Calvinistic Southern Baptists and Theology: Part 3 of a Traditionalist’s Response to the Founders Ministry

(This is Part 3, here is the link to Part 1 and Part 2.)

As previously noted, Jared Longshore posted an article entitled, “Calvinistic Southern Baptists and Theology” at Founders.org in which he addressed the chapel message of Dr. Rick Patrick at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Having once been a member of the Founders’ ministry and part of one of their church starts over a decade ago, I have great respect for these brethren and appreciate the cordial manner in which they confront these disputable matters within our convention.  In that spirit, this would be a good opportunity to offer one Traditionalist’s commentary on the Founders’ initial response to Patrick’s message.

Longshore breaks down his critique into three sections of study, Patriology (the doctrine of God), Anthropology (the doctrine of man), and Missiology (the doctrine of missions). This article will cover the third of these three sections. Under the heading of “Missiology,” Longshore writes,

Finally, the chapel message claimed that Calvinists “have used the commission as God reaching the elect few from every people group,” and therefore are less concerned “to reach souls wherever they may be found.”

Scripture:

Christ has given his followers a clear commission to go after the lost, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

John Calvin:

Calvin was so passionate about this commission that he had severe words for those who were lax in it. He did not try to target the elect, but taught the world-wide scope of Christ’s command, “The meaning amounts to this, that by proclaiming the gospel everywhere, they should bring all nations to the obedience of the faith.”

Calvinistic Southern Baptists:

Southern Baptists, who hold to the Calvinistic roots of their forefathers, possess that same hopeful and missionary spirit. That missionary fervor was indeed the very thing that brought them together. Their fervor to see God glorified in the salvation of souls motivates them to keep man-fishing even when there are no visible signs of success. This missionary resolve is seen in the Calvinistic Baptist missionaries William Carey and Adoniram Judson who labored years with no fruit, only to see abundant fruit after long and enduring faithfulness. The missionary passion of Calvinistic Southern Baptists is seen in one of those leading 293 delegates who gathered to organize the SBC. While remembering Carey, John Dagg exhorted his fellow American Baptists, “It is our duty to labor faithfully and perseveringly to bring all men to the knowledge of the truth… This commission requires us to preach the gospel to every creature; and we ought to be foremost in obeying it.”

When I was a 5-point Calvinist and a part of the Founders Ministry, I was also evangelistic. I participated in mission efforts and was as active in sharing my faith with others as I am today.  In this blog and on my podcast I have regularly strived to help my non-Calvinistic brethren understand that Calvinists are not typically anti-evangelistic and that every modern day Calvinistic scholar or pastor I know of is very interested in spreading the gospel to all people. As logically inconsistent at that may appear to some, it is a verifiable fact of the matter.

This fact, however, does not negate the merit of some sound logical arguments raised against the Calvinistic belief system. There is a good reason that when believers are introduced to Calvinism their first question is typically about the necessity of evangelism. This natural reaction to the teaching of Calvinism is evidenced by the volumes of work which have been produced by Calvinistic scholars over the years to answer this objection:

“If God has unchangeably determined who will and will not be saved, then what does it matter if I evangelize or not?”

Below is a clip from an article written by a respectable Calvinist attempting to answer this common objection:

Some would see the Calvinist as holding to what is sometimes called “Theistic Fatalism.” Obviously, much different than pure “fate” type fatalism, this view would acknowledge God as the cause of all things, which is certainly true, but would then lead to a false conclusion of inactivity. And this really is ultimately what separates a Theological Calvinist from a Theistic Fatalist: the conclusion we draw based on God’s sovereignty and ordination. Fatalism leads to inactivity, while Calvinism leads to the opposite…

The Calvinist’s belief in God’s sovereign power does not lead to inactivity, but rather activity on a grand scale. And part of the reason for this is that a Calvinist believes that God not only ordains the end; but also the means. Fatalism, however is largely unconcerned with the means, holding to more of a “let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” sort of philosophy. This is much different from the result of a Calvinistic philosophy of God’s ordaining work. The Calvinist teaches that while God ordains the “end” of salvation for His elect; He also ordains the “means” of their salvation through belief in the gospel. Pure, Biblical Calvinism would lead to a vibrant form of evangelism; as I think you clearly see displayed in the New Testament by the Apostles. So the “end” and the “means” are both ordained by God.    -Shane Kastler <link> (emphasis added)

It’s interesting to me that when a Calvinist seeks to defend against the charge of being a “Theistic Fatalist” he often argues “God not only ordains the end; but also the means” as if that is a point the Theistic Fatalist would in anyway deny.

That argument does not avoid the charge of Theistic Fatalism, but in fact affirms it. For what is Theistic Fatalism if not God’s determination of the ends and every single meticulous desire, thought and action (i.e. “means”) that bring about those ends?

What do the Calvinists think this qualification is accomplishing in their effort to distinguish themselves from the Theistic Fatalist? The belief that God unchangeably causes every meticulous detail of both the ends and their given means is at the very heart of Theistic Fatalism.

Are there Theistic Fatalists out there arguing, “God doesn’t determine the means,” while the Calvinists are going around correcting them saying, “No, no, no God does control the means too?”  Of course not.  Both systems of thought clearly affirm God’s cause of all things, including the ends and their respective means.

So, what is the Calvinist seeking to accomplish by pointing out a common belief that they share with Theistic Fatalists?

It appears to me the only real difference between a Theistic Fatalist and a Compatibilistic Calvinist is that the latter refuses to accept the practical implications of their own claims in order to remain consistent with the clear teaching of the Bible.

In both Theistic Fatalism and Calvinism, if God sovereignly decrees for me to go witness to my neighbor He will give me the effectual desire to go witness to my neighbor. If my neighbor is one of His elect and God has unchangeably elected for me to be the means by which my neighbor comes to Christ, then logically I would have to believe that God will give me the effectual desire and the opportunity to carry out His pre-ordained plan (i.e. “God ordained the means”). If that effectual desire never comes then why couldn’t I rightly conclude it ultimately was not God’s pre-ordained plan for me to be the means through which my neighbor would come to Christ?

The only logical argument a Compatibilistic Calvinist could bring to this charge is, “That’s true but you can’t think that way!”  In other words, the Compatibilist has to ignore the truth claims of his own systematic in order to live practically. His actual beliefs are untenable and must be ignored in order to remain consistent with the Biblical mandate.

NOTE: To hear studies about the effects of deterministic beliefs on practical application please listen to THIS PODCAST contrasting the teachings of Dr. Albert Mohler and Dr. John Piper.

If you go back and re-read the Calvinistic explanation posted above you will notice that there is no difference in the actual claims of the Calvinist and the Theistic Fatalist. The only difference is in how the person chooses to act in response to their commonly held belief of Divine determinism. Therein lies the problem for the Calvinist, for that choice is just as unchangably determined by God as is the choice of His elect to believe.

Did you follow that? Under the Calvinistic system, God unchangeably determines those who will accept the belief that “God not only ordains the end; but also the means.” And He determines if that believer will respond with evangelistic activity or inactivity. In other words, God decides if the  believer of theistic determinism will become a hyper-Calvinist who refuses to actively participate in evangelism or a productive, obedient Calvinist like the author above.

Calvinists are known to argue, “God has ordained for His elect to be saved through the proclamation of the gospel.” But wouldn’t they likewise argue that God has ordained for the saved to proclaim the gospel when they do proclaim it and not to proclaim it when they remain disobediently inactive?  After all, the author does affirm that God causes all things that come to pass, which would include the inactivity of the saints, would it not?

Think about this.  If any particular Calvinist chooses to disobey God and not proclaim the Gospel when impressed to do so by the Holy Spirit, who is really responsible for that choice to disobey?

