditionals can imply an ability or can imply a bar that must be met.

        Like

      29. If the stating of a conditional does not assume that there is an ability for the bar to be met… or at least for an ability for a way to be sought to have it met…which is the normal assumption of any hearer being told a conditional, or universal invitation, or warning… then the burden is for you to give a more logical assumption for revealing such a conditional to someone while fully knowing they can and will never meet the condition.

        Like

      30. brianwagner writes, “…the burden is for you to give a more logical assumption for revealing such a conditional to someone while fully knowing they can and will never meet the condition.”

        The example used is the law. Israel was given the law in order to be blessed through its keeping of that law. However, God knew beforehand that Israel (collectively or individually) could not keep the law. Thus, God also instituted a system of sacrifices to provide for the forgiveness of Israel’s disobedience.

        In the NT, people are commanded to believe the gospel. Yet, faith is required to believe the gospel and not everyone has faith; only those to whom God gives faith (or more expansively, only those who hear the gospel forgetting that Satan is able to steal the word away before it engenders faith).

        Conditionals do not require an ability to meet the conditions specified and logic does not demand that they should.

        Like

      31. The law is a great example of a conditional that causes a search for fulfillment of its demand for perfect righteousness. One is led to call out to the Lawgiver for mercy for satisfaction of those impossible demands, or decides to harden against seeking mercy.

        Like

      32. brianwagner writes, “The law is a great example of a conditional that causes a search for fulfillment of its demand for perfect righteousness.’

        Or a search for loopholes. Wasn’t that the purpose for all the amendments to the law (Jesus referred to them as traditions of men)?

        However, the point here is that the law is a conditional that could not be achieved that should have caused, as you note, “a search for fulfillment of its demand for perfect righteousness.” Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

        Then, “One is led to call out to the Lawgiver for mercy for satisfaction of those impossible demands, or decides to harden against seeking mercy.’

        In theory, Yes. In practice, “there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless;”

        Like

      33. Roger, are you saying God’s purpose for the law failed… the purpose to bring someone to Christ… God’s mercy! The law is part of the enlightenment that does enable one to seek.

        You even would think that the elect seek before salvation (because you erroneously think they are caused to seek irresistibly by a change in their will that you erroneously label regeneration).

        So the Scriptures’ “there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God” is only based on their own efforts without God’s intervening grace, as you would agree. But it is not the Calvinist unbiblical idea of regeneration that causes the seeking and understanding… it is the biblical idea of enlightenment that enables the seeking and understanding.

        Like

      34. brianwagner writes, “are you saying God’s purpose for the law failed… the purpose to bring someone to Christ… God’s mercy! The law is part of the enlightenment that does enable one to seek.”

        If God’s purpose for the law is to bring each and every individual to Christ then all will be saved or else the law will have failed in its purpose. If the purpose of the law was to bring God’s elect to Christ and His elect do come to Christ, the the law did not fail.

        Then, “You even would think that the elect seek before salvation (because you erroneously think they are caused to seek irresistibly by a change in their will that you erroneously label regeneration).”

        We both agree that God must “enlighten” a person before a person can come to salvation. People are totally depraved and cannot, on their own initiative, come to Christ. Thus Philippians, “God…began a good work in you…” We disagree as to the effectiveness of this enlightenment. You say that God’s enlightenment is sufficient but not efficient meaning that something else must happen to bring the person to salvation.

        Then, “So the Scriptures’ “there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God” is only based on their own efforts without God’s intervening grace, as you would agree. But it is not the Calvinist unbiblical idea of regeneration that causes the seeking and understanding… it is the biblical idea of enlightenment that enables the seeking and understanding.”

        The dispute being whether the “enlightenment” can really accomplish anything if it is not also regeneration. We are still waiting for you to tell us how enlightenment can encourage one person to seek salvation while another is unresponsive when this enlightenment is supposedly sufficient to encourage all to seek salvation.

        Like

      35. The Law doesn’t… not even those you think are pre-selected. So, being brought to Christ is a pre-salvation work that does not guarantee that salvation will take place for the person must express faith and God must grant regeneration after faith. This is what the Scripture clearly teaches. Only your theology demands affirming the consequent fallacy that if they come to salvation they must have been elect before their enlightenment, and if they don’t come, they must have been damned before their enlightenment.

        Enlightenment is before faith and faith is before regeneration and regeneration is when one is selected to be in Christ’s elect.

        Paul is talking to the Philippian who are assumed to already be in Christ. He doesn’t define what he means by “began a good work in you” whether, he means before regeneration or from regeneration forward.or even if he is talking about individuals that make up the believers “you” of Philippi or all of them corporately as a testimony.

        The previous verse, verse 5, appears to be talking about their corporate testimony in the Gospel with Paul, and so Paul in verse 6 is saying that what they are doing will have lasting results that will continue until the day of Christ. Their testimony as found in this book… surely is continuing!

        God doesn’t give enlightenment to play games for no purpose! Light is to reveal truth and direct those in darkness. Anybody not self-blinded by choosing philosophy over Scripture would agree to that common-sense meaning. It is not I that needs to prove enlightenment is sufficient. It is you that must prove it is not!

        Everyone is encouraged to seek, and none are unresponsive… they either seek or harden against it of their own response-able will, just like God’s plan allows, for it is not immutably, eternally set. The fix is not in!

        Like

      36. Thanks Brian. I’m starting to look at this question from the stand point of “existence”. Here would be question 1. Would God hold Person-A culpable for striking Person-B, where Person-B ( did not, does not, and cannot) exist? Doesn’t sound to plausible does it?

        So then how does that apply to divine infallible decrees?

        Can God decree an event to exist and NOT exist at the same time?
        If, for example, a divine infallible decree stipulates that Person-A will choose Path-A and NOT choose Path-B, then does that logically entail that Person-A choosing Path-B ( did not, does not, and cannot) exist?

        It would seem to me that the doctrine of infallible decrees does have that as a logical entailment. Whatever God does not decree to exist (did not, does not, and cannot) exist. So if God infallibly decrees A, then NOT-A (did not, does not, and cannot) exist.

        And if that is true, then to assert that God holds Person-A culpable, is to assert that God holds Person-A culpable for something that has has no existence. Unless we assert that God can decree something to exist and NOT exist at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

      37. Exactly! Now expand that thought to – Can God degree that Person A will have an opportunity to choose Path A or Path B and only know that Person A will choose Path A? From your reasoning to only know Person A will choose Path A would be to decree it first. So He only know the truth about the possible choice, if it is indeed possible. He cannot know a lie about the possible choice.

        Like

      38. YES! Brian. This is why Peter Van Inwagen defines “Determinism” ( which we find in Calvinism) as: A state which only allows ***ONE SINGLE UNIQUE FUTURE***.

        So according to Inwagen, on the determinist view, the possibility of Person-A choosing Path-B doesn’t really exist, because only one unique future was already predetermined, prior to Person-A’s existence. So Person-A choosing Path-B simply doesn’t exist.

        If we try to argue that Person-A, choosing Path-B, does exist, now we are arguing that God determined something to NOT exist AND exist at the same time. I think you are adding foreknowledge into the equation…which I hadn’t gotten around to. 😀

        If it is infallibly known, that Person-A will chose Path-A, and NOT choose Path-B, then Person-A choosing Path-B is a falsehood. And infallible foreknowledge cannot know falsehoods.

        It would seem then the business of foreordination (i.e., infallible decree) being the result of foreknowledge is not really essential to truth-value that Person-A choosing Path-B does not exist. But the Calvinist idea of foreknowledge being the result of infallible decrees eventually factors in, as you rightly point out. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      39. I think I agree with Roger that it is impossible to separate foreordination from foreknowledge. But it is the character or definition of foreknowledge that needs to be reconsidered. Foreknowledge does not come to God from another source and then He ordains something, which would change that knowledge.

        The two must be inseparably linked. I think the Scripture posits that God has infinite understanding of all possibilities and from within that understanding He has made some determinations for the future but has not determined the whole future forever.

        Thus He knows perfectly the future as it truly is… partially determined and partially undetermined.

        Like

      40. brianwagner writes, “I think the Scripture posits that God has infinite understanding of all possibilities and from within that understanding He has made some determinations for the future but has not determined the whole future forever.”

        So, God could determine all things, so the issue is: How much has God determined? So, what does God determine?

        1. God opens and closes the womb, so God determines who will be conceived.
        2. God sustains the life of the baby until born and then until death.
        3. God sustains the life of each person each day of their life.
        4. God determined that Satan be free to enter the garden.
        5. God determined not to protect Eve form Satan.
        6. God shows kindness by giving people rain from heaven and crops in their seasons.
        7. God destroyed the world in the flood of Noah.
        8. God confused the languages and scattered the people across the world.
        9. God set the boundaries for the oceans.
        10. From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
        11. God called Abraham.
        12. God gave Abraham Issac, his son.
        13. God orchestrated the life of Joseph for His purposes.
        14. God made Saul king of Israel.
        15. God made David king of Israel.
        16.God impregnated Mary with Jesus.
        17. God guided the wise men to Joseph and Mary.
        18. God provided Joseph and Mary resources through the wise men to go to Egypt.
        19. God called Saul of Tarsus to serve Him.
        20. God preserved the lives of the 276 people on the ship with Paul.
        21. God does innumerable things described in revelation.

        The list goes on and on. However, it should be clear that God is active in the lives of each person ever born and without God’s provision from day to day, no one could survive. so, the shorter list would seem to be that which God does not determine.

        Like

      41. Roger… There are times when my respect is high for how you think and what you know… and there are times when I really wonder why you are not ashamed of yourself to put forth so-called evidence that does not prove your case… and I would think you know it.

        All 21 of your examples say nothing about things being determined before creation. God does make decisions and is powerful. You have given many wonderful examples of that!

        He has a free will and infinite understanding! Look what He has decided already. I can’t wait to see what He will decide to do in the future. And I praise His name for sharing His image with us!

        Like

      42. brianwagner writes, “All 21 of your examples say nothing about things being determined before creation. God does make decisions and is powerful. You have given many wonderful examples of that!”

        None of the examples I gave are contingent on the actions of others. This is because you allow God to know all the possible events in the future. Thus, God is able to determine what He will do in each of those possible events. He can do this before creation. That which God determines will affect possibilities. For example, in destroying the world or Sodom/Gomorrah, God removes all those possible events identified with those people living beyond their death. Similarly, when God determines that a person should die on day X, then possibilities exist up to that day and disappear beyond. God provides rain on day X removing those possibilities associated with no rain. God confuses the languages creating a different future of possibilities. If salvation is dependent on hearing the gospel, then all those who don’t hear the gospel have the possibility of salvation removed. As God sends Phillip to witness to the eunuch, so God can send someone to witness to another person – and God can make these decisions before creation as those possibilities are known to Him.

        It is because you allow God to know all possibilities in the future that necessarily, God is able to determine His actions regarding each of those possible events and do so before creation. Under your system, God does not have to wait for Marie to decide whether she will accept salvation, as God knows the possibilities and the ability of God to make decisions (determinations) is not contingent on Marie’s decisions. You make the actual future and God’s knowledge of that future contingent on the actual decisions people make, but God is able to make His decisions/determinations based on the possible events and not the actual events. God has perfect knowledge of Himself and knows what He has decided with respect to all possible events.

        Like

      43. You just can’t see how flimsy your argumentation is compared to Scripture evidence, Roger, or you do see it but just can’t bring yourself to admit it?

        All through your discussion you kept saying “God is able… God can… God is able… the ability of God… God is able”. You know we agree on what God is able to do… but we are not discussing that. We are discussing what did God do in making determinations before creation.

        You say dogmatically at the end – “God has perfect knowledge of Himself and knows what He has decided with respect to all possible events.” That too, I can agree with, for I believe that before creation He decided not to decide between all possibilities “respect to all possible events.” And the Scripture confirms this.

        You also kept saying of me – “you allow God to know all the possible events… you allow God to know all possibilities… you make the actual future and God’s knowledge of that future contingent…” I know what you mean, but it sounded funny to read. 🙂 I don’t allow God to do anything! 🙂 But His Word truthfully reveals what the future is like in His mind (for that is the only place it exists right now) and He knows it that way truthfully just as He has revealed it in Scripture, partly determined and partly undetermined.

        Finally, I am going to keep calling you on your use of “determines” in the present tense. I misrepresents you view of God. He is never going to determine anything again in your system… You are not going to allow Him to. 🙂

        Like

      44. brianwagner writes, “We are discussing what did God do in making determinations before creation.”

        That God determines certain events prior to their occurrence clearly stated in the Scriptures. We have the prophecies of Christ from Genesis on; we have all the prophetic books; we have Revelation. So, when did God actually make these determinations? We are not told. However, we are told that “God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” (Ephesians 1) and “God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3) and “God has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (2 Timothy 1) and “God chose us in him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1).

        From this we are able to conclude that God is active in His creation consistent with His eternal purpose – God created the universe with purpose and is accomplishing that purpose. The issue is when God made His decisions regarding His involvement in His creation. This is contested because of certain things we read in the Scriptures, so no position can be proven beyond doubt. So, there we are stuck.

        Then, “Finally, I am going to keep calling you on your use of “determines” in the present tense.”

        That’s fine as you are not confused about my position. Describing God in anthropomorphic terms is not the end of the world.

        Like

      45. He does! I am constantly amazed at the new things He is enlightening about… Like whether Adam ever was saved or not… what do you think? Be careful how you answer… it’s a trap. 🙂

        But just this year He enlightened me, and changed my thinking about the false importance I had put on regretting past sins! When I see older people set in their ways, and I am hopeful that God can still change their hearts… I ask God, Are there any changes in this old heart that need to be made? And I am never disappointed! 🙂

        Like

      46. brainwagner writes, “Like whether Adam ever was saved or not… what do you think?”

        I glad you phrased the question in the passive – was saved – implying that Adam, if saved, was saved by someone external to him. Of course, that would be God.

        We read in Genesis 3, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” By the shedding of blood, we might conjecture that God forgave the sin of Adam and Eve.

        Hebrews 11 refers to the faith of Abel. Abel and Cain also offered sacrifices to God. This, they would have learned from their parents.

        On the birth of Cain, Eve is recorded to say, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man,” and on the birth of Seth, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” If nothing else, Eve had a correct theology.

        I think circumstantial evidence points to Adam and Eve having a relationship with God after being expelled from the garden indicating that God saved them as was His plan all along.

        Like

      47. So if circumstantial evidence points to Adam’s salvation… even though he is used elsewhere in Scripture to represent all who are lost… Could circumstantial evidence by used to point to Esau’s salvation? I am thinking of how he expressed forgiveness to Jacob, how by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, and how they were there to bury their father together.

        The point being that being loved in Jacob/Israel or hated in Esau/Edom, did not guarantee being saved or damned, but individuals could chose what they wanted to trust by identifying or rejecting God’s covenant, no matter where they were born.

        Salvation is from the Lord! That does not negate His plan to respond to those who show active obedience of faith to seek and receive His salvation, for that faith is not meritorious of it.

        Like

      48. brianwagner writes, “The point being that being loved in Jacob/Israel or hated in Esau/Edom, did not guarantee being saved or damned, …”

        So long as the Scriptures are silent on the subject, one may speculate in either direction on no more than a hint of support.

        Then, “…but individuals could chose what they wanted to trust by identifying or rejecting God’s covenant, no matter where they were born.”

        With God’s help or without? During OT times, little effort was made to preach to the gentiles (thus, Paul’s revelation of the mystery in Ephesians 3). After the resurrection of Christ, choosing salvation was dependent on hearing the gospel. So, many individuals had no opportunity for salvation. Not all those who heard the gospel were saved as some considered it foolishness (1 Corinthians 1) and some misunderstood it (Those who cry, “Lord, Lord,..” in Matthew 7). Certainly those who were helped from God could do so.

        Then, “…those who show active obedience of faith to seek and receive His salvation, for that faith is not meritorious of it.”

        Which applies only to those who (1) hear the gospel and then (2) receive faith.

        Like

      49. Salvation is always with God’s help… and He effectively uses creation and conscience with every man to encourage seeking (Rom 1 & 2) and other things (Job 33:14-30) two or three specific times in each person’s life, and that is not speculation. 🙂

        I think we will be surprised at how much the message was heard throughout the world at various times besides the message of general revelation that God exists and man is a sinner.
        Rom 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
        2Chr 9:23 And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.

        How many other “Jonah” stories will be hear about? Have you ever heard of the influence of so-called Nestorian missionaries and Celtic missionaries worldwide during the so-called Dark Ages?

        Like

      50. brainwagner writes, “Salvation is always with God’s help… and He effectively uses creation and conscience with every man to encourage seeking (Rom 1 & 2) and other things (Job 33:14-30) two or three specific times in each person’s life, and that is not speculation. :-)”

        So, what do you mean by “effectively uses”? We might easily conclude that God uses means “effectively” to bring about the salvation of His elect. That would explain why some are not saved – God essentially passed them over.

        The challenge for the non-Calvinist, given God’s involvement in the salvation process, is to explain how some people reject salvation without accepting the Calvinist explanation that God saved whom He wanted and not others. As far as I know, the non-Calvinists have not found a way to explain why some reject salvation given that God “effectively” uses creation and conscience with every man to encourage seeking.

        Like

      51. I have Roger. In sorry you are still struggling to see it. He doesn’t want just some and not others. Maybe I should have used the word sufficiently instead of effectively in the last comments, but I think you understood what I meant. 😊

        Like

      52. The Calvinist view of soteriology, represents a minority view. That doesn’t make it right or wrong, but any assertions that it is the ONLY RIGHT view, are (obviously) made solely by Calvinists.

        Major streams of protestant theologies from the reformation period include the “Restoration Movement”, “Anabaptists”, “Anglican”, “Lutherans”, and then “Calvinists”.

        Currently, Mainline Churches include: American Baptist, Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopal, United Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and Assemblies of God.

        Out of these, approximately 47% lean towards an Arminian or Wesleyan persuasion, while approximately 29% self-identify as following the tenants of John Calvin. Since Calvinism is inherently reliant upon a philosophical foundation of Universal Divine Determinism, and compatibilism, it is burdened with the task of offering a coherent solution, as to how men and angels can be represented as having any **REAL** agency.

        Other forms of soteriology which follow a more libertarian formulation aren’t saddled with such a significant burden, because all law courts in the world adhere to a libertarian formulation for the processing of justice, and all people in societies interact with one another, based upon a libertarian formulation for fairness and truthfulness. So the libertarian formulation, which predominates human societies is the de facto view, and is therefore inherently less burdensome to defend. And since that is the case, the non-Calvinist view of soteriology is likewise easier to acknowledge.

        It should go without saying that the Calvinist will see his view as the only right view. In dialogs however, any demands for the non-Calvinist to prove his soteriological view to the Calvinist, typically end up back-firing, simply because the Calvinist conception of agency is controversial, non-intuitive, and therefore requires the heavier burden of proof. Not many Calvinists acknowledge these facts. But that is simply a reflection of the Calvinist’s psychology.

        Liked by 1 person

      53. br.d writes, “Since Calvinism is inherently reliant upon a philosophical foundation of Universal Divine Determinism,…”

        Not exactly a philosophical foundation but let’s not dismiss logic entirely. Universal Divine determinism derives from the Calvinist view of God as being omniscient, omnipotent, etc. and then exercising absolute sovereignty. This is why many people have leaned Open Theist because it is not possible to adhere to omniscience while denying Universal Divine determinism.

        Then, “…and compatibilism,…”

        Compatibilism reflects Total Depravity – people are free to pursue their desires and their desires are never to glorify God.

        The, “…it is burdened with the task of offering a coherent solution,…

        Which it easily does based on who God is and who man is.

        Then, “…as to how men and angels can be represented as having any **REAL** agency.”

        Only God has **REAL** agency – this by virtue of His omniscience, infinite understanding, and perfect wisdom. Men and angels have meager knowledge, lesser understanding, and no real wisdom meaning that there is no sense in which men or angles could ever be said to have any **REAL** agency.

        Like

      54. Rhutchin writes: “there is no sense in which men or angles could ever be said to have any **REAL** agency.”

        Glad to hear you say this Rhutchin…thanks! :-]

        Like

      55. brianwagner writes, ‘I have… In sorry you are still struggling to see it.”

        Not exactly. You have referred to the parable of the seed which describes why people reject salvation. However, the underlying reason these people reject salvation is that they are not good soil – the point the parable drives home. That is what the Calvinists conclude. The issue for you is not that some people are bad soils but how they came to be bad soils or rather, how the others came to be good soil.

        The examples of pharaoh, Jonah and Romans 1 are nice but what was the outcome, “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Let God give a person 2, 3, 4, or a thousand chances. Bad soil, or a bad tree, cannot produce good fruit. Only good soil can and God must jump in to turn the bad soil to good.

        Like

      56. brianwagner writes, “God only gives chances because they are chances!”

        That would make enlightenment the opportunity/chance for a person to be saved. Fine, so you seem to reject any other action by God to bring a person to salvation (e.g., conviction of sin – unless all enlightened are also convicted of sin).

        Regardless, if God is the one who enlightens, then those who pursue salvation would seem to have received more enlightenment than those who do not pursue salvation. If not, then it remains to identify another factor to account for this result.

        Like

      57. Enlightenment comes in different forms and enables seeking, understanding and conviction. God is so merciful to everyone!

        Like

      58. brianwagner writes, “Enlightenment comes in different forms and enables seeking, understanding and conviction.”

        The form and extent of enabling – seeking, understanding, conviction – is obviously greater for God’s elect than for the reprobate. As God said, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” and, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

        Like

      59. Actually Roger you know that I agree that God does have mercy on whom He wants to have mercy! And that is everyone! Rom 11:32. I also believe there will me many who trusted in His mercy after receiving less enlightenment than those who rejected His mercy after receiving much more enlightenment. But both received sufficient grace to enable them to seek more that would eventually lead them to an opportunity to trust for salvation. I am sorry that you cannot see the Scripture clearly teaches these things.

        Like

      60. brianwagner writes, “I agree that God does have mercy on whom He wants to have mercy! And that is everyone! Rom 11:32.”

        Later in Romans 9, “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” This can be taken to distinguish between salvation and reprobation. Does God really have mercy on everyone or does He have mercy on some while hardening others? Romans 9 leads to the latter conclusion.

        I think the context of Romans 11:32 is, “11. because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious…32 God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” Thus, by the term, “all men,” Paul refers to Jews and Gentiles without reference to individuals specifically.

        Then, “I also believe there will be many who trusted in His mercy after receiving less enlightenment than those who rejected His mercy after receiving much more enlightenment.”

        Recognizing that such enlightenment is not intended to bring a person to salvation but expose a person to Christ. Thus, the distinction you make between “less” and “more” says that something else explains whether one person (coincidentally receiving less enlightenment) comes to salvation while another (even if receiving more enlightenment) does not. What factor do you see explaining the different outcomes?

        Then, “But both received sufficient grace to enable them to seek more that would eventually lead them to an opportunity to trust for salvation.”

        Again, if two people both receive “sufficient ” grace but they go in opposite directions, something else is at work in their lives either to the advantage of one or the disadvantage of the other. Grace/enlightenment does not tell the whole story. Can you tell us the rest of the story?

        Like

      61. I am surprised Roger that you have not recognized the faulty reasoning in your arguments. It is a false dichotomy – mercy or hardening. The passage clearly supports the concept of mercy on all and hardening on some who reject that mercy.

        Also, you reject Rom 11:32 as pointing to all individuals in both classes of Jews and Gentiles because your theology forces you to… Maybe none seek after God is only relative to various classes. 🙂 But the verse normally makes sense if “all committed to disobedience” is paralleled in meaning to all are shown mercy. If you want to deny total depravity for all in the first phrase, then I might listen.

        The factor primarily in why some reject and some accept the enlightenment is God’s sovereign permission for the to exercise their free will after receiving enabling grace. I have told you this story before, and it conforms neatly with how Scripture reads… But your Calvinism tries to overturn the clear reading of Scripture by its proof-texting and abundant appeal to judging Scripture as anthropomorphic language.

        Like

      62. brianwagner writes, ‘It is a false dichotomy – mercy or hardening. The passage clearly supports the concept of mercy on all and hardening on some who reject that mercy.”

        Time to go into teacher mode (although you should never leave it). The dichotomy is that framed by Paul in Romans 9. If Paul is wrong, could you frame the true situation for us. Perhaps you can walk us through the verses to show how you reached the conclusion, “…hardening on some who reject that mercy.”

        Then, “Also, you reject Rom 11:32 as pointing to all individuals in both classes of Jews and Gentiles because your theology forces you to…”

        We read, “I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them….Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in….Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

        One may legitimately understand Paul to be writing broadly of Jews and Gentiles.

        Then, “Maybe none seek after God is only relative to various classes. :-)”

        I see no problem understanding “none” to refer broadly to Jews and Gentiles. The introductory phrase is, “I have shown above that all men from Jews to Greeks are under the condemnation of sin.” I think this supports that view.

        Then, “But the verse normally makes sense if “all committed to disobedience” is paralleled in meaning to all are shown mercy. If you want to deny total depravity for all in the first phrase, then I might listen.”

        I have no problem with that parallel. At the same time, I think Paul is arguing broadly with Jews and Gentiles in mind. I don’t see a reason to deny Total Depravity although Paul seems to focus on the presence of “disobedience” and not the extent of that disobedience.

        Then, “The factor primarily in why some reject and some accept the enlightenment is God’s sovereign permission for the to exercise their free will after receiving enabling grace. I have told you this story before, and it conforms neatly with how Scripture reads… But your Calvinism tries to overturn the clear reading of Scripture by its proof-texting and abundant appeal to judging Scripture as anthropomorphic language.”

        The exercise of free will explanation seems to be an argument for mystery. Are you saying that it is basically a mystery? (I think that is the standard answer given by non-Calvinists.)

        Like

      63. You are welcome to those views of meaning for the context and grammar of those passages. We can let our readers decide who is resorting to mystery not evident in those verses. Blessings.

        Like

      64. br.d writes, “This is why Peter Van Inwagen defines “Determinism” ( which we find in Calvinism) as: A state which only allows ***ONE SINGLE UNIQUE FUTURE***. ”

        Calvinists see omniscience confirming this while Brian disagrees.

        Like

      65. Br D,

        You asked:

        “Can God decree an event to exist and NOT exist at the same time?”

        The answer is No, because even God does not actualize contradictions (something existing and not existing at the same time and in the same sense).

        “If, for example, a divine infallible decree stipulates that Person-A will choose Path-A and NOT choose Path-B, then does that logically entail that Person-A choosing Path-B ( did not, does not, and cannot) exist?”

        The way I speak of it is if God decrees A, then not-A is impossible. This means that if all is decreed (as consistent Calvinists maintain) then anything other than what God decreed is IMPOSSIBLE. Put another way, if all is decreed then all is necessary (it must occur exactly as it occurs and it is impossible that it occur other wise). One of the “victims” then becomes free will as ordinarily understood, because if all is decreed/necessary then free will as ordinarily understood does not exist and CANNOT EXIST.

        A second “victim” is personal responsibility. When we say that someone should not have done X they should have done Y instead (we are presupposing the ordinary view of free will, that the action was not necessary). We are also saying that they could have done otherwise, could have and should have done Y. With Calvinism and its claim that all is decreed, this personal responsibility like free will goes out the window. What is humorous is if you watch even the staunchest determinist in their everyday living, they operate and speak about personal responsibility as if it is real (they tell their kids just like we tell our kids that you should not have done that you should have done . . . instead).

