The Greatest Desire: The Circular Reasoning of Calvinists

Calvinists regularly argue that mankind is responsible because they make choices according to their own desires. In fact, the Calvinist teaches that individuals will always choose in accordance with his or her “greatest desire.” But, what does that mean exactly? Let’s unpack it.

Ronnie Rodgers expounds on the Calvinist’s argument with all the appropriate citations:

Calvinists believe that man is free to choose according to his greatest desire. For example, Jonathan Edwards believed in what he called “strength of motive.”[1] He said concerning such, “I suppose the will is always determined by the strongest motive.”[2]Therefore, Edwards argued that one freely chooses to act according to his “strongest motive.” Regarding the nature of free choice, he also said that it is “the ability to do what we will, or according to our pleasure.”[3]

Consequently, according to Edwards, man’s freedom to choose is determined by his nature and his desires. In other words, man is free to choose to do his greatest desire. Of course, this is the Calvinist view of free will as defined by compatibilism.[4] It is important to note two very important components of this view. First, the desire or nature from which the desire emanates is not chosen—i.e. a person’s past. Second, the unchosen desire is in fact determinative of what the free choice will be.

That is to say, the Calvinist believes man is free to choose according to his greatest desire but not contrarily. Therefore, his free choice is actually determined by his desire. For example, according to Edwards, sinful man will always freely choose to do his greatest desire, which is to sin. The greatest desire is a part of his nature. Fallen man will never choose to follow Christ without first having his nature changed to emanate new desires; this is the basis for the Calvinist position that regeneration precedes faith.[5]

In a recent online discussion, Dr. Johnathan Pritchett made a strong case against Calvinist’s position on this point:

Theological argument – In order for person X to freely choose Y, God has to ensure that person X has the desire to only choose to do Y so Y obtains, because like all things, God decreed Y. If God ensures Y, and Y is sin, then God caused X to sin because there are any number of other things that could obtain if X had different desires, even other sinful ones. But God decreed X to do Y, not anything else. The only way Y obtains is if God works all things to ensure it and nothing else. As such, God caused X to commit sin Y. This is bad theology.

Philosophical argument – If compatiblism is true, then free will is the will of man choosing in accordance to the strongest desire. If so, then it is circular and therefore irrational and must be abandoned. 

Here is the circle:

People choose according to their strongest desire, and we know it was their strongest desire because they chose it, and they chose it because people choose according to their strongest desire, and we know it was their strongest desire because they chose it, and they chose it because people choose according to their strongest desire, and we know it was their strongest desire because they chose it…and so on. 

It is a baseless, unprovable assertion. At most, we could say that “the prevailing desire prevails,” but this is a trivial claim and a mere truism that says nothing about the strength or lack thereof regarding the desire acted upon. It only states that the desire acted upon was the desire acted upon, but that doesn’t tell us anything. In fact, in experience, people always find themselves choosing according to less than their strongest desire. 

Biblical argument – If the theological argument above is correct, then God causes Y. But the Bible teaches “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:13-15 

That desire can’t come from God ensuring it is present for agent X to choose Y, because the Bible teaches that the desire for Y comes from man, not God. But in order for X to chose sin Y instead of sin Z, God has to make sure the desire for Y is strongest in X so that X chooses according to God’s decree. This contradicts Scripture that clearly teaches that X’s own desire for Y comes from himself. 

Romans 7:15 states,  “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” How in the world does it make sense for someone to choose to do what they hate and it be labeled “their strongest desire?” This is just unBiblical nonsense. 

As such, because of these three, either taken individually or in whole, compatiblism is bad theology, bad philosophy, and bad Biblical understanding and should therefore be rejected by all Christians on pains that:

1. It makes God the author of evil. 

2. It is irrational. 

3. It contradicts plain statements in Scripture.

What are your thoughts?

390 thoughts on “The Greatest Desire: The Circular Reasoning of Calvinists

  1. This seems like a fairly weak argument against Calvinism.

    The Romans 7 passage is Paul post conversion. That is a huge detail. You’ve left out the process of sanctification out of your argument against Calvinism. We are being made into the likeness of Christ. But we are not fully sanctified, so we still sin.

    It also leaves out the whole concept of the Fall and the implications of the Doctrine of Original Sin. And Genesis 6:5 is pretty clear of man post-Fall.

    “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

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    1. Joseph Hamrick: You state “it leaves out the whole concept of the fall” and then you quote Gen 6:5 as if that proves your point while conveniently forgetting that Noah, who was very much part of the world at that time, was counted as “righteous”.

      The circularity in your position is that you fail to grasp that Noah is listed as one of those who believed God and was therefore counted as righteous. He was not made righteous and therefore able to believe. If you try to argue that he was made able to believe first, that is essentially saying he was made righteous first and and therefore able to believe which is turning Scripture on its head!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Excellent comment Andrew! When will Calvinists realize that you can’t have regeneration without having life, and you can’t have life without having Christ, and you can’t have Christ without having His righteousness, and you can’t have His righteousness without FIRST having faith!

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      2. Absolutely **Everything** must be forced through the lens of Universal Divine Determinism.
        This is why I say that Calvinism is ***FOUNDED*** upon the thesis of Universal Divine Determinism.

        One can argue that Calvinism is “bible based” but that argument ignores how the human brain works.

        We humans interpret data by associating it with what we believe to be true.
        This is how the process of radicalization-indoctrination works, and it explains how a young man in a charter-school in Boston, could have his perception manipulated such that when he looked at Americans, what he saw were demons that should be murdered.

        Two people look at the exact same data, one person sees demons while the other person sees American families.
        How does that happen?
        1) Someone becomes a person of influence who has the power to indoctrinate
        2) Persons are unwittingly taught the most sacred truth = Universal Divine Determinism.

        From that point on, all data looked at by that person only works to reinforce what they believe.
        When that human brain reads scripture, it is interpreted through the lens of the indoctrinated sacred truth.
        If a human is first taught to embrace Universal Divine Determinism as sacred, then all scriptural interpretation will most assuredly affirm Universal Divine Determinism.

        When on pulls on the thread of Universal Divine Determinism, the cloth soon unwinds, and the indoctrinated person delivers himself from its grip.

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      3. barker’s woof writes, “He was not made righteous and therefore able to believe.”

        Heb 11 reads, “Noah…in holy [or godly] fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”

        Here we see two important terms, “holy fear” and faith.” Noah feared God and had faith and this manifested as obeying God (e.g., in building the ark) which is righteousness.

        Even Calvinists do not say that a person is made righteous and this enables them to believe. Calvinists say that a man is “made alive” (Ephesians 2) enabling him to receive faith and this faith, which is hope (Hebrews 11), gives rise to a righteousness such as Noah displayed.

        The dispute is over the manner in which Noah received faith and the Scriptures do not tell us this except to say, “f faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10)

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      4. brianwagner writes, “When will Calvinists realize that you can’t have regeneration without having life,…”

        Epheisans 2 tells us that it was the “dead in sin” who were made alive (regenerated). The living are not regenerated; the dead are regenerated – as the Calvinists see it.

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      5. br.d writes, “The ambiguity here hinges on a tenuous definition of “dead” in this case.”

        Specifically, “dead in transgressions and sins.” The Scriptures then add, (1) in which you used to live, (2) when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, (3) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts, and (4) we were by nature objects of wrath.

        So, you slice all that off and reduce it to “dead” in order to claim ambiguity. What purpose is served in doing that?

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      6. Sorry…. I didn’t write the original statement….so I didn’t slice any info off……just recognized the vagueness of the language…..once again.
        Secondly: “What the scripture says” and “How you read it” are two separate questions. See Luke 10:26

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      7. brianwagner writes, “So you agree Roger, you can’t have regeneration without also having life!”

        The dead in sin gain life through regeneration. Thus, you can’t have life without regeneration and regeneration always produces life (else why would God regenerate the person if not to make alive).

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      8. So you think a person can have life by regeneration, Roger, even though they don’t have Christ yet who is life? John has said specifically that without having Christ a person cannot have life (1John 5:12)! Do you see the problem yet that the Calvinist has?

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      9. brianwagner writes, “Do you see the problem yet that the Calvinist has?”

        This is from Ephesians 2, “God…made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” This seems petty clear.

        1 John 5 then says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5 also says, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

        It would seem that God’s action that “made us alive with Christ” can be equated to “He who has the Son has life.” Both Scriptures describe God’s work in the unsaved – giving the unsaved eternal life with this life gained by putting the unsaved in Christ. Thus, Paul says that the unsaved is saved by God’s grace where God gives the unsaved person faith as part of the process of making the unsaved alive or giving this life. Given that Paul also says that faith comes by hearing, we can conclude that God works this pretty much all at once through the preaching of the gospel.

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      10. So Roger, you don’t agree with those Calvinists who believe regeneration is before faith? You have preaching the Gospel producing faith that then through that faith the life of the new birth and righteousness happens… Is that what you just said?

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      11. brianwagner writes, “you don’t agree with those Calvinists who believe regeneration is before faith?”

        It is clear to me that God does something to the depraved sinner that then enables that person to receive faith. That “something” that God does can be called regeneration. The exercise of faith is subordinate to that “something” God does and faith is absent if God does nothing.

        Then, “You have preaching the Gospel producing faith that then through that faith the life of the new birth and righteousness happens… Is that what you just said?”

        Clearly, the preaching of the gospel is the means God uses to convey faith to His elect. As the preaching of the gospel does not result in all receiving faith (form outward appearances), something else is going on. That something else must come before the preaching of the gospel and set the stage for the person to receive faith (else it would not explain some receiving faith and some not). That “something” can be the new birth – at least, I see nothing preventing this conclusion. Thus, the process can be new birth followed by receiving faith followed by living out a life of righteousness by faith.

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      12. So, Roger, we are back to Life before Faith in your view, which is Christ before Faith in your view, and Righteousness before Faith in your view. I think I will stick with the view of Scripture! Enlightenment, then Faith, then Life which is Christ and His Righteousness. You can have the last word if you feel you need to for this thread!

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      13. brianwagner writes, “we are back to Life before Faith in your view, which is Christ before Faith in your view, and Righteousness before Faith in your view.”

        We are back to concluding that God takes some action (in Ephesians 2 described as “making alive”) that precedes a person receiving faith and being justified. Whether “being made alive” is, or includes, Life seems to be indeterminate for now. There seems to be some difficulty with definitions on this issue.

        Then, “I think I will stick with the view of Scripture! Enlightenment, then Faith, then Life which is Christ and His Righteousness. You can have the last word if you feel you need to for this thread!”

        I don’t see a problem with enlightenment coming before faith. It does not convey faith, so it can be another action that occurs in the regeneration of the depraved.

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      14. Dear Rhutchin,

        You said, “That “something” can be the new birth – at least, I see nothing preventing this conclusion. Thus, the process can be new birth followed by receiving faith followed by living out a life of righteousness by faith.”

        I think there is something preventing your conclusion: Scripture.

        Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

        Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

        So the new birth cannot precede faith because the new birth comes when we receive the Holy Spirit.

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      15. cyndiw writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3”

        This says that God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope.” First God provides the new birth with the purpose of that new birth being to give us a living hope (or faith according to Hebrews 1). Is that the way you see the order of events Peter describes? If so, that would support what I said. If not, how do you understand what the verse is saying?

        Then, ” “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38″

        We have a person repenting whereupon he receives the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit would then bring the person to faith following the process in 1 Peter 1:3.

        Then you conclude, “So the new birth cannot precede faith because the new birth comes when we receive the Holy Spirit.” I don’t see how you come to that conclusion – at least it is not obvious to me. Putting the two verses together, it seems to me that we have this order:

        1. Person repents.
        2. Person receives the Holy Spirit.
        3. Holy Spirit initiates the new birth in the person.
        4. Following the new birth, the person receives a living hope (faith).

        I don’t understand your objection.

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      16. Your clearly contradicting yourself Rhutchin. Your own words: Thus, the process can be new birth followed by receiving faith followed by living out a life of righteousness by faith.”

        But then you given the numbered order of exactly what I was countering you with. Lord have mercy!

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      17. cyndiw writes, “We are obviously bodily alive”

        rhutchin responds:
        “You can take it to mean physically dead, but that doesn’t make sense to me”.

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      18. br.d quotes, “cyndiw writes, “We are obviously bodily alive”

        rhutchin responds:
        “You can take it to mean physically dead, but that doesn’t make sense to me.”

        cyndiw was referring to the context of Ephesians 2. My response also was framed within the context of the verse – as I say, “You take it to mean,” where “it” is the Scripture.

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      19. Cynthia Ware writes, “Your clearly contradicting yourself Rhutchin.”

        Here are the two orderings of events:

        1. Person repents.
        2. Person receives the Holy Spirit.
        3. Holy Spirit initiates the new birth in the person.
        4. Following the new birth, the person receives a living hope (faith).

        and

        A. The new birth
        B. Receiving faith
        C Living out a life of righteousness by faith.

        If we combine the two, we get:
        1. Person repents.
        2. Person receives the Holy Spirit.
        3. Holy Spirit initiates the new birth in the person. (A. The new birth)
        4. Following the new birth, the person receives a living hope (faith). (B. Receiving faith)
        C. Living out a life of righteousness by faith.

        I do not see a contradiction. Did you mean that your ordering was actually different than what I had listed??

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      20. I feel like I’m playing a game of chess where the rules are made up as you go along. To correct myself. I do not agree with your number 4 point–where are you coming up with these things? I’m beginning to think this is a game of cat and mouse. You are out somewhere in the frozen tundra in a Yurt with great internet access bored to death and happened upon this website and decided to see if we closet theologians would take the bait.

        4. Following the new birth, the person receives a living hope (faith). < You wrote

        We do not receive faith AFTER the new birth. "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." –Romans 10:17 "He redeemed us so that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit"–Galatians 3:14 "For it is by grace you have been saved, THROUGH faith." –Ephesians 2:8

        Through: The way to get to another point

        The ship went thru the panama canal to get to its' port.
        The man walked thru the door to enter his bedroom
        The train had to go thru a long tunnel on its journey to San Francisco.

        Through must happen before a person can reach a destination. The through in this case is faith, the destination regeneration.

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      21. Cynthia Ware writes, “We do not receive faith AFTER the new birth.”

        Let’s go back to 1 Peter 1:3 and break it down.

        “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

        I see this order:

        1. God has given us new birth
        2. Into a living hope (this is faith as defined by Hebrews 11)

        Thus, we are born first and the new hope comes after (birth into hope) being a product of that birth. You seem to want to reverse that order. If so, what do you see this verse telling us?

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      22. Rhutchin, the verses stand on their own, they don’t need any ‘propping’ up from me. I suggest you do a bible verse word search on faith and also study on prepositions. This bone has been chewed long enough. God’s blessings to you brother.

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  2. I agree that it is irrational.

    To address this point in particular: “… this is the basis for the Calvinist position that regeneration precedes faith.[5]”

    To say regeneration comes before conversion is equivalent to saying a baby is created before it is conceived. Regeneration is brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:3-7) “When you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) So they are saying you would have to have the Holy Spirit before you believed. There’s no scripture to support that. (More verses on Holy Spirit coincides with belief: Acts 19:2, Acts 2:38)

    Using conception as an analogy: A man initiates the ‘act’ and the woman must be receptive to the act. Conception is what happens when we believe; Receive truth of the Word (seed/sperm) repentance and belief followed by Holy Spirit and regeneration–sperm and egg meet. A baby will only come after that. Regeneration is the miracle of the Christian’s new birth. (James 1:18)

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  3. In Romans 7, Paul is saying that he does not do what he wants but what he hates. Why? Because he finds that there’s a stronger desire within him that overpowers his ability to do what he knows to be right. Paul calls this internal complex of passions “sin,” which is human depravity, or the inclination to fulfill the desires of the flesh. Calvinists would use this passage to support total inability. The only thing that can change this internal mixture of contradictory wants is grace.

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  4. It seems to me that it is even more simple than circular reasoning. I believe it is a false distinction between desire and will. What I desire is what I will. It is nonsense to say that you can change a man’s will and therefore change his desire. Compatiblism , like so many Calvinistic arguments is nothing more than a semantic game. It is like virtual games children play with no basis in reality.

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    1. Yes! I totally agree erneststrauss.
      I find many subtle word tricks in Calvinist statements in which something is asserted as real, when what is hidden, is it is actually theoretical, and could only be real if it were logically possible, which, according to the doctrine of determinism, coupled with the laws of physics, it isn’t logically possible.

      Imagine 100 dominoes standing in line, and the last domino is used to commit a sin. According to Calvinistic determinism, God first conceives of the sin and wills the last domino will commit it. He then activates the first domino, which causes the next, and so on, until the last domino is moved exactly as he wills, and the sin obtains.

      The Calvinist will say that the last domino is culpable, because God decreed it **COULD** do otherwise than it did. Yes, but only theoretically, and only on the condition that God determines and causes it to do otherwise. That is the nature of determinism. So its ability to “do otherwise” is simply a semantic facade.

      Secondly they can say the last domino is culpable, because the secondary cause is culpable and not the primary cause. But that is simply a falsehood, one chooses to believe in order to remove the specter of “author of evil” which is logically entailed within the system.

      In that world, god first conceives every sin, and then initiates whatever dominoes it takes to make that sin obtain. In such a belief system, one is hard pressed to argue, god is not the author of sin. So one must become an expert at word trickery and lawyer-speak.

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  5. That circular reasoning has a corollary: A Calvinist is saved because he believes and he believes because he is saved. And it is all because God gave him the desire to believe in the first place.

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    1. Bob Bauman writes, “A Calvinist is saved because he believes and he believes because he is saved.”

      In Calvinism, a person is saved by grace by which he is made alive. Being made alive, he hears the gospel preached and receives the gift of faith and by this faith he is justified.

      Then, “And it is all because God gave him the desire to believe in the first place.”

      The depraved was dead in sin and God made him alive, by which he was freed from the slavery of sin. After this, the preaching of the gospel brought forth new desires in his heart and combined with the gift of faith, those desires manifested in a love for Christ.

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  6. Thanks Leighton for another good topic for discussion and some great thoughts to consider. How about the Scripture’s teaching about one who is “double-minded”? And how does one determine the nature of “the greatest desire”. I believe God’s promised enlightenment to everyone, at least a few times, is sufficient to provide sufficient enticement to seek, but that enticement is not irresistible, and yet will be graced with more, if the one enlightened seeks.

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  7. Awesome article Dr. Flowers! :-]

    Here is an interesting follow-up article on “Psychological Determinism”, which is essentially what Edwardian Calvinists posit. Please take CAREFUL note to understand the fallacy of question begging as described within the article.

    http://peripatus.blogspot.com/2005/07/psychological-determinism.html

    As posts appear here representing a Calvinist conception of determinism, keep your eye out for the frequency in which posts are a form of question-begging. I think question-betting occurs so frequently, we discern only a small portion of the posts in which it appears. But be aware, the “question-begger” is not at all conscious, he is question-begging.

    An indoctrinated person’s reality is limited to perceptions framed within the indoctrinated reality’s boundaries. Everything he perceives is perceived through the lens of that indoctrinated reality. So we need to have compassion, understanding how indoctrination dominates a person’s thinking.

    An indoctrinated person tends to live in a small reality. Question begging is a form of circular reasoning. Its circularity is characteristic of the smallness, or limited-size of the reality. Kind of like Plato’s cave.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

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  8. “Calvinists regularly argue that mankind is responsible because they make choices according to their own desires.”

    Romans 2 reads, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Depraved people will condemn people who do evil to them while doing that same evil to others. Thus, is their responsibility established. If depraved people were all perfect angels who always turned the other cheek, then one might argue that they cannot be held responsible. People’s desires are to fleece others and not have others fleece them. To say that the depraved do not know what they are doing and should not be responsible is ludicrous.

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      1. //“Calvinists regularly argue that mankind is responsible because they make choices// Choices require options. Options are absent in Calvinism. Calvinism do not make choices they merely execute what God has decreed. Responsibility is another myth in Calvinism’s book of fables.

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      2. erneststrauss writes, “Choices require options.”

        Responsibility only requires that the person commit the action for which he is responsible. Thus, pagans who never hear the name of Christ whether in OT times or NT times cannot enter heaven because they have sinned – and this is true even when all they ever knew was sin.

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      3. Moral culpability requires multiple options which exist as TRUE logical possibilities. In Calvinism, god first determines a person’s future choices, and thus limits his options to the one single option which is predestined. That one option [A], is the only option which god (foreknows by foreordination) to exist.

        Option [B] only exists as a theoretical counterfactual conditional, which exists ONLY on the theoretical condition that god predestines and (foreknows by foreordination) it to exist instead of option [A].

        This is why Peter Van Inwagen says that determinism is the thesis that human choices are the consequence of events which occurred in the remote past, which allow for only one single unique future, which is pre-determined, and to which humans have no REAL determinate choice.

        Alvin Plantinga has a great analogy, where he says Calvinist freewill is like putting a person in a prison cell and telling them they are free to leave anytime they like.

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      4. br.d writes, “Alvin Plantinga has a great analogy, where he says Calvinist freewill is like putting a person in a prison cell and telling them they are free to leave anytime they like.”

        Perhaps Plantinga is a little ignorant of Calvinism. He should have said, “…they are free to DO anytime they like.” Calvinism never suggests that the unsaved are free to leave their condition except where enabled by the grace of God. So, actually, a frcatured analogy – although being in prison is a good analogy to being enslaved to sin.

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      5. But it is not true that all pagans knew was sin! God enlightened all of them. John 1:9. Are you calling that enlightenment they received, sin?! Really, Roger?

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      6. brianwagner writes, “But it is not true that all pagans knew was sin! God enlightened all of them. John 1:9. Are you calling that enlightenment they received, sin?”

        Our evaluation as believers who study the Scriptures is that all the pagans know is sin – a condition that would escape their understanding. So, what exactly does enlightenment do since we know that it does not save. Paul describes a type of enlightenment in Romans 1 where people know God but then deny God. It seems that Christ does something more than that but we are not told what that is – are we?

        What does it mean to say that Christ lighteth every man who comes in the world? We are also told two things, (1) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him, and (2) He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Do you see this as the condition before being enlightened or after?

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      7. You clearly stated, Roger, that all pagan know is sin. You admit they receive enlightenment from God. You still have not simply answered my question. Is that enlightenment they know “sin” in them? For they surely know it, unless you believe God failed in some way to enlighten them, even though He said He did/does. Maybe you want to reject your statement and rephrase it. Is all that pagans know sin?

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      8. brianwagner writes, ” Is that enlightenment they know “sin” in them?”

        No. That a person knows only to sin does not prevent him being enlightened – whatever is meant by that. This enlightenment need not impart any change in the person so that he continues in his sin.

        In the Psalms, we read one Psalm where God says that there is none righteous; in another it refers to a person who is righteous. Now, we have the Scriptures telling us, in Romans and Ephesians that the unsaved cannot please God and are, by nature, objects of God’s wrath and then telling us that Christ has come into the world with the effect that He enlightens all people. We also know that this enlightenment does not save the person and may do no more than Paul describes in Romans 1.

        I don’t see a problem in the enlightenment of a sinner who then continues in his sin as if the enlightenment had no effect on his behavior.

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      9. So you do agree enlightenment is not sin. Great! Now you will need to try to see that it is enabling but not irresistibly. The free will of man when given the opportunity brought to him graciously by God is able to benefit from the enlightenment or to reject it.

        This is an individual matter. John tells the reader that the world as a whole doesn’t know Him and even His own people, the Jews as a whole did not receive Him. But as many individuals who did receive Him, that enlightenment about Him, were given the right to the new birth.

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      10. brianwagner writes, “Now you will need to try to see that it is enabling but not irresistibly.”

        Can you define what “enlightenment” does? You have not so far, leaving some loose ends especially with respect to your last comment below.

        Then, “The free will of man when given the opportunity brought to him graciously by God is able to benefit from the enlightenment or to reject it.”

        We know that free will is pretty nebulous. Much is assumed, as you do above.

        Then, “John tells the reader that the world as a whole doesn’t know Him and even His own people, the Jews as a whole did not receive Him. But as many individuals who did receive Him, that enlightenment about Him, were given the right to the new birth.”

        Of course, the point of debate – “as many individuals who did receive Him.” Some other factor is at work that results in some receiving and some not receiving. If salvation is in view, then we know that faith is involved. There are a few loose pieces that need to be tied together.

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      11. Whatever enlightenment does, Roger, it is from Christ, the true light. It is done to every person. And it would be wrong to assume that Christ has an evil intention behind doing it.

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      12. brianwagner writes, “Whatever enlightenment does, Roger, it is from Christ, the true light. It is done to every person. And it would be wrong to assume that Christ has an evil intention behind doing it.”

        We also know that enlightenment does not save and that it logically precedes faith. That it is from Christ and given to everyone, suggests that enlightenment can either prepare a person for salvation or prepare them for judgment (unless all will be saved).

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      13. Again, Roger, your rely on that worn out false dichotomy (individual election or universalism) because of your rejection that free will decisions are possible. Enlightenment can be assumed to always have an positive intention behind it, and never to “prepare” a person for judgment.

        A sufficient cause is not a necessary cause, and until you are able to see the reasonable and Scriptural evidence in support of God’s gracious enablement to everyone that is not irresistible/necessary but sufficient and conditional to which a free will can respond, you will continue only to see that false dichotomy through your Calvinist colored glasses! 🙂

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      14. brianwagner writes, “Enlightenment can be assumed to always have an positive intention behind it, and never to “prepare” a person for judgment.”

        So, enlightenment represents no more than a “positive intention” of God. God intends something that will not be achieved – as some people will decide to investigate further and some decide it isn’t worth the effort. Do you have God rewarding those who decide to seek more by bringing all of them under the hearing of the gospel and giving them faith so that they will be saved? If so, that sounds like a works-based salvation.

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      15. Roger – I think each of these passages answer your question as yes and no… yes to being able to seek… no that such seeking is works based salvation, for submission to seeking satisfaction to one hunger over another is not a work, just a choice. Faith is not a passively received disposition change… though that disposition of faith does passively receive an everlasting change after it is actively expressed in God’s specific enlightenment about the His mercy. Here are some great verses that speak about God’s enabling enlightenment for all. These show they can seek and find God.

        Job 33:26 He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall see His face with joy, For He restores to man His righteousness.
        Job 33:27 Then he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted [what was] right, And it did not profit me.’
        Job 33:28 He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, And his life shall see the light.
        Job 33:29 “Behold, God works all these [things,] Twice, [in fact,] three [times] with a man,
        Job 33:30 To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.

        John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John.
        John 1:7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
        John 1:8 He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light.
        John 1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

        Acts 17:26 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
        Acts 17:27 “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
        Acts 17:28 “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
        Acts 17:29 “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.
        Acts 17:30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

        Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
        Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
        Rom 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?”
        Rom 10:17 So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
        Rom 10:18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

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      16. brianwagner writes, “I think each of these passages answer your question as yes and no… yes to being able to seek… no that such seeking is works based salvation, for submission to seeking satisfaction to one hunger over another is not a work, just a choice.”

        Without faith there will be no seeking, and not all who attend the preaching of the gospel appear to “hear” the gospel and receive faith. Enlightenment seems only sufficient to lead a person to repentance but no further because going further requires faith and not everyone receives faith consequent to the preaching of the gospel. For the person who receives faith, salvation is a no-brainer; for the person who has no faith, the rejection of salvation is consistent with the depraved and irrational mind.

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      17. Roger, It’s good to see you factoring in enlightenment and repentance before the new birth… You may ask yourself the question why God would want “reprobates” to be brought so far and no further. I heard one Calvinist reply this week that maybe it is so He can make them guiltier for their sin! And he was dead serious. Or how could they even do those things, like receive enlightenment and repentance, which seem beneficial towards a possible salvation they supposedly can never receive? Of course, you know what I think about your “no-brainer” faith argument! 🙂

        I will concede that they do get no-brainer faith after the new birth, but you know that I believe that before the new birth they can and must exercise trust in their enlightenment enough to seek and be brought to a place of repentance which also enables them to make a decision of faith to trust God and His mercy, who and which they cannot see. They do not just make a theoretical decision between everlasting life or everlasting damnation.

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      18. brianwagner writes, “It’s good to see you factoring in enlightenment and repentance before the new birth… ”

        That’s because, enlightenment and repentance do not identify the person as God’s elect; the new birth does. We both seem to agree on this.

        Then, “Of course, you know what I think about your “no-brainer” faith argument! 🙂 ”

        Well, I did modify it to reflect faith. Obviously, any person who receives faith exercises that faith unto salvation – to that person, it is a no-brainer. The person without faith is just screwed up, as always.

        Then, “before the new birth they can and must exercise trust in their enlightenment enough to seek and be brought to a place of repentance which also enables them to make a decision of faith to trust God …”

        “…to make a decision of faith…” requires that the person come under the preaching of the gospel and receive faith. Absent that, there is no ability of the person to “…exercise trust in their enlightenment enough to seek and be brought to a place of repentance which also enables them…” The key word here is, “…enables…” and only faith “enables.” Do you mean to suggest that a person without faith is enabled to “make a decision of faith to trust God …”?

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      19. Roger, we have discussed this before, but for some reason you have bought into the falsehood that there is only one kind of faith that is helpful in one’s salvation. But faith “that” is just as important as faith “in”. You need both to please God. He that comes to God (before he comes to God) must believe “that” He is. That is a faith resulting from enlightenment and is before the new birth.

        But accepting that truth goes nowhere until you jettison your loyalty to eternal determinism and allow in your mind for God to get out of the cage of Platonic eternal immutability that your theology has made for Him. You need to decided instead to believe that the relational, loving, free-will expressing God of Scripture is working with every human, who created in His image, to give them an opportunity of repentance and salvation. Everything was not eternally pre-determined for each person.

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      20. brianwagner writes, “for some reason you have bought into the falsehood that there is only one kind of faith that is helpful in one’s salvation.”

        I am using the definition in Hebrews 11:1, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It introduces the section and would be the definition of each occurrence of the term, “faith,” that follows. It is this faith that, “believes that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” By this “faith” Abel “was commended as a righteous man,” and Enoch “was commended as one who pleased God,” and so on. This is what the Calvinists call, “saving faith,” and is that faith to which Paul refers in Romans 10. There is a lesser, counterfeit faith, exhibited by the Jews, described by Paul, “they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”

        Then, “That is a faith resulting from enlightenment and is before the new birth.”

        On that, we disagree. If a person has that faith defined in 11:1, they would naturally submit to God and be justified. Your “enlightenment” should result in universal salvation or something is wrong with the 11:1 definition.

        Then, “You need to [decide] instead to believe that the relational, loving, free-will expressing God of Scripture is working with every human, who created in His image, to give them an opportunity of repentance and salvation.”

        Apparently, giving greater opportunity to some over others given the observable results.

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      21. Roger, how do you see “from faith to faith” in Rom 1:17. And believing “that” God is and “that” He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him does not seem like the everlasting faith that one has after the new birth, but what one can have before the new birth when they are seeking. You agree that there is a faith before the new birth… but for some reason you don’t want to see it as sufficient for a free choice… that is because of your unhealthy loyalty to determinism, imo.

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      22. brianwagner asks,”Roger, how do you see “from faith to faith” in Rom 1:17. ”

        Faith for believing (to every one that believes) to faith for living (The just shall live by faith).

        Then, “And believing “that” God is and “that” He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him does not seem like the everlasting faith that one has after the new birth, but what one can have before the new birth when they are seeking.”

        Jesus instructed believers, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness…” So, one example of how God rewards believers who seek Him. The unsaved seek to be justified, and being justified, we have peace with God whom we then seek.

        Then, “You agree that there is a faith before the new birth… but for some reason you don’t want to see it as sufficient for a free choice… that is because of your unhealthy loyalty to determinism,”

        In the new birth one is able to see the kingdom of God and to enter the kingdom of God. This is necessary to the hope that frames the faith that the born again person receives when he hears the gospel preached. But, we disagree.

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      23. Thanks Roger for giving me your thoughts on Rom 1:17 and Heb 11:6. I agree that “from faith” or literally “out of faith” is as you called it “Faith for believing” but I don’t agree that it is just “to everyone that believes” which I understand you must hold because of your loyalty to determinism.

        I believe it is revelation “faith” for believing that is presented to everyone a few times in their lives but will only apply as a condition of the new birth in those that do not reject it but of their free will accept it. (cf Rom 3:21-22) Out of that faith comes the moment of faith through which the righteousness/salvation of God is given.

        It is interesting that Barnabas in Hebrews only uses the verb “believe” two times 4:3, and 11:6 and in both cases only in the Aorist tense, meaning simple action. In 4:3 it is an action before entering salvation “rest”. And it is easy to see in 11:6 that it is an action before “coming” to God, especially since this pre-coming trust is a basic trust in the revelation that God Himself offers everyone as true – that He exists and He rewards those that seek. It is left to their free will to accept or reject trusting that revelation.

        I am surprised you don’t see the Sermon on the Mount as an evangelistic message to the crowds, as well as a message defining for His disciples the difference between righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees and God’s righteousness. He wasn’t calling believers to seek the Kingdom and God’s righteousness… but those who were wrongly trusting in the righteousness of the law and of the tradition of the Pharisees.

        It is interesting that you said, Roger, “The unsaved seek to be justified, and being justified, we have peace with God whom we then seek.” I agree. And that justification is through faith. I hope you are not hiding a weird Calvinist meaning and trying to say that supposedly only regenerated “unsaved seek to be justified”. That would be a plain oxymoron… there are no regenerate unsaved… none, not even for a second!

        And like most Calvinists, trying to prove too much from John 3, you said – “In the new birth one is able to see the kingdom of God and to enter the kingdom of God.” I agree, you and I are born again, and we will see and enter God’s Kingdom when Jesus returns. Spiritually we entered it and saw it the moment we were born again. It is just like saying, without the new birth we will not be resurrected when Jesus return, but because of the new birth we immediately have His resurrection life within us. The Calvinist tries to make too much out of the word “see” as if it must exclude any commitment of faith that an unregenerate man can make for truth. Remember, Jesus was teaching all this enlightenment to a man who was not yet regenerated… so that He would see and believe that truth!

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      24. brianwagner writes, “I believe it is revelation “faith”…Out of that faith comes the moment of faith through which the righteousness/salvation of God is given.”