Has God, for some unknown reason, not granted the sufficient grace to convince the will of His messenger to proclaim the truth when told to do so? Or has that messenger disobeyed of his own libertarian free will? And what is the result of that disobedience? When an individual Calvinistic believer disobeys God’s command to evangelize, did any fewer elect individuals respond in faith than what God ordained? Of course not.  Why?  Because God ordained for that Calvinist’s disobedience with the same level of “sovereign control” as He does in ordaining for another Calvinist’s obedience.

You see, a Calvinist may argue that evangelism in general is necessary for the salvation of the elect in general, but logically speaking, your individual responsibility to evangelize any particular elect person is not necessary for the salvation of that elect person. After all, if you weren’t ordained to evangelize that elect individual, someone else was, otherwise they wouldn’t be elect.

Granted, someone (but not necessarily you) has to share the gospel with the elect in order for them to be saved. If God has ordained you to be that evangelist, then He will give you the effectual desire to do so. Thus, if you refrain from doing so you could rightly conclude that you weren’t meant to be the means for that person’s salvation. You are left with the perfect excuse for your inactivity and disobedience to God’s command: “God unchangeably ordained the means, or in this case, my lack of participation in those means.”

So the next time a Calvinist argues that “God ordains the ends as well as the means” just remember this does not avoid the charge of Theistic Fatalism but actually confirms it. In fact, their system logically affirms that the believer’s inactive disobedience is as much according to God’s ordained plan as is another believer’s active obedience. So, if and when a Calvinist becomes “hyper” or “anti-evangelistic” in his behavior, he does so by God’s decree. And so, too, if a Calvinist becomes highly evangelistic in his behavior he does so equally by God’s decree (i.e. “God ordains the means”).  A consistent Calvinistic scholar cannot get around this logical fact no matter how much theological rhetoric they use to placate their opponents. The best they can do is say, “Just don’t think of of it that way,” which in essence means, “Act like what we believe isn’t true.” And to that I say, “AMEN!”

29 thoughts on “Calvinistic Southern Baptists and Theology: Part 3 of a Traditionalist’s Response to the Founders Ministry

  1. The sad truth is, that is exactly what my former Calvinist pastor suggested: ‘One needs to believe like a Calvinist, but live like a Baptist.’ Sadly, he did not see the absurdity of such thinking, as it is beliefs that determine actions. Nor do most Calvinists recognize the unavoidable fatalism of Calvinism, making any beliefs, motives or actions completely in God’s hands, leaving the blissful Calvinist void of all responsibility, Thus, Satan cleverly robs Calvinist believers of the incentive to grow spiritually or live selflessly, and they never understand what happened; nor are they terribly concerned, as God does not ‘see’ their sin or inactivity. Initially I found this wonderful lack of responsibility very freeing, until I began to see that it also eliminates all hope, meaning and purpose in life. If all is predetermined and controlled by God, there really is no sense in caring about anything, as it is all inevitable. That is why so many Calvinists end up atheists, preferring to believe that there is no God at all, than to believe we are mere helpless puppets in the hands of a controlling tyrant.

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  2. Leighton , you flee the truth by saying it delves in the the philosophical domain. You are forced to complicate thing to bring your view in to play. Plain readings really on leave three options. 1. God didn’t know everything before He created all things and thus gains knowledge. 2.God knows all things before He created all things and in a sense determined everything before He actually created. 3. Molinism. When you try to complicate it more than it is , you are hiding behind philosophy yourself.

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      1. All you are telling me is you refuse to use your God given brain to think things through by appealing to mystery on things you dislike. I see nothing mysterious or hidden about this subject.

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    1. Hi Vincent! Welcome. There is at least a fourth option. God knows everything, but in a different way than you think He knows everything. For most, they believe the future can only be known by God as settled, if He is to “know” everything. But if the future is not settled in His mind, and His mind is able to do discursive thinking within its infinite understanding of all possible things, then He knows it as it truly is, partially determined by Him already and partially still undetermined. I believe the Scripture best supports this fourth option.

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      1. 🙂 It is to me Vincent, and even to others. So if you want to point out a specific phrase that you would like me to clarify because it represents to you what is the most incoherent portion of what I said, please let me know. I will try to do my best to elucidate what I meant.

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      2. How are you distinct from an open theist? The argument is based that God is omniscient(knows all true propositions) and that entails what will be the case as that is a member of the set of all true propositions. You sound like A. N. Prior (famous open theist). If the truth of future events are not settled, then I see no way for you to affirm orthodox omniscience.

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      3. Vincent, Standing against “orthodoxy” is not always unbiblical. I am sure Jesus was accused of standing against “orthodoxy” and so was Luther, and many others.

        The truth of future events is what it is in God’s mind! The bigger issues are what I pointed out… that God does have discursive thinking and has not fully determined the future.

        A simple study to show that the future was not fully determined before creation is to observe all the verses in the Scriptures where God states clearly that He is making decisions about the future.

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      4. “The truth of future events is what it is in God’s mind!”

        This is agreed upon. The mind being eternal and unchanging.God being atemporal and immutable.

        ” The bigger issues are what I pointed out… that God does have discursive thinking and has not fully determined the future.”

        That God has reason to gain further knowledge? If God has to reason further in order to obtain further knowledge of the contingent future , what do you do with the laws of logic , mathematics , and truth? Does God deliberate? How can you have God move from states of ignorance to states of knowledge? If we want to really explain what type of knowledge God has, it would be propositional and if we maintain an Augustinian view of possible worlds, then why would God need to deliberate between objects of his own knowledge(content of his own mind)? You not only reduce to open theism ,but your system of thought becomes unintelligible.

        “A simple study to show that the future was not fully determined before creation is to observe all the verses in the Scriptures where God states clearly that He is making decisions about the future.”

        I doubt that and really think you should rethink your theology . I find determinism a much better position than that of indeterminism.

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  3. “So the next time a Calvinist argues that “God ordains the ends as well as the means” just remember this does not avoid the charge of Theistic Fatalism but actually confirms it.”

    The question must be asked in what sense is the word fatalism being employed?
    “Fatalism is the view that whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, no matter what we do.”. If this is what Leighton is arguing, then he’s incorrect. Under compatiblism human actions and God’s providential plan work together to bring about events. It’s akin to someone saying “It doesn’t matter whether you know God exist or not , because you are gonna be saved anyways!”. That’s not a logical implication of Calvinism. So, one Calvinist can go preach the Gospel with more confidence than any other Christian because he knows he will not fail and everyone who will believe in God will. It also should be noted that not all forms of determinism are the same. Causal determinism isn’t divine determinism.

    Does Leighton think that God doesn’t know who will be saved? If he does, then how could the contingent actions of men change that number? If the number cannot change, then how is Leighton’s system any less “fatalistic” as the dreaded Calvinist? Consider if all those out of reach of evangelist are damned anyways . While unknowingly condemning another he condemns his own.

    Leighton acts as if he has surpassed the argument from foreknowledge. Since we know God knows all and has known all things eternally with complete certainty. X being a choice. How could God know x will occur, while also knowing x might not occur? It cannot be based on the creature. The creature isn’t eternal and God has always known. If it is based on God, then it only furthers the case for determinism. It also should be mentioned that I’m not claiming that foreknowledge is Causal . That confused epistemological categories with casual.