        “It would seem to me that the doctrine of infallible decrees does have that as a logical entailment. Whatever God does not decree to exist (did not, does not, and cannot) exist. So if God infallibly decrees A, then NOT-A (did not, does not, and cannot) exist.
        And if that is true, then to assert that God holds Person-A culpable, is to assert that God holds Person-A culpable for something that has has no existence. Unless we assert that God can decree something to exist and NOT exist at the same time.”

        Put another way, in other words, but with the same meaning as you assert: if all is decreed then God holds people responsible for actions, thoughts, movements that they had to do, and it was impossible for them to have done otherwise. This is why Calvinistic reprobation is such an evil concept, it has God making people do X, when it is impossible for them to do Y, and then being upset with them and condemning them for doing the very thing he ordained they would do, the very thing that it was impossible for them not to do. This is why Wesley famously said of this doctrine it makes the blood cold!

        It is evil and vicious to believe that your loved ones, spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc. who are decreed to not believe, must not believe and it is impossible for them to do otherwise (it was impossible for them to become believers the way God set them up to fail). So God set them up from eternity for hell, makes sure they do everything to end up there, and then at the final judgment condemns them for doing and thinking what he decreed they do and think. This is really nasty stuff.

        Like

      66. Robert writes, “This is why Calvinistic reprobation is such an evil concept, it has God making people do X, when it is impossible for them to do Y,…

        To be accurate, Robert should have written, “This is why Calvinistic reprobation is such an evil concept, it has people doing X, when it is impossible for them to do ~X,…” where X = sin.

        Like

      67. To the question of Universal Divine Determinism entailing monoagency, and its claim that secondary-culpability removes primary-culpability. In response to William Lane Craig’s assessment.

        Rhutching writes:
        “What has [Dr. William Lane] Craig been smoking??”
        “I don’t think [Dr. William Lane] Craig is a good resource on this issue.”

        That’s ok Rhutchin…no problem. You accept by faith that secondary-culpability somehow removes primary-culpability.
        I’m cool with that. The WCF statement of faith declares it, and Calvinists embrace that statement of faith as is.
        No problem. I can understand.

        Like

      68. br.d writes, “…no problem. You accept by faith that secondary-culpability somehow removes primary-culpability.”

        You are deflecting – because you have no way to deal with God’s role in Cain killing Abel.

        Like

      69. No deflection….just understanding the precise issue, as enunciated by precise thinkers…. like William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and Peter van Inwagen. Does Universal Divine Determinism entail monoagency? They look at it with a high degree of precision. Is it logically coherent to say for example (3 * 4 = 12, but not in such a way that 12 / 3 = 4)? When we make statements asserting X, there are logical entailments that logically go with X. There are times when we want to state X, but we want to deny Xs logical entailments.

        The WCF is a statement of faith which asserts X (Universal Divine Determinism), but not with one of Xs logical entails (monoagency). The question then is, does this resolve to a logical contradiction? William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Peter Van Inwagen, look at all of the logical elements, and all of the historical arguments, and say “YES” Universal Divine Determinism does logically entail monoagency.
        And you also know that Calvinist Vincent Cheung (as a hard determinist) also agrees with this assessment.

        Obviously they represent one trend of thought to this question. But one thing is for sure. The question is not open and shut, no mater whether a person such as yourself or myself call it that or not. One can choose to believe whatever they want. And that is how faith works. I agree with WLC, AP, and PVI, that they have arrived at the most probable answer to the question. I tend to resist magical thinking, and lean more towards a reasoned analysis. Personally, I’m satisfied with their answer. So like I said. I understand your position. And I agree with William Lane Craig also, where he says that when the Calvinist eventually follows the logical entailments to their logical conclusions, he anticipates they will resolve their system entails monoagency as well. I would say that Vincent Cheung, for one, has followed just that path. So I’m persuaded, that is the best answer. But I can certainly understand that someone else won’t be.

        Liked by 1 person

      70. br.d writes, “No deflection….just understanding the precise issue, as enunciated by precise thinkers…. like William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and Peter van Inwagen. Does Universal Divine Determinism entail monoagency?”

        Still deflecting despite your denial. Do you understand that you are not able to address God’s role in Cain killing Able? That is the deflection.

        Like

      71. Like I said, your more than welcome to call it whatever makes you feel good about it. From my perspective, there is an essential underlying question that must first be addressed. Whether a world functioning according to Universal Divine Determinism is a world of monoagency, in which there is only one ***REAL*** agent, and all other creatures function as ***INSTRUMENTS***. If that is the case with Universal Divine Determinism, that provides the answer to the question of Cain and Abel, as well as all other creaturely events. Your welcome to call that deflection if it makes you feel better. But I have a good comprehension of what the true issue is. No problem here.

        Like

      72. br.d writes, “Whether a world functioning according to Universal Divine Determinism is a world of monoagency, in which there is only one ***REAL*** agent, and all other creatures function as ***INSTRUMENTS***. If that is the case with Universal Divine Determinism, that provides the answer to the question of Cain and Abel,…”

        Yep, that’s deflection. Surely, you can do better than that. NOT!

        Like

      73. br.d writes, “And I agree with William Lane Craig also, where he says that when the Calvinist eventually follows the logical entailments to their logical conclusions, he anticipates they will resolve their system entails monoagency as well. ”

        Craig advocates Molinism. Under Molinism, God considers all the possible worlds He could create and picks one world to create. The world created by God under Molinism is a Calvinist world – every event is determined. So, at least, Craig understands that.

        Like

      74. Correct but the Molinist view does not logically entail monoagency like the Calvinist view does. In the Molinist view, God determines to give the creature real genuine alternate possibilities in choice. It doesn’t need to assert imaginary alternate possibilities, that exist only as illusions. God doesn’t make that creature’s choices for him. That is why Alvin Plantinga, and William Lane Craig find the Molinist view the most probable, given their understanding of divine holiness, and best possible worlds.

        I wonder if your leaning in that direction yourself? Your explanations for human culpability often enunciate more of a libertarian model than one might expect coming from a STRICT Calvinist perspective. But perhaps that is because I’ve been more exposed to the perspective of the HARD Determinist Calvinist, and not so much a SOFT Determinist Calvinist. I think this also highlights some of the concerns I hear older Calvinists talking about, where they are concerned that younger Calvinists are leaning more and more into Arminianism without knowing it.

        Like

      75. br.d writes, “Correct but the Molinist view does not logically entail monoagency like the Calvinist view does. ”

        They both deal with the same fully determined world. What applies to Calvinism necessarily applies to Molinism

        Then, “In the Molinist view, God determines to give the creature real genuine alternate possibilities in choice.”

        All this takes place in the mind of God. It is God who changes the circumstances from one world to another and He still knows everything that happens, so there s no distinction from Calvinism.

        Then, “God doesn’t make that creature’s choices for him.”

        True under both Molinism and Calvinism.

        Then, “Your explanations for human culpability often enunciate more of a libertarian model than one might expect coming from a STRICT Calvinist perspective.”

        I don’t see a real difference.

        Like

  11. Rhutchin… It appears that you are missing the grand point, and that is… The example of Lazarus being utilized to support one being spiritually dead is misguided and amounts to an improper use of the text. Would you wholeheartedly agree?

    I am wondering if you read my previous post, because it appears that we are exegeting Ephesians 2 in the similar manner, so I don’t know why you took the time to repeat what I previously noted. Again, my statement is in regard to proper biblical exegesis in light of the account of Lazarus (John 12), specifically. Notwithstanding, I already answered your question so I don’t know why you are asking it over once again. I previously stated, “Actually, Ephesians 2 is a great example.”

    Rhutchin said “The Calvinists conclude that salvation occurs when God takes a person who is dead in transgressions and gives them life. Your complaint is that the Calvinists use an improper analogy to illustrate the unsaved being “dead.”

    Just to be clear, I spoke specifically of the Lazarus example of being improperly used as an example of spiritual death. Thus, let’s deal directly with this specific example at hand. Just as a matter of focus, would you please answer my question found in paragraph one, and being repeated here once again:

    The example of Lazarus being utilized to support one being spiritually dead is misguided and amounts to an improper use of the text. Would you wholeheartedly agree?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. brian R. writes, “The example of Lazarus being utilized to support one being spiritually dead is misguided and amounts to an improper use of the text. Would you wholeheartedly agree?”

      In Ephesians 2 we have “You were dead…God made you alive”
      With Lazarus, we have, “Lazarus was dead…Christ made him alive.”

      There appears to be a one-to-one correspondence between the two with dead => alive. While you have called this relationship misguided, you have not explained how you came to conclude that it is misguided. So, to me it has every appearance of being a good analogy and properly used as an analogy. What causes you to think that it is misguided as, obviously, I do not wholeheartedly agree?

      Then, “Again, my statement is in regard to proper biblical exegesis in light of the account of Lazarus (John 12),”

      You said, “This does not sound like a corpse, but someone who is physically alive.” To this, I responded that Ephesians 2 is dealing with those who were spiritually dead. The analogy likens one thing (the physically dead Lazarus) to another (the spiritually dead unbeliever) which is what analogies do.

      Then, “Thus, I hope that you can see how illogical the Lazarus example is, when used to posit an effectual calling.”

      The dead => alive transition has nothing to do with an effectual calling in this early part of Ephesians 2. Ephesians 2:1-7 deals with the condition of the lost (they are dead) and what God does to save them (makes them alive). It neither says nor implies anything about an effectual calling. Then, in v8, Paul states that it is through faith and from this we conclude that God not only makes alive but then conveys faith to the unbeliever (by way of the gospel) and it is this faith that then manifests in response to God’s effectual calling through the gospel.

      Finally, “I spoke specifically of the Lazarus example of being improperly used as an example of spiritual death.”

      You express your opinion. So, can you explain why the physical deadness of Lazarus cannot be viewed as an example (analogy) to the spiritual deadness of the unsaved?

      Like

    2. Hi Brian R! Welcome to Soteriology101! I hope you are enjoying your conversations so far. I find this a good site to sharpen my understanding of Scripture and of how some Calvinists (like Roger) think and to hopefully be a blessing and encouragement to draw people closer to Christ and to the understanding of His Word.

      You are probably aware that Calvinists believe “death” means “inability” for them and not spiritual separation only, the separation of being positionally placed under God’s wrath. You have pointed out well that in Eph 2 Paul is indicating that the spirit is still functioning in the unbeliever, even if it is only in sin, at least as related in this context.

      Calvinists, however, try to use 2;5 to prove their twofold spiritual life view that they must have to maintain their view that death means inability. They believe “made alive” in this verse means “regeneration” which they believe makes the will able… then they posit the hearing God’s voice in the gospel comes next and then being given faith that irresistibly accepts the gospel. It is only after all this that they believe God then “raised us up”, that is, gave us salvation (everlasting life, and the reception of Jesus). Thus they have the giving of two spiritual lives at two different times.

      They are using the Lazarus illustration mainly for the first “made alive” not for the second “raised us up”. It is a convoluted mishandling of the context just to find a passage. I think, that they think sounds like it fits their system. You should see how they try to get around the verbal chronology in John 1:12-13 of receiving Jesus to given the right to then become children of God and how for them becoming a child of God does not mean being born again that is in the next verse, for that born again experience has to happen before receiving Jesus in their theology.

      Like

      1. brianwagner writes, “You are probably aware that Calvinists believe “death” means “inability” for them and not spiritual separation only, the separation of being positionally placed under God’s wrath.”

        This is why you are a teacher. The use of the Lazarus analogy is done to make this point. That directs the conversation to determining whether the Calvinist contention is true.

        Then, “You have pointed out well that in Eph 2 Paul is indicating that the spirit is still functioning in the unbeliever, even if it is only in sin, at least as related in this context.”

        You started out so well!! The only comment I see Brian R. making is that the unsaved are physically alive; He wrote, “This does not sound like a corpse, but someone who is physically alive.” Brian R. did write, “I spoke specifically of the Lazarus example of being improperly used as an example of spiritual death.” However, he does not explain why this must be the case. It is used as an analogy to make the point you noted above; as analogy it is well suited to that purpose (and since you obviously understand the analogy, there is no reason that Brian R. could not but that may require you to teach him). The whole point is to investigate the consequence of spiritual death.

        Then, “Calvinists, however, try to use 2;5 to prove their twofold spiritual life view that they must have to maintain their view that death means inability. ”

        Of course, if the Calvinist is wrong, then what makes it necessary that God take action to make them alive. They were dead; God made them alive; thus, they are saved. The need is for you to show that the contrast between “dead” and “made alive” does not lead to the Calvinist conclusion of inability.

        Then, “They believe “made alive” in this verse means “regeneration” which they believe makes the will able… then they posit the hearing God’s voice in the gospel comes next and then being given faith that irresistibly accepts the gospel. It is only after all this that they believe God then “raised us up”, that is, gave us salvation (everlasting life, and the reception of Jesus). Thus they have the giving of two spiritual lives at two different times.”

        The dead are made alive – given spiritual life – one time. Otherwise, what has “made alive” accomplished. Don’t you agree that being “made alive” represents a change in the person; a regeneration of something. You also need to show that “being raised up” is related to being “made alive” or is an the act of being “made alive.” Go into teacher mode.

        Like

      2. Teacher mode 🙂 – The Greek word is only found here and Col 2:13 in the NT – συζωοποιέω – which should make one careful about being too dogmatic concerning its meaning. But its translation is normally “made alive together with”. The context from the beginning of the book is those spiritual blessings we have in Christ. One of those is becoming partakers with Him of resurrection life. That happens at the moment of regeneration which is after the expression of personal faith.

        Paul confirms he is talking about the already completed salvation when he uses the perfect periphrastic construction of the participle – “you are having been saved”. Yes, it was while they were dead in their trespasses, separated from having God’s resurrected life that they were enlightened and put their trust in Christ. All that is encompassed in the phrase “by grace you are having been saved.”

        Now Paul is describing that salvation as being given resurrected life, which he describes in two ways… with συζωοποιέω in verse 5 and συνεγείρω (raised up together) in verse 6. He adds another blessing in verse 6… to be seated together with Christ in the heavenlies.

        Looking at the parallel passage in Colossians 2 is instructive as these same two verbs are used in reverse order but both connected with the salvation experience and personal faith.

        Like

      3. brianwagner writes, “The Greek word is only found here and Col 2:13 in the NT – συζωοποιέω – which should make one careful about being too dogmatic concerning its meaning.”

        We seem to agree on the following:
        1. God performs the action.
        2. Paul refers to it as a completed action.
        3. This action by God occurs when the unsaved are dead in their trespasses, separated from having God’s resurrected life.

        The issue is whether “they were enlightened and put their trust in Christ” occurs before God’s action to make alive.

        If a person has put their trust in Christ, can they still be described as being dead in trespasses and sins? Does not the manifestation of faith – belief in Christ – convey justification to the person per Romans 5 thus indicating that trespasses and sins have been removed?

        There is nothing that compels the actions of being enlightened and placing trust in Christ to occur prior to God’s action to make alive rather than after. In Philippians 1, Paul tells those believers, “God began a good work in you.” Later in Ephesians 2, Paul tells those believers, “we are God’s workmanship.” We can infer from these that it is God who enlightens those in whom He is working and the issue is the logical ordering of that working – whether the work of God to enlighten precedes the work of God to make alive. Should it even matter? If God enlightens, does He enlighten without also making alive, of if God makes alive, does He not do so with the purpose of enlightening?

        Like

      4. Roger, you know the answer is, Yes, a person is enlightened and puts their trust in Christ, before the new birth, as clearly seen in John 1:9-13. In Col 2:12-13 we see that being joined to Christ through faith and given resurrection life is mentioned before being made alive, though they are both talking about the same spiritual life that is received “in Christ” as in Eph 2.

        For something to happen “through faith” that faith must be present. Yes, unregenerate man can express faith in the enlightenment God gives him or he can reject it. Through that expression of faith, like a funnel, God pours His resurrection life, i.e., makes alive that dead man (previously separated from Him). This resurrection life also changes that man’s nature so that he will not be able to stop trusting!

        You can only have problems with this explanation, I think, for you feel that you must hold onto a determinism that is not biblically based. You cannot allow for sufficiency to mean anything less than efficiency. But God has planned for the enlightenment necessary to enable all to get the opportunity to seek to be sufficient, though not necessarily efficient.

        I do feel sorrow Roger, that with such evident intelligence and a love for logic that you can not decide to put the clear teaching of Scripture on these things above the so-called scholarship that is behind Calvinism.

        Like

      5. brianwagner writes, “a person is enlightened and puts their trust in Christ, before the new birth, as clearly seen in John 1:9-13. In Col 2:12-13 we see that being joined to Christ through faith and given resurrection life is mentioned before being made alive, though they are both talking about the same spiritual life that is received “in Christ” as in Eph 2.”

        So, you have this order?

        1. A person is unsaved in their trespasses and sins.
        – The unsaved is enlightened (true light is given to the unsaved person presumably through hearing the gospel)
        – The unsaved receives faith through hearing the gospel.
        – The unsaved believe in Christ.
        – – The unsaved receive Christ.
        – – The unsaved put their faith in Christ.

        2. The believer is made alive by God (the new birth) and is said to be born of God.
        – The person is said to be saved.
        – The believer is given resurrection life.
        – – The person’s nature is changed; he will not stop trusting in Christ from this point on.
        – The believer is then able to see the kingdom of God.
        – The believer is able to enter the kingdom of heaven.

        Then, “you can only have problems with this explanation, I think, for you feel that you must hold onto a determinism that is not biblically based. ”

        Not really. It is because Ephesians 2 seems to say that the unsaved continue in their trespasses and sins until made alive by God.

        Like

      6. Yes, Roger, that pretty well sums it up though I wouldn’t have stated that one point your way – “The unsaved receives faith through hearing the gospel.” I believe Paul in Rom 10:17 is saying that the enlightenment of God (speaking) provides the opportunity for hearing and the hearing provides the opportunity for believing, but not irresistibly.

        For the person must mix the two, the hearing and believing and not harden their heart. That is why the warning is given – “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart.” And also the example was given of those who heard the gospel but did not mix it with faith. They had the ability and opportunity to mix the two, but they didn’t.

        I think if you look at Eph 2 again it is only about being “dead” (separated from God) in trespasses and sins when one is made alive. It does not say that one cannot continue to commit trespasses and sins after being made alive. Nor does it say that one cannot have an expression of faith before being made alive.

        The issue truly is your need for determinism, for you have to have inability at every turn… inability to resist for some, inability to accept for some, inability for both God and man to actually make choices as a result of personal sequential thinking! But the Bible doesn’t read that way. I think you know it in your soul!

        Like

      7. brianwagner writes “You should see how they try to get around the verbal chronology in John 1:12-13 of receiving Jesus to given the right to then become children of God and how for them becoming a child of God does not mean being born again that is in the next verse, for that born again experience has to happen before receiving Jesus in their theology.”

        Having piqued our interest, maybe you could say more.

        Like

      8. Don’t need to Roger. John 1:12-13 is clear in its chronology of personal faith before new birth! If you would like to rehearse the Calvinist twist of that chronology and reinterpretation of becoming a child not meaning new birth, go for it! 🙂

        Like

  12. Rhutchin… I’m a bit surprised that you have asked such a question, given how I entered into this thread. I’ll remind you of my initial posting, and it is here that you will find your answer as to why Lazarus cannot be viewed as a example to the spiritual deadness of the unsaved.

    “It is a fundamental principle that one must interpret a passage with the same intent of the writer.”

    Thus, devising new analogies with Scripture apart from its intended meaning and purpose destroys the validity of the gospel. Hermeneutical principles are set in place to avoid such leaps as you (and Calvinist) have attempted to do. Sure, you can do as you wish, but these kinds of liberties only weakens one’s credibility as a sound biblical exegete. Actually, I would think that all would agree with the said principle.

    At this point, I don’t know anymore that I can add to this dialogue based upon your defense of violating such practices.

    Shalom

    Like

    1. “It is a fundamental principle that one must interpret a passage with the same intent of the writer.”

      So, how has this (the giving of life to Lazarus who was dead being compared to the giving of life to the unsaved who were dead) been misapplied by the Calvinists as analogy?

      Like

      1. rhutchin: Your response is typical in that you avoid answering the question directly and instead ask a deflecting question yourself. The point here is not whether or not Calvinists have misapplied the Lazarus analogy …. because there is no analogy to misapply!! If you wish to continue using Lazarus in an analogous fashion, then the onus is on you to establish a) that there is an analogy based on scripture and b) what that analogy means.

        If of course you want to dismiss the use of the so called ‘Lazarus analogy’, please let us know and we can all move on. But you really can’t eat your cake and have it, as I think has already been pointed out to you, on more than one occasion!

        Like

      2. barker’s woof here, makes an excellent point in regard to truth-seeking dialog, and very much applicable to all parties.

        The fundamental elements of “reasoned” dialog, are one or more “premises”, resulting in a final “conclusion”.
        We examine each of the “premises” independently, as well as the “conclusion” for each elements independent truth-value.
        And additionally, we examine the FORM in which they logically appear in relation to each other, as further validation of truth-value.

        A “conclusory” statement is one in which the necessary “premises” to support it are never stated. So in reasoned dialog, a “conclusury” statement must always be considered unsubstantiated, as no real truth-value can be determined. Opinions take that form. we respect one another’s opinions, but these remain unsubstantiated and don’t carry the weight of substantiated truth.

        Statements of faith also fall into this category. And as Christians, we acknowledge them. But since God is not irrational, statements of faith come under the scrutiny of rational examination, to whatever degree possible, with the hopes their truth-value can be substantiated.

        Like

      3. bw writes, “The point here is not whether or not Calvinists have misapplied the Lazarus analogy…”

        This was Brian R.’s original contention, as I read it, where he said, “I’ve seen this same error used by Calvinist utilizing the example of Lazarus in reference to spiritual death. An improper analogy always results in a misguided conclusion.”

        So what makes it an improper analogy or no analogy (as you say)?

        Then, “If you wish to continue using Lazarus in an analogous fashion, then the onus is on you to establish a) that there is an analogy based on scripture and b) what that analogy means.”

        That an analogy can be produced follows from the similarity between the situation involving Lazarus. and Ephesians 2.

        In one, we have “Lazarus was dead…Christ made him alive.”
        In the other, “The unsaved are dead…God makes them alive.”

        So, it seems that one can use the situation involving Lazarus to illustrate the situation in Ephesians 2. As Lazarus was dead, so the unsaved are dead…as Christ made Lazarus alive, so God makes the unsaved alive.

        How is this not a legitimate analogy?

        Like

      4. rhutchin: The level of your argument is such that in truth, there is no argument. It is nothing more than a statement of what you believe to be true with no corroborative support. It is at the level of logic which says all fire engines are red, therefore any red vehicle I come across, must be a fire engine.

        What you should have done is to look at verses in scripture which record people dying and being brought back to life. There are a few examples to choose from in addition to Lazarus. Luke 7: The widow of Nain’s son. Luke 8: Jairus’s daughter. So you have at least three examples from which to choose and make your case. Yet you have plainly ignored the other two. As it happens, in each case Jesus says nothing to indicate that these events should be construed in the way you are seeking to use them. Lazarus is used to tell the people that “I am the resurrection and the life” .. the widow of Nain; Jesus simply gives the boy back to his mother and Jairus is told to give her something to eat and not to tell anybody about the event!!

        Nothing in these verses supports any link with Ephesians 2: In addition, when you consider Eph 2: you find that these ‘dead’ people are up to all sorts of activities and their deadness does not relate to being physically dead but it is consistent with them being in a state of separation and alienation from God.

        We can all agree that the dead are made alive again in Christ, but that does not mean that there is any analogy with Lazarus being brought back to life.

        As a general rule, scripture will say when an analogy is being used and also how it should be used. Hence the Church is seen as the ‘body’ of Christ. The members of the body are seen as being interdependent on each other and of equal value. That sets the analogy and how it should be used. However, this does not give license for people to start determining who might be a kidney or an appendix. That would be stretching the analogy too far. After all, nobody wants to be known as the ‘private parts’ do they!! 😮

        Like

      5. bw writes, “Nothing in these verses supports any link with Ephesians 2:”

        Calvinists do not claim a theological or other link between the account of Lazarus and Ephesians 2. The Calvinist just use the physical death of Lazarus in an analogy to explain the concept of “dead in trespasses and sins” in Ephesians 2. The other examples in Scripture could be used but people are normally familiar with the Lazarus account. People understand that Lazarus was dead – he was entombed – and then Jesus made him alive. Lazarus could have nothing to do with coming back to life. The Calvinist then takes that “physical death” and draws an analogy to that death described in Ephesians 2 in order to explain what it means to be “dead in trespasses and sins” – a person has nothing to do with being made alive by God.

        Brian R. essentially said that physical death could not be used as an analogy for spiritual death because spiritually dead people are still physically alive. My point is that the argument is irrelevant to the analogy. An analogy takes a characteristic of one situation and compares it to an entirely different situation to help people understand the second situation – in this case, being dead in trespasses and sins is likened to being physically dead. If one understands what it means to be physically dead, then they can aply that to understandign what it means to be “dead in trespasses and sins.”

        If physical death does not serve as an appropriate analogy for “dead in trespasses and sins,” can you think of anything that could be used as an analogy to explain the concept of being “dead in trespasses and sins”? If there is a more appropriate analogy, Calvinists can always use that instead of Lazarus.

        Like

      6. As I said, you have shown no basis for trying to establish the connection or analogy of physical death with Eph 2:

        Like

      7. bw writes, ” you have shown no basis for trying to establish the connection or analogy of physical death with Eph 2:’

        The basis for doing so is the definition, and application, of the term, analogy: a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: e.g., the analogy between the heart and a pump.

        Thus, an analogy is drawn between “physical dead” and “being dead in trespasses and sins.”

        Like

      8. You obviously have no real idea of what a biblical analogy involves. Just because Lazarus was dead does not mean there is any analogy between that and any other use of the word dead.

        I would also point out that there is no analogy between the heart and a pump. The heart is in reality a pump, and not an analogous one either!!

        Like

      9. bw writes, “You obviously have no real idea of what a biblical analogy involves.”

        Calvinists do not invoke “biblical analogy” (whatever that means). They take advantage of a literary device (analogy) to explain something that is not understood by something that is generally clearly understood.

        Like

      10. rhutchin: My apologies, I thought I had pointed out exactly what’s meant by the term biblical analogy. The church as a body or a building are both correct biblical analogies. The passages using these analogies show exactly why and in what way they are to be used. Like any analogy they cannot be pushed too far. I did explain for example that you don’t want to go around calling yourself the “private parts” of the church’s body …. do you??

        Now if that isn’t clear enough for you I don’t know what is!

        On the other hand a literary analogy is as you say used to convey a meaning which may not be clearly understood. But this is where we differ. You are trying to impose on the text of Scripture something which isn’t there. There is no justification for doing this and indeed Scripture warns us against doing it! So unless you can explain how the story of Lazarus is shown in Scripture to be analogous to Eph 2: you are simply in error in using it in this way!