        Or the prevenient faith espoused by the Arminians. I guess you don’t want to give up Total Depravity yet. The problem, as always, is to explain why some with this “faith” end up saved and some do not – when everyone who receives this “faith” is essentially the same; lost sinners. I don’t think you can avoid salvation by works in espousing a “revelation” faith.

        Then, “…it is easy to see in 11:6 that it is an action before “coming” to God,…”

        Let’s look at the context. “…Enoch was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God,…” Enoch was not in the position of coming to God; he was there. His testimony was that he pleased God and it was by faith that he did so. The conclusion: those who serve God live by faith – The just shall live by faith. I don’t see Hebrews supporting the argument for a prevenient/revelation “faith” as the faith described is exercised by those who have already submitted to God.

        Then, “…It is left to their free will to accept or reject trusting that revelation.”

        In Romans 1, Paul tells us, “…although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie…” So everyone has a revelation knowledge of God gained through that which God has created. Paul does not speak of a revelation “faith” here or elsewhere. Regardless, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie.”

        Then, “I am surprised you don’t see the Sermon on the Mount as an evangelistic message to the crowds,…”

        I don’t have a problem with what you say about the Sermon. But this is true for anything in the Scriptures – the “evangelistic” emphasis comes from the basic message – compare yourself to that which Jesus (or the Scriptures say) and repent. Jesus exhorts people to seek the kingdom of God but John records that Jesus also said, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” So, can a person seek that which he cannot see? Jesus then said, “I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” They do not accept Jesus’ testimony; how can it be said that they see?

        Then, “I hope you are not hiding a weird Calvinist meaning and trying to say that supposedly only regenerated “unsaved seek to be justified”. That would be a plain oxymoron… there are no regenerate unsaved… none, not even for a second!”

        So, can a person who is not born again be described as saved? If a person is born again, is he not saved? Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Does Paul mean that the person who believes is saved? Or, does Paul mean that the person who believes is qualified to be saved, (i.e., God can then save the person because of that belief)? I take the first position.

        Then, “The Calvinist tries to make too much out of the word “see” as if it must exclude any commitment of faith that an unregenerate man can make for truth.”

        So, what does it mean to “see” the kingdom of God? In Acts 20, Paul writes, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may…complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace…I have gone about preaching the kingdom…For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” Either preaching the kingdom is the same as preaching the gospel or one part of the gospel. Calvinists say the the gospel includes the kingdom and to make a faith commitment in response to the preaching of the gospel requires that one be able to see that kingdom. What happens when a person “hears” the gospel – “…faith comes from hearing the message…” If such faith is that defined in Hebrews 1, then it is a faith by which we say a person is justified. It would not be a prevenient/revelation faith.

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      25. Roger, God gives the revelation faith… so no works is involved. God gives the freedom of the will at that moment of enlightenment. It is prevenient grace and sufficient. The only reason you need it to be efficient for the a certain number is your loyalty to determinism.

        We agree that faith is necessary to “please”/satisfy God in an everlasting relationship. Heb 11 is discussing this satisfying faith as the essence from what is hoped for and the conviction behind the works relating to what is not seen. The satisfaction does not happen for God until the individual has that everlasting faith. And you and I agree that such lasting faith begins at the new birth.

        But what we disagree on is that God uses knowledge to provide an opportunity for belief before the new birth that leads to that moment when God changes grants the new birth and establishes that faith permanently. Then He is pleased/satisfied. It would be like saying my mother would not be satisfied until I come to live with her. She sent me the money for a bus ticket, money I could not have ever earned on my own. I decided to use it for the ticket and when I arrived, she was finally pleased/satisfied. But I could have ignored her will and used the money for something else.

        Romans 1-3 is basically telling the reader how the wrath of God is revealed against those who suppress the truth, not that it was impossible for the truth could not be followed. He mentions clearly that the goodness of God does lead to repentance in chapter 2.

        Sure we can seek what we cannot see! You really asked that question? Jesus was asking Nicodemus to trust Him concerning things Jesus has seen, but Nicodemus has not. That is what faith is… a conviction producing works relating to things not seen. Aren’t you embarrassed when you don’t check your arguments of such obvious fallacies before stating them.

        Roger – You were the one that said – “the unsaved seek to be justified”. Either explain what you meant or admit you made a mistake because you do not believe “the unsaved seek to be justified.” It is my position, not yours, that an unsaved person can seek to be justified/saved when he responds to God’s enlightenment, and after that response leading to an expression of trust in God’s mercy, God gives the new birth which is salvation/justification.

        You gave a good illustration of how a Calvinist makes too much of the word “see” in John 3. We can let others determine if I have presented enough reason to show Jesus wanted Nicodemus, the unregenerate man, to “see” in an understanding way what the gospel was so that Nicodemus could be born again and begin seeing/or see and enter in the future the Kingdom of God.

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      26. brianwagner writes, “Roger, God gives the revelation faith… so no works is involved.”

        This is a non-sequitur. It is not God’s action that identifies salvation as works based. It is man’s action. In this case, it is the requirement that a person apply that faith properly in order to gain salvation. God presumably gives revelation faith to all people. One person then qualifies for salvation while another does not based on the actions each takes. The distinction between one who is eventually saved and one who is not requires the necessary condition that God grant revelation faith and then the sufficient condition that the person properly apply that faith unto salvation. That required sufficient condition that divides one person from another identifies it as a work.

        Then, “God gives the freedom of the will at that moment of enlightenment.”

        That is because of Total Depravity – can’t argue about the need for that.

        Then, “It is prevenient grace and sufficient. ”

        I think you mean, necessary. If sufficient, no further action would be needed.

        Then, “The only reason you need it to be efficient for the a certain number is your loyalty to determinism.”

        Actually, it is to prevent salvation becoming works based – dependent on a sufficient action accomplished by the person to gain salvation.

        Then, “I decided to use it for the ticket and when I arrived, she was finally pleased/satisfied. But I could have ignored her will and used the money for something else.”

        I think that is a good illustration. The necessary condition is that you be given the ticket. The sufficient condition is that you decide whether to use the ticket. Making the right decision to do a good work results in your mother being pleased/satisfied; making the wrong decision denies your mother pleasure/satisfaction. Pleasure/satisfaction is dependent on your action (a work)

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      27. In that sense, you’re right Roger, the act of faith that comes before regeneration is a work. Jesus calls it that in John 6:29 to an audience of unbelievers. Paul calls it the obedience of faith or obeying the gospel. But it is not a meritorious work or obedience, though the rejecting to exercise that faith is a condemnatory act as Jesus clearly says in John 8:24.

        Salvation is consistently labeled as being through faith, indicating that faith must be in place first for salvation to be poured through it. Calvinists try to go to great lengths to make faith a gift received passively, but that is the enlightenment/revelation/faith that is given irresistibly a few times, but the accepting of it or rejecting is not a passive thing. And when actively accepted, the new birth giving of life follows through, through that faith, but not caused by it as a necessary cause, only a conditional cause that God looks for.

        Thank you for acknowledging that you understood the illustration. My mother would not have considered my choice as earning/meriting the money for the ticket or accomplishing the trip into her presence.which is what brought her the satisfaction. I was just freely/humbly submitting to her plan and not freely or deterministically resisting it.

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      28. brianwagner writes, “…the act of faith that comes before regeneration is a work. Jesus calls it that in John 6:29 to an audience of unbelievers. Paul calls it the obedience of faith or obeying the gospel. But it is not a meritorious work or obedience, though the rejecting to exercise that faith is a condemnatory act as Jesus clearly says in John 8:24.”

        “Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6

        “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8

        In each case, faith (Hebrews 11) is a prerequisite. Unbelievers have no faith, as you have noted, so at the least, God must grant them revelation faith. However, this then requires an upgrade to saving faith – from which belief in Christ manifests. When is faith a work? It is a work if it is under the control of the person who then must properly exercise that faith in view of receiving a benefit and not all will receive that benefit. If faith, once received, generates a particular response in all who receive it, then it would not be a work (not dependent on the one receiving the faith to do something to make certain the benefit).

        Then, “Salvation is consistently labeled as being through faith, indicating that faith must be in place first for salvation to be poured through it. Calvinists try to go to great lengths to make faith a gift received passively, but that is the enlightenment/revelation/faith that is given irresistibly a few times, but the accepting of it or rejecting is not a passive thing. And when actively accepted, the new birth giving of life follows through, through that faith, but not caused by it as a necessary cause, only a conditional cause that God looks for.”

        Ephesians 2 tells us that believers are saved by grace and then that believers are God’s workmanship. In the middle, we have “…through faith…” So what does that mean? As faith is a gift from God, it is the means that God uses to bring those to whom He gives such faith to salvation. That faith is certainty in what is hoped for. This requires an object of hope that is then the source of hope and this is accepted as certain. Such faith does not avail itself of rejection. Rejection of such faith would indicate that there was no object of hope, no hope, or no certainty. Calvinists do not make the receipt of this faith entirely passive. It is preceded by regeneration in which the dead person is made alive (spiritually), he is freed from slavery to sin; free will restored such that the person is born again. That person then finds himself attracted to the gospel, and to Christ, and irresistibly so – yet with free and willful consent. The gospel fixes the person’s desires on Christ and the hope that Christ gives thus producing a faith that one would have no desire to reject. Salvation might be described as being poured through faith, but is better described as being appropriated by faith.

        Then, “I was just freely/humbly submitting to her plan and not freely or deterministically resisting it.”

        Your point is that you could have rejected the offer and she would have no recourse. It is the control you exercise that is important as that control means that you self-determine the outcome. It is your decision and that decision is a work you perform in view of receiving a benefit.

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      29. Roger, once again I am at a loss to explain it more clearly for you. Perhaps you should recognize that as a believer you exercise faith in or rejection of God’s will at various times… did regeneration fail in changing your will efficiently. You say faith is the gift but what you mean is a new will that irresistibly believes for salvation is the gift. And you continue to advocate life before faith before righteousness, but having life must mean having Christ and righteousness which Scripture clearly teaches over and over is after and through faith. Take the last word as usual. 🤓

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      30. brianwagner writes, “Perhaps you should recognize that as a believer you exercise faith in or rejection of God’s will at various times… ”

        The key words, “…as a believer…” So, what does Paul say, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” As the believer renews his mind, he finds that he exercises faith in God more and more and rejects God’s will less and less.

        Then, “You say faith is the gift but what you mean is a new will that irresistibly believes for salvation is the gift.”

        Both are gifts. Paul says to believers, “…you were dead in your transgressions and sins, [but] God,…made us alive with Christ. That is a gift – You are saved by grace. After this, faith is conveyed on hearing the gospel. It is God’s action to give life to the sinner whereupon the gospel (i.e., Christ) becomes irresistible and this is God’s grace extended to His elect.

        Then, “And you continue to advocate life before faith before righteousness, but having life must mean having Christ and righteousness which Scripture clearly teaches over and over is after and through faith.”

        Paul is clear in Ephesians 2. God makes alive those who are dead, when they are dead. However, we can say that being made alive per Ephesians 2 is not eternal life.for Christ says in John 17, “…this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” It is through hearing the gospel that one comes to know God and Christ, but dead people are oblivious to the gospel as you can preach to them all day long and they will never “hear” the gospel.

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      31. brianwagner writes, “Romans 1-3 is basically telling the reader how the wrath of God is revealed against those who suppress the truth, not that it was impossible for the truth could not be followed. He mentions clearly that the goodness of God does lead to repentance in chapter 2.”

        More than that, it says that God’s creation is not sufficient to lead one to repentance – this because of Total Depravity. In addition, it is necessary that the “goodness of God” be expressed to a person if repentance is to result. Thus, it is necessary to define the “goodness of God.” We both seem to agree that this “goodness of God” is God’s grace disagreeing on whether this grace is necessary but not sufficient to gain salvation or both necessary and sufficient to do so.

        Then, “That is what faith is… a conviction producing works relating to things not seen.”

        As Hebrews tells us, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…a [belief] that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” By conviction, I think we can say a certainty that compels one to a specific way of life (producing works relating to things not seen). Can the person who has faith without being born again be certain of anything or produce any works? Or, can faith only be certain and produce works if one is also born again. I guess you take one side and I take the other.

        Ten, “You were the one that said – “the unsaved seek to be justified”.”

        Poor quality control. It should have been something like, “…God rewards believers who seek Him, who seek to be justified,…” I had started to make a statement about the unsaved and then decided not to pursue it but did not delete it. Consistent with what I have said before, the unsaved do not have faith (they are Totally Depraved) and do not seek God or seek to be justified.

        Then, “You gave a good illustration of how a Calvinist makes too much of the word “see” in John 3.”

        I think we both might agree that there is more to the word, “see,” than may be obvious. We both seem to agree that people are Totally Depraved and cannot “see” the kingdom of God or be saved. God must do something to change this situation – you describe this as starting with enlightenment. I think the problem is one of making too little of the word, “see.” One conclusion from John 3 is that Nicodemus was not born again and he could not see (or enter) the kingdom of God – and by inference, having a zeal for God but not according to faith.

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      32. Roger – where in Roman 1-3 does it say that God’s revelation in creation and conscience “says that God’s creation is not sufficient to lead one to repentance”? How could you not attribute those positive actions by God in Rom 1 and 2 as being part of God’s goodness that leads to repentance? Don’t you remember Acts 17:26-27? God designed all this so that man should seek and be able to find Him. Read Job 33:26-30 again were God works two or three times with man to enlighten him.

        And you still are ignoring that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus to help him “see” something as true about salvation and his need of it before he was born again… correct?

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      33. brianwagner asks, “where in Roman 1-3 does it say that God’s revelation in creation and conscience “says that God’s creation is not sufficient to lead one to repentance”?”

        Romans 1, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,..For 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.” In the middle is Paul’s claim that “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” That seems clear to me to make the case. However, we also know that what is known about God is not saving faith. Even if we consider this to be revelation faith, the language is entirely negative as to the impact on depraved sinners.

        Then, ” How could you not attribute those positive actions by God in Rom 1 and 2 as being part of God’s goodness that leads to repentance? ”

        Repentance is not salvation; repentance is a turning of one’s life to obedience of the law as the means of salvation. God’s goodness seems designed to provide temporal, earthly benefits to the sinner as the focus seems to be on the keeping of the law. There is the need for faith if salvation is in view – at least faith in the keeping of the law to gain salvation.

        Then, “And you still are ignoring that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus to help him “see” something as true about salvation and his need of it before he was born again… correct?”

        OK. But then Jesus says, “no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The point is that Nicodemus could not see and would not be able to see until he was born again. Thus we read, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’…I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things [unless you are first born again]?

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      34. Roger, we can let others decide if God’s gracious acts through creation and conscience to every man and Jesus’ challenging of Nicodemus with the truth was a waste of time or a display of His wrath, or actually a display of His mercy to lead to repentance which is for the acknowledging of the truth unto salvation. I think a normal reading is Scripture and context would lead to seeing a God of universal mercy and compassion which are not deterministic.

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      35. brianwagner writes, “I think a normal reading is Scripture and context would lead to seeing a God of universal mercy and compassion which are not deterministic.”

        That God is a god of mercy and compassion is not deterministic. It is God’s exercise of mercy and compassion that is deterministic. Thus, we read in Romans 9, “God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” It is God who freely determines those to whom He will extend mercy. If God were under obligation to extend mercy to some or all – or if in reaction to man’s desire or effort, – then it would no longer be mercy.

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      36. Additionally, the “choices” which Calvinist’s speak of, are functionally identical to “choices” made by robots. All choices are predestined by a previously decreed program.

        One can argue that humans are not robots. But that doesn’t negate the fact that human “choices” in Calvinism, function exactly the same way as they do with any automaton, because all human choices “which come to pass” are determined before the foundation of the world. There is a difference between “robot” and “robotic”. The clearest way to understand the logical implications of Calvinistic determinism’s free-will, is to conceive of humans as either bio-robotic creatures which carry out a predestined program, or as dominoes which god pushes in the direction he wills them to go.

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  9. rhutchin writes: “So, you slice all that off and reduce it to “dead” in order to claim ambiguity. What purpose is served in doing that?”
    Actually you are correct, my statement was worded wrong…. I should have said: A tenuous interpretation of “dead”, rather than a tenuous definition of “dead”. I stand corrected. :-]

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  10. Regarding the “greatest desire argument” leading to circularity.

    As noted when a Calvinist argues that we always choose according to our greatest desire, this reduces to the “greatest desire” = the desire that we in fact act upon.

    What is left out, is the more important question: if multiple desires are present, how exactly does one desire become the “greatest desire”?

    This is never answered or explained, and if the person is a determinist then it becomes a case of some sort of necessitating factor necessitating the choice (i.e. it is determinism). Determinism is never proved, merely assumed.

    Speaking of how we always act according to the “greatest desire” explains nothing if determinism is present. What needs to be explained but never is explained is how this the choice is brought about? What is the necessitating factor and how does it bring about the choice that is made.

    It may sound impressive to those already wanting to believe in theological determinism, but it is not persuasive at all for the rest of us.

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    1. Good comments Robert!

      My car does the same thing. If I let go of the steering wheel, it mechanically “chooses” (metaphorically speaking), a direction, according to the mechanism’s greatest tendency. So I think when we take the time to remove all of the semantic word games, and smoke-screens, there is a consistent model which appears. The clearest conceptual model for humans within Calvinistic determinism, is “auto-maton”, (functioning according to predetermined coded instructions)
      who perceives himself as “auto-nomous” (self-determining).

      Paul Helm writes that this illusory mode of thinking was started by Calvin himself, where Calvin instructs his disciples to give intellectual assent to the belief that everything he thinks, chooses, and does are divinely predetermined, while at the same time, he is to behave AS-IF they are self-determined. I call this Calvinism’s AS-IF mode of thinking.

      Paul Helm’s writes:
      “While the future is fixed we approach the future AS-IF if it were open”.

      Calvin writes:
      “Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, each ought to so to apply himself to his office, as though nothing were determined about any part.”

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    2. Robert writes, “when a Calvinist argues that we always choose according to our greatest desire, this reduces to the “greatest desire” = the desire that we in fact act upon.”

      People tend to take action for specific reasons. Most people, when asked why they did X, could easily respond, I did it for this reason (the greatest desire). It is rare that people act without a reason (i.e., a desire).

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      1. Your response is really weak and adds nothing explanatory, rhutchin.

        “People tend to take action for specific reasons.”

        Stating the obvious, for those of us who hold to reasons-responsive explanations, we believe that when choosing rationally we always choose for reasons. Believing that we act for reasons is not unique to either determinists/Calvinists or non-determinists/non-Calvinists.

        “It is rare that people act without a reason (i.e. a desire).”

        Again stating the obvious.

        What you make no effort to explain is why, given a situation with differing desires in play and different reasons associated with each desire: WHY does not desire become the one that we choose?

        In becoming the one that we choose it becomes what Calvinists call the “greatest desire” (which is merely saying it is the desire that we acted upon).

        But WHY that one, rather than the others that were also present?

        THAT is what Calvinists/determinists do not explain (or is it cannot explain??).

        Merely asserting that we always act on the “greatest desire” which amounts to we always act on the desire that we act upon (a tautology not giving much information) is not saying much.

        What needs to be explained is how that choice comes about? What are the factors involved so that one desire emerges as the desire that is acted upon while others are not chosen.

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      2. Robert asks, “What needs to be explained is how that choice comes about? What are the factors involved so that one desire emerges as the desire that is acted upon while others are not chosen.”

        While we don’t always know what factors actually lead to the choices people make, we can extrapolate back from the choices a person makes to get an indication of the things that are important to them – what they desire. Calvinists make the assumption that people actually pursue their heart’s desires. The alternative makes no sense.

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      3. I think this might be a good example of Calvinism’s **AS-IF** thinking mode.

        Paul Helm’s writes:
        “While the future is fixed we [Calvinist determinists] approach the future AS-IF if it were open”.

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      4. br.d writes, ““While the future is fixed we [Calvinist determinists] approach the future AS-IF if it were open”.”

        So, if the future is fixed, how would you suggest the determinist approach that future?

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      5. If the determinist wants to, (as Jerry Walls puts it…..bite the bullet)….and Calvinists like Vincent Chung, do…..and be logically coherent with Calvinistic determinism, then he approaches the future as already predetermined. Or in Calvin’s language “fixed”. Or you may prefer “already rendered certain”.

        Calvin, however teaches his disciples to approach the future: quote: “**AS THOUGH** nothing were determined about any part.”

        I’m sure that makes sense to Calvin’s disciples. For the same reason that apparitions of Mary levitating in the air at Famita makes sense to devout Catholics.

        Alvin Plantinga jokes about people who believe in solipsism being thankful that they are not alone.
        They believe they are, but they approach the future AS THOUGH the aren’t 😉

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      6. br.d writes, “If the determinist wants to, …..and be logically coherent with Calvinistic determinism, then he approaches the future as already predetermined. Or in Calvin’s language “fixed”. Or you may prefer “already rendered certain”.”

        Let’s remember that this is built on God’s omniscience and God’s sovereignty. That is the reason that the Open Theists and “Futurists” have come to the conclusion that one must deny that God knows the future in total if one is to argue against Calvinism. One cannot argue against Calvinism while agreeing with a major Calvinist position – that God is omniscient with regard to all future events.

        Then, “Calvin, however teaches his disciples to approach the future: quote: “**AS THOUGH** nothing were determined about any part.” ”

        Calvin does this because we are not God and we do not know what the future holds. We cannot presume to know what God has determined other than that which God reveals to us in the Scripture. Thus, we are to obey God fully and actively.

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      7. I do recognize that all of those rationalizations can work for all sorts of belief systems. And I understand your unflinching dedication to Calvinism’s distinctions and interpretations. I just find all forms of double-think amusing.

        But more importantly, I think its valuable for others here to understand the underlying reason for Calvinism’s **AS-IF** mode of thinking. Once they understand what is behind it, they will see that trying to reason with the Calvinist concerning it is futile. No problemo! 😕

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  11. Concerning enlightenment tn regards to salvation; enlightenment is the Holy Spirit convicting a person of sin, righteousness, and judgement which leads some to seek remedy in heart. Once the gospel is heard and believed, which is repentance and faith, it leads to regeneration (life) and salvation. This could happen all at once or over a period of time i.e., all of this could happen at one sitting or one could be convicted (enlightened) of sin, perhaps over time, and not hear the remedy for some time or hear it more than once before believing. God by grace enlightens and regenerates (saves), man’s responsibility is to believe or receive by faith.

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    1. Q writes, “Concerning enlightenment tn regards to salvation; enlightenment is the Holy Spirit convicting a person of sin, righteousness, and judgement which leads some to seek remedy in heart….”

      Now, all you need to do is get the Scriptures to say the same thing.

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  12. Earlier in the thread–can’t seem to respond there.

    Dear Rhutchin,

    You said, “Ephesians 2 tells us that it was the “dead in sin” who were made alive (regenerated). The living are not regenerated; the dead are regenerated – as the Calvinists see it.”

    Ephesians 2: 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression”

    If you read all the verses on death you will see a pattern and the pattern is this. Because of one man’s offence (Romans 5: 12-21) we were all condemned to death, that is at some future point all of us will die. It doesn’t say you were DEAD. (period)
    “As for you, you were dead IN your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to LIVE.

    It says dead IN trespasses and sins. We are obviously bodily alive (not above scripture ‘live’)–the point of the scripture is “You cannot save yourself” [by works of the law] To think that the sovereign all–knowing God of the universe would have such a strange scheme as irresistible grace doesn’t line up with scripture. It is the reason so many Calvinists don’t bother to preach the gospel (and I was one in ignorance–just as a Mormon is about Joseph Smith) If you know how the game ends are you going to sincerely put in your best effort?

    (btw, it would be helpful to see more scripture backing up some of the discussion on this thread)

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    1. cyndiw writes, “It says dead IN trespasses and sins. We are obviously bodily alive (not above scripture ‘live’)–the point of the scripture is “You cannot save yourself” [by works of the law] ”

      This points to a difference between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Calvinists take Ephesians 2 to be referring to “spiritual” death as the meaning of dead in transgressions as it describes a prior condition – “you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” Calvinists say that the verse is describing a person who was “spiritually” dead but not “physically” dead. You can take it to mean physically dead, but that doesn’t make sense to me.

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      1. Rhutchin, you’re missing my point entirely–yes of course spiritually dead, but they argue a dead person can’t believe because they are dead–well of course a truly dead person can’t. Verse after verse tells us we cannot be saved by works [of the law]–works are things that are outwardly manifested. Belief is not a work of the law. And the whole point of the verse “dead in your trespasses and sins” is, in other words, we are as good as dead (metaphor Abraham as good as dead when he begat Isaac) or like a person condemned to die. They are as good as dead unless the judge gives them clemency.

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      2. Cynthia Ware writes, “you’re missing my point entirely–yes of course spiritually dead, but they argue a dead person can’t believe because they are dead–well of course a truly dead person can’t. ”

        I don’t understand your comment. The Calvinist argues that a spiritually dead person cannot believe because they are spiritually dead – being spiritually dead, a person has no faith and cannot obtain faith other than through the hearing of the gospel.

        Then, “..the whole point of the verse “dead in your trespasses and sins” is, in other words, we are as good as dead…”

        According to the Calvinist, actually dead – actually spiritually dead; Ephesians 2 does not deal with a person being physically dead or “good as” dead – it deals with people who are dead dead – dead as dead can be (spiritually, of course).

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      3. Don’t get frustrated if you end up going around in circles with rutchin. Sometimes reasonable discourse is not the modas operandi. But rather wearing you out in order to have the last word. You get used to that and learn to take it with the territory. ;-]

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      4. Thank you, Br.d. Hopefully, scripture has the last say–I guess I owe an apology for my sarcasm. /: I actually was chuckling at how serious I was; but the upside is it helps me be clearer on what I believe and it’s kind of fun too. Btw, I thought I had a previous note; something about “Read what they write/or say”? Well I can’t find it now–was that you?

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      5. Hi Cynthia,
        I enjoyed your posts. I don’t think the other post you are thinking of was me.
        But thanks and blessings! :-]

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      6. br.d writes, “Don’t get frustrated if you end up going around in circles with rutchin. Sometimes reasonable discourse is not the modas operandi.”

        If you cannot explain yourself or your understanding of the Scriptures, then that’s the way it is. There are no circles to go around and reasonable discourse is not only encouraged but required. I understand that it is difficult for some people to write coherently about issues and to frame reasonable arguments. That’s fine. Do as much as you are able.

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  13. rhutchin’s latest comments again prove my point (i.e. Calvinists make much of claiming that we always choose according to our greatest desire, which is a vacuous claim because it amounts to our so-called “greatest desire” is the desire upon which we end up acting, but that does not tell us why, when multiple desires are present one emerges **as** the greatest desire, this is completely left unexplained):

    “While we don’t always know what factors actually lead to the choices people make, we can extrapolate back from the choices a person makes to get an indication of the things that are important to them – what they desire. Calvinists make the assumption that people actually pursue their heart’s desires. The alternative makes no sense.”

    So he says we can extrapolate from their choices to figure out what is important to them, what they desire. Nobody disagrees with that, and that adds nothing to explaining why one becomes the greatest desire when others are present.

    He then says that people “actually pursue their heart’s desires”, and who disagrees with that? No one.

    He then says “The alternative makes no sense.” What alternative? That people do not choose what they desire? Who says that? No one.

    So rhutchin makes statements that virtually no one would disagree with, and yet he completely neglects to explain why one desire becomes the greatest desire when multiple desires are present.

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    1. Robert writes, “He then says “The alternative makes no sense.” What alternative? That people do not choose what they desire? Who says that? No one.”

      So, if you are arguing against what I wrote, surely that means that you are arguing for an alternative. What is that alternative? I argue that people choose according to their strongest desire; You argue that people choose according to…[WHAT?] What is the alternative to the Calvinist position that you think has got it wrong?

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      1. You did not read my comments carefully enough (and others can attest if necessary). I did not argue with your comments, I said repeatedly now that you and other Calvinists parrot Edwards’ claim that “we always choose according to our strongest desire”. But this statement is vacuous, empty, it lacks much meaning as the claim amounts only to that whatever we act upon can be called our “greatest desire.”

        But that is not saying much as the issue which you ignore, which Edwards himself **failed** to address was how when competing desires are present, each associated with a different desire, does one of these desires become the one which we act upon????

        Edwards failed to address this, you fail to address this. I will not provide any alternative until you at least attempt to give an explanation as to how one desire among competing desires becomes the “greatest desire” according to your determinism. Until you do so, all you have is an empty vacuous phrase “the greatest desire.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Robert writes, “how when competing desires are present, each associated with a different desire, does one of these desires become the one which we act upon????”

        Let’s use some Scriptural examples to describe the unsaved.

        1. Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD. (1 Samual 2)
        2. In his pride the wicked does not seek God. (Psalm 10)
        3. The disobedient…gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. (Ephesians 2)
        4. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8)

        We find is that the unsaved do not really have competing desires but desires that build on each other and manifest as – “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5)

        Do we know what desire of depraved humanity is the strongest at any particular time. No. We probably would not conclude that a weak desire explains a person’s actions. I suspect a philosopher could develop a logical argument for the strongest desire always getting its way.

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  14. I glanced at some earlier posts in this thread and found rhutchin making some ridiculously false claims in a post at Jan. 13, 2017 9:28 PM. These false claims deserve to be exposed to the light and shown to be completely off. rhutchin shares his “ordering” of events as:

    “1. Person repents.
    2. Person receives the Holy Spirit.
    3. Holy Spirit initiates the new birth in the person.
    4. Following the new birth, the person receives a living hope (faith)
    (B. Receiving faith).”

    rhutchin is trying to estabish his false calvinistic view that regeneration precedes faith. Unwittingly he has proposed an order that is false and completely out of touch with reality (it does not even fit his own calvinistic views). Viewing this “ordering” some major problems immediately come to mind. First, he has a person repenting APART FROM faith and prior to regeneration.Why is this a problem?

    Why would a nonbeliever (because that is what this person is as they have not yet been regenerated nor have they had a faith response to the gospel EVER REPENT OF THEIR SIN? For what reason? In scripture and in our experience when we evangelize real life persons who come to faith: repentance and belief/faith occur together. A person repents of their sin placing their faith in Christ believing that Christ alone can save them. People never repent/turn from sin apart from faith. Why would an atheist or any other non-believer for that matter, repent of their sin, when they have not yet believed, not trusted Jesus to save them? That makes no sense at all. Why would they repent of their sin apart from belief and faith in Christ? What purpose would their repentance serve if they do not believe, if they do not yet trust Jesus to save them? Look at the New Testament descriptions of conversion, you never see this. Instead you see those who repent do so because they trust Christ will save them. So rhutchin has this bizarre ordering where repentance precedes both regeneration and faith.

    There is another major problem with rhutchin’s claim that repentance precedes both regeneration and faith. This contradicts his espoused calvinistic theology in an irreparable way. How so? Rhutchin has told us repeatedly for years now that the nonbeliever is incapable of doing any good action. He tells us that the nonbeliever is incapable of doing any good. But repentance of sin a a very good thing for a person to do. God wants people to repent of their sin. So if this person according to rhutchin repents of sin they are doing a very good thing BEFORE AND APART FROM them being regenerated and having faith. So rhutchin completely contradicts his own theology his own pronouncements that he has been making here for years regarding the nonbeliever supposedly being incapable of doing any good thing whatsoever. It will be fun seeing rhutchin trying to explain away the problems created by his “ordering” of events.

    This demonstrates yet again that what rhutchin presents is not based on leading people to Christ in the real world and on scripture: it is instead completely and solely based upon his errant calvinistic theology. I say this having been involved in hundreds of conversions of folks who have chosen to repent of their sin and place their trust in Christ alone for their salvation. With all of these folks repentance and faith occurred together as they became Christians. With none of these folks did they first repent, then become regenerated, and then placed their faith in Christ to save them. rhutchin develops his errrant views merely from his own imaginations as he sits behind his computer monitor. What he presents does not fit real world evangelism whatsoever.

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    1. It would make sense that if a person does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, then any kind of repentance would be irrational. Repent from what? Your sins? Sins against who? And if Jesus is not first and foremost the savior, in that person’s mind, then how can God honor that, as repentance unto salvation?

      As the scripture states it: “believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. You and your household.

      But I’m sure Calvinism has a spider-web of convoluted rationalizations, designed to affirm Universal Divine Determinism. That, for them, is the sacred cow!! 😉

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      1. br.d writes, “I’m sure Calvinism has a spider-web of convoluted rationalizations, designed to affirm Universal Divine Determinism.”

        It comes down to omniscience and sovereignty. Straightforward; no convoluted rationalizations.

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    2. Robert writes, “I…found rhutchin making some ridiculously false claims… These false claims deserve to be exposed to the light and shown to be completely off…So rhutchin has this bizarre ordering where repentance precedes both regeneration and faith.”

      The discussion began with a comment by cyndiw dated January 13, 2017 at 5:59 am in which two verses were cited:

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 and

      “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

      It is from these verses that I produced the ordering of events to which Robert objects. Rather than address those verses – since it seems that Robert sees a different ordering of events in these verses – Robert completely ignores them. Instead, he takes off on a rant, as is his habit.

      My suspicion is that Robert pretty much ignores that which the Scripture says to us and goes off making up his own system that I think often reflects his humanist philosophy. In his current rant, Robert does not once cite the Scriptures upon which he bases his beliefs (perhaps they do not exist or perhaps he does not want to reveal his cherry-picking of verses to support what he wants to believe).

      Regardless, if one has a compliant about my understanding of particular Scriptures, the proper response is to address those Scriptures and show where I misunderstood them. Robert, for all his railing against Calvinism, never seems to be able to do this (which is not uncommon among other posters to discussions).

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    1. Vooke asks, “on what basis is an atheist repenting without faith?”

      Is faith required for a person to repent?

      At the preaching of John the Baptist, many people were baptized for repentance. In Acts 19, we read this account:

      1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
      2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
      3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
      4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
      5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

      Faith is “being sure of what we hope for (Christ) and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11) It appears that repentance does not require faith. That may explain why we see people coming into the church and being baptized intending only to try to turn their lives around but have no particular affinity for Christ.

      Repenting might be one possible reaction to the enlightenment that Brian has emphasized recently that would then have to followed by a pursuit of Christ..