    Flowers tend to use God’s timelessness as a way to try to get around the problem of foreknowledge.
    “This solution denies the first premise of the basic argument: (1) Yesterday God infallibly believed T. What is denied according to this solution is not that God believes infallibly, and not that God believes the content of proposition T, but that God believed T yesterday. This solution probably originated with the 6th century philosopher Boethius, who maintained that God is not in time and has no temporal properties, so God does not have beliefs at a time. It is therefore a mistake to say God had beliefs yesterday, or has beliefs today, or will have beliefs tomorrow. It is also a mistake to say God had a belief on a certain date, such as June 1, 2004. The way Boethius describes God’s cognitive grasp of temporal reality, all temporal events are before the mind of God at once. To say “at once” or “simultaneously” is to use a temporal metaphor, but Boethius is clear that it does not make sense to think of the whole of temporal reality as being before God’s mind in a single temporal present. It is an atemporal present, a single complete grasp of all events in the entire span of time.Aquinas adopted the Boethian solution as one of his ways out of theological fatalism, using some of the same metaphors as Boethius. One of the metaphors is the circle analogy, in which the way a timeless God is present to each and every moment of time is compared to the way in which the center of a circle is present to each and every point on its circumference (SCG I, 66). In contemporary philosophy probably the most well-known defenders of the idea that God is timeless are Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann (1981), who apply it explicitly to the foreknowledge dilemma (1991).
    Most objections to the timelessness solution to the dilemma of foreknowledge and freedom focus on the idea of timelessness itself, arguing either that it does not make sense or that it is incompatible with other properties of God that are religiously more compelling, such as personhood (e.g., Pike 1970, 121-129; Wolterstorff 1975; Swinburne 1977, 221). I have argued (Zagzebski 1991, chap. 2) that the timelessness move does not avoid the problem of theological fatalism since an argument structurally parallel to the basic argument can be formulated for timeless knowledge. If God is not in time, the key issue would not be the necessity of the past, but the necessity of the timeless realm. So the first three steps of the argument would be reformulated as follows:
    (1t) God timelessly knows T.
    (2t) If E is in the timeless realm, then it is now-necessary that E.
    (3t) It is now-necessary that T.
    Perhaps it is inappropriate to say that timeless events such as God’s timeless knowing are now-necessary, yet we have no more reason to think we can do anything about God’s timeless knowing than about God’s past knowing. The timeless realm is as much out of our reach as the past. So the point of (3t) is that we cannot now do anything about the fact that God timelessly knows T. The rest of the steps in the timeless dilemma argument are parallel to the basic argument. Step (5t) says that if there is nothing we can do about a timeless state, there is nothing we can do about what such a state entails. It follows that we cannot do anything about the future.In my judgment the Boethian solution does not solve the problem of theological fatalism by itself, but since the nature of the timeless realm is elusive, the intuition of the necessity of the timeless realm is probably weaker than the intuition of the necessity of the past. The necessity of the past has the advantage of being deeply imbedded in our ordinary intuitions about time; there are no ordinary intuitions about the realm of timelessness. Perhaps, then, the view that God is timeless puts the theological fatalist on the defensive.” https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/#2.2

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    1. Good observations Vincent! The summary – “there are no ordinary intuitions about the realm of timelessness” is significant! I would add that there is no clear Scripture revelation about a realm of “timelessness” either, but an eternal sequential one is obviously revealed – from everlasting to everlasting, who was and is and is to come. And if reality is an eternal sequential one, then the co-existence of a timelessness realm becomes contradictory in my view.

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    2. Vincent, I’ll answer your response to my post earlier which explains what I see as the biblical view of omniscience and foreknowledge, here.

      I disagree that the Scripture teaches that God’s mind is as you said – “…unchanging. God being atemporal and immutable.”

      God’s eternal reality is sequential, from everlasting to everlasting, who was and is and is to come. As with all His attributes they must be defined/delimited by what Scripture says. He is all powerful but unable to lie. He is all present, but not in the past which no longer exists. He is immutable, but one person of the Godhead “became” flesh. He is all knowing, but cannot know a contradiction as true. For Him to reveal the future with conditional statements, universal invitations and warnings, and verses about His still making decisions, makes knowing the future as completely settled a contradiction to that truth about it as revealed.

      Here are some verses to consider.

      God’s Decision Making After Creation

      Calvinism has two main problems defending the premise that all things were predetermined by God before creation. First, they must admit words like determine, plan, and choose when used for God in Scripture must be anthropomorphic since they do not believe God does any sequential thinking required in the meaning of those words. But second, they must admit that God was not honest when in Scripture He says that He still makes choices, plans, and determinations after creation.

      Deut. 12:5 (NKJV) 5“But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. [To fit determinism it should read “God chose”]
      2 Chr. 6:5-6 (NKJV) 5‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. 6Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ [To fit determinism it should read “I have already chosen”]
      2 Chr. 7:16 (NKJV) 16For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. [To fit determinism it should read “before creation I chose”]
      Psa. 25:12 (NKJV) 12Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. [To fit determinism it should read “He has chosen”]
      Psa. 65:4 (NKJV) 4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple. [To fit determinism it should read “God have chosen”]
      Psa. 75:2 (NKJV) 2 “When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.[To fit determinism it should read “Because I have chosen”]”
      Jer 18:11 (NKJV) 11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” [To fit determinism it should read “I devised a plan”]
      Mic 2:3 (NKJV) 3Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, From which you cannot remove your necks; Nor shall you walk haughtily, For this [is] an evil time. [To fit determinism it should read “I devised a plan”]
      Luke 22:42 (NKJV) 42…saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” [To fit determinism it should read “Even though it is not Your will”]
      1Cor 12:11 (NKJV) 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. [To fit determinism it should read “as He willed”]
      Heb 4:7 [NKJV] 7…again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” [To fit determinism it should read “He designated”]

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      1. Brian, I haven’t had the time to read through all the comments so this is really a quite ‘aside’ as it were. What do you think it means when scripture tells us that only the father knows the hour … Matt 24:36 Does this mean that the Son is not omniscient or is it just that our idea of omniscience is different from that of the Father’s? I would opt for the latter 🙂

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      2. Thanks for the question, Andrew! I like those kind that force me to mediate more deeply on long held ideas I was taught but hadn’t tested for myself with Scripture and reason.

        I was brought up in dispensational, premill, pretrib circles. It was dogma that the day and hour could not be known, since Christ said so, but it was assumed that the day and hour was already set, and fun to try to guess when the year might be! 🙂

        The Scripture has also treated time prophecies with fairly literal accuracy in their fulfillment, like the 400 years in bondage, the 7 years of famine and 7 of plenty, the 70 years of captivity, the 483 years from return to the Messiah, the three days and nights of Christ’s passion/resurrection, etc. These also make many believers assume that every event or every day of every year has been predetermined and therefore known as such in God’s foreknowledge/omniscience.

        So, having said that, to directly answer your two questions, I do not think Matt 24:36 means God the Father has written on some divine calendar for the future, “Send Jesus Back at 3:30pm” (Oct 1, 2060). Here’s why…

        It is not that God could not, or even might not have predetermined the day and hour of Jesus’ return. But I think certain things in Scripture have led me to believe He hasn’t.
        1. He said – “**concerning** that day and hour” which can give the assumption that it is already set, but it can also allow the possibility that it might not have been. I think Jesus is saying that only the Father knows if it has been set, which the word “concerning” allows. If Jesus had said – “Concerning that day and hour already SET by my Father…” it would have clearly revealed it was already predetermined.
        2. Jesus mentioned earlier in that chapter – “Pray that your flight be not in winter”. That indicates to me that the destruction of Jerusalem was not set on a certain day or hour at that point. If not that event was not set for a certain day or hour, perhaps the Second Coming was not either.
        3. Also in that chapter, Jesus said that the Second Coming is tied to the gospel being preached to all nations which one assumes is tied to the speed of believers’ faithfulness in accomplishing that task.
        3. Peter appears to clearly say that our testimonies can “hasten” that day (2Pet 3:12), also indicating that it is not set on a divine calendar.

        As for Jesus not knowing more of the details about His own return, when He said those words, I believe that was a result of His incarnation, and the divine “memory wipe” 🙂 that He went through to take on flesh. He became a prophet and could only share information about the future that the HS shared with Him, imo.