        Like

      11. bw writes, ” You are trying to impose on the text of Scripture something which isn’t there.”

        Absolutely not. The idea here is that everyone can understand that Lazarus was dead and what it means that he was “dead.” It’s a no brainer. However, when people come to Ephesians 2, the concept of being “dead” gets confused. For example Brian R. (and others) argue that people are still physically alive because their actions are described. – as if to say “being dead in sin” is not all that bad. So, the Calvinists take the example of Lazarus which everyone easily understands and uses that to say that being “dead in trespasses” can be compared to being physically dead. Thus, as Lazarus had no capacity to make himself alive, so the spiritually dead person has no capacity to make himself alive. In each case, life can only be conveyed to the person by God – the spiritually dead person has no involvement in God making him alive; God does not respond to anything that person might do because he is dead and doesn’t do anything.

        I was being a little facetious about the Biblical analogy comment – done to emphasis that it is not a factor to the discussion.

        Like

      12. You can repeat the error as often as you wish, it will not make it any the more correct. You appear to be incapable of engaging in rational discussion.

        Like

      13. bw writes, “ou can repeat the error as often as you wish, it will not make it any the more correct. You appear to be incapable of engaging in rational discussion. ”

        Perhaps you could explain the problem that you see.

        Like

      14. No thanks. I think it’s perfectly clear for all to see and if you can’t, I don’t have a problem with that. I just don’t wish to waste any more time at present on ‘discussing’ it with you. Thanks. 🙂

        Like

    2. Brian R,

      You are wasting your time with rhutchin. I have said many times before, he operates like what folks call an internet “troll”. He is a Calvinist troll. He was banned at SBC today for continuing to attack non-Calvinists as Pelagians, Universalists, etc. He continually engages in unjustified ad hominem arguments against other believers (e.g. he has attacked me as a “humanist” in this thread for example). He is only posting to defend, rationalize and promote his false Calvinistic theology.

      Regarding the Lazarus passage the intent of the writer was not to speak of how nonbelievers are like dead persons who need to be made alive first before they can believe. No, his intent was to share the miraculous power of Jesus in raising someone from the dead. The intent was to point to Jesus’ power and had nothing to do with discussing the spiritual state of unbelievers. As I said in my previous post, Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, a believer, so his being brought back to life cannot be used as representative of the unbeliever. Calvinists invent the analogy and then read their analogy into the passage. This is eisegesis not proper exegesis of the passage.

      Like

      1. Robert: I agree with your assessment. However, I think it is wise not to try and tell rhutchin ‘what’ he believes as this simply provides opportunity for him to counter with “you have misunderstood or misrepresented me” as a defense. If rhutchin wishes to use Lazarus as an analogy, then let him first state his case. Then you can counter any argument on the basis that he has made and not what you suppose he has made.

        Hope that makes sense 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Robert writes, “He was banned at SBC today for continuing to attack non-Calvinists as Pelagians, Universalists, etc.”

        That was because they use the arguments of the Universalists and the Pelagians in defending their theology. They really didn’t deny that they did so, and never attempted to explain why they should not be identified as Pelagians (or Universalists).

        Then, “He continually engages in unjustified ad hominem arguments against other believers (e.g. he has attacked me as a “humanist” in this thread for example).”

        Robert defines what is “good” by human standards of what humans define as “good.” That is humanism. The alternative is to define “good” as God defines it. Robert has not even tried to square his definition with God’s definition. Robert, whether he understand this or not, is peddling a humanist philosophy.

        Like

  13. What is denialism:
    We understand what “Holocaust Denialism” and “Aids Denialism” is. What then is: “Love of evil Denialism”?

    Is it actually possible for a theology to draw people into honoring evil, glorifying evil, reveling in evil, and calling evil “beautiful”, while at the same time, forcibly denying doing so? If this is possible, surely we would understand it as “Love of evil Denailism”.

    I listened to Dr. Flower’s youtube video “Free Will vs. Compatibilism Debate with Chris Date – Part 2”

    I noticed a key word in one of Chris’s statements, where he expresses Calvinism as superior, because of the way it honors evil. He actually described evil, using the ancient NeoPlatonic term: “beautiful”.

    Dr. Flower’s countered with the statement that the non-Calvinist views God’s glory by virtue of his redemptive work, **DESPITE** evil, where the Calvinist seems to view God’s glory as that, while additionally viewing God’s glory displayed, in the **ACTUALIZATION** of evil. So it appears that one school tends to enunciate evil as abominable, while the other tends to enunciate evil as “beautiful”.

    Over the years, I have witnessed Calvinists unknowingly use the exact same terms and arguments, one would have commonly witnessed by a Stoic, a Gnostic or a NeoPlatonist, if one lived during the 3rd Century. Is Calvinism’s use of this terminology simply coincidental? Or is there an evolutionary relationship?

    If you take the blue pill, the story ends here, and you wake up in your bed believing whatever you want to believe. But if you take the red pill, you commit to stay the course, and you will be forced to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    Like

  14. Rhutchin not only acts like a Calvinist troll, he is also a liar with no conscience about his lying:

    [[Robert writes, “He was banned at SBC today for continuing to attack non-Calvinists as Pelagians, Universalists, etc.”
    That was because they use the arguments of the Universalists and the Pelagians in defending their theology. They really didn’t deny that they did so, and never attempted to explain why they should not be identified as Pelagians (or Universalists).}}

    The Traditionalists at SBC Today, like most non-Calvinists, hold to libertarian free will. Pelagians also held to libertarian free will. So rhutchin concludes since they hold the same view of free will and use similar arguments for free will, they must be “Pelagians”. But this is not logical nor fair. We could argue that calvinists use the same determinist arguments as atheist determinists, therefore calvinists must be atheists. It is the exact same mistake in reasoning.

    Rhutchin is **lying** when he says they did not deny that they did so at SBC Today.

    Multiple people including myself pointed out his logical errors and unfair comparisons. He was repeatedly told to stop and he just kept making the false charges that non-Calvinists are Pelagians and Universalists. He makes these same false charges here and the moderator does not seem to care about this at all.

    And multiple attempts were made to “explain why they should not be identified as Pelagians (or Universalists)”. The attempts were clear but rhutchin refuses to accept them and now lies claiming they made no attempts. In addition to acting like a calvinist troll rhutchin apparently has no conscience as he can lie about this to this degree. It is one thing to say that he was not persuaded by the attempts of multiple people to distance their non-Calvinistic theology from Pelagians and Universalists: it is quite another to lie and claim they made no attempts to distance themselves from these false and heretical theologies.

    Brother D explicitly said we should avoid engaging in ad hominems. Rhutchin has no conscience about this either, he has no hesitation in claiming that other believers are Pelagians, Universalists and now humanists.

    [[Then, “He continually engages in unjustified ad hominem arguments against other believers (e.g. he has attacked me as a “humanist” in this thread for example).”
    Robert defines what is “good” by human standards of what humans define as “good.” That is humanism. The alternative is to define “good” as God defines it. Robert has not even tried to square his definition with God’s definition. Robert, whether he understand this or not, is peddling a humanist philosophy.]]

    Rhutchin has given us his own self-serving definition of good, so that only believers can ever do good. I never gave a definition of good.

    Scripture says that all have the law written on their hearts including unbelieving Gentiles (this means that every person has a knowledge of good and bad on their heart that is in line with the OT law, so everyone has a basic understanding of good and bad, e.g. people know that children should be protected and not abused, people know that stable and healthy marriages make for a good society, people know that we need laws to maintain order in a society, etc. etc.). It is not “humanism” to take the Bible seriously on this point.

    Humanism is a philosophy that tries to base all truth on human reasoning alone apart from revelation, assuming that man is ultimate. I do not derive my morality from human reasoning but from scripture. I also am quite convinced that man is NOT ultimate (cf. scripture says that NATIONS are less than a drop of water in a bucket compared to God, throughout scripture we have clear instances where man is not ultimate, e.g. Nebuchadnezzar thought he was ultimate until God humbled him by making him eat grass like an animal! Etc. etc.).

    ****No one posting on this site**** as far as I have seen holds to humanism. We may disagree on some points but we are Christians who believe that we should get our morality from scripture and that God is ultimate not man. But this is again a common slander used by some Calvinists such as rhutchin, if you disagree with their theology then you are unfairly attacked as “humanist.” And rhutchin having no conscience on this will just keep falsely claiming we are Pelagians, Universalists, Humanists, etc. etc.

    [[PS- there is a guy named Phillip who has attacked me at this site for saying that rhutchin acts like a troll. And others (including Barkers Wood in this very thread) have agreed with me that rhutchin acts like a Calvinist troll. And yet rhutchin can attack all of the non-Calvinists here as Pelagians, Universalists, Humanists, etc. and there is not a peep out of Phillip.]]

    Like

    1. I think what Robert bay be referring to here is classified as the fallacy of “Guilt by Association”.

      An excellent article that details how this works, is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy

      Its good for all of us to know, we are handling dialog, with the highest degree of maturity. Otherwise, general readers who do not participate in the dialog can all to easily see how childish we make ourselves look. :-]

      Liked by 2 people

      1. br.d suggests, “I think what Robert bay be referring to here is classified as the fallacy of “Guilt by Association”.”

        Look up examples of this error in the cited source to see your error. The Traditionalists do not share certain characteristics with Pelagians unrelated to theology for which they are condemned, but they embrace fully the free will theology of the Pelagians.

        Like

    2. Robert writes, “We could argue that calvinists use the same determinist arguments as atheist determinists, therefore calvinists must be atheists.”

      Calvinists say that God is the determiner; atheists deny that God is the determiner. A clear separation. So, how do the Traditionalists differe from the Pelagians? Perhaps Robert could explain how they differentiate themselves from Pelagians.

      Then, “He was repeatedly told to stop and he just kept making the false charges ”

      The final straw was when I listed the traits of a Pelagian in a response to a curious participant. Just describing a Pelagian was anxiety provoking for the Traditionalists and got me banned.

      Like

  15. Barker’s Woof,

    Barker’s Woof, you post frequently at SBC Today, you witnessed how he was banned there: is rhutchin lying about his banishment there?

    Rhutchin is lying and presenting this picture that the people at SBC Today just did not appreciate his comments about Pelagian theology. This is a misrepresentation of what occurred. People there were not upset about mere discussion of Pelagian theology. No, it was rhutchin repeatedly and intentionally labelling SBC Traditionalists (who are non-Calvinists AND non-Pelagians) as Pelagians that got him banned. He was warned directly, explicitly and repeatedly to stop making this false charge against other believers who are not Pelagians. At one point one of the leaders even used the language of this is your first warning, second warning, and finally you are removed for not paying attention to the warnings.

    One of rhutchin’s arguments is that Pelagians make arguments A, B, C, for free will: Traditionalists make arguments A, B, C for free will, therefore Traditionalists **are** Pelagians. I made the point that by parity of reasoning a similar “argument” of equivalence could be made against Calvinists (i.e. atheist determinists make arguments A, B, C for determinism; Calvinists make arguments A, B, C for determinism, therefore Calvinists **are** atheists). If this argument has problems (and it does) then rhutchin’s argument that Traditionalists are Pelagians has the same problems. Rhutchin intentionally oblivious to this writes:

    {{Robert writes, “We could argue that calvinists use the same determinist arguments as atheist determinists, therefore calvinists must be atheists.”
    Calvinists say that God is the determiner; atheists deny that God is the determiner. A clear separation.]]

    Rhutchin then wants me to go through the same points that were ALREADY AND REPEATEDLY made at SBC Today against him, again:

    “So, how do the Traditionalists differe from the Pelagians? Perhaps Robert could explain how they differentiate themselves from Pelagians.”

    Multiple people showed how Traditionalist are not Pelagians and do not hold to Pelagian theology. Rhutchin ignored all of this and just kept repeating his false charge that they are Pelagians and hold to Pelagian theology. His arguments were so convoluted and weak, they were dismissed, he was warned multiple times to stop making the false charges, he kept doing so, he was then banned. My explanation (and the explanations of others) did nothing for rhutchin back then and it will do nothing now.

    [[Then, “He was repeatedly told to stop and he just kept making the false charges ”
    The final straw was when I listed the traits of a Pelagian in a response to a curious participant. Just describing a Pelagian was anxiety provoking for the Traditionalists and got me banned.]]

    No, the final straw was that rhutchin was warned directly and clearly and repeatedly to stop claiming that SBC Traditionalists are Pelagians and hold to Pelagian theology. He refused to do so, and was banned.

    And it is quite nice to not have him posting there: if only that was true here as well, unfortunately this moderator does not seem concerned that believers are falsely and repeatedly charged as heretics. Apparently this moderator feels this makes for mature edifying discussion between believers. I disagree, and again it would be nice to see him banned here as well for continuing to make the same false charges here as he did at SBC Today.

    Like

  16. It is telling that Rhutchin deliberately replaces the scriptural (albeit English translation) ‘fool’ with ‘idiot’. An ‘idiot’, by definition, is one whose mental facilities are impaired, who cannot understand the ramifications of his choices, thus cannot be held responsible for inappropriate behavior. An ‘idiot’ is someone whose mental processes are less than optimal, more like scripture’s ‘raka’ or empty-headed.

    A ‘fool’, on the other hand, by definition, is someone who is capable of understanding the ramifications of his choices, but his lack of respect for God or truth makes him lacking in discretion. He understands the ramifications of his choices, but deliberately proceeds to do what he knows is against God’s will. That, of course, is what makes him a ‘fool’. It is disrespectful to declared a man an idiot, when it is intended merely as an insult rather than a description of the actual mental state of one who is disabled. The ‘fool’, on the other hand, falsely declares that there is no God, when he knows full well that there is ‘for God has shewed it to them’. He asserts that he can do whatever he wants with no fear of consequences. He does this, not because he is limited in his mental capacity due to a curse from God, but because he ignores the truth that God has revealed to him, loves darkness, and desires to pursue fleshly pleasures rather than seek what is best for himself and others.

    In other words, the very meaning of the word ‘fool’ and its counterparts in other languages, indicates that men know better, but choose evil anyway. Men are not sinners because God cursed them with ‘idiocy’ or an inability to make reasonable choices about right and wrong. Rather, Romans 1 tells us that men are ‘without excuse’ (not idiots), not ‘dead to the things of God’. In fact, ‘when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their “foolish” heart was darkened.’ Note that men were NOT unreasonably cursed by God for the sin of another and ‘made dead’ (killed?) by God, or turned into totally depraved idiots, despite the assertions of Calvinism. One is not born a fool or ‘sinner’, but ‘becomes’ such when he willfully acts foolishly, i.e., sins. Paul clearly explains that men ‘became fools’ by deliberately ‘changing ‘the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man . . . [they] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator . . .’

    Does this sound even slightly like men being born sinners, totally depraved, dead to God and righteousness because of a curse that came upon them due to another man’s sin? Hardly. But ‘even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind . . .’ Calvin was utterly, absolutely wrong; rebrobates are not those whom God rejected, but those who reject the knowledge of God ‘because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God shewed it unto them.’ How can any honest man change ‘God shewed it [knowledge of God] unto them’, into ‘God cursed them with a total inability to know him? It cannot be done; there is no explaining away these many, consistent verses by appealing to fragmented, distorted pieces of scripture taken out of context.

    Scripture not only never describes Calvinistic ‘Total Depravity’, Paul clearly, thoroughly and indisputably makes such an assertion preposterous, incredible to those who base their theology on scripture rather than the teachings of men. Romans 1 shuts the door on the possibility of ‘Total Depravity’, and is upheld by the narratives of person after person who rejects the truth God has revealed to them, freely embraces the lie and brings upon themselves the punishment that is just because it is based upon fully known and freely chosen wickedness.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Rhutchin writes:

    “The Traditionalists do not share certain characteristics with Pelagians unrelated to theology for which they are condemned, but they embrace fully the free will theology of the Pelagians.”

    Even if Traditionalists “embrace fully the free will theology of the Pelagians”, THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM PELAGIANS.

    Similarly, Brian Wagner and other open theists also hold to “the free will” views of Pelagians and THIS does not make open theists Pelagians either.

    This is rhutchin’s intentional error, arguing that if one group holds similar beliefs as another group, this means the first group is a version of the second group. That is false and does not logically follow and it is not fair.

    This is not “guilt by association” but associating two groups and declaring them to be identical because they share certain beliefs.

    But as I have said repeatedly, just because two groups do share some beliefs this does not mean they are identical (e.g. atheists and calvinists are determinists, they share deterministic beliefs, but just because they do, this does not make calvinists identical to atheists).

    Rhutchin’s error is to equate two different groups based on shared beliefs they hold.

    The intentional error that he makes which is much worse, the error that got him banned at SBC Today and ought to have the same result here: is his claim that Traditionalists are Pelagians and hold to Pelagian theology (that is a declaration that Traditionalists are heretics, and that is completely unacceptable). Claiming other believers are heretics is wrong and does not make for good or helpful discussions.

    Like

    1. Robert writes, “Even if Traditionalists “embrace fully the free will theology of the Pelagians”, THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM PELAGIANS.”

      Why not?

      Then, “Similarly, Brian Wagner and other open theists also hold to “the free will” views of Pelagians and THIS does not make open theists Pelagians either.”

      That can be debated. Brian conveys “free will” to the unsaved by his claim that God does not know the future and cannot know the decisions that people make – thus people are free to make decisions.

      The Calvinist says that God must convey “free” will (lost when Adam sinned) to the unsaved before they can receive/accept Christ. The Pelagian says that “free” will is inherent to all people, was not lost when Adam sinned, and God does not have to convey such “free” will to people in order that they can make a salvation decision. Arminians confuse the situation by holding to Total Depravity and then having God convey free will to all people through prevenient grace – thus, ending up advocating free theology making their position on TD of no consequence.

      Given the critical role of “free will” in Pelagian and non-Calvinist theology, the question arises as to whether those who hold to “free will” theology are different from each other. To me, (if I may use an analogy), it is like having three small trucks – a Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Tacoma. Essentially, all three are small trucks and do the same thing but people can argue all day that they are “different.” I see all “free will” theologies being essentially the same and since Pelagius seems to have been the first one who advanced free will theology in a big way, everyone else is just following in his footsteps.

      Like

      1. Roger… 🙂 Now you know better than to misrepresent my view of God’s omniscience! You said – “Brian conveys “free will” to the unsaved by his claim that God does not know the future and cannot know the decisions that people make – thus people are free to make decisions.” God knows the future in the only way it can be known and as He as clearly revealed it in Scripture, as partially determined and partially undetermined. So people are relatively free to make decisions between those possibilities that God knows exist.

        He certainly can and does know the possible decisions that people can make or cannot make and He knows the decisions that they do make when they are made. But if you mean He cannot know the decisions that they WILL of necessity make, He cannot know a lie about the future, so at this point because of His free will and the relative freedom He allows for man, the knowledge of the future is all those possibilities that exist without one being necessary.

        Also, by your definition, you are a Pelagian also, for you believe Adam had free will… at least you say so sometimes, when actually you do not believe that. For you do not believe even God has a free will. I know you say you believe God has a free will, which He just does not exercise freely, because it is all locked up in His immutable omniscience, but that is the point… It’s all locked up… It’s a figment of a philosophical position that cannot be proven and is not stated in Scripture, but must be said to make God appear relational.

        It would be like me saying I have a real love for your Roger, but I never show it, but believe me when I tell you that it’s there. If God does not exercise His free will… He has none!

        Like

      2. brianwagner writes, “You said – “Brian conveys “free will” to the unsaved by his claim that God does not know the future and cannot know the decisions that people make – thus people are free to make decisions.” God knows the future in the only way it can be known and as He as clearly revealed it in Scripture, as partially determined and partially undetermined. So people are relatively free to make decisions between those possibilities that God knows exist.”

        I don’t see a distinction between what I wrote and what you wrote. They say the same thing to me. The bottom line is that you believe “people are relatively (I like this qualification) free to make decisions between those possibilities that God knows exist.” adding, “but God does not know which possibility a person will choose until the person chooses.” In many cases, the choice may be between A and ~A and God does not know ahead of time which a person will choose – in your words, “He knows the decisions that they do make when they are made.”

        Then, “…the knowledge of the future is all those possibilities that exist without one being necessary.”

        I think you allow for God to act directly to influence what people do. For example, He chooses Abraham, Moses, Mary, Saul of Tarsus and others for His specific purposes. God removes His protection over Adam/Eve so that Satan can tempt them; same with Job; and Judas. So some possibilities become necessary because God directly intervenes to bring about a particular end.

        Then, “by your definition, you are a Pelagian also, for you believe Adam had free will… ”

        OK, but everyone pretty much believes that. Didn’t Augustine write about this? “Man’s original capacities included both the power not to sin and the power to sin ( posse non peccare et posse peccare ). In Adam’s original sin, man lost the posse non peccare (the power not to sin) and retained the posse peccare (the power to sin)–which he continues to exercise. In the fulfillment of grace, man will have the posse peccare taken away and receive the highest of all, the power not to be able to sin, non posse peccare.” Cf. On Correction and Grace XXXIII.”

        Then, ” If God does not exercise His free will… He has none!”

        If God exercises His free will to decree X – a decision made with complete understanding and perfect wisdom – does that mean that God has destroyed His freedom to will? Just because our minds cannot conceive the manner in which God’s mind works does not limit God to acting only as our minds can conceive.

        Like

      3. Roger, God doesn’t exercise His free will to decree anything in your system… for you are speaking anthropomorphically. This is no decision of His will in your theology that makes something that was un-decreed now decreed. You can’t hide behind “our minds cannot conceive the manner which God’s mind works” because your theology demands limiting God’s mind to working only one immutable way with a fixed will of everything happening one way forever.

        And constantly giving OT examples as if there were other contingencies allowed for Satan, Adam, Abraham, etc, is very misleading, for in your system there is no exercise of any free will to do other than what is immutably already set in the mind of God… even for God, whose mind you have dogmatically defined by philosophy to the overturning of the normal reading of Scripture. Yet you want to make it sound like God does allow freedom of choice of Adam… impossible… He was not able not to sin, and neither was Satan. God’s immutable omniscience according to your theology could not be wrong. It was necessary, in your view, that Satan and Adam sin as determined by God’s immutable omniscience which keeps His will frozen in one set outworking of the future.

        Like

      4. brianwagner writes, “God doesn’t exercise His free will to decree anything in your system… for you are speaking anthropomorphically.”

        OK. Neither you nor I can understand how God thinks or makes decisions or even if He even has to think or make decisions. The only way we can relate to God is anthropomorphically. Thus, God took the form of a man to interact with people.

        My theology takes what the Scriptures say about God and describes God in that manner. That’s all that anyone can do.

        Then, “…there is no exercise of any free will to do other than what is immutably already set in the mind of God…”

        Nonetheless, it is still free will. Those things immutably set by God are not forced on people by God.

        Then, ” [Adam] was not able not to sin”

        Of course he was. If God had made the garden off limits to Satan, there is no reason to think that Adam would have sinned. Adam’s sin is directly tied to Satan’s temptation of Eve. Take out Satan and we have no basis for Adam to sin. That is why it was crucial that Satan be given access to the garden and Satan could only get access to the garden if God gave him access.

        Then, “It was necessary, in your view, that Satan and Adam sin as determined by God’s immutable omniscience…”

        No. t was necessary that Satan and Adam sin as determined by God (and then God’s immutable omniscience consists of that He has determined to do).

        Then, “…which keeps His will frozen in one set outworking of the future.”

        Sure, when God decides X, regardless when He does so, that decision will never change. That’s true under your system isn’t it?

        Like

      5. Roger – You keep saying – “Neither you nor I can understand how God thinks or makes decisions or even if He even has to think or make decisions.” But then you know that you and I believe strongly that we can understand these things… for that is what we are discussing! Why do you do that! It’s a deflection.

        You cannot prove there is free will, just be saying so! Prove it be evidence found in God and man? Why couldn’t Adam have sinned with out Satan? Satan sinned without an “Adam”.

        Like

      6. brianwagner writes, “But then you know that you and I believe strongly that we can understand these things… for that is what we are discussing! ”

        No, we are discussing what the Scriptures tell us about God and our understanding is limited to those things the Scriptures tell us. Neither one of us should think that the Scriptures tell us everything about God or even more than just a little bit about God. We are likely dealing with a very small amount of information about God.

        Then, “Why couldn’t Adam have sinned with out Satan? ”

        As James explains:

        “When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

        When God finished His creation, He declared it very good. Thus, we would not conclude that Adam was created with “evil desire.” Thus, he could not be tempted to sin by an inherent evil desire. Absent an outside source of temptation, Adam could not be enticed to sin.

        Then, “Satan sinned without an “Adam”.

        We know little about Satan or the other angels. It would seem that God made Satan with the capacity for pride.

        Like

      7. Thank you Roger for taking a stab at replying. I am discussing what Scirpture says… you are professing that Scripture does not say enough or what is says is not clear, but can be clarified by philosophy. But we both are saying God’s understanding and decision making can be defined.

        The law and the conscience is all the is needed for sin. James says it starts with our personal desires. It would be illogical to consider Adam’s freedom to sin any different than Satan’s, for Satan (Lucifer) was created good also.

        The bigger issue there is no real freedom of will when God’s will/plan is locked in by an immutable omniscience… which is clearly unbiblical.

        Like

      8. I made this point against rhutchin ***over at SBC Today*** when he was warned to stop calling Traditionalists “Pelagians”, refused and was then banned from posting there.

        Rhutchin did not want to listen to this point there, perhaps here, others will recognize the validity of my point and see how it completely refutes rhutchin’s false charge that Traditionalists are “Pelagians” and hold to “Pelagian theology”.

        Rhutchin expresses his opinion as to why he views Traditionalists as “Pelagians” and says:

        “I see all “free will” theologies being essentially the same and since Pelagius seems to have been the first one who advanced free will theology in a big way, everyone else is just following in his footsteps.”

        Anyone see the factual error in his comment here?

        Those who are familiar with church history (especially the early centuries and the Augustine versus Pelagius controversy) will immediately see an error in what rhutchin says here.

        Here is a big hint: note that rhutchin says that Pelagius “seems to have been the *****first one***** [emphasis mine] who advanced free will theology in a big way”.

        So according to rhutchin, Pelagius was first in espousing free will as ordinarily conceived by non-Calvinists, and rhutchin based on this assumption then claims that “everyone else is just following in his footsteps.”

        Note the chronology in his claim, Pelagius is the first to espouse free will as conceived by non-Calvinists, then everyone else who holds to the ordinary view of free will then FOLLOWS Pelagius in time.

        What is the problem with this claim?

        The Augustine versus Pelagius controversy occurred in the fourth century.

        If rhutchin were correct this would mean ***no one previous*** to Pelagius was espousing free will as held by non-Calvinists (since according to him they all came after Pelagius, supposedly “followed in his footsteps”).

        But this is demonstrably false, the ordinary view of free will was being espoused by early Fathers of the church *******BEFORE******* AUGUSTINE CAME ON THE SCENE, *******BEFORE****** PELAGIUS CAME ON THE SCENE.

        Check out early church history (i.e. the first centuries of church history before Augustine) and you find they all held to the ordinary non-Calvinist view of free will.

        So this means the ordinary view of free will as espoused by Traditionalists, Arminians, Open Theists, etc. etc. EXISTED *****HUNDREDS OF YEARS***** BEFORE PELAGIUS CAME ALONG.