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      1. For the longest time based on his comments it appears that rhutchin just sits at his computer monitor and spews out this constant flow of material aiming to defend and rationalize his calvinistic beliefs. He seems to have no practical real world experience in evangelism based on his comments. Perhaps part of reason for this is that he attends a strange church with strange teachings. I say this based upon this latest strange comment:

        “That may explain why we see people coming into the church and being baptized intending only to try to turn their lives around but have no particular affinity for Christ.”

        What church is that?

        I have been involved in Baptist churches for many years and we don’t baptize people unless they have a **credible testimony** about their coming to Christ for salvation. We usually require them to also share this testimony when they are baptized. I don’t know anyone who ever came for baptism that I baptized or someone else baptized “intending only to try to turn their lives around” without a professed conversion experience. Baptism symbolizes the death to life experience of coming to Christ believing that He died for you and rose from the dead for you, having your sins forgiven, not merely to “try to turn their lives around”.

        And this claim that the folks at rhutchin’s church come for baptism “but have no particular affinity for Christ” is even more bizarre.

        Again, who gets baptized in a Baptist church (or any church for that matter) who has ****no affinity for Christ**** or professing no affinity for Christ?

        While I understand that not everyone who is baptized is a genuine believer. At our Baptist churches they are at least professing love of Jesus and a genuine conversion experience that is aptly symbolized by baptism.

        But what kind of church is rhutchin attending if they are being baptized intending only to try to turn their lives around but have no particular affinity for Christ.”????

        That does not sound like any Baptist church I have been involved with or know about.

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      2. Calvin teaches that there are those in the “so called” church, who are not really saved. In Calvinism, salvation, like everything else, is not determined by the person, but by divine decree made before man exists. Since that is the case, a “human” determination of a person’s salvation is considered highly suspect. The only person whose salvation they don’t hold in question, is Calvin’s. The best the Calvinist can do, ascertaining an assurance of a person’s salvation is modulating that person’s manner of living. But even then, they believe, it may be the case that God’s designed that person for the lake fire, no matter how saintly the life has been.

        So some Calvinist churches put a fair amount of precedence on “specific” behavioral indicators. Every congregation has their own hierarchy list of behaviors considered insignificant sins, up to highly significant sins. Certain types of dishonest language tactics, when defending or promoting Calvinism for example, may not be considered sin at all. While on the other hand, not honoring the pastor may be grounds for temporary excommunication from the flock.

        The psychology of Calvinism is so radially different from the norm in Christianity, most Christians simply have no idea how radically different it is. And since part of Calvinist psychology is to believe X exists, but treat X **AS-IF** it doesn’t exist, when they communicate their beliefs from that framework, it often comes out looking like smoke and mirrors to outsiders. But since they fully embrace it, it all makes perfect sense to them.

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      3. br.d writes, “Calvin teaches that there are those in the “so called” church, who are not really saved.”

        This is what the Scriptures teach – the wheat and tares abide together within the church. Paul warned, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20)

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      4. Again, let us not be mislead.
        Calvinists interpret **ALL** scripture through the lens of Universal Divine Determinism.

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      5. br.d writes, “Calvinists interpret **ALL** scripture through the lens of Universal Divine Determinism.”

        Actually, Calvinists see Universal Divine Determinism through the lens of **ALL** scripture.

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      6. Jehovah’s witnesses likewise claim their system is seen through the lens of scripture. That’s one of the claims they share with Calvinism. 😉

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      7. I wrote, “That may explain why we see people coming into the church and being baptized intending only to try to turn their lives around but have no particular affinity for Christ.”

        Robert asks, “What church is that?”

        Since my background is the Baptist church, I can speak of them. When revivals were more common, it was not uncommon to see many people “respond” to the evangelists pleading and to be back in their old life a month or two later despite their testimony that they wanted to turn their life around.

        If everyone that you have baptized over the years is still growing in Christ and exhibits a solid testimony, then you must have been doing something right. Not every pastor understands the reality of the situation and is as conscientious as you.

        Then you agree with me by saying, “While I understand that not everyone who is baptized is a genuine believer.,” which is what I said.

        The only real issue is whether the people themselves actually are sincere and are not intentionally being deceptive. I think there are some who come in pressured by a family member and just decide not to fight it and give the expected answer that they were prepped on by that family member.

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      8. I’ll agree with rhtuchin on this one and add to that the ‘Church’ doesn’t seem to have much of an affinity for Christ either; he seems like more of a mascot, than King of King and Lord of Lords. I’m so weary of church; it seems it’s all focused on the people and programs, keeping it light–don’t offend anyone—no expository teaching–dumb it down to a second grade level. The sermons are more like a 2 minute movie trailer or some self-help article in Good Housekeeping magazine. Everything seems choreographed like the set of a play. Inauthentic, shallow. Empty. Paradoxically, the best teaching I received, done in a simple, intelligent way was at a PCA (Presbyterian Churches in America) church. I left not because of what was said, but what wasn’t being said, “Go, make disciples of all men….” Now I am hanging on to flotsam, bible still in hand, but feel like giving up looking for dry land.

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      9. Hi Cynthia, There are some great pastoral baptistic ministries in the US that are evangelistic. All programs are not bad… but godly leadership is the key. But I would look for a congregation in your area that likes small group ministries like those promoted by Living on the Edge – Chip Ingram, and/or have a Celebrate Recovery ministry. My guess is the discipleship and worship and outreach should be pretty good in a congregation that has one or both of those ministries.

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      10. Thank you, Brian. I am a 21st century woman looking for a 1st century church (less the persecution; I imagine a little white church with a steeple; having a meal together after the service–a simple, authentic community. No sound systems, not video church. Did you know Celebrate Recovery is a ministry of Saddleback, Rick Warren’s church and is trademarked? I went to a CR conference there many years ago and was shocked; water bottles and hats and t shirts for sale. And Saddleback? It was one of the most bizarre things for me to see–like Disneyland.

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      11. I think I understand, Cynthia. The big congregations with leaders who want to love the community with all its warts, and to bring them to Christ usually end up with congregations that look a little like a triage at a disaster. But leadership is the key and getting people to relate in small groups with leadership of each group that has been discipled is also a key. It’s messy… but if you find a congregation where 2Tim 2:2 is a primary focus… you won’t go too far wrong. The small group in that congregation will be your mini-congregation that you described! 🙂 There are a number of those little congregations around in nice little buildings, like you described… But the world needs confrontation and the church doesn’t need comfortable “monastery” type atmospheres, even as restful as that might be! 🙂 And before long you will discover some unpalatable reasons why those congregations are small in their small buildings! Not that I am for building big buildings… for I think we should get back to renting from the world their upper rooms and spread out through the city like the Roman believers evidently were in Rom 16.

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      12. HI Brian,

        gmail’s stacking of emails can be helpful in keep everything together, but i also miss reading some–as in this one! well, it’s my personality type–i just don’t like big churches, but it’s not so much the bigness as the it the cotton candy preaching and the shallowness of it all–imagine taking a shower and someone has tied a wad of cheese cloth over the shower head–i live in the San Francisco Bay area and I’ve tried several churches—I’m thinking I’ll have to move or leave off church–I’d rather eat a meal at home alone than eat cotton candy. ):

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      13. Hi Cynthia, Have you heard Chip Ingram on the radio or pod-cast? Living on the Edge. I think his teaching will be a blessing to you. And if you can find a similar leader in your area… Chip’s church is about 30-40 miles south of San Francisco. Maybe if you visit it, they can recommend one in your area. We need each other in our walk with Jesus. We need the love and encouragement of each other and good teaching.

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      14. Thank you, Brian. Yes, I’ve listened to Chip on the radio before; it’ been awhile–does he do expository teaching? I can imagine he knows the pastors in the area, but doesn’t know the goings on of the church. For example, one church he might recommend, had acrobats for their Easter service this past year. The woman who told me about it has served in their biblical counseling ministry 14 years–she said it’s just a preference. I call it sacrilegious. The church I occasionally attend Sunday school (and attended service this past Sunday) had hired an orchestra and singers for Christmas Eve service; they didn’t read the Christmas story and were closed Christmas day!.The inside of the church for Christmas had modernistic trees flanking the front of the sanctuary (they have some sort of theme thing for each month), they looked like something in a department store. They had a manger scene, but way off by itself near the parking lot. Now they have some sort of white rough, curved arrow on a big black background covering about 30 feet of wall–I have no idea what it represents, but it looks more like the Islamic crescent moon–it’s a coincidence I’m sure, but the effect is eerie. The sermon, like the movie trailer I described–the pastor walks up to the stage in his tangerine pants then disappears like a star when he’s done–10-15 min?

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      15. And Brian, you said, “But the world needs confrontation and the church doesn’t need comfortable “monastery” type atmospheres, even as restful as that might be!

        I just had to laugh. The church doesn’t want confrontation–they want everyone to smile and be agreeable and again, “keep it light” like some gospel tract done with cartoons and angels and rainbows. I got kicked out of a bible study a few years ago because I disagreed with the leader’s Decision Theology–I had no idea there was a name for it, but she was asking people the DATE they were saved. Some people remember, it’s like “POW–this is IT!” , Some ‘come to believe’ over time. Still others just believe–like me as a small child–no flash of light; others come “kicking and screaming into the kingdom” I don’t see to many churches ‘kicking ass’ I’m sorry to say–atmosphere (my wanting a white steepled church) has nothing to do with the content of the teaching.

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      16. Sounds like you have the gift of prophecy! 😉 The local church, and that Bible Study you were in, needs your gift. Gifts can be used the wrong way so prophets really need to work on 2Tim 2:24-26. But even if they do… they are usually persecuted for making people feel uncomfortable when confronting them with the truth.

        Being a prophet can be rather lonely at times… read Jeremiah! 🙂 But Jesus sent His disciples by twos for some good reason! We are not supposed to serve Him alone. Find that fellow disciple that is like-minded, and go and change your world even more!

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      17. You’re welcome, my sister! I will be praying that you find that kindred spirit to serve the Lord with, as well as that good body of believers to add your testimony within your community.

        Chip Ingram is expositional in that he teaches from a passage and has done the background exegetical work. But his drive is pastoral and evangelistic. You will have to listen carefully sometimes to hear the clear links to the text and specific meanings of words in it, but as a teacher I have seen the evidence that he truly is expository.

        I find myself praying for his ministry, for I believe the Lord is using Him more powerfully to build the church in this day in the US and worldwide than most. If you want to hear his messages on some very socially controversial topics listen to his Culture Shock series. As a prophet, you might like that one! 🙂

        You may also like his series on Rom 12 – True Spirituality.

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      18. Thank you, Brian for the sermon info and for your prayers, i am very grateful! Btw the Timothy verse hit home–read it this morning after I had responded. Yes, I need to work on that! (:

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      19. Robert, you really should not pick on Roger for being in a congregation who might baptize an individual- “who has ****no affinity for Christ**** or professing no affinity for Christ”. If I understand the importance that you place on the definition of “orthodox” then most RC, EO, and Protestant mainline congregations baptize millions of infants who of course have “****no affinity for Christ**** or professing no affinity for Christ.”

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  15. I made a ‘Profession of Faith’ when I was 8 in the Southern Baptist church. So did my sister, so did my brotherand we got a little certificate as ‘proof’. My sister did not profess Christ as her savior and died–she drank herself to death. Perhaps in her inebriation she cried out to God–only He knows. My brother believes in ‘God’, but lives with his girlfriend and did the one before that; he doesn’t know Genesis from Revelation. My father, his sister, and brother all ‘professed Christ’ and were baptized in the church. My uncle was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian church–he later left the church–all 3 denounced their faith.

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    1. Hi Cynthia,
      I’m sorry for your loss. My family was more fortunate, as all of my siblings came to believe on the Lord.
      The difference in perspective in regard to salvation/damnation outcomes with your belief-system, in contrast to Calvinism, is that you probably believe that a person can resist the will of God for their life, where the Calvinist holds that a person cannot. In Calvinism, God’s will is only perceived by hind-sight. In Calvinism, the ends and the means of whatever comes to pass is exactly as God wills, down the slightest movement of the smallest molecule.

      It occurred to me recently how Calvinists are taught compartmentalized thinking. We might say there are two primary compartments.
      1) Calvinism’s Theological Compartment, and 2) Calvinism’s Human Culpability Compartment.

      In Calvinism’s Theological compartment, the Calvinist is taught that God:
      A) Conceives everything that will come to pass
      B) Renders infallibly-certain everything that will come to pass
      C) All human thoughts and choices thus occur irresistibly

      However, in Calvinism’s Human Culpability Compartment, he is taught to treat A,B,C (above) **AS-IF** they don’t exist.

      Additionally, the Calvinist is taught those two compartments are not logical contradictions to each other. That allows them to make statements that appear as contradictions to outsiders, which are not contradictions to them. When the Calvinist speaks of God exercising absolute sovereign will over all things, he is speaking out of his Theological compartment. But then when he asserts God is not the author of evil in his system, he is speaking out of his Human-Culpability compartment. He is taught these are not contradictions. That is part of Calvinism’s psychology.

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      1. br.d writes, “In Calvinism’s Theological compartment, the Calvinist is taught that God:
        A) Conceives everything that will come to pass
        B) Renders infallibly-certain everything that will come to pass
        C) All human thoughts and choices thus occur irresistibly ”

        Actually, it is:
        1) God is sovereign.
        2) God is omniscient.
        3) As sovereign, God exercises absolute control over everything that could happen.
        A) As sovereign, God must decree everything that will come to pass before it can come to pass
        B) Renders infallibly-certain everything that will come to pass
        C) All human thoughts and choices occur freely but God can restrain those thoughts and choices.

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      2. Sovereignty, Omniscience, and Determinism are 3 different things. A King is sovereign over a nation, but he gives certain liberty to his subjects. A father may see his child clearly about to fall from the top of the sofa, but decides the bump would serve as a better lesson than his intervention.

        God has given humans freedom to choose or reject Him; otherwise Christ died for nothing–the whole Bible is pointless, like throwing a lifesaver out to a bloated 1/2 eaten corpse that’s washed ashore.

        Every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom. Witness the doctrine of Predestination which shows (truly enough)* that eternal reality is not waiting for a future in which to be real; but at the price of removing Freedom which is the deeper truth of the two….The price of destroying (or rejecting) freedom is simply too high to pay; doing so severs the connection between us and our Creator. God cannot be understood apart from love, and love cannot be understood apart from freedom — for love never, ever coerces.–C.S. Lewis

        *truly enough –not that predestination is true, but that “eternal reality is not waiting for a future”

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      3. Cynthia Ware writes, “A King is sovereign over a nation, but he gives certain liberty to his subjects.”

        This is what Calvinists say. God has given people the liberty to sin – up to a point.

        Then, “God has given humans freedom to choose or reject Him;…”

        Technically, yes. However, if people are as Paul describes in Romans 8, “hostile to God,” then we should not be surprised if people always choose to reject God.

        Then, “…otherwise Christ died for nothing–the whole Bible is pointless, like throwing a lifesaver out to a bloated 1/2 eaten corpse that’s washed ashore.”

        This is a logical fallacy – that of non-sequitur. Even if God had not given humans the freedom to choose Him, it does not mean that Christ died for nothing. The question here is to identify God’s purpose for Christ to die. It could be that God intended only that some people be saved, and not each and every individual, and Christ was sent to die for those few.

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      4. Dear Rhutchin,

        God never contradicts in one part of scripture what is taught in another. He predestined His plan of salvation, not certain people as is clear in the scriptures I’ve included below. The chosen (also translated heirs)/ elect are simply those who believe. And my analogy isn’t false, if we are not free to choose then it’s all pointless. Please share verses in their entirety that support your position.

        Who are the Elect?

        “When used in the last verse of the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt 22:14), “eklektos” provides a deeper meaning and context to the trilogy of parables presented in Matthew (Parable of the Two Sons: Matt 21:28-32, Parable of the Landowner: Matt 21:33-44 and Parable of the Wedding Feast: Matt 22:1-14). Speaking to religious Jewish leaders, Jesus tells the story of a man who was invited to the Wedding Feast but not wearing wedding clothes. He was in effect disobedient and did not have the clothing that entitled him to the wedding; in essence, “eklektos” was fulfilled only in obedience. In this commentary of Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ, to be “eklektos” seems predicated on human decision. The invited are not coerced to come; they have the choice to can come freely or not. But if they come, they must put on the proper clothing. The Parable of the Wedding Feast indicates that those who believe and obey are of the “elect”.

        http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/9Salvation/ElectionEklektos.aspx

        Bible verses using the words ALL and WHOEVER:

        “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLE to myself.” -John 12:32

        “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. WHOEVER believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”-John 11:25

        For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”-1 Tim 2:3-4

        “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance” -2 Peter 3:9

        “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that WHOSOEOVER believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.–John 3:16

        For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL, to be testified in due time.–1 Timothy 2:5

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      5. Cynthia Ware writes, “Bible verses using the words ALL and WHOEVER:

        “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLE to myself.” -John 12:32
        For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have ALL MEN to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”-1 Tim 2:3-4
        “For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom FOR ALL, to be testified in due time.”–1 Timothy 2:5”

        Two definitions are posed for the word, “ALL.” They are:
        1. ALL refers to both Jews and Gentiles.
        2. ALL refers to each and every individual.

        The definition, “Jews and Gentiles,” relies on Ephesians 3 for support. I’ll let you cite the Scripture that supports a definition of “each and every individual.”

        Then, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. WHOEVER believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”-John 11:25
        “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that WHOSOEOVER believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.–John 3:16

        No problem here. As 3:16 tells us “whosoever” means anyone but only those who actually believe will be saved. The issue is how any person comes to believe – Calvinists say this is by the grace of God.

        Then, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance” -2 Peter 3:9″

        The use of the negative, “not willing,” is important and emphatic. If we define “ANY/ALL” as any and every individual, then we have the universalist conclusion as God is “not willing” that any and every individual perish but that all come to repentance. If we define “ANY” as believers (those to whom Peter is writing), then we have the Calvinist conclusion. Other conclusions mutilate the meaning of “not willing.”

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      6. Rhutchin, obviously, we’re not talking about Universalism here as a person must ‘repent’ and believe. What specific scriptures are your scriptures to support your arguments, that can stand alone without any translation or commentary on your part?

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      7. Rhutchin, you said:

        The use of the negative, “not willing,” is important and emphatic. If we define “ANY/ALL” as any and every individual, then we have the universalist conclusion as God is “not willing” that any and every individual perish but that all come to repentance. If we define “ANY” as believers (those to whom Peter is writing), then we have the Calvinist conclusion. Other conclusions mutilate the meaning of “not willing.”

        Again, it is NOT Universalism as there are conditions: REPENT AND BELIEVE. And this doens’t make any sense at all: “If we define “ANY” as believers (those to whom Peter is writing), then we have the Calvinist conclusion.” That would mean they were believers…before they were believers!

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      8. Cynthia Ware writes, “If we define “ANY” as believers (those to whom Peter is writing), then we have the Calvinist conclusion.” That would mean they were believers…before they were believers!”

        Peter writes to believers and speaks of all believers – including those whom God will bring to salvation in the future. Thus, we can read 2 Peter 3 today as if Peter were writing to us and we can ask the same question as believers of that day and get the same answer.

        However, you refuse to address “…not willing…” At least, not here.

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      9. Rhutchin, you said, “Two definitions are posed for the word, “ALL.” They are:
        1. ALL refers to both Jews and Gentiles.
        2. ALL refers to each and every individual.
        The definition, “Jews and Gentiles,” relies on Ephesians 3 for support. I’ll let you cite the Scripture that supports a definition of “each and every individual.””

        Lord have mercy! Again where are clear verses that support your position? The WORD tell us about God’s plan of salvation–we don’t just go around saying what we ‘think’ or what we’ve been taught.

        What verse in Ephesians are you talking about? Is it this one? ” This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”–Ephesians 3:6

        That verse is clearing saying the gift of salvation is not just for Jews but for Gentiles–Gentiles are ALL the people who aren’t Jews!

        I cited at least 12 verses using the words “ALL and WHOEVER”–they mean EXACTLY that. You can’t be serious. That is the very definition of the word–EACH AND EVERY individual. You have set your theology over what the word of God clearly states.

        AGAIN, PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENTS WITH SCRIPTURE UNAIDED BY YOUR INTERPRETATION.

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      10. Cynthia Ware asks, “Who are the Elect?”

        “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1 Peter 2

        “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3

        “shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” Luke 18

        “…for the elect’s sake, whom God hath chosen…” Mark 13

        The elect are God’s chosen; they are believers.

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      11. RhutchinI, you said “’ll let you cite the Scripture that supports a definition of “each and every individual.””

        Your kidding, right? This is a joke. I cited 12 Verses with ALL and WHOEVER–and you are going to sit there and say those words don’t mean “each and every individual”?

        And I never asked who the elect were, Yes they are believers–I asked for verses to support your idea that ALL doesn’t mean all. You asked me to find a verse that defines ALL as “each and ever individual”–well that’s what it means–there are no definitions in the bible or any other book except the dictionary. If we have to define simple words like ALL AND WHOEVER, then we’ll have to define all the rest of the words of the bible–the problem is you want to redefine words. Who asks someone to define ALL? This IS complete and utter nonsense!

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      12. Cynthia Ware writes, “there are no definitions in the bible or any other book except the dictionary.”

        Actually, teasing out the meaning of terms used in the Bible is what exegesis is all about. When Paul writes that a mystery was revealed to him by God – Gentiles are heirs together with Israel…sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus,” we would reasonably expect this theme to dominate Paul’s letters. In Paul’s mind, “all men,” would be “Jews and Gentiles.” Sound exegesis should be able to support a similar argument for defining “ALL” to mean “each and every individual” if such an argument can be made.

        Your comment reflects a humanist approach to the Scriptures – not really uncommon in the church.

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      13. That is totally off the wall. Rhutchin, you need to take some classes in biblical hermeneutics. You tend to puff all up like a male rooster when ever you post about scripture, like you’re speaking as a pope, ex cathedra. It really comes off as quite silly. 🙂

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      14. br.d writes, “you need to take some classes in biblical hermeneutics.”

        The meaning of “ALL” is the subject of much exegetical interest in discussions about Calvinism. John Owen addressed the issue in his “Death of Death” and it has been an issue ever since. Nothing silly about it.

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      15. I was referring you your “humanist” assertion, which I suspect was probably a red hearing.
        But my previous statement was still true, for all its worth to you. Your posts concerning scripture tend to rely upon the presumption of infallible interpretation.

        BTW: Disputes over the meanings of words is part and parcel of agenda based handling of scripture. The lawyer who tempted Jesus in Luke 10, did so by altering the definition of the word “neighbor”. Jesus saw right through his word gaming tricks and gave us the parable of the good Samaritan. The reason the lawyer asserts a word is in dispute is because he doesn’t like the CLEAR meaning of the text. But now that you mention it, I guess I can see, since Calvinism has evolved such a high expertise in manipulating language, how disputing word meanings would be consistent.

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      16. br.d writes, “I was referring you your “humanist” assertion, which I suspect was probably a red hearing.”

        The humanist approach to the Scriptures is that they should be understood in light of the world. If culture changes, then the Scriptures are outdated and speak to another era without relevance today. Scriptures are to be understood inclusively and not exclusively. The Scriptures are to be understood in light of worldly values where words are defined by the dictionary and not within the context of the Scriptures. The Scriptures were penned by ordinary people and not by an extraordinary God. God is whatever the person wants him to be and Scriptures cited to deny this are taken out of context (often historical context) and distorting reality. Humanism has invaded the church and people within the church can be oblivious to it. Cynthia made a statement rooted in humanism and probably does not know it. No red herrings in the defense of the Scriptures.

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      17. Rhutchin here are still more WHOEVER verses: I’d really be interested to see the verses that support your position.

        Acts 10:43
        “WHOEVER believes in him shall receive remission of sins.”

        Romans 9:33, 10:11
        “WHOEVER believes on him shall not be ashamed.“

        I John 5:1
        “WHOEVER believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”

        John 11:26
        “WHOEVER lives and believes in me shall never die.”

        John 12:46-48
        “WHOEVER believes on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

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      18. Cynthia Ware writes, “Rhutchin here are still more WHOEVER verses: I’d really be interested to see the verses that support your position.
        Acts 10:43
        “WHOEVER believes in him shall receive remission of sins.”…..

        I don’t see where there is disagreement on the WHOEVER verses. All agree that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved. God is omniscient and knew His elect before He created the world, “God hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” (Ephesians 1)

        What’s the issue with “WHOEVER”?

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      19. Rhutchin, to save my sanity I must unsubscribe, as this is beginning to feel like “Alice in Wonderland.”

        “All I want to do is leave this strange place!” said Alice. “What do you mean by ALL Alice? Do you mean just your legs, or does that include your head too? “Ah, but if you’re head, then you’ll need something to attach it to…” replied the Mad Hatter .

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      20. I hope you don’t go Cynthia!!
        Rhutchin wants SOT101 to be a domain which he dominates. And he’ll use all sorts of tactics that work towards that goal.

        It would be unfortunate to see his tactics worked on you!! 😦

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      21. br.d writes, “Rhutchin wants SOT101 to be a domain which he dominates.”

        No. I want SOT101 to be a forum for the presentation of differing views on the Scriptures and sound arguments for those views. Those who are only able to complain about one view or another but have never learned to support their contrasting beliefs will be frustrated.

        One problem seems to be that only Professor Flowers and Brian Wagner seem able to advance arguments opposed to Calvinism supported with logical arguments (even if I don’t think those arguments are sound).

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      22. And of course you are the god of this domain, so you know what is sound and not sound. I think we can see the strategy rhutchin…your 365 days per year 24/7 pretense at SOT101 makes it clear. cool 8)

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      23. Br.d—I missed this earlier as gmail groups everything together, so if say, 5 new postings come in before I check my email they are ‘stacked’ and I will see only the newest one–btw, Rhutchin, I think it’s impolite for you to respond as br.d’s posting was addressed directly to me.

        As to the condolence (?)–thank you, but it hurt that you said that in contrast to my family, all your family was saved; I’d say in the future out of kindness you might not want to juxtapose your abounding blessing with someone’s family who is eternally lost (deathbed conversions, nonwithstanding).

        And I need to re-read your email; to make it short, yes I believe a person can resist* and i also believe that they can turn away from the truth. I don’t know about my brother, sister, aunt or father–if they ever truly believed, but I do know my uncle, the pastor did.

        “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” –1 Peter 2:21

        I don’t want to get in a theological discussion about this; this is my own plain reading of the text (and there are more) this is not anything I was ever taught in church. I am 100% convinced of this and no word from anyone, save the Holy Spirit will change my mind, so please don’t bother.

        * A great visual on Youtube, “God Does exist” (15 min 7 sec), professor John Lennox’s argument for the existence of God. At the 8 minute mark, take note of Richard Dawkins defiant expression as the camera pans to the audience. He looks like he’s trying to touch the 20 ft ceiling with his chin (makes me think of the verse were God calls the Israelites a “stiff-necked people”), his mouth is set in a tight grimace, his face as red as a beet–if looks could kill, Professor Lennox would be struck dead.

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      24. Cynthia Ware writes, “Rhutchin, I think it’s impolite for you to respond as br.d’s posting was addressed directly to me.”

        I agree. br.d makes a lot of errors. I wasn’t really responding to his posting to you as much as correcting his glitches.

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      25. Hi Cynthia,
        I fell short of seeing how my post about my family was presented and I apologize for that! Please accept that as sincere. And I thank you for feeling free to let me know! Warm thoughts! br.d

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  16. It is hard for me to take Brian Wagner seriously in his latest comments for mutiple reasons. First, rhtuchin made it clear in his original statment that he was not referring to infants who are baptized and “intending only to turn their lives around”. rhutchin’s reference could not have been in reference to infant baptism. But Wagner who apparently hates those who practice infant baptism just feels compelled to try to use this an opportunity to attack them. Second, Wagner attacks **all** denominations (except of course his own) so he loves to attack Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and mainline Protestants who hold to infant baptism. I find this completely divisive and useless if you intend to do any work with these groups. Wagner is the guy who believes that those ordained in these groups are not ordained by God (while I disagree with Presbyterians that I know personally including Mike Horton and Vern Poythress on their calvinism and their infant baptism, I nevertheless respect them as Christian leaders and I do not question their ordination as Wagner does). Third, Wagner holds to open theism a false theology that must attack all other Orthodox believers as wrong on omniscience. Wagner presumubly holds to believer baptism so he should have also seen problems with rhutchin’s comment about those non-infants who are baptized having no affinity for Christ. Instead he takes a shot at paedobaptists. No surprise coming from an open theists who renounces all denominations. Wagner needs to get off his hobby horse of attacking all paedobaptists and instead focus on the discussion at hand: i.e. those who undergo believer baptism **only** to turn their lives around, people who supposedly have no affinity for Christ.

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    1. Robert… the issue for my response to what you said to Roger was not my support for the biblical teaching of believer’s baptism, nor were you correct when you judged me by saying – “Wagner who apparently hates those who practice infant baptism just feels compelled to try to use this an opportunity to attack them”, for I don’t think I would have lived in Ireland a dozen years and loved the Irish Catholic people, giving them the gospel, if that were true. The issue is that you attacked Roger for something you don’t believe is an issue of orthodoxy, even though I think it is.

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      1. We were not even discussing infant baptism and you just felt compelled to take a shot at them. In the time I have seen you post, you have on numerous occasions attacked the Paedobaptists. These repeated attacks do not indicate a love for the paedobaptists. You appear to be particularly disgusted with Catholics. And again your reason for attacking the paedobaptist position is to justify your error of open theism. You question their orthodoxy on their view of baptism in order to show that Christians have disagreed on doctrinal issues. You do this to open the door for and rationalize your errant open theism theology and beliefs.

        But as I have said over and over, while there is disagreement concerning various doctrines among the three major traditions (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism): and yet there is total consensus regarding God’s omniscience (i.e. that God contrary to you and your espoused open theism knows the past, present and future exhaustively, including what we will freely choose to do in the future). When all three major traditions agree on something that is strongly suggestive that it is true and to be believed by all Christians.

        You attack ****all denominations*****, and have done so repeatedly at this blog, particularly those who espouse infant baptism. While I disagree with them on baptism and some other issues I also recognize the orthodoxy within their own groups and the distinctives that are held within their groups.

        If you should say but “open theism is not a greater error than to be mistaken on baptism”. My response is that there are no Bible verses contrasting the two views (e.g. if a verse said practice believer baptism, do not practice the infant baptism . . .” then you could make this case). On the other hand, the scripture is full of references to the sin of idolatry, it is considered one of the worst sins (you know the verses so I will not cite them here). And in Isaiah God himself contrasts the ****true God**** who **KNOWS THE FUTURE** with ****false gods**** who do not. So according to Isaiah to be mistaken about God’s knowledge of the future leads to idolatry, a false god. Idolatry is a greater and worse sin than to be mistaken on baptism.

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      2. Robert, You can check with others who know me more personally than you to discover if what you call – “These repeated attacks do not indicate a love for the paedobaptists,” and that I “appear to be particularly disgusted with Catholics.” You do know that attacking a position is not the same as attacking a person. And I would hope you love and are not disgusted with me personally even though you attack and disgusted with some of my positions.

        I am not sure why you do not see that by your definition, infant baptismal regeneration is the “orthodox” position of RC, EO, major Protestants (Anglican, Lutheran), and the rejection of that is a minority view. And the minority view that you and I both hold is viewed by those so-called “orthodox” as a recent heresy from the time of the reformation. But you and I agree that infant baptismal regeneration is a false gospel that is being taught.

        And actually there are just as many conditional sentences in Scripture as there are unconditional prophecies, proving clearly that the future is partly determined already and partly undetermined. And that is how it is known perfectly in God’s mind.

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  17. I want to address this issue of a “profession of faith” briefly. The scripture is clear that not all who profess faith in Christ are genuinely saved persons (c.f. the Lord Lord people that Jesus speaks of in Matt. 7). And this is an issue in all denominations and Christian groups (all can tell of instances of people they know who seemed to be believers for a time but then fell away or even denounced the faith). But I don’t think it is fair or wise to criticize a group because they have had people like this in their groups. I look at the Christian life as a marathon not a short distance sprint. I am happy to see a person make a profession of faith in Christ at their baptism. But it does not end with this profession. The person needs to grow and mature in their faith and even reproduce others through discipleship and the person needs to live a lifetime of doing good works that bless others and honor God. Speaking for myself and others I have disciples we want to see initial professions of faith, but we also want to see people develop christian character (and that takes time, experience, and even trials).

    Now while we are on this issue of baptism allow me to make some observations that I have noticed among both my friends who practice believer baptism and also those who practice infant baptism. Baptists when we have infants have this thing called “infant dedications” in which we as a congregation and as parents commit ourselves to nurture the child and bring up the chilld in the Christian faith. Then we say that when they reach the age of accountability they need to later make their own profession of faith at which time we then baptize them and joyfully hear of their own personal commitment to follow Jesus as believers. A person wo is fortunate enough to live through both of these experiences in the same congregation generally speaking usually becomes a solid believer. They have their own faith, their own commitment and they often develop Christian character an live fruitful lives full of good works and they become a blessing to others and faithful witnesses of Jesus. Now as a Baptist of course I believe this is the preferable way. But I have also noticed something interesting about some of those whom I know practice infant baptism. At the infant baptism the parents and congregation commit themselves to nurture and bring up the child in the Christian faith (so the baptism is really about the commitment of others not the infant). They also have this belief that at a later time, the person who has past the age of accountabilty must make a profession of faith on their own. They must commit to following Jesus themselves and they must commit to developing Christian character and living a life that blesses others and honors God. Now the fun thing is that I know folks who have come out of both “systems” who appear to be genuine believers, display Christian character, live lives of fruitfulness, evident faith in the Lord, do lots of works helping others and being effective witnesses to the lost regarding Jesus. Now perhaps I am being too pragmatic here, but I know what the Bible says about Christian character, about a good Christian marriage, a good Christian parent, etc. And the fact is I have seen Presbyterians and Baptists and Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who exhibit all of these things, so they seem like faithful Christians to me. On the other hand I also have seen Presbyterians and Baptists and Catholiccs and Eastern Orthodox who do not appear to be faithfuld disciples of Jesus at all.