        It is assumed in His exaltation He resumed His use of His omniscience shared with the Father and “learned”/”remembered” at that point all that has been predetermined for the future and all that still has been left undetermined.

        We must keep in mind, I think, the normal meaning of prayer… it “is very powerful in its effect” (HCSB) James 5:12. Since Jesus is still praying, we can rightly assume all has not been set for the future, that is if we believe He has a free will that He still exercises freely when He prays.

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      3. “Vincent, I’ll answer your response to my post earlier which explains what I see as the biblical view of omniscience and foreknowledge, here.
        I disagree that the Scripture teaches that God’s mind is as you said – “…unchanging. God being atemporal and immutable.”

        That’s why your worldview falls into incoherence. The laws of logic are conceptual, eternal (timeless), unchanging , and abstract entities that must reside in an eternal and unchanging mind. Your worldview cannot provide the basic preconditions of intelligibility and therefore it is false.

        “God’s eternal reality is sequential,”

        1 . What’s an eternal temporal sequence? If it is never beginning and never ending, then would you mind justifying to us actual infinite regress of successive moments?
        2. What is the benefit of attributing this to God? Does God go from states of ignorance to that of states of knowledge?
        3. Where does the temporal realm which God exist come from?

        “from everlasting to everlasting, who was and is and is to come. As with all His attributes they must be defined/delimited by what Scripture says. He is all powerful but unable to lie.”

        We can agree here. That has scriptural backing.

        “He is all present, but not in the past which no longer exists.”

        This is debatable based on whether I subscribe to B theory or not .

        “He is immutable, but one person of the Godhead “became” flesh.”

        Still immutable. That’s the basic doctrine of the hypostatic union. He is immutable, impassable, and other things in his divine nature . While finite and changing in his human .

        “He is all knowing, but cannot know a contradiction as true.”

        That’s not a biblical limitation, but it comes from the fact that contradictions are false and therefore not objects of knowledge.

        ” For Him to reveal the future with conditional statements,”

        Did he not know what would occur? Conditional statements don’t imply God is figuring what’s going to happen out. Determinism is not incompatible with conditional statements. That’s a non sequitur.

        “universal invitations”

        Did he not know who would accept? A universal invitation doesn’t equate to God being eternally temporal. Is a universal invitation incompatible with a God drawing his children out from amongst the worlds dead? That’s a non sequitur.

        “and warnings,”

        Did he not know who will violate his commands ? Warnings don’t equate to God figuring out what will happen and it definitely doesn’t prove that God is temporal. Could I not warn someone with knowing they would violate the commands? Non sequitur.

        “and verses about His still making decisions,”

        Those verses aren’t treatises on time theory. You are misusing God’s communication to temporal creatures as rich testimonies to a debate the text don’t and weren’t meant to address. A text about God choosing something doesn’t make God temporal. It doesn’t imply God is making temporal decisions. That’s just an addedas assumption .

        “makes knowing the future as completely settled a contradiction”

        He doesn’t know what will occur is all I’ve gathered from this statement. Simply an open theist in doctrine but dislikes the title . It isn’t a contradiction, because those text don’t consider that question. I don’t even know what knowing an unsettled future means. This hermeneutic us reminiscent of the open theist who boldly states ” Why does God ask questions in scripture? This must be because he doesn’t know the answer!” .

        “to that truth about it as revealed.”

        The problem is the “truth” revealed aren’t revealing what you suppose are true.

        “Here are some verses to consider.
        God’s Decision Making After Creation
        Calvinism has two main problems defending the premise that all things were predetermined by God before creation. ”

        That’s rather easier proven then one thinks.

        “First, they must admit words like determine, plan, and choose when used for God in Scripture must be anthropomorphic since they do not believe God does any sequential thinking required in the meaning of those words.”

        The only individuals that believe as you do are open theist. This isn’t a problem for just the Calvinist, but all of orthodox Christianity. You need to provide an argument that the necessary precondition of those things are “sequential thinking”. You assume such without an argument.

        “But second, they must admit that God was not honest when in Scripture He says that He still makes choices, plans, and determinations after creation.”

        That’s not the case. God has externally decreed his “plans” to come to pass. His choices are eternal atemporal acts.

        “Deut. 12:5 (NKJV) 5“But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. [To fit determinism it should read “God chose”]”

        To fit indeterminism it would read:
        “But you might by amoral uncaused choices seek the place where the LORD your God might choose, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you might go.”

        2 Chr. 6:5-6 (NKJV) 5‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. 6Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’ [To fit determinism it should read “I have already chosen”]

        Under indeterminism it should say:

        “Since the day that you by unaided , uncaused , amoral choices you , my people , brought yourself out of the land of Egypt, I might have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. 6Yet I might have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I might have chosen David(but Dave also chose himself)  to be over My people Israel.’

        2 Chr. 7:16 (NKJV) 16For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. [To fit determinism it should read “before creation I chose”]

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        “For now the house have chose and sanctified themselves by chance, that My name might be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

        Psa. 25:12 (NKJV) 12Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. [To fit determinism it should read “He has chosen”]

        Under libertarianism it should read:
        “Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him he will surely try to teach in the way He suggest.”

        Psa. 65:4 (NKJV) 4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple. [To fit determinism it should read “God have chosen”]

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        “Blessed is the man that chooses himself, And causes himself to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We might be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.”

        Psa. 75:2 (NKJV) 2 “When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.[To fit determinism it should read “Because I have chosen”]”

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        “When you choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly.”

        Jer 18:11 (NKJV) 11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” [To fit determinism it should read “I devised a plan”]

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        “Now therefore, I ask you to say to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am trying to think up a good disaster for you and making up a plan against you. Return now every one (unless chance won’t let you ) from his evil way, and by uncaused choices change your ways and your doings good.”

        Mic 2:3 (NKJV) 3Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, against this family I am devising disaster, From which you cannot remove your necks; Nor shall you walk haughtily, For this [is] an evil time. [To fit determinism it should read “I devised a plan”]

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        3Therefore thus says the LORD: “Behold, against this family I am thinking up a disaster, From which by your uncaused choices you cannot remove your necks; Nor shall you walk haughtily, For this [is] an evil time.”

        Luke 22:42 (NKJV) 42…saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” [To fit determinism it should read “Even though it is not Your will”]

        Indeterminism would have it say:
        saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not your will, but mine, be done.”

        1Cor 12:11 (NKJV) 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. [To fit determinism it should read “as He willed”]

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        “But one and the same Spirit works some of these things, distributing to each one individually as they will.

        Heb 4:7 [NKJV] 7…again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” [To fit determinism it should read “He designated”]

        Under indeterminism it should read:
        “again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you by uncaused choices hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts(But if you do it really doesn’t make much a difference anyways).”

        God simply speaks into time to temporal individuals. He is speaking to people so they can understand. The bible uses terms like this all over the place. It speaks of the spirit indwelling us. Does that mean the Holy spirit is in my kidney? Of course not . It is a metaphor. Jesus paid for our sins. How much money you think he spent and who did he pay? See these are nonsense questions that miss the point. That’s the hermeneutic you’re employing to refute the Calvinist. When the bible says God changed his mind you need to take that literally. You know that never entered my mind. You take things as anthropomorphic and so do I. I just don’t criticize you for it .

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      4. I appreciated Vincent the time you took to provide a thorough reply to my post. I also appreciated your focus on looking for logical fallacies and hermeneutic weaknesses in the premises and Scriptures that I discussed. I hope your motivation is not to win an argument but to honor God and His truth and to help a brother in Christ be edified.

        Before reading my reply further, I would recommend that you reread your response as if you were me critiquing the reasonableness of your arguments against what I wrote. It was in taking the other side of the debate that God used to lead Leighton Flowers to admit the glaring weaknesses of Calvinism in logic, but especially in the clarity of Scripture.