        If it was espoused by the early church hundreds of years before Pelagius then rhutchin is wrong to claim that Pelagius “seems to have been the first one who advanced free will theology in a big way”.

        It is wrong to claim that “everyone else is just following in his footsteps”.

        Fact is, and this fact completely refutes rhutchin, the early church for the first four hundred years BEFORE the Augustine versus Pelagius controversy: HELD THE ORDINARY VIEW OF FREE WILL THAT NON-CALVINSITS HOLD TODAY.

        I made this point at SBC Today, and I hope that was part of what led to the leaders there in making their decision to ban rhutchin for his falsely claiming that Traditionalists are “Pelagians”.

        Hopefully others here who know church history or consider this point will see just how off base rhutchin is in his claims regarding what the early church believed regarding the ordinary, non-Calvinist view of free will.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yes Robert! And free-will or “freed” will by enlightenment/prevenient grace was even taught before those so-called “church fathers” you mentioned. It was taught by the apostles and prophets and our Lord! 🙂

        The issue of Pelagianism, anyway, is not free-will but the rejection of any type of depravity passed on seminally or imputed because of Adam. And Pelagius, himself, believed that even though he thought men were born without depravity, there was still a need for grace to be received to inherit everlasting life… however, like Augustine, he wrongly believed that saving grace came through the ordinances of Christ which RC called “sacraments”.

        Like

      10. brianwagner writes, “The issue of Pelagianism, anyway, is not free-will but the rejection of any type of depravity passed on seminally or imputed because of Adam.”

        What motivates one to reject any type of depravity passed by Adam to the human race? Is it not because of the impacts of that depravity on the freedom of people to act? If not, then what?

        Then, “Pelagius, himself, believed that even though he thought men were born without depravity, there was still a need for grace to be received to inherit everlasting life… ”

        Was not that grace to provide a means for sin to be forgiven vs the ability to choose to accept salvation?

        The issue that started the Augustine-Pelagius debate was Augustine’s prayer that God grant him the ability to obey Him. So, Pelagius seemed to oppose total depravity and any denial of the inherent ability of a person to act righteously including the ability to choose Christ and salvation.

        Like

      11. My guess, though I have to research more, that Pelagius was misrepresented by Augustine, in my view, because it was a power struggle for influence more than anything else. I would not trust Augustine’s interpretation of Pelagius’ view, for I have read enough of Augustine to see his misuse of Scripture and attack on other godly Christians.

        Like

      12. I would have to agree with this assessment from a preponderance of the historical writing on Augustine. Anyone who disagreed with him could find himself banished, imprisoned or killed.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Robert writes, “…he was warned to stop calling Traditionalists “Pelagians”, refused and was then banned from posting there.”

        Actually, I was given three strikes – the last one being a message to a curious onlooker where I listed the characteristics of a Pelagian. That comment did not label Traditionists as Pelagians (at least, I don’t remember doing so) and the comment was sent before I was warned about the three strikes and then it was used as the third strike. I thought that a bit petty.

        Then, “Check out early church history (i.e. the first centuries of church history before Augustine) and you find they all held to the ordinary non-Calvinist view of free will.”

        I have read a few of the works of the early church fathers and have yet to find any discussing free will, I don’t even recall anyone using the term. I am not aware that free will was an issue before the Augustine-Pelagius debate. If anyone has a citation where one of the early church fathers delved into this matter to any degree, that would be nice to have – I’m pretty sure Robert does not have such a citation, but who really knows – Robert does not generally like to divulge his sources making me think that he makes up a lot of stuff.

        Like

  18. Apparently rhutchin really does not know what the early church believed on free will as he writes:

    “If anyone has a citation where one of the early church fathers delved into this matter to any degree, that would be nice to have – I’m pretty sure Robert does not have such a citation, but who really knows – Robert does not generally like to divulge his sources making me think that he makes up a lot of stuff.”

    I don’t make up stuff, my views are based on readily available sources.

    I can provide more, but here is one source giving some good and clear references to belief in the ordinary view of free will in the early centuries (perhaps I will supply more, but again those who know church history know these things already):

    [[What the Early Christians Believed About
    Free Will

    The early Christians were strong believers in free will. For example, Justin Martyr made this argument to the Romans: “We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and rewards are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Otherwise, if all things happen by fate, then nothing is in our own power. For if it is predestined that one man be good and another man evil, then the first is not deserving of praise or the other to be blamed. Unless humans have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions—whatever they may be…. For neither would a man be worthy of reward or praise if he did not of himself choose the good, but was merely created for that end. Likewise, if a man were evil, he would not deserve punishment, since he was not evil of himself, being unable to do anything else than what he was made for.”

    Clement echoed the same belief: “Neither praise nor condemnation, neither rewards nor punishments, are right if the soul does not have the power of choice and avoidance, if evil is involuntary.”

    Archelaus, writing a few decades later, repeated the same understanding: “All the creatures that God made, He made very good. And He gave to every individual the sense of free will, by which standard He also instituted the law of judgment…. And certainly whoever will, may keep the commandments. Whoever despises them and turns aside to what is contrary to them, shall yet without doubt have to face this law of judgment…. There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.”

    Methodius, a Christian martyr who lived near the end of the third century, wrote similarly, “Those [pagans] who decide that man does not have free will, but say that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils.”

    The early Christians weren’t simply speculating about this matter, but rather they based their beliefs on the following Scriptures, among others:

    • “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

    • “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

    • “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).

    • “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19).

    So originally, it was the pagan world, not the Christians, who believed in predestination.

    From Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up

    by David Bercot

    Like

      1. Br D,

        Thanks for the citation of Tim Warner, he is one of the sources I was going to cite. Since you did so, I will simply reproduce it here for all to see. This evidence is so clear and overwhelming and shows rhutchin is absolutely wrong about Pelagius being the first to espouse free will as ordinarily understood. The ordinary view of free will held by Traditionalists, Arminians, Open theists, virtually all non-Calvinists was the view of the church in the early centuries, CENTURIES BEFORE Pelagius came along and disputed with Augustine.

        Calvinism
        Free Will & the Early Church
        Copyright © Tim Warner – 10/2003
        ________________________________________

        We stated in the introduction that Calvinism has its roots in the views of St. Augustine. This man was also largely responsible for the acceptance of a-millennialism into mainstream Christianity, and the Roman Catholic doctrine that the Catholic Church is now God’s Kingdom on earth. Prior to his conversion in the fourth century, Augustine was heavily involved in a pseudo-Christian Gnostic cult that held heretical ideas regarding the nature of God as well as the person of Christ. All of the Gnostic cultists were heavily influenced by the writings of the Greek philosophers. And Augustine was no exception.

        Fate vs. Free Will Throughout Church History
        Historical Period Free Will
        God’s grace is given to all who submit willingly Fate
        Each man’s destiny is predetermined
        I. First through Fourth Centuries All Christian Writers Gnostic Cults, Greek Philosophers, Pantheists, Buddhists
        II. Fifth through Fourteenth Centuries Most Christian Writers, Catholics, Orthodox St. Augustine& some later Christian writers, Waldenses, Moslems, Buddhists
        III. Fifteenth through Twentieth Centuries Arminians, Wesleyans, most Baptists, Catholics (Jesuit), Orthodox Calvinists (Reformed), Catholics (Dominican), Moslems, Buddhists

        Prior to the writings of Augustine, the Church universally held that mankind had a totally free will. Each man was responsible before God to accept the Gospel. His ultimate destiny, while fully dependent on God’s grace and power, was also dependent on his free choice to submit to or reject God’s grace and power. In the three centuries from the Apostles to Augustine the early Church held to NONE of the five points of Calvinism, not one. The writings of the orthodox Church, for the first three centuries, are in stark contrast to the ideas of Augustine and Calvin. Man is fully responsible for his choice to respond to or reject the Gospel. This was considered to be the Apostolic doctrine passed down through the local church elders ordained by the Apostles, and their successors. Below we have listed a few representative quotes from the earlier writers in order to give the flavor of the earliest tradition regarding election and free will. Some deal with the subject of perseverance and apostasy.

        Clement of Rome (AD30-100)
        “On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodom when all the country round was punished by means of fire and brimstone, the Lord thus making it manifest that He does not forsake those that hope in Him, but gives up such as depart from Him to punishment and torture. For Lot’s wife, who went forth with him, being of a different mind from himself and not continuing in agreement with him [as to the command which had been given them], was made an example of, so as to be a pillar of salt unto this day. This was done that all might know that those who are of a double mind, and who distrust the power of God, bring down judgment on themselves? and become a sign to all succeeding generations.” (Clement, Epistle to the Corinthians, XI)

        Ignatius (AD30-107)
        “Seeing, then, all things have an end, and there is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. For I remark, that two different characters are found among men — the one true coin, the other spurious. The truly devout man is the right kind of coin, stamped by God Himself. The ungodly man, again, is false coin, unlawful, spurious, counterfeit, wrought not by God, but by the devil. I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but that there is one humanity, sometimes belonging to God, and sometimes to the devil. If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice. The unbelieving bear the image of the prince of wickedness. The believing possess the image of their Prince, God the Father, and Jesus Christ, through whom, if we are not in readiness to die for the truth into His passion, His life is not in us.” (Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, V)

        Barnabas (AD100)

        “The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Epistle of Barnabas, IV)

        Justin Martyr (AD 110-165)
        “But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Justin, First Apology, XLIII)

        “For so we say that there will be the conflagration, but not as the Stoics, according to their doctrine of all things being changed into one another, which seems most degrading. But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. and this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both (virtue and vice). And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitious in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructable, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness; or that neither vice or virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.” (Justin Second Apology, VII)

        “Could not God have cut off in the beginning the serpent, so that he exist not, rather than have said, ‘And I will put enmity between him and the woman, and between his seed and her seed?’ Could He not have at once created a multitude of men? But yet, since He knew that it would be good, He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous, and He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free-will; and because He likewise knew it would be good, He made general and particular judgments; each one’s freedom of will, however, being guarded.” (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 102)

        “I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin;’ that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them.” (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 141)

        “Here, then, is a proof of virtue, and of a mind loving prudence, to recur to the communion of the unity, and to attach one’s self to prudence for salvation, and make choice of the better things according to the free-will placed in man; and not to think that those who are possessed of human passions are lords of all, when they shall not appear to have even equal power with men.” (Justin, On the Sole Government of God, VI)

        Irenaeus (AD120-202)
        “This expression [of our Lord], “How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,” set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spuing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, “But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” “But glory and honor,” he says, “to every one that doeth good.” God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honor, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do.

        “But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it, — some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good. And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets. … No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man’s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. … But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God.

        “And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, “According to thy faith be it unto thee; “ thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, “All things are possible to him that believeth;” and, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, “he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him.” In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, “How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate.”” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. IV, 37)

        The above passage is immediately followed by Irenaeus’ refutation of the Gnostic cults who “maintain the opposite to these conclusions.”

        “Has the Word come for the ruin and for the resurrection of many? For the ruin, certainly, of those who do not believe Him, to whom also He has threatened a greater damnation in the judgment-day than that of Sodom and Gomorrah; but for the resurrection of believers, and those who do the will of His Father in heaven. If then the advent of the Son comes indeed alike to all, but is for the purpose of judging, and separating the believing from the unbelieving, since, as those who believe do His will agreeably to their own choice, and as, [also] agreeably to their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that His Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding; and that He has regard to all things, and exercises a providence over all, “making His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and unjust.”

        “And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God, He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. Now, good things are eternal and without end with God, and therefore the loss of these is also eternal and never-ending. It is in this matter just as occurs in the case of a flood of light: those who have blinded themselves, or have been blinded by others, are for ever deprived of the enjoyment of light. It is not, [however], that the light has inflicted upon them the penalty of blindness, but it is that the blindness itself has brought calamity upon them: and therefore the Lord declared, “He that believeth in Me is not condemned,” that is, is not separated from God, for he is united to God through faith. On the other hand, He says, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God;” that is, he separated himself from God of his own accord. “For this is the condemnation, that light is come into this world, and men have loved darkness rather than light. For every one who doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that he has wrought them in God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. V, XXVII)

        Tatian (AD110-172)
        “Why are you fated to grasp at things often, and often to die? Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature. We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we Ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.” (Tatian, Address to the Greeks, XI)

        Tertullian (AD145-220)
        “Moreover, man thus constituted will be protected by both the goodness of God and by His purpose, both of which are always found in concert in our God. For His purpose is no purpose without goodness; nor is His goodness without a purpose, except forsooth in the case of Marcion’s God, who is purposelessly good, as we have shown. Well, then, it was proper that God should be known; it was no doubt a good and reasonable thing. Proper also was it that there should be something worthy of knowing God. What could be found so worthy as the image and likeness of God? This also was undoubtedly good and reasonable. Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of himself; so that this very thing — namely, freedom of will and self-command — might be reckoned as the image and likeness of God in him. For this purpose such an essence was adapted to man as suited this character, even the afflatus of the Deity, Himself free and uncontrolled. But if you will take some other view of the case, how came it to pass that man, when in possession of the whole world, did not above all things reign in self-possession — a master over others, a slave to himself? The goodness of God, then, you can learn from His gracious gift to man, and His purpose from His disposal of all things. At present, let God’s goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will. God’s purpose claims some other opportunity of treatment, offering as it does instruction of like import. Now, God alone is good by nature. For He, who has that which is without beginning, has it not by creation, but by nature. Man, however, who exists entirely by creation, having a beginning, along with that beginning obtained the form in which he exists; and thus he is not by nature disposed to good, but by creation, not having it as his own attribute to be good, because, (as we have said,) it is not by nature, but by creation, that he is disposed to good, according to the appointment of his good Creator, even the Author of all good. In order, therefore, that man might have a goodness of his own, bestowed on him by God, and there might be henceforth in man a property, and in a certain sense a natural attribute of goodness, there was assigned to him in the constitution of his nature, as a formal witness of the goodness which God bestowed upon him, freedom and power of the will, such as should cause good to be performed spontaneously by man, as a property of his own, on the ground that no less than this would be required in the matter of a goodness which was to be voluntarily exercised by him, that is to say, by the liberty of his will, without either favor or servility to the constitution of his nature, so that man should be good just up to this point, if he should display his goodness in accordance with his natural constitution indeed, but still as the result of his will, as a property of his nature; and, by a similar exercise of volition, should show himself to be too strong in defense against evil also (for even this God, of course, foresaw), being free, and master of himself; because, if he were wanting in this prerogative of self-mastery, so as to perform even good by necessity and not will, he would, in the helplessness of his servitude, become subject to the usurpation of evil, a slave as much to evil as to good. Entire freedom of will, therefore, was conferred upon him in both tendencies; so that, as master of himself, he might constantly encounter good by spontaneous observance of it, and evil by its spontaneous avoidance; because, were man even otherwise circumstanced, it was yet his bounden duty, in the judgment of God, to do justice according to the motions of his will regarded, of course, as free. But the reward neither of good nor of evil could be paid to the man who should be found to have been either good or evil through necessity and not choice. In this really lay the law which did not exclude, but rather prove, human liberty by a spontaneous rendering of obedience, or a spontaneous commission of iniquity; so patent was the liberty of man’s will for either issue. Since, therefore, both the goodness and purpose of God are discovered in the gift to man of freedom in his will, it is not right, after ignoring the original definition of goodness and purpose which it was necessary to determine previous to any discussion of the subject, on subsequent facts to presume to say that God ought not in such a way to have formed man, because the issue was other than what was assumed to be proper for God. We ought rather, after duly considering that it behooved God so to create man, to leave this consideration unimpaired, and to survey the other aspects of the case. It is, no doubt, an easy process for persons who take offence at the fall of man, before they have looked into the facts of his creation, to impute the blame of what happened to the Creator, without any examination of His purpose. To conclude: the goodness of God, then fully considered from the beginning of His works, will be enough to convince us that nothing evil could possibly have come forth from God; and the liberty of man will, after a second thought, show us that it alone is chargeable with the fault which itself committed.” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Bk. II, ch. vi)

        “God put the question [to Adam – “where art thou”] with an appearance of uncertainty, in order that even here He might prove man to be the subject of a free will in the alternative of either a denial or a confession, and give to him the opportunity of freely acknowledging his transgression, and, so far, of lightening it. In like manner He inquires of Cain where his brother was, just as if He had not yet heard the blood of Abel crying from the ground, in order that he too might have the opportunity from the same power of the will of spontaneously denying, and to this degree aggravating, his crime; and that thus there might be supplied to us examples of confessing sins rather than of denying them: so that even then was initiated the evangelic doctrine, “By thy words thou shall be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Bk. II, xxv)

        “That rich man did go his way who had not “received” the precept of dividing his substance to the needy, and was abandoned by the Lord to his own opinion. Nor will “harshness” be on this account imputed to Christ, the Found of the vicious action of each individual free-will. “Behold,” saith He, “I have set before thee good and evil.” Choose that which is good: if you cannot, because you will not — for that you can if you will He has shown, because He has proposed each to your free-will — you ought to depart from Him whose will you do not.” (Tertullian, On Monogamy, XIV)

        Clement of Alexandria (AD153-217)
        “God, then, is good. And the Lord speaks many a time and oft before He proceeds to act. … For the Divine Being is not angry in the way that some think; but often restrains, and always exhorts humanity, and shows what ought to be done. And this is a good device, to terrify lest we sin. “For the fear of the Lord drives away sins, and he that is without fear cannot be justified,” says the Scripture. And God does not inflict punishment from wrath, but for the ends of justice; since it is not expedient that justice should be neglected on our account. Each one of us, who sins, with his own free-will chooses punishment, and the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame. “But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous, who taketh vengeance? God forbid.” … It is clear, then, that those who are not at enmity with the truth, and do not hate the Word, will not hate their own salvation, but will escape the punishment of enmity. “The crown of wisdom,” then as the book of Wisdom says, “is the fear of the Lord.” Very clearly, therefore, by the prophet Amos has the Lord unfolded His method of dealing, saying, “I have overthrown you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah; and ye shall be as a brand plucked from the fire: and yet ye have not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” See how God, through His love of goodness, seeks repentance; and by means of the plan He pursues of threatening silently, shows His own love for man. “I will avert,” He says, “My face from them, and show what shall happen to them.” For where the face of the Lord looks, there is peace and rejoicing; but where it is averted, there is the introduction of evil. The Lord, accordingly, does not wish to look on evil things; for He is good. But on His looking away, evil arises spontaneously through human unbelief. “Behold, therefore,” says Paul, “the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell severity; but upon thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness,” that is, in faith in Christ.” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Bk. I, viii)

        Origen (AD185-254)
        “This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the Church, that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition; that it has a stuggle to maintain with the devil and his angels, and opposing influences, because they strive to burden it with sins; but if we live rightly and wisely, we should endeavor to shake ourselves free of a burden of that kind. From which it follows, also, that we understand ourselves not to be subject to necessity, so as to be compelled by all means, even against our will, to do either good or evil. For if we are our own masters, some influences perhaps may impel us to sin, and others help us to salvation; we are not forced, however, by any necessity either to act rightly or wrongly, which those persons think is the case who say that the courses and movements of the stars are the cause of human actions, not only of those which take place beyond the influence of the freedom of the will, but also of those which are placed within our own power.” (Origen, De Principis, Preface)

        “And for this reason we think that God, the Father of all things, in order to ensure the salvation of all His creatures through the ineffable plan of His word and wisdom, so arranged each of these, that every spirit, whether soul or rational existence, however called, should not be compelled by force, against the liberty of his own will, to any other course than that to which the motives of his own mind led him (lest by so doing the power of exercising free-will should seem to be taken away, which certainly would produce a change in the nature of the being itself); and that the varying purposes of these would be suitably and usefully adapted to the harmony of one world, by some of them requiring help, and others being able to give it, and others again being the cause of struggle and contest to those who are making progress, amongst whom their diligence would be deemed more worthy of approval, and the place of rank obtained after victory be held with greater certainty, which should be established by the difficulties of the contest.” (Origen, Bk. II ch. I)

        Hippolytus (AD170-236)
        “But man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity of self-determination, brings forth what is evil, that is, accidentally; which evil is not consummated except you actually commit some piece of wickedness. For it is in regard of our desiring anything that is wicked, or our meditating upon it, that what is evil is so denominated. Evil had no existence from the beginning, but came into being subsequently. Since man has free will, a law has been defined for his guidance by the Deity, not without answering a good purpose. For if man did not possess the power to will and not to will, why should a law be established? For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason, but a bridle and a whip; whereas to man has been given a precept and penalty to perform, or for not carrying into execution what has been enjoined. For man thus constituted has a law been enacted by just men in primitive ages.” (Hippolytus, Against all Heresies, Bk. X, ch. xxix)

        Novatian (AD210-280)
        “And lest, again, an unbounded freedom should fall into peril, He laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree; but he was forewarned that evil would arise if perchance he should exercise his free will, in the contempt of the
        law that was given. For, on the one hand, it had behooved him to be free, lest the image of God should, unfittingly be in bondage; and on the other, the law was to be added, so that an unbridled liberty might not break forth even to a contempt of the Giver. So that he might receive as a consequence both worthy rewards and a deserved punishment, having in his own power that which he might choose to do, by the tendency of his mind in either direction: whence, therefore, by envy, mortality comes back upon him; seeing that, although he might escape it by obedience, he rushes into it by hurrying to be God under the influence of perverse counsel.” (Novatian, Trinity, ch. I)

        Archelaus (AD277)
        “This account also indicates that rational creatures have been entrusted with free-will, in virtue of which they also admit of conversions.” … “For all the creatures that God made, He made very good; and He gave to every individual the sense of free-will, in accordance with which standard He also instituted the law of judgment. To sin is ours, and that we sin not is God’s gift, as our will is constituted to choose either to sin or not to sin. … The judges said: He has given demonstration enough of the origin of the devil. And as both sides admit that there will be a judgment, it is necessarily involved in that admission that every individual is shown to have free-will; and since this is brought clearly out, there can be no doubt that every individual, in the exercise of his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.” (Archelaus, The Acts of the Disputation)

        Alexander of Alexandria (AD273-326)
        “I will endeavor, with your assistance and favor, to examine carefully the position of those who are offended, and deny that we speak the truth, when we say that man is possessed of free-will, and prove that “They perish self-destroyed, By their own fault,” choosing the pleasant in preference to the expedient.” (Alexander, Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse VIII, ch. xii)

        Lactantius (AD260-330)
        “When, therefore, the number of men had begun to increase, God in His forethought, lest the devil, to whom from the beginning He had given power over the earth, should by his subtilty either corrupt or destroy men, as he had done at first, sent angels for the protection and improvement of the human race; and inasmuch as He had given these a free will, He enjoined them above all things not to defile themselves with contamination from the earth, and thus lose the dignity of their heavenly nature.” (Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Bk. II, ch. xv)

        There seems to have been no exceptions among early Christian writers to the orthodox teaching that man has been granted by God a free will to choose his destiny, and that salvation is available to all. The opposing view, that man is controlled by fate, could only be found in the Greek philosophical schools, Gnosticism, and Eastern mysticism during the first 300 years of Christianity. It is no wonder that the man who introduced Greek fatalism into Christianity should come from a Gnostic and Neo-Platonic background. Augustine’s theory differed from the Greek philosophers mainly by naming the CAUSE of fate — God’s mysterious will which must not be questioned, and cannot be understood by mortals. The impact of Augustine’s teaching probably would not have been nearly so great if Pelagius had not gone to the opposite extreme in renouncing Augustine.

        While those of the Reformed persuasion are right to reject the Latin heresies of Rome, they have been lax to recognize the Greek heresies introduced before the Latin era, which are equally contrary to the truth of the Christian Faith “once for all delivered to the saints” by the Apostles of Jesus Christ. They seem to hold a higher opinion of philosophers, like Augustine, than of the Apostles themselves, and those to whom the Apostles entrusted the Apostolic tradition.

        Like

      2. Excellent survey Robert of views in pre-Nicene Christianity from those of various stripes…. Thanks. As you know, I not a big fan of those in that list who were very sacramental in their approach to the gospel… like Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Lactantius to name some of more obvious ones… And also… we must remember that we have been robbed of many documents from that time period through the destructive efforts of RC and their desire to preserve only those who held their magisterial/sacramental views of ecclesiology/soteriology.

        Since there is nothing new under the sun, I believe if we lived back then we would have found the same variety of theological opinions concerning divine determinism and free will that we have today among believers. That is why the Scriptures must be the only authority for dogma. Thanks again.

        Like

      3. brianwagner writes, “That is why the Scriptures must be the only authority for dogma.”

        “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

        That is one thing the Scriptures say about free will. Since Paul wrote this, it has been dogma.

        Like

      4. And that is why, Roger, that sinful mind can not earn salvation… Paul says it must be enabled by God’s grace and mercy to choose to seek understanding and to accept or reject more grace and mercy as it comes in that seeking!

        Praise God He enables every one’s sinful mind through His enlightenment to have the opportunity to freely accept or reject Him or at least to start to seek for Him. This is biblical dogma too!

        Like

      5. brianwagner writes, “Paul says it must be enabled by God’s grace and mercy to choose to seek understanding and to accept or reject more grace and mercy as it comes in that seeking! ”

        We both agree that God must enable. If God only enables a sinner to seek, then does God enable some (those He favors) more than others? If not, what accounts for some seeking while others do not?

        Like

      6. Sufficient enablement! 🙂 But not irresistibly efficient! The will is freed and the future is not fully decreed as set by the false idea of an immutable omniscience. You should know my answers by now.

        Is your memory short, or do you just like asking the same questions over and like trying to have the last word each time, as a sort of game? 🙂 I know your tricks Roger, my friend!

        Like

      7. brianwagner writes, “Sufficient enablement! 🙂 But not irresistibly efficient! The will is freed and the future is not fully decreed as set by the false idea of an immutable omniscience.”

        I forgot your explanation for one person choosing salvation while another rejects salvation given that they were equally enabled. Probably did not understand your logic, so it didn’t stick. Don’t you know the three rules for teaching success: repetition, repetition, repetition.

        Like

      8. Lol! Ok Roger… here it is again for good measure — Sufficient enablement!🙂 But not irresistibly efficient! The will is freed and the future is not fully decreed as set by the false idea of an immutable omniscience. You will be quizzed on this every week until the Lord returns! 🙂

        Like

      9. brianwagner writes, ‘Sufficient enablement!🙂 But not irresistibly efficient! The will is freed and the future is not fully decreed as set by the false idea of an immutable omniscience. ”

        That’s kinda the way I remembered it, however, that is not the question I posed. If the will is freed for all sinners – making them equally free (because they were equally not free before) – how is it that one person freely accepts salvation while another freely rejects salvation? What factor explains two equal people making different decisions – wouldn’t they have to be unequal in some area to make different decisions?

        Like

      10. No two people are equal in every way, though God does make sure each receives at least two or three enabling opportunities sufficient for each to begin their search. Each has various ways to choose from to search and to show their rejection, but the results are the same… if they seek they will find, if they harden they will be lost forever. God sovereignly planned it that way… I wish you could clearly see that and how it glorifies our God!

        Like

      11. brianwagner writes, “No two people are equal in every way, though God does make sure each receives at least two or three enabling opportunities sufficient for each to begin their search.”