    Do I know who all the genuine believers and merely professing but not saved persons are? Of course not. Am I persuaded that believer baptism is the more biblical position? Yes. At the same time since I view the Christian life as a marathon, a lifetime commitment to Jesus. I respect the paedobaptists who were baptized as infants, made the commitment to follow Jesus when they were older and now live out faithful lives in which they have God honoring marriages, they do good works for the right reasons, are godly parents, evangelize the lost, and are part of congregations of Christians who love Jesus, love each other and are faithfl witnesses of Jesus.

    I am fully persuaded that at the final judgment day they will be declared to be believers and they will enter the same New Heavens and New Earth that I look forward to entering some day. I am also convinced that some professing Baptists who seemed to be awful testimonies, who seemed to be some of the nastiest folks you will ever meet, may even be convinced they are believers because they experienced believer batptism or were in churches their whole lives: and yet at the final day Jesus will declare that He never knew them. I am quite persuaded of what I believe (i.e. Baptist beliefs, Baptist distinctives) at the same time I will not waste a lot time attacking paedobaptists. I am much more interested in whether or not they love Jesus, are committed to following him for a lifetime and display Christian character and live out the Christian life in their marriages their families, their churches and their communities.

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    1. Excellent Post!!!

      An interesting thing to note with Calvinism’s “Strongest Inclination” conception, is that it can be seen as applicable to any complex machine. The machine simply acts according to its strongest “mechanical” inclinations, based upon its design parameters.

      However, for this argument to work, it must strategically hide the fact that in Calvinism, only God controls your steering wheel. Every direction you go in is…..(in Calvin’s words) “As God directs”. How one can argue this doesn’t make man function ROBOTICALLY is is a mystery, a paradox, or pretzel-thinking. 😉

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      1. br.d writes, “How one can argue this doesn’t make man function ROBOTICALLY is is a mystery, a paradox, or pretzel-thinking. ;)”

        One need only note, as the Calvinist does, that God does not motivate the sinner to act but only restrains the extent to which the sinner can act. The sinner is the slave to sin and that slavery is embedded in his sin nature. A robot is not self determined to anything, much lass sin.

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      2. Rutching writes: [In Calvinism] One need only note, as the Calvinist does, that God does not motivate the sinner to act but only restrains the extent to which the sinner can act. The sinner is the slave to sin and that slavery is embedded in his sin nature. A robot is not self determined to anything, much lass sin.

        Lets see how this works:
        ….God does not motivate the [bio-bot-human designed as a] sinner to act but only restrains the extent to which the [bio-bot-human designed as a] sinner can act. The [bio-bot-human designed as a] a sinner is the slave to sin and that slavery is embedded in his sin nature. A robot is not self determined to anything, much lass sin.”

        1) We can consistently replace the reference to a human with “machine” and the same truth factor is applicable in Calvinism.

        2) As stated in the previous post, the fact that a human is not a robot, does not exclude a human FUNCTIONING ROBOTICALLY. A human can still have a soul and still be called a sinner and function robotically. All of those can be seen as factors built into the design of the bio-bot-human..

        3)The statement that man is “SELF-DETERMINED” by a Calvinist, is a direct contradiction to Calvinism’s foundational premise of Universal Divine Determinism. In Calvinism, all human thoughts and choices are “RENDERED CERTAIN”, or “FIXED”, or “SETTLED” before the human exists. Thus any “determinism” on the human’s part is simply a mechanical functioning of that which is already determined.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. br.d writes, “The statement that man is “SELF-DETERMINED” by a Calvinist, is a direct contradiction to Calvinism’s foundational premise of Universal Divine Determinism. In Calvinism, all human thoughts and choices are “RENDERED CERTAIN”, or “FIXED”, or “SETTLED” before the human exists. Thus any “determinism” on the human’s part is simply a mechanical functioning of that which is already determined.”

        It looks like you are using “determinism” in the sense of being caused by external factors where Calvinism uses determinism in the sense of being caused by internal factors under restraint by God. Perhaps, that explains your confusion.

        Then, “…Calvinism’s foundational premise of Universal Divine Determinism.”

        This is not a premise of Calvinism. It is a truth derived from the doctrines of God’s omniscience and God’s sovereignty.

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      4. A Calvinist language magician writes

        “It looks like you are using “determinism” in the sense of being caused by external factors where Calvinism uses determinism in the sense of being caused by internal factors under restraint by God. Perhaps, that explains your confusion.”

        1) We understand the mechanics of Calvinistic determinism. The Calvinist can’t hide his decrees which cause all things which come to pass behind a smoke screen of equivocal language, trying to paint his deity’s role in human events as passive. Or paint his deity as infallibly causing X to come to pass, while simultaneously restraining X from coming to pass, which only makes for a double-minded deity.

        2) We understand that god in not “internal” to a man, and neither is god’s will.
        3) We understand, Calvin’s doctrine of decrees which determine every human neurological impulse occur before man exists, and are thus “external” to man.

        All of the massaged language in the world can’t camouflage the obvious logical entailments in Calvinism. No mater how the Calvinist tries to paint the evidence as “confusion”. He simply comes off manifesting dishonesty cloaked in lawyer-speak. 😉

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      5. br.d writes, “1) …The Calvinist can’t hide his decrees which cause all things which come to pass behind a smoke screen of equivocal language, trying to paint his deity’s role in human events as passive. Or paint his deity as infallibly causing X to come to pass, while simultaneously restraining X from coming to pass, which only makes for a double-minded deity.”

        There is no double-mindedness here. God works through direct action and indirectly through secondary forces. For example, we read in John that Satan entered into Judas to bring about the betrayal. Satan was self-motivated to destroy Christ. God had only to remove His protection over Judas and Judas was vulnerable. We find the same situation in the garden where God also removed His protection over Adam and Eve and Satan was able to enter the garden and tempt Eve and bring Adam to sin. You describe God’s decrees as X and X when they are X and Y. I don’t understand your confusion on this.

        Then, “2) We understand that god in not “internal” to a man, and neither is god’s will.”

        Yes. It is the sin nature that is internal to man and that sin nature motivates people to sin.

        Then, “3) We understand, Calvin’s doctrine of decrees which determine every human neurological impulse occur before man exists, and are thus “external” to man.”

        God’s decrees relate to the manner in which God exercises His control over all things. God may act directly as in destroying Sodom or impregnating Mary or God may act through secondary forces doing nothing to save Stephan from being stoned but then intervening to save Peter.

        Then, “All of the massaged language in the world can’t camouflage the obvious logical entailments in Calvinism. No mater how the Calvinist tries to paint the evidence as “confusion”. He simply comes off manifesting dishonesty cloaked in lawyer-speak. ;)”

        Confused thinking.

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      6. Totally expected!! Wonderful examples of Calvinist language magicianry and lawyer-speak. Please keep it coming. 😉

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  18. Does Calvinist language comply with Federal Advertising Statute?

    The Lanham Act,(Congressional Trademark Act of 1946) establishes a distinct, two-part standard with respect to false advertising language.
    Stipulations include:
    1) The language presents false or misleading representations of facts concerning the product.
    2) The language is likely to confuse and/or deceive potential consumers, by implicitly conveying false impressions.

    Feb 2015, Nvidia agrees to a preliminary settlement in its false advertising class action lawsuit.

    Consumers claimed Nvidia **OMITTED SPECIFIC DETAILS**, important for consumers, in order to make an informed decision.

    This is how Calvinist language consistently works it very carefully: **OMITS SPECIFIC DETAILS**.

    William Lane Craig – quote:
    “Calvinists unfortunately, yet consistently fall short of enunciating the radical distinctions inherent in their system”.

    Jerry Walls – quote:
    “If Calvinists didn’t rely so heavily on misleading rhetoric, their theology would loose all credibility within two years”

    When you are reading or responding to a Calvinist post, and you fail to address the degree to which the Calvinist’s language is misleading, you are doomed to chasing the greased pig, around in endless circles.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Brian writes: “You do know that attacking a position is not the same as attacking a person.”
    Sure, I’d say that many people here are familiar with this principle: attacking the man rather than the position is called the ad hominem fallacy.

    “I am not sure why you do not see that by your definition, infant baptismal regeneration is the “orthodox” position of RC, EO, major Protestants (Anglican, Lutheran),”

    I am quite aware that there are two orthodox positions on the modes and recipients of baptism among professing Christians (the one held by paedobaptists including Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc. and the one held by Baptists and others who hold to “believer baptism”).

    Where we disagree is that you believe that ***all*** those who hold to infant baptism are disqualified from being God ordained leaders (elders, pastors, priests) within their own groups (I disagree, if the person subscribes to the beliefs of the particular group they can be ordained within their group if they affirm the distinctives of that particular group). I disagree with paedobaptists but I do not have the hostility that you appear to have for them. Your hostility also shows through in your attack of ***all denominations*** except for your own (by your way of thinking everybody else is wrong except for you, and perhaps a few individuals that agree with you).

    By your position Presbyterians that I know personally (including Vern Poythress and Michael Horton), are not God-ordained leaders. I disagree, as they submit to their own group’s structure and distinctives, manifest godly character, they are God ordained leaders within their groups. They are orthodox in their beliefs though we disagree on baptism and some other issues. I can work with folks like this, you cannot, you are on your own little island where you alone have the truth and you attack all others (especially Catholics).

    “And actually there are just as many conditional sentences in Scripture as there are unconditional prophecies, proving clearly that the future is partly determined already and partly undetermined. And that is how it is known perfectly in God’s mind.”

    You can keep bringing up your open theism beliefs and reframing of the terms and I will continue to reject them as unorthodox, unbiblical, and false.

    The true God, the God of the Bible knows the past, present and future exhaustively.

    The god of your imagination, the invention of you and your fellow open theists, does not know the future freely made choices that we will make (you can call this the part of the future that is “partly determined”, you can claim that God does not or cannot know these future choices, it does not matter what semantic games or subterfuges you engage in, the fact remains your god is the one that Isaiah contrasts as the false god who does not know the future in contrast to the true God of the Bible who knows the future).

    The true God who is affirmed by the three major traditions, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant, knows the future choices that we will in fact freely choose to make (in contrast to your false god, your idol, who does not know these future freely made choices).

    While there are various proposals as to how this works (i.e. Calvinist, Molinist, Ockhamist, simple foreknowledge, Thomist, the Boethian view, etc.) all are agreed that He does in fact know the future in its entirety, in contrast to your open theist conception of god where He does not know the future in its entirety. You can continue to mock the ordinary view of omniscience, attack the ordinary conception of omniscience, continue to try to redefine things including “omniscience” the “future” etc., continue to claim the orthodox and ordinary view is merely Philosophy influenced by Greek Philosophy, etc. etc. etc. but all you do is ****end up denying what every other Christian believes****, and again you end up on your own little island where you and a few fellow open theists believe that you have it right and everybody else is wrong.

    No need to respond with further justifications and rationalizations of your open theism, you have repeated them enough here: been there done that! 🙂

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    1. Would it be an ad hominem fallacy to say that you, Robert, are “hostile” towards open theists, and hostile towards me, because of “the hostility that you appear to have for them”, and for me? If so, and I think that would be a good example of ad hominem fallacy, then perhaps you should see that you are committing that fallacy by your accusation of “hostility” that you say I have towards PEOPLE who hold infant baptismal regeneration in RC, EO, and the two major Protestant denominations (which is indeed the “orthodox” gospel view by your definition of “orthodox”). And I would never, ever link my view of Partially Open Futurism as a dogma of gospel faith.

      I hope that you will one day see the weakness of your definition of “orthodox” that you continue to try to use in support of your view of immutable foreknowledge which you hold in common with Calvinists.

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      1. “Would it be an ad hominem fallacy to say that you, Robert, are “hostile” towards open theists, and hostile towards me, because of “the hostility that you appear to have for them”, and for me?”

        I don’t think I am committing an ad hominem against open theists. I have taken the time to refute and counter your open theistic views here. I admit that at times I do get frustrated with the game playing and semantic games you play in trying to defend your open theism. Perhaps you interpret that frustration as hostility.

        It is so similar to what cults do. I have seen this all before when dealing with cults. The parallels are there. Cults engage in the same arguments that you do: the ordinary/common view is influenced by Greek Philosophy (ask a JW about the trinity and they will tell you it is both pagan and has Greek philosophical influences), terms like omniscience and future must be redefined to fit the unorthodox views of open theists (just as cults redefine Christian terms, so Jesus is not the Jesus of the scripture but the Jesus of the cults). Cults attack the Christian church by a “divide and conquer” strategy (i.e. point out disagreements between professing Christians to argue they must be wrong, Mormons love to engage in this one to try to argue they are the true church, you have done this on innumerable occasions your favorite strategy being to bring up differences in baptistic views). Cults are often reluctant initially for people to know who they are and often reluctant to come right out and openly proclaim what their views are (just as you initially argued against labels and tried to avoid even being referred to as an open theism, and yet I and others often ended up asking you whether or not you were an open theist). Cults, like open theists, hold a minority view and attack the majority view of Christians the orthodox view, as wrong and unbiblical. Cults, like open theists, claim their beliefs are more biblical than what Christians believe. There are so many parallels it is both frustrating and sad to see.

        “And I would never, ever link my view of Partially Open Futurism as a dogma of gospel faith.”

        Considering how many posts that you have written here attempting to argue for, defend, rationalize, and justify your open theistic beliefs you sure use up a lot of time on something you do not see as “a dogma of gospel faith.”

        “I hope that you will one day see the weakness of your definition of “orthodox” that you continue to try to use in support of your view of immutable foreknowledge which you hold in common with Calvinists.”

        I don’t think your expressed hope here will ever be realized.

        I will continue to agree with ******virtually every Christian****** who affirms the ordinary view of omniscience: whether they be Calvinists, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, Arminians, Molinists, Thomists, etc. etc.

        I will continue to affirm the truth that we all share (the view that the Christian Church has always espoused throughout its history) against your false, unbiblical and unorthodox open theistic views.

        As Isaiah makes clear the true God of the Bible knows the future and He distinguishes Himself from false gods by saying He knows the future when they do not. The god of open theism is precisely the god that the true God was contrasting Himself with in the book of Isaiah. And it is not just a few verses, the theme is present throughout the book. Now of course you and your open theist cohorts have ready-made explanations to explain it all away, to reinterpret it so that it no longer means what it so clearly presents.

        I will stand with virtually the entire Christian church on this one, against your false, unbiblical and unorthodox open theistic views, and that will not change.

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      2. Robert… did you really not see the point of my question? Here it is again – Would it be an ad hominem fallacy to say that you, Robert, are “hostile” towards open theists, and hostile towards me, because of “the hostility that you appear to have for them”, and for me?

        In other words if I said – “Robert you are hostile towards open theists” – wouldn’t you say I am using an ad hominem fallacy towards you?

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  20. Br.D,

    Do you really believe that rhutchin is “A Calvinist language magician”?

    It is interesting that you use that analogy Br.D. I have sometimes used the same analogy myself. E.g. -Words like “free will” when used by these “language magicians” there is a sleight of words distracting maneuver and poof the normal meaning of the words are gone! 🙂

    You also wrote:

    “All of the massaged language in the world can’t camouflage the obvious logical entailments in Calvinism. No matter how the Calvinist tries to paint the evidence as “confusion”. He simply comes off manifesting dishonesty cloaked in lawyer-speak.”

    Do you also believe that rhutchin **is dishonest** and cloaks his words in “lawyer-speak”?

    [[P.S. Where is Phillip’s outrage? If I wrote the things that Br.d wrote, Phillip would be outraged and attacking me for my words. Br.D. says these things and not a peep from Phillip.]]

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    1. Hi Robert,
      You raise some good questions.

      William Lane Craig takes note of two things in his writings concerning Calvinism. Firstly, he discerns statements that Calvinists make as coming out of Calvinism’s “psychology”, and not out of its “theology”. Calvin teaches his disciples: [1] you believe that god, at the foundation of the world, determines every thought and choice you will ever have in your life. And [2], Calvin’s disciple is taught to “approach the future **AS-IF** [1] is not true. This, of course is a serious form of double-think, which the Calvinist is conditioned to embrace, and thus becomes normalcy for him, and he therefore can’t see it as duplicitous.

      Michael Specter in his book Denialism writes: “Unless data fits neatly into his totally cemented belief-system, a denialist doesn’t really see it as data at all. This enables him to dismiss even the most compelling critical evidence concerning his belief-system, as statements which he must dutifully massage, to make them fit the sacred narrative. Instead of acknowledging critical evidence, the
      denialists camouflages his logical contradictions behind a veil of scripted equivocal language. He happily snuggles into a comfortable blanket of half-truths.”

      William Lane Craig recognizes this as Calvinism’s “psychology”. And that is why you see Rhutchin making all sorts of self-contradicting statements, without any cognition at all, that his statements are self-contradictions. You can liken it to a man who works for an advertisement agency which has its expertise in false advertisement strategies, who embraces 1001 rationalizations in his mind to convince himself he is totally honest. That is part of Calvinism’s “psychology” which is forced upon him by virtue of the dark-side of his theology, which he cannot allow himself to acknowledge.

      Secondly, William Lane Craig laments concerning Calvinist language, where he states: “Unfortunately, yet consistently, Calvinists consistently fall short of enunciating the radical distinctions entailed within their system.” Craig, always the gentleman, is indicating there is a certain type intellectual dishonesty that is characteristic of Calvinist language.

      Dr. Jerry Walls, laments something very similar, where he states “If Calvinist language didn’t’ depend so heavily on misleading rhetoric, Calvinist theology would loose all credibility within two years.”

      When you examine Calvinist language, (and you can consistently see it in Rhutchins posts), is that it is a highly scripted language. There is only one reason for such a highly scripted language, and that reason is NOT honesty!!! Yes, I believe that Calvinist language has evolved to the point where Calvinist elders mentor young Calvinists, like Rhutchin in an expertise in speaking half-truths. when you analyze Calvinist language, you will see it is the language of marketing and the language of lawyer-speak. And yes, I believe its dishonest. But I’m not sure how aware the Calvinist is, he is speaking of dishonesties.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Br.D,

        Thanks for responding to my post. You provide some excellent and relevant citations. The quote from Specter is particularly right on. I have said in the past that I worked in counter cult ministry. Sadly I have seen all of this lawyer speak, half truths, self contradictory statements, etc. that you bring up in reference to calvinism used by the cults.

        That really bothers me and grieves me, I would like to see something better coming from professing Christians, than I see from some of these calvinist apologists who post on the web. I remember that with non-Christian cults you could expect to be verbally abused, have your arguments ignored or twisted beyond recognition. You expected it because these were lost people and that is what lost people do. These people needed to be saved so they could escape their spiritual strongholds developed in connection with these cults. What makes calvinism more insidious is that some calvinists engage in the exact same techniques as the cults do, they also have the same cult mentality/us versus them, we alone are right everybody else is wrong.

        Br.D I have appreciated your posts as you have repeatedly observed the same things with rhutchin. It is sad that you interact with a professing Christian and are attacked unfairly (e.g. using myself rhutchin claims that I am a humanist who ignores scripture when in fact the opposite is true) and have your arguments ignored and twisted and misrepresented. And yet this is precisely what happens with rhutchin over and over again.

        And he does the same things wherever he posts. At SBC Today despite being told repeatedly not to keep attacking SBC traditionalists as universalists, claiming they did not believe in omniscience, claiming they did not believe in the sovereignty of God and claiming they are Pelagians holding to a Pelagian theology. The leadership permanently banned him. rhutchin has done exactly the same thing here, how many times have non-Calvinists been accused of being universalists, not believing in omniscience, not believing God to be sovereign, accusing people of being Pelagians and holding to a Pelagian theology. Seems to me that if the godly leadership at SBC came to the conclusion that he ought to be permanently banned, if he does the exact same things here, he ought to be banned here as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Robert, I appreciate your kind words. One benefit I can see is SOT101 has allowed us to develop a relationship in the Lord, and the Lord has blessed us to glean from each other! :-]

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      3. br.d writes, “And that is why you see Rhutchin making all sorts of self-contradicting statements, without any cognition at all, that his statements are self-contradictions.:

        To advance discussion, you should identify those self-contradictions and explain what makes them contradictions.

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      4. Hi rhutchin, you’ve stated that before, but we’ve been there….done that! Packaging Calvinism’s self-contradictions has proven to be valuable for others here at least.

        However, we understand how and where certain aspects of Calvinism’s psychology requires denialism. We consistently called this Calvinism’s **AS-IF** mode of thinking, providing an unquestionable quote from Calvin himself where he teaches it. He teaches his disciple to believe Theological Determinism exists, but then to treat it **AS-IF** it doesn’t exist. Clearly understood as double-think.

        Michael Specter in his book Denialism writes: “Unless data fits neatly into his totally cemented belief-system, a denialist doesn’t really see it as data at all. This enables him to dismiss even the most compelling critical evidence”.

        You have enough critical thinking skills to apply to your posts and see the consistent stream of self-contradictions. In the meantime they are everywhere here for others to check-out.

        BTW: One of the last posts you called “confusion” was a great example. I actually copied and pasted your own words from your previous posts, and you responded by calling them “confusion”. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      5. br.d writes, “BTW: One of the last posts you called “confusion” was a great example. I actually copied and pasted your own words from your previous posts, and you responded by calling them “confusion”. ;)”

        More confusion. Here is what actually transpired:

        Br. d had written, “All of the massaged language in the world can’t camouflage the obvious logical entailments in Calvinism. No mater how the Calvinist tries to paint the evidence as “confusion”. He simply comes off manifesting dishonesty cloaked in lawyer-speak. ;)”

        I responded, “Confused thinking.”

        So, my words were not at issue, but only br.d’s commentary on what I had said. br.d has an active imagination.

        On another occasion, br.d had written, “The statement that man is “SELF-DETERMINED” by a Calvinist, is a direct contradiction to Calvinism’s foundational premise of Universal Divine Determinism. In Calvinism, all human thoughts and choices are “RENDERED CERTAIN”, or “FIXED”, or “SETTLED” before the human exists. Thus any “determinism” on the human’s part is simply a mechanical functioning of that which is already determined.”

        Here, he takes words I use and incorporated them into commentary. I referred to that commentary as evidencing “confusion.” So, this is another example of br.d’s active imagination.

        Then again, br.d wrote, “1) …The Calvinist can’t hide his decrees which cause all things which come to pass behind a smoke screen of equivocal language, trying to paint his deity’s role in human events as passive. Or paint his deity as infallibly causing X to come to pass, while simultaneously restraining X from coming to pass, which only makes for a double-minded deity.”

        I referred to this as confusion. He wrote, “paint his deity as infallibly causing X to come to pass, while simultaneously restraining X from coming to pass,…” when he should have written, “paint his deity as infallibly causing X to come to pass, while simultaneously restraining Y from coming to pass,…” (If he intended to accurately portray the Calvinist position.)

        So, it is not my words copied by br.d that I called confused but br.d’s commentary or erroneous statement that I called confused. I think br.d has lost tract of the various discussions and in his confusion, has replaced fact with fiction.

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      6. You missed the part where I posted your previous post statements which you called “confusion”.
        See I knew how this would work!!! 😉

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      7. br.d writes, “You have enough critical thinking skills to apply to your posts and see the consistent stream of self-contradictions. In the meantime they are everywhere here for others to check-out. ”

        If you cannot point to any examples, I doubt that others would be able to do so.

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  21. In the past I suggested that “rhutchin” behaves like a calvinist troll and that he ought to be permanently banned from posting at this site. When I said this in the past, Phillip attacked for using the term troll in reference to rhutchin. We have more evidence yet again that my suggestion is valid. today at Jan. 20, 2017 4:54 AM Cynthia wrote: “Rhutchin, to save my sanity I must unsubscribe as this is beginning to feel like ‘Alice in Wonderland.'” That is an apt analogy as when you interact with rhutchin you end up in these unending loops of argument/discussion where your points are ignored and twisted and he just keeps presenting his calvinistic theology defending it at all costs and without scruples. Br.D responded to Cynthia at Jan. 20, 2017 2:24 Pm with “I hope you don’t go Cynthia! Rhutchin wants SOT 101 to be a domain which he dominates. And he’ll use all sorts of his tactics towad that goal. It would be unfortunate to see his tactics worked on you!”

    Apparently, Br.D is realizing that I am correct in my claim that rhutchin behaves as a calvinistic troll here. Unfortunately, Br.D. your comment may be too late: it appears that he already dominates SOT 101. He is already using all of his tactics: which include twisting what others say, misrepresenting other positons both inaccurately and unfairly, defending, supporting and rationalizing his calvinistic beliefs at all costs. This includes lying and distorting anything and everything said by others. Many of us have been attacked by this calvinistic troll, some like Cynthia choose to leave rather than deal with the verbal abuse, twisting o things, what Br.D is calling his “tactics.”

    I said before that Leighton ought to eliminate this person from posting here. It would spare us a lot of wasting of time and abuse by this calvistic troll. Phillip likes to point out that at one time I was temporarily banned from posting at SBC Today. A past moderator did not like my calling rhutchin a troll and so I was temporarily banned for it. Eventually the godly leaders at SBC Today did in fact decide to ban rhutchin permanently from posting there. Leighton needs to make the same decision here. People I have spoken to about this situation agree, and are surprised that Leighton continues to allow this to go on.

    How many people need to feel like Cynthia that they are going down the rabbit hole when interacting with rhutchin?

    How many people have to quit posting here before rhutchin is eliminated?

    Until Leighton takes this seriously and eliminates rhutchin from posting here, it will be the same old same old at this blog (people posting engaging rhutchin and finding themselves going dow the rabbit hole). People will come to post here not knowing about rhutchin and then they will find that he is dominating this blog, they will find themselves going down the same rabbit hole when interacting with rhutchin. They will see their arguments and scriptures they bring up ignored, twisted, and mangled beyond description. I am not the only one to see rhutchin’s troll like behavior, clearly Br. D is now seeing it clearly as well. Br.D is speaking of rhutchin’s “tactics”, abuse of language, and even dishonesty. It is much nicer and more fruitful posting at SBC Today without rhutchin posting there: the same would be true here. We can only hope to see this happen here someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robert,
      Although it is evident that rhutchin is here 24/7 , 365 days/year and he is dedicated to dominating the environment as much as he can. For the most part, he has restrained himself to only occasional belligerence against other posters. For the most part, he just massages every post everyone makes to make them conform to Calvinism’s marketing language of half-truths. And its easy to see that type of commitment goes way beyond simple intellectual interest, so it obviously strategic.

      I think if rhutchin or anyone here, were to go deep-dive into belligerent behavior, SOT101 would be forced to address that. But I think rhutchin is wise enough not go that far.

      We might consider using his posts as examples of Calvinism’s double-speak. and letting SOT101 readers see how that double-speak works. I trust readers are savvy enough to recognize it , and thus the Lord can use it to educate people as to how Calvinist language works.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Robert writes, “your comment may be too late: it appears that he already dominates SOT 101.”

      The only area in which I might dominate is in explaining Calvinism and correcting many false perceptions of Calvinism. The only reason that I dominate in this area is that I am the only person doing this (at least, on a regular basis).

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      1. I’m afraid you are too quick to sing your own praises here rhutchin. I do not think that your views represent anything like classical Calvinism, instead they are a confused mis-mash of Reformed theology and your own take on it, depending on whom you are talking to. You are not consistent enough to be taken seriously. I cite the recent example where Brian Wagner pointed out that your statements regarding fath before regeneration were contradictory. If you were forced to write your thoughts down in an orderly manner the contradictions would become self evident. As it is the system permits you to play fast and loose without consequences.

        You constantly refer to calvinistic positions as if they were correct, when they are anything but. This only weakens your argument and demonstrates an inability to engage properly in a theological discussion. Some people are not aware of this and this leads to immense frustration on their part. But it does you no credit either.

        It’s not a question of being able to face tough issues without getting upset. It’s more about time management / wasting time and fruitless arguments which are never going to go anywhere.
        I’m afraid in my opinion you have rather cornered the market in this respect!

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      2. barker’s woof writes, “I do not think that your views represent anything like classical Calvinism,”

        Classical Calvinism is not really an issue. In the intervening years much work has been done to provide support for, and extend, the work done by Calvin, who was basically Luther’s little brother and both relied heavily on Augustine. However, since then, we have the Puritan writers, e.g., John Owen on Limited Atonement and Edwards on free will, to nail down concepts that needed work. So, as you note, the arguments are really about what exists today and Calvinism has been superseded by Reformed Theology with RC Sproul being a major proponent. However, even so-called Calvinists do not agree amongst themselves on issues, so there is room for dissension. Nonetheless, we can still engage in Calvinist/non-Calvinist discussion because the basic issues are still argued in every new generation. Given the comments I read here, there is much misinformation about Calvinism in evidence and I can correct that misinformation better than those exhibiting the misinformation.

        Then, “I cite the recent example where Brian Wagner pointed out that your statements regarding faith before regeneration were contradictory.”

        I think Brian and I are working through that and we will hopefully deal with any contradictions.

        Then, “You constantly refer to calvinistic positions as if they were correct, when they are anything but.”

        Without examples this is just fluff. If you actually have examples, bring them up and we can discuss/clarify the “true” Calvinist position.

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      3. I’m not complaining, but Brian is too patient with you …. just my opinion of course. And if you think I’m going to waste more time citing when you start “begging the question” …..

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    3. Robert writes, “How many people need to feel like Cynthia that they are going down the rabbit hole when interacting with rhutchin?”

      If that is the case, don’t engage me in discussion. If you do engage me in discussion, then don’t get upset over the tough issues – if you do, engage discussions with Pastor Flowers, Brian Wagner and others on other issues. There is more than enough room for a great number and variety of issues to be discussed other than Calvinism. Of course, Calvinism is the most interesting – else it wouldn’t attract so much attention.

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  22. Robert, let me also say that I understand your frustration. You recognize the contradiction to Christlike behavior. The nature of Calvinist vs non-Calvinist debate is based upon an incredible degree of spiritual and psychological entrenchment which comes part and parcel with the human condition.

    In forums like this, we can therefore observe persons functioning in a facade of the pursuit of truth, when the hidden agenda is to simply propagate the entrenched belief system. I understand your frustration with that because it flys in the face of Christ, and Christ-likeness. But I think you know a great deal about how spiritual entrenchment works, and this cometh not out but by prayer and fasting! Don’t lose heart my friend!! You’re not alone.

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    1. Br.D,

      I am not losing heart about this. I am quite aware of how powerful spiritual strongholds can be. I also believe that rhutchin’s agenda is not hidden at all: his agenda is simple and consistent, do whatever he can at any cost to propagate, support, defend, espouse, rationalize his calvinistic theology. Unfortunately, in pursuing this agenda, others will be verbally abused, will end up as Cynthia so well put it going down the rabbit hole with him and ending up in a Alice in Wonderland like place. Some will end up leaving as a result of this rabbit hole like experience. Others will conclude that you can act like a calvinistic troll here with no repercussions.

      It’s like I say when teaching teachers, you have to establish rules, order, discipline from the beginning, if you do not the “kids” will run all over you. KIds will go far as you tolerate their behavior. Or put another way what you tolerate you teach. At present a lot of this troll like behavior on the part of rhutchin is tolerated and allowed. So he will continue to do it, knowing there are no repercussiions (just like when the kids find out what the teacher allows that is exactly how far they push the envelope). Leighton is a nice guy with some tremendous things to say, but his blog is dominated at present by this calvinist troll. Others may act as enablers of the behavior, at times I will speak out against it, because it is wrong to be silent and allow the kids to rule the classroom.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the issue with Cynthia is a concern to me. We have had other sisters in the Lord participate here and I think they find the environment too hostile to participate for a prolonged period.
        I think with your experience in the nature of dark spirits, you know how they work…they seek to dominate the territory to have it exclusively for themselves. So they do what it takes to get rid of others. And I think that type of interaction here tends to push sisters in the Lord away. I will be sorry if Cynthia goes for good. I really appreciated her posts. She has a refreshing straight talking honesty to her which I really like. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Br.D,

    You speak of other people who “find the environment too hostile to participate for a prolonged period”. I believe you are correct in this claim, I also believe Cynthia really captures it well, who wants to go down the rabbit hole and end up in Alice in Wonderland with rhutchin? No one. So some just quit as apparently Cynthia has done. Some just choose to post less or just be observers. I went back and loooked where she was discussing the “whosoever” verses and the meaning of “all”, she presented what non-Calvinists believe. Rhutchin downplayed and dismissed her comments with “Your comment reflects a humanist approach to the Scriptures.” That is not true at all, she presented the common view held by non-Calvinists, it is not “humanism” it is the proper interpretation of scripture according to non-Calvinists. I disagree with calvinists in their interpretation of the universalistic passages, but I do not claim they do so because of a humanist approach to scripture. Non-calvinists and calvinists disagree on these universalistic passages but no one is operating out of a humanistic approach. People run into rhutchin and when told they are “huminists”, hold to universalism, deny the sovereignty of God, deny and do not believe in omniscience, are Pelagians holding to Pelagian theology, etc. etc. Many will just leave, not appreciating these false statements and slanders by rhutchin.I agree with you that Cyntiah has a straight talking honesty to her: she represented the non-Calvinist view very well. What did she get for her efforts, the same false attacks by rhutchin that other non-Calvinists receive. I think it is sad as Cynthia has had some difficult circumstancs in her life, she comes to post here in a supposedly Christian environment where instead of receiving compassion she goes down the rabbit hole with rhutchin for abuse. So she leaves, and why not, again who wants to go down the rabbit hole with rutchin?

    Br.d keep making your citations (so far every book you have referenced I have, or better yet, I have these books but I keep lending them out to others not seeing them returned for months or ever, eg. the Denialism book by Specter I have it, lent it out and haven’t seen it for months! 🙂 ) Your citations remind me of books I used to possess. I appreciate your efforts to show the semantic game playing, calvistic magic tricks being played, etc. This shows I am not the only one seein these things at this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert writes: I appreciate your efforts to show the semantic game playing, calvistic magic tricks being played, etc. This shows I am not the only one seein these things at this blog.”

      Thanks very much Robert!! I started out knowing how Calvinist language games work when I first found SOT101 almost a year ago. But since time has gone on here, I’ve seen it confirmed in so many ways. Thank you for letting me know you see it also!! Much appreciated!! :-]

      Like

  24. The value of having Rhutchins posts is that it provides a goldmine of Calvinistic nonsense to use to show how contradictory the system is and how dishonest its adherents must be to defend the system. In Leighton’s defense, it often provides him with countless examples of the points he makes against the calvinist arguments. So, Rhutchin, keep on posting so that the foolishness of Calvinism can be displayed to all who read Soteriology 101. I welcome the opportunity to point out the failure of the adherents of Calvinism to be both scriptural in its defense, and logical in their arguments. RHutchin, you are doing a great job in turning all who seek the truth (those you even deny exists) away from the deception you proclaim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very well said erneststrauss!!!