        It is the clarity of Scripture and the assumption that God does not use false innuendo to accomplish His will that is truly at issue in our discussion, Vincent, and that the authority of doctrine must be based on the clarity of Scripture.

        I agree with your view on the laws of logic, but believe that your appeal that since they are “are conceptual, eternal (timeless), unchanging, and abstract entities” that they “must reside in an eternal and unchanging mind” is truly a non-sequitur. That the mind must be eternal is necessary, and that those abstract entities must be unchanging is necessary, but that everything else in that mind must be unchanging is unproven.

        Let me answer now your questions that you posed. And as long as we can share good questions that are not just rhetorical, I think we can have a fruitful discussion. You asked –
        1 . “What’s an eternal temporal sequence? If it is never beginning and never ending, then would you mind justifying to us actual infinite regress of successive moments?”
        2. What is the benefit of attributing this to God? Does God go from states of ignorance to that of states of knowledge?
        3. Where does the temporal realm which God exist come from?
        Let me deal with these together. I did not say “eternal temporal sequence” but an “eternal sequential reality”. Of course reality comes from God’s nature, and “an infinite regress of successive moments” is conceivable just like an uncaused first cause is conceivable in defining God’s nature. There is no need to look for “benefit” in attributing this to God, for He has described Himself this way as you, I think admit, in the terms “from everlasting to everlasting”, “who was and is and is to come”. But to hold your position you must declare these expressions as anthropomorphic accommodations by God when He could have easily said “timeless” or “without sequence of experience”.

        Eternal sequential reality does benefit us in understanding the relationship between the members of the Godhead, for relationship is defined by sequential responses. It is important that you know Vincent that I affirm God has infinite understanding, so that, even though changes within that understanding take place, like facts that were known as future becoming known as past, His infinite understanding remains perfect.

        You may have to think a little deeper about how the incarnation proves a delimitation on defining immutably. None of the other members of the Godhead became flesh. The one that did was not eternally in flesh. The Godhead experienced a change when the incarnation took place. There is no other way to define it.

        The weaknesses in the rest of your review of what I said may have resulted in my not clarifying one basic thing in what I wrote. I believe the Scripture reveals clearly that the future, which only exists in God’s mind (as does the past now, if you want to be logical and if the Scripture speaks truly), that the future is partially determined already as well as partially undetermined. Not realizing this was the major premise behind what I said may be what led you perhaps to not seeing how my argument follows. You changed all the verses I pointed to as if I would discount the determined aspects stated clearly within them. The determined aspects stand, just as much as the undetermined aspects do.

        That conditional statements, universal commands, and universal warnings do not prove what you assumed I was trying to prove as true. But I am on solid ground hermeneutically in identifying them as such, and in stating that they clearly do not prove there is a settled future in God’s mind, but logically infer the opposite to the normal reader. To maintain your premise that there is a settled future in God’s mind requires implying God is using false innuendo in those statements.

        It is easier to make fit with His declared infinite understanding a few verses like God saying “now I know” or “It never came to my mind” than it is to attribute a deceptiveness to God’s revelation about many things, or to assume an inability in God to speak univocally about Himself to man created in His image. If conditional statements do not clearly represent their truth, then how do we know unconditional statements do? Maybe God is using unconditional statements deceptively also!

        Let me have you consider some evidence from one smarter than Augustine, Calvin, or Sproul. Jesus prayed – “if it be possible…” Would He have prayed those words if no true possibility existed? Or was He just ignorant of the premise that you believe, that is, that the future is eternally set. When Jesus recommended, “Pray that your flight be not in winter”, was He ignorant that all such details were already set about the promised event of the destruction of Jerusalem? I don’t think Jesus’ understanding of reality was deficient. And the Scripture only posits clearly a sequential one with a future that is already partially determined but also yet partially undetermined.

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      5. Andrew, Hi.

        “Matt 24:36 Does this mean that the Son is not omniscient or is it just that our idea of omniscience is different from that of the Father’s? I would opt for the latter”

        1. The former entails that the Son is not God as he would lack an essential attribute of God.
        2. The problem with the latter is it makes God have different attributes between the Father and Son . It enters a realm of subordinationism.
        3. Maybe the text is about how Christ lived as a human. The problem with this is the Holy Spirit is left out . This explanation doesn’t account for the Spirit and should be rejected.
        4. We can do grammatical historical hermeneutics and find this is in the language of weddings. https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=7cPfVZJIaxI
        https://carm.org/if-holy-spirit-god-why-didnt-he-know-time-christs-return

        Which i see no reason to find the cross is anymore determined then his return and the vindication of those who died for his name.

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      6. “It is the clarity of Scripture and the assumption that God does not use false innuendo to accomplish His will that is truly at issue in our discussion, Vincent, and that the authority of doctrine must be based on the clarity of Scripture.”

        There’s a difference between being purposefully deceptive and graciously accommodating. The perspicuity of scripture isn’t incompatible with divine condescension.

        “I agree with your view on the laws of logic, but believe that your appeal that since they are “are conceptual, eternal (timeless), unchanging, and abstract entities” that they “must reside in an eternal and unchanging min66d” is truly a non-sequitur. That the mind 6 be eternal is necessary, and that those abstract entities must be unchanging is necessary, but that everything else in that mind must be unchanging is unproven.”

        1. If the mind is truly eternal, it is a mind that isn’t subject to temporal change. If it cannot be subject to temporal change, then the mind has no point in time to change.
        2. If the laws of logic simply are truths and all truths reside in a divine mind, then what could it change too? If it still could change it implies the content of this mind are contingent and the laws could have been otherwise. Or to put it differently, the laws of logic are necessary truths. The laws of logic reside in a mind. This mind must also be necessary. If this mind is a necessary mind, then it is the same in all possible worlds. Things that which are necessary are not contingent. Only things that are contingent change. The mind of God is necessary and non contingent. Therefore, it does not change.

        “Let me deal with these together. I did not say “eternal temporal sequence” but an “eternal sequential reality”. ”

        The issue isn’t whether you stated it or not. That wasn’t my claim. My claim is that’s the logical implication of your view.

        “Of course reality comes from God’s nature, and “an infinite regress of successive moments” is conceivable just like an uncaused first cause is conceivable in defining God’s nature.”

        I disagree, I find a first cause of the temporal order in which God tenselessly brings it into being, conceivable.

        ” There is no need to look for “benefit” in attributing this to God, for He has described Himself this way as you, I think admit, in the terms “from everlasting to everlasting”, “who was and is and is to come”. ”

        No, not at all. I don’t think the author had the same concept as you are applying them.

        “But to hold your position you must declare these expressions as anthropomorphic accommodations by God when He could have easily said “timeless” or “without sequence of experience”.”

        Well, God could’ve contrary to that have said “I’m in time” and “I am existing in sequence of experience”. He could’ve said “I’m a Trinitarian being” , “The bible is only 66 books” , “Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith” ,and so many other things. The point is this isn’t a good argument against anyone’s position. It neither disproves yours , mine, the Trinitarian , sola scriptura, or the classic Protestant Canon. We should understand that scripture is written for people of a specific time and was not written to solve all our problem in philosophic theology.

        “Eternal sequential reality does benefit us in understanding the relationship between the members of the Godhead, for relationship is defined by sequential responses.”

        I find inner Trinitarian love compatible with timeless actions by each member. I find it strange to say if you’re implying that the members of the trinity had sequentially became loving to one another.

        “It is important that you know Vincent that I affirm God has infinite understanding, so that, even though changes within that understanding take place, like facts that were known as future becoming known as past, His infinite understanding remains perfect.”

        “You may have to think a little deeper about how the incarnation proves a delimitation on defining immutably. None of the other members of the Godhead became flesh. The one that did was not eternally in flesh. The Godhead experienced a change when the incarnation took place. There is no other way to define it.”