        It doesn’t matter that people are not equal in every way. You have all people being given sufficient enlightenment such that all people are equally able to be saved. It is in that one characteristic that you must have all people being equal.

        If such equality is true, then all should be saved or all lost. We should not see some being saved and some being lost else they cannot be so enlightened so that each has the equal opportunity to be saved.

        You do not seem to be able to explain why people enlightened by God (to bring them to salvation) can make completely opposite decisions regarding that salvation. Something has to be different between those who seek salvation and those who do not. Of course, the Calvinist says the difference is how God treats them, favoring one over the other. The non-Calvinist says its a mystery to him, which by your explanation is what you are saying.

        Like

      12. This is your false premise – Roger – “If such equality is true, then all should be saved or all lost.” You only believe that because of determinism! You continue to confuse sufficiency with efficiency. I cannot convince you otherwise. Logic has to. Sufficiency with a freed will and true possibilities is what culpability and justice is based on. This is how the Scripture reads. I wish you would submit your thinking to that. But it will take an act of your will!

        Like

      13. brianwagner writes, “This is your false premise – “If such equality is true, then all should be saved or all lost.”

        I don’t think so. Equality begets equality.

        Then, “You continue to confuse sufficiency with efficiency.”

        Calvinism says, The gospel is sufficient to save all and efficient to save the elect. The non-Calvinist says, The gospel is sufficient to save all and efficient to save some.

        For the Calvinist efficiency derives from God’s involvement to bring about the outcome He wants; for the non-Calvinist, efficiency is somewhat mysterious as the non-Calvinist has no idea why a person would reject the gospel given its sufficiency to save all.

        Going further, the Calvinist says, The gospel is sufficient to save all but saves none because of Total Depravity. The non-Calvinist says that the gospel has power to cancel Total Depravity and it is a mystery why people still reject salvation.

        I can explain why the gospel is sufficient to save all but efficient to save some – thus, no confusion. You cannot – so, if anyone is confused on this, it would have to be you (until you can explain why a gospel sufficient to save all is only efficient to save some as this would clear up confusion).

        Like

      14. Roger, just because you reject what non-Calvinists and Scripture propose as reasons for what after sufficient enablement to seek and to trust before regeneration causes some to reject does not mean there is “no idea” in their minds or even that those “ideas” are false. Since they are clearly stated in Scripture… those “ideas” for rejection are true.

        You can keep saying we “cannot” explain… but that is a misrepresentation to the readers of reality… for we have offered explanations, Scriptural ones… and your rejection of them has not proven that we “cannot explain.” We do you resort to such statements when I would think in your careful thinking you would immediately recognize they are sloppy comments and not true?

        Like

      15. brianwagner writes, “just because you reject what non-Calvinists and Scripture propose as reasons for what after sufficient enablement to seek and to trust before regeneration does not mean there is “no idea” in their minds or even that those “ideas” are false. Since they are clearly stated in Scripture… those “ideas” for rejection are true,”

        Sufficient enablement is not the issue; both Calvinists and non-Calvinists appeal to it.

        The need is to explain how two people who are sufficiently enabled to seek salvation would go in opposite directions. That is what the non-Calvinists cannot do and you have declined the opportunity to do so while teasing us in suggesting that you could if you wanted.

        Like

      16. You know that I have, and you know you have rejected the reasons. The parable of the sower gives a number of reasons for the rejection, and Satan knows the power of the word to cause seeking and faith if it is allowed to stay working in a heart!

        Like

      17. brianwagner writes, “The parable of the sower gives a number of reasons for the rejection,…”

        Those reasons establish an inequality as I claim must exist. If Satan is able to steal the word from one person and not another even before the word is able have an effect, then there is an inequality between the two. God has favored those whom Satan cannot affect and has turned some over to Satan – this is what Calvinism concluded to explain why some reject salvation. Two additional inequalities are established by persecution and the cares of the world. So, how are some hindered by persecution or the world while others are not? One explanation is that God favors one and not the other. The point of this is that God may enlighten each and every person but God does not necessarily enlighten them equally.

        Then, “…and Satan knows the power of the word to cause seeking and faith if it is allowed to stay working in a heart!”

        OK. However, as we learn from Job, Satan can do nothing except God determine it. Satan can only steal the word from those left unprotected by God. God protects His good soil. Unless you have another explanation – a non-Calvinist one – that works.

        Like

      18. Roger, you continue to confuse determine with determined and also with permission of relative freedom as seen your explanation of the parable and the story of Job.

        And we are not talking about equality, but sufficiency. Even the hard heart with the presence of the word is able to begin to seek more understanding, and the ones being persecuted or choked can seek to trust the word in spite of those things…

        No one reads that parable as proving divine determinism unless their theology forces them too. Jesus is calling the crowds to hear and understand (cf Mark 7:14), but revealing how they are responsible for how the word will bring forth fruit.

        God did make a determination (not a response by a locked will to an eternally set story) and permitted Satan relative freedom of choice within limits to persecute Job. Job’s free will response fared pretty well, except for his personal demand for public vindication from God.

        Like

      19. brianwagner writes, “we are not talking about equality, but sufficiency.”

        Actually, we are trying to figure out what you mean when you use the term, “sufficiency.” If two people are enlightened under your system, do you mean that they are equally enabled to pursue salvation. If not, then what do you mean by “sufficiency.” If one person is enlightened and “sufficiently” enabled to pursue salvation, can that enabling be different than that accorded another person. You appear to be saying that two people can be enlightened unequally. If so, then we can explain why one person pursues salvation and the other does not by that inequality. This is no more than the Calvinist reasoning – which you oppose.

        Then, “Even the hard heart with the presence of the word is able to begin to seek more understanding, and the ones being persecuted or choked can seek to trust the word in spite of those things… ”

        However, within the parable, they do not. It is only the good soil that gives that outcome.

        Then, “No one reads that parable as proving divine determinism unless their theology forces them too. ”

        The parable provides three explanations for people to reject the gospel. In the fourth case, the gospel is effective but only because of the “good soil.” The question then is how there is good soil in the first place. One answer is that God has prepared the soil to receive the seed. In normal life, we always see the farmer tilling the soil in preparation for seeding. Can we read that into the parable to say that someone had to prepare the good soil to receive seed?

        Then, “God did make a determination (not a response by a locked will to an eternally set story) and permitted Satan relative freedom of choice within limits to persecute Job.”

        When we say that God, “…permitted Satan relative freedom…” we understand that God restrains Satan and Satan can only enjoy freedom to act as God gives him that freedom. God gave Satan freedom to persecute Job. God did not give Satan the freedom to kill Job. In your system God knew of this set of possibilities, so nothing prevented God making decisions regarding these possibilities in eternity past. God’s decisions always reflect His purpose and those decisions do not change because God’s purpose does not change.

        Like

      20. God’s purpose is not a locked in story for Him and mankind to play out! You know that is not how the Scripture reads, Roger. You recognized Satan’s limited freedom with Job, but you make the reader think that God allowed Satan to make free choices between possibilities for persecution. You don’t believe that. You believe God’s locked-in will according to your view of immutable omniscience, had already determined Satan’s every move. It is amazing that Satan appears not to know this doctrine of divine determinism!

        God has constantly revealed His will of whom is responsible to “break up the fallow ground” to make good soil, and to pull out the thorns. You can twist to make the parable fit your theology, but no one there that day, even Satan, would have thought it was only God’s responsibility to make the soil prepared to receive the seed unto salvation!

        Like

      21. brianwagner writes, “You recognized Satan’s limited freedom with Job, but you make the reader think that God allowed Satan to make free choices between possibilities for persecution.”

        What we have is the Scriptural account of Satan’s interaction with God regarding Job. Satan may consider various means to persecute people, but he is not free to pursue his desires (free to think; not free to act). From the book of Job, we learn that God was protecting Job (and his family) and Satan could not touch Job so long as God protected him. It was only when God removed His protection that Satan could act but even here Satan is still restrained by God and cannot kill Job.

        Then, “You don’t believe that. You believe God’s locked-in will according to your view of immutable omniscience, had already determined Satan’s every move. It is amazing that Satan appears not to know this doctrine of divine determinism!”

        OK. God knows the future and Satan does not. With God’s omniscience, God knew exactly what Satan would want to do – although it probably did not take omniscience for god to know this.

        Then, “God has constantly revealed His will of whom is responsible to “break up the fallow ground” to make good soil, and to pull out the thorns. You can twist to make the parable fit your theology, but no one there that day, even Satan, would have thought it was only God’s responsibility to make the soil prepared to receive the seed unto salvation!”

        Certainly, the “good soil’ does not describe every person. Some people do have the word stolen away by Satan; some let the cares of the world or persecution negate the word (think of Israel at Kadesh Barnea) – not all are saved. The issue here is whether God is the one determining who will be made “good soil” and arranging such means as He wants to gain that outcome. Here, nothing in the Scriptures denies that God works behind the scenes (e.g., Lydia) or openly to bring people to salvation (e.g., Saul of Tarsus).

        Like

      22. You responses are very general and do not address the specific points I made about Satan’s relative freedom so that all that could be omnisciently known, since his every move wasn’t determined, was all the possible things he might do up to the point of killing Job, which God prohibited.

        God is working behind the scenes and even hard hearts have a temporaty “opening” by the powerful seed that enables to seek, but not irresistibly. Lydia’s heart was opened to hear (enlightened), and she chose to believe.

        Like

      23. brianwagner writes, “Your responses are very general and do not address the specific points I made about Satan’s relative freedom so that all that could be omnisciently known, since his every move wasn’t determined, was all the possible things he might do up to the point of killing Job, which God prohibited.”

        My claim is also that Satan has a “relative” freedom – relative to God’s restraint on his actions so that Satan cannot do as he wants but only within the confines of God’s restraint. Certainly, there were many things that Satan could have done, but what does Satan actually do – he kills Job’s children, takes away Job’s wealth, and affects Job’s health short of death in order to get Job to curse God. Satan always goes for the jugular. Peter tells us, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” However, God pulls on the leash preventing him devouring His elect. God knows all the possibilities and puts certain possibilities out of play by His actions.

        Then, “God is working behind the scenes and even hard hearts have a temporaty “opening” by the powerful seed that enables to seek, but not irresistibly. Lydia’s heart was opened to hear (enlightened), and she chose to believe.”

        We agree that (1) God is working behind the scenes, (2) even hard hearts have a temporaty “opening” by the powerful seed that enables to seek (3) Lydia’s heart was opened to hear (enlightened), and (4) she chose to believe. I don’t think these points engender debate.

        That which is disputed is this, “but not irresistibly.” Some will say (like the Calvinis) that Christ is irresistible and the heart opened by the seed, even if just a small crack, cannot ever go back to what it was.

        Like

      24. It is obvious, Roger, from the story of Job that Satan knew his limitation was only in one act. But Calvinism has him limited to only series of acts. He couldn’t have killed Job’s wife, according to Calvinism, for it was predetermined before Job and Satan even existed that she would live through that trial.

        In Calvinism God doesn’t know “all possibilities” for there are no possibilities, but only certainties and counterfactuals to know. The phrase you used – “certain possibilities” is misleading.

        That Christ is resistible is on every page of the Gospel story and that Christ Himself cried to the crowds – “While you have light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light!” That universal invitation/warning makes no sense if the light cannot be both accepted or rejected.

        Like

      25. brian wagner writes, “from the story of Job that Satan knew his limitation was only in one act.”

        Satan says, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?” Thus, God’s protection extended to Job and his household. Then Satan focuses specifically on Job’s possessions – “…stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” God then says, “everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Initially, Satan could not touch Job or his household; then God removes the restraint on Job’s household. The point is that Satan can do nothing except that which God says he can do.

        The, “But Calvinism has him limited to only series of acts. He couldn’t have killed Job’s wife, according to Calvinism, for it was predetermined before Job and Satan even existed that she would live through that trial.”

        OK. But that only says that the decisions that God makes are from eternity. Whether God is said to make a decision today or in eternity past is irrelevant as it would be the same decision in either case.

        Then, In Calvinism God doesn’t know “all possibilities” for there are no possibilities, but only certainties and counterfactuals to know. The phrase you used – “certain possibilities” is misleading.”

        God knows all possibilities. However, God also knows all certainties and certainties arise from God’s decisions. For example, God decides whether to create the universe. It is God’s decision to form the universe as we read in Genesis 1. It is God’s decision whether to protect the garden or give Satan access to the garden. It is God’s decision to keep Satan from tempting eve or remove His protection. For every possibility, God determines what action He will take and God’s decision determines the outcome. God knows all possibilities into the future; God decides His response to those possibilities and thereby determines all things. You maintain that God waits to make decisions until those possibilities come about in the course of time. Let’s allow that to be true. It changes nothing; God’s decisions still determine the outcomes.

        “That Christ is resistible is on every page of the Gospel story and that Christ Himself cried to the crowds – “While you have light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light!” That universal invitation/warning makes no sense if the light cannot be both accepted or rejected.”

        Fine, but we are told why people reject that light.
        – “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world….the world did not recognise him.”
        – “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
        – “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.”
        – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…”

        Like

      26. Roger, You address the readers of our conversation, instead of addressing me directly, which is fine… But you need to then use the correct tense for your view, for you are misleading our readers and making it sound like you in someway agree with my view.

        In your view the idea that God “decides” and “determines” is false, for you only believe God has decided and determined everything before creation. And in fact… even those words are anthropomorphic is your theology… for God does not think sequentially and then make a decision… it is all immutably eternally set one way in His mind with no free will to do differently. I really wish you wouldn’t continue to speak so deceptively about your view!

        And the verses your quoted at the end are a good examples of how the Calvinist proof texts. They certainly do prove that some reject and give some reasoning for it but they do not prove that it is impossible for those same ones could not change and personally, actively of their one freed-will enlightened and enabled by God to accept the light and to become one of Christ’s sheep.

        Even those same contexts teach and lead the reader to assume that it is possible for them to do this, or to continue to reject the light.

        Like

      27. brianwagner writes, “you are misleading our readers and making it sound like you in someway agree with my view.”

        I think we tend to agree on many things. We start to disagree when we delve down into the particulars. For example, we both seem to agree that God knows all the possibilities for the future. We disagree on the extent to which God has converted possibilities into certainties by His actions. We seem to agree that God makes decisions but where I say God makes all His decisions in eternity pass, you say that God waits to make some decisions in conjunction with events playing out in His creation – even though the decisions He makes are the same in each case and all could have been made in eternity past without doing violence to the Scriptures.

        Then, “In your view the idea that God “decides” and “determines” is false, for you only believe God has decided and determined everything before creation.”

        I agree with those who say that “time” is irrelevant to God. There is no past, present, and future to God. God sees all things as one event – even where parts follow sequentially. Nonetheless, God does create a universe with creatures (humans) who are sensitive to time whereas all the other creatures (animals, bugs) do not seem to have a sense of time. The framing of terms as, “decides” or “determines” does not require that they be understood in a time context. To say that God decides is a statement of fact and does not convey when He decides – but I do tend to identify God’s decisions with the point where He manifests those decisions within His creation. I don’t see it as a big deal and I don’t see others popping into discussions evidencing confusion about arguments I make. So, what’s the big deal?

        Then, “And the verses your quoted at the end are a good examples of how the Calvinist proof texts. They certainly do prove that some reject and give some reasoning for it but they do not prove that it is impossible for those same ones could not change and personally, actively of their one freed-will enlightened and enabled by God to accept the light and to become one of Christ’s sheep.’

        They are more than proof texts – they state specific truths that the Scriptures provide. I agree with you that they serve to explain what causes some people to reject the gospel. However, they identify factors that are outside the person’s control – If “free will” is the issue, then these verses state truths that negate free will in the person’s response.

        Then, “Even those same contexts teach and lead the reader to assume that it is possible for them to do this, or to continue to reject the light.”

        In other words that there are exceptions. OK, then the issue becomes one of explaining how the exceptions come about – e.g., if the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel, we might assume that he was unable to blind the minds of believers. How does that happen? If you can explain it, then make that argument.

        Like

      28. You are still misleading, Roger… and you now have God locked into some kind of eternal present where “decided” and “decides” means the same thing. We will let others decide which of use is representing the truth about God as revealed in Scripture… who is from everlasting to everlasting… who was and is and is to come.

        Like

      29. brianwagner writes, “you now have God locked into some kind of eternal present where “decided” and “decides” means the same thing.”

        I like every other person know very little about God.

        Like

      30. You certainly come across more as confident that you know some very important truths about God that make you even reject what the Scripture reveals as normally read, imo.

        Like

      31. Brian you unwittingly wrote something hilarious:

        “Is your memory short, or do you just like asking the same questions over and like trying to have the last word each time, as a sort of game? 🙂 I know your tricks Roger, my friend!”

        He asks the same questions over and over because they are insincere questions. He is all about defending and promoting his Calvinistic beliefs, that is all that matters. He is not interested in genuine discussion. He could care less what anyone believes, all that matters to him is proving/and espousing his Calvinism.

        Your comment is funny Brian, because it ***is** a game for him.

        Haven’t you figured it out yet after all your interaction with your pet project?

        You have been exasperated at times, but you keep coming back for more.

        So you keep answering the same questions, making the same arguments, with absolutely no impact on the skeptic.

        It is such a pathetic game because he will even ask questions, again not to know the truth, but simply to keep the conversation going.

        It is the exact same game the atheist skeptic plays with a believer when they keep asking questions (often the same ones) and they don’t care about your answers. They don’t want the truth, they only want to support their ideology. They are intentional skeptics, the skepticism not being a justified skepticism, but being a skepticism they choose to hold onto to avoid the truth.

        These kinds of skeptics also manifest the character traits discussed in the book of Proverbs when the “fool is describes. The “fool” in Proverbs does not suffer from a lack of intelligence, No, their will is the problem. They willingly and intentionally forsake the truth, hold to false ideas, no matter how many times they are corrected. Brian you know the book of Proverbs sufficiently, do you see any of that playing out any time you play his game and just go around and around and around in this circles where no one is persuaded otherwise, no one changes their thinking whatsoever. It is just an intellectual game, that the skeptic wins because things go exactly the way they want them to go.

        To others this game can sometimes be quite pathetic to watch. And all of us unfortunately at times allow ourselves to get drawn into the skeptic’s game. If we are wise we will avoid this game, and pick our spots as to when we will respond to the skeptic and his games.

        Like

      32. I’m glad I made you smile Robert! I know I don’t often do that. 🙂

        Roger is not a “pet project”. That was a little condescending to say. I wish you would love and respect Roger more.

        And I have seen the Lord change me through forum discussions like this one. If I can be helped and changed… I know Roger can… and you too!

        Being longsuffering has to mean something when literally understood! And I think those who read but don’t comment on this are being benefited, especially as they watch good examples responding to bad ones, and especially as they read our arguments from Scriptures when we give them. I hope that helps.

        Like

      33. “I’m glad I made you smile Robert! I know I don’t often do that.”

        Actually it was not a smile, I was laughing at your comments. Here you are asking if a skeptic is playing games with you?

        Answer = Yes! It is kinda funny that you don’t see yourself being played.

        You have put so much time into this person that it would be difficult for you to pull out of it at this point.

        “Roger is not a “pet project”.”

        Actually you told me a long time ago that rhutchin was your project.

        Nothing wrong with having projects, I have many of my own. And as you well know, not every project ends up the way you would like for it to be. I have had people that I had high hopes for and put time in and the results were less than desirable if you know what I mean.

        Like

      34. You make me smile, Robert! I was trying to imagine you laughing without smiling!

        Certainly there are frustrating moments with various voices on this site! I checked our email conversation from back in April and did not find anything about saying Roger was a “project”. And it was your word “pet” that was condescending.

        I did find that I said this about Roger – “I am really praying that the Lord will work in his heart and enlighten his understanding.” I am praying the same for you, Robert. And I hope you and Roger are praying the same for me!

        Like

      35. Brian,

        “Excellent survey Robert of views in pre-Nicene Christianity from those of various stripes…. Thanks.”

        Well on this issue we ought to be in agreement as I am sure that you know that the early church believed in the ordinary conception of free will (not determinism, not compatibilism). Anyone familiar with early church history knows that determinism does not appear in church history ***until Augustine***. As myself and many others believe, based upon this factual evidence, we conclude that it was Augustine who first injected determinism and Calvinistic ideas into church history (and people have argued against or for Augustine ever since.

        “As you know, I not a big fan of those in that list who were very sacramental in their approach to the gospel… like Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Lactantius to name some of more obvious ones… “

        That is irrelevant to my point, which is that prior to Pelagius the early church held to the ordinary view of free will. None of these early people were determinists, some even argued that determinism is pagan,that it derives from pagan ideas and concepts concerning fate.

        “And also… we must remember that we have been robbed of many documents from that time period through the destructive efforts of RC and their desire to preserve only those who held their magisterial/sacramental views of ecclesiology/soteriology.”

        Your hostility against Catholicism is also irrelevant to my point.

        My point is simple, prior to Pelagius, the church held to the ordinary view of free will. As they held to it centuries before Pelagius came along, rhutchin’s claim that Pelagius is the first person to espouse free will in church history is false. In the early church they were not determinists, so they held to the ordinary view of free will before Pelagius came along, so rhutchin’s claim that Pelagius is the first to espouse free will and others followed in his footsteps is absolutely false.

        “Since there is nothing new under the sun, I believe if we lived back then we would have found the same variety of theological opinions concerning divine determinism and free will that we have today among believers.”

        Actually your statement here Brian is false and mistaken as there is no evidence of the early church holding to, espousing, teaching, defending determinism. So in the early church you would not have found any debates on Calvinism, on compatibilism. There was no debate, no varied views on determinism UNTIL AUGUSTINE COMES ALONG IN CHURCH HISTORY. This is again a very strong point suggesting that Augustine invented and brought in deterministic ideas into church history. After him it is debated, before him it is not debated: because the early church held to the ordinary view of free will and they did not hold to determinism (some saw determinism as pagan thought).

        Like

      36. The “early church”, Robert, was not just represented in the documents we still possess! The Cataphrygians, Donatists, Novatianists, and others did not have their documents preserved, but I believe there were good evangelical voices among them. I believe we would see a wider range of opinions on this matter if their writings had been preserved.

        And it is a weak inference to think that… just because we have writings that uniformly speak on one subject from that time period, that all of them together are an authoritative voice for apostolic Christianity. Different ones of them believed some way out things that might make you even question their salvation, or at least, question their qualification to speak with accuracy about what the Scriptures teach.

        Like

      37. “The “early church”, Robert, was not just represented in the documents we still possess! The Cataphrygians, Donatists, Novatianists, and others did not have their documents preserved, but I believe there were good evangelical voices among them. I believe we would see a wider range of opinions on this matter if their writings had been preserved.”

        That a wider range of views would be present if **everyone’s material** was preserved is probably true. But you are making an error that is explained by your false beliefs involving open theism and your anti-denominational bias (i.e. there is no evidence in the early church for open theism, so you argue the possibility that there could be, it just is not evidence that is available to us, you want to argue they were all wrong on omniscience, if they were wrong on some things then why not they were wrong on omniscience is one of your standard arguments for open theism).

        Instead of taking the AVAILABLE EVIDENCE and basing your conclusions on that evidence you posit **possible evidence** that we just do not have. But we can always reject any evidential claim with this claim that we just don’t have all the evidence. Imagine what would happen in court if lawyers persuaded the judge that we don’t have all the evidence so we cannot come to any firm conclusion. Well fact is, we never have all the evidence, so we have to go by what we have. That’s being rational, reasoning according to the information available to you.

        My claim was that the early church held to the ordinary view of free will, that none of them held to determinism (that conclusion is ***based on*** the available evidence). Is it possible that there was some group that held to determinism, and we do not have their writings? Sure it is POSSIBLE, but that is not what we base our conclusions upon, what is possible (we base our conclusions upon what is available and whether or not that is good and relevant evidence).

        “And it is a weak inference to think that… just because we have writings that uniformly speak on one subject from that time period, that all of them together are an authoritative voice for apostolic Christianity.”

        Actually it is not a weak inference it is a reasonable one.

        Again if we go by the available evidence. If we go by possible evidence that we not have, then we can conjecture anything (you could claim that there were lots of open theists running around in the first century, we just do not have their writings so open theism was a viable view in the first centuries of church history, an extremely dubious claim not supported by any evidence at all, but POSSIBLE!!!!).

        “ Different ones of them believed some way out things that might make you even question their salvation, or at least, question their qualification to speak with accuracy about what the Scriptures teach.”

        The fact the early sources had things we would disagree with, things we are pretty sure are errors, is not the issue here either. No one is claiming these folks were infallible, that their theology was perfect and error free.

        All that is being claimed is that the available evidence shows they all held to the ordinary view of free will. And THAT is entirely sufficient to showing rhutchin is wrong that Pelagius is the first person to espouse the ordinary view of free will, and that everybody else who holds to free will followed in his footsteps (that is impossible as they held to free will in the ordinary sense centuries before Pelagius came along).

        Now if you have other evidence showing they were determinists let’s see it.

        And if you do not have evidence the early church held to determinism, then if you are honest and reasonable then you have to conclude that according to the evidence we have they held the ordinary view of free will.

        Liked by 1 person

      38. Robert, you and I are in agreement about freewill. And like you I would expect the majority testimony of evangelical Christianity from the first three centuries to hold that. Thank you for confirming that it is “probably true” that more views exist that what we would have if more was preserved.

        And I agree that I cannot be dogmatic about those views without clear evidence. It is like trying to prove all the things Hillary is guilty of without getting our hands on all the evidence, because it has been destroyed. 🙂 But you just have to read through all the canons of the seven ecumenical councils of RC to see how they treated those groups and their writings, even ones that doctrinally agreed with RC but would not join.

        Like

    1. Robert writes, “…here is one source giving some good and clear references to belief in the ordinary view of free will in the early centuries…”

      Calvinists agree with Justin Martyr and Methodius that the will is not determined by fate. And with Clement that evil actions are not involuntary.

      Archelaus says, “There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.” Calvinists side with Paul against Archelaus, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Romans 8

      Then, “So originally, it was the pagan world, not the Christians, who believed in predestination.”

      i.e., Fate. All Christians oppose the belief that fate rather than God determines what happens.

      Like

      1. Roger… “determined what happens” not “determines what happens”. Please represent your position accurately. And that is even conceding you too much leeway, since you believe saying God “determined” something is an anthropomorphic expression for nothing actually gets determined in an immutable omniscience.

        Like

  19. The S.S. officer’s model of problem solving – driving a round peg into a square hole, using brute force:
    At the end of WW2, with the U.S. occupation of Germany, the U.S. was willing to merge high-ranking German officers into U.S. society. So IQ. tests were used to identify viable candidates. Among these were certain S.S. officers, known for solving problems using brute force.

    One particular timed test, involved inserting wooden shaped objects into prospective holes, and if not done correctly, would result in remaining pieces not fitting remaining holes. The solution, a number of S.S. officers chose, was to hammer these pieces in, using their shoes.

    In the realm of religion, another solution for the problem is to simply *BELIEVE*, the desired shape fits the desired hole. And then to assert by brute-force, the piece fits, as an *ESTABLISHED FACT*. But this again, follows the S.S. officer’s model of solving the problem. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Brian,

    You wrote:

    “Roger is not a “pet project”. That was a little condescending to say.”