      “A goldmine of Calvinistic nonsense to use to show how **CONTRADICTORY** the system is, and how **DISHONEST** its adherents must be to defend the system”

      I think you hit the mark perfectly!!!

      To see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the reader must understand:
      1) The mechanics of Theological Determinism (ala Calvin style)
      2) The psychology of denialism and double-think (ala Calvin style)
      3) The language tactics of strategically misleading half-truths (ala Calvin style)

      There is a correct way to unpeel Calvinism’s onion.
      Don’t let them lure you into endless mind games where they simply work to wear you down and then claim the “so called” victory.

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      1. br.d writes, “To see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the reader must understand:”

        Until you provide specific examples, this is fluff.

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    2. Hello Ernest,

      You wrote:

      “The value of having Rhutchins posts is that it provides a goldmine of Calvinistic nonsense to use to show how contradictory the system is and how dishonest its adherents must be to defend the system. In Leighton’s defense, it often provides him with countless examples of the points he makes against the calvinist arguments.”

      Perhaps this is **the** rationale for Leighton to allow rhutchin to continue posting (i.e. he provides fodder for others to attack and show the problems with calvinistic theology, and show how some of its proponents will be dishonest in their defense of the system). I understand this rationale and I believe it presents one important part of the truth here.

      Another part is the concern that I have that people who interact with rhutchin end up again as Cynthia so aptly put it: going down the rabbit hole and ending up in Alice in Wonderland. And for persons such as Cynthia this becomes very frustrating, time consuming and ineffective. So a person such as Cynthia just decides to leave not willing to continue going down the rabbit hole with rhutchin and receiving further abuse. Besides going down the rabbit hole with rhutchin in these endless argumentative loops, the person is also if they are a non-Calvinist slandered in multiple ways (e.g. told they are “humanists”, that they espouse universalism, that they deny omniscience, that they are Pelagians holding Pelagian theology, etc.). They can also expect to have their points and arguments twisted beyond recognition. Leighton needs to consider whether or not the “cost of doing business” is worth these trips down the rabbit hole that rhutchin constantly engages in, the slander, and the folks deciding to leave because they just don’t want to subject themselves to these trips down the rabbit hole.

      Seems to me that rhutchin does not represent the best that the calvinists can offer. And when evaluating a position you really want the best representatives, those who present the best arguments for and best evidence for their views. You don’t want to simply go for the “low hanging fruit” provided by some calvinists such as rhutchin. E.G. Leighton could cite Michael Horton or Vern Poythress and interact with them to show the problems with calvinism. If some sharp Calvinists then decide to interact with Leighton’s material, all the better.

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      1. Although I don’t disagree, I think rhutchin’s contribution is quite consistent with Calvinist language strategies. I see rhutchin as a young Calvinist who has been mentored in Calvinism’s perennial double-speak language. Additionally, Calvinist’s are quite consistently militant, in promoting and defending the unpalatable aspects of the product, using highly euphemistic language. Thirdly, Calvinist language is a highly scripted language, relying heavily on misleading-plausible-believeability and misleading-plausible-deniability. If one reviews rhutchin’s posts, on this page and previous, one will find many examples of both. So in that regard, personally, I see rhutchin’s contribution as representative Calvinism. He’s definitively not as philosophically astute as one might be, and the consistent self-contradictions are quite sophomoric. But that also is representative of the average.
        And lastly, his 365 days/year, 24/7 unwavering commitment, and unwavering self-confidence are also quite common within that society. So I think he provides good examples of how Calvinist language games work.

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  25. Robert writes… “Seems to me that if the godly leadership at SBC came to the conclusion that he ought to be permanently banned, if he does the exact same things here, he ought to be banned here as well.”

    And follows up that with…..

    “Eventually the godly leaders at SBC Today did in fact decide to ban rhutchin permanently from posting there. Leighton needs to make the same decision here.”

    Reflect on that one for a while everyone.

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    1. Phillip writes:

      “Reflect on that one for a while everyone.”

      I believe most of us know the problems associated with rhutchin when we get caught up in these “rabbit hole” like excursions when trying to “discuss” things with him.

      I am appealing to Leighton to take the example of what happened regarding rhutchin at SBC Today (as these are some friends of Leighton that he knows and trusts) as to how to handle rhutchin. There (like here) rhutchin kept slandering non-Calvinists/SBC Traditionalists as “Pelagians” holding Pelagian theology, as people denying omniscience, as people espousing universalism, etc. (all false and completely unsubstantiated claims by rhutchin). He was asked very nicely by leaders there including Rick Patrick to stop engaging in these slanders. He continued to do so, was warned multiple times and then permanently banned from posting there.

      The folks at SBC Today share the same theology and beliefs as Leighton, so it seems to me that what they did there Leighton ought to do here.

      Now Ernest has pointed out that perhaps Leighton allows him to post as he provides fodder for attacking false calvinistic beliefs. This may be true at the same time, there has been a cost to this, people (the most recent example being Cynthia) get tired of this and just decide to stop posting and leave. I believe that is a heavy cost to allowing rhutchin to continue posting here. So my recommendation to Leighton is that he not allow rhutchin to post here.

      The blog would continue fine without him and he would also not be allowed to dominate the discussions here (he does not dominate by means of cogent arguments and strong evidence, rather he dominates by sheer volume of posts and engaging in the techniques that Br. D has done a good job of documenting and exposing as of late).

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      1. Robert… I felt you were slandering me when you accused me of having “hostility” towards paedobaptists! My strong rejection of that doctrine of infant baptism has never produced a hostility in me towards those who hold it.

        And I don’t support the idea of you being banned from this site for such ad hominem attacks against me, for you share some good thoughtful responses when you stick to Scripture and reason, as also does Roger, which is a benefit to all of us as we endeavor to discern more clearly what the Scripture says about God’s nature and works.

        Like

      2. Thanks for that reference to me Robert. It has been my concern, especially for new-comers here to SOT101, that they be alerted to rhetorical tactics designed to frustrate them in order to get rid of them. SOT101 should be an environment where all participants can learn from each other. The caveat being that participants are truth seekers. But when a participant uses disingenuous tactics designed to sabotage new-comers, I feel compelled to help them understand the nature of that engagement so they won’t be off-ended by it. Unfortunately, I think we might have lost Cynthia! 😦

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  26. The ad hominem fallacy occurs when rather than attacking a person’s argument, you instead divert attentioin away from the person’s argument by attacking the person instead. Ad hominems are diversions from the person’s argument to the person instead. Brain Wagner has made quite a few negative comments about paedobaptists and their view of baptism (particularly Catholics). I interterpreted these comments as manifesting hostility to these paedobaptists on the part of Wagner. Now he says that he merely has a “strong reaction” towards that doctrine. He also says that I was slandering him by speaking of his hostility. Brian says that I slandered him by interpreting his “strong reaction” as hostility and that this was an ad hominem argument on my part. Let’s assume there is no hostility on the part of Wagner towards paedobpatists, that it is merely a “strong reaction” on his part but not actual hostility towards them. In that case I am sorry that I misinterpreted his “strong reaction” as hostility. My comments are not slander (as I did not intentionally accuse him of something that I know not to be true) nor is it a case of ad hominem (as both Wagner and I hold to believer baptism so I am not attacking any arguments on his part against paedobaptism, I probably make the same arguments against paedobaptism that he does so there is so intent to divert attention away from his arguments against paedobaptism by attacking him instead of his arguments against paedobaptism). Wagner goes on to say that he does not believe I should be banned for “such ad hominem attacks against me” (again my interpretation of his “strong reaction” against paedobaptists).

    Hmm, I hope people are not banned for a post in which they interpret someone else’s “strong reaction” as hostility. If that were so, we would all be walking on egg shells at this blog. No, my commendation that rhutchin be banned is not based on a single post, but upon an on-going, relentless, history of post after post in which he has in fact slandered non-Calvinists here falsely claiming that we deny omniscience, that we affirm universalists, that we are “humanists” with a humanist approach to scripture, that we do not believe God to be sovereign, that we are Pelagians, that we hold to Pelagian theology, etc.. And again as Cynthia made clear it is frustrating, can be a total waste of valuable and limited time to keep engaging rhutchin in these endless argumentative loops/going down the rabbit hole with rhutchin. Br. D points out that rhutchin seems to post here 24/7 seeking to dominate this blog and driving people like Cynthia off of this blog.

    It is interesting that Wagner does not discuss **any** of this on going and long lasting history of posting by rhutchin. Based on Wagner’s comments you could think that rhutchin is just this innocent guy who shares these “thoughtful responses”. Why is Wagner ignoring all of the things that Br. D and I have stated concerning rhutchin’s semantic game playing, attempts to dominate others and dominate this blog?

    Rather than dealing with my argument that based on a long standing history of troll-like posting by rhutchin he ought to be banned from posting here just as he was banned from posting at SBC Today for the very same thing. Instead of dealing with this, Wagner is saying that I was slandering him for interpreting his “strong reaction” against paedobaptists as hostilty and committing the ad hominem fallacy against him. It appears that Wagner rather than dealing with my argument appears to be trying to shift attention away from my argument for the banning of rhutchin to me instead. And what is that when instead of dealing with a person’s argument you divert attention to the person instead?

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    1. Robert, I am surprised that you still can not see how you are not, in my opinion, helping this site by your approach to criticize harshly those that apparently annoy you and to especially call for Roger’s removal, and continuing to be publicly critical of Leighton for not doing so. I too am concerned with Roger’s apparent didactic/polemic motivation that seems at times too intrusive. I am also concerned about the same thing concerning you. I worry a little about this motivation in myself on this site, though Leighton did ask me to be a co-supervisor with him of this site.

      As for your attempt at an apology, you said – “Brian Wagner has made quite a few negative comments about paedobaptists and their view of baptism (particularly Catholics). I interpreted these comments as manifesting hostility to these paedobaptists on the part of Wagner. Now he says that he merely has a “strong reaction” towards that doctrine. He also says that I was slandering him by speaking of his hostility. Brian says that I slandered him by interpreting his “strong reaction” as hostility and that this was an ad hominem argument on my part. Let’s assume there is no hostility on the part of Wagner towards paedobaptists, that it is merely a “strong reaction” on his part but not actual hostility towards them. In that case I am sorry that I misinterpreted his “strong reaction” as hostility. My comments are not slander (as I did not intentionally accuse him of something that I know not to be true) nor is it a case of ad hominem ”

      Perhaps you could clarify – What are a couple of the “quite a few negative comments about paedobaptists”? Of course, you know I said to you that I have a strong rejection of the doctrine of paedobaptism… but if you have specific things that I said against specific paedobaptists or against all paedobaptists separate from that doctrine and the harm it causes in Christianity, then I would like to apologize. Since you said there are “quite a few negative comments about paedobaptists” that i made, it should be easy to find a couple.

      You said, “Let’s assume there is no hostility”, which would be an unnecessary assumption if you have the evidence. But if you don’t have the evidence, then it truly was an assumption on your part that I have hostile feelings towards paedobaptists as people, and I certainly accept your apology and forgive you for making that assumption. Voicing such negative assumptions without evidence is slander, in my view, whether there is ignorance that it is a falsehood or there is a knowledge that it is a falsehood.

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      1. Brian Wagner asks me to provide examples of his negative comments of those who hold to paedobaptism. My first thought is that even if I do so, what will it matter, what will it change? Multiple examples could be given but I will give only one as it is a very good example and it is crystal clear.

        Wagner’s position is that anyone who does not hold to believer baptism is not qualified to be a pastor/overseer in the church. Now stop a moment, what would his belief mean if it were true? It would mean that Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, etc. are all **disqualified** from being pastors. Wagner has made this claim on multiple occasions. In a thread called “Is Wright Right”? Leighton had made reference to well known scholar N. T. Wright.

        Wagner wrote of him “If a person cannot read the NT and come away understanding believers baptism as a necessary sound doctrine, they may be a brother and have the gift of teaching, but they are not yet qualified to be recognized as an overseer in the body (Titus 1:9).” Wright does not hold to believer baptism as he is Anglican. So according to Wagner he could be a brother, he could even have the gift of teaching, but he is not qualifed to be a pastor. And this thinking by Wagner would apply to ANYONE who did not hold to believer baptism. This is an attack on a lot of different groups.

        Take two friends of mine, Michael Horton and Vern Poythress as an example (both are calvinists, both are Presbyterians, both hold to infant baptism, so according to Wagner both are disqualified from being pastors). It is interesting that Wagner even admits they may have the gift of teaching. So these two have the gift of teaching and yet they are not qualified to be pastors as they do not hold to believer baptism? Wagner goes even further with his claims about who is disqualified from being a pastor. At another place, Wagner wrote of ALL calvinists: “Calvinists are professing brothers, many even with the gift of teaching and useful in the body, but they SHOULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED AS PASTORS” (emphasis mine). So MIchael Horton and Vern Poythress should not be identified as pastors. Now I disagree with calvinists, I disagree with Presbyterians as I hold to Baptist distinctives. Horton and Poythress exhibit godly character, have provided some good teaching material for the church, accept the distinctives of their denomination are clearly recognized pastors in their circles and yet Wagner says they are disqualified from being pastors. I disagree with paedobaptism and calvinism, but Wagner’s position that all calvinists are disqualified from being pastors is wrong. From his comments it is clear that a major reason he says this about calivnists is that many hold to infant baptism. Now Wagner can say this is not hostility, that it is merely his “strong reaction” against infant baptism. But there is no way that this can be construed as anything other than an attack against these groups. Wagner says voicing such negative assumptions without evidence is slander. My assertions that he rejects lots of persons from being pastors because they hold to infant baptism is based on evidence (namely Wagner’s own words about what disqualifies a person from being a pastor, i.e. if they affirm infant baptism according to him they are disquaified from being a pastor).

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      2. I’m sure Robert that you think you have some scriptural reasons why you would say someone would not be qualified to pastor. Perhaps you believe like I do that all women are disqualified. I would not say that you are hostile, hating, and attacking all women because of your view. Neither does your example that since I believe holding to infant baptism disqualifies for pastoring means I am hostile towards, hating, and attacking those brothers in Christ. You need a better example.

        Like

    2. Robert writes, “you could think that rhutchin is just this innocent guy who shares these “thoughtful responses”.”

      I am just an innocent guy who shares thoughtful responses.

      Then, “Why is Wagner ignoring all of the things that Br. D and I have stated concerning rhutchin’s semantic game playing, attempts to dominate others and dominate this blog? ”

      If you want charges to stick, provide examples when making those charges. You don’t. My ability to dominate is (1) because Calvinism discussions elicit many responses, and (2) I respond to as many comments as I can. Outside the discussions on Calvinism, there doesn’t seem to be much going on. It’s me against all you guys. If you don’t want me to dominate, don’t comment.

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      1. Brian, I’m sure is monitoring the situation with Godly maturity.

        On the challenge to provide examples, rhutchin…provide them to who? Why continue throwing them into a pen to be trampled on? The principle Jesus is teaching has to do with what the recipient is predisposed to do with the perls he is given. I’m afraid your reputation precedes you.

        “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
        ― D.L. Moody

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Br.D,

    I agree with your latest comments, And we ought to be concerned that the “rhetorical tactics” do not turn off new comers causing them to leave. What I am wondering at this point is why others who must see the same things that you and I see concerning rhutchin do not seem to be troubled that a person like Cynthia leaves because of rhutchin. It seems they just want to keep arguing with rhutchin as if nothing is wrong when a person like Cynthia leaves. If this were a Bible study where one person kept driving off new comers, causing them to leave, I doubt people would tolerate that at all. But apparently at a Christian blog some people are more interested in debating calvinistic trolls and going down the rabbit hole, than they are in eliminating these trolls from participating in the discussions. Seems like an easy choice to me, the troll goes and people like Cynthia are encouraged to participate. This does not mean that we all agree on everything, because we don’t, nor is this necessary for good and fruitful discussions. It is also of a concern that should you point out that someone is acting like a troll when in fact they are, some will attack you for even using this term, as if it is not politically correct to refer to an individual as a troll when in fact they are engaging in troll like behavior.

    Br. D. I bought a new book this weekend that made me think of you. It is called THE PERSUADERS: The hidden industry that wants to change your mind. The author Garvey talks about how we have gotten away from reasoning and arguing with other, and “Instead, you’ll be nudged, anchored, incentivised and manipulated in barely noticeable ways.” Br. D I think this book would be right up your alley, check it out, get a copy.

    Like

    1. Robert writes, “Cynthia leaves because of rhutchin.”

      Cynthia did not have to engage me in discussion; she could easily have engaged everyone else but me and been happy as a clam (so to speak). She could very easily have ignored me. However, if you jump into the fire, then expect things to get hot.

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      1. That presupposes you would have left her posts alone. Which we all know is against your military assignment here. 😉

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      2. Things get too hot! I had to stop laughing to be able to write! Cynthia left because her contributions were treated the same way you treat everyone’s posts. She called her dialog with you “going down a rabbit hole”, and going around in circles.

        Crosstheology in his dialog with you stated:
        December 3, 2016 at 9:40 pm
        I think my request cannot be honestly fulfilled by Calvinists 🙂

        I wish I had congratulated CrossTheology at that time, for what he recognized almost immediately, after only a few exchanges! 😉

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  28. Brian,

    I had said that I inferred from your negative comments about paedobaptists that you were hostile to them. I also said that perhaps I had misinterpreted these comments (i.e. you are negative against their position but not hostile to them as persons). You came back asking for more examples of negative comments: “Since you said there are “quite a few negative comments about paedobaptists” that i made, it should be easy to find a couple.”

    So you challenged me to provide examples of “negative comments about paedobaptists”. And I did so, I gave a clear example where in speaking of N. T. Wright you stated all paedobaptists are **disqualified** from being pastors according to you. This kind of comment **is** a very negative comments about paedobaptists (claiming that none of their pastors is qualified to be a pastor). I also think we can move on in regards to how you feel about paedobaptists, as you have clarified your position (i.e. you claim that no paedobaptist is qualified to be a pastor, though you are not hostile to them personally).

    You also wrote:

    “I’m sure Robert that you think you have some scriptural reasons why you would say someone would not be qualified to pastor.”

    Sure, the NT gives moral qualifications of pastors (the lists of personal qualities, you know them so I will not cite them). If a person does not meet those qualifications they are disqualified from being a pastor. But there is no Bible verse declaring that a person who holds to paedobaptism is disqualified from being a pastor. You have also said in the past that a person who does not affirm young earth creationism is also disqualified from being a pastor. As with paedobaptism there is no such verse making this declaration either.

    It appears that you take a verse that speaks of sound doctrine (you interpret believer baptism and young earth creationism and other interpretations that you personally hold to be “sound doctrine” while others who hold different interpretations than you do hold to “unsound doctrine” in your thinking). You then extrapolate from your concept of sound doctrine to the claim that if they do not hold to what you consider to be sound doctrine they are disqualified from being pastors. So your method of disqualification comes down to whether or not they interpret certain things the way you do.

    As Calvinists interpret things differently than you do, therefore you make your statement that ““Calvinists are professing brothers, many even with the gift of teaching and useful in the body, but they SHOULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED AS PASTORS” (emphasis mine). Some calvinists (e.g. Reformed Baptists hold to believer baptism, Calvinists within the SBC denomination) so your disqualification of all calvinists from being pastors is not based on their view on baptism but because they are calvinists and interpret things differently than you do. I do not agree with you on this. While I disagree with Calvinists, their merely holding to Calvinism does not disqualify them from being pastors.

    The qualifications for being a pastor include the moral qualifications listed in the NT, their affirmation of essential doctrine (e.g. a person’s view of the interpretation of the days of Genesis is not essential doctrine as there are godly men who hold to both young earth creationism and old earth creationism, the gap theory, etc. but a person’s view of the divinity of Jesus is essential doctrine and in essentials there is no latitude of belief) and their affirmation and submission to the distinctives of the group to which they belong (as you deny all denominations you do not agree that a pastoral candidate must affirm the distinctives of their group).

    Example = a person qualified to be a Presbyterian pastor would demonstrate the moral qualifications in their life (e.g. not addicted to alcohol, committed to only one woman their spouse, etc.). They would affirm the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, etc. And as the person is in the Presbyterian group they would have to affirm the distinctives of that group such as affirming the Westminster confession. Two friends of mine, Michael Horton and Vern Poythress are Presbyterians and they fit all of these things. Contrary to your position they are qualified to be pastors within their groups. As you are against paedobaptism and against denominations, those are two strikes against both of these men disqualifying them from being pastors, according to you.

    A Baptist on the other hand would also have to demonstrate the moral qualifications in their life, affirm the essentials such as the deity of Christ, etc. and affirm the distinctives of their group (in the SBC they would have to affirm SBC distinctives, in the American Baptist denomination they would have to affirm American Baptist distinctives).With Baptists you would agree with them on Baptism but at the same time be against the denominations to which they belong.

    It would be interesting to see what others think of Brian’s views on the qualifications of pastors and denominations (especially Calvinists on his claim that **no Calvinist** is qualified to be a pastor).

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    1. Robert, you deflect by pointing to the moral qualification for pastors. You did not respond to my example of women as disqualified, though you hinted that such was your position. If it is, and you do think women cannot be pastors, that is a doctrinal position on your part. Could a man who does believe women are able to be qualified to be pastors be therefore unqualified himself from being a pastor for holding that position that women can be? Isn’t any disobedience or rejection of the truth of a clear Scripture a moral issue that should be considered as part of what qualifies or disqualifies?

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      1. Brian Wagner writes:

        “Robert, you deflect by pointing to the moral qualification for pastors.”

        No, that is not a deflection, you asked what disqualifies a person from being a pastor and the ******primary criteria****** for pastors is their character (i.e. whether or not they fit those NT lists of qualifications).

        We have lists of what moral qualifications a pastor is supposed to have: we do not have lists of what **interpretations** a person must have on issues where people disagree on interpretations (e.g. there is no verse that says a pastor must interpret the days of Genesis as 24 hr. days, nor a verse that says infant baptism is the wrong mode of baptism and infants are not to be the recipients of baptism, it would be nice if such verses existed but they do not 🙂 ).

        Now do I believe that the best interpretation of the baptism passages is believer baptism? Yes, I am a Baptist, I believe that is the best interpretation of those passages. But is baptism an essential doctrine like the deity of Christ or physical resurrection of Jesus (which are explicitly presented in Scripture and which all Christians ought to affirm)? No, unless you make it an essential. And that is the problem, when non-essentials are made into essentials (I know of one congregation where you have to hold to the pre-trib rapture interpretation of the rapture or you could not even be a member!).

        Non-essentials become essentials in some people’s minds when they want THEIR INTERPRETATION to be the one and only true interpretation. The same goes for the days of Genesis: is that an essential doctrine? No.

        “You did not respond to my example of women as disqualified, though you hinted that such was your position. . . . .”

        Didn’t want to get into that debate: whether or not women ought to be pastors in any capacity (including in women’s ministry or children’s ministry). There is disagreement there as well, and it is not an essential doctrine. Say that you and I held they should not be pastors, but Jack Hayford a solid pastor with the Assemblies of God denomination believes they can be pastors. You would say he is disqualified from being a pastor: he would say that he (and scholars such as Gordon Fee) disagrees with your **interpretation** of the Timothy passage. So it comes down to differing interpretations on the issue.

        “Isn’t any disobedience or rejection of the truth of a clear Scripture a moral issue that should be considered as part of what qualifies or disqualifies?”

        Well that is just it, people, and that includes some very good exegetes, very godly men disagree on some of the scriptures you would call “clear Scripture”. To a young earth creationist, the days of Genesis are clearly 24 hr. days: this is not so clear to others.

        Or take an example closer to home for you as an open theist. A friend of mine did a commentary on Isaiah. He thinks, and I agree with him, that the scripture in Isaiah clearly presents the true God of the Bible contrasting himself with false gods. With the contrast being that He knows the future and the false gods do not. Most Christians would agree with that interpretation. But if that is the correct interpretation of these “clear scriptures”, then the conception of God presented by open theists in which He does not know the future if it involves freely made choices by people is not only false. It is an idol, it is the very god that the true God contrasts himself with. Does that mean then that since open theists reject “the truth of a clear Scripture” in Isaiah that therefore they should not be pastors?

        John MacArthur holds the same view of baptism that you do, same view of women that you do, but he also holds some calvinistic beliefs. According to you “““Calvinists are professing brothers, many even with the gift of teaching and useful in the body, but they SHOULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED AS PASTORS” (emphasis mine). So according to you MacArthur is disqualified from being a pastor. Same thing with R.C. Sproul who holds both to paedobaptism and calvinism, according to you he is also disqualified from being a pastor.

        And what if we had someone who agreed with you about women and baptism but they did not hold to young earth creationism, according to you they would be disqualified from being a pastor. The pattern becomes that if someone does not agree with or hold to ***your interpretation*** of these “clear scriptures” that they are disqualified from being a pastor.

        Seems to me that the “clear Scriptures” are those dealing with daily Christian practice and the essentials (e.g. there are clear scriptures to pray and not pray in a hypocritical way or in order to draw attention to yourself, there are clear scriptures that Jesus is God in the flesh, e.g. John 1).

        There is a reason why the four views type book series exists, good and godly people sometimes disagree on the interpretation of “clear” scriptures. Because I recognize this I can see (and know of) situations where two different pastors within the same group hold different views on some issue (e.g. I know Presbyterians who hold to young earth creationism and others who hold to old earth creationism, should the one be ordained and not the other based on their differing views of how the days in Genesis ought to be interpreted? No, I also know Baptists who disagree on creationism) and yet both are qualified to be pastors as they manifest the moral character listed in the NT passages, believe the essentials, and hold to the distinctives of their denominations.

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      2. So, Robert, how about a denomination who wants to ordain a man who is straight but believes men in homosexual relationships can be pastors too. Is he disqualified on doctrinal grounds? Sooner or later you are going to have to admit there are doctrinal issues, not related to the gospel that do indeed disqualify a man from being a pastor in any denomination, or more importantly, disqualify him in God’s eyes according to God’s sound doctrine qualifications.

        God spoke from heaven audibly and said to Israel – Ex 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. How would any person interpret that using normal grammar and context as not meaning six literal days with evenings and mornings?

        Peter called baptism – 1 Pet 3:21″an answer of the conscience to God”. How would any normal understanding of that based on context and grammar not disqualify infants for baptism?

        Paul said that elders “must be… the husband of one wife”. How would any normal understanding of that based on grammar and context not prove that women also cannot be pastors, or homosexual marriage is out for pastors also?

        Yes there are clear Scriptures, and they need to be used for helping lay folks recognize who God has qualified to shepherd His flock. For sound doctrine has to be clear enough for the layperson, based on normal rules of grammar and context.

        There is no verse in Isaiah that says God knows the future as a composite of settled events without any conditional elements that could change. You and I both agree that God knows the future exhaustively as the future truly is in His mind. We just disagree on what the future is like in His mind. You think it can only be known as completely settled if omniscience is going to maintain its definition, borrowed from philosophy. I think it can be exhaustively known as partly determined already and partly undetermined and that fits a better definition for omniscience that reflects the Scriptural information about the future.

        We both agree that this varied opinion of how to define omniscience should not disqualify someone from being a pastor. But for some reason you think my view of omniscience is more harmful to Christianity as a whole than the false doctrine of infant baptism. I hope you will change your mind about that.

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  29. Brian I am not going to go through various interpretations with you. That will take lots of time and space and whatever I say will not likely convince you anyway. You can bring up all sorts of examples in your attack of denominations and your desire to disqualify all from being pastors who do not ****interpret the scripture exactly as you do****.

    “So, Robert, how about a denomination who wants to ordain a man who is straight but believes men in homosexual relationships can be pastors too. Is he disqualified on doctrinal grounds?”

    I would not choose to be involved in a denomination that ordains homosexuals. We do have choices regarding which groups we associate with.

    “Sooner or later you are going to have to admit there are doctrinal issues, not related to the gospel that do indeed disqualify a man from being a pastor in any denomination, or more importantly, disqualify him in God’s eyes according to God’s sound doctrine qualifications.”

    Again the doctrinal issues that disqualify a person “in any denomination” are going to be the ********essentials of the Christian faith********* (e.g. the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the trinity, etc.). Not non-essentials such as how the days of Genesis are to be interpreted.
    The problem with your thinking Brian is that you equate some non-essentials with essentials so in your mind unless a person affirms the interpretations ***you hold to***, they are disqualified from being a pastor. But this is no surprise as you are against all denominations (with the exception being the one in which you are involved).

    I really would like to hear what others say of your radical views on this.

    I doubt anyone else here would agree with you. For example you say that all Calvinists are disqualified from being pastors. Leighton is in the SBC denomination and while he clearly opposes calvinism in the denomination he would not agree with you that SBC people that are calvinists cannot be pastors. Al Mohler holds the same view that you hold on Genesis, women, homosexuals, baptism, and yet you would claim he cannot be a pastor as he is a calvinist.

    “God spoke from heaven audibly and said to Israel – Ex 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. How would any person interpret that using normal grammar and context as not meaning six literal days with evenings and mornings?”

    Good and godly men disagree with your interpretation of the days of Genesis. And they have disagreed for centuries. Now you are convinced that your interpretation is correct, just as others are convinced that their interpretation is correct.

    “Peter called baptism – 1 Pet 3:21″an answer of the conscience to God”. How would any normal understanding of that based on context and grammar not disqualify infants for baptism?”

    As a Baptist I believe believer baptism is the best interpretation of the texts concerning baptism. But again others disagree, and you may not like this but the mode and recipients of baptism is not essential doctrine that all Christians must believe. In a Baptist context you have to believe it, but not in a Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, etc. context.

    “Paul said that elders “must be… the husband of one wife”. How would any normal understanding of that based on grammar and context not prove that women also cannot be pastors, or homosexual marriage is out for pastors also?”

    You can keep bringing up your interpretations, and I may even agree with you and hold the same view on some of these interpretations. But that does not mean the issues you raise are essential doctrines in which all Christians do agree or must agree.

    And it certainly is not the criteria by which we decide whether someone is qualified for being a pastor.
    Again, the NT gives clear lists of moral qualifications of pastors, it does not give lists of specific interpretations that a pastor must hold to.

    “Yes there are clear Scriptures, and they need to be used for helping lay folks recognize who God has qualified to shepherd His flock. For sound doctrine has to be clear enough for the layperson, based on normal rules of grammar and context.”

    And the essentials are clearly presented in scripture. By the normal rules of grammar and context John 1 presents Jesus as being God come in flesh. Regarding Christian daily practices such as prayer, local church involvement, how Christians ought to be towards each other things are clear and understood by anyone who studies the scriptures.

    “There is no verse in Isaiah that says God knows the future as a composite of settled events without any conditional elements that could change. You and I both agree that God knows the future exhaustively as the future truly is in His mind. We just disagree on what the future is like in His mind. You think it can only be known as completely settled if omniscience is going to maintain its definition, borrowed from philosophy. I think it can be exhaustively known as partly determined already and partly undetermined and that fits a better definition for omniscience that reflects the Scriptural information about the future.”

    Isaiah does not make the philosophical distinctions that you present here. Instead he says in a way that any laymen can understand that the true God of the Bible is not like the false gods who do not know the future. This is how God himself contrasts himself with false gods who do not know the future. That is the interpretation of people “based on the normal rules of grammar and context.” If that interpretation is correct then open theists such as yourself who claim that God does not know what people will freely choose to do in the future are mistaken. Your conception of God is the very idol that the true God of the Bible contrasts Himself with in the book of Isaiah. It is you who are forsaking the correct interpretation of scripture in Isaiah. By your own criteria since the text is clear, you are disqualified from being a pastor. You will of course come back and say my interpretation and that of virtually every other believer, both scholar and laymen, of Isaiah is mistaken.

    And that is just the point, the same thing will happen on the INTERPRETATION of the days of Genesis, whether or not women should be pastors in any capacity, the mode and recipients of proper baptism, ETC. ETC. ETC. ETC. One side will say their interpretation is correct while another side will take a diametrically opposed interpretation of the same “clear” scriptures. Now I am not saying “that is just your interpretation” as a way of dismissing truth. No, I am saying that in fact good and godly people who exegete the Bible to the best of their abilities come to differing conclusions regarding certain issues. Some interpretations are better than others, and we all seek to come to the best conclusion that we can. And yet in doing so sometimes we disagree, and that’s OK if it is not an essential. If someone denies an essential such as the deity of Christ they are not Christians but heretics.

    I find it significant that when it comes to the essentials I am in agreement with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Calvinists, Arminians, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. that Jesus was God in the flesh. That Jesus died for the sins of people. That the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all God and yet there is only one God.

    “We both agree that this varied opinion of how to define omniscience should not disqualify someone from being a pastor.”

    Well we also ought to agree that holding to calvinism ought not disqualify you from being a pastor, your interpretation of the days of Genesis should not disqualify you from being a pastor, etc. etc.

    What ought to disqualify you from being a pastor in a particular group is if you do not fit the NT qualifications of pastors in the lists, if you do not affirm the essentials of the Christian faith and if you do not agree with and submit to the distinctives of the denomination to which you belong.

    “But for some reason you think my view of omniscience is more harmful to Christianity as a whole than the false doctrine of infant baptism.”