        I think those who propose have presented the atemporal view of God have thought about these issues. Such as Paul Helm and Steve Hays

        He objects to the idea that there was no time when the eternal God was Jesus of Nazareth. His criticism of this view is I think based on a misunderstanding. To say that is to affirm that the Logos had no life history independent of and prior to the Incarnation. That must be the case if the Logos is God and God is timelessly eternal. As the Constantinopolitan Creed (AD 381)  puts it ‘We believe in one God, the Father All Governing, creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all time.’ But of course there were times when the Son was not incarnate, namely those times in history before AD 1. When in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, ‘through whom also he created the world….[who] upholds the universe by the word of his power’. (Heb. 1 2-3) So we must distinguish Christ the Mediator’s own life-history, and his incarnation at a time in world-history, ‘born of a woman, born under the law’.

        So we must distinguish the years of created history and the life of eternal God. It is probably misleading to refer to this life as forming God’s ‘life history’, since an eternal being has no history, while we, and the Incarnate One, necessarily  have one. Nevertheless it makes the point (in a negative way) that God eternally decreed to become incarnate in 1 AD.” Helm
        http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2014/03/eternal-god-and-god-in-time.html?m=1

        “This is also germane to the timing of the Incarnation. If the Son of God is timeless, then there was never a time when he was discarnate. And yet the Incarnation can still be effected in time, having a point of origin in time. ” Hays
        http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/time-eternity.html?m=1

        “The weaknesses in the rest of your review of what I said may have resulted in my not clarifying one basic thing in what I wrote. I believe the Scripture reveals clearly that the future, which only exists in God’s mind (as does the past now, if you want to be logical and if the Scripture speaks truly), that the future is partially determined already as well as partially undetermined. Not realizing this was the major premise behind what I said may be what led you perhaps to not seeing how my argument follows. You changed all the verses I pointed to as if I would discount the determined aspects stated clearly within them. The determined aspects stand, just as much as the undetermined aspects do.”

        I was showing you how your hermeneutic is self defeating. I don’t even think it’s coherent to speak of certain events asdetermined through indeterminate means. As if events in the world aren’t related to one another . It seems you become the fatalist. That specific events like the cross are brought about regardless to the indeterminism that undergirds them. How could Pontius Pilate have decided to have Christ crucified if his parents (by contingent choices) never met?

        “That conditional statements, universal commands, and universal warnings do not prove what you assumed I was trying to prove as true. But I am on solid ground hermeneutically in identifying them as such, and in stating that they clearly do not prove there is a settled future in God’s mind, but logically infer the opposite to the normal reader. To maintain your premise that there is a settled future in God’s mind requires implying God is using false innuendo in those statements.”

        What’s a settled future? You use that analogy, but it’s confusing how you employ it. The future is “settled” in the Calvinist sense because everything is divinely determined. But being settled in the mind of God because he know what will occur. You obviously deny the former, but what about the latter.

        “It is easier to make fit with His declared infinite understanding a few verses like God saying “now I know” or “It never came to my mind” than it is to attribute a deceptiveness to God’s revelation about many things, or to assume an inability in God to speak univocally about Himself to man created in His image. If conditional statements do not clearly represent their truth, then how do we know unconditional statements do? Maybe God is using unconditional statements deceptively also!”

        I didn’t deny that we cannot speak or that God univocally speaks about himself. Even tho in certain circumstances we cannot because the creature creator distinction. A statement with that is conditional doesn’t imply any metaphysical circumstance in regards whether determinism or indeterminism is the case. So, you are willing to accept the open theist interpretations of those passages to avoid God being timeless!? I don’t find God condescension to us as him being “deceptive” but rather loving. Which is much better than God flat out contradicting himself. While trying to figure out these things he also knows everything(Col.2:3, Isa.40:13-14, 46:9-10, psalm 139:1-16, Rom. 11:33, 1 John 3:20) ? That’s true deception.

        “”Let me have you consider some evidence from one smarter than Augustine, Calvin, or Sproul. Jesus prayed – “if it be possible…” Would He have prayed those words if no true possibility existed? ”

        Yes. It was not possible(given the decree) that Christ run off somewhere else. But since you imply now that it was possible the cross not occur . Then you have an issue.  Because you have said God determines some events and not others. You also maintain libertarian freedom . Your view results in the cross not happening by the plan of God , but rather impersonal chance. You either must give up your view of the word “possible” or deny the clear teaching the cross was ordained.

        “Or was He just ignorant of the premise that you believe, that is, that the future is eternally set. When Jesus recommended, “Pray that your flight be not in winter”, was He ignorant that all such details were already set about the promised event of the destruction of Jerusalem? I don’t think Jesus’ understanding of reality was deficient. And the Scripture only posits clearly a sequential one with a future that is already partially determined but also yet partially undetermined.”

        The scriptures never address time theory. They just speak about men in various times. It wasn’t written to answer this question. I think the universe has a sequence of temporal events , but that’s separate issue from divine timelessness. You must maintain God brought time into being. If not you have an infinite regress. So, God has not been temporal. Without creation God couldn’t be temporal. I think Christ view is fine but these text don’t give it. We can either misuse the bible or admit that time theory isn’t discussed.

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      7. Vincent, If you can describe from your theology what God meant, and your meaning makes the original Scripture sound deceptive, then God was not “graciously accommodating” for He could have used your very same words, and would have been much more accommodating. God is not viewed as very condescending as your claim, if you can make His words to be better understood in a way He Himself could have.

        It does not follow – “If the mind is truly eternal, it is a mind that isn’t subject to temporal change.” Eternal just means without beginning or end. His mind has not beginning or end, but how it functions is what we are discussing.

        All truths do reside in the divine mind with full understanding. But there are in it changes from things being known as future to being known as past or being known as possible to be known as either certain or counterfactual. Those are not changes that create any imperfection in His infinite understanding, just like the change from all members of the Godhead being without flesh to one being with flesh forever was a change, but not one creating any imperfection.

        It does not follow – “The mind of God is necessary and non-contingent. Therefore, it does not change.” The divine mind is necessary and uncreated, but the thoughts in that mind have been revealed in Scripture, and some of those thoughts are revealed as being contingent with respect to indeterminate aspects of the future revealed in Scripture.

        You said – “I find a first cause of the temporal order in which God tenselessly brings it into being, conceivable.” You will need Scriptural proof for such a statement, for Scripture clearly speaks of various events “before” the foundation of the world, which foundation I am assuming is when you believe the “temporal order” of before and after began. The concept of communication and relationship in the Godhead before creation requires a sequential reality. I never implied that their relationship only started as a sequential expression after creation, but that it was eternally sequential, which is how all relationships are understood. The love between them was eternal, but they didn’t all “talk” at the same “time” before creation.  Reality did not start to be sequential at creation, but sequential reality is part of the eternal nature of God, according to Scripture.

        To say that the terms “from everlasting to everlasting”, “who was and is and is to come” do not reveal a sequential reality and that you “don’t think the author had the same concept as [I am] applying them” begs for an explanation of how you think those terms could mean a non-sequential reality.

        Thank you for the quotes from Helm and Hays, but if you cannot see how they are contradictory, I do not think you will be open to the reasonableness of my understanding that the incarnation, in most people’s thinking constitutes as real change in the Godhead. For Helm to say – ”since an eternal being has no history” and Hays to say – “then there was never a time when he was discarnate” not only put them at odds with each other, but are both rejections of Scripture’s teaching of the incarnation for the sake of defining immutability in a way that doesn’t fit all of Scripture. The Word “became” flesh. It seems that the clarity of Scripture is easily sacrificed to remain loyal to immutability as defined by Plato.