    Brian you made a few comments in the past that suggested that you view “rhutchin” as a special project.

    Here are a couple of them:

    “The Lord has given me a burden for Rhutchin, and to be candid with you, I am fearful for his soul, for I am not recognizing a love for Jesus and for others, as you also have recognized.”

    If ***God himself*** as given you a burden for a person, I would say that qualifies as viewing that person as a special project of yours.

    That combined with the literally ***hundreds of posts*** you have written interacting with him suggests he is a special or pet project for you.

    It is significatn that you were so concerned that you said you were fearful of his soul because you were not recognizing a love for Jesus and others in his posts (I do not think that has changed at all, he continues to falsely accuse other believers of the heresies of Pelagianism and Universalism: and it is not loving to accuse believers of being heretics as he continues to do and with no conscience about it).

    “But if they continually show a lack of Christian love, I have to assume that they are babes and carnal, or perhaps not even yet born again. I have been praying for Rhutchin almost daily. Interacting with him firmly but compassionately is what I am trying to do.”

    So you pray for him daily and have interacted with him in hundreds of email posts:

    How is that not a pet project???

    Are you interacting with other through hundreds of email posts as you are with rhutchin?

    My observation is that he has not changed at all, so you have put quite a lot of time and effort into your pet project. Hopefully that will change someday, as anyone can be changed if God does the changing.

    Like

    1. Robert, I am very disappointed that you would share publicly from our personal conversation. That shows such a lack of wisdom, compassion, and trustworthiness. I want you to know that I am praying for you regularly about many of the same things that you mentioned that I was praying for Roger. I hope you will take some serious thought about these things.

      Like

      1. Earlier in **this** thread Brian Wagner wrote:

        “I checked our email conversation from back in April and did not find anything about saying Roger was a “project”. And it was your word “pet” that was condescending.”

        Now everyone note that Brian says that he went back and looked at our private email conversation “back in April”. He also claims he said nothing about Roger being a project (which is a lie).

        Brian then wrote:

        “I did find that I said this about Roger – “I am really praying that the Lord will work in his heart and enlighten his understanding.” [note this is a direct quotation from that private prior conversation, Wagner even says he found this line himself, so Wagner is quoting directly from this prior conversation]

        What is Brian doing here?

        He is ****quoting directly**** from this prior conversation.

        He just happens to quote a part that he feels shows himself in a positive light. But he **is** quoting directly from a private conversation.

        Once Brian did this, he opened the door for me to quote from this conversation as well (which I did AFTER he had already done so).

        Now he comes along with this self-righteous attitude that I should not have quoted from it:

        “Robert, I am very disappointed that you would share publicly from our personal conversation. That shows such a lack of wisdom, compassion, and trustworthiness. I want you to know that I am praying for you regularly about many of the same things that you mentioned that I was praying for Roger.”

        Brian is the one who showed a lack of wisdom, compassion and trustworthiness by himself quoting from this personal conversation and doing so publicly.

        HE WAS THE FIRST TO DIRECTLY QUOTE FROM THIS PERSONAL CONVERSATION NOT ME.

        He tried to paint this picture that he does not treat rhutchin as a pet project or to use his language a burden given to him from the Lord.

        And Brian’s line about him praying the same things for me as he did rhutchin, he was not even sure that rhutchin was saved, so I guess Brian is praying for my salvation.

        Brian Wagner is hypocritical and deceitful about this whole thing. He treats rhutchin as his pet project and when I pointed this out he was embarrassed. He then quoted directly from the personal conversation to justify himself and imply that he does not treat rhutchin as a pet project (which is not true at all). When I then quoted from that conversation to show he is not telling the truth, he gets mad and says I lack “wisdom, compassion, and trustworthiness”. He opened the door on that prior conversation by quoting from it first. He needs to apply his own words to himself before telling me anything about what is right or wrong.

        Like

      2. Robert, I can understand how you might think my quoting my own words from our email conversation would give you license to do the same. You did not prove your point in the quote you chose, and we can let others decide how our Christian character is being displayed in these things. I truly am praying for God’s blessing of your life!

        Like

  21. I’m new to this site. Some thoughts or reflections on the article. Romans 3:11 is the point of discussion. The article gives us what it calls two theological approaches to interpreting the passage. One approach is said to be Calvinistic and the other non-Calvinistic (Traditionalist) approach. I found this delineation problematic for a number of reasons of which I’ll list three here.

    First, the way the two approaches are presented gets in the way of actually reading the text in context on its terms. This set up becomes “the terms” by which the Scriptures must be read with the Traditionalist approach favored from the very beginning. This necessarily undermines the Calvinistic approach and puts it on the defensive at least in my mind as a reader it did. This leads to the fact that anyone may judge the Calvinistic approach only in.terms of the Traditionalist approach. It may well be that the Traditionalist approach is what Romans 3 is consistent with. But we shall see when we look at the text more closely.

    Second, if any reader comes to the text with those two approaches already thrown at them from the beginning, he or she will be put in the unenviable position of thinking only along the lines of these two approaches as described in this article, which unfortunately here means that one deems the Calvinistic approach unfavorably as allegedly not having any biblical basis, while the Traditionalist approach is the biblical one. Again we shall see.

    Third, the interpretation of the passage seems to rely on assumptions that lie beyond the scope of the text and its more immediate context at least in this early section of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Reference is made to such things as “a Divine irresistible work of regeneration,” and “God’s gracious initiative in bringing His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the inspired gospel appeal.” This frames the discussion of in light either one of these assumptions with the second one being favored even from just the way it’s framed. Is this warranted from a careful analysis of the text? Again, we shall see.

    Romans 3:11 says, “there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” So what does this mean? The article, in favor of the Traditional approach to the text, argues that those that don’t understand or seek God are “fools” who trade in the truth of God for lies by denying His existence with a libertarian free choice. This of course is an assumption that may or may not be warranted by the text. The libertarian free choice argument is justified by appealing to Psalm 14 and a discussion of that part of Scripture as a sort of context analysis brought to bear on Paul’s teaching here. Is this interpretation of the passage the case? I think not. Neither Romans 3:11 nor Psalm 14 is teaching anything about libertarian free choice. It is a possible inference to draw from the texts but not necessarily a reasonable one. I think it isn’t warranted. Let’s see.

    The article says, “In Romans chapter 3:10-20 the apostle is seeking to prove that no one can attain righteousness by means of the law. But in verse 21 he shifts to reveal a righteousness that can be obtained by means of grace through faith in Christ.” This isn’t the case at all. Paul abbreviates for us a quotation from Psalm 14 to further establish the charge he’d already spelled out in the two previous chapters that Jews and Gentiles alike are both under the power of sin giving specific behaviors as examples of sins power of people as he points out in Romans 3:9. Verse 19 and 20 of Romans 3 are a break from 10-18 from his proving the charge that everyone is under the power of sin or are guilty of sin. This doesn’t mean 10-18 and 19-20 aren’t connected. They are, but only insofar as Paul is still in the process of laying out the Gospel of God. The thing is another line of reasoning is introduced here by appealing to what his audience already knows about those under law and its implications for the very same. It is here that Paul starts to lay out for his readers the fact that no one can attain righteousness by means of the law, first by demonstrating the whole world’s culpability for sin before God. I agree that verse 21 shifts to “reveal a righteousness that can be obtained by means of grace through faith in Christ.” But it doesn’t follow that this means that humans are able to obtain righteousness by means of grace through faith in Christ on libertarian free choice grounds. Libertarian free choice is an assumption brought to the text. It is quite clear that the exercise of faith in Christ is what you assume to have the notion of libertarian free choice wedded to it. It is not in the scope of Romans 3 to talk about what sort of will people possess be it libertarian or compatibilist or whatever in the exercise of faith in Christ. We can say though that exercising faith in Christ is for sure something the whole person does in all his or her immaterial dimensions as a living being.

    Once again Romans 3:9 says Jews and Gentiles alike are under the power of sin. This refers to the condition all people are in. To be under the power of sin is to be controlled by sin or directed by sin or to live by it. Verse 10-18 is Scriptural proof of the charge or accusation of sin against every person by laying out its effects in broad strokes with respect to:
    1. Our standing before God and in relation to each other (There’s no one righteous, not even one);
    2. Our way of thinking (No one who understands);
    3. Our attitude towards God (No one seeks God);
    4. The alignment of our allegiances in relation to God (All have turned away);
    5. How that’s affected our value or dignity as people (they have become worthless);
    6. The things people do in this world (There’s no one who does good). How so?
    a) People practice lying (throats are open graves)
    b) People are full of cursing and bitterness (The poison of vipers is on their lips)
    c) People are murderers
    d) People live in personal ruin and misery
    e) People do not live in peace
    f) People do not live in the fear of God
    All this to say that everything about us is affected by sin. According to Paul, our minds, our hearts, our spirit, our strength, our soul and our body are all affected by sin. The whole person in all his or her dimensions is under sin’s control. Whatever else immaterial aspects one assigns to human beings like attitudes, affections, desires or the will however defined can also all be said to be under the controlling power of sin. Sin is that entrenched in our person. The article makes much of the fact that “there have been many throughout the pages of Scripture who have been declared righteous by means of grace through faith.” This is true. But to allege that exercising faith is as a result of libertarian free choice is making more of it than Roman’s allows. Remember, it is in Romans later on that Paul writes that faith comes from hearing the message. No one, and I mean no one, can trust a trust they know nothing about. Clearly, when Paul is talking about anyone trusting Christ, it is trusting a Christ one knows with understanding. The faith that comes from hearing the message is a faith built on what one has come to know and understand concerning the person and work of Christ through the persuasive proclamation of the Gospel of Christ through human agents. If as Paul says in Romans 3:11 no one understands, then how does one reach that point where they actually understand the truth of the Gospel and thus are “enabled” to believe? 1 Corinthians 2::6-16 makes it clear that it is the Spirit of God when the person is possessed by Him who clarifies, explains, interprets, enables the person to judge the value of the gospel, and brings “understanding” to its treasures. As long as the person is “without the Holy Spirit” they can never accept the Gospel. Jesus in John 3:3 put it this way, “No one can SEE the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Notice that being born again is a prerequisite and necessity to SEEING the kingdom of God. Seeing here refers to knowledge with understanding. The new birth or regeneration must occur first for anyone to be able to SEE the kingdom of God. The implications on why and how we believe the Gospel of Christ are enormous. The Gospel message can only be accepted or believed after knowledge with understanding has first occurred. According to the Bible, in Johns Gospel one must be born again first, and 1 Corinthians 2, it is the Spirit who brings knowledge with understanding to everything God has given us in Christ spelled out in the Gospel. This means that being born again is the reason why anybody ends up truly exercising faith in Christ, or as Reformed theologians have been apt to say, “Regeneration precedes faith.” This is why it may be stated with confidence that placing one’s trust in the righteousness of Christ is not earning one’s own righteousness seeing as the faith is the effect of the grace of the new birth. Those who trust in Christ are graciously imputed with His righteousness, because their faith is as a result of a genuine work of God that not only makes that faith possible but guarantees its actual embrace of Christ as proclaimed in the Gospel.

    So are people “morally incapable of believing and trusting in the righteousness of another?” Left to our own devices, absolutely! Because being under the power of sin means just that. The Bible uses descriptions like “whoever sins is a slave to sin” or “the whole world is prisoner of sin” or “we were dead in trespasses and sins.” Such descriptors make one thing very clear, our the stranglehold sin has on the unbelieving is perilous, powerful and very real bondage we can not escape on our own. When it comes to sin being our master, it is only the Son who can set us free from being it’s slave through accepting the truth of His Gospel. When it comes to being dead in trespasses and sin, we are made alive in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth so as to make us capable of exercising faith in Christ. It would thus seem that what we have as people is not so much libertarian free will as it is the mind to make choices according to our thoughts, attitudes, affections, moods or desires. But since such immaterial descriptors of what goes on internally in the depths of our souls is in sin’s stranglehold, the best I can say is we have the power of self-determination, and as such are accountable before God. We do what we want to do according to our desires. Our choices are our own. If our desires are corrupted or as the Bible says elsewhere that our mind is depraved or darkened, we do only what is in our nature to do. When we sin, we do so because that is our natural propensity unless we’re set free from it’s enslaving power through the power of the word and Spirit..

    Like

    1. Welcome to the site Agabu! Since you wrote such a long response, do you have your own blog site with other such articles?

      You will find here a whole variety of views of how God draws every person or just some persons and enables them to begin seeking understanding and mercy. Your reformed view of that regeneration is needed before personal faith can be exercised is only necessary if you want to limit the seeking to some.

      But John 1:9-13 clearly puts enlightenment as something from God for all before faith in receiving Jesus which itself is before becoming a child of God through regeneration. Thank the Lord that He gives such enablement to our unsaved nature. We couldn’t seek if He didn’t!

      Like

      1. Thanks for the warm welcome Brian. Grace to you through Christ our Lord.

        I’ve noticed the variety of views espoused here, and have skimmed through many of them. It isn’t the case at all that my view of regeneration as “needed” before personal faith can be exercised is only necessary if I want to limit the seeking to some. It is rather the natural interpretation of clear passages like John 3 and 1 Corinthians 2 as well as the implied understanding of passages such as the one you quoted above, John 1:9-13. The Bible is the one that limits seeking to those who believe. It is a matter of public record and the experience of every generation of Christians in confirming biblical teaching that only some ever believe from among the mass of humanity no matter the efforts of the Christian missionary enterprise. Many people even after hearing the Gospel message refuse to accept it and as such die in their sins unrepentant. How comes this? I can only give the reasons Jesus gave, “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20 NLT); ” Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does.” (John 8:43-44 NLT) and “But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.” John 10:26 NLT).

        John 1:9-13 doesn’t put enlightenment before faith. It only says that Jesus is the light that comes into the world that gives light to every man. I assume you think this “giving light to every man” is the enlightenment that comes before faith due to it being stated before what follows in the next 4 verses. The passage doesn’t say that at all. In fact, it goes against that notion given what John says in verse 10 about the world not recognizing Him and Jesus coming to His own and them not receiving Him at all. The light to every man is indeed enlightenment but it is an enlightenment that only those that receive Him and believe on His name get, Once again, no one can trust a Christ they know nothing about or understand. In order to receive Christ and believe in His name one has to be first enlightened about who He is through the Gospel message. This enlightenment leading to faith or this “seeing” of the kingdom of God categorically can only happen after first being born again according to John 3:3, which one can easily link with John 1:13 and thus help us piece together that order so that we interpret John with consistency without making him contradict himself. John 1:9-13 isn’t even giving us the order of these things but is part of a prologue that is explaining the significance of Christ in His coming into the world as a human being in view of His status as God the one and only who came from the Father in the beginning. This is part of John’s editorial commentary on the person of Christ. John 3 on the other hand gives us this sequence in the form of Jesus Himself actually teaching it in the flow of the narrative.

        Like

      2. Hi Agabu… What I meant by Calvinism needing this idea of irresistible regeneration before faith to maintain their view of only some ever being saved… is that they cannot have sufficient common grace enabling everyone to accept or reject God’s mercy leading to salvation, for that would overturn their idea that it is eternally set that only a certain some will be converted. If everyone has a real opportunity for salvation then the identity of some is not certain.

        And I am not sure how to express it more clearly that Scripture teaches that there is an exercise of faith in God’s enabling enlightenment before regeneration. You will have to tell me how you get around the sequence in John 1:12 emphasized by the word “become”. Receiving Jesus by faith is before getting the right “to become” a child of God. One becomes a child of God by regeneration. So receiving Jesus by faith is before regeneration. I would love for you to explain how the order can be seen differently in that verse. Thanks.

        Also, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he must be born again. Therefore it is a logical inference that Jesus knew Nicodemus was not yet regenerated. Do we believe that Jesus was wasting His words, His enlightenment on Nicodemus by calling him to repentance and faith before he was even regenerated… of course not, for Jesus was enlightening Nicodemus so that he could receive the truth about the Son of God, and then trust Him which then would result in Nicodemus being born again. Being born again therefore is after enlightenment and faith.

        John tells us that he had written his whole gospel for the unbelieving mind… so that the unbeliever “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing … might have life in His name.” Here again enlightenment (the Gospel) is being given to an unbeliever, and when they believe they then, after their decision to trust, receive “life” which is what regeneration is… the giving of “life”.

        I hope this might be seen as more clear to you than what I said before. I would love to hear your response on the order of salvation that is described clearly in these verses. Thanks

        Like

      3. brianwagner writes, “You will have to tell me how you get around the sequence in John 1:12 emphasized by the word “become”. Receiving Jesus by faith is before getting the right “to become” a child of God. One becomes a child of God by regeneration. So receiving Jesus by faith is before regeneration. I would love for you to explain how the order can be seen differently in that verse.”

        The question was not directed to me but I will just jump in.

        The issue here is to identify the antecedent for v13 – Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. To whom does “which” (oi) refer. Immediately preceding v13 is the phrase, “to them that believe on his name:” So, could we understand that John is saying that those who believe in Christ are those who were born of God?

        Or do we skip over that phrase and go to an earlier phrase – to them gave he power to become the sons of God – and link v13 to “them.” In that case, it is to those born of God who then are given power to become sons of God.

        The dispute seems to be over the meaning of the phrase, “become the sons of God.” Is becoming “a son of God” the same as being born again or something that follows after being born again? If one is born again, is he a son of God or is he then given power to become a son of God?

        What, exactly, is John telling us? Perhaps someone who knows something of the Greek language can sort out the phrases and antecedents.

        Like

      4. Great question Roger! Some Calvinists have tried to tie becoming “sons” with the biblical doctrine of adoption of sonship, which in the Greek culture happened after birth. But the Greek word in John 1:12 is not υιος -son – but τεκνον -child – which is what one becomes immediately by the new birth.

        I wonder when Calvinists will just let the Scripture speak for itself according to normal rules of grammar and context instead trying to force verses like this to fit their theology which is rooted in false teaching from philosophy.

        Like

      5. brianwagner writes, “I wonder when Calvinists will just let the Scripture speak for itself according to normal rules of grammar and context ”

        Any chance that teacher Brian could walk us through grammar and context for v12-13?

        Like

      6. I just did! Here it is again… Enlightenment – Receive Jesus by faith – Become a child of God by new birth.

        Like

      7. I’m not sure, Roger, what you are expecting the Greek to clarify that the English doesn’t indicate.
        12 ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ
        But as many as received him, he gave to them authority children of God to become, to the ones believing in the name of him
        13 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς ἀλλ’ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν
        who not out of bloods and not out of a desire of flesh and not out of a desire of a man but out of God they were born.

        The nominative pronoun of verse 13 – οἳ – (who) would look for its antecedent probably to the dative participle (to the ones believing), which of course would be referring to the dative pronoun (to them) which is the indirect object of the verb (gave) which itself has as its antecedent the nominative pronoun of verse 12 – ὅσοι – (as many as). The first verb “received” in verse 12 is Aorist indicative, simple action, completed in the past time. The second verb “gave” in verse 12 is also Aorist indicative.

        A sequence between the two is recognized because of the indirect object – to them. He gave to the ones who received. The sequence is strengthened by the infinitive – γενέσθαι – to become. To those who received, He gave to become. The word for children – τέκνα – is the direct object of the infinitive. And becoming children is defined naturally by the main verb of verse 13 – ἐγεννήθησαν – (they were born).

        If you are looking for my understanding of the delimitations of how they were not born, discussed in verse 13, I see John saying that this birth is caused directly by God and without any secondary effective cause like a physical birth (bloods), or a desire initiated by an individual’s flesh (sinful nature), or a desire initiated by another person. Though these delimitations are itemized, it does not discount what conditions God looks for according to His sovereign plan before causing the new birth. And verse twelve clearly identifies one condition that God looks for before giving the authority to become a child of His.

        Like

      8. brianwagner writes, “The nominative pronoun of verse 13 – οἳ – (who) would look for its antecedent probably to the dative participle (to the ones believing), which of course would be referring to the dative pronoun (to them) which is the indirect obect of the verb (gave) which itself has as its antecedent the nominative pronoun of verse 12 – ὅσοι – (as many as). The first verb “received” in verse 12 is Aorist indicative, simple action, completed in the past time. The second verb “gave” in verse 12 is also Aorist indicative.”

        That’s the way I read it (without knowing Greek). So, we have:

        12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
        13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

        Following your explanation above, we can express it as:

        But as many as received him,
        – – even to them that believe on his name:
        – – – – Which were born…of God.
        to them
        – – gave he power to become the sons of God.

        The three actions – receiving, believing, being born of God – precede God giving power (authority) to become children of God. This distinguishes being born again for becoming children of God as two distinct things.

        The actions, received, believed and were born again, are all actions that took place in the past with no explicit indicators of he order of the actions. We can take them, at least, as simultaneous actions so that a person believes because he is born again and is born again because he believes (let’s not worry about the logical order for now as this verse does not tell us). The key point is that power/authority is given to the person who is born again but after the person is born again.

        You seem to agree as you write, “A sequence between the two is recognized because of the indirect object – to them. He gave to the ones who received. The sequence is strengthened by the infinitive – γενέσθαι – to become. To those who received, He gave to become.”

        Then, you make this strange comment, “The word for children – τέκνα – is the direct object of the infinitive. And becoming children is defined naturally by the main verb of verse 13 – ἐγεννήθησαν – (they were born).”

        If “becoming children is defined naturally by the main verb of verse 13 – ἐγεννήθησαν – (they were born),” then you negate your first claim, “”The nominative pronoun of verse 13 – οἳ – (who) would look for its antecedent probably to the dative participle (to the ones believing), which of course would be referring to the dative pronoun (to them).” You say one thing, and then turn around and say something entirely different.

        Have I misunderstood what you have written?

        Like

      9. Yes… You did misunderstand… For some reason you don’t know the difference between sequence and simultaneous. I used the first word, but you want to force in the second. Receive and believe are definitely before become and were born.

        We’ll have to let others read your thoughts and mine and see which of us is twisting the evidence!

        Like

      10. brianwagner writes, “Yes… You did misunderstand… Receive and believe are definitely before become and were born.”

        Oh Brian!!! Ignoring the issue again! Receiving Christ, believing in Him, and being born again are all tied closely together. It doesn’t matter that you have then in that logical sequence. What matters is that the power to become children of God is given after those three actions manifest. That is by your own analysis. However, you want being born again and becoming children of God to be the same thing. Thus, we have you saying that they are not the same thing and then turning around and saying that they are the same thing. Maybe you need to revise your analysis of v12-13 where you say, “The nominative pronoun of verse 13 – οἳ – (who) would look for its antecedent probably to the dative participle (to the ones believing), which of course would be referring to the dative pronoun (to them) which is the indirect object of the verb (gave) which itself has as its antecedent the nominative pronoun of verse 12 – ὅσοι – (as many as). ” You will need to say that “οἳ – (who) would look for its antecedent in the tekna of v12. This will require you to perform some grammatical gymnastics. Can you legitimately do this?

        Like

      11. You really misunderstood my analysis then… for I clearly linked being born again with becoming a child of God as the same event. The same persons are being discussed in 12-13 and the sequences is clear and not just logical, but temporal. I am sorry your theology forces you to see want you want to see in my words and not what they clearly say. Read them slowly again. Or get one of your friends to read what I have said and see if they get your meaning or mine.

        The term “antecedent” does not prove simultaneous action for the subject… it just means the same individuals are being discussed as the sequence of actions that affect them is laid out in both verses.

        You are correct that the οἳ – (who) in 13 also points to tekna, but only indirectly, in that the ones who receive by believing then become the ones who become children by the new birth, but the word, tekna, itself, is accusative, the direct object of the infinitive – to become – so it is not directly the antecedent of “who” in verse 13.

        The action of “were born of God” is explanatory of the action “to become children of God” and describes the same event, which is AFTER receive/believing as the grammar clearly says!

        Like

    2. Agabu writes: “I’m new to this site. Some thoughts or reflections on the article……”

      Very nice to have you aboard Agabu!!
      Your participation is very welcome!!
      br.d :-]

      Like

      1. Thanks for the welcome BR.D

        Brian, I think you’re misreading John 1:12. The passage doesn’t teach that there is an exercise of faith in God’s enabling enlightenment before regeneration. There’s no need to get around any sequence in John 1:12 because there isn’t one. Your insistence that there is a sequence emphasized by the word “become” isn’t necessarily so. Allow me to explain.

        Consider this, John isn’t giving us a sequence of the steps involved in the work of salvation with respect to the individual here. In other words, there’s no order of salvation that is described “clearly” in this verse and the others you appeal to. The immediate context of John 1:12 for one is an introduction to the Word who was from the beginning and then became flesh and the implications that this fact has brought to bear on people. These implications he talks about in broad strokes here, which he does later on address in detail in his Gospel account through his editorials or his rehearsal of Jesus’ teaching. A number of things are out of sequence here in terms of chronology with respect to the life of Christ, because John is more concerned about setting up Jesus as the true light and the Word that became a human being and lived among us and builds his account around that. This fact has implications he deals with briefly in chapter one, like God sending John the baptist ahead of Christ, Christ coming physically into the world he created and it failing to recognise Him, Christ coming to His own people and they in return rejecting Him, but everyone who receives Him being given the right to become children of God. The seeming haphazardness with which he lays the life of Christ has John saying things that are laid out as the necessary implications of the coming of Christ in crisp and concise forms. I’m not saying John is disorganized. I’m just saying John’s Gospel seems more organized around sign oriented themes than a chronological elucidation of the life of Christ. With this in mind it would seem unwise to press texts like John 1:12 for the sequence you think it has, because John is simply giving us one among other implications of Jesus’s coming into the world rather than giving us the steps to becoming God’s child or what comes before or after faith. John simply won’t give any answers to such questions here, because that’s not what he’s trying to get at at this point of his account.

        John briefly talked about being born from God in John 1:13, but it is in John 3 the “hows” of that are explained in detail. John 1:12-13 is a unit that once again briskly tells us of “who” actually qualifies to be the children of God, which is those that believed Him and accepted Him. John isn’t providing us with a sequence as to how we become children of God. He is incisively telling us the sort of people who were given the right to become children of God. This is his only point. It is in John 8 through a rehearsal of Jesus’ teaching that the details of who really are the children of God is expanded on, building on the rudiments of regeneration initially explained in John 3. We’ve already been summarily told in John 1:12-13 that becoming a child of God involves being born from God. In John 3, we’re taught by Jesus that the prerequisite to “seeing” the kingdom of God is being born again first, which is what necessarily leads to believing and accepting Christ. This is an actual sequence John through Jesus provides none of us can get around. In John 8 Jesus distinguishes between the children of God and the children of the devil. The difference between the two is those whom the Son sets free and those that are slaves to sin. We can draw a number of conclusions as to what qualities mark a true child of God from Jesus teaching here. This is a more detailed elaboration of what believing and accepting Jesus is really like.

        It is interesting that you bring up the case of Nicodemus as not yet regenerated as Jesus is talking to him. That may well be, but it isn’t really relevant to the matter. What’s relevant is what Jesus actually teaches to Nicodemus about the new birth and how God achieves it in any person.