    I did not say that open theism is more harmful than infant baptism. And it is not a contest of which is WORSE, both are false and both have negative consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Earlier, Rhutchin wrote: “Yes. It is the sin nature that is internal to man and that sin nature motivates people to sin.”
    I have said it before, but will say it again, Calvinism’s faulty system slyly rests upon a clever redefinition/misrepresentation of ‘original sin’, ‘Total Depravity’ or what is also called the ‘sin nature’. They turn the abstract, universal concept of a ‘sin nature’ into a particular entity, personifying it and giving it the semblance of a living thing, much like the abstraction of ‘Nature’.
    Why do atheists and evolutionists refer to ‘Nature’ as if it is a particular entity, that exists, makes intelligent choices and has the power to carry out those choices, when all know that there is no such being? Because this allows them to sidestep the necessity of acknowledging that reason demands the world is governed by a genuine, intelligent entity that exists, makes intelligent choices and has the power to carry out those choices. This has been allowed to go on, mostly unchallenged, for centuries, even though the simplest of persons can quickly deduce that ‘Nature’ is a mere euphemism for God, or whatever truly eternal, all-powerful force governs the world.
    Calvinism uses the same tactic with ‘sin nature’. While merely a euphemism for ‘the desires of the flesh’ that are utilized by Satan to inspire men to make poor choices, by particularizing and personifying such, the false impression can be generated that the ‘sin nature’ is some actual, particular entity that exists, makes intelligent choices and has power over individuals. Even more insidious, and blasphemous, is the assertion that this ‘sin nature’ (which keep in mind is not a real ‘thing’ but a concept) is a ‘creation’ of God, a ‘curse’ infused upon men involuntarily and through no fault of their own, supposedly in response to the sin of Adam, their ‘federal’ father. (Check out Ezekiel 18 for God’s true method’s of dealing with sin, and his contention that it would be unjust to hold the son responsible for the sins of the father.) This ‘sin nature’ cannot be avoided, resisted or overcome, thus necessitating the need for the creation of Calvinism’s deterministic system.
    The ‘sin nature’ is essentially a personification of the desire for self-gratification, or sin. Rhutchin, and Calvinism, is in essence saying ‘It is the desire to sin that motivates people to sin’, which is like saying ‘It is hunger that makes people hungry.’ While obviously true, it explains nothing. In Wonderland fashion one can picture Alice being firmly told that she is hungry because of an internal state of hunger, which motivates her to want to eat. A journey through Calvinism is remarkably similar to Alice’s confusing visit to Wonderland. Words no longer have one agreed upon meaning, which of course makes true understanding impossible. That which is utterly illogical, even impossible, is blithely treated as perfectly normal. Not to mix metaphors, but only the boldest and most self-assured would dare to declare out loud ‘But the Emperor has no clothes!’ when everyone they know, love and trust is admiring the grandness of his attire.
    While there is no single, concise explanation of the human body’s functions; of the internal ‘passions’ God graciously endowed it with so mankind would not ignorantly or absentmindedly starve or forget to procreate, and no detailed description of all bodily functions, scripture does inform of the general reality of bodily needs and how God both designed and provided for them. It also suggests that these ‘fleshly desires’ are not in and of themselves sinful, but only the perversion of their proper uses and purposes.
    Via false philosophers Satan has always sought to mislead mankind as to the true origin, definition and cause of sin, lest we see it – and him – for what it is. By perverting the abstract concept of misusing fleshly desires into a so-called ‘sinful nature’ or ‘Total Depravity’, Calvinism invents a strawman upon which to lay the blame for man’s deliberate choices. As illustrated by Flip Wilson (you can probably find him on Youtube if you are too young to remember him) Calvinism declares ‘The devil made me do it!’. Total Depravity falsely rejects personal responsibility for sin, and ignores Paul’s unmistakable declaration in Romans 1 that all men know right from wrong, good from evil and that depravity results from a deliberate, ongoing choice to reject God’s revealed truth.
    In Calvinism, Satan appeals to our deep desire to not take personal responsibility for our sin. Sadly, even well-meaning persons can be led to ignore the voice and leading of the Spirit of God, and to instead put their trust in the ‘authority’ of the traditions of men. This is the device of every anti-Christ gospel, every ‘religion’ that invites men to ‘play church’ and submit to its doctrines, rules and authorities. Rather than providing encouragement and assistance to reborn sinners seeking to be transformed into the image of Christ, ‘religion’ offers sacral rites and community ceremonies that grant a false sense of purpose and belonging.
    No man sins because God cursed him with an inability to know right from wrong. No man is enslaved to sin because of a curse from the God who created him, loves him and died to ransom him from his own freely chosen rebellion. These are lies that deceive, distract, and, worst of all, leave genuine seekers without hope and access to the power of God that can truly conform them to the merciful, sacrificial, loving image of God’s precious Son, Jesus Christ.

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    1. Hey truthseeker00,

      Great to hear from you!!

      Good points all. I have concluded that its not worth debating with Calvinists over theological issues, because Calvinist psychology is so thoroughly saturated with Double-think.

      Here is a quote from an online blog dialog between Calvinists debating among themselves.

      quote:
      “If you have ever read 1984 by George Orwell, you are probably familiar with the term Doublethink. That is the way I think about compatibilism, where I recognize that everything is determined, but I think *AS IF* free will exists because it is convenient to think that way. When it is convenient to think as a determinist, I think that way. I believe that there is no free will, but I believe that there is free will at the same time… ”

      This type of thinking is taught by Calvin himself. Non-Calvinists get confused because they don’t anticipate double-speak in Christian dialog. But Doublethink is inherently embedded in Calvin’s psychology. That is what non-Calvinists observe as circular reasoning.

      Social psychology, Erich Fromm writes about it in his publication: Psychologits analysis of Calvinism

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    2. truthseeker00 writes, “Calvinism, is in essence saying ‘It is the desire to sin that motivates people to sin’, which is like saying ‘It is hunger that makes people hungry.’’

      Under Calvinism the “sin nature” is that which the Scriptures call the “flesh.” So, Paul, in Romans 8 tells us–

      5. For those who are according to the flesh [or sin nature] set their minds on the things of the flesh [or sin nature],…
      6 For the mind set on the flesh [or sin nature] is death…
      7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;
      8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

      The works of the “flesh” or “sin nature” are listed in Galatians 5, “…immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…”

      Hunger is not a good analogy.

      So, rather than this conclusion, “In Calvinism, Satan appeals to our deep desire to not take personal responsibility for our sin,” we should conclude that Satan takes advantage of the inability of the unsaved to please God or keep his law and the desire of the unsaved to please themselves.

      Then, “No man sins because God cursed him with an inability to know right from wrong.”

      People sin because they choose to do so. After Adam sinned, his nature became corrupt and that corruption was passed to his children and their children – this corruption, Paul explains, causes the unsaved to be “hostile toward God” and unable to please God.

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      1. Rhutchin writes: “People sin because they choose to do so. After Adam sinned, his nature became corrupt and that corruption was passed to his children and their children – this corruption, Paul explains, causes the unsaved to be “hostile toward God” and unable to please God.”

        Same old Doublethink. Either people sin because they choose to, or because they were born with a ‘corrupt’ nature. Note the switching of terms, which Calvinists always resort to when their chicanery is exposed. The attempt is to now suggest that man’s nature was somehow ‘corrupted’ – perhaps a mutation in Adam’s DNA? The classic term ‘sin nature’ makes it obvious that the real assertion is that God cursed men with a ‘sin nature’ that makes them unable to do anything but sin. Adam had no power to ‘corrupt’ the entire human race by any action or inaction. Only the Creator could modify his creature, or in Calvinist lingo, ‘kill’ him, for the assertion is that man is now ‘dead’ to God. (You can look up many a Calvinist for their lengthy diatribes on how ‘dead’ the Totally Depraved man supposedly is.) Such a misinterpretation of scripture is not only absurd but casts aspersions of the greatest injustice upon the good and Holy God. Blasphemous would not be too harsh of a word.

        Contrary to God’s express command in Ezekiel 18 forbidding it, Calvinism invokes, once again, a proverb that God declares at great length to be false:

        “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die. If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right . . . withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances[a]—he is righteous, he shall surely live, says the Lord God.

        If he begets a son who is a robber, a shedder of blood,[b] who does none of these duties, but eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes increase; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

        But if this man begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and fears, and does not do likewise . . . observes my ordinances, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

        Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” (Ez 18:2-20)

        But wait, God does not stop at teaching that the soul that sins shall die; He also makes it clear that this sinning is a freely made choice, that it can be repented of, then ‘unrepented’ of, because sin is always a freely made choice. It is only because sin is a freely made choice, which can be freely turned from at any time, unless or until a man’s heart grows so hard he no longer hear’s God’s voice – the true meaning of Total Depravity. The son of man is able to see his father’s wickedness, fear God’s wrath, and refuse to participate in the wicked deeds of his father. Sin is not passed down through the genes! Nor is it inflicted on unwitting men before they are even born by a curse from God because he is angry at their father!

        Then comes what surely must be one of Calvinism’s most despised passages in scripture, for God states outright that he does not ordain any man to an inescapable sin nature and an unjust punishment thereof, or to be more precise, he asks a rhetorical question, the answer of which he judges to be patently obvious:

        “But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”

        God does not leave his definitions of sin, forgiveness, justification or justice up to man’s faulty philosophizing, lest we come up with something like the TULIP. He states quite plainly that a man may choose to sin, may choose to repent of his sin, and may even choose to repent of his former repentance from sin. (Would Calvinists term that ‘unregeneration’?) He goes on to chastise the false teachers who are teaching election and eternal security (Calvinists are right that these are found in the Old Testament – and unmistakably rejected by God’s own words!) There is very little wriggle room left for Calvinists by the close of the chapter:

        “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

        “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.[d] Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live.” (Ez 18:25-32)

        Note: Lest the Calvinist jump in and assert that this sounds a lot like ‘works’ righteousness, note that God hints at what Jesus and his disciples will later explain, that true repentance from sin leads to God overlooking past iniquity and giving one a new heart (true regeneration, which comes after humble repentance) and a new spirit. And this was before the lamb was sacrificed for the sin of he world! In other words, it is not the ‘works’ that ever ‘earned’ God’s forgiveness; rather, true repentance, that comes from hearing and trusting in God, leads to a turning from former wicked deeds. The ‘promise’ to Abraham was that God would reverse the curse of sin, which was genuine physical death, which was accomplished in and through Jesus.

        Back to the point; the last few lines of Ezekiel 18 exposes Calvinism for the complete and utter lie that it is. They bear repeating:

        “Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

        Augustine and Calvin were wrong – God himself declares that he takes no pleasure in the death of anyone. He does not need the death of poor, helpless ‘reprobates’ to supposedly accrue more glory to himself. Nor does he appear to feel threatened or insecure at granting men the ability to freely choose to sin, or freely choose to turn from sin. It appears he felt himself up to the job of judging men’s hearts. As throughout all of scripture, God makes commands, then leaves it up to men to obey or disobey. Future punishment to any who disobey is completely just, as men not only have a genuine ability to choose their own actions (they were not predetermined, ordained or irresistibly compelled by second, third or fourth causes from eternity past) but were even granted a free and clear pardon – utterly undeserved – for past freely chosen sins.

        Hack away, Rhutchin, but the truth that sets men free is set forth clearly in scripture. It is Doublethink, distraction, appeals to illegitimate authority and deceptive empty promises – Live like the devil, but still get in! – that lure men into exchanging the truth for a lie.

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      2. truthseeker00 writes, “Same old Doublethink. Either people sin because they choose to, or because they were born with a ‘corrupt’ nature.”

        If you want to take the position that Romans 8 is doublethink – Have at it.

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      3. Anyone can see how obvious a diversion tactic that is! Honesty doesn’t need tactics. 😉

        The double-think is in the Calvinist-doublethink system….of course. As all critical thinkers recognize.

        William Lane Craig, Peter Van Inwagen, Alvin Plantinga, and Ravi Zacharias.

        quote:
        “If the believer finally sees himself obliged to speak of God’s ‘inscrutable decrees’, he is admitting that all that is left to him as a last possible consolation and source of pleasure in his suffering is an **UNCONDITIONAL SUBMISSION**. And if he is prepared for that, he could probably have spared himself the detour he has made.” – Ravi Zacharias responding to a college student’s question.

        Now the double-think Calvinist relies upon the assertion that all of those critical thinkers are either somehow too ignorant to understand Calvinism, or have a: quote “mental block”. Easily recognized as blame-shifting by Psychological projection! What the ego repudiates it attributes to another. 😀

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      4. br.d writes, “Now the double-think Calvinist relies upon the assertion that all of those critical thinkers are either somehow too ignorant to understand Calvinism,…”

        Calvinism is very easy to understand. It takes the Scriptures – e.g., Romans 8, Ephesians 2 – and develops a doctrine of original sin and Total Depravity. Most people understand these things. The Arminians consequently developed a doctrine of Prevenient Grace to deal with Total Depravity while the Calvinists did the same with irresistible grace. The Pelagians understood it and just denied that the Scriptures actually mean what the Calvinists claim. That means that there is room for debate.

        When Ravi Zacharias says, “If the believer finally sees himself obliged to speak of God’s ‘inscrutable decrees’…” I’ll assume that he also will admit that God has decreed that sinful humanity be free to pursue their sin (within the limits God specifies – e.g., the Assyrians can plunder all the countries around them with the exception of Israel and then can plunder Israel only when God removes His protection over Israel). God is sovereign, so necessarily, there must be unconditional submission by God’s creation to Him – or else God is not really sovereign.

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      5. obviously, Ravi Zacharias, using the term “unconditional submission” to describe the logical entailments of Calvinism’s theological determinism, recognizes those logical entailments honestly and precisely, just as the others mentioned above have concluded.

        What I appreciate about Ravi, is his love for Christ, does not allow him to fall into Calvinism’s intellectual and semantic dishonesties.

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      6. True Christian honesty is not reliant upon half-truths. Calvinist language is. What a Calvinist will call “the notion that God is sovereign” Dr. Ravi calls “unconditional submission”, and warns concerning the psychological consequences of embracing a malevolent god.

        Thank you Dr. Ravi, for your love for Christ, which doesn’t allow you to fall into Calvinism’s semantic dishonesties.
        A true disciple of Jesus will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
        So unfortunate, we so consistently don’t see that within Calvinist language.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. br.d writes, “What a Calvinist will call “the notion that God is sovereign” Dr. Ravi calls “unconditional submission”….”

        I think Zacharias would distinguish between the sovereignty of God – I am confident that he would not deny that God is sovereign – and that which he means by “unconditional submission.” Your brief quote does not help us understand what Ravi means by the term, “unconditional submission.” I’ll guess and say that you have no idea what he is talking about either.

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      8. Epistemic uncertainty is inherent within Calvinism, so your expression of uncertainty is quite predicable. Since Calvinism is incorporates moral-dualism, and since uncertainty is inherent within its conceptions, it always works to maintain a strategic degree of uncertainty in its language. What scripture calls: “an uncertain sound”.

        Has god designed the individual Calvinist as a vessel of wrath or a vessel of honor? Answer: Uncertain.
        Had god decreed the individual Calvinist will have a sinful thought/choice/action? Answer: Uncertain.
        Is god holding salvation out as a quote “savor of greater condemnation” to the Calvinist? Answer: Uncertain

        Calvinism acquires this from its roots of a Gnostic/NeoPlatonic cosmology of dualism, baptized by Augustine, and later embraced by his adoring disciple Calvin.

        I’m satisfied that Dr. Ravi Zacharias communicates using language that is not equivocal and misleading, which is the case with Calvinism’s language of uncertainty.

        Dr. Ravi Zacharias choose words having precise, unequivocal meanings so as to not mislead his audience.

        – UNCONDITIONAL = ” Not conditioned or limited, absolute, unqualified”
        – SUBMISSION = “The act of submitting to the authority or control of another”

        Dr. Ravi’s description of Calvinism’s theological determinism and its logical entailments as (Unconditional Submission) hits the bulls-eye!

        Love Dr. Ravi’s Christ-honoring honesty!!! 🙂

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      9. Defining key terms to advance understanding is never a strawman. A strawman will generally divert attention away from the issue under discussion.

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      10. DefinIng key terms is key… and traditional definitions from philosophy or one’s theology should be willing to bow before clear Scriptural evidence and change to reflect that evidence.

        Too often however one’s loyalty to that philosophy or theology and pride from years of promoting their definitions have led them to freely choose to sacrifice the authority of Scripture when it comes to defining key terms… in my view.

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      11. Great point Brian.

        Concerning Calvinism and defining terms, I would add…when one scrutinizes Calvinism’s use of terms over time, what one observes, are two steps. (1) Present a term with a certain inferred meaning. (2) In order to evade that term’s unpalatable logical entailments, qualify the term, so as to alter its meaning sufficiently, to make its unpalatable entailments amorphous. Thus giving the illusion, the unpalatable entailment doesn’t exist. This is where Jerry Walls likens Calvinists to semantic magicians.

        Ex-Calvinist – Daniel Gracely, in his book CALVINISM: A CLOSER LOOK describes it this way:

        “This is why, among the Calvinistic writings of Van Til, Sproul, Boettner, A.W. Pink, etc., there are no UNQUALIFIED statements about the absolute sovereignty of God or the free will of man. If one reads long enough, all-forthright statements about them are eventually withdrawn by QUALIFYING each statement with its exact opposite thought. This explains why every book and article advocating the absolute sovereignty of God ends with its terms unconcluded (though of course Calvinists claim otherwise). ”

        Hope you’re well!!! :-]

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      12. br.d writes, “when one scrutinizes Calvinism’s use of terms over time, what one observes, are two steps….Ex-Calvinist – Daniel Gracely, in his book CALVINISM: A CLOSER LOOK describes it this way:…”

        Perhaps you, from personal study or appeal to Gracely, could provide an example. As you cite Gracely on God’s sovereignty, perhaps you could not explain what the Calvinist specifically does and put mean on the general description Gracely provides.

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      13. Hi Rhutchin,
        Providing you with examples has long been understood as an act of futility.
        One can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink.

        My time is much better spent providing SOT101 readers with tips on:
        1) The Mechanics of determinism (ala Calvin)
        2) The Psychology of doublethink (ala Calvin)
        3) The Language of double-speak (ala Calvin)

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      14. br.d writes, “Providing you with examples has long been understood as an act of futility.”

        Maybe the lack of examples has led to the futility.

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      15. br.d writes, “No response needed.”

        Yep. One need only go through previous comments to discover your inability to provide examples to support the allegations you make.

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      16. brianwagner writes, “DefinIng key terms is key… and traditional definitions from philosophy or one’s theology should be willing to bow before clear Scriptural evidence and change to reflect that evidence.”

        The relevant term being, “…clear…” as applied to Scriptural evidence. What is clear to one person may just reflect a personal bias – as you have noted. So, the need is to identify bias and remove it to produce a sound definition. The need is not to deal with “clear Scriptural evidence” but “ALL” scriptural evidence as any appeal to “clear scriptural evidence” may reflect bias because it does not take into account “all scriptural evidence.”

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      17. br.d writes, “Like calling total depravity the “reason” for sin, takes into account *ALL* the evidence ;-)”

        One can always identify scriptures that they believe have been ignored.

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      18. You’ll have to read my dissertation, Roger… for I think there is an objective clarity in Scripture that can be tested.

        One good example is where historical narrative should certainly be seen as clear… that is, those events really did happen and the words spoken in those contexts really were said.

        But the Calvinist has difficulty taking God at His Word in historical narrative, for he believes God must have chosen to hide the true meaning about His character and actions behind analogous or anthropomorphic speech, since what He clearly said does not fit what their philosophical and theological definitions of His character and actions are.

        Their “translation” of what He meant is clearer to them than what He actually said. Thus the Bible is taken out of the laymen’s hands since he cannot even take God at His Word in historical narratives in Scripture. Maybe therefore God didn’t really create Adam and Eve, or Jesus didn’t really rise physically from the dead!

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      19. brianwagner writes, “But the Calvinist has difficulty taking God at His Word in historical narrative, for he believes God must have chosen to hide the true meaning about His character and actions behind analogous or anthropomorphic speech, since what He clearly said does not fit what their philosophical and theological definitions of His character and actions are.”

        The disagreement is not over what is said within the historical narrative. Jeremiah 26 reads, “Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.” (similar is Micah 2). Are we to think that God could not have determined to do this in eternity past – and was now implementing that which He had planned?

        If I say that I am planning a party, does that mean that I do not already know what I must do – send invitations, contract a caterer, rent space, etc. If that is my job – planning parties – then I merely put the required pieces together, but I am not God. You allow God to know all possible future contingencies. Thus, God can decide what He will do in each situation and do so in eternity past – you just don’t want God to know how things will shake out over time meaning that He cannot implement His response until the event occurs in time. At the same time, God is able to direct events to get the outcome He wants – e.g., the cases of Joseph and Moses. If God is fully involved in all future events, he can determine what occurs, and it is possible for God to be omniscient with regard to the future even under your system. When God tells Jeremiah, “I am planning calamity…” it can mean that God can orchestrate secondary causes to gain a specific outcome – just as He can do for every other event. He can harden a person and thereby direct them this way or that.

        Ephesians 3 has, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord…” By this, we know that God had an eternal purpose that He carried out in Christ. Could this purpose have foreordained the disobedience of Adam, the events in the book of Ruth, the OT prophecies concerning Christ? Romans 16 speaks of, “the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations…” This suggests that God has known certain things (mysteries) that He makes known to people in the course of time.

        I think the Open Theists figured this out and thereby had to deny God the knowledge of all future contingencies so that God gains knowledge as events unfold and is only then able to respond with that new knowledge. Perhaps, you need to go in that direction also.

        God does hide the true meaning of His actions in mysteries or in just not telling us everything (how could He anyway – all that Jesus did in three years was not even recorded for us). Nonetheless, God has been direct in describing His knowledge of the future as omniscient. He can then decide what to make known to people and the circumstances under which He will make it known, and I think this is what is happening in the verses you get excited about.

        I hate reading dissertations mainly because a perosn need to spend a bazillion pages proving that he actually read umpteen million sources and the nitty gritty will often be compressed into a short section that ends up being little more than one’s personal opinion. Nonetheless, if your dissertation is available out there somewhere, maybe I can spend some time wandering through it. It would be exciting if you wrote with a certain flair as Calvin did in his Treatise on Predestination – helps to stay awake.

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      20. I’m sorry Roger that you try so hard to respond in defense to what is obvious in Calvinism’s undermining of the perspicuity of Scripture concerning the character and actions of God.

        You even gave a good example from Jer 26 where God said – “Perhaps”, but of course could not have meant that a true contingency existed, if Calvinistic determinism is true.

        And your “planning a party” illustration falls way short, for knowing already what needs to be done does not mean one is not prepared and able to make changes in those predeterminations. God certainly is free to do so in many of His conditional predeterminations, and He is not locked behind an eternal immutable set will from which exists an eternal immutable set knowledge of the future of all things.

        And then you blatantly misrepresented God’s Word, for you said – “Nonetheless, God has been direct in describing His knowledge of the future as omniscient.” For you know that no verse defines God’s omniscience as knowing the future forever as a settled set of events that even His will is unable to change, being locked in by the Calvinistic false view of His perfection.

        But Scripture clearly reveals that He is still making determinations in light of ones He has made in the past. Some of those in the past were made conditionally, only to be enacted in response to man’s choices. What a wonderful, sovereign, free, loving, just, and truthful God we have!

        He does not hide behind false inferences about His true nature. Yes, He did not/does not reveal everything that He has already determined, but His Scripture is CLEAR that He is still freely making determinations and allowing conditional situations for Himself to freely interact with. His understanding is infinite and additions to His experiential knowledge do not make Him imperfect!

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      21. brianwagner writes, “…you know that no verse defines God’s omniscience as knowing the future forever as a settled set of events that even His will is unable to change,…”

        We have, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all…our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases…[God] works all things after the counsel of His will…The counsel of the LORD stands forever…” (Psalm 103; 115; Ephesians 1;Psalm 33) Thus, God’s sovereignty is established.

        Of God’s knowledge of future events, we read:
        “…Let [the false gods] bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place;…Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods;…Who has declared this from the beginning, that we might know? Or from former times, that we may say, “He is right!”? Surely there was no one who declared, Surely there was no one who proclaimed, Surely there was no one who heard your words….Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you…who is like Me?…let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place…Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?…For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;…Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it…I declared the former things long ago And they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass…I declared them to you long ago, Before they took place I proclaimed them to you, Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them,…I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known…before today you have not heard them, Lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them…As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place…Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future…in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets…the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” (Isaiah 41;42;44;45;46;48; Daniel 2;10; Revelation 10; Habakkuk 2) Thus, we see that the future is settled in God’s mind.

        Then, “But Scripture clearly reveals that He is still making determinations in light of ones He has made in the past.”

        Doing such does not demonstrate ignorance on God’s part of those things which are to happen in the future. On the one hand, God clearly reveals that the future is set; on the other hand, God reveals that people can determine their future by their actions knowing, with certainty, that it is already determined.

        Then, “Some of those in the past were made conditionally, only to be enacted in response to man’s choices.”

        No disagreement – in addition, we know with certainty that God will act. We can go further and say that God already knows how people will choose and has already declared His response to those choices.

        Then, “He does not hide behind false inferences about His true nature.”

        To which we both agree, only differing on the extent to which God has revealed His true nature.

        Then, “His Scripture is CLEAR that He is still freely making determinations and allowing conditional situations for Himself to freely interact with. His understanding is infinite and additions to His experiential knowledge do not make Him imperfect!”

        At the same time, the future is clear to God and will not change.

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      22. I’m sorry, Roger, that you cannot see how you have extrapolated from those verses you quoted to find meanings concerning Sovereignty and Omniscience that those verses do not prove. And in your final statement you admitted your loyalty to an eternal, immutable set future that clearly contradicts the last statement you quoted from me… so there can be no “at the same time” because of the law of non-contradiction!

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      23. “So there can be no “at the same time” because of the law of non-contradiction!”

        But that doesn’t mean the Calvinist can’t fabricate one! 😉

        And it is consistent in Calvinism’s psychology of double-think, to construct cosmetic, fictional, conceptions, in order to get around the law of non-contradiction. The more people recognize the degree to which Calvinist conceptions are artificial, fictional, and cosmetic, the more the double-think becomes clear.

        Good Catch Brian!

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      24. brianwagner writes, “you cannot see how you have extrapolated from those verses you quoted to find meanings concerning Sovereignty and Omniscience that those verses do not prove.”

        I extrapolated nothing, unless you see something I don’t. I claim that whatever those verses tells us, we can give them the labels, “sovereignty” and omniscience.”

        Basically sovereignty means that “God does whatever He pleases,” as one verse tells us and in whatever God does, “[God] works all things after the counsel of His will.” Do you object to defining the term, “sovereignty,” by these verses?

        When the Scripture says, “Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it,” we can call that “omniscience.” What is wrong with that? If God has planned something, is it not clear to God that which He has planned? Have you also now been reduced to making comments exhibiting opinions that lack substance?

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      25. We’ve been through those verses Roger, and I wasn’t able before to help you see how you are trying to make those verses prove more, or define sovereignty and omniscience in ways that undermines other clear Scriptures.

        He is presently working things out according to a plan that fits His desires, but there was nothing in those verses that say all was eternally, immutably set in a plan in His mind.

        He does speak and then bring about what He has spoken… but again nothing demands from that verse that He has a mind already made up about every future detail. If you can’t see that you are trying to make those verses prove your inferences… I can’t help you any more than I have.

        Jesus told his disciples to pray that their flight from the destruction of Jerusalem should not be in winter. How can that encouragement to pray fit with a future destruction whose date and time is supposedly eternally, immutably set in God’s mind?

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      26. Hi Brian,
        Would it be truthful to say:

        1) If free future contingent events exist, then God’s divine foreknowledge has knowledge of them.
        2) If free future contingent events do not exist, then obviously God’s divine foreknowledge does not have knowledge of them.

        If the above statements are true, then one’s interpretation of what constituents exist within God’s divine foreknowledge is driven by the truth of falsity of statement 1 & 2. Following the rules of categorical logic.

        If free future contingent events do exist, then it follows that “alternate possibilities” also exist.
        if free future contingent events do not exist, then it follows that “alternate possibilities” do not exist.

        Consider the possibility that a given individual is convinced that future free contingent events do exist.
        That individual’s interpretation of God’s divine foreknowledge will be driven by that conviction.
        And all interpretations of scripture are thus forced to conform to that conviction.
        And the same is true, in the event an individual is convinced that future free contingent events do not exist.

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      27. Exactly Br. D. I don’t think I could have said it more clearly! 😉

        God cannot know a falsehood about the future. If all the future is eternally, immutably set, then that is how He knows it. If the future is partially determined and still partially undetermined, then that is how He knows it.

        It would be false for Him to know it differently then it really is. The example I gave of Jesus praying for a determination, yet to be made, that Jerusalem would not be destroyed in winter, is a clear indication, in my thinking, that Jesus knew that the future is partially undetermined.

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      28. Yes, I would agree.

        Now this brings us back into scriptural interpretation again, and previous conversations about designating certain verses as anthropomorphisms. Take for example Deuteronomy 30:19 “Behold I have set before you life and death”.

        We know that within the belief system of determinism, “alternate possibilities” don’t exist.
        So the deterministic interpretation of this verse denies Life and Death as two alternative possibilities which are UP TO the human to determine. As Van Inwagen details, determinism allows for only one single unique future, which is already predetermined, and therefore predetermined events are NOT UP TO US.

        Thus:
        If god determines life for person [P], then life will be [P]s predetermined choice.
        If god determines death for [P], then death will be [P]s predetermined choice.
        In this state of affairs, there are not two possible choices for [P], since alternative possibilities don’t’ exist.

        Yet the language of scripture consistently presents human choice in a way that does infer alternative possibilities, (i.e., that god does actually give more than one single choice from which a human can select).

        However, we humans have the psychological effect of CONFIRMATION BIAS at work in the interpretation of any data.
        If a person comes to the text with the presupposition that alternative possibilities don’t exist, than one’s interpretation will follow.
        However, if that is the case, it is dishonest for that one to assert that God gave [P] the ability to choose between two possibilities.
        You can’t have it both ways.
        The only way god can give [P] the ability to choose between two (i.e. alternative) possibilities, is if alternative possibilities exist.

        Liked by 1 person

      29. Agreed… However, the Calvinist will aver that God was only speaking in the language of choice from “our human perspective” as if 1) He was too transcendent and thus unable to speak clearly about it from the Calvinist perspective, or as if 2) He had to speak in such as contradictory fashion to get His predetermined will accomplished with the elect.

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      30. brianwagner writes, “the Calvinist will aver that God was only speaking in the language of choice from “our human perspective” as if 1) He was too transcendent and thus unable to speak clearly about it from the Calvinist perspective, or as if 2) He had to speak in such as contradictory fashion to get His predetermined will accomplished with the elect.”

        Well, God does speak through humans who speak as humans and from a human perspective to other humans. God gives people a choice. So what happens? Paul says this, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” That is the Calvinist perspective clearly stated. Then, Paul says, “you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Does not Calvinism expose the hypocrisy of the sinner? The Scriptures clearly set forth the choices God has placed before sinners and just as clearly tells us what sinners choose. It is not a pretty sight. Is God unjust to save some and not others?

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      31. So does God only speak from a human perspective in Scriptures, Roger, or does He ever speak from His perspective at all, using human language that is clear, true, and univocal?

        You mentioned the “Calvinist perspective”. Is that a human perspective that could be contradictory to God’s. Rom 1 does tell how God’s wrath is revealed against those who suppress the truth He gave them. It does not say that all men automatically suppress the truth when God gives it to them… though the “Calvinist perspective” wants to read that conclusion in there! 😉

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      32. brianwagner writes, “does God only speak from a human perspective in Scriptures, Roger, or does He ever speak from His perspective at all, using human language that is clear, true, and univocal?”

        I guess, we now need to define what you mean by “human perspective.” I take it to mean that which humans can understand – God does not speak in words that humans cannot understand. The entire Scriptures are written from a “human perspective” in that they can be read and understood by humans (which does not mean that some Scriptures are not more difficult to understand that others). In another sense – from the perspective that humans are sinners – we should be wary of how people treat the Scriptures: “the untaught and unstable distort [Paul’s teaching], as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3)

        Then, “You mentioned the “Calvinist perspective”. Is that a human perspective that could be contradictory to God’s. ”

        A Calvinist perspective is to take the Scriptures and interpret them consistently so as not to contradict God (or His perspective).

        Then, “Rom 1 does tell how God’s wrath is revealed against those who suppress the truth He gave them. It does not say that all men automatically suppress the truth when God gives it to them… though the “Calvinist perspective” wants to read that conclusion in there!”

        How would you separate out those who are not being addressed in Romans 1? I see nothing in Romans 1 that points to Paul speaking of some people and not all. What do you see that argues otherwise?

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      33. I am wondering from your response, Roger, if you think the “human perspective” in Scriptures sometimes sounds the opposite of the Calvinist perspective, which you think is God’s perspective? Maybe Moses’, Jeremiah’s, Paul’s perspective is God’s perspective, and the Calvinist perspective sounds opposite to it! 😉

        Those being addressed in Rom 1 are professing Christians in Rome and they are being taught about how the wrath of God is being revealed against those who suppress the truth of God that He has made plain in everyone. He is also teaching in that context about how the goodness of God leads to repentance, the influence of conscience in everyone, the guiltiness of everyone, and how everyone will be judged according to the gospel.

        There is no statement in Rom 1 that says man is unable to follow the leading of God towards repentance.

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      34. brianwagner writes, “There is no statement in Rom 1 that says man is unable to follow the leading of God towards repentance.”

        The key phrase here is “the leading of God.” Absent the leading of God, ALL people are described by Paul in v18ff.

        Earlier you said, “It does not say that all men automatically suppress the truth when God gives it to them.”

        Absent the leading of God, ALL suppress the truth God gives them – “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

        Following that suppression of truth, God must now do something else – “[The Baptist] came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him…There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” (John 1)

        Romans 1 is not a reference to Christ as the truth that is suppressed. Are you saying that it is?

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      35. Praise His Name, Roger, He clearly says He leads them/everyone with His truth which is part of His goodness to them… making plain in them and to them His Godhead and power.

        But wrath is being revealed against those that suppress that truth/light in their unrighteousness… but as many as received that light, He gives the right to become (after that reception) born into His family! What a Wonderful Savior!

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      36. brianwagner writes, “…as many as received that light, He gives the right to become (after that reception) born into His family!”

        Of course, the ones who received that light “…were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

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      37. Exactly… they received it after being enlightened, like everyone else, and didn’t reject it, like some did… and then they were born again, after their reception, not before it. You are catching on! Or are you trying to be misleading again, by saying “Of course…”

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      38. I think rhutchin’s language there could be taken in a Calvinistic sense as well as a non-Calvinistic sense.

        rhutchin’s language has a tendency to move in and out of the boundary between determinism and indeterminism.
        That is one of the reason’s people sight his posts as being self contradicting or circular.
        However, I think its just an expression of doublethink which is consistent with Calvin himself.