        I think you are going to have to think more about how God can exercise free will so that determinations of some events can be made in His mind that allow for indeterminate aspects to be decided or allowed later as any determined event draws closer to fulfillment. You asked, “How could Pontius Pilate have decided to have Christ crucified if his parents (by contingent choices) never met?” But there was no need for a pre-determination of Pontius Pilate’s decision to be divinely made any earlier than when Jesus’ hour had come to be crucified. God could freely decide then how He would maneuver the authorities to pass that judgment. There was no need to manipulate the romance of Pilate’s parents in connection with that end. Whoever was in charge would have become “Pilate” for that crucifixion judgment.

        You asked for me to clarify if I believe that God knows “what will occur.” He knows perfectly all that He has determined to occur, and He knows perfectly all the possibilities that He has not yet determined to cause or permit to occur. One choice of a group of possibilities for a certain future event will be determined to be caused or permitted to occur by God’s free will at some point, and then it will no longer be known in God’s infinite understanding as a possibility, but it will change to being known as a determination, without causing a change in the perfection of God’s understanding.

        You asked – “So, you are willing to accept the open theist interpretations of those passages to avoid God being timeless!?” If by “timeless” you mean not subject to the measurements of sequence dependent on movement of matter within creation, then I am not avoiding anything. But I cannot avoid the revelation of eternal sequence, given in Scripture, which makes a non-sequential reality that many mean by the term “timeless” contradictory to what Scripture says. It is not that we don’t both agree, Vincent, that God knows everything. We don’t agree on what the “everything” is that God knows. He cannot know a settled future if one doesn’t exist in His mind.

        You said – “You either must give up your view of the word ‘possible’ or deny the clear teaching the cross was ordained.” But that is a false dichotomy considering what Christ was praying. He understood everything the Scripture revealed about His passion and even revealed to His disciples that He was ready to go through all that He knew about it, including the scourging and crucifixion. But in the garden, He “began to be very sorrowful” and one can only assume that the Holy Spirit revealed the extent of the “cup” He was about to taste, especially the depths of rejection by the Father. There was certainly something that Christ thought might be possible in removing that cup, and still fulfill what other things that had been revealed, or He would not have prayed such words. You need to give an alternative interpretation for that prayer. Did Jesus not understand, like you think you do, the idea that the future is completely pre-determined?

        To say – “The scriptures never address time theory” – is to admit that a very important foundational premise upon which Calvinism rises and falls is not addressed in Scripture. And it is a premise that is constantly being used to undermine, imo, Scriptures’ clear teaching that some things are not yet set for the future, otherwise Jesus would not have asked His disciples to pray that their flight would not be in winter when Jerusalem falls.

        I don’t think I can explain it much better for you, Vincent. Unless you have a question for me, please take the last word in response. Blessings.

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    3. “Vincent, If you can describe from your theology what God meant, and your meaning makes the original Scripture sound deceptive, then God was not “graciously accommodating” for He could have used your very same words, and would have been much more accommodating. God is not viewed as very condescending as your claim, if you can make His words to be better understood in a way He Himself could have.”

      Argument parallels “If God was a Trinitarian being , then he would’ve said trinity or 1 being and 3 persons in the bible. If he doesn’t then he’s being deceptive!”. The Bible isn’t written to be an answer book to the problems of philosophy . It’s strange to use these verses to prove a point they aren’t intended to prove. To act as if random and out of context verses are treatises on time theory and determinism/indeterminism is strange. These are verses dealing with people in specific places and times . Does God speak to men in time? Yes. But that doesn’t make him temporal. He’s just speaking to time bound creatures.

      “It does not follow – “If the mind is truly eternal, it is a mind that isn’t subject to temporal change.” Eternal just means without beginning or end. His mind has not beginning or end, but how it functions is what we are discussing.”

      Time came into being. Genesis 1:1 , John 1:1-3 , and other text purport with the idea God brought things into being. God’s mind always existed. He didn’t come into being. So, to most it seems fairly obvious that eternal implies timelessness.

      “All truths do reside in the divine mind with full understanding.”

      You say that now ,but when it comes down to the gamble you deny that. You even used the argument from indexicals . You look at it and say ” Now it is 5pm” . That God does not know that till it is that time unless he’s temporal and at that time. God learns that truth. You simply prove omniscience is a fraud on your system and become an open theist. You think some truths exist in the divine mind. Philosophers have shown that even if You were right ,then you have the problem of spatial being. If you would like to hear that I can share it. But maybe I’ll posit a B theory of time. I get around the problem of tensed facts.

      “But there are in it changes from things being known as future to being known as past or being known as possible to be known as either certain or counterfactual.”

      I think God knows those truths and doesn’t change. I think counterfactuals are themselves known because they are simply other possibilities. That’s not middle knowledge.

      ” Those are not changes that create any imperfection in His infinite understanding,”

      Except it does show he’s imperfect in knowledge and understanding. It’s a dig and redefinition of God’s attribute. You seem to be at war with yourself. You go from “God doesn’t always know some truths”

      But then “It doesn’t affect his infinite knowledge” . It’s like the man who says “Jesus is not God” but “This doesn’t undermine his divinity “.

      “just like the change from all members of the Godhead being without flesh to one being with flesh forever was a change, but not one creating any imperfection.”

      It didn’t change anything in essence or in being. Christ was a temporal man and the non temporal God. You didn’t interact on that and simply just dismissed it .

      “It does not follow – “The mind of God is necessary and non-contingent. Therefore, it does not change.” The divine mind is necessary and uncreated, but the thoughts in that mind have been revealed in Scripture, and some of those thoughts are revealed as being contingent with respect to indeterminate aspects of the future revealed in Scripture.”

      I’ll provide my statement:

      1. If the mind is truly eternal, it is a mind that isn’t subject to temporal change. If it cannot be subject to temporal change, then the mind has no point in time to change.

      2. If the laws of logic simply are truths and all truths reside in a divine mind, then what could it change too? If it still could change it implies the content of this mind are contingent and the laws could have been otherwise.

      1. The laws of logic are necessary truths. The laws of logic reside in a mind.

      2. This mind must also be necessary.

      3. If this mind is a necessary mind, then it is the same in all possible worlds.

      4. Things that which are necessary are not contingent.

      5. Only contingent things change. The mind of God is necessary and non contingent.

      6. Therefore, the mind of God does not change.

      So, you say the conclusion doesn’t follow but if you simply read my whole statement you charge of it being a non sequitur isn’t correct. It definitely from my points that if non contingent things cannot change, then it follows a necessary mind cannot change. What argument might go against the notion that necessary objects change? What do squares and triangles change to? Circles? Which world is a bachelor married?

      3. What about this and divine simplicity? God is a being not made of physical constituents. God has these attributes and that of his mind is truth. What could God do if his necessary attributes can be otherwise? If the very attributes of God are contingent , then he himself is contingent and not necessary. It also undermines ethics as God has become mutable. So, that which reflects the nature of God can be different. You can’t have truth or ethics.

      4. It seems God couldn’t be omniscient in this eternal sequential view. If in mathematics we have an infinite number of internal relationships between natural numbers and therefore an infinite amount of mathematical propositions. God thinks about this in sequence and succession in your view. Which would require an infinite amount of time.

      “You said – “I find a first cause of the temporal order in which God tenselessly brings it into being, conceivable.” You will need Scriptural proof ”

      Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 8:24, John 1:1-3 , Colossians 1:16.

      “for such a statement, for Scripture clearly speaks of various events “before” the foundation of the world, which foundation I am assuming is when you believe the “temporal order” of before and after began. ”

      I think it’s just simply follows the way which people talk. It has nothing to do with a time before time. We often speak about what happened before the world existed. There was not time before God created

      “The concept of communication and relationship in the Godhead before creation requires a sequential reality. ”

      You need an argument for that.