        I agree that John probably or likely wrote his Gospel to an unbeliever or a group of them in the first century A.D. John’s Gospel is enlightenment. But it is an external source of enlightenment. What we’re talking about is the inward enlightenment (i.e. knowledge with understanding) in one’s mind that produces the desire, willingness, and determination to embrace the Gospel in true faith. John’s Gospel account once read can only have one of two responses from any person. One will either believe and accept it’s message or else deny and reject it. The fact that John wrote his Gospel account so that his readers could have the opportunity to believe that Jesus is the Christ doesn’t mean that enlightenment comes before regeneration. John 20:31 is summarizing the whole point John wrote his Gospel. He’s not giving us the sequence of events from enlightenment to faith, from faith to being born again and so on. This is something you’re inferring based on what you assume is going on in the mind of the reader. This is making the text say more than it does, when just sticking to what it says and how John is saying it at this point in his writing should be the only concern. I know it is helpful every now and then to rise above the text and assume the role of the original hearers of any passage of Scripture, and wonder about how they may have been affected by what they read. But the practice only lets us speculate. Nothing more. What John meant is the real issue. This is the hard and sober work of interpretation.

        Like

      2. Thank you Agabu for your lengthy reply. We can let others decide if your reasoning is sound. I think John is clearly introducing his readers in chapter 1:4-13 to what he is hoping for them to discover by the time they get to chapter 20:30-31, and just like Jesus was wanting Nicodemus to discover when He was giving him the truth about the new birth and about believing in the Son of God for everlasting life which life comes at the new birth and after believing.

        We can let others decide as they read our conversation which of us is taking John’s words according to normal grammar and context and which of us is speculating based upon a theological perspective being brought to the text.

        I think they will read John 1, 3, and 20:30-31 that enlightenment precedes faith and faith precedes the reception of spiritual life (regeneration). On a side note… the seeing and the entering of the kingdom of God that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about is after becoming a child of God, for Jesus was talking about the future kingdom into which God’s children will enter after the resurrection, and which He spoke of to Pilate when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

        Like

  22. It sometimes is pathetic watching Brian Wagner interacting with his pet project rhutchin here.

    They just go back and forth and no one changes their mind, no one persuades the other, it just keeps going like an **infinite loop**.

    Occasionally they say something humorous like this statement by Brian Wagner:

    “I wonder when Calvinists will just let the Scripture speak for itself according to normal rules of grammar and context instead trying to force verses like this to fit their theology which is rooted in false teaching from philosophy.”

    Rhutchin could just as easily write back in return (I have in fact heard calvinists many, many times make this exact same claim against Traditionalists and other non-Calvinists):

    ““I wonder when OPEN THEISTS SUCH AS BRIAN WAGNER will just let the Scripture speak for itself according to normal rules of grammar and context instead trying to force verses like this to fit their theology which is rooted in false teaching from philosophy.”

    This is a perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black! 🙂

    That is why this statement is humorous, because the statement as it stands is true, we should let the Scripture speak for itself according to . . .

    But the problem is that neither Calvinism nor open theism does this, both are systems rooted in philosophy in which the philosophically derived system is then imposed upon the scripture and the system dictates what scripture really means. To hear one proponent of these false systems chiding another proponent of another false system which engages in the exact same error is humorous.

    What we have here is two proponents of false and mistaken theologies (rhutchin = calvinism; Brian Wagner = open theism) and both represent systems of theology that are “rooted in false teaching from philosophy”. They cannot see this about their own system and yet they see the problem in the other’s system.

    And so they just keep arguing with each other in an infinite loop of email posts.

    Like

    1. Robert writes, ‘It sometimes is pathetic watching Brian Wagner interacting with his pet project rhutchin here.”

      Actually, both Brain and I seek the truth. Our discussions tend to get into the minutia of theological arguments and Robert gets bored easily – maybe because of his humanist philosophy – and to relieve his boredom, he resorts to calling things pathetic – but that is just his jealousy showing.

      Like

      1. Roger, I don’t think it Robert is bored, has a humanistic philosophy, or is jealous. I believe he responds the way he does because I think he has what the Yerkovichs’ call a Chaotic Love Style, that vacillates between controller and victim. He is having a hard time knowing how to love the person at the same time as loving truth. He makes some great points at times, like you do, 🙂 but then undercuts his the positive influence he could have by his default “love style”.

        Like

      2. brianwagner writes, “I believe he responds the way he does because…”

        I think it is because he has certain beliefs but cannot explain why he believes them and this causes considerable frustration that manifests in diatribes against those who challenge those beliefs.

        Like

      3. Roger, you may be right, but my gut tells me that Robert feels “certain” in his mind about what he believes and also “certain” that he explains them adequately.

        I think, though I may be wrong, that his frustration is because he does not know how to lovingly handle disagreement. There may be a subconscious uneasiness that some of his points are not on solid footing… but I don’t think he has considered that yet.

        Like

      4. Brian,

        You are right I am neither humanistic or jealous, so that is not why I consider it pathetic at times seeing you go in infinite loops wiht rhutchin. Your bringing up Yerkovich is a bit strange. I view myself as neither a controller (I controll no one here, have no desire to do so, and even if I tried I cannot control other human persons has they have free will) nor a victim (I do not consider myself a victim here in any way).

        I used to do counter cult ministry and so I have had death threats, had a warlock put public curses on me, been threantened to stop speaking or myself or family would suffer physical harm, etc. etc. Having experienced these things I do not consider any of the attacks of myself here as in the same ball park. They are verbal attacks by people I will likely never meet in real life. So No, I am not a victim, nor am I a “controller”.

        I am concerned when a nice guy like yourself spends so much time interacting with rhutchin (considering his history on the internet including over at SBC Today) going around in these verbal circles that seem to go on endlessly, this thread itself is approacing 300 posts. I believe you could be using your time with much more productive and fruitful interactions. Many of us are at times sucked into these endless loop conversations with people who really don’t want to know the truth, they just want to argue and defend and suport their false ideas or theologies. If I had kept in some discussions with JW.s, Mormons,, Bahais, Hare Krishnah’s etc. etc. in the past I might still be going in endless loops with these die hard advocates of these false views. But you have to choose not to interact with these types of argumentative folks, or you will neglect time that you be given to people who really need it, who really want to know the truth, who really listen to you, etc. etc.

        You have made your points wiht rhutchin over and over, I have heard some of them now multiple times. He keeps ignoring them, keeps twisting them, he really isn’t listening to you. And watching this happen to a nice guy is pathetic. All many of us are susceptible to this endless loop conversation with rhutchin, as many of us have done the same thing.

        At SBC today rhutchin crossed a line, you can disagree with other believers, attack what you believe are their false views, and I can understand that. But when you start calling all non-Calvinists pelagians, accusing them of holding Pelagian theology, you are calling them heretics. That is unacceptable. I have said it repeatedly and say it again here: you can disagree with calivinists (or non-calvinists), be convinced the other side is mistaken, challenge the other sides interpretations, show problems in their arguments, etc. etc. That is all OK and acceptable.

        But when you start calling godly people heretics and keep doing so that is unacceptable and needs to stop and be stopped. There are some godly people and leaders at SBC today, they did not deserve or merit to be called heretics by rhutchin. He was told to stop and he kept going, so he was banned. He engages in the same thing here and there is silence, except for me, apparently I am the only one trying to keep him accountable on this false charge of calling non-Calvinists heretics.

        For whatever reason the allure of interacting wiht rhutchin leads folks to keep interacting wiht him, keep engaging him and ignoring his heretical claims.

        I worked with and knew Walter Martin, a godly man who did incredible work dealing with cultists. we were told to expect to be called heretics, expect attacks from these unbelievers because they are blind, unsaved, and you cannot expect christian conduct from nonbelievers. So we put up with a lot of abuse and attacks by these nonbelievers. You develop a thick skin due to this experience. But when a professing believer (and calvinists are professing believers) attacks you as a heretic, says you may not be saved because you do not hold the same theology as they do, that is wong and unacceptable. I will not stop from opposing this and calling it wrong. And some of you can attack me all you want, but even then I will not declare you to be a heretic, I will not claim you are unsaved because you disagree. And my stand is based on prior and present experience, not on some Yerkovitch theory!

        Like

      5. Robert, thank you for sharing more of your past experience. It is a wonder to me that since you have experienced such harsh treatment by opponents that you seem to be working so hard to have Roger removed for calling people “heretics” or “Pelegian”.

        I consider your repeated calls to Leighton to remove Roger, questioning Leighton’s wisdom in the process as very much an attempt to be controlling, or pushy at least, beyond what most would recognize as helpful.

        I would think the evidence on this site of what you have said about others, like labeling others as “trolls”, could easily fall in the same category of unnecessary rhetoric like Roger uses sometimes.

        But I don’t recall anyone asking for you to be blocked. Though my memory isn’t the best. Which actually is a blessing for it makes it easier for me to forgive what unkind words others have said about me. 😊

        Like

      6. Robert writes, “…when you start calling all non-Calvinists pelagians, accusing them of holding Pelagian theology, you are calling them heretics.”

        Pelagianism is basically “free will” theology. When I made that claim at SBC Today, no one argued that it was not. When I claimed that many at SBC Today held to “free will” theology, no one disputed that claim. When I equated the free theology of Pelagianism with the free theology of those at SBC Today, no one disputed the claim even while complaining of that label. The argument is over free will theology – Even Robert holds to free will theology.

        Like

      7. Brian/Roger,

        Sometimes one has to wonder if Robert doesn’t suffer from some kind of learning disability or social disorder. How many times has he been graciously approach on how to interact with others? Brian has been the most gracious, however, Robert has repaid that grace with hate and mean-spiritedness. So much of what he writes is rude and condescending; not to mention just plain unbrotherly. And its not like he hasn’t been told, because he has been; multiple times. So we have to guess he just doesn’t care. And just think of the nerve it takes to come to Leighton’s website and question Leighton’s judgment and character for allowing rhutchin to comment.

        I agree with you, Brian, that Robert does “once in a blue moon” write/say something thought provoking. However, is it really worth it considering all the redundant jibber-jabber one must sift through just to find it? I mean, who really has the time to read those long-winded and often hate-riddled comments? Let’s face it, his writing skills are deficient and leave little to be desired.

        And what about GRACE? There is none. None whatsoever. The concept is completely foreign to him, which is really sad considering he is the biggest recipient of it.

        2 Timothy 2:24-25a……
        “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition…”

        Gentle? Patient? Humility? Not words one would associate with Robert.

        Quarrelsome? Yeah, he’s got that one mastered.

        God bless.

        Like

      8. Well then, you have “gained” a lot the past couple of years. 😉 And I am not sure exactly what that “payment” is going forward, but can you afford the compound interest?

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Brian,

        And regarding those “gains”, you might want to consider a low-, better yet, no-Robert diet. Great for your overall health; mentally, physically and spiritually. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      10. All Robert’s comments should come with a warning from the Surgeon General.

        “Interacting or responding to this comment could be hazardous to your spiritual health.” 😉

        Like

      11. Philip, I think you have gone beyond considering that your writing is not just for me… Or you may not be taking enough time to consider what words would help you to overhear if someone was speaking about weaknesses you might have.

        It is tough to know how to phrase a rebuke so that the other person still knows that you want their best!

        Like

      12. Brian,

        Again, agreed.

        However, your “rebukes” have been phrased clearly, and lovingly, and yet….

        Its painful to watch one’s brothers being abused.

        Blessings, brother.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Phillip says that it is painful to watch one’s brothers being abused. I agree, that is why when rhutchin was attacking all non-Calvinists as Pelagians and holding to Pelagian theology (both completely false and unjustified attacks/charges) that was painful for me to watch over there. Fortunately the leaders showed character over there and warned him repeatedly to repent, when he refused to repent of this abuse of all non-calvinists including SBC traditionalists: he was banned from posting there. As I have observed rhutchin to the same thing here, I would like to see him banned here as well. Phillip was silent over at SBC about rhutchi being banned, never saying it was the right thing to do. Here he is also silent, rhutchin abused us as Pelagians and Phillip never ever says it is wrong for him to do so here. Phillip speaking of “abuse” is hypocritical, he speaks of my supposed abuse but is silent regarding rhutchin I may disgree with calvinists, I may be convinced their theology is false, but I do not lable them or charge them with being heretics. rhutchin does this at this site and apparently it is OK. I question Leighton on this, as Leighton holds the same views as the leadership at SBC today. They rightly decided to ban rhutchin for his calling all of us non-calvinists heretics/Pelagians. They stopped that abuse there, Leighton allows this abuse by rhutchin to continue, so I challenge Leighton on this.

    If they had the character to do it there, why doesn’t Leighton have the same convictions to do the same thing here????

    Like

  24. Phillip says “All Robert’s comments should come with a warning from the Surgeon General.”

    I must confess that I really cannot take Phillip’s coments about my comments very serioulsy. Phillip has said I was a “fool”, “Pharisee”, unsaved, etc. etc. Someone attacks me in these ways, I cannot take their advice seriously. Based on his prior comments/attacks of me I cannot take his suggestions or advice seriously. I have people who keep me accountable, people I respect and will always listen to. We all need friends, spouses, etc. who keep us accountable. Phillip is not one of them for me.

    Like

  25. Robert, again, calls brother Leighton’s character and judgment into question. In his own words, Robert writes…..

    “If they had the character to do it there, why doesn’t Leighton have the same convictions to do the same thing here????”

    As brother Brian so humbly pointed out earlier to Robert…..

    “We can let others decide how our Christian character is being displayed in these things…”

    With each passing comment Robert’s “christian character” is expose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phillip,

      Was Rick and the other leaders at SBC Today wrong for first warning and then banning rhutchin for repeatedly and falsely charging Traditionalists and all other non-Calvinists as Pelagians and holding to Pelagain theology? Or were they right in doing so? If they were right in doing so, then why doesn’t Leighton do the same thing here? Whose convictions are right on this, is it the leadership at SBC Today including Rick right on this or is Leighton right on this? Someone is right and wrong on this. As Leighton is friends with Rick and the other leadership at SBC Today, I am wondering why he does not take the same approach to rhutchin as they did. First he was warned to stop calling other believers heretics by calling them Pelagians, this occurred repeatedly and then he was banned. Rhutchin makes the same claims here and no one seems to be concerned about it. I think Leighton is a very nice guy, and an extremely busy guy so he really does not want to micromanage his site. And yet I will say it again, you can disagree with others, attack their views and theology, that is not wrong. But calling other believers heretics, THAT crosses a line, that is unacceptable.

      And Phillip you speak of my character as being further exposed as I continue to comment. You are right, if I ignore someone who attacks other believers as heretics, if I do not challenge that, if I am silent, then that means my prior experience dealing with cultists and working with godly people like Walter Martin and others was a waste of time. YOu have to stand agaisnt some things I will stand against a professing believer who falsely accuses other believers of being heretics. You may not share that conviction, that may not be character to you, but it is to me.

      Like

      1. Both sites are right to do what they think pleases their Lord in this matter, Robert. And I would defend your right to run your site the way you think would please the Lord. But I do not support your desire to criticize how Leighton has chosen to run his discussion site.

        Like

      2. Perhaps the discussion will have some good outcome. From a Christ-honoring perspective, I don’t think there is any legitimate excuse for abusive or violent behavior. We should be able to see how demonizing labels are used in controversial discourse with the intent of gaining tactical advantage. We have ever seen people in the political arena calling Christians “hate mongers”….”small minded zealots”..etc. Those labels are strategically used to gain rhetorical tactical advantages, and as such, they reflect a dark spirit at work. So its unfortunate to see Christians using sinful rhetorical tactics against one another. And even worse to see them assert justifications to further their sinful behavior. It holds in question where a person’s first love really lies…..with the Lord, or in defending and promoting one’s party? Watchman Knee called this a “party spirit”, within the church, and on at least this, I have to agree with him.

        I am reminded of the degree to which scholars recognize their need to behave themselves in a scholarly manner when engaging in controversial discourse. A scholar who can’t behave himself civilly, can soon find his scholarly opinions cast into the trash bucket of disrepute. So we might consider it apparent, that certain behavior patterns reflect immaturity and expose dishonorable tactical motives, which are antithetical to, and dishonoring to Christ. And honoring Jesus should really be my sole concern and my first priority.

        That being said, its obvious that SBC has had to face this issue as an unfortunate reality. If someone forcibly insists upon operating in sinful behavior, perhaps there is permission here to gentlemanly call it what it is. But I certainly don’t want the Lord to be displeased with me while I walk about pointing one finger, with four fingers pointing back at myself. So I appeal to the joint wisdom and those of greater maturity within the group for answers.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. br.d,

        “From a Christ-honoring perspective, I don’t think there is any legitimate excuse for abusive or violent behavior.”

        Agreed.

        Would you agree Br.d that it is wrong to label other believers as “Pelagians”, to claim they hold to “Pelagian theology” (i.e. to label other believers as heretics) when in fact they are not Pelagians and do not hold to Pelagian theology, they simply are non-Calvinists who disagree and reject Calvinism?

        That has been my primary concern here in this context. As I have said, there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with others on theology or interpretations of texts. We can expect that believers will disagree on some things and ought not to be surprised by it. Unfortunately at times we may say things with those with whom we disagree that are overly harsh or offensive. That also sometimes happens in the “heat of the moment” (i.e. if a point is important to us we may be overly intense in our presentation or defense of ideas that are important to us). It is however, crossing a line when a person accuses other believers of being heretics. This is unacceptable. When that person is warned to stop and continues to do so, that is not merely an inappropriate comment made in the heat of the moment, that is a calculated and intentional attack. Fortunately the leadership at SBC Today agreed with me on this and so they banned a person for engaging in this very thing.

        As I said in my prior post, my past experience includes dealing with non-Christian cultists (while they may engage in harsh attacks, while they may attack you as a heretic or whatever, I also realize they are unsaved persons so I expect it). Sometimes I find it humorous that Christians find worldly people acting worldly! 🙂 How do you expect them to act?

        On the other hand with professing believers characterizing all non-Calvinists as heretics that is wrong and unacceptable and they need to be held accountable (even if that involves their being banned from posting at a Christian site). It is unfortunate to see the rhetorical ways of the world present on Christian blog sites (e.g. in the world, if they disagree with you they will try to label you as a “hater” because you do not accept their moral views, in the Christian world some will label all who do not hold their views as “heretics”, it is the same thing, an entire grouped is lumped together in some highly negative an pejorative terminology).

        “We should be able to see how demonizing labels are used in controversial discourse with the intent of gaining tactical advantage. We have ever seen people in the political arena calling Christians “hate mongers”….”small minded zealots”..etc. Those labels are strategically used to gain rhetorical tactical advantages, and as such, they reflect a dark spirit at work. So its unfortunate to see Christians using sinful rhetorical tactics against one another.”

        Agree, again, I expect certain behavior from nonbelievers, and my standards for them are lower because they cannot be expected to be acting like Christians when they are not. Professing believers on the other hand, when they attack all of a group as heretics (in this case all who are non-Calvinists are declared to be heretics/Pelagians) that is wrong and unacceptable.

        “And even worse to see them assert justifications to further their sinful behavior. It holds in question where a person’s first love really lies…..with the Lord, or in defending and promoting one’s party?”

        Calling other believers heretics is not justified, cannot be justified. And in this case the attack of other believers is done in order to “defend and promote one’s party” in this case Calvinism.

        “I am reminded of the degree to which scholars recognize their need to behave themselves in a scholarly manner when engaging in controversial discourse. A scholar who can’t behave himself civilly, can soon find his scholarly opinions cast into the trash bucket of disrepute. So we might consider it apparent, that certain behavior patterns reflect immaturity and expose dishonorable tactical motives, which are antithetical to, and dishonoring to Christ. And honoring Jesus should really be my sole concern and my first priority.”

        While I agree this is true with scholars, it is also true with other believers as well.

        To use myself as an example, in working in prison ministry one of the things we do is to work with chaplains at different institutions. They are not all Baptists (my denominational perspective), some are Catholics, some are Eastern Orthodox, some are independents, etc. I do not come in saying, “We Baptists alone have it right, and the rest of you are all heretics.” I would not get far with that approach it might even close off some institutions to our influence. Instead we work with differing views in a positive and civil way recognizing that we may not agree on everything (and have some major disagreements) and yet our aim is to benefit inmates. If you asked me if I agree with Catholics on everything, of course not, and yet I do not declare all Catholics to be heretics in order to defend and promote Baptist theology.

        “That being said, its obvious that SBC has had to face this issue as an unfortunate reality. If someone forcibly insists upon operating in sinful behavior, perhaps there is permission here to gentlemanly call it what it is.”

        Right, and the leaders at SBC Today in a very gentlemanly way said the behavior was wrong, showed and explained why it was wrong, gave multiple warnings, and then banned the person from posting there.
        While I recognize each group is responsible for its own blog site. It seems to me that some things have to be true across the board. For example I do not believe Christian blogs should allow professing Christians who engage in profanity to keep posting at their sites. Profanity should not be acceptable at any Christian blog. I also believe that attacking other believers as heretics also should not be acceptable at any Christian blog.

        Like

      4. Robert writes, “it is wrong to label other believers as “Pelagians”, to claim they hold to “Pelagian theology”…when in fact they are not Pelagians and do not hold to Pelagian theology, they simply are non-Calvinists who disagree and reject Calvinism?”

        A person should be able to explain his theology and defend against false (or misunderstood) claims. If a person can do that, issues will be greatly reduced and eventually disappear (usually after much minutia is discussed).

        Like

  26. Just a gentle reminder to my brothers and sisters here at soteriology101.

    Robert, too, has a history of being banned at SBC Today. Back in April 2015 Robert admitted as much on this very site writing….

    “I was temporarily banned because I responded inappropriately to a couple of individuals (that ‘t’ word).”

    That “t” word being “troll”. However, truth is, it was much more than just saying the “t” word. Much more. Regardless, here we are, on this very thread, seeing Robert using that “t” word over and over again.

    If SBC Today thought it was inappropriate there and worthy of banishment, should it not be inappropriate here? Would Robert appreciate Leighton being consistent with SBC Today?

    Pot meet Kettle.

    Like

  27. Brian,

    I agree with your overall assessment.

    If Robert’s testimony is true, I find it odd that his threshold is so low. Even he says that the attacks here are not in the same ballpark. So why so intolerant?

    If my memory serves me correctly, Robert has accused me (and Leighton for that matter) of pelagianism since we believe man can believe once equipped with the word of God without any additional pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit. So does that not make me, Leighton, and countless others heretics?

    Also, I agree with you regarding Robert’s controlling (and dominating) nature. He has definitely, at the least, been lobbying relentlessly for rhutchin’s banishment and, I believe, has crossed a line calling Leighton’s character and judgment into question. Again, I don’t think there has been a bigger recipient of grace than Robert and yet he seems incapable of bestowing grace to others.

    And have you noticed that, according to Robert, everyone commenting here holds to some form of false theological ideas or system? That is everyone except Robert. In his eyes, only his beloved Arminianism (which itself is a system) has all the right answers.

    Again, I wasn’t trying to be hateful or mean-spirited when I suggested that Robert might suffer from some form of learning disability or social disorder. He has been graciously approached a number of times on this website (and others) regarding his people skills. So we are only left to assume he just doesn’t get it (learning disability), or worse, he just doesn’t care (social disorder).

    Like

    1. Phillip, I truly hope Robert will think about the observations you and I have made for his benefit. I don’t think he is Arminian, but probably identifies more as traditional SB like Leighton, with slight variations, like on the prevenient grace issue.

      Thank you for affirming that you were not trying to be mean-spirited! Such affirmations I find very helpful because this medium allows for such misunderstanding, especially when we cannot see each other or hear each other say the words we write to each other.

      As for Robert thinking only he has all the right ideas… I suffer from the same plague… which I think almost all of us do, though we may vary on which ideas we confidently think we have clear premises and evidence in support of those ideas and which we do not. 🙂

      Like

      1. Brian,

        I hope Robert does (finally) take some of these comments to heart. You and I are not the only ones to call his behavior into question. At one time, the moderator at SBCT came to the same conclusion.

        Robert, though, is a self-proclaimed Arminian. He did just recently come out and confess his association with the SEA (Society of Evangelical Arminians); something he refused to do for a while though it was so obvious (and I told him so).

        One thing I do before I leave a comment is proof read it to better ensure my words won’t be taken the wrong way. I also find it beneficial to wait a spell before leaving a rebuttal to ensure my emotions aren’t making my decisions for me. Still, this is something that I have to continuously work on. And I am embarrassed by my typos, even after proof reading. UGH!

        Regarding beliefs, I try to keep an opened mind. I am under the persuasion that we understand very little of scripture and the very little we do get, we take by faith. Now the gospel is the gospel, so there is no wavering there. But I also know that many of the things I hold as scriptural today, I didn’t necessarily yesterday. So I have learned from that. Today, I might lean a certain way, but not so much to be intolerant of the other especially when I see scriptural support for it.

        We are here to learn from each other. Not belittle each other.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. brianwagner writes, ‘probably identifies more as traditional SB like Leighton,”

        I am not sure that Pastor Flowers is a traditional SB. There are two honest brokers here. One is Pastor Flowers who figured out that Total Depravity is key to the Calvinist system. If one affirms Total Depravity, he cannot argue against Calvinism. Thus, Pastor Flowers disavows Total Depravity (unless I have misunderstood him). I don’t think this is a traditional SB position. The second honest broker is, of course, you. You figured out that omniscience is another key to the Calvinist system. Thus, you disavow that God knows all the future with certainty. I disagree with both those positions, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the discussions – they help me to solidify my thinking as, I am sure, they do for you..

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Brian,

        “Phillip, I truly hope Robert will think about the observations you and I have made for his benefit.”

        I will have more to say as to why I cannot trust what Phillip says at this point, in another post.

        “ I don’t think he is Arminian, but probably identifies more as traditional SB like Leighton, with slight variations, like on the prevenient grace issue.”

        Brian I believe that I fit both the Arminian and Traditionalist labels, which really does not bother me at all (I am not offended to be called either Arminian or Traditionalist). Something many seem to miss is that there is a lot of overlap between Arminian and Traditionalist beliefs (both reject calvinism, both affirm libertarian free will, both affirm that Jesus died for all, both deny determinism, both believe in the preconversion work of the Spirit [there is some disagreement on the precise nature of inability]. Because many Arminians affirm that you can lose your salvation, some assume that all Arminians believe this, but that is a mistake. As a Baptist I affirm eternal security and yet many would describe me as Arminian.

        “Thank you for affirming that you were not trying to be mean-spirited!”

        He may affirm that but I don’t buy it in light of the many things he has said in the past.

        “As for Robert thinking only he has all the right ideas… I suffer from the same plague… which I think almost all of us do, though we may vary on which ideas we confidently think we have clear premises and evidence in support of those ideas and which we do not.”

        I do not believe that I have all the right ideas, I believe that most Christians hold all the right ideas (especially in essentials). I am confident in the ideas that I hold presently because I have had them tested for many years and they seem to have stood the test of time well. But confidence ought not be confused with thinking you cannot be wrong or that it is certain that you are absolutely correct. Some examples: I am confident that calvinism is false. I am confident that the ordinary view of free will is correct. I am confident that Jesus died for the whole world. I am confident that Jesus rose from the dead. Etc. Etc. Not being a new believer and having had my ideas tested many, many times, confidence grows. So at this point I am very secure in my beliefs. I am also not arrogant in my beliefs thinking they are better than others (most of my beliefs are held by the vast majority of Christians across all theological traditions, e.g. my view of God’s omniscience is held by Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, denied by a very small minority of open theists; my view on free will is likewise held by the vast majority of Christians across all theological traditions).