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      39. brianwagner writes, “…they received it after being enlightened, like everyone else, and didn’t reject it, like some did… and then they were born again, after their reception, not before it.”

        Actually, those who received Christ – these were those who believed in Christ and they were those who had been born of God.

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      40. See… I knew, Roger, I could get you to state more clearly your view that flips the normal sequence in the grammar of John 1:12-13 to falsely claim there is life before faith! Your disrespect for the apostle John to remain loyal to that poor theologian, 16th century John is so amazing! I’m going to stick with the apostle.

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      41. Well said!!

        A Gnostic/NeoPlatonic/Christian 16th century theologian, who himself was inappropriately dedicated to a Gnostic/NeoPlatonic/Chrisitan 3rd century theologian. And no man can serve two master. He will hold to one, and proportionately abandon the other.
        And every tree does bring forth fruit after its kind. 😦

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      42. brianwagner writes, “I could get you to state more clearly your view that flips the normal sequence in the grammar of John 1:12-13 to falsely claim there is life before faith! Your disrespect for the apostle John…”

        An interesting comment that would lead one to believe that you would then immediately address the elephant in the room concerning v13 but strangely, you chose not to do so. So, let’s see if we can extract something meaningful from you. We read:

        12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
        13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

        In v 12, we might agree that those who “received Him” are the same as those who “believe in His name.” Thus, it is those believing in Christ who receive Christ which makes sense as we don’t normally think of people receiving Christ without first believing in Christ. We could also place believing logically prior to receiving with belief in Christ being the instrumental means by which one receives Christ.

        v13 is the issue. Most translations have some form of “who were born (or begotten)…of God.” This obviously refers back to those who believe and receive and tells us something about them. They “were born…of God” with the Greek verb being aorist referring to a past action (the verb is passive but all understand that God is the active participant in this). Because of the aorist, are we allowed to say that this action followed the believing and receipt of Christ or must we conclude that it preceded the believing and receipt? I take the aorist to describe something that happened to those believing prior to their believing. That would distinguish those believing and receiving from those in in the world who did not know Him (v10) and His own did not receive Him (v13). Had those believing who then received Christ then exercised their authority as believers to then become born of God, it would seem that something other than the aorist would be the proper grammatical construction.

        One sticking point would be the phrase, “to [those who received Christ] He gave the right to become children of God…” The issue here is the timing of a person becoming a child of God. Does a person become a “child of God” when they are born again or does a person become a child of God when they are adopted by God after believing and receiving? Obviously, I take it that a person becomes a child of God through adoption by God and this follows their believing and receiving with such believing and receiving made possible by their being born of God.

        So, how do you explain the “aorist” tense in “were born…of God”? Given that the verb, received, is also aorist, while believing is a present participle, the issue is the proper ordering of the actions John describes and what constitutes a “normal sequence.” Maybe, you can explain how you think all that fits together.

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      43. Thank you Roger for a clear presentation of your interpretation of John 1:12-13. And you even admitted the “sticking point” that reveals how Calvinists have to flip the sequence of events John outlines clearly.

        Only with a theological prejudice would one think John is speaking about “becoming a child of God” (vs 12) as something different than what he calls being “born… of God” (vs 13).

        The same order is seen at the end of John… belief – then life (20:31). But the Calvinists want a spiritual life given and a birth given before an everlasting life is given and becoming a child of God takes place.

        I will stick with John the Apostle… You can have John Calvin. Or would you like me to twist the meaning of Calvin’s words so that they will fit the meaning of the apostle’s words? Would that make you feel better? lol

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      44. brianwagner writes, “Only with a theological prejudice…”

        Given that you have ignored the elephant in the room – the aorist tense of “born/begotten – could we not conclude some prejudice on your part also? You don’t even attempt a grammatical analysis of these verses despite your focus on grammar in your original comment – “I could [not?} get you to state more clearly your view that flips the normal sequence in the grammar of John 1:12-13…”

        You are the Greek teacher; how about explaining the grammar here with particular attention to “born.”

        Then, “would one think John is speaking about “becoming a child of God” (vs 12) as something different than what he calls being “born… of God” (vs 13).”

        It is clear that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God,” Receiving Christ precedes becoming a child of God. Then, “even to those who believe in His name” telling us that believing precedes receiving which makes sense – believing in Christ leads one to receive Christ. So, we have the progression: believe -> receive -> become a child of God.

        So, what do we do with v13? If one were to diagram v12-13, v13 would modify the immediately preceding “those who believe.” Those who are believing do so because they were born (aorist) of God. So,you seem, to me, to turn this upside down. Who is the one who is really flipping the sequence of events in these verses?? Well we don’t know yet because you yet to explain why your “normal sequence in the grammar” is correct.

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      45. We can let others decide who is explaining the sequence of action that John intended in 1:12-13, and who is twisting it to fit their theology! Have a good day of worship tomorrow, Roger, of our wonderful merciful Savior!

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      46. brainwagner writes, “We can let others decide who is explaining the sequence of action that John intended in 1:12-13, and who is twisting it to fit their theology”

        Still, no attempt to provide your explanation of the grammar – and you are the one who actually has some background in Greek. Very telling.

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      47. Short memory Roger? I did provide the grammar for this passage in one of our previous discussions! But the main issue remains… “to become children of God” happens after the reception of Him! And “to become children of God” is what being “born… of God” means to any normal reader.

        Trying to goad me into more exegetical detail is not necessary! That normal reading fits well with the stated purpose of John’s Gospel – that unbelievers might read about the signs Jesus did and be led by such enlightenment to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that though believing they will have everlasting life in His name. …Belief then life. …Not some kind of everlasting spiritual life, then belief, then some other kind of everlasting spiritual life… just to remain loyal to Calvinism!

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      48. brianwagner writes, “the main issue remains… “to become children of God” happens after the reception of Him! And “to become children of God” is what being “born… of God” means to any normal reader.”

        To that we both agree. The order is this: the ones who believe –> receive Christ –> given the power to become children of God.

        But then you say, “Trying to goad me into more exegetical detail is not necessary!” No goading, I just want you to put on your Greek hat and go into teacher mode. The issue is v13. οι…αλλα εκ θεου εγεννηθησαν. “oi” is translated “who” (or could be “the ones”) and refers back to those who believe. It is those who believe who were (aorist) born of God – they believe because they were born of God.

        You appear to want those who believe to be given the authority to become born of God and then they would be able to see and enter the kingdom of God.. So, you have the process being:

        preaching of the gospel –> faith given –> belief in Christ –> receipt of Christ –> given authority to become children of God –> being born again –> seeing and entering the kingdom of God

        I guess that’s the conclusion we came to before on this.

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      49. So then Roger, it is not true “that we both agree” – that “‘to become children of God’ is what being ‘born…of God’ means to any normal reader.” Or is it just that you think normal readers get it wrong, and you are not a normal reader! l0l

        For you clearly put being born again before belief. It is amazing how tenaciously you want to twist the order of events given here by John. And then you hide what you really “agree” to about the passage.

        But I am praying for you, Roger, that you will one day admit becoming a child of God is what being born of God means and it happens after receiving Christ by faith, just like John has clearly written. And we will all see the kingdom of God when Jesus returns, entering into it because we have been joined to God’s family through faith. Praise His Name!

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      50. brianwagner writes, “For you clearly put being born again before belief.”

        I just cannot seem to get you to go into teacher mode.

        v13 begins with the word, “oi.” What do you see as the antecedent of “oi”?

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      51. Roger, the “oi” is the subject of the main verb in verse 13 and it refers to those in verse 12 who received Christ and who were then given the right to become children of God, which they did become, and they are now believing in His name. And John is clarifying in verse 13 that this becoming children of God was a work of God, not caused by human lineage, man’s personal choice, or someone else’s choice. It is a birth caused by God.

        Praise His Name, that His plan is to give anyone the right to become His child, which is to cause in them the new birth, after they would receive His Son! John 20:31 says the same thing.

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      52. brianwagner writes, “the “oi” is the subject of the main verb in verse 13 and it refers to those in verse 12 who received Christ and who were then given to right to become children of God,…”

        OK. It refers to those who received Christ. That sounds good.

        By “refers,” can we understand this to be describing something about those who received Christ? Because you have, “…given [the] right…,” the “oi” describes someone before becoming a child of God. If so, then, how are we to understand the use of the aorist in describing those who receive Christ?

        Then “…which they did become, and they are now believing in His name.”

        This is where I get confused. First, you say that “oi” refers to those who receive Christ – before they became children of God making the action of being born of God the reason a person receives Christ and then afterward becomes a child of God (at least, logically as everything in v12-13 may occur simultaneously). Now you seem to be saying that “oi” refers to those who receive Christ only after they have become children of God (becoming a child of God becomes the same as being born of God).

        Then, “And John is clarifying in verse 13 that this becoming children of God was a work of God, not caused by human lineage, man’s personal choice, or someone else’s choice. It is a birth caused by God.”

        We both agree to this. Our disagreement is how the birth caused by God relates to one becoming a child of God – Is it the same action or two separate actions with being born by God preceding one becoming a child of God.

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      53. I am surprised you missed what I said and thus clearly misrepresented me.

        You said – “This is where I get confused. First, you say that ‘oi’ refers to those who receive Christ – before they became children of God”

        But I had said – “it refers to those in verse 12 who received Christ and who were then given the right to become children of God, which they did become, and they are now believing in His name.” Verse twelve says they received, were given the right to become children of God and now were believing in His name. Verse thirteen specifically points to who made them God child… God did! Praise His Name.

        You are right – “Our disagreement is how the birth caused by God relates to one becoming a child of God.” You believe they are two different things. I believe it is irrational to propose that unless you are trying to defend a theological position that requires it. I became a child of God the moment I received His birth from above! Praise His Name!

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      54. brianwagner writes, ” I had said – “it refers to those in verse 12 who received Christ and who were then given to right to become children of God, which they did become, and they are now believing in His name.” Verse twelve says they received, were given the right to become children of God and now were believing in His name. Verse thirteen specifically points to who made them God child… ”

        OK. A little confusing in the way you wrote it -“…who were then given to right to become…” What you seem to be saying is that “oi” refers to the end result, “children of God” – they who received; were given; and became.

        As an aside, did you mean to write, “given to right to become” or did you mean “given [the] right to become”? I corrected it earlier which you may have missed, but since you repeat it, I now wonder what you meant. “to right to become” makes no sense to me.

        There still remains an issue with the aorist in v13. Let’s take your position that “oi” refers to “children of God” so that v13 explains how one comes to be a child of God. We have people given the right to “become” – a future event – while v13 would then explain that future event as coming from a past action by God. By example, we might say that believers will be raised to be with Christ in the future who were born of God in the past. However, this is not what you are saying. You are taking the future event – becoming a child of God – and making it the same event as the past action of being born of God – were born of God.

        So, if you will have “oi” refer to “children of God,” I think some effort must be made to explain John’s reference to a future event being also a past event. But I don’t think that is the only problem here, but it is a start.

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      55. Roger… both of us are placing the event of “were born… of God” in vs 13 into the sequence of verse 12. You are trying to put it as a separate event before “received”… right? John is giving a history to his reader of a group of people who experienced everything in verse 12 and the reader would more naturally link the “were born… of God” with “to become children of God” since they are reading about those already born again and birth is what makes you a child… immediately.

        Thank you for pointing out the typo… which I then copy and pasted. I will go back and correct it. 😉

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      56. brianwagner writes, “…the reader would more naturally link the “were born… of God” with “to become children of God” since they are reading about those already born again and birth is what makes you a child… immediately.”

        I think the reader, if reading the Greek text, would naturally link “oi” to “those who believe” in the immediately preceding phrase. That would seem to be grammatically correct – at least from my perspective of speaking English. Then, they might wonder about those given power to become children of God and those who were born of God because of a theological position. I think the future action of “become” and the aorist “were born” is confusing (no matter who is reading the verses) but especially for those trying to equate them.

        That you continue to offer many thoughts on the verses but avoid what I think is a grammatical difficulty linking “become” and “were born” tells me that even you (and probably Greek guys, in general) don’t really know what to make of it – making it easier to argue a theological position rather than sort out a grammatical analysis. Perhaps John was fairly inept in the Greek language except that he was guided by the Holy Spirit to write it that way – and we should understand, not without purpose.

        Then, ” I will go back and correct it.”

        How are you able to do that??

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      57. I can assure you, Roger, that the Greek grammar links the “oi” with the group identified in verse twelve, and with all that they had experienced which was already past, from the perspective of the reader.

        John is introducing the reader to Jesus who came, and was rejected by some and received by others. The reader would not have considered the “to become children of God” as something still future, for those people mentioned in verse 12. They would have assumed John is writing that such a right to become God’s child had been fulfilled back then. And Their assumption would have been confirmed by the wording of the next verse. They would not have disconnected “to become children of God” from “born… of God”. They mean the same thing!

        But I understand how you and others are trying to twist it away from this clear grammatical, contextual meaning to remain loyal to your theology!

        To fit your theology it should have been written… As many as will receive Him, to them He is giving the right to become adopted as sons, to them who are believing in His name, who were first born not of blood… but of God.

        But John is writing about past testimonies, who are already children of God, born of God! Praise His Name!

        As for editing posts… I have admin power! 😉 If you want me to correct your spelling when I see it… let me know! I could even correct some of your theology if you wish! lol. Maybe I should take advantage of this power and soften some of the rhetoric of others! hahahaha.

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      58. brianwagenr write’s, ” The reader would not have considered the “to become children of God” as something still future, for those people mentioned in verse 12.”

        Yes, they would – future relative to receiving Christ. One first received Christ and then are given the tight to become children of God. Becoming is future to receiving. However, that is a side issue.

        I think you are arguing that the entire process of receiving and becoming is that which John then describes as being “born of God.” Thus, one who “receives and becomes” is said to be “born” and this is “of God.” If so, then we know that this process is entirely instigated by God. Later John will write, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me…” Thus, we see that those who receive and become do so because God has given them to Christ as “coming to Christ” can be equated to “receiving Christ.”

        If you want to take it that way, then receiving and becoming is not “of the will of the flesh or the will of man.” This is all of God (and would be brought about by the faith that God gives to these people). I think Calvinists can live with that.

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      59. Roger… I know you want so bad that there be no synergy of man’s personal reception of God’s initiative before the new birth… but that is how God sovereignly designed it and declared it to be that way clearly in Scripture. Your attempt to combine the events of John 1:12 as all a part of regeneration is convoluted. Becoming a child of God is the new birth! It’s as simple as that.

        The verse you pointed to in John 6 is Jesus’ description of those who are “coming” (present tense) physically to follow Jesus as His disciples. He discusses in that context the Father’s part and the other descriptions and promises for true disciples. But He did tell them their responsibility of personal faith right at the beginning, vs 29, and throughout.

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      60. brianwagner writes, “Becoming a child of God is the new birth! It’s as simple as that.”

        We both agree to that. Was I wrong to conclude that you identify two steps in the process of being born again as the “receiving” and “becoming” of v12?

        Then, “I know you want so bad that there be no synergy of man’s personal reception of God’s initiative before the new birth.”

        This is wrong. What is the big question that Calvinism seeks to answer? It is, “Why do people reject salvation?” The answer, “Total Depravity.” Then the question is, “Given Total Depravity, how can people accept salvation?” The answer, “A new birth.” Following John 3, the new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit. When a person receives Christ, we know that the Holy Spirit has been at work. When a person receives faith, we know that the Holy Spirit has been at work. There is a synergy of man’s personal reception of Salvation – but it is preceded by the Holy Spirit working in the person’s life. The issue between us seems to be identifying what the new birth is all about. You object that “[My] attempt to combine the events of John 1:12 as all a part of regeneration is convoluted.” That is a nice opinion, but no more than that. You don’t even have a working definition of “regeneration” on which to base your objection. We don’t even have a working definition of “new birth” yet.

        Then, “The verse you pointed to in John 6 is Jesus’ description of those who are “coming”…”

        You are applying that which Jesus says to that situation (which is OK), but Jesus’ comments are much more expansive that that. He says, “No one can come to Me,…” and “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me,…” and “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me,…” Jesus also says, “It is the Spirit who gives life;…” and by this we see the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the process of salvation as John explained earlier in John 3.

        Then, “He did tell them their responsibility of personal faith right at the beginning, vs 29, and throughout.”

        Agreed. The issue is to determine the extent of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in bringing this about. Does one believe as a “synergy of man’s personal reception of God’s initiative [BEFORE] the new birth” or does it occur in the process of the new birth at the instigation of the Holy Spirit? The question is still, “Why don’t all people believe in Christ?”

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      61. rhutchin writes:

        “The question that Calvinism seeks to answer? It is, “Why do people reject salvation?” The answer, “Total Depravity.”

        This is one of Calvinism’s classic half-truth (i.e., truth omission) statements.
        In Calvinism “Total Depravity” is simply a “MEANS” to the calvinian god’s “END”.

        The “MEANS” is never the REAL reason for a given phenomenon, the “END” is. In Calvinism’s case, the “END” is predestined damnation, and “Total Depravity” simply serves as an intermediary “MEANS” to that end.

        As N.T. Wright says: “Calvinism is based upon seeking an answer to the wrong question”

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      62. br.d writes, ““The question that Calvinism seeks to answer? It is, “Why do people reject salvation?” The answer, “Total Depravity.”

        Br.d does not have an answer but he complains when someone else does.

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      63. Again rhutchin you totally miss the mark with those irrational emotion-based responses. As always…your examples of Calvinist double-think any more beautiful than anyone could provide for you. Its appreciated. :-]

        You know the analysis that in Calvinism Total Depravity is simply a MEANS to an END is true.
        Not much you can say on that since in Calvinism, Total Depravity is not the REAL reason for damnation – the calvinian deity’s will is.

        And nothing to answer concerning N.T. Wright’s analysis concerning Calvin asking the wrong questions.
        What’s the double-think Calvinist to do?
        Shadow box a strawman? 😉

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      64. br.d writes, “Total Depravity is not the REAL reason for damnation – the calvinian deity’s will is.”

        “Sin” is the REAL reason for damnation – God’s will is to overcome that sin for His elect (which the Universalists say is done all people).

        Then, “nothing to answer concerning N.T. Wright’s analysis concerning Calvin asking the wrong questions.”

        I don’t read NT Wright. Someone who has read Wright will have to quote him to promote discussion on his thoughts.

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      65. Calvinists are so duplicitous!!

        Rhutchin writes concerning Calvinist doctrine:
        “Sin” is the REAL reason for damnation – God’s will is to overcome that sin for His elect (which the Universalists say is done all people).

        Unlike rhutchin R.C Sproul is an HONEST representative of calvinism doctrine:
        “From all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative.”

        Like I said very clearly before, in calvinism, Total Depravity, Sin, Satan, The forbidden Fruit etc etc etc, are all MEANS to an END.
        A calvinist who points to them as the REASON for damnation in is simply a dishonest person.

        Liked by 1 person

      66. br.d. writes:

        “Unlike rhutchin R.C Sproul is an HONEST representative of calvinism doctrine:
        “From all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative.””

        Revealing quote, and one that all Calvinists should read, again and again, until they fully understand what they are embracing. Most have no idea that this is what Calvinism does, and must assert, in order to be consistent. All attempts by less honest Calvinists to pretend that sin and damnation are anything else need to be gently, but earnestly refuted. Under Calvinism, men do not perish because they ‘choose’ to disobey God; they disobey God, and perish, because God so desired, and irresistibly ordained (chose) it. Calvinism allows only one ‘chooser’ concerning whatsoever comes to pass, and it is God, not the sinners he created to destroy.

        These is truly a ‘terrible’ decree. Thank God it is only the false, corrupt assertion of a false teacher named John Calvin, rather than scriptural truth.

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      67. Thank you Truthseeker!!

        Yes in calvinism there is only one “chooser” Very well spoken. Philosophers of Religion call it: “Mono-Agency”,where god is the only REAL agent in the universe, and all created beings are nothing more than instruments, like a hammer or a chainsaw or a bio-neuro-human-robot.

        Blessings! :-]

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      68. truthseeker00 writes, “Under Calvinism, men do not perish because they ‘choose’ to disobey God; they disobey God, and perish, because God so desired, and irresistibly ordained (chose) it. ”

        Try as you might, you cannot blame God for the sin in which you choose to engage and then you enjoy it as you do it.

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      69. rhutchin writes
        “Try as *YOU* might, *YOU* cannot blame God for the sin in which *YOU* choose to engage and then *YOU* enjoy it as *YOU* do it.”

        Another wonderful example of dishonest language for us to dissect and discern!

        Notice how *YOU* in this statement, strategically points the finger of misdirection, in order to get your focus off what he doesn’t want you to see.

        And so, in order to cleave to his master, the Calvinist will ALWAYS fall into the ditch of dishonesty, double-think, and speaking with forked-tongue, in order to masquerade an alignment with scripture.

        Every tree brings forth fruits after its kind. And dishonesty is one of Calvinism’s fruits.

        God is showing us how to discern these things as they manifest in language, and thus we mature in Godly discernment. 😎

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      70. br.d writes, “Unlike rhutchin R.C Sproul is an HONEST representative of calvinism doctrine:
        “From all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative.””

        So, with which of the following points do you disagree?

        1. God created Adam and Eve.
        2. God placed them in a garden.
        3. God caused the tree of knowledge of good and evil to grow in the garden.
        4. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of that tree.
        5. God left Adam and Eve unprotected so that Satan could enter the garden and tempt them to eat the prohibited fruit.
        6. God was present and watching everything from beginning to end as Satan entered the garden until Adam ate the fruit.
        7. God could have intervened to prevent Adam eating the fruit but chose not to do so.
        8. God knew before He created Adam and Eve that all of these events would occur – even to eternity past.
        9. God decreed that these events occur.
        10. God condemned Adam for eating the fruit.

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      71. John R. Schafer, Ph.D., FBI Behavioral Analyst
        quote:
        “Liars provide evasive answers, ambiguous responses, speak half-truths, and hyper-communicate statements, which provide a smoke-screen of misdirection, in order to keep you from focusing on what they don’t want you to see.”

        “The primary strategy used by liars, above all others, is obfuscation. When the liar obfuscations, he points to anything he can possibly point to, in order to keep you from identifying what he is attempting to hide.”

        “Another prevalent strategy used by liars, is the use of subtle misleading word qualifiers. The liar uses select words in his statements, which the recipient will assume by their common meanings, while the liar applies strategically equivocal meanings (i.e., word qualifiers) to those select words in his statements, in order to deceive” – end quote

        At SOT101, we have the most wonderful examples of dishonesty, in the form of word qualifiers, equivocations, half-truths, and smoke-screens of misdirection, we could possibly want, by simply reviewing rhutchin’s posts.

        Thank you, Dr. Schafer, for teaching us what to look for!
        Thank you rhutchin for providing the examples! 🙂

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      72. We’re going over old ground again, Roger! The Scripture teaches that enlightenment is God’s enablement to everyone to seek His mercy. The Scripture gives reasons why it is rejected, and it gives warnings to those enlightened if they freely reject that enablement. The new birth is AFTER the enablement of enlightenment.

        Calvinism has to make regeneration a process to try to explain why the Scriptures clearly show that God and man are synergistically responding to each other before regeneration takes place.

        You are free to remain loyal to Calvinistic determinism, Roger, and choose it to twist the normal reading of Scripture, since you do not evidently see Scripture as the final judge and definer of Theology. I will stick with Scripture and use its clarity to continue to combat the traditions of men, like Calvinism, that have been elevated to a position of final authority to judge and define Theology.

        I continue to pray that the Lord will enlighten you further on these things, and I look forward to the day when you repent of your loyalty to Calvinism and make Scripture your final authority.

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      73. brianwagner writes, “The Scripture teaches that enlightenment is God’s enablement to everyone to seek His mercy.”

        Enlightenment is necessary to salvation but by itself cannot produce salvation. However, you say, “God’s enablement to everyone to seek His mercy.” Yet not everyone seeks God’s mercy. What are you not telling us?

        Then, “The new birth is AFTER the enablement of enlightenment.”

        Enlightenment does not save; it does not produce the new birth. Enlightenment plus the work of the Holy Spirit produces salvation. Take away the Holy Spirit and all the enlightenment in the world will not save.

        Then, “Calvinism has to make regeneration a process to try to explain why the Scriptures clearly show that God and man are synergistically responding to each other before regeneration takes place. ”

        Without regeneration (a work of the Holy Spirit), no person, however enlightened, ever responds to the mercy of God. The new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit per John 3 – without which one cannot see or enter the kingdom of God.

        Then, “choose it to twist the normal reading of Scripture,”

        You seem unable to explain the normal meaning of Scripture yet complain that I twist that which you cannot explain. I appreciate that you have a different theological position.

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      74. brianwagner writes, “His plan is to give anyone the right to become His child, which is to cause in them the new birth, after they would receive His Son! John 20:31 says the same thing.”

        John 20:31
        “…these [signs/events] have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

        This seems clear – believing in Christ enables the person to have eternal life. So, in 3:16, “…[God] gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should…have eternal life.” It is the one’s believing who then gain eternal life. So in 1:12, “…those who believe in His name,…” who also receive eternal life (they become children of God and no one can take them out of His hand).

        Liked by 1 person

      75. Now you have it! And that believing starts before and continues without fail after the new birth… Praise His Name!

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      76. brianwagner writes, “…believing starts before and continues without fail after the new birth.”

        Or the new birth can precede one believing and be a manifestation of the new birth.

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      77. Nope! The everlasting life is after faith is clearly expressed in John 20:31 and many other passages. There are not two spiritual lifes for a person to receive in salvation… just one! There are not two spiritual births for a a person to experience in salvation… just one! Praise His Name!

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      78. brianwagner writes, “The everlasting life is after faith is clearly expressed in John 20:31 …”

        Agreed (as also John 3). Recognizing that faith manifests as belief which leads to one receiving Christ which confers the power to become a child of God – eventually leading to everlasting life. Under your theological position, enlightenment would seem to precede faith – I don’t see a problem with that (unless you think enlightenment accomplishes more than it is able). The argument calls for you to describe the linkage between everlasting life and the new birth. Does the process of the new birth that the Holy Spirit works in a person encompass all the above? If so, then the new birth encompasses faith and precedes one attaining everlasting life. Confusion still reigns because we still don’t know what you mean when you use terms like “new birth” and “regeneration.”

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      79. I continue to be sorry, Roger, that you do not seem to want to accept the obvious… the new birth is regeneration and it happens after the enlightenment is accepted by personal faith. Praise the Name of Jesus! And the new birth is the moment everlasting life begins! Thank the Lord!

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      80. brianwagner writes, “the new birth is regeneration and it happens after the enlightenment is accepted by personal faith”

        That is your personal theological opinion (and I have no problem with you wanting to believe that.) However, if you could demonstrate your theology to be true through a Scriptural argument, that would be pretty neat.

        Ephesians 2 tells us, “…by grace you have been saved through faith;…” “Grace” refers to those things that God does to being a person to salvation (and would include such things as enlightenment, Christ dying on the cross, the gift of faith, etc.). “Faith” is given to a person by God so that the person can respond to God’s grace. The challenge is to identify everything that must happen to bring a person to salvation and then line them up in their correct, logical order. My suspicion is that you haven’t exactly done that – but if you have, that would be an interesting paper to read.

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      81. I’m sorry Roger you can’t or won’t see that regeneration after faith needs not to be argued from Scripture as if it were an inference, for Scripture clearly says it! I’ll keep praying!

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      82. brianwagner writes, “…regeneration after faith needs not to be argued from Scripture as if it were an inference, for Scripture clearly says it!”

        At least we agree on some things.

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      83. In the Gnostic Christian sects of Augustine’s day, salvation was only for the “elect”, and also REGENERATION was integrally linked with GNOSIS.

        Man in his totally depraved state was conceived as in a state of “ignorance” such that he was totally unable to even comprehend the gospel. The potential was in him, but due to Adam’s sin, was brought into a state of dormancy which resulted in total inability to respond to divine outreach.

        Thus, in Gnostic Christian conceptions, REGENERATION was metaphorically called a DIVINE SPARK given by god, which then made the person GNOSTIKOI (i.e., having salvific knowledge)

        The Gnostic Christians, concerning “elect” status, also used metaphorical language, describing there being two FIELDS.
        A FIELD of salvation, and a FIELD of damnation. Each person is born into one FIELD or the other.
        In Calvinist language this is paralleled by the term “DOMAINS OF PROVIDENCE”.

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      84. Br. D. Do you have any good primary quotes from pre-Augustine literature that say the same things you just outlined! I’d be interested. Thanks.

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      85. br.d writes, “…salvation was only for the “elect”,…”

        Actually, all Christians believe this. The disagreement is about the process by which a person comes to be one of the elect.

        Then, “Man in his totally depraved state was conceived as in a state of “ignorance” such that he was totally unable to even comprehend the gospel.”

        Under Calvinism, anyone and everyone is able to comprehend the gospel. The distinction is that some people consider the gospel to be foolishness (1 Corinthians 1).

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      86. rhutchin writes:

        “The distinction is that some people consider the gospel to be foolishness”

        You need to think your arguments through better rhutchin….

        To a Gnostic Christian, “Considering the gospel to be foolishness” would be a manifestation of “ignorance”. Such a person, for the Gnostic Christian, would not be considered GNOSTIKO.

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      87. I would agree that Calvinism is merely repackaged Gnosticism, if that is what you indeed infer here. Calvinists of old, like Calvinists today, sought to subtly introduce concepts that were rejected by Spirit-led bible believers, using subtle terminology, or most often borrowing accepted terminology and giving it new, albeit unacknowledged, meanings. Successful deception requires first appearing to teach what is scriptural, then, after winning the convert’s trust, beginning the subtle process of carefully revealing their actual, redefined meanings of words and concepts. Should the convert grow wary, the Calvinist deceptively bounces back to the traditional definitions, leading to endless confusion about what they really think and mean. It is essential for them to never get pinned down, or the gig is up. It is only the earnest, albeit deceived, Calvinist who is willing to be honest and open about what he has bought into; that is, until he learns how quickly his ideas will be rejected and overturned by anyone with a decent amount of biblical knowledge.

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      88. Its not easy to be absolutely sure about Gnostic roots within Calvinism. But there are indicators.
        1) If you research academic materials on the topic of syncretism in the Christian time-line, Augustine’s time-period stands out as exemplary.
        2) The Catholic doctrinal tradition, especially in its embryonic stage, was highly syncretistic, so there would be little resistance to Augustinian syncretisms into Catholic doctrine, especially during his life-time, in which he sat in enough authority to condemn those who disagreed with him. It wouldn’t be until after his death that the Catholic church would reject some of what they would call “Augustine’s Exaggerations”
        3) Scholars point to evidences of residual constituents of Manichaeism in his doctrines and his confessions that he never outgrew.
        4) Augustine is sighted as one of the premier influences in propagating NeoPlatonism within the Christian tradition.
        5) NeoPlatonism and Gnosticism shared many characteristics, most predominately, a dualistic cosmology, which in its composite form, includes moral-dualism, which we find as a model within Calvinism. Hence the perennial complaints that Calvinism glorifies evil, by making good and evil opposite, yet equal in necessity…i.e., yin-yang. Augustine and early Calvinists called this the “beauty of antithesis”. Evil can be seen as beautiful since it is a necessary constituent of the “ONE”. Adam’s sin was both horrible and beautiful.
        6) Augustine’s weakness is excessive adoration and trust in Platonic doctrines which he considered pre-Christian. Calvin’s weakness appears in his adoration and trust of all things Augustine. Calvinist’s exhibit (IMHO) that same excessive adoration for Calvin. So the tree appears to be bringing forth fruit after its kind.

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      89. br.d cites a Bible berse, “Deuteronomy 30:19 “Behold I have set before you life and death”.”

        Here is the context:
        18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.
        19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
        20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

        Then, “So the deterministic interpretation of this verse denies Life and Death as two alternative possibilities which are UP TO the human to determine.”

        The deterministic interpretation says that man is a product of his environment and external environment factors determines a person’s actions. Determinism is a atheistic worldview that should be ignored.

        According to Wikipedia, “Determinism is the philosophical position that for every event there exist conditions that could cause no other event….Determinism is often contrasted with free will. Determinism often is taken to mean causal determinism, which in physics is known as cause-and-effect. It is the concept that events within a given paradigm are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is completely determined by prior states…Determinism should not be confused with self-determination of human actions by reasons, motives, and desires.”

        Then, he appears to switch to theological determinism, “Thus: If god determines life for person [P], then life will be [P]s predetermined choice.”

        If God chooses to save a sinner, God will most certainly bring that sinner to salvation – God has determined to do so.

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      90. rhuthin,
        Sometimes I think you just post nonsense in order to retain some form of activity at SOT101, since people otherwise ignore your doublethink talking-points. Go back and read your post again, lets see if you can discern your own self-contradictions.

        Why ask me for examples when you provide the best ones yourself. 😛

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      91. brianwagner writes, “… is a clear indication, in my thinking, that Jesus knew that the future is partially undetermined.”

        The word, “indication,” seems somewhat weak given the emotion you have invested in your claim. I would have thought that you were convicted of your position – so much so that you would say, ” …is a clear proof…”

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      92. hahaha… Your response to how I said it, Roger, is a clear indication that you have no response to what I said! 😉

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      93. brianwagner writes, “a clear indication that you have no response to what I said!”

        Of course, it does not prove that I have no response. So, given that you did not respond to my attempt to reach some agreement on the definitions of sovereignty and omniscience using the Scriptures I cited earlier, are we to conclude that you now will respond to them or do we take your silence as an indication that you have no response?

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      94. Perhaps you need to read again what I said in response to your definitions of sovereignty and omniscience and your “attempt to reach some agreement”. I think the readers of our conversation would say you missed my response and that I certainly was not silent!

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      95. rhutchin writes:
        ” are *WE* to conclude that you now will respond to them or do *WE* take your silence as an indication that you have no response?”

        Who in the world is rhutchin’s WE? Can anyone spell pretense?

        Brian, I suggest you let rhutchin to go on shadow boxing. Its entertaining to watch. 😉

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      96. br.d writes, “Consider the possibility that a given individual is convinced that future free contingent events do exist.”