      “I never implied that their relationship only started as a sequential expression after creation, but that it was eternally sequential, which is how all relationships are understood. ”

      I view sequential as a temporal term for the moment and I’m arguing that time was created . So, you have to either argue that time was never created or you could explain what you mean by sequential.

      “The love between them was eternal, but they didn’t all “talk” at the same “time” before creation. ”

      God has no time. Give an argument that God must be temporal. The article by Steve Hays deals with the issue of temporal conversations with God. If time came into existence, then timelessness is compatible with communication and Trinitarian love.

      “ Reality did not start to be sequential at creation, but sequential reality is part of the eternal nature of God, according to Scripture.”

      Reality didn’t exist before God created it. Are you a pantheist ?

      “To say that the terms “from everlasting to everlasting”, “who was and is and is to come” do not reveal a sequential reality and that you “don’t think the author had the same concept as [I am] applying them” begs for an explanation of how you think those terms could mean a non-sequential reality.”

      You say these terms prove your case but that’s what in dispute. I just don’t think they are about time theory. complex complement complements complementary complements

      “Thank you for the quotes from Helm and Hays, but if you cannot see how they are contradictory, ”

      They are complementary.

      “I do not think you will be open to the reasonableness of my understanding that the incarnation, in most people’s thinking constitutes as real change in the Godhead.”

      Most people have not pondered these questions in depth.

      ” For Helm to say – ”since an eternal being has no history” and Hays to say – “then there was never a time when he was discarnate” not only put them at odds with each other,”

      The basic doctrine of the hypostatic union answers this problem. Jesus is timeless in his divine nature and temporal in his human. Both can be ascribed to The one person that is Christ. You don’t have each nature leaking into one another. Christ had always been timeless prior till him taking flesh. John 1:1-18 speak of the eternal world that took to himself flesh. So, Helm can say and has said the same as Hays and be consistent. You can’t take statements in isolation , but complete doctrines.

      ” but are both rejections of Scripture’s teaching of the incarnation for the sake of defining immutability in a way that doesn’t fit all of Scripture. The Word “became” flesh. It seems that the clarity of Scripture is easily sacrificed to remain loyal to immutability as defined by Plato.”

      I think it’s common for us to conceptualize everything from a temporal perspective and that’s where God speaks to us. The Bible is written to men of their time and not in modern philosophical language of time theory. There’s no New Testament scholar that disagrees with that. The Bible was written by those encapsulated in time and space. You simply are reading in your Philosophical ideas as the purpose of these text and that’s called eisegesis.

      “I think you are going to have to think more about how God can exercise free will so that determinations of some events can be made in His mind that allow for indeterminate aspects to be decided or allowed later as any determined event draws closer to fulfillment. ”

      Basically reduces to that God makes sure a few events occur and is hands off trying to predict what might the indeterminate actualize into.

      “You asked, “How could Pontius Pilate have decided to have Christ crucified if his parents (by contingent choices) never met?”

      But there was no need for a pre-determination of Pontius Pilate’s decision to be divinely made any earlier than when Jesus’ hour had come to be crucified. God could freely decide then how He would maneuver the authorities to pass that judgment. There was no need to manipulate the romance of Pilate’s parents in connection with that end. Whoever was in charge would have become “Pilate” for that crucifixion judgment.”

      Yeah, then the event truly was predestined. The individuals predestined to do it Are just interchangeable pieces and really play very little in which happens. To where God just tries to manipulate circumstances to get intended purposes that may not turn out the way he thought it would. I don’t even know how you can have someone other than Pilate because he was predestined as well to do this. The phrase “the time has come ” doesn’t mean much here. But how do you know Pilates replacement would’ve done it?

      “You asked for me to clarify if I believe that God knows “what will occur.” He knows perfectly all that He has determined to occur, and He knows perfectly all the possibilities that He has not yet determined to cause or permit to occur. ”

      That’s not a yes or no. It didn’t even answer the question. God knows things he has determined (which is what? Maybe a few events?) and all possibilities ( Is this of all other possible worlds? This isn’t specific enough). Here, if God knows all possibilities and all possible worlds he must know what will happen in the actual. Therefore, he knows what will occur.

      “You asked – “So, you are willing to accept the open theist interpretations of those passages to avoid God being timeless!?” If by “timeless” you mean not subject to the measurements of sequence dependent on movement of matter within creation, then I am not avoiding anything. But I cannot avoid the revelation of eternal sequence, given in Scripture, which makes a non-sequential reality that many mean by the term “timeless” contradictory to what Scripture says. It is not that we don’t both agree, Vincent, that God knows everything. We don’t agree on what the “everything” is that God knows. He cannot know a settled future if one doesn’t exist in His mind.”

      I am pretty sure you were leaning into God learning indexical statements . I think you have a very strange hermeneutic to get that belief.

      “You said – “You either must give up your view of the word ‘possible’ or deny the clear teaching the cross was ordained.” But that is a false dichotomy considering what Christ was praying. He understood everything the Scripture revealed about His passion and even revealed to His disciples that He was ready to go through all that He knew about it, including the scourging and crucifixion. But in the garden, He “began to be very sorrowful” and one can only assume that the Holy Spirit revealed the extent of the “cup” He was about to taste, especially the depths of rejection by the Father. There was certainly something that Christ thought might be possible in removing that cup, and still fulfill what other things that had been revealed, or He would not have prayed such words. You need to give an alternative interpretation for that prayer. Did Jesus not understand, like you think you do, the idea that the future is completely pre-determined?”

      Jesus was showing the reality that he was a man. He knew what was going to occur.

      http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2016/09/ambushed-by-life.html?m=1

      “To say – “The scriptures never address time theory” – is to admit that a very important foundational premise upon which Calvinism rises and falls is not addressed in Scripture. ”

      This is the issue. Time theory is not the Calvinism Arminianism debate. Tell me which theory of Time Calvinist must affirm? Calvinism is more apart of the determinism and indeterminism debate. You are debating reality and it’s relation to God. This parallels that debate , but it isn’t identical.

      “And it is a premise that is constantly being used to undermine, imo, Scriptures’ clear teaching that some things are not yet set for the future, otherwise Jesus would not have asked His disciples to pray that their flight would not be in winter when Jerusalem falls.”

      I don’t even get your point. I think the Bible teaches determinism and that God isn’t temporal. But there former has better evidence than the latter. I just think the verses you present are being misused for purposes they weren’t written for. My evidence for God being timeless is the fact he created time. Which negates any possibility of your position being right.

      Best of meticulous providence

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think 2 things are in play here: 1) God only “controls” those who obey Him. Otherwise, He controls the consequences of men’s decisions, especially through His natural and spiritual laws. 2) The Father in heaven is omniscient .. not the Son who we are in direct contact as our “Mediator.” 3) The Son, like us, is an “open theist” not knowing who will be saved. That is why He and we go to “all the world” with the gospel message.

    So here’s an interesting thought: Calvinists go out to the world OFFERING salvation yet say that salvation is not an “offer.” So it would seem that what they are really offering is Calvinism, no?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I thank God for your gift of teaching and for guiding you to rightly divide and explain the word. I had been depressed reluctantly believing that I was Calvinist until I “rediscovered” traditional soteriology a few weeks ago thanks to your blog. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. After having worked witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons for a few years, I realized how many of the circular reasoning and bad argumentation they use, we also use in Christianity. In fact, I discovered that some of my Calvinist inclinations didn’t pass the argumentation test I was applying to them. This led me to look at certain doctrines more objectively and at the clear teaching of the text at face value, without adding words, without unnecessarily speculating or appealing to the Wild Card: mystery. You have been instrumental in putting what I had found out, in the light of scholarship, with a great token of respectful dissertation. Please keep keeping your cool and objectivity when reasoning, God is using you.

    Liked by 1 person

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