        As a Baptist of course I hold to Baptist distinctives. I can and do disagree with paedobaptists, but I also can respect them. I used to be friends with Mike Horton a prominent Calvinist and Presbyterian, but distance has led to less contact than before. I have more respect for some Presbyterians such as Mike than I do for some Baptists who post on line. I can also respect some Catholics as well, especially if they manifest strong Christian character (though I strongly disagree with some of their beliefs). I know some Catholic chaplains who are easy to work with as they manifest very strong Christian character. If you followed me around in real life you would find that I get along with all sorts of people who hold all sorts of different beliefs very well.

        My experience on the internet is different however. I have never seen so many folks that seem to epitomize the character of the fool in Proverbs as I have seen on the internet. And some of these folks have been calvinists who had no qualms about declaring all non-Christians to be heretics, to act as if our non-Calvinist beliefs are absurd and inferior. I must admit I have little patience with these types of people.

        Like

  28. Phillip writes:

    “I hope Robert does (finally) take some of these comments to heart.”

    At this time I do not trust what Phillip says because of the many things he has said about me in the past. And he has never said these things were wrong to say, or wrong. If someone says the things he has said, and never takes them back, never apologizes, I conclude they feel the same way now as they did when they first said these things in the past.

    “One thing I do before I leave a comment is proof read it to better ensure my words won’t be taken the wrong way. I also find it beneficial to wait a spell before leaving a rebuttal to ensure my emotions aren’t making my decisions for me. Still, this is something that I have to continuously work on. And I am embarrassed by my typos, even after proof reading. UGH!”

    Phillip said on multiple occasions in the past on this blog that I was
    a “fool”, “Pharisee”, “unbeliever”, “troll” (he gave a definition and said it fit me), that I should be banned from this site, etc.:

    why in his proof reading did he still go ahead and say these things?

    “We are here to learn from each other. Not belittle each other.”

    I think that all of us wish that were true here.

    But coming from the same person that declared me to be “fool”, “Pharisee”, “unbeliever” etc. it is hard to trust such a person and believe they have your best interests in mind.

    And Phillip’s latest attacks in this very thread include: attacking me as having a “learning disorder or social disorder”, but he says he really did not mean it to be hateful or mean-spirited:

    “Again, I wasn’t trying to be hateful or mean-spirited when I suggested that Robert might suffer from some form of learning disability or social disorder.”

    Based on his past comments how can I trust such a statement?

    How can I believe that these comments were not hateful and mean-spirited?

    For the record the main person that I have had problems with at this blog (and I am not alone on this) is rhutchin. It is rhutchin who has acted like the fool of Proverbs (and I am not the only person to say this here).

    Phillip in this current thread also attacks me as a person without grace:

    “I don’t think there has been a bigger recipient of grace than Robert and yet he seems incapable of bestowing grace to others.”

    “incapable of bestowing grace to others”

    I doubt my wife, family, friends and the many people whose conversion to Christ I was involved in would agree with this assessment at all.

    If any of you here had been told by someone that you were: a fool, a Pharisee, unsaved, a troll, and had seen that person make a concerted and repeated effort to have you banned from posting at both SBC Today AND this site: would you trust such a person????

    Like

  29. Rhutchin wrote:

    “I am not sure that Pastor Flowers is a traditional SB. There are two honest brokers here. One is Pastor Flowers . . . . The second honest broker is, of course, you.”

    So all of the rest of us are dishonest?

    And Brian wonders why I have problems with rhutchin.

    Like

      1. Rhutchin writes:

        “Any someone who holds to omniscience and/or Total Depravity and then opposes Calvinism is being dishonest.”

        Yet another ridiculous and false claim by rhutchin.

        If he were my project as he is for Brian Wagner, I would be really disappointed about this public and false claim.

        It is a false claim, it is an attack against most non-Calvinists (except for the supposedly only two honest people according to rhutchin, Leighton and Brian).

        Just as he falsely accuses all non-Calvinists of being Pelagians, he also falsely accuses all non-Calvinists (except for the two aforementioned) of being dishonest. This is an attack against our character, it is a belittling remark.

        Note that according to rhutchin if you oppose Calvinism and you are not Leighton or Brian, you **are** dishonest.

        Interesting formula:

        oppose Calvinism = you are dishonest (unless you are Brian and Leighton the only two honest non-Calvinists in the world! 🙂

        This is **even an attack on Phillip**, as he is lumped in with the rest of us who affirm omniscience but oppose Calvinism.

        Is Phillip going to comment on this?

        Is Phillip going to declare this to be inappropriate?

        Is Phillip going to now claim that rhutchin is without grace?

        Like

      2. “Any someone who holds to omniscience and/or Total Depravity and then opposes Calvinism is being dishonest.”

        To which Robert responded, “Yet another ridiculous and false claim…”

        Yet Robert does not argue against it.

        Like

      3. Roger… do you really believe the word – “dishonest” is a fair assessment? Could a person be illogical or unbiblical in the presentation of what they believe, but truly not see the false logic or acknowledge contrary biblical teaching to their view, even when presented to them by someone else? They wouldn’t be “dishonest” in my view, which requires a full knowledge deception in their rejection, don’t you think?

        Like

      4. brianwagner writes, “do you really believe the word – “dishonest” is a fair assessment? ”

        In this case, people are openly opposed to Calvinism while advocating two major pillars of Calvinist theology; omniscience and Total Depravity – completely illogical. If it were the case of people being illogical or unbiblical in the presentation of what they believe, then I agree with you. However, I think many people simply bury their head in the sand and take contrary positions while refusing to discuss what they believe. I call that dishonest.

        Like

      5. It sounds like, Roger, that you are saying only Calvinism has the right to use the terms “omniscience” and “total depravity” and exclusive rights to defining them. Do you believe that is a just position? Arminianism ascribes to both those terms, but I would not call them dishonest as they try to defend them with their own definitions of those terms, even if I think their defense is illogical or unbiblical. I don’t think you are dishonest when you defend those terms with Calvinistic meaning and also with information that is illogical or unbiblical in my view.

        “Total depravity,” perhaps, may be a Calvinistic term, more than “omniscience”, but no theological system in my view has the right to hoard a term if an opponent wants to use it, as long as that opponent clarifies how they are defining it, and are not giving the impression that they hold their opponent’s definition when they don’t… doing that knowingly would be dishonest.

        Like

      6. “Any someone who holds to omniscience and/or Total Depravity and then opposes Calvinism is being dishonest.”

        Although it goes without saying that this sentiment would be held by a believer in Calvin, it is not regarded as one of the big players among many widely regarded positions. So the Augustinian-Calvin position cannot possibly be said to be the uncontroversial choice.

        Peter van Inwagen’s famous consequence argument, for example, now having been revised by a few enhanced versions, argues that determinism and free will are incompatible. Inwagen’s famous summary goes as follows:

        “If determinism is true, then our actions are the consequences of the laws of nature and events that occurred in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born (principle of accidental necessity), and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present actions) are not up to us”.

        Assuming that if an act is “not up to” a person, one could not have refrained from performing. Many feel Inwagen’s argument sustains the conclusion that determinism expunges free will.

        “If determinism is true, one lacks the freedom to do otherwise. But one is morally responsible for having done something only if one could have done otherwise (the principle of alterative possibilities). Hence determinism rules out moral responsibility”. – Peter van Inwagen.

        These debates have been raging now for centuries. A dogmatic position may not appear as sound wisdom to all.

        Like

      7. br.d quotes Peter van Inwagen, “If determinism is true, then our actions are the consequences of the laws of nature and events that occurred in the remote past. …”

        Just going by that quote, and without more context, it sounds like you is talking about “fate.” I don’t see any argument over this. Theological determinism is another issue entirely and differs significantly from fate.

        Like

      8. It does take a little time to get one’s head around all of the different moving parts.

        These perennial debates: (omniscience and free will), (foreknowledge and free will), (determinism and free will), and the logical implications of theological fatalism which have perennially accompanied them, are all interrelated. So the problem as stated professionally, within philosophy of religion text-books, as well as all of the historical arguments, and counter arguments, tend to deal with the same concerns and logical entailments. So, yes, your instincts are correct that theological (or perhaps more preciously), “monotheistic” fatalism is one of the components, in that it touches the same doctrines of necessity. And especially the principle of accidental necessity which emphasizes the impossibility of a person controlling past events. So there is a scholarly approach to this.

        If, for example, we assert the premise that acknowledging divine omniscience while rejecting the Calvinist position is dishonest, then it would follow that N.T. Wright, Gordon Fee, Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen, et-al, are dishonest. Now there is always the possibility that this may be correct. However, you won’t find a professional scholar who wants to be taken seriously, making such a claim.

        Albert Einstein relates a time after he became internationally popular, when a young physicist disagreed with an opinion he was promoting, and how he become dogmatic about it, only to discover he was wrong, and had to publicly eat crow. That’s why scholars shy away from speaking dogmatically. No one wants to end up embarrassing himself and being seen as immature.

        On the other hand there are voices representing unique belief systems who do make bold presumptuous claims. But those folks are not taken seriously by the primary scholars, or won’t ever find themselves engaging directly with the primary scholars. And so they can afford to speak boldly for the sake their sheeple, who pretty much believe anything they say. There are just different levels of players in the field. Some are those who purport themselves in a scholarly manner because they want to be taken seriously in the ongoing debates, and there are those who are dogmatic for tactical reasons.

        Like

      9. br.d writes, “If, for example, we assert the premise that acknowledging divine omniscience while rejecting the Calvinist position is dishonest, then it would follow that N.T. Wright, Gordon Fee, Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen, et-al, are dishonest.”

        I originally said, “Any someone who holds to omniscience and/or Total Depravity and then opposes Calvinism is being dishonest.” I should not have added the “/or.”

        Even Pastor Flowers holds to omniscience but then bases his opposition to Calvinism on the denial of Total Depravity. That is logical. If one holds to omniscience, then the major issue is free will – particularly, the freedom of an individual to accept salvation. As Pastor Flowers correctly concluded, Total Depravity destroys the freedom of the individual to accept salvation That is why both Arminians and Calvinists insist on the need for prevenient or saving grace if a person is to be saved. Thus, we should expect to find those who hold to omniscience following Pastor Flowers’ lead and seeking to offset Total Depravity.

        However, in holding to omniscience, one agrees with much of the Calvinist position. Under omniscience, God knows the elect and the reprobate when He creates in Genesis 1, so the only issue after that is the manner in which God’s elect are brought to salvation. That presents major problems, especially for free will theology – thus, people like Brian conclude that omniscience must be limited if one is to frame a valid free will theology.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I think there is more involved here than just the simple etymological/academic definition of omniscience, to which orthodox Christianity agrees. Calvinism’s view of omniscience is that it is the byproduct of fore-ordination. That is a view of omniscience that is unique to Calvinism, and separates Calvinism from its alternatives. That is one of the reasons Calvinism is acknowledged as being dedicated to the philosophical distinction of Universal Divine Determinism and a compatiblist form of free will.

        Words and terms can have etymological/academic definitions. But when they are used in statements, they are often loaded with “associative” meanings which extend them beyond their etymological/academic meaning. In rational discourse, a critical thinker must be aware of possible “associative” meanings applied to words, in order to avoid equivocal language. Calvinism, based upon its conception of omniscience as the byproduct of divine determinism, quite naturally loads omniscience with deterministic meaning, which non-deterministic theologies do not embrace.

        Perhaps the underlying assertion is that a non-deterministic view of omniscience is false, and therefore dishonest?

        I agree with you that major problems stem around the issue of free will. From Augustine forward, scholars have recognized that mono-theistic fatalism is also a component, and various solutions have evolved to address it along with the free will and questions of human agency. And yes, you are also right to point to alternative solutions such as open-theism, molinism, and traditional theories of alternative possibilities (i.e. various forms of libertarianism), as well as determinism (to which Calvinism is committed).

        As you know, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga opt for the Molinist solution as the least problematic. Peter van Inwagen, leans more towards a traditional libertarian solution as the least problematic. And Greg Boyd opts for the open-theist position, to which I am least familiar. From a populas perspective, I would say that various forms of the libertarian leaning view, overwhelmingly predominates professing Christianity. That’s not to say that its correct, but that a libertarian world-view has been proven to predominate all societies and all ages. So it may be logical to assume that is why Calvinism has historically remained a minority view within Christendom.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. br.d writes, ‘Perhaps the underlying assertion is that a non-deterministic view of omniscience is false, and therefore dishonest?”

        The underlying assertion is that alternatives do not exist.

        Then, “…William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga opt for the Molinist solution as the least problematic.”

        The Molinist solution agrees with the Calvinist solution.

        Then, “Peter van Inwagen, leans more towards a traditional libertarian solution as the least problematic.”

        What is the traditional libertarian view of omniscience?

        Then, “And Greg Boyd opts for the open-theist position, to which I am least familiar. From a populas perspective,”

        Open Theism denies a key part of classical omniscience – that God knows the future completely.

        Like

      12. It is quite understandable that the Calvinist position would be that “Alternatives do not exist”. So that statement makes sense if one is committed to a deterministic world-view.

        As William Lane Craig analyses it: What mono-theistic determinism has in common with mono-theistic fatalism is: 1) They both assert a constraint upon human freedom. 2) The constraint is established prior in time, to the existence of the human, and the law of “Accidental Necessity” emphasizes the impossibility of a person being able to control what occurs in the past. 3) Therefore they both produce similar result…that there is one single agent in the universe (in this case God), and all other creatures have no agency, and therefore have no control.

        So William Lane Craig would completely disagree with the statement that Molinism and Calvinism are the same. And for the very you enunciated, when you stated that in Calvinism (i.e., determinism) , “Alternatives do not exist”. They do exist in Molinism, in the form of contingent propositions/events. And the Molinist view is that contingent propositions are a part of God’s omniscience.

        Peter Van Inwagen, (non-Molinist) emphasizes that in a determinist world, there can only be one single unique future….which again coincides with your statement that “Alternatives do not exist.” If we state that “Alternatives do not exit” we have to deal with the logical entailment….that of judging a person for not doing something that does not exist. For example, could you be judged for striking person-X where person-X does not exist? Can you be judged for not choosing path-B where path-B does not exist?

        So Molinism allows for certain types of libertarian free will, and the traditional libertarian view of course does also. William Lane Craig would say that Calvinists are increasingly gravitating to Molinist perspectives, because it offers a way for God to have a higher degree of meticulous control over events, by putting people into situations in which they are guaranteed to act in a certain way,based upon their natures, giving them, what William Lane Craig would call “in-deterministic liberty”.

        See his web-site where he posits 5 difficulties that Calvinism has that Molinism does not have:

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

        Like

      13. br.d writes, “William Lane Craig would completely disagree with the statement that Molinism and Calvinism are the same.”

        I really don’t understand Craig’s argument against Calvinism. As a Molinist, Craig focuses on God’s activities before Genesis 1. At some point, the Molinist says that God chooses a world to create from among all the possible worlds that He could create. That is the world of which Genesis 1 ff speaks. That world is a Calvinist world and is fully deterministic as Calvinism describes. Craig’s complaint seems to be that Calvinism does not embrace Molinism to explain pre-Genesis 1 events. However, Calvinism does speak to the issue of pre-Genesis activities as reflected in the Supra-Infra disagreement. So, why doesn’t Craig take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and argue against both Supra and Infra? I have read many of the articles by Craig as they relate to Calvinism, and I still don’t understand his complaint simply because the Calvinist world is the same world Molinism says that God choose to create.

        Then, “Peter Van Inwagen, (non-Molinist) emphasizes that in a determinist world, there can only be one single unique future….”

        If Inwagen holds to classical omniscience then even he believes that there can only be one single unique future. So, does Inwagen lean Open Theists to differentiate himself from Calvinism?

        Then, “William Lane Craig would say that Calvinists are increasingly gravitating to Molinist perspectives,…”

        In other words, if Calvinist would marry Molinism (a pre Genesis theology) with Calvinism (a post Genesis theology) everything would be OK. Calvinists are not likely to do that because of Supra/Infra. However, Molinism does not have the benefit of a few centuries of discussion and refinement of arguments and that which is presented as Molinism is barely a skeleton that poses a very general theological framework in need of meat.

        Like

      14. We can see that these are highly debatable matters. And that certainly has been the case, ever since Luther (1483), Calvin 1509), Luis de Molina (1535), and Arminius (1560), who all have their own perspective on divine providence.

        I have Peter Van Inwagen’s “An Essay on Free Will”. And I don’t know of any place where he posits a Molinist or an Open Theist perspective. Inwagen is considered an intellectual giant, and his “Consequence Argument” is considered to a very strong argument against the logical and ethical viability of determinism.

        Of great concern to the critical thinker in any philosophical discussion is the vulnerabilities introduced by enthymematic reasoning. We don’t want to be tossed about by every wind that moves. We want to have the utmost discretion in our thought processes. Ravi Zacharias has consistently lamented concerning this, in regard to Christians, where he says that they have a tendency to forcefully assert concepts, without having taken due diligence in considering all of their ramifications. He laments that Christians have a tendency to forcibly assert things that are: “Not well thought out”. He is concerned about how this reflects very poorly on Christianity as a whole.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. br.d writes, “Peter Van Inwagen’s “An Essay on Free Will”. And I don’t know of any place where he posits a Molinist or an Open Theist perspective. Inwagen is considered an intellectual giant, and his “Consequence Argument” is considered to a very strong argument against the logical and ethical viability of determinism.”

        Given that it was an essay about free will, I would think that the “Consequence Argument” would argue against free will (in a determinist system). But that is already agreed to when people argue that determinism is incompatible with libertarian free will. The compatibilist argument is that we have a determinist system and the will is determined by the person’s sin nature but not through coercion.

        Let’s assume you are correct and the “’Consequence Argument’ is considered to a very strong argument against the logical and ethical viability of determinism.” Can you provide a brief outline of the Consequence Argument to show how it does this?

        Like

      16. That post, was not focused on any single contribution to the debate on free will/determinism. But to highlight the full spectrum of contributions that have occurred over many centuries, and which ones have been taken seriously. Then, in consideration of that, to consider the degree to which a model of thinking may be self-sabotaging.

        Take the Electromagnetic Spectrum, for example. Let’s say that I forcibly assert, that the window of visible light, is the only true component of the light and everything else is false. To what degree is that model of thinking benefiting me? I certainly have the option of asserting that position dogmatically. And it would go without saying that there are emotional/psychological factors at work in my doing so. But one might question the degree to which that model of thinking is self-sabotaging.

        You might consider picking up a copy of: “The Oxford Handbook of Free Will”, or similar text-book, which seeks to provide the full spectrum of contributions, to help one see that dogmatically asserting one view as the only true view, can’t be taken seriously.

        Here is an excerpt from the beginning of my copy of the book:

        “A guide to current scholarship on the perennial problem of free will—perhaps the most hotly and voluminously debated of all philosophical problems. While reference is made throughout to the contributions of major thinkers of the past, the emphasis is on recent research. The articles combine the work of established scholars with younger thinkers who are beginning to make significant contributions.”

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Brother D. The definition of omniscience is evolving these days as more freedom to compare tradition with Scripture is provided. But the traditional definition by those holding the power in Christendom’s centers of theological education has always included the future as completed. Here are some popular definitions that I have briefly gathered –

        *********
        Wikipedia – Omniscience /ɒmˈnɪʃəns/, mainly in religion, is the capacity to know everything that there is to know.

        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Omniscience is the property of having complete or maximal knowledge…. Since omniscience is maximal or complete knowledge, it is typically defined in terms of knowledge of all true propositions

        Theopedia – The omniscience of God deals with what God knows. The term literally means “all-knowing”, understanding God’s knowledge to be exhaustive of both the past, present, and future.

        CARM (Christian Apologetic Research Ministry) – Omniscience is an attribute of God alone. It is the quality of having all knowledge (Isaiah 40:14). God knows all things possible as well as actual because He has ordained whatsover will come to pass according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). He does not need to experience something to know about it completely.

        New Advent Encyclopedia (RC) – That God is omniscient or possesses the most perfect knowledge of all things, follows from His infinite perfection. In the first place He knows and comprehends Himself fully and adequately, and in the next place He knows all created objects and comprehends their finite and contingent mode of being…. That God knows infallibly and from eternity what, for example, a certain man, in the exercise of free will, will do or actually does in any given circumstances, and what he might or would actually have done in different circumstances is beyond doubt— being a corollary from the eternal actuality of Divine knowledge.
        **********
        The first two are generic enough definitions for Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, and Open Theism to ascribe to, adding their own caveats.

        Theopedia does not define what “future” means, so it too could be approved by these major theological systems, though mentioning the future makes people assume it exists as a completed entity.

        CARM and New Advent Encyclopedia have thrown in some clarifications so that the traditional definition of omniscience as including knowing the future as completed in God’s mind is viewed as upheld. The verses referenced do not clearly support the premises they are attached to. And the acknowledgment of God knowing “all things possible” or what is “contingent” logically contradicts the premise of a settled future, as well as denying God’s own freedom to exercise His will freely forever, imo.

        Like

      18. Brian makes an excellent point.

        “CARM and New Advent Encyclopedia have thrown in some…….”
        Quote: “God knows all things possible as well as actual because He has ordained whatsover will come to pass”

        Philosophy details two distinctions concerning the “sense” of a word or a term. And one will find these two distinctions regularly enunciated by internationally recognized scholars, whose discipline is to communicate with the least ambiguity or equivocation.

        Those two distinctions are X (Simpliciter), and X (Qualified).

        See: http://www.philosophy-index.com/terms/simpliciter.php

        I believe its fair to say that the etymological/academic definition of “omniscience” is, in fact, “Omniscience Simpliciter”, which is defined as the state of “infallible all knowing”. and that definition doesn’t add any additional qualifiers seeking to promote a certain position.

        And we can see in your posting of CARM’s definition, that what appears to be posited as a “definition” is not “Omniscience Simpliciter” but “Omniscience Qualified”, seeking to affirm a certain position by extending the term. The critical thinker wants to be alert to these types of word play.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. br.d writes, “I believe its fair to say that the etymological/academic definition of “omniscience” is, in fact, “Omniscience Simpliciter”, which is defined as the state of “infallible all knowing”. and that definition doesn’t add any additional qualifiers seeking to promote a certain position.”

        I think the Calvinists have simply sought to remove ambiguities and tighten down that definition so that it cannot be claimed by both Calvinists and Open Theists as support for their theologies.

        Like

      20. Brother D. I have no problem with Omniscience qualified… I think it is unavoidable as one discusses what “knowing” means as far as source, content, and effect. Defining those aspects of “knowing” bring about contact of what omniscience means with the meanings of perfection, eternity, and immutability. A qualified meaning is thus unavoidable, and one could say, necessary.

        Like

      21. Hi Brian,
        I think I can agree with that with the caveat that the vulnerabilities are clear. Here is an excellent article on that subject if anyone wishes to dig a little deeper. http://www.dougwalton.ca/papers%20in%20pdf/90quid.pdf

        One of the initial vulnerabilities typically cited is the “Hasty Generalization”. I’m not arguing against qualifiers per se, but I would want to be careful I’m not letting my thinking get murkey.

        There is an interesting example of the effect of a qualifier:

        Water boils at ~200F. So one can assert that water that temp for 5 minutes will hard-boil an egg. But if one asserts that at an altitude of 5K feet, its a falsehood. Here, air-pressure “qualifies” the truth-value of the proposition. As long as we take the effect of the qualifier into consideration and understand how it effects a concept, then we’re less likely to be mislead. If we don’t recognize the effect of the qualifier, were in trouble! :-]

        Liked by 1 person

  30. Brain,

    You wrote…. “I truly hope Robert will think about the observations you and I have made for his benefit.”

    Based upon his most recent rants, I’m leaning towards they haven’t. Looks like Robert is going to continue to be, well, Robert.

    Again, with each passing comment/rant/outburst Robert’s “christian character” is exposed.

    Bless his heart. Its sad to watch.

    Like

  31. Robert writes: “Would you agree Br.d that it is wrong to label other believers as “Pelagians””

    I think demonizing people with labels is one of the rhetorical tactics typical of people who have a need to perceive themselves superior to others. There will always be pharisees in our midst, who appoint themselves ordained to throw the first stone, while hiding their own sin.
    There is no Christ-honoring integrity in it.

    And it falls way too close to certain behaviors, Jesus specifically deplores.
    Straining at the gnat of Pelagius while swallowing the camel of Calvin risks the Lords judgment. imho

    Personally, I have my own sins to present before the Lord, and wouldn’t dare add that one to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. For the group: There is another rhetorical tactic that I’m sure we are all aware of, and are wise to look out for.
    In controversial discourse, one tactic is to work to get someone “off-ended”, by seasoning attacking remarks with emotion rhetoric, designed to lure the recipient into an emotional state so that he will respond emotionally rather than rationally. Then sit back and gloat as the recipient takes the bait. Welcome to my parlor said the spider. Its good to keep one’s eyes open for this, and not get seduced into it.

    Surely, in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Brian writes: “CARM and New Advent Encyclopedia have thrown in some clarifications so that the traditional definition of omniscience as including knowing the future as completed in God’s mind is viewed as upheld.”

    Hi Brian, hope your well my friend!!

    I have heard of Calvinists altering definitions on web-sites to make theological definitions affirm deterministic presuppositions. I’ll have to look around for where I saw it. But I do remember someone complaining to a Calvinist web-site about altering some definitions and the Calvinist tried to dismiss it as not dishonest. I’ll have to see if I can dig that up. and post it. It is illustrative of the concern for equivocal strategies and un-Christ-like behavior. Thanks for your post Brian! :-]

    Like

  34. Ideological Imperialism and Dogmatism – the fruit of a closed mind.

    Quote from: Academic Freedom and Christian Scholarship – Anthony J. Diekema (President of Calvin College 1976-1995)

    “One of the greatest and most consistent threats to academic freedom over the years has been the phenomenon often referred to as ideological imperialism. We live in an age of ideology, and age of infatuation with political and religious abstractions, ideas, and social movements. We seek quick and simple solutions to the complex and complicated problems and issues. Ideologies that purport to resolve our problems abound in our society and present a continuing threat to the free and deliberate pursuit of truth. Ideologies, no matter how rudimentary, tend to be totalitarian, dominant, and intolerant of other views. A mind ensnared by such an ideology quickly becomes a closed mind.”

    Information vs. Indoctrination: This is the core “modus operandi”, separating the true scholar from the fake. It is the very same thing which separates the true “free-press” from the fake, and the true advertisement from the false.

    One “modus operandi” is dedicated to informing its audience. While the later is dedicated to indoctrinating its audience, while masquerading as former.

    One seeks to inform you and let you freely make up your own mind, maximizing the comprehensiveness and variance of information, empowering you to make the best assessment possible. This one never withholds information, never communicates half-truths, and never postures speaking with authority. He is sternly disciplined at minimizing ambiguous and equivocal language. For this one, misleading people, is the way of the most subtle beast in the field (see Genesis), and this way is to be avoided at all costs. The former is the way of Jesus, and what makes one trustworthy. The lover of Jesus, cherishes the way of the former, and avoids the way of the later.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s