        I think people pretty much agree to this (assuming by “exist” you mean are possible). For example, Joe can choose to eat cereal for breakfast or not eat cereal for breakfast tomorrow morning. Everything that Joe will do tomorrow can be reduced to an A or ~A decision. Same for every other person into eternity. Thus, God can know the universe of contingent events into eternity. God can also know the decisions that people will make in each contingent event before the person makes his choice. As William Craig has shown, God’s knowledge of a person’s decisions does not negate the person’s freedom in making those decisions (God’s knowledge makes the outcome certain but not necessary).

        The real issue is to determine the extent to which God exercises control over a person’s decisions as the direct cause or an indirect cause through secondary causes. God can, by virtue of His sovereignty, be involved directly or indirectly in every decision that every person makes – His control is then absolute and He would be omniscient. If God is not sovereign, then He can know how contingent events are resolved only after they occur and He is able to learn what happened – God is not omniscient in this case.

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      97. br.d writes, “Consider the possibility that a given individual is convinced that future free contingent events do exist.”

        rhutchin responds:
        “I think people pretty much agree to this (assuming by “exist” you mean are possible).”

        Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on future contingent events:
        quote:
        “anyone who wants to maintain some kind of indeterminism regarding the future, may be confronted with some standard arguments in favor of logical determinism, i.e., arguments designed to demonstrate that there are no future contingents at all.”

        The Information Philosopher – on future contingencies
        quote:
        “Modern determinists/compatibilists on free will like to argue that just as the past cannot be changed, so the future cannot be changed.(i.e., future contingent events do not exist)”

        Liked by 1 person

      98. To Rhutchin, and many other religionists, life is all about CONTROL. In utter fear of a world that is not in complete, unrelenting control by their chosen deity, they are willing to allow him to be, er, less than a benign deity. He is allowed to inflict his sovereign creation with sin, misery, destruction; even the most unthinkable evils that, if purposed by men, would be considered condemnable.

        Calvinists were cornered by this conundrum centuries ago, and have ever since attempted to distract, debate and doubletalk their way out of it. What other choice have they? They admit, with their very limiting, not to say unscriptural, definition of ‘sovereignty’ that God is responsible for ‘whatsoever comes to pass’. Thems the breaks, boys. You want complete control, you are also going to have to accept complete responsibility.

        You can almost pity the poor fellows. Now they are stuck with trying to get their controlling God off the hook for all of the evil they insist he ‘sovereignly ordained’ into the world.

        ‘We could say he did it for his glory’. Hence the argument that when God hates men, it is ‘good’, it brings him ‘glory’, which is a greater good that justifies helpless men suffering perpetual torment and/or eternal separation from God. Despots of every stripe try to excuse their evil actions by asserting that the ends justify the means, but reasonable men know that this is not true. It particularly doesn’t hold much water when you are talking about a supreme creator who could have used any means to bring about his ends, but chose the evil that honest men acknowledge permeates our world.

        ‘We could redefine all meaningful terms.’ Hence the arguments that irresistibly controlled persons can be said to make ‘choices’, and that those eternally ordained actions of men are actually their own personal responsibility, justifying their condemnation. Wow, ‘irresistible choices’ and blaming the tool instead of the hand that moves it, and one has to argue it with a straight face. Calvinists might be content with this answer, but I bid them try it out in real life. Just try deliberately disabling your infant, later commanding this helplessly disabled child to stand up and walk, then in the end, punishing him for ‘choosing’ to not obey you. That one’s not going to float many boats.

        ‘We could say ‘goodness be damned’, and burn ’em at the stake if they dare to disagree with us.’ Yeah, they tried that too, at the very beginning, and it might actually have worked had their not been a real God, and a brave few who believed in him at the cost of unthinkably cruel torture and death. Now they’re stuck with not only defending a cruel, monstrous god, but trying to ignore, deny or defend the genocide he apparently ordained.

        You can begin to see that these fellows do not have an easy task. You might even wonder if it would be charitable to overlook their perpetual dishonesty, dis-ingenuity and absurd semantic gymnastics. Until one remembers what is at stake. (Pardon the pun.)

        Exposing the errors of Calvinism (and all false gospels) is not merely a chivalrous pursuit of truth, which is admirable in itself. More is at stake than the name and honor of God, which he insists upon defending by revealing his genuine ‘glory’. God is adamant about the truth of who he is being told, not because he is an egotistical narcissist, but because he is deeply concerned about the eternal destiny of real men. Men that he created, loved, died and ever lives to redeem.

        “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son . . .” those are not trivial words to be mocked when they appear on handwritten signs. God’s love for his weak, rebellious, easily deceived creatures is boundless and unwaverving. He will cause kingdoms to fall, abusive, false teachers to be exposed, and every root of evil to be traced back to its true source. Most damnable are those who try to claim that he himself is the source from which that evil stems.

        Yet Calvinist apologists will drone on and on, drawing their exposers into endless, useless debates. Debates over the meaning of ‘all’ or ‘some’ . Heck, lets throw in some big guns, like ‘sovereign’ and ‘omniscient’. Men laugh at the very public man who attempted to legalise his sin away be debating the definition of ‘is’, yet take seriously those who do the same thing repeatedly in pursuit of justifying their morally and scripturally unjustifiable doctrines.

        This circular reasoning is not some logical error – it is essential to the ongoing lie. It is all they have to hold up their tottering ruins of a system that has only ever reeked tyranny and disaster. Truth has exposed their lies repeatedly, and it took greedy civil rulers to remove the bloody sword from their hands. (Talk about real sovereignty in action!) Reality has exposed the lies convincingly, even if people for a time succumb to their deceptions. Scripture exposes the lies unfalteringly, and only insincere or deceived men continue to twist and abuse scripture by lifting it from context and/or applying it illegitimately in a manner never intended.

        Many who have fallen under the spell of Calvinism, then experienced the mercy of God breaking that spell, become horrified at what they so gullibly received and believed. Calvinism is so obviously not a description of the God of scripture, nor the goodness, mercy and justice which he commands his children to practice, men wonder how they could have fallen for such a monstrous lie. Romans 1 provides the answer, as well as the authentic definition and description of ‘total depravity’.

        Men, knowing in their heart of hearts the real truth, deliberately exchange it for a lie, because it provides them with the excuse they need to do what they so desperately long to do. Whatever it is. The more they refuse to admit that they are living a lie, the more they become convinced that their lie is actually true. This is the essence of total depravity, that ‘slippery slope’ that Satan seeks to set all men upon. Yet all that is required to rescue them has been provided.

        They do not need do ‘do penance’. They do not need to perfect themselves, without fault or deliberate error ever again. (Actually they do, but conforming men to the image of Christ is God’s job, and he’s up to it – in his own way and time.) They do not need advanced education, or degrees in the Oriental languages, philosophy or theology. They do not need a ‘priest’, minister or institutional ‘church’ to explain the truth, administer the sacraments or in any other way open the doorway to the kingdom of God.

        We must return to Jesus’ own words, which are trustworthy, genuine and shed the light of truth upon all dark deception:

        “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.”

        Pretty much everything we need to know is contained in these few, precious, life-giving verses. It is very convicting to realize that all of the light of truth that we often claim to need has already been given. The problem is not that we don’t have enough information, or the ‘Total Inability’ to understand that information. The problem is that we love darkness rather than light, because we do not want to admit to or turn from our evil deeds. Whatever they are. Many bible-toting, church-going, scripture-quoting men refuse to admit and turn from their own ‘evil deeds’. Like the Pharisees of old, they boldly condemn ‘sinners’ who practice some admittedly egregious form of sin, while ignoring their equally condemnable sins of arrogance, pride, and the pursuit of personal pleasure/comfort.

        It is not that they do not know, for scripture tells us that we are all without excuse. Along with the revelation of creation, and the miraculous manifestation of the truth in Jesus, the Spirit of God continually impresses upon our spirits the wrongness of our ways. It used to be called a guilty conscience, is sometimes referred to as cognitive dissonance, but mostly is ignored as some relic of ancient superstition. In reality it is the ignoring of, the inexcusable rejection of ‘God with us’.

        We are, indeed, without excuse. And all of the empty excuses that we use to justify our choosing to remain in darkness in spite of the coming of the light will be exposed once and for all when the full light of God’s glory returns to this earth. All justifications will be justly revealed as false, be they ‘The devil made me do it’, or ‘Total Depravity (God) made me do it’. Just as Jesus taught, the judgement is “that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”.

        Our problem is not faulty theology, our faulty theology is the result of our problem; which is a refusal to admit and turn from our wicked, self-serving ways. We create endless justifications, called theology, doctrine, church – whatever appears to grant credence to our intended actions.

        It is not that the light was ever inadequate or faulty. It is not that we didn’t ‘know’, ‘we didn’t ‘understand’, ‘we were cursed with a ‘sin nature” or some charismatic pastor deceived us. All such false claims will be exposed. Sinners grasp onto whatever lie allows them to continue in their sin, rejecting ‘the way’ revealed to them repeatedly by God through creation and incarnation. We remain in darkness – even the darkness of faulty theology – because it gives us the excuse we so desperately want, in order to continue living contrary to what we know to be right.

        If we embraced the light we would have to stand up against not only abortion or homosexuality, but war, crony capitalism and the institutionalized oppression of the weak, poor and powerless that poses as society. We would be mocked, ostracized and possibly institutionalized for daring to condemn the officially approved darkness that has the seals of the FDA, USDA, Good Housekeeping, NATO and WHO. We might have to sacrifice our comfy homes and jobs and, gulp, pleasant churches. In days past, and perhaps future, we might not only be separated from the people and things we love, but from our very heads.

        Ah, it is much easier to debate the meaning of ‘all’.

        Liked by 1 person

      99. brianwagner writes, “…nothing demands from that verse that He has a mind already made up about every future detail.”

        The point here is that you allow that God could, and has, made up His mind about “some” future details. There are specific prophecies related to Christ and the end times – e.g., Daniel 9 – so we can pretty much conclude that God does know some things about the future because He will make sure that they happen. The Calvinist (and others) takes “some” to mean “all” and this is allowable under your system – you argue that it can be “some’ but is not “all.” That’s fine. Earlier, I claimed that it did not matter whether God made His decisions about the future in eternity past or waited until certain events occurred in the course of time as His decision would be the same in either instance and the future would be the same either way – and you have yet to disagree with that assessment if I remember right. Your focus has been on the timing/implementation of God’s decisions and not what those decisions would be. The difference between you and those who say God knows all future details is a technical one that has no significance outside discussions of omniscience – it is fodder for journal articles. This cannot be said of the Open Theists who figured out that they must deny that God knows all future contingencies and thereby, cannot know all future details.

        Then, “I wasn’t able before to help you see how you are trying to make those verses prove more, or define sovereignty…in ways that undermines other clear Scriptures.”

        Is there a disagreement between us on sovereignty?? If so, how do you see us disagreeing?

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      100. First, Roger, you said – “The Calvinist (and others) takes ‘some’ to mean ‘all’ and this is allowable under your system.” FALSE. It is not allowable under “my” system, for the Scripture clearly indicates that God did not make up His mind about everything before creation. So some can only mean some for the things already determined as specifically revealed in unconditional prophecies.

        Second, I would have thought you would agree that there is a difference in our views of Sovereignty, in the sense of its function. God is over all, but He does not have a will that is eternally immutably locked into a set reality with no true contingency, as Calvinism teaches. Instead His sovereignty is seen where He will still make determinations between various good options, and this conforms to the biblical description of His perfection.

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      101. brianwagner writes, “So some can only mean some for the things already determined as specifically revealed in unconditional prophecies.”

        That allows for “some” to mean “all” depending on what is revealed in unconditional prophecies – where a prophecy is anything God says. We just need to determine the extent to which God’s unconditional prophecies reach – whether to all events or just some.

        Then, “Instead His sovereignty is seen where He will still make determinations between various good options, and this conforms to the biblical description of His perfection.”

        At least, we both have God making determinations.

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      102. Roger, not only did you ignore the logic as to why “some” can not ever mean “all” based on the biblical evidence contrary to the premise that all was determined before creation. But you equivocated in saying “we both have God making determinations.”

        You are really not providing helpful responses for our readers, imo. 😉 You believe all determinations were already made before creation, and that without any discursive thought in the mind of God. But discursive thought is basic to the meaning of “determination”. I have listed for you a number of times the clear references in Scripture where God is making determinations after creation, which clearly contradicts your view.

        Why are you misleading our readers by making it sound like we are on the same page?

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      103. brianwagner writes, “you equivocated in saying “we both have God making determinations.”

        So, I agree with you and that means that I equivocated. Does that mean that your original statement to which I agreed was also equivocation on your part? I thought your comment was pretty clear, so I agreed with it.

        To refresh our memories, you said, “[God’s] sovereignty is seen where He will still make determinations between various good options, and this conforms to the biblical description of His perfection.” Other than the issue on the timing of those determinations, don’t we agree that it is God who is making those determinations?? I don’t see that as misleading.

        Then, “You believe all determinations were already made before creation, and that without any discursive thought in the mind of God.”

        Presuming that you intend the positive definition and not the negative definition of the term, “discursive,” I see no reason why God’s thinking would be any less logical in eternity past than after creation – after all, don’t we agree that “[God] works all things after the counsel of His will” without regard to when God works anything.

        Then, “But discursive thought is basic to the meaning of “determination”. I have listed for you a number of times the clear references in Scripture where God is making determinations after creation, which clearly contradicts your view.”

        It seems to me that your examples describe actions that God says He is taking or will take. I don’t think you have shown that God could not have determined His actions in eternity past. The key here is that God has the same information available to Him in eternity past as you say He has after creation – thus whatever determination God makes is the same regardless when God makes that determination, so nothing prevents any determination being made in eternity past. You offer the opinion that God “waits” to make some determinations and cite a few verses that you think support your opinion – but you don’t explain how you reached that conclusion preferring to argue that verses mean what you want them to mean and need no further explanation.

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      104. The reader, Roger, will decide if your use of “God who is making those determinations” is misleading in that it sounds like God is still “making” them, when that is not what you believe, not did you clarify that in the context.

        And you may not think that I “have shown that God could not have determined His actions in eternity past”, but the reader will decide if God clearly says He is making determinations after creation that such a statement by God would contradict the idea He made the determination already before creation. It is certainly logical to me that such Scriptures clearly contradict the premise He predetermined everything before creation.

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      105. brianwagner writes, “The reader, Roger, will decide if your use of “God who is making those determinations” is misleading in that it sounds like God is still “making” them, when that is not what you believe, not did you clarify that in the context.”

        We differ on the timing of those determinations (the mouse in the corner); we do not seem to disagree on what those determinations are (the elephant in the room). I don’t see anything misleading here.

        Then, ” It is certainly logical to me that such Scriptures clearly contradict the premise He predetermined everything before creation. ”

        Maybe you share your logic with us.

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      106. To differ on the timing and not say so is misleading… Roger. And to for God to say He is making a determination when it was already made is deceptive and contradictory.

        I am surprised you do not know the law of non-contradiction, that two opposites cannot both be true at the same time. God making a determination that has already been made is a contradiction, for the same identical thing cannot be made if it is already made.

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      107. brianwagner writes, “for God to say He is making a determination when it was already made is deceptive and contradictory.”

        God can repeat, re-emphasize, or command something that He has already determined. I see nothing deceptive or contradictory about that.

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      108. Well I am sure others would see it as a contradiction, Roger! lol… the repetition would be “I have already determined” not – “I am now making a determination”. The re-emphasis would be “I am telling you again that I have already determined” not “I am telling you now that I am making the determination.” Of course, giving a command is a different kettle of fish… so I am not sure why you add that one!

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      109. “God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God…” (Acts 17)

        I guess we know where God stands.

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      110. Amen… He predetermined all the details so that mankind should seek and be able to touch and find Him, since He is not far from anyone!… He commands everyone everywhere to repent! (The rest of the verses that you conveniently left out since it doesn’t help support your false theology.)

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      111. brianwagener writes, “He commands everyone everywhere to repent! (The rest of the verses that you conveniently left out since it doesn’t help support your false theology.)”

        The point of the citation was to show that God has predetermined some things into the future (which you have previously admitted). So, now we can start adding anything else that the Scriptures tell us God has predetermined.

        I don’t think anyone disagrees as to God’s purpose in doing this. Calvinists will add that Paul tells us that “No one seeks God,” and that no one will repent without faith – which is a gift from God. Do you disagree with the Calvinists on these points?

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      112. You know I disagree with Calvinist’s abuse of Rom 3:11, Roger! Though I agree with Paul! Praise God that He enables all to seek through His enlightenment at various times in each life. I also like how you conveniently leave out main points I make when you quote my posts. 😉 Are you afraid to copy and paste Acts 17:26-27?

        26 From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

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      113. brianwagner writes, “Praise God that He enables all to seek through His enlightenment at various times in each life”

        Can enlightenment do anything without faith? “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Then, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Of the reprobate it says, “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

        Then, “Are you afraid to copy and paste Acts 17:26-27? ”

        You mean the last part, “…and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Does this not require faith? Who has faith but those to whom God gives it.

        Do you fear an exegesis of John 1:12-13?

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      114. Lol… the goading won’t work, Roger. You’ll have to go back and find when I gave that exegesis to you before… and also remember that it’s not necessary for such a clear passage! I’m done dancing with you for now.

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      115. Appealing to Wikipedia (which seems coherent on this subject):

        “A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent.”

        “A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue.”

        I tend to think that “refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent” is a type of red herring whose purpose is to “distract from a relevant or important issue.”

        Originally, I had written, “At least you demonstrate that you have no idea what [Ravi Zacharias] is talking about either.” You claimed that to be a silly strawman. However, I was not refuting the argument you had made earlier – I was only trying to determine and clarify what that argument was. My pointing out that even you did not know what Zacharias meant was not a strawman but an effort to determine what you were trying to argue in citing Zacharias. I still don’t know and you still cannot explain it. Your comments amount to an effort to avoid the argument and can be called a red herring.

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      116. rhutchin:
        “At least you demonstrate that you have no idea what [Ravi Zacharias] is talking about either.”

        That statement is obviously a strawman. If you meant something else, then only you knew your trying to meaning.

        Then you get further off course:
        “A strawman will generally divert attention away from the issue under discussion.”

        If one can’t tell the difference between a strawman and a red herring, one should be careful to claim rational reasoning.
        Its no wonder one’s statements are so consistently self-contradicting.

        Here is a question: If god said: “unconditional submission” how would you know what he meant?

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      117. br.d writes, “Here is a question: If god said: “unconditional submission” how would you know what he meant?”

        By applying the three rules of Biblical interpretation: Context, Context, Context.

        So, if Ravi Zacharias uses the term “unconditional submission” how would you know what he meant?

        The same method. So, can you tell us what Zacharias meant in using that term?

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      118. I’ll let Brian chime in on your system of biblical interpretation, since he knows your skill-set in that matter.

        However, seeing your high confidence in using your 3 rules of understanding, you certainly can use them for understand the meaning of two simple words from the English language. As for me, I won’t be lured into one of your circular dance routines. I don’t have Brian’s fatherly benevolent patience for it……Lord Bless him! 🙂

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      119. br’d writes, “you certainly can use them for understand the meaning of two simple words from the English language. As for me, I won’t be lured into one of your circular dance routines.”

        It doesn’t matter what I think the phrase means. The need is to determine what Zacharias means by that phrase – since he used it. With respect to that, you did not provide enough context for anyone to determine that. I admit that I do not know. You have been trying to hide the fact that you don’t know either – but now everyone knows that you are clueless as to what Zacharias means by that term.

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    1. brianwagner writes, “Perhaps you need to read again what I said in response to your definitions of sovereignty and omniscience and your “attempt to reach some agreement”. I think the readers of our conversation would say you missed my response and that I certainly was not silent!”

      I originally said:
      1. “Basically sovereignty means that “God does whatever He pleases,” as one verse tells us and in whatever God does, “[God] works all things after the counsel of His will.”

      2. “When the Scripture says, “Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it,” we can call that “omniscience.”

      You responded, “We’ve been through those verses Roger, and I wasn’t able before to help you see how you are trying to make those verses prove more, or define sovereignty and omniscience in ways that undermines other clear Scriptures.”

      So, the Scriptures actually has a verse that says, “God does whatever He pleases.” I see this as a good basic definition of sovereignty. However, you say that this verse undermines other clear Scriptures. How is that possible? If anything readers of this conversation ought to be confused by the things you say.

      You then said, “there was nothing in those verses that say all was eternally, immutably set in a plan in His mind.” To that, I can agree, but that really has nothing to do with defining sovereignty, so we can ignore it. Being sovereign and exercising sovereignty are different subjects.

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      1. Keep reading Roger… you missed again where I gave my definition of sovereignty and how it differs from yours!

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      2. brianwagner writes, “I gave my definition of sovereignty and how it differs from yours!”

        Could not find it. Did a search on “sovereignty” and no definition came up. Any chance you could repeat it?

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      3. I find search with part of a word helps better, Roger… Here are three passages quoting where I clearly gave my understanding of God’s sovereignty.

        1. But Scripture clearly reveals that He is still making determinations in light of ones He has made in the past. Some of those in the past were made conditionally, only to be enacted in response to man’s choices. What a wonderful, sovereign, free, loving, just, and truthful God we have!
        He does not hide behind false inferences about His true nature. Yes, He did not/does not reveal everything that He has already determined, but His Scripture is CLEAR that He is still freely making determinations and allowing conditional situations for Himself to freely interact with. His understanding is infinite and additions to His experiential knowledge do not make Him imperfect!
        2. We’ve been through those verses Roger, and I wasn’t able before to help you see how you are trying to make those verses prove more, or define sovereignty and omniscience in ways that undermines other clear Scriptures.
        He is presently working things out according to a plan that fits His desires, but there was nothing in those verses that say all was eternally, immutably set in a plan in His mind.
        3. … I would have thought you would agree that there is a difference in our views of Sovereignty, in the sense of its function. God is over all, but He does not have a will that is eternally immutably locked into a set reality with no true contingency, as Calvinism teaches. Instead His sovereignty is seen where He will still make determinations between various good options, and this conforms to the biblical description of His perfection.

        Like

      4. brianwagner writes, “Here are three passages quoting where I clearly gave my understanding of God’s sovereignty.”

        I read that. I see no conflict in your statements and the definition of sovereignty that I proposed. I still don’t think that we disagree on a definition of sovereignty. I think we both accept the testimony of the pagan king, “[God] does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”

        From your comments, I think we may disagree on issues related to God’s exercise of His sovereignty, but your comments above mostly concern God’s knowledge and issues of timing – and these are separate from sovereignty.

        I still don’t see that you actually defined sovereignty in your comments. How about giving those comments to one of your classes and have them try to distill a definition of sovereignty from them. I’d bet that they wouldn’t be able to do it (at least, not without referral to additional resources).

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      5. You’re so funny, Roger! I don’t know how you would not think “issues related to God’s exercise of His sovereignty” would not be an important part of the definition of His sovereignty. If I said we both agree that God’s sovereignty means He rules over all… that does not say anything clearly. It is how He rules over all that is the definition of His sovereignty… I my statement clearly showed that definition in comparison to yours. Sorry you couldn’t see it… my guess it that my students would have! lol

        Like

  31. rhutchin writes:

    “William Craig has shown, God’s knowledge of a person’s decisions does not negate the person’s freedom in making those decisions (God’s knowledge makes the outcome certain but not necessary).”

    This is a distortion of what William Lane Craig communicates.

    quote:
    “God’s knowledge is sort of like an infallible barometer. An infallible barometer will tell you with infallible correctness which way the weather (i.e., an event which god does not determine in advance) will be. But the barometer doesn’t determine the weather; the weather determines the barometer.” – William Lane Craig Doctrine of God Part 14

    Yes it is true that Theological Determinists (i.e., Calvinists) are “inevitablists” who hold that everything God knows is inevitable, because everything God’s knows, Calvin asserts as: quote “The consequence of divine decrees”.

    It is however, critical to recognize that Theological Determinists ( consistent with determinism ) deny that “Alternate Possibilities” exist.

    William Lane Craig rejects determinism and he rejects Calvin’s proposition – divine foreknowledge = consequence of divine decrees.

    Giving the impression, William Lane Craig’s view of foreknowledge parallels Calvin’s, is simply not honest.
    Dr. Craig believes that libertarian free will does exist, and therefore “Alternate Possibilities” do exist.

    Now within in-determinism, where “Alternate Possibilities” do exist, we understand what man choosing [A] vs. [NOT A] looks like.
    The man, in this case, is given the IMMEDIATE option of choosing between TWO “Alternate possibilities”.

    But since this mode of “Alternative Possibilities” does not exist in determinism, to assert it does is dishonest.

    In Calvinism, God (at the foundation of the world) chooses what choice [P] will make at time [T].
    And no other “Alternative Possibility” exists for [P].
    So in Calvinism, man simply selects the one single option that has already be predestined for him to select.
    There is no such thing as MULTIPLE choice(S) for man to make, in this state of affairs.
    If God predestines man to select death, then man will infallibly select death, as the only possible to selection.

    That God can predestine a man to choice between TWO ALTERNATE POSSIBILITIES in Calvinism is a Calvinist illusion.
    A fake – phantom presentation of “Alternate Possibilities”, presented by obfuscating predestined counter-factuals.

    Additionally, some Calvinists argue, since “Alternate Possibilities” don’t exist, it follows they don’t exist for god either.

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “Dr. Craig believes that libertarian free will does exist, and therefore “Alternate Possibilities” do exist.”

      Craig is an advocate of Molinism where free will existed in the mind of God before He created the universe. Once God chooses one, unique world to create, we have the situation where all things are determined and certain according to God’s foreknowledge but not necessary because of God’s foreknowledge.

      Like

      1. As a determinist, you’re quite naturally reading determinism into Dr. Craig that isn’t there.

        Forget about the fatalism stuff….fatalism and determinism both incorporate inevitability.
        They are similar in modality, and they have similar entailments, they are of the same modal-species.
        Fatalism is based upon necessity which for the most part, is a superfluous technicality for discussions of determinism.

        Dr Craig specifically states that HUMANS genuinely determine their choices and NOT god.
        Go back and read the quote I posted from Dr. Craig and see for yourself.
        God’s foreknowledge is not impaired or compromised in Craig’s formulation because God has knowledge of future *UNDETERMINED* events.

        In Calvinism (i.e. Theological Determinism) god determines what man will do, and man cannot “do otherwise”.
        You appear to be viewing Molinism through a lens of determinism which Dr. Craig would reject.

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      2. br.d writes, “As a determinist, you’re quite naturally reading determinism into Dr. Craig that isn’t there.”

        Either Craig is a Molinist or he is not. By his own testimony, he is a Molinist.

        Then, “Dr Craig specifically states that HUMANS genuinely determine their choices and NOT god.”

        In Molinism, humans are said to exercise free will before the creation of the world and this is said to occur as God considers all the potential worlds that He could create and all this occurs in the mind of God.

        Then, “In Calvinism (i.e. Theological Determinism) god determines what man will do, and man cannot “do otherwise”. You appear to be viewing Molinism through a lens of determinism which Dr. Craig would reject.”

        Calvinism and Molinism are compatible. Molinism deals with events prior to creation as God considers which world He will choose to create. Once God chooses a world and creates it, Calvinism describes that world.

        If you understand Molinism differently, then you need to explain what you think Molinism is all about.

        Like

      3. rhutchin writes:

        “Calvinism and Molinism are compatible”

        This statement is ambiguous and therefore totally misleading.

        Let’s let William Lane Craig describe Molinism’s compatibility with Calvinism:
        quote:
        “The problem is that some Reformed theologians, like my two collaborators in the four-views book, try to resolve the mystery by holding to **Universal Divine, Causal Determinism** and a compatibilist view of human freedom. According to this view, the way in which God sovereignly controls everything that happens is by causing it to happen, and freedom is re-interpreted to be consistent with being causally DETERMINED BY FACTORS OUTSIDE OF ONESELF……”Making God the author of evil is just one of the problems..

        quote 2
        “Universal, Divine, Determinism nullifies human agency”

        quote 3
        “Far from glorifying God, the deterministic view, I’m convinced, denigrates God”

        Apparently god has predestined you to call something “compatible” that Dr. Craig calls denigrating to god. You may want to convince yourself Dr. Craig sees his believe “compatible” to Calvinism. But again, that is an illusion Dr. Craig will totally reject.

        Like

      4. br.d writes, ““Universal, Divine, Determinism nullifies human agency”

        Everyone agrees to this in the sense of a human agency described as libertarian free will. Universal, Divine, Determinism, which in the Calvinist framework is Theological Determinism, starts with Genesis 1 describing the world God chose to create from among the possible worlds He considered as described in Molinism. In that world, every event has been determined as Molinism maintains.

        I do not understand why Craig would say, “Far from glorifying God, the deterministic view, I’m convinced, denigrates God,” as even he, as a Molinist must recognize that the world God chose to create must be as described in Calvinism. I have searched the Reasonable Faith website looking for an explanation by Craig and have not found one.

        Then, “…that is an illusion Dr. Craig will totally reject.”

        If Craig is a Molinist, there is no way he can reject Calvinism. Why don’t you send him an email and see if you can get an explanation. I did but never got a response (while on other issues, a staff member has always responded).

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      5. rhutchin writes:

        “If Craig is a Molinist, there is no way he can reject Calvinism. Why don’t you send him an email and see if you can get an explanation.”

        I’m glad that you reached out to Dr. Craig’s group. He does address select queries from individuals, but in his business, he simply can’t respond to the multitude of questions he must get.

        Your assertion that he can’t reject Calvinism is simply wishful thinking on your part. If you keep up with his video presentations, including his teaching series, you’ll see he doesn’t reject Calvinists (per se) but his (five arguments against Universal Divine Determination) are clear.

        http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-new-atheism-and-five-arguments-for-god

        If you review those 5 arguments, and still believe there is no way he can reject Calvinism, then your rational mind is being held subordinate to confirmation bias.

        Like

      6. As you can see in the link, this article deals with The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God – it has nothing to do with Calvinism. So, I did read this article (actually, I scanned some parts) and on the basis of this article, I still believe there is no way he can reject Calvinism and it has nothing to do with my rational mind being held subordinate to confirmation bias.

        However, I have seen the article with the five arguments against Calvinism. I read them a couple of times and did not understand what he was saying – this because he argues as a free-willer and not as a Molinist. I bet even you can’t explain what his arguments are actually saying about Calvinism from a Molinist perpsective.

        Like

      7. rhutchin writes “I have seen the article with the five arguments against Calvinism. I read them a couple of times and did not understand what he was saying – this because he argues as a free-willer and not as a Molinist.”

        That is so hilarious!!! rhutchin,
        You consistently make statements posturing as speaking with authority, making statements that have very little rationality and obviously miss the mark! I’m not sure you realize how recognizable that is.

        Then:
        “I bet even you can’t explain what his arguments are actually saying…..etc…etc”

        Psychologists call Denialism, altered human perceptions of evidence, based upon an over-riding emotional or psychological investment in an ideological position. In many cases, the need to cling to the ideological position is rooted in fear.
        The fear of losing whatever the ideological object provides to the internal psyche.

        Like

  32. Brian,
    As you are still in dialog concerning calvinistic election and regeneration, you had asked for a few quotations concerning gnostic constituents which seem to re-appear in Calvinism. I still need to dig into my research notes. But here is one snippet from the peer reviewed, internet encyclopedia of philosophy.

    “Valentinus was certainly the most overtly Christian of the Gnostic philosophers of his era. We have seen how the thought of Basilides was pervaded by a Stoicizing tendency, and how Marcion felt the need to go beyond scripture to posit an “alien” redeemer God.

    Valentinus, on the other hand, seems to have been informed, in his speculations, primarily by Jewish and Christian scripture and exegesis, and only secondarily by “pagan” philosophy, particularly Platonism. This is most pronounced in his particular version of the familiar theological notion of “election” or “pre-destination,” in which it is declared (following Paul in Romans 8:29) that God chose certain individuals, before the beginning of time, for salvation.”

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/gnostic/

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “…you had asked for a few quotations concerning gnostic constituents which seem to re-appear in Calvinism.”

      It would be nice if you could provide examples of Calvinists who departed from the Scriptures in order to promote a gnostic philosophy. Given your inablility to provide examples in other areas, I tend to doubt that you will be able to do so here.

      Like

      1. If you had any degree of honesty, your requests for examples would be sincere. Since Calvin teaches that god deceives some people into believing they are saved – – quote “holding it [salvation] out as a savor of greater condemnation, but then striking them with even great blindness” its highly probable that Calvin would assume rhutchin as in condition since he is so consistently dishonest. Perhaps predestined dishonesty is a sign of ones future eternal fate.

        Like

      2. br.d writes, “If you had any degree of honesty, your requests for examples would be sincere.”

        You have no examples regardless what else is going on.

        Like

      3. “what else is going on” ……funny you should call it that! 😀

        “what else is going on” is a continual display of your dishonesties.
        Unfortunate, that your strategies force you into an unwitting over-abundance of rhetorical dishonesties.

        Thanks to the Lord, SOT101 participants are becoming increasingly aware of them, and learning how to quickly spot them!

        Showing your continual contribution as dishonesty……its good for everyone!
        Its for you to decide how it serves you. 😀

        Like

  33. Author John stachniewski examines the literature of Calvinistic writers, recognizing elements of psychological despair.

    In his book: “The Persecutory Imagination: English Puritanism and the Literature of Religious Despair” Stachniewski investigates and sites Calvinism as a quote: “Menacing Theology”, and further examines its effect along with the social experience constructs, subjectivity, and shapes of the literature authored by Calvinistic writers.

    Stachniewski looks at a variety of sources, including puritan autobiographies, and works by Bunyan, Burton, Donne, Marlowe, and Milton. His book challenges both the assumption of Authorial Autonomy and the emollience toward protestant culture that have informed most literary studies of the period.

    Innumerable men and women in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were gripped by the anxiety, often conviction, that God had doomed them to hell. This condition of mind was commonly enmeshed with such circumstances as parental severity, social exclusion, and economic decline, which seemed to give cogency to a Calvinist theology specializing in the idea of divine rejection.

    Stachniewski argues, DOUBLE-THINK is required of the follower of Calvin – the anxiety self-policed gap between the conscious as held and one’s unconscious belief of personal election or reprobation were all to familiar to a Jacobean Calvinist. And their writings express the impossibility of any real assurance-of-faith, as well as the impossibility of discerning the divine secret, namely one’s reprobation vs. one’s election.